Thoughts of Pudding 2012

Chapter 22: Changes

Thoughts of Pudding by Brian64.

Chapter 22: Changes.

Thursday 27th June, 1996.

Ginny sat at the desk in her bedroom, quickly writing a thank you note to Harry for the defence book he'd sent her for the DA. Turning in her chair, she looked nervously at the phoenix perched on the chair's back, and then extended the note towards him carefully. She could have sworn the phoenix looked amused at her caution as it took the note in his beak. Then, with a quick down sweep of his wings, he took flight briefly before vanishing in a burst of flames.

She blinked away the afterimages of his departure, and then turned back to the book on her desk. Picking it up, she idly flicked through the pages again, a little more leisurely than she had originally when the phoenix had dropped it off a few minutes earlier. Her fingers and eyes were going through the motions of browsing, but her mind was paying no attention at all.

The delivery of the book was just the latest in a series of unusual events, and she couldn't help but work them over in her head to see if she could solve a few of the riddl–

'Damn!' she thought, shivering reflexively as her thoughts baulked at the word. It was just a word. There was nothing to fear about a word… or a name.

Riddle himself, though? Well that was something else entirely, wasn't it? There was no need to be ashamed of fearing him! Or for hating him. She did that as well. He'd tricked her into writing in his diary, pretending to be her friend. She'd poured her soul out to him – quite literally, as it turned out – and then he'd tried to kill both her and Harry.

What was that phrase Hermione had used to describe her rage when they'd spoken about what Tom had done to her? 'Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned?' Well, she was certainly furious with him. Too bad she was still more afraid than angry, but wasn't that one of the reasons she joined the DA in the first place?

She sighed as she realised her thoughts had run away with her again. What was she thinking about before thoughts of Tom interrupted her?

She looked down at the book in her hands. 'Of course; Harry.'

It had started Sunday night when Dumbledore had come around looking for Harry with some story about him not arriving at the Dursleys. That certainly caused her to panic since she'd seen them all there at the station, but oddly, Ron had been unconcerned. When she'd confronted him about it afterwards, all he'd tell her was that Harry was okay, and was surprisingly firm about not telling her anything else. Fine time for Ron to start keeping secrets!

Thankfully, there was some reassurance from the headmaster the next day. Professor McGonagall had Harry somewhere from the sounds of things, along with a few others… and Hermione.

Well, it was bound to happen sooner or later. That was what she'd thought at the time.

But then Hedwig had turned up without a note later that day, and had just started hanging around the Burrow. Not all the time, but more often than not she could see her on a branch outside her window when she looked out.

But Harry hadn't turned up. She was sure that Hedwig's arrival meant that Harry would soon arrive as well. But he hadn't. Why would Hedwig have come by herself, without so much as a note to say 'Hey Ron/Ginny/Mrs Weasley, would you mind watching over Hedwig for a couple of days/few weeks/indefinitely?' Since he hadn't, she'd got the feeling Hedwig had chosen to come herself, but that didn't make any sense. Did it?

Her thoughts went back to the same old 'So where was Harry? Somewhere Hedwig couldn't go?' cycle before she gave up thinking about it. It wasn't as though the answer was suddenly going to occur to her now, when it hadn't the dozens of other times she'd wondered the same thing.

So, no word from him, but then had come news of the will reading and the expectation of meeting him the next day. She had thought seriously about whether to give him the severe tongue-lashing and hexing he deserved for making her– them all worry when she saw him there. But eventually decided that was hardly the right time, and resolved to make sure that he paid for the worry he'd caused her later. Probably…

She hardly recognised the Harry she'd found at Gringotts the next day, though. She'd expected to see the almost complete wreck he'd been since the Ministry, but he actually seemed mostly okay and had finally worn clothes that fit him. Oh, boy, did they fit him! Then there was that thing with Malfoy and his mother. So he was related to the Blacks, and therefore Draco, Sirius, and Tonks? She sure hadn't seen that one coming.

