Thoughts of Pudding 2012

Chapter 20: Understandings

Thoughts of Pudding by Brian64.

Chapter 20: Understandings.

Wednesday 26th June, 1996.

Hermione pondered how closely the words 'kiss' and 'curse' sounded phonetically as she walked alongside Harry. Glancing sideways at him, she decided that it was all his fault that she wanted to 'kirse' him so badly.

After their laughter had subsided following the totally unwanted revelation that her parents hadn't stopped having sex after her conception, she and Harry had fallen into silence as they walked back. Sure, they'd been mostly silent on the walk out as well, but that was different; she'd been at peace then.

Now her thoughts were in turmoil again and she hated feeling so confused. It was past time she did something about it, and besides, Luna had said they needed to talk about it.

"Since Christmas." Harry said, interrupting her thoughts.

"Sorry, what?" Hermione said, staring at him. Was he a bloody Legilimens now?

"When we were at Grimmauld Place over Christmas. That's when Sirius and I talked about you and he set me straight about… a few things. That's what you wanted to know, wasn't it?" he asked her in a guarded tone.

"That was one of them," she agreed, staying outwardly calm. Inside she was screaming at him. 'Christmas? Christmas! You total prat! Why didn't you say anything before–'

"I didn't say anything because it kinda got lost in everything else that was going on." Harry said, having correctly guessed her thoughts again. Then she saw him wince, and realised she hadn't kept her opinion of his choice of words hidden from her expression at all.

"Look, I'm not saying that it wasn't important, it's just… I was worried about Mr Weasley, you know? It didn't help that Sirius was getting more upset the closer it got to us heading back to school, and then of course there was Snape and his announcement about Dumbledore wanting me to learn Occlumency from him. Then when I got back, Cho was there, and…" Harry paused, as he thought back to that time, and shook his head at his own idiocy.

"Well, it isn't a good reason, but I kinda thought Ron was interested in you, and I didn't want to get in the way. Besides, I didn't know if you fancied me back at all, and I got really hung up on the idea that Cho seemed to like me," he finished, a little defensively.

Hermione sighed. There was a certain 'Harry logic' to it, and she supposed she couldn't blame him. She remembered dragging Ron away to the library so that he and Cho could have some privacy. The realisation suddenly hit her that it really was all her own fault.

She'd done the same thing as Harry, and just assumed that he wanted someone else and then stepped back to let it happen. She couldn't help but wonder if things would have been different if she'd said anything.

"I understand, Harry. Just one last question though. If I hadn't dragged Ron off, and had said I'd wanted to go to Hogsmeade with you after Cho did, what would you have done?"

Harry looked at her as though she'd grown a second head, but answered gently. "Hermione, you did tell me you wanted to see me at Hogsmeade, remember? Who did I choose?"

Hermione had forgotten about meeting up with Harry, Luna and Rita Skeeter for the interview. But she remembered now, and also remembered talking to him about the argument he'd had with Cho as a result. He had chosen her over Cho, and Cho certainly understood what it meant when a boy left his date to see another girl, whatever the reason.

Hermione became depressed as she thought it through. He had chosen to be with her instead of his pretty girlfriend, and she'd done absolutely nothing about it. Why the hell hadn't she snogged the hell out of Harry after she'd heard that? Instead, she'd just lectured him on all the things he'd done wrong and what he should have done instead.

She felt Harry's thumbs brushing the tears from her cheeks, and she wrapped her arms around him, and hugged him close. She rested her cheek on his shoulder, facing the lake and looking away from him.

"I'm sorry, Harry. It's entirely my fault. If I'd just said something–" she began.

"If you'd said something, I'd still have found a way to misinterpret it or stuff it up. Maybe we just weren't ready for each other then?"

"And now that we are, it's too late," she said simply, and wasn't surprised when Harry didn't reply.

She held him for a while longer, content that he was happy enough to let her do so while she straightened out her thoughts. Eventually she pulled back a bit so that she could look at his face again. She leaned back in and gave him a soft kiss on the lips before stepping back from his hug.

"Harry, you are just going to have to deal with the fact that I'm going to be your best friend no matter what, and that your best friend loves you. Do you think you can handle that? I don't want there to be any awkwardness between us around your girlfriend like there has been over the last couple of days."

