Harry begins his vacation.
Land of the Midnight Sun
Harry picked himself up after the portkey landed, and found that he was the only one who hadn't kept his feet. They had arrived . . . nowhere. Harry looked around. There were trees and bushes and rocks. As he looked, things that weren't at first apparent seemed to leap out at him. Like the fact that between these trees and those a few miles away there was nothing. He changed position a little and saw that he was on a mountain, and the other trees he could see were on another mountain, with a wide, tree covered valley between. He also started noticing the songs of the birds, but that might be because their sudden appearance caused them to stop chirping for a moment. He looked at his companions and saw them looking at him with smiles on their faces.
"Welcome to Sweden, Harry," Luna said. "You don't get out into the woods much, do you?"
"I've been in the Forbidden Forest a few times."
"But have you ever lived there? Spent a night there? Cooked, cleaned, set up camp?"
"Then you're in for a treat.
"Harry, don't you think you should let your owl out?"
"Oh, Hedwig! I'm sorry!" Harry ran over to where the cage had fallen from his hand when he hit the ground. The snowy owl glared at him, as he opened the cage, and took off with a bark.
"That's right, snowy owls don't hoot, they bark, and are diurnal, not nocturnal. What a unique girl you are," Luna cooed at Hedwig who was sitting in a tree nearby. She got a bark for a response.
"Well, let's go," Mr. Lovegood said, removing his robes to reveal the khaki trousers and flannel shirt he had worn beneath them. He was looking at some sort of metal instrument in one hand, and his wand in the other. He started marching through the trees.
"Where are we going?" Harry asked. Mr. Lovegood had set a fairly good pace.
"We're looking for a campsite. The location is very important, because tomorrow is the solstice. I think the Swedish officials who got us the portkey didn't follow directions very well. I don't know how far we'll have to hike, but I hope it's not too far."
Harry soon was concentrating on the hike and not any conversation that Luna was having with her father. He was glad he had taken a nap for most of the Hogwarts Express ride, but he was still tiring. He thought, slowly, as he walked, because, as he didn't have anything else to do except avoid branches, rocks, roots, and dips in the ground, it didn't matter how slow he thought.
If the sun rises in the east and sets in the west then if you went east you would be getting later in the day until you went more than half way around the world (or crossed the midnight line), then you would be earlier. And since Sweden was east of England, it should be later, but the sky was still very bright. The sun was down, but twilight was still continuing. It seemed to be lasting a long time.
Harry suddenly found himself sprawled on the ground.
"Harry, are you all right?"
"I think I missed that last root."
"I don't. I think you missed avoiding that last root. Daddy, do you know how much further? Couldn't you apparate ahead and find a camp site close enough, then come back for us?"
"But we're roughing it! We're getting back to nature! Feel free to doff your clothes anytime, Harry. It's natural."
"I'll pass, thanks."
Mr. Lovegood muttered something about civilization that Harry didn't catch. Then he acceded to his daughter's request.
"Oh, very well. I'll start apparating north until I find a good spot. Wait right here."
He apparated away.
"I'd like to learn how to do that. It would have been useful when we were fighting."
"I can teach you," Luna said.
"You can apparate?"
"Oh, yes. Daddy thought it would be dangerous to go camping so far from civilization and not have the ability to go get help if he ever got hurt. But I hope you're not too much of a prude to join us at tomorrow's ceremony."
Luna answered as she got Harry sitting, leaning against a tree. She sat down close to him, and he put his arm around her without thinking about it. She snuggled into his side, and answered. "We're celebrating the summer solstice. At midnight we'll perform the summer ritual. Some day I'd like to perform the winter ritual, but that might be too cold, don't you think? Besides, Daddy doesn't like winter camping, and as I've never done it, I can't say if I like or not.
"But as you've never gone camping before -- I did understand you that you've never gone camping, right? -- you probably can't say if you like summer camping. We'll just have to find out and view this whole thing as a great adventure. I wonder if I thought it was an adventure the first time I went camping? But I don't remember that. I was very young at the time. Mum said it was the only time they've ever let a halfling back. They've let mortals in, but only special ones. And of course they rarely come back. But she said this was one of the few times they let a halfling in and then let us back out again. And I don't think they'll ever let me go back, so it doesn't really matter that I don't remember, I can't miss it, can I. Oh well. If you can't go, I suppose there's no use worrying about it."