As for Luna… well, that was surely the biggest surprise of all. What the hell had happened there? Could it really have been so simple to catch Harry? Simply wrap yourself around him every chance you got as though he was already yours, and just wait until he gives in and accepts it?

Two days it took her, according to Hermione. Two days. She'd lost count of how many days and nights she'd dreamed about Harry, but it took Luna all of two days. 'Two bloody days!'

Damn, that girl was smart! Her mother would no doubt have called her a 'scarlet woman'… but what she really was, in her own humble opinion, was a genius. She saw what she wanted, and just went for it. So simple.

It had taken a lot of soul-searching yesterday, along with a few tears, for her to finally realise that her childhood dream of someday being Mrs Potter was never going to happen. At least she'd managed to kill off that absurd crush and become more of a friend to him over the last year. While she'd hoped it might have led to something more in time, that was never going to happen now.

Luna's attention would, if nothing else, shake Hermione out of her complacency. She had no chance of competing against Harry's best friend if– no, when the girl finally acknowledged her feelings towards him.

'Wait a minute…two days?' She'd almost missed it. If Harry and Luna got together on Monday, then that meant Luna was wherever Harry was. Didn't Luna say something about going overseas with her dad to look for some creatures… Yes! Of course! Harry and the others had followed her overseas which is why Hedwig was hanging around here. Harry wouldn't make her fly all that way when there wasn't anyone he could send letters to over there.

Thinking about Harry and Luna at the reading brought her thoughts back to Susan. Wasn't it just like Harry to worry about her? He certainly had a knack for collecting life debts. 'Hermione in his first year, yours truly in his second, and probably Justin as well.' After all, didn't he stop Malfoy's conjured snake from attacking him? He also managed to free Dobby. Let's see, there was Sirius, Buckbeak, Pettigrew and Hermione again in his third year.

Was there anyone in his fourth year? What about Fleur's sister? Did it count if he thought she was in real danger even if she wasn't? Fifth year there was his stupid Muggle cousin, and of course, dad. Then he went to the Ministry expecting to find Tom there torturing Sirius… that one didn't work out, but he wasn't to know it was one of Tom's tricks. Which brought her up to Susan. Quite a collection of debts, and those were just the ones she remembered. Maybe there were others she'd forgotten or hadn't heard about.

So, while it had seemed really romantic at the time to have her very own hero slay a giant monster with a sword to save her, in reality it seemed there was nothing personal about it. She was just the 'victim du jour' for him to save.

Definitely time to pack the dream away, and work on just being a good friend instead.

Besides, there could be an upside to putting the fantasy aside. She was one of the very few girls that had noticed Neville's transformation from a shy, plant-obsessed, bumbling boy, into a Death Eater-fighting, confident, funny, and fairly good-looking guy. He was going to get noticed next year, so she'd have to take a leaf out of Luna's book and make her move before someone else did.

She pulled out some parchment and started to write a letter to Neville. She would try and arrange a meeting so that they could talk over ideas on how and when they could get the DA together over the summer. This would be a chance to see if there could be any spark between them.

Glancing out the window, she saw Hedwig in the tree again. She was willing to bet she wouldn't have to ask Ron to borrow Pig.

~o~

Emma was sitting with Dan talking over the morning's Apparition lesson with Remus, when she looked up and happened to notice Luna walking back to camp alone. Nudging her husband, she nodded in Luna's direction.

Dan looked over briefly, and then nodded his understanding back to her. They both understood that Luna's plan had obviously been successful, else Harry would be with her.

As she got closer, they could hear her humming a happy tune that sounded vaguely familiar to them. She greeted them all as she walked past them and into her tent.

Emma was almost at the point of getting up to go and check on her, when both Luna and her father came out of the tent. They were having an incomprehensible conversation about something Xeno had seen that morning, and it appeared they were going off to go investigate it.

The Grangers shared a slightly relieved look that Luna seemed fine, before being distracted by Remus clearing his throat.