She wished she had a camera so that she could take a picture of his reaction to her words. He beamed at her declaration of love and friendship as though it were worth all the galleons in Gringotts to him. It made her feel as though everything was right with the world again.

She took his hand as they resumed their walk back to camp. "So what else did Sirius tell you, besides straightening you out over your feelings for me?" she asked, restarting the conversation.

She saw Harry blush. "Just… stuff," he replied, evasively.

"Stuff?" she asked. "Come on, Harry, you know I'm going to get it out of you eventually, so you might as well just tell me."

"Oh, alright then; he gave me the bloody Talk, okay? Happy now?" Harry said, a little annoyed that he couldn't stop himself blushing like an idiot.

"'The Talk'? Really?" she giggled. "I'll bet that was… informative," she said, eyes twinkling with mirth.

"Well it wasn't as painful when he did it, as when–" he broke off, realising what he'd almost said.

"As when…? What, Harry? 'As when' what? Oh wait! That's what Tonks and my mum were laughing about on Monday! You got 'The Talk' from Remus and… my dad. Oh God!"

"Relax, Hermione, he didn't tell me anything. Though from what we heard a little while ago, I expect he–"

Hermione gave him a horrified look and interrupted him. "No, no, no, no, no… Don't you dare finish that thought!"

Harry relented, and turned back to the original topic. That would teach her for making him talk about this. "Actually, it really was all Remus, but I got him good!" he said, smirking.

Hermione raised an eyebrow, and then listened in amusement as he told her the highlights of his conversation on Monday.

~o~

As Harry and Hermione returned to camp, Tonks was the first one up to greet them.

"Oh good, you're back. Guess what!"

Harry looked at Hermione, silently asking her if she had any idea, but her return look told him that she didn't know either.

"No idea, Tonks. What?" he asked, curious about what had her so excited.

"We're going out to celebrate! Go grab a shower and put on something a bit dressy. We'll eat out and then find somewhere to party! C'mon, hop to it!"

Harry stared at her energetic attitude in shock. "Are you completely mad? What is there to celebrate about?"

Remus called over from where he was still sitting around the unlit fire pit. "Pay up, Tonks! I told you he wouldn't go for it."

"Stuff it, Remus. I'm not finished yet!" she yelled back over her shoulder, then turned to Harry "How many reasons do you want? She asked him, then held out a closed hand and started extending fingers as she spoke.

"Okay, first we have your emancipation. Then we have your shiny new title, 'My Lord', then of course there's all that yummy money! I do hope you remember your favourite cousin when it comes to spending some of it," she said cheekily.

"Let's see, then we have your marriage proposals…"

"What? What the hell are you–"

"Fred and George? Don't you remember? Oh alright, we won't count those then… bloody spoilsport. Anyway, number four; we have your rescue of Susan! Nice 'Bones' eh? Harry? No wonder you saved her life, hey?" she said, winking at him, but she only got an impassive stare in response.

She gave up teasing him about Susan and moved on. "Alright, never mind. Number five would have to be Fawkes choosing to stay with you," she took on a more serious pose for a moment. "And a more ringing endorsement of your worth as a wizard you'll never find my young cousin." She watched as Harry looked away in embarrassment.

"Number six, and obviously the most important reason to celebrate is learning that you have relatives like me! Cone on, Harry, you hit the jackpot here! After all, who wouldn't want to be related to me? Well, unless you fancied me, of course, and who could blame you if you did, eh? Since I'm so gorgeous? But don't worry, we're distant enough that you can have your cake and eat it too, hey? Nudge, nudge…" Tonks sighed at his lack of reaction over her flirty teasing.

"Jeez, talk about a tough room! What does it take to get a laugh out of you? Okay, lucky seven would have to be finally getting to learn about what it means to be a Potter, not that you really need another Lordship I suppose."

She turned around to the group and said "Hey, little help here!"

"Okay, number eight is… umm, you're not at the Dursleys'! There you go, now that's gotta be worth celebrating, surely?" Tonks said, having found some inspiration while waiting for the others to help her out.

Luna's voice called out, "You can celebrate being in such a lovely place, with so many friends around you who love and care for you."