Harry realized that Luna had stopped speaking, and realized he hadn't any idea of what she was talking about. He also realized that he had his eyes closed and may have been dozing. He opened them, and noticed Luna under his arm, sleeping against him. He felt cool, but had no idea how long he had been sleeping. It was still twilight. He had a full bladder, and tried to gently extract himself from Luna, but she woke anyway.
"Sorry, I need to go use the little wizards room."
"Harry, we're in the mountains. There are no bathrooms around here."
"Yes, well, I still need to go."
"That's fine. I'll just wait here. Aim high. It annoys the wolves when they can't pee over your scent."
Harry ignored that, went behind a tree and relieved himself (as high on the tree as he could) and returned. Luna had her wand out and cast a warming charm on him. He felt stiff from sleeping against the tree and the warming charm felt good. Then it struck him.
"Luna! You can't use magic!"
"There's no restriction on magic except the Secrecy Statute. There are no muggles around, right? So no one cares, and we need to warm up."
"No sign of your father?"
"No, I should have realized this was going to happen."
"He forgot where he left us. Either that or he's been attacked by wackspurts. We won't know until we get back together. I just hope this doesn't make us miss the solstice."
"Should we go look for him?"
"You've never been in the woods before have you? You can't have two groups wandering around trying to look for each other. That just reduces the chance that they will ever find each other. One group has to stay put. For children the term is 'hug a tree.'"
"How about we send Hedwig to find him and lead him back to us?"
"That's a brilliant idea, Harry, if she can do it."
At the sound of her name, the snowy owl swooped down to Harry, who held out an arm to be a perch.
"Hey girl, you think you can find Mr. Lovegood?"
Hedwig gave an indignant bark.
"Good, then get him and bring him back here."
"Harry, how will he know that Hedwig wants him to follow her?"
"Right! We'll write a note."
"Uh, Luna? Do you have any parchment and ink?"
"Do you have anything?"
Harry checked his pockets. "Just a couple of Knuts and a Galleon, as well as our DA galleon."
"Let's give him a coin. Then Daddy will know that she's not just a random owl."
Harry shrugged and gave the owl a Knut. She flew off to the east where the sky was noticeably brighter.
"Is it morning already? I must have slept longer than I thought."
"Why do you say that?"
"I don't remember it getting dark."
"It didn't. We're near the Arctic Circle. Tonight the sun won't set at all. We'll do the solstice ritual and watch it as it nears the horizon to the north."
"Oh. To the north? Are you sure?"
"Yes, Harry. Because of the tilt of the earth -- you did pay some attention in astronomy didn't you?"
"Yes," he answered indignantly.
"Then you should know that in summer the northern hemisphere is pointed towards the sun."
"And, if you're north of the Arctic Circle the sun doesn't set. Well, right at the Arctic Circle the sun doesn't set on the solstice. It dips towards the horizon and at midnight is visible to the north, because it's at such an angle that we're looking at the sun that's shining at noon over the other side of the world, but we're looking over the north pole to see it, because the pole is angled towards it."
Harry thought about it for a moment, and nodded. "Okay, I got it. But then would the winter solstice ritual be watching the sun as it climbs above the horizon at noon?"
"Exactly, although you have to be a little south of the circle to see it."
Meanwhile Hedwig flew to Mr. Lovegood. She landed on a nearby branch and barked. Mr. Lovegood looked at her.
"Do you have a letter for me?" he asked. Hedwig held out her claw. He hesitantly put his open palm under the claw, and a coin dropped into his hand.
"Did I drop this somewhere?" he asked the owl, looking at the knut. Hedwig barked a negative reply that the strange man completely misunderstood.
"Well, that was very kind of you. And if you hang around, after I find my children and take them to the camp, we'll find something to reward you. My daughter's boyfriend has an owl that looks very much like you, and he probably has some owl treats he could share. And maybe you and his owl will get along? Who knows?"
Hedwig barked indignantly and flew away to the west.
"Come back! I'm sure they're this way," Lovegood said as he headed east.
Harry was still talking to Luna when Hedwig came back. "So spring is rebirth, summer is life, winter is rest or meditation, and autumn is gluttony or," he reddened, "mating?"
"That's right. Or rather, that's one way of looking at it. There are probably many ways to order the year, but that one works for us."
"Sure. Haven't you ever seen the squirrels stuffing themselves with nuts in preparation for the winter? Or grasses bursting with seeds. Of course you could call autumn "decay" and winter "death," which would lead into spring being "rebirth." And Oh, dear. . . ."