"I don't suppose either of you would care to explain what that was all about, would you?" he asked hopefully.

"That wouldn't be our first preference." Dan replied.

"I see. Well, how far down the list would we have to go before you could explain it?" he asked with a smile.

Dan chuckled at the reply, then looked over at his wife who gave him an almost imperceptible shrug. "It's really not our place to say, Remus. But I suppose it will become obvious soon enough if what we think has happened, has actually happened."

Remus took the bait. "So what do you think has happened?"

"We think that Luna has just talked Harry and Hermione into dating each other for a few days." Emma replied, laughing at the man's bemused expression.

~o~

The headmaster sensed the man outside the door and called out "enter" before there was a need to knock at the door.

"You sent for me, Headmaster?" his potions professor asked.

"I sent for you yesterday, Severus." Dumbledore said, reprovingly.

If Snape was surprised at the tone, it didn't seem to affect his reply. "My apologies, Headmaster, but the Dark Lord summoned me first. Between his demands and the difficulty in escaping my house guest, I wasn't able to get here any sooner."

Dumbledore frowned. "Why would you need to 'escape' Pettigrew, as you put it, in order to see me?"

"What do you mean, Headmaster?" Snape asked curtly.

"Voldemort knows that you work for me, Severus, even if he doesn't suspect that you spy for me as well. Why would you need to 'escape' Pettigrew in order to respond to my request for a meeting?"

"Perhaps my choice of words was… imprecise. I should have said that this was the soonest that I could respond without causing undue suspicion."

Dumbledore didn't look pleased with the response, but chose not to pursue it further. "Very well. Were you involved in the raid at the Bones' house?"

"The Dark Lord summoned me and ordered me to take part in the attack. I had no choice but to obey him." Snape answered steadily.

"Did you know that Susan Bones was still there?"

"Headmaster, what are you asking? Perhaps more to the point, what answer do you hope to receive?" Snape asked.

"I would hope to hear, Severus, that you would have found a way to protect Miss Bones."

"Of course I would have done so if it had been possible."

"'Possible', Severus?"

"Yes, 'possible', Headmaster. Anti-Apparition wards were in place as I'm sure you would have already realised. What would you have had me do? Attack the other Death Eaters, and then throw off my mask and announce myself as a spy to Miss Bones? Trusting that she believed me so that I can get close enough to her that we could both have used my emergency portkey?"

"Miss Bones was an innocent, Severus! She should have been defended."

"As much as it pains me to admit it, I'm not sure that I could have taken down the three other Death Eaters in the room, even if I had thought to try. Since one of them was Pettigrew, he would have transformed and escaped to tell the story of what happened. Even if he hadn't, how else could the girl's escape have come about unless I had helped? My usefulness as a spy would have come to an end, along with my life shortly afterwards."

"So you would have allowed her to be killed?"

Snape didn't respond.

"Severus, you disappoint me. You should have done what was right, instead of what was easy."

"I see, Headmaster. Tell me, when I advised you of the Dark Lord's intention to attack Bones Manor, why did you not inform Madame Bones of this?"

Dumbledore peered over his glasses at Snape and didn't reply.

"Why did you not discuss with her your reasons for allowing her ancestral manor to be destroyed in order to help cement the Dark lord's trust in me? It would have had the advantage of ensuring Miss Bones' safety, if nothing else. Would it not?"

Snape stared at the unresponsive wizard in front of him.

"No answer, then, Headmaster? In that case, I must continue to believe that it was your fault that Miss Bones was in danger, and my presence or absence at the Manor yesterday was irrelevant. We should both be glad that you thought to send your phoenix to rescue her–"

At mention of the phoenix, Snape's head turned quickly to the perch as though just noticing for the first time that it was empty.

"Where is Fawkes? It is unlike him to be away so soon after a burning."

He looked closer at the headmaster, trying to read the man's expression. "Where is your phoenix, Headmaster?" he asked softly.