"There you go!" Tonks said smiling, before she called back. "Thanks, Luna!"

Harry turned to her in disbelief. "Tonks, I had to attend two will readings today. How could I possibly celebrate tonight?"

"But that's the best reason of all, Harry! You should go out tonight to celebrate their lives. Don't you think Sirius and your parents should be celebrated?" she asked him, becoming serious for a moment.

"You need to get past this, Harry. We're going to start training tomorrow, so you need to be on top of your game. We're here for you, but we need you to be here for us as well, not off with the nargles! We have no intention of letting the 'Dick Lord' win. 'Specially since he's not going to share his lovely dosh with us, eh? Harry?"

Harry had reluctantly smiled at her insult of Voldemort, and thought about what she'd said. Maybe it wasn't disrespectful to go out celebrating after all?

Hermione turned to Harry and spoke up "I think it's a good idea, Harry." Then she turned to Tonks. "I'll go with you, Tonks."

Luna walked up to Harry, and hugged him, and then looked straight at him. "Would you take me out tonight, Harry?" she asked him.

"Woo-hoo! That's settled then!" Tonks said, letting out a laugh. "Looks like you owe me after all Remus!" she crowed at him.

"Hey, I didn't answer yet" Harry said, protesting more for the sake of it than anything else.

Hermione laughed and shook her head, while Tonks just snorted. "Really, Harry? You are planning on telling Luna 'no' are you?" she asked him.

"Well… not really, but–"

"Give it up lad" Moody called to him. "It's hard enough winning an argument against one woman. You had no hope against three."

"I don't suppose you could have, oh, I don't know, maybe mentioned that a little earlier?" Harry asked him, a little sarcastically.

"Not my fault you haven't got any common sense." Moody replied easily. "I don't recall anyone telling me that as a kid, but I still managed to work it out. Then again, you hang around with that Weasley kid, don't you?" Moody shook his head. "Hard to believe he's got five older brothers and he's still more bloody clueless than you."

Harry frowned as his friend was insulted, but didn't get a chance to reply as Tonks started pushing him in the direction of the tents.

"Go on, Harry. Important safety tip; never stand between me and a party! Holding me up is also pretty dangerous!" she yelled after him, sending a stinging hex at his rear to encourage him to stop dragging his feet and step a little more lively.

She turned to Hermione and Luna. "Right girls, grab what you're going to wear and join me in the other tent. We'll get ready in there."

The three young women split and disappeared into the tents, leaving Moody, Remus, Minerva and Xenophilius sitting around looking at each other.

"Well, I guess it's just us then." Remus said. "Suggestions on what we're going to do this evening?" he asked.

"I thought I might sketch out a lesson plan for teaching them to be Animagi." Minerva said, not sounding at all disappointed not to have been included in Tonks' plan. "Your input would be useful, Remus, as you had three friends go through it."

Remus nodded. "Of course, Minerva. I'd be glad to help. Maybe we can go over apparition afterwards. It's been a while since I had to think about the three D's."

"I suppose I could make out a list of spells they ought to learn." Moody said grumpily. His dancing days were long past, but he quite enjoyed drinking and watching others making fools of themselves. For some reason, though, Tonks seemed to think he'd drag the mood down, and her; 'Hell, no! You can't come!' didn't leave much room for misinterpretation when the suggestion had come up.

They all looked at Xenophilius, wondering what the man had planned for the evening, in much the same way some people can't help but stare at traffic accidents.

"Oh, I err, need to finish off an editorial on Fudge. There are rumours that he may be behind a very nasty plot against the Goblins. Very nasty indeed! I can't say any more now, but I wouldn't order any soup in Diagon Alley for a while!" he tapped his finger against his nose, and winked conspiratorially at them.

The others fidgeted uncomfortably, and Xenophilius felt better for having warned them. It was better safe than sorry.

"Well, I think I'll have a look around the meadow and see if I can spot any Snorkack tracks. You're welcome to join me, if you like? They're not dangerous… unless you've drunk any chamomile tea. You haven't, have you? Oh dear, oh dear. I should have warned everyone earlier. I'm really dreadfully sorry…

"Umm, yes… to borrow what Tonks said; 'important safety tip!' Don't drink chamomile tea! It's like a Snorkack aphrodisiac; a really strong one. You, uh, really, really don't want to be around a Snorkack after drinking that."