"What?" Harry looking where she seemed to be looking. Here came Hedwig, and no sign of Mr. Lovegood. She landed on Harry's arm.
"Didn't he follow you, girl?" The bark Hedwig made almost sounded like a "harrumph!" Or perhaps it was more along the lines of "that idiot? Are you kidding?" Harry was never sure if he was actually communicating with his owl or if he was imagining what she was trying to say and getting it all wrong.
"Now what?" he asked Luna.
"We'll have to try again. What else do you have to send?"
"The other three coins, but I have a feeling that won't work any better the second time. You have anything?"
"Nothing except the clothes I have on. I guess that'll have to be it, then." She started unbuttoning her flannel blouse.
"Luna! What are you doing?"
She finished with the buttons and turned away from him. She took off her blouse, leaving her upper body only in a bra. She removed that, oblivious to Harry's stares and pulled the shirt back on. She buttoned a few buttons, and turned back to him. Harry, for his part, had never seen a more beautiful back in his life.
"Here, Hedwig. Can you use this to get my father to follow you?" Hedwig grabbed a strap and flew off.
"Harry? Harry? You can blink now," Luna said as she finished buttoning the shirt. She cast another warming charm on herself.
"Sorry, Luna," Harry said, as he looked away.
"I don't mind, Harry, as long as that's not the only thing you look at."
"I'm sorry," he said again.
"It's all right, Harry. I'm glad you like my body. I'm rather attached to it, myself. It seems to be a pretty good one."
"Yes." Harry turned red again.
"While we wait," Luna decided to change the subject, "do you want to start meditating?"
"Yes, we should spend most of the day meditating in preparation for the ritual tonight. Have you meditated before?"
"A little for Occlumency."
"Oh, you know Occlumency! Brilliant! That's exactly what you should do." She found a comfortable spot and sat in a lotus position.
"Uh, Luna? Can I ask you something?"
"You can ask me anything, Harry. I don't guarantee an answer or that I won't slap your face, but I promise to try not to laugh -- there's nothing worse than asking a serious question and having the person you asked laugh -- but you can ask me anything."
Her answer threw him for a moment, and he forgot what he was going to ask. But Luna just sat there patiently waiting for him to continue, and he came back to himself.
"You seem different than when you were at Hogwarts. You seem more . . ." he struggled for a word to describe her difference, "here? You don't seem as . . . " again he searched for a word. Luna waited patiently for him to finish. ". . . distracted as you often do. Why is that?"
She smiled at him and kept staring with her large, slightly protruding silvery eyes. "That's very insightful, as well as very diplomatically phrased.
"Part of it is an act. But I am very distracted and forgetful at Hogwarts. Well, any time I'm around a lot of people. So they started calling me Loony, and I thought if they were so quick to judge, I'd be loony until someone decided to look through the mask. You're the first one to look through the mask, Harry."
"Why are you distracted around people?" Harry had the feeling that this was very important.
Now it was Luna's turn to struggle to find words. Harry saw her eyes suddenly focus, and she said, "It's like the night sky. You live near London, don't you?"
"Yes, in Surrey."
"Then you know how different the night sky looks from your house compared to the sky we see from the castle. The stars are much clearer and there are many more of them. That's how I am, Harry. When I'm away from people I can think much clearer. I suppose that's part of why not having friends has never bothered me. But let's meditate."
"What do you think about when you meditate?" Harry asked.
"Uh, oh. I think we have a problem, Mr. Potter."
Off to the east, Hedwig had found Mr. Lovegood again. She landed on a tree and barked at him to get his attention. She succeeded.
"What have you got there, my pretty fellow?"
Hedwig almost few away at that remark, but she had a job to do, and if she had to put up with aspersions on her femininity to perform that job, she would suffer in silence. At least until she got back to Harry. She stuck out her leg, showing the dangling bit of lingerie.
"Oh, my! You naughty bird! You stole some young lady's clothes while she was bathing or getting dressed. You give that right back. Or better yet, give it to me and I'll give it back." As he approached the maligned owl, she flew to another tree. Mr. Lovegood followed. And so it went.
Back with the young people Harry and Luna were sitting facing each other, but with eyes closed. Luna was still in a lotus position, and Harry, unable to bend that way comfortably despite the stretches he had performed, was sitting cross legged in front of her.
"I can't believe he didn't teach you meditation. It's like he didn't want you to learn Occlumency."