"Enough, Severus. There was another matter I wished to discuss with you. Your Occlumency lessons with Harry. Why did you not try to teach him."

Snape waved off the question. 'He is untrainable. You asked the impossible. He could no more occlude his mind than he could brew a decent potion."

"What did you do?" Dumbledore asked tiredly, quite sure that he didn't want to hear the answer.

"I gave him a taste of what he could expect from the Dark Lord. I thought that it might provide him some incentive to improve his attitude and wake up to the harsh realities of life. Make him see that he doesn't have time to waste on useless pursuits. But, of course, it didn't work."

Snape started pacing as he became angrier "His arrogance is completely beyond all limits. The first opportunity he had – the very first time I left him alone – he used it to pry into the thoughts I'd placed in the pensieve. As though he had a right to them!"

Snape now came to a stop in front of the Headmaster's desk and looked at him coldly. "Your precious Potter came into the first lesson without any inclination to treat the lessons – and my time – with respect, and that didn't change in any of the subsequent ones. He got exactly what he deserved, and I will not attempt to teach him again!"

Dumbledore met Snape's cold stare impassively. "No, Severus, you will not. Though, given what you have just admitted to doing, I cannot understand how you can believe you ever attempted to teach him in the first place. Your hatred of James has blinded you to the boy in your class. All you can see is his father made young again.

"Tell me, Severus, in your 'lessons', did you not have an opportunity to see for yourself the childhood Harry experienced? Did he truly grow up as the arrogant, pampered celebrity that you continually accuse him of being?"

Snape flinched involuntarily, and his glare flickered only momentarily, but long enough for Dumbledore to notice it.

"It seems we both have some thinking to do, Severus. In the meantime, Nymphadora seems to have taken a direct interest in young Harry, and having used some legilimency of her own, has seen your… lessons with him. She has tasked me with ensuring you do not come anywhere near either Harry or herself."

"So she intends to punish me for mistreating precious Potter then?" Snape said, defaulting to his usual sneer.

"Actually, Severus, I quite believed her when she said she intended to kill you for what you had done if you should come near either of them. It seems that Harry is related to the Blacks, as Sirius referred to him as 'cousin' in his will. I can only assume that Tonks was already aware of this, as she was extremely protective."

The latest death threat didn't appear to concern Snape at all, though clearly his patience was at an end.

"Indeed. Well, I can only imagine the mutt left Potter everything, then, so he'll be even more insufferable than before. If that will be all, Headmaster?" Snape was almost spitting in his frustration.

"Almost, Severus. I assume you received instructions from Minerva?"

An angry nod was the only reply.

"Very well. She has my support in this and I recommend that you comply. I cannot help you if you will not help yourself, Severus. My door is open to you, of course, if you should ever need to talk, or let off some steam as the case may be. Please see me before doing anything… rash, and do not give her cause to terminate your employment."

Another curt nod, and the man turned and left the office.

Dumbledore leaned back in his chair and let out a long sigh. Severus' view of the world was permanently tainted by the mark he wore, and few people gave him the credit he deserved for what he did. His path was a difficult and lonely one.

He looked over at the empty perch and sighed again. I wish I still had your support, old friend.

~o~

Hermione's thoughts were on Harry as they walked slowly back to the camp hand in hand. Were they better off as friends? This was the thought that she kept returning to, and she thought she knew why.

The impromptu kissing session she'd instigated after he'd unexpectedly asked her to be his girlfriend hadn't been as satisfying as she'd hoped. She certainly didn't have anything to compare it with, but somehow she had imagined there would be something more to it than just the pleasant feeling of being held and kissed. There should have been a 'spark' of something; a feeling that confirmed that this was where she should be, and this was who she should be with.

But as much as she wanted to, she just didn't feel it. What was worse was that she suspected she knew why. Luna had claimed him first, and thanks to his unwavering loyalty he was simply incapable of letting her go so easily.