He gulped, and looked around nervously. "You really don't!"

Minerva and Remus stared at him with wide, unblinking expressions, while Moody started howling with laughter.

"Ah, yes, yes, good idea, good idea! Laughter will confuse them! That'll help keep them away from you. Well then, I'll just go take a look around the meadow. I'll be back in a couple of hours or so. Cheerio!"

Remus watched him walk off and then turned to Minerva. "You know, I don't even drink chamomile tea, but if I did, I think that just put me off it for life. Even though I know there's probably no chance that Snorkacks exist… why take the chance?"

Minerva stared at him in disbelief, then lost control and joined Moody in laughter.

Remus winked at her and chuckled along.

Just then Dan and Emma walked up, holding hands. Seeing the others laughing, they couldn't help but start grinning. "What have we missed?" Dan asked.

~o~

Tonks looked at the modest-sized bathroom and decided a change of plans was in order. She spoke to Hermione who was the first one over with an armful of clothes and toiletries.

"Alright, there's no way three of us can all get ready in here, so I'll go next door and use the other one. Harry won't take more than a few minutes anyway, and besides, I don't trust him to dress himself properly." Tonks said, winking at Hermione. She grabbed a few items from the bathroom and headed out.

Hermione closed the door and took a quick shower, using the quiet time to try and process everything that had happened this afternoon. Before she knew it she had a towel wrapped around her, and had another one in her hands drying her hair.

There was a knock on the door, and Hermione opened it to see Luna there holding her things. "Can I come in?" she asked.

Hermione opened the door wider and stood aside. As Luna stepped in, Hermione closed the door after her and went back to drying her hair.

Showing a complete lack of modesty, Luna stripped off her clothes and started her shower without waiting for Hermione to leave. Unconcerned at her presence, Luna started to sing a song that Hermione wouldn't have thought a pureblood witch would have even heard, let alone remembered the lyrics to and be singing.

"You show us everything you've got. You keep on dancing and the room gets hot. You drive us wild; we'll drive you crazy…"

Hermione continued dressing while Luna sang the rest of the first verse. She wondered if the girl would ever be able to do anything that didn't surprise her.

"You keep on shoutin', you keep on shoutin'. Come on Hermione, join in!" Luna called out during the beat before the chorus started.

"I, wanna rock and roll all night, and party every day…" Giving in, Hermione joined in the chorus tentatively, but by the end of the song she had given up worrying what anyone listening might think, and just sang as exuberantly as Luna had been from the very start.

By the time they finished the song, which was more than a few choruses past the usual end, both girls were dressed and working on their hair. Hermione was really looking forward now to going out with Tonks and Luna, and wondered whether she'd be able to keep up with them both. There was clearly a wild side to Luna that she'd never guessed existed.

By the time they exited the bathroom, Tonks was ready and waiting for them. She looked them over as though they had to pass her inspection before being allowed out of the tent. Luna had chosen a deep red dress, and was wearing her new hair clip, while Hermione had opted for a comfortable olive green dress. Tonks herself was in a sexy black outfit that could probably double as a non-verbal confundus.

"Yep, that'll do just fine. Let's go. Oh, by the way, you girls better prepare yourselves; Harry's cleaned up quite nicely," she said, smirking at the two of them.

They walked out of the tent and saw Harry standing there. He was wearing a black shirt and pants, a silver tie, and a dark grey jacket. "He looks yummy!" Luna said to Hermione, before walking over to give her boyfriend a hug and quick kiss. His appreciative looks at the girls suggested he quite liked their appearance as well.

"Right-o, let's get going then, shall we?" Tonks said. "Okay, Harry, can you ask Fawkes if he'd mind dropping us off at a place I have in mind in Muggle London?"

"No. Four is too many!" Harry said immediately. "Two's fine, and three maybe, but not four except in an emergency; and even then only a short hop."

The three girls looked at him, staring, as did the others that had been sitting around.

"I'm curious, Harry. How did you know that? Does Fawkes actually talk to you?" Minerva asked him. It was something Albus never talked about, and for some reason she never felt comfortable asking him about it either.

