Theodore woke up in his empty dormitory the next morning feeling both reluctant and eager for the day to begin. When he thought about everything he had told Luna last night – things about his mother and his family that he had never told anyone – he felt an uncomfortable squirming inside of his stomach. What had he done? He was as exposed as a Mooncalf dancing at the full moon, except he had no fellow Mooncalves surrounding him to offer coverage from prey.
Or was that true anymore? For two more days he was to have a companion. That thought alone raised his spirits.
Funny how when Luna asked what it was he wanted from her, he hadn’t thought to say money or knowledge of charms or information about Potter. He had asked for her time and then he had asked for a kiss.
He rolled on his stomach and buried his face in his pillow, trying to stem the flood of images that inevitably followed thoughts of kissing a girl with a lush mouth like that. She wasn’t that sort of girl, he told himself sternly.
No, Luna was a caring girl, a sensitive girl. And she had touched his wrist – once, and she had put her hand on his back – once, and she had called him Theodore – once.
And he wanted her to do all those things again.
Then he remembered the plan that he had put into play last night. It was a plan to put Luna’s roommates in their place and he had done it without prompting or without thinking about how it would benefit him. But now, in the privacy of his own bed, he was dangerously close to realizing what it was that compelled him to seek revenge on her part.
He wouldn’t articulate that hope. Wishes never won anything. But a well-thought out plan often did.
Unfortunately, winning was the furthest thought from his mind when he saw Luna sitting alone at the end of Ravenclaw table listlessly stirring her – their – bowl of porridge. He had the fleeting thought that he hoped she hadn’t put cream in it before he noticed a few more things about her appearance. She wasn’t wearing her feather necklace or the one made out of butterbeer corks or any necklace at all. Her hair was tied severely back in a ponytail; her white blouse was buttoned primly to her throat. In short, she looked like any other Hogwarts witch and that was… disconcerting.
Also disconcerting was the droop to her shoulders. Did the elves get it wrong? He certainly hoped his plan had been implemented, although, he noted as he sat on the bench next to Luna, her roommates were not at breakfast.
The porridge looked like a potion gone wrong. “You put cream in it!”
She stared at the bowl in front of her. “So I did.”
“I hate thin porridge.”
“So do I.” She sighed.
He reached for a mug from one of the empty place settings and it immediately filled with hot, fragrant tea. Perhaps he could nick another bowl so he could have porridge the way he liked it….
“My roommates woke up to find that all of their things were gone,” Luna said in the same tone of voice one would use to describe a goblin rebellion from five hundred years before.
“I felt so sorry for them,” she continued. “Henriette didn’t have her glasses, so she stubbed her toe on her way to my bed to ask me if I knew where their things were.”
He snorted. He sincerely doubted that Henriette was on her way to wake a sleeping Luna to make a polite inquiry about the whereabouts of her things. “Are you going to eat that?” he asked, indicating the porridge. He had given up the idea of nicking another bowl – they did have an agreement to eat off of the same plate. She pushed it to him without speaking.
The lukewarm porridge was as horrible as he expected, but he was hungry, so he slurped it down anyway. “Tell me more about your roommates,” he demanded abruptly.
She gave him a quick, side-long glance. “Professor Flitwick was sorting them out when I came down.”
“So all of their possessions vanished?” He tried to hide his grin.
“Robes, underwear, shoes, books, quills, completed homework.” Her voice was bleak. “They didn’t even have dressing gowns.”
House-elves were so thorough, he thought with satisfaction as he tapped the edge of the empty bowl with his wand. It immediately filled again – this time with porridge of the right consistency. “Have some fresh porridge?” he offered. “I ate up the thin batch.”
She looked at it. “I’m not hungry.”
“Why?” He couldn’t imagine what she would be upset about. Her roommates had been greatly inconvenienced, he had eaten the watery porridge, today was Friday so no classes tomorrow….
“I don’t like to see people hurt or embarrassed,” she said in a low voice.
“Well I do,” he declared, dipping his spoon into the porridge. “Especially when the people in question deserve it.”
“You were behind it!” She pivoted toward him, her mouth hanging open in dismay.
“Who else?” he said coldly. This wasn’t the reaction he had envisioned. His ideas ran more along the lines of gushing thanks and a glint of admiration in those blue eyes.
“Raine said it was you,” Luna continued. “But I stood up for you. I said you would never….”
Merlin, that was disappointment in her eyes. His flimsy hopes ripped into a thousand pieces. “You were wrong then,” he said savagely. “Of course I would. They were insulting to me yesterday and they embarrassed you – not to mention all the other pranks they’ve probably pulled on you over the years. It was high time someone put them in their place.”
“But – Daddy always said that if I just showed them the real me they would come to like me over time.”
She was pathetic – and so was he for mooning about her this morning. “Daddy’s wrong,” he spit out.
She jerked back as if he had slapped her. “My roommates were starting to like me. They haven’t played one trick on me all year. And now you’ve gone and undone it all.”
“If they like you so much you can just explain how it was the big bad Slytherin who did it,” he mocked. “Surely they’ll believe you since they know the real you.”
Her eyes filled with tears. Guilt twisted in his gut. He had to be the lowest form of life to be quarreling with someone so earnestly good.
“They should believe me,” she said haltingly. “I think maybe they did this morning because I’ve never done anything to them –”
“You never fought back – ever?”
Her eyes widened. “No. That’s not the way to repay evil – you don’t stop evil with something equally evil.”
“No, you stop it with something more evil.” He ran his hand over his cropped hair in frustration.
“I don’t believe that,” she said calmly. Then she stared off into space. “’There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.’”
What was she talking about now? “My name’s not Horatio,” he snapped.
The conversation came to a skidding halt. She was so indifferent – like a princess who couldn’t be bothered to argue with him.
All he wanted was for her to talk to him like he mattered – like she had talked to him last night. But he had done something she didn’t approve of and he had wounded her – he knew it by the tears in her eyes. How could he make her see that he was acting in her best interest? How could he convince her that his approach was right and hers was wrong?
His shoulders sagged. He couldn’t.
He glanced sideways at her again. She was humming under her breath, staring at the Enchanted Ceiling, which reflected an uninteresting tapestry of gray clouds.
With his wand he tapped her – their – plate, and eggs and toast appeared. “Eat,” he commanded, his mind working furiously. Couldn’t he just pretend that he was won over to her point of view? What did he care about being right or wrong as long as she talked to him like he was… a person with a first name?
Docilely, she picked up her fork, which made him angry all over again. So much for pretending. “I don’t get why you’re angry with me for getting back at your roommates,” he said.
She swallowed and put the fork down gently on the table. “I’m not angry with you.” She clasped her hands in her lap. “I’m just regretful… and sad for my roommates.”
He could see the whites of her knuckles as she gripped her hands together. That gave him a certain pleasure – she wasn’t such an indifferent princess after all.
“Liar,” he whispered.
“I’m not angry.” She turned to face him, her eyes large and tragic. “And stop trying to goad me.” She stood up, placed her serviette on the table and then fled. He watched her pony tail sway as she hurried across the Great Hall. There was no point in reminding her that she was breaking a promise by running away. She would remember since she had a mind like a bloody steel trap.
Her sense of fair play would bring back to his side, but he couldn’t make her care enough to argue with him. He sighed and wondered why he hadn’t left that bloody golden ball at the bottom of the lake.
Still feeling raw and angry, the last thing he wanted was a confrontation with Ginny Weasley. She stepped in front of him as he left the Great Hall and pointed her wand at his chest. “What did you do to Luna?” she hissed.