How could she possibly compete against that? She quickly suppressed the suggestion that her intellectual side offered her. She had absolutely no intention of doing 'that' just to try and win him over. For one thing, she had a feeling that it wouldn't work with him anyway, and for another, even if it did work it would just make things worse. She'd have lost her respect for him as well as for herself.

'Maybe we should just stay friends then…' she thought again as a tear trickled down her cheek.

"Hermione…"

'Oh, bugger!' She thought, as Harry's voice broke her out of her thoughts. His tone was apologetic, and she cursed the fact that she seemed to be an open book to him. How could he be so clueless about some things, and yet so insightful about others? Was there a pattern to it? Maybe if she could figure it out she'd have a better chance of working out–

"Hermione… I'm sorry." Harry said, interrupting her thoughts again and sending her into waves of guilt for not responding to him earlier. Focussing on a topic used to be so easy for her, so how did he manage to confuse her so much that she couldn't even concentrate on the here and now? Wasn't this proof that she really was in love with him after all? She'd certainly read enough stories to suggest that women in love–

She was interrupted again as she felt Harry's grip on her hand loosen as his hand relaxed. It was only her own grip on his hand that kept them joined together.

"Maybe it would be best if I just…" he began, his voice sounded full of misery.

Hermione finally looked at him and saw his hurt look. It occurred to her that she still hadn't said anything and she mentally slapped herself as she moved in front of him to grab him in a tight hug before he could get away.

She started murmuring in his ear. "No. Don't go. I'm sorry, Harry. I just got lost in my thoughts, and it–… just don't go," she finished lamely.

She had been about to say that it wasn't his fault, but it was, wasn't it? If he'd responded to her kissing properly instead of holding himself back, then they'd still be on that loveseat now enjoying their kissing… Oh, alright, snogging then. Surely there was a better term for kissing and cuddling?

Anyway, the kiss they'd shared before Luna left had held more emotion than their snogging had, so why–

She felt Harry squeeze her back and it broke her train of thought again. She resolved to try and keep her focus on Harry. She adjusted her hold on him and her left arm moved from his waist further up his body in order to pull him closer to her. Her hand reached his neck and the back of his head and she was surprised, again, at the smoothness of his head. His lack of hair was going to take some getting used to.

She felt as much as heard Harry sigh as her hand explored his head, and she released her grip so that she could look at him.

"What is it, Harry?" she asked. "Are you worried about your lack of hair?"

He gave her a shrug in response, and she started to wonder if his lack of response to her earlier might have been at least partly due to a lack of confidence due to his new baldness.

"Well, it is going to take a little getting used to. But you know, Harry. Some women get turned on by bald men."

He looked at her in surprise, and there was an unspoken question in his eyes that she felt was so obvious to her that it seemed he must have shouted it. 'Are you one of them?'

She cocked her head and made a point of looking him over before looking back in his eyes. "Honestly, Harry. I think I prefer you with hair, but it really doesn't bother me that much…" she paused before continuing, then said "…and it didn't seem to bother Luna either."

Harry reacted to hearing Luna's name just as she expected he would. "I'm sorry, Hermione," he said after a while.

"Apology accepted, Harry. It's hardly your fault after all. You've been thrown into this without much choice in the matter, so I honestly don't blame you."

She gave him a cheerful smile, or at least one as cheerful as she could make it. "Why don't we stop worrying about it, and just see how we go the next few days? We're still friends aren't we?"

Harry relaxed as though her comment about being friends released some tension that had been building up. "We'll always be friends, Hermione, no matter what else we are."

She gave him a bright smile. "Good! Then let's get back so we can get ready for that meeting with Vanir."

She took his hand again and they started walking back to camp. She wasn't sure about Harry the boyfriend, but she certainly needed Harry the best friend. 'Maybe we should just stick to being friends?'

"Hermione?"

"Yes, Harry?"

"I'll try harder," he said sincerely.

She squeezed his hand tighter, not trusting her voice as her throat tightened up. Swallowing, she said softly. "Thank you, Harry."