"No, he doesn't talk to me, and we don't communicate really. Well, he doesn't at least. I just… I don't know; 'guess' some things from his expressions. It's not really a guess, though; it's more like a really strong feeling that I'm right."

"I think I understand." Minerva said, thinking about what he said. "But your comment about how many people he could carry, surely that wasn't something you picked up from a look?"

Harry shook his head. "No, that was something I just 'knew', as though I'd learned it a long time ago and remembered it."

"Fascinating. Truly fascinating. Do you think you could–"

"Yes, Professor, I'll write up my thoughts on phoenix communication when I get a chance and as I learn more about it myself" Harry said, smiling.

Minerva nodded, smiling herself. "As long as Fawkes doesn't mind, of course," she added.

"He doesn't." Harry replied confidently.

"Alright, alright." Tonks interrupted. "While you're guessing what birds are thinking, why don't you try it on me?"

"Err, you want me to stop talking to the others so that we can go now?"

"A right master Legilimens you are, Mister Potter!" Tonks said, approvingly. "Okay, so how about Fawkes takes you and me, then comes back and brings the girls to us? Would he do that for us, and bring us home the same way at the end of the night?

Harry looked over at Fawkes and then nodded. "Yeah, as long as you're not planning on having him hop us all over the place when we reach London, he'll do it. But you're all going to owe him a big favour. Agreed?"

Tonks walked over to the phoenix, and poked him in the chest. "Alright, agreed. But no sponge baths!"

The phoenix trilled in amusement and flew onto Harry's shoulder.

Tonks walked over and linked arms with Harry, then looked up at Fawkes. They disappeared in a flash of flame.

Hermione walked over to her parents to say farewell.

"Be good, honey, and have a good time," her mother told her.

'Not as good as the one you had earlier though, right, mum?' The thought appeared unbidden in Hermione's head, but she managed to suppress it and simply nodded instead. Her expression must have told her parents something though as her mother gave her an amused look.

Hermione rushed to fill in the silence before either of her parents could ask anything she didn't want to answer… especially, where she might have been walking this afternoon. "We've got our wands, so we'll be safe enough. Besides, Tonks is a trained Auror, and I expect Fawkes can get us out of any trouble we can't manage. Don't worry; we'll be good… and safe."

Fawkes appeared back and flew to Luna's shoulder. Hermione hugged her parents quickly and waved to the others as she hurried over to take Luna's hand. A moment later, she was in a quiet alley with Luna, with Harry and Tonks nearby.

Tonks turned to Fawkes, "Okay, I want to cast a notice-me-not charm on you, so you don't drive the Muggles crazy staring at you. That alright with you?" Fawkes just tilted his head at her slightly and let out a short trill.

Tonks turned to Harry, frustrated. "Is that a yes?" she asked him.

Harry suppressed his grin and nodded. "Yep, he trusts you."

Tonks grunted and cast the charm on Fawkes, then muttered to him. "Wouldn't kill you to nod your head when you mean 'yes', would it? Smart bird like you should be able to manage that, I'm sure."

Tonks looked around to see the others grinning at her and she gave them a mock glare in response. "Right, I'm hungry enough to eat a hippogriff, and since I know where one is, I need to eat now before I get tempted to go and roast it!"

Tonks jerked her thumb over her shoulder in Fawkes' direction. "I'd try roasting that feathery git, but he'd probably like it. Alright, let's go."

She led them on a short walk to a small Italian restaurant. A couple of minutes later, they had been escorted to a table, and were sitting at it studying their menus.

"Tonks, what's fettuccine?" Luna asked.

"Well, it's just a kind of flat pasta made out of egg and flour. They do a nice Fettuccine Alfredo here, if that's what you're looking at."

"Actually, I was thinking of having the Fettuccine Carbonara."

Tonks nodded her approval at Luna's selection, and then asked Hermione about her choice, learning that she was going to order the Risotto Funghi.

"Right then Harry, have you made up your mind yet?"

"Not really. I've always wanted to try Lasagne, but the Calzone Rustico looks good as well." Harry said, undecided.

"That sounds good to me. Right then, we'll just order one of each and share. Sound like a plan to you?" Tonks asked, and got a nod in reply.