"I don't think he did. I don't know why, but that's the only thing that makes sense."
"And he didn't teach you anything about organizing your mind? An Occlumency notebook and spells? Fortifications?"
"No, he never got past 'Clear your mind.' I have to tell you, I felt terrible after each session."
"It sounds more like mind rape that instruction. There's no excuse for that. It's just plain evil."
"Dumbledore told him to teach me. . . ."
"But he didn't make sure you were taught correctly, did he? That's either incompetence or complicity. I tell you Harry, there will be a reckoning. They will rue the day they hurt you."
Harry opened his eyes and looked at her. "Did you actually say "rue the day"? I've never heard that used outside of some TV shows I've overheard."
Luna smiled at him and said, "I've wanted to say that years, but it never seemed to come up in conversation."
"You could have threatened those people who stole your stuff with it."
"That would have harmed my Loony persona. But enough of that! Back to mediation!"
"But I keep thinking of things. . . ."
"Of course, your brain keeps generating ideas. But just acknowledge them, and let them go. Don't dwell on them, and they will slip away."
They closed their eyes.
Tonk's wand vibrated a little in her wrist holster. She stretched a little, but not too much -- the invisibility cloak she wore didn't allow too much movement, otherwise parts of her would become visible. She slowly walked around the house, noticing some activity inside. She looked up at Harry's window -- nothing to see. She hadn't seen the boy at all during her eight hour watch. She needed to get home quick and get some sleep before she had to be at her regular job as an auror. She stopped by the tree across the street from number four and waited for her replacement.
She heard the sound of feet on the street and was able to track the invisible person by the sound. When the footsteps reached the tree, she heard a voice.
"Thestrals," Arthur Weasley whispered.
"Basilisks," she gave the counter sign.
"How is he?"
"Haven't seen him at all. Dung said he didn't see him either, but he was sleeping when I got here. So, theoretically, Harry might be out, but if he is, we have no way of knowing."
"If he is, Dumbledore said he put tracking spells on Harry's clothes, so we'll eventually find him. Dumbledore thought that Harry would want to be alone now. I don't know. I don't think it's healthy keeping him away from his friends when he's just lost someone. If I see him, I'm going to talk to him, no matter what Dumbledore says."
"I agree, Arthur. But it wouldn't be too unusual for him to want to be left alone while he grieves. I remember when Grandma died; I went to my room for a day and didn't come out. This is probably Harry's first chance to be alone since it happened."
"You might be right, but I'm still going to talk to him. And if I find those muggles have been abusing him. . . ."
"You and me both, Arthur, you and me both."
There was a pop as Tonks went back to her apartment, and Arthur made a slow circle of the house at number four, Privet Drive.
Back near the Arctic Circle, Harry was encountering another obstacle in his attempt to learn meditation.
"I'm hungry. What if he doesn't come back? How long do we wait?"
"We hold the ritual here and come the morning we start making our way back to civilization."
"And you know which way that is?"
"Not exactly; but you find some running water and follow it. Civilization always lives near water. So we just follow a stream until it turns into a river or reaches a town. If it reaches a town, we get help. If it reaches a river, we continue downstream until it reaches people."
"But we have no food," Harry protested.
"We can go for several days without food as long as we have water. You worry too much, Harry."
"Sorry, I'll try not to."
Hedwig chose that time to return Luna's underwear to her. She quickly got up, slipped it into her pocket, and yelled, "Daddy!"
"Luna! Is that you?"
"Yes, Daddy; we're over here!"
"Good thing I found you. You shouldn't wander off like that. By the way, have you seen a naked or half-naked woman around? I was following an owl that had some of her clothes."
Hedwig landed on Harry's shoulder while Luna answered, "No Daddy."
"Well, that's her problem, I guess. Let's head to camp!"
"You didn't bring any food, did you Daddy? We seem to have missed dinner, breakfast and now lunch."
"Oh, yes. It so happens that I did." He brought out a tiny brown bag that rapidly grew into a grocery bag with a tap of his wand. He handed Luna and Harry sandwiches and half liter bottles of milk.
"Eat quick, we need to finish setting up camp and do our meditating. Do you meditate, Harry?"
"Luna's been teaching me."
"Excellent! Let's go. By the way, if you see another snowy owl around, keep track of it. It paid me a knut to give him some owl treats, and I didn't have any with me. But since I took his money, I think we owe him some treats."
Hedwig barked, and Harry murmured to the bird on his shoulder, "You're right."