~o~

Andromeda Tonks reread the letter that had just been delivered and smiled.

Her husband walked up to her and peered briefly at the letter. It was his 'subtle' way of showing his interest in what had caused her smile, and it was up to her to either tilt it towards him or away from him at her discretion.

"Guess who's coming to dinner?" she said, handing him the letter.

Ted read through the letter and stared at her. "You believe this then, 'Dromeda?" he asked, his own disbelief evident in his voice.

But his wife had already twirled away with a happy chuckle, and headed into the kitchen.

"Guess so…" he muttered to himself.

~o~

"Kreacher!"

"Madame Bones calls for Kreacher?" the old elf asked after he popped into the room.

"Yes, Kreacher. I wonder if you can take a message to someone for me. I would like this letter to be delivered to Kingsley Shacklebolt. Are you able to do this for me and wait for a reply?"

"Kreacher lives to serve. The Lord Black has said that Kreacher must assist you with anything you need and Kreacher will obey, but Kreacher is not sure that he knows Kingsley Shacklebolt."

"Kingsley is a tall wizard. His skin is quite dark, and I believe he would have been in this house before."

"Kreacher knows a wizard like that. He will take the letter to him for you and ask his name and wait for a reply."

"Thank you, Kreacher. That will be all."

Kreacher took the letter, bowed to her, and then popped away.

~o~

Minister for Magic, Cornelius Fudge read the invitation from the Wizengamot that Weatherby handed him.

It seemed that without the… contributions from Lucius, many of the members seemed to think it was all his fault that Lord Thingy had returned, and they wanted to make their feelings on the matter known.

Well, perhaps this would work out well enough after all. After all, the Minister for Magic was undoubtedly top of the 'people-to-be-killed' list.

Well then, since the outcome was inevitable, why not make it his own decision? He could make some grandiose declaration about trying to do the best for the wizarding world, and then take responsibility for his 'mistake' by resigning.

If he resigned before the Wizengamot met, then any dirty laundry they thought they had on him would be left unaired, as he would no longer be a target. Besides, they all knew that he had just as much to say about them as they had on him. Slytherins always did.

There was also a lot to be said for waiting in the sidelines until after it was all over, and then making another run for the job. The sheep would recall that things were fine while he was in charge, and the usurper, whoever it was, would take all the blame for anything that occurred while You-Know-Who was running around.

And if Dumbledore didn't take care of the problem, well, he still had that portkey ready to take him to the permanently warm beaches of Tenerife.

"Weatherby. Take down this letter. It is with the greatest regret, that I must submit my resignation as the Minister for Magic…"

Percy's hands shook as he wrote down what his soon-to-be-ex-employer dictated to him. He was fully aware of the old adage of the new broom sweeping clean, and he held little hope that he would be able to avoid the clean sweep that would soon follow.

~o~

"Thank you again, Fawkes," Hermione said as she and Harry arrived once again in the Swedish international Portkey terminal. "From both of us." Hermione added, giving Harry a glare at his silence.

Harry merely raised an eyebrow and then tilted his head to look at the phoenix on his shoulder. After a moment of silent communication, Fawkes hopped across to Hermione's shoulder and nudged her cheek with his head in acknowledgement of her thanks.

Hermione blushed and gave Harry an apologetic look. "Sorry, Harry. I forgot you don't need to talk aloud to Fawkes. I guess you'd already said your thanks, then?"

He nodded. "He reminded me earlier today that I'd been taking him for granted when I asked him to take a book to Ginny. So I was going to ask Prof… Minerva to make us a portkey. But then I got worried that Fawkes might feel offended, so in the end I gave him the choice."

"How did he reply exactly?" Hermione asked, trying to keep the burning curiosity from her voice.

Harry grinned at her, not fooled for an instant. "He jumped on my shoulder and took a firm grip to indicate he wasn't going anywhere. Anyway, we can chat more about Fawkes later, if you like. We'd better head over, as it looks like Vanir's waiting," he gestured over at the counter where Vanir was standing and staring at them.