A few minutes later, they'd placed their orders, including their request for Harry and Tonks' meals to be split over the two plates. They were now sipping the red wine she'd ordered; a chilled and rather fruity Lambrusco that everyone found easy to drink.

"Ok, you three, we're going to have some fun tonight, and I don't mind a little underage drinking, but we need to establish some ground rules. Firstly, you don't drink anything I don't buy you, okay? I'll never hear the end of it if any of you get pissed out of your heads. Secondly, when we get to the clubs, you don't ever let your drink out of sight. There's some stuff that Muggles can put in your drink that can… well, let's just say it'd be like someone slipping some Amortentia in your pumpkin juice. Got me?

"And thirdly, nobody goes anywhere alone. Well, except Harry of course, but he's got Fawkes to hold his hand, or his whatever, when he toddles off to the loo. So, does anyone have a problem with any of that?"

The three agreed to the rules readily, realising, as all teenagers did, that they needed to keep the adults happy if they hoped to do this again sometime.

By the time their meals arrived, Harry had finished his glass of Lambrusco, and Tonks was giving Harry a dirty look as he reached for the bottle. Relenting, Harry took a drink from his water glass instead, and raised it to her in a salute.

Tonks smirked at him. "Good choice, cuz."

Harry smiled at her, wondering if he was ever going to get tired of hearing her reminding him of their family relationship.

As their plates were set in front of them, Harry gaped at the size of the servings. Even Ron would have a hard time getting through all this! Well, maybe not.

Tonks must have read his mind. "Hey, if you're not going to eat all that, just let me know."

He looked across the table at her, and then down at her equally huge plate. "You must be joking, where are you going to fit all of that?"

"Hey, Metamorphmagus here remember… my metabolism is totally wicked at storing energy. The sooner you accept I'm just all round bloody awesome, the easier it's going to be. 'Course, if you don't believe I can eat all this and more besides, we could have a little bet."

"You're on!" Harry said, not expecting for a minute that he was going to win the bet, but happy for any excuse to interact with his cousin.

Tonks laughed. "You really should have agreed to the terms of the bet first. No telling what I might want from you when I win," she said with a suggestive wink.

Harry started eating his meal. He decided lasagne was now his favourite food, followed closely by calzone.

"Can I try some?" Luna asked, startling Harry. For some reason, he'd thought she was a vegetarian.

He swapped plates with her, as the table wasn't large enough for her to simply move hers back a bit, and watched as she ate some of his lasagne, and then the calzone. Then she moved back to the lasagne and Harry started to get a little worried for his meal.

"Aren't you going to try my fettuccine, Harry?" Luna asked him, noticing him watching her eat.

"Huh? Oh yeah. Thanks, Luna". He tried wrapping the pasta around his fork, but ended up giving that up as a bad idea, and simply cut up some of the pasta so that he could eat it normally. It was quite nice, but it wasn't lasagne.

Fortunately, after a few more bites, Luna handed back his plate and they resumed eating their original meals. By the time Harry was full, there wasn't much left on his plate.

"Are you going to finish that?" Tonks asked him. Harry looked up from his internal contemplation of whether he really wanted another bite, to see that Tonks had indeed emptied her own plate and was looking at his with interest.

A little while later, Tonks was using some bread to wipe up the last bits of bolognese sauce from what used to be his plate.

She sat back and patted her stomach, which everyone could see looked just as slim as before, thanks to her choice of outfit. "I'll say it again, what's not to love about being a Metamorphmagus?"

Something occurred to Harry at her rhetorical question.

"But… doesn't that make finding a good bloke hard?"

Tonks stared at him. "You're joking, right? Bloody hell, Harry, I know the Dursleys' messed you up, but really? Never mind, it's easier to just show you."

With that, Tonks cast a notice-me-not charm around the table, and then morphed into a duplicate of Luna, then Hermione, then Ginny, then Susan, and then to Harry's horror, Draco.

"The internal plumbing doesn't change all that much, and I'm not game to even think about messing with hormones, so I'm not 'fully functional' as a male, but I could go through the motions if I had to. Mind you, I can't imagine I'd want to…" 'Draco' drawled, before Tonks resumed her normal form.

"So, you tell me, Harry. Still think it would be hard for me to nab any bloke I really wanted, or any girl for that matter?" she said, now morphing into a duplicate of Harry himself.

Harry looked at Tonks in horror, and then glanced over to his left at Luna. She was looking at Tonks with curiosity, but then turned back to Harry and smiled at him. "I can tell the difference between you," she said, and squeezed his knee under the table.

Tonks changed back, feeling as though she'd made her point.

"I do know all about your morphing, Tonks, though I really hadn't thought of all the, uh, options you had available. I just meant that it must be hard trying to find a bloke that wants you for you, not who you can turn into on the outside."

Tonks laughed. "Yeah, alright, I can see where you're coming from. Listen, don't worry about it. It's not much different to what all other girls have to deal with. Not all guys are sweethearts."

Harry nodded; sorry that he'd brought the whole topic up. This was a side of Tonks he wished he'd never known about.

Tonks looked at him from a moment, guessing where his thoughts were taking him. "You know, Harry, with your titles and wealth, you're going to find witches are going to be throwing themselves at you left, right and centre when that gets out. Plus you've got that whole Tri-Wizard champion thing going on as well, not to mention everything else you've done. I expect you could have a different witch in your bed every night once you get back to civilisation."

"What? How could you think I'd–"

"Relax, Harry. I'm just making my point. Just because someone can do something, it doesn't mean they actually do it, right?"

Harry nodded, feeling more than a little ashamed, and now really wished he'd kept his mouth shut earlier.

Tonks removed the notice-me-not charm she'd cast, and their table was cleared soon after.

"So, anyone want a cappuccino or dessert?" Tonks asked, returning to her usual bubbly personality as though nothing had happened.

The rest of their time in the restaurant went smoothly, although Harry had spun around with his wand ready to cast when the waiter had called out 'Ciao Bella' to Tonks as they left.

Perhaps sensing Harry's unease, Fawkes started trilling as they walked a few streets over to a club that Tonks knew. As it was a Wednesday night and still early, they were able to walk straight in without having to queue first.

Tonks went up to the bar, while the others staked their territory in a fairly quiet spot and settled into the low sofas. If Harry was surprised that Luna decided to settle on his lap instead of the seat beside him, he wasn't going to argue about it.

Tonks returned shortly afterwards with four bottles, and handed them around. Harry took a sip but wasn't particularly impressed with it. It was some bubbly, fruity, wine drink that he imagined the girls would like.

"So what do you think?" Tonks asked, having sprawled out on a large armchair.

"I can't say I like the music much, it sounds… a bit off." Harry replied, honestly.

"It's Karaoke, Harry, it nearly always sounds off. Don't worry, they'll have a DJ on later, and then the dancing will start up."

"Dancing? Great…" Harry said, unenthusiastically

"That's the spirit! Right, now who's coming up to sing with me?" Tonks asked, looking around.

~o~

The night had been going quite well. When the dancing had started, he'd followed Luna out a few times, and then at her insistence, he danced with Hermione and Tonks from time to time.

He was dancing with both Luna and Hermione while Tonks was off getting some drinks when the trouble started.

A tall, well-muscled bloke had come over and started dancing close by the three, paying most of his attention to Hermione since Luna was closer to Harry. Since Harry could see Hermione wasn't interested, he manoeuvred himself so that he was between them.

"Hey! Back off, man! Dance with your own bird."

Harry turned to face him "They're with me, and she doesn't want to dance with you."

"Is that so?"

"Yeah it is." Harry replied, and turned back to the girls, thinking the problem had been solved.

~o~

Harry opened his eyes and looked up. He could tell he was still in the club, but what had happened?

"Lie still, Harry," he heard Hermione say. She sounded upset.

"Where's Luna? And Tonks?" Harry said, sitting up and looking around in sudden panic.

"I'm here." Luna said from his other side, and helping him to stand up.

Tonks appeared in front of him, along with the guy that had been trying to dance with Hermione. She had him in a wrist lock, and didn't seem to be exerting much effort to control him. "Anything you want to say to this piece of shite before the coppers take him, Harry?"

Harry shook his head. He still had no idea what was going on. He watched as Tonks walked him over to a couple of Bobbies, and gave them a statement. Whatever she'd said seemed to satisfy them, as they just took the guy with them and didn't come over and ask them any questions.