Hermione stopped stroking the phoenix, something she'd started doing shortly after he'd hopped onto her shoulder, and took Harry's hand again as they walked towards the arrivals counter.

Harry found himself intrigued by Vanir's stares. He expected him to look at Fawkes, and his forehead now that he knew the scar was there, but he was surprised at the attention he was paying to his head. Could he see through the glamour Minerva has cast before they left?

Halfway to the counter, he heard the sound of an apparition pop behind him. Turning quickly around, he watched as Tonks started scanning for him after just apparating in. She stalked up to the two teens and didn't look too pleased.

"Oi! What's the big idea leaving me behind? How come I had to find out about this little lunch date from Minerva?"

As she spoke she was peering at his head and giving a small frown. "You know, you really should have come to me with this. There's a little trick the Aurors learn in concealment that helps reduce the glow of a glamour. Well, nothing to do about it at the moment in the open like this, but when we get somewhere a little more private, I'll fix it up.

"What do you mean by 'glow'?" Hermione asked, looking at Harry's illusory hair and failing to see any glow.

"I'll tell you later," she said, noticing the two teens holding hands. She looked at Harry with an unreadable expression on her face. "We're going to have a nice long chat soon, about a topic or three, aren't we?"

Harry didn't think that sounded much like a question at all, and going by her earlier comments, he realised he should have told Tonks about their trip this morning… or should he? Did he need to tell everyone everything he was doing or planning, or just Tonks? He appreciated their help, but–

He broke off his train of thought with the new mantra he'd adopted. 'Stop and think!' Is this the right attitude for Lord Black… or Lord Potter, or Potter-Black? Or whatever he was supposed to call himself. 'Oh, just stop your whining! You're an adult now, so act like one!' he reminded himself.

He smiled at her. "Sure, Tonks. I should have tried to find you before we left, but I got a little distracted. We can't have missed you by much, then?" His tone made the question obvious. How had she followed them so quickly, when he hadn't seen her since the training this morning?

"I came out of the tent just in time to see you flame out. Minerva told me where you were going, so here I am," she nodded over towards the counter. "Looks like your glamour isn't fooling him either. We'd better go say hello."

Vanir smiled ruefully at Harry and his companions as they walked up to the counter. "Good day to you all. My apologies. I didn't mean to stare but I am surprised at your new look. Did you realise your glamour is a little obvious? I didn't notice it the last time we met. Quite surprising, really."

"I wasn't using a glamour before. This is new." Harry told him.

"I…see," Vanir said dubiously, not seeing at all. Why would the boy be wearing a glamour that mimicked the haircut he'd worn the previous day? The more interesting problem was this new person that arrived after them. Was she supposed to know what these two were up to?

"Well, then, I believe it's time for my lunch break," he announced, waiting for their response.

"Great. Shall we go then? You can show us where you would like to eat." Harry replied.

"Of course, "Vanir replied, understanding the new young woman was to be included now. "But first, I will fix that glamour for you."

As Vanir went to draw his wand, he hesitated at the looks both young women gave him as they placed their hands on their own wands. He drew it more slowly, and looked steadily at the older of the two before turning his attention to Harry. He waved his wand in an intricate series of movements, finishing with a spin similar to something a baton twirler might use, before he pocketed his wand again.

Tonks peered at Harry, and then cast an appraising look at Vanir that clearly indicated her intention to talk to him about the spell he'd just cast.

He smiled at her. "Now, Miss…?"

"Tonks."

"Miss Tonks. May I escort you to lunch? I assure you, you have nothing to fear from me. My wife, on the other hand…" he trailed off.

"Your wife isn't going to have any reason to worry. Alright, come on then."

Vanir smiled and led them out the main entrance. There was a restaurant nearby that he liked to dine at, but rarely found the opportunity to do so.

~o~

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