"So, what happened?" Harry asked, looking between the girls.

"The guy hit you in the back of the head with his bottle after you turned around. You went down and Hermione kicked him, then Tonks came over and threw him around quite a lot. While she was doing that, Fawkes flew up and cried a couple of tears on your head, and then I rennervated you." Luna said, sadly.

"What's wrong, Luna?" Harry asked her, taking her into a hug.

"I'm sorry I wasn't more help to you. I'll do better next time, I promise."

"Well, you did a lot better than I did." Harry said ruefully.

Tonks walked up and started to inspect Harry, peering into his eyes, and gently probing his head for any tenderness.

"I'm okay, Tonks, really. Phoenix tears have healing properties, so I'm fine."

Tonks looked at him again as though checking he was telling the truth, and then enveloped him in a tight hug. "Don't you ever do that to me again!" she demanded, then after a pause. "You made me drop the drinks, you prat!"

"Sorry, Tonks."

She pulled back and her eyes were watery. "Do you want to leave now?" she asked.

"Not really. I was actually having fun, so as long as you three are happy to stay, I am as well."

She nodded, and looked at the others, who also nodded. "Right then. Why don't you go take a seat while we go freshen up, since you've managed to ruin my makeup as well. Oh, and you're buying the next round – make it the next two rounds!"

Tonks watched him head back towards 'their' seats with Fawkes on his shoulder again, and then she went to the ladies room with the two girls. The room was fortunately empty when they arrived, and Luna cast a colloportus charm on the door to lock it.

"One bloody day." Tonks said softly, looking at herself in the mirror.

"Tonks?" Hermione asked, uncertainly.

"I nearly got him killed after only one bloody day as his cousin. It took me longer than that to kill Sirius. Gotta be some kind of record don't you think?"

Luna walked up to her and slapped her. "Don't talk like that! You know Sirius was duelling with Bellatrix when he fell into the veil. Just because you couldn't beat her doesn't mean it was your fault that he died, any more than it was Harry's. What happened tonight was no-one's fault. Well, except that Harry shouldn't have turned his back on that man, but I doubt he'll make that mistake again."

Tonks stared at her. "Feisty little thing when you want to be, aren't you?" she said eventually, smiling.

"You're wasting my Harry-time Tonks. Are you going to fix your makeup now?" Luna asked her, smiling back.

Tonks winked at her and then turned to the sink. Quickly washing and drying her face, she then mimed opening a small bag and taking out a lipstick. As she drew her imaginary lipstick across her face, the girls saw her lips taking on a redder appearance.

Replacing her pretend lipstick, she then mimed applying a lip liner, blush, eye shadow and mascara, until the other girls were more than a little impressed at her control.

When she finished, she mimed putting a compact mirror in a bag, closing it up and then tossing it away over her shoulder. She turned and grinned at the girls. "Like I said earlier, who the hell wouldn't want to be a metamorph? C'mon, let's go dance with your boyfriend, Luna!"

"Once I've finished snogging him a bit first." Luna replied.

"Right, maybe I'll just get the drinks then. You two stay together." Tonks said, then unlocked the door and left.

Hermione was about to follow her out when Luna closed the door and locked it again.

"So, Hermione, how did your talk go with Harry?"

Sighing, Hermione told her the highlights of her conversation with Harry, not holding anything back.

"So you told him it was too late now; because he's with me?" Luna scowled, and muttered to herself. "That's still not a choice…"

"Okay, I'm going to have to sort you both out, since neither of you are doing what I've asked. I've had him as a boyfriend for three days since Monday, so starting tomorrow; Harry is going to be your boyfriend for three days. We'll have to make sure he takes you out on Saturday night. That way he'll have a way of comparing which of us he really wants as a girlfriend, and he can tell us his decision on Sunday.

"Now that that's settled, I've got a boyfriend to snog. Let's go, Hermione." With that, Luna unlocked the door and put her wand away.

Hermione followed her out of the room, suddenly wondering if there really were Crumple-Horned Snorkacks. She had a sneaking suspicion that the forces of nature and magic had probably given in to her as well.

~o~

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