Harry's in the woods, and Dumbledore reveals some of his plans to McGonagall.
"We're packing up?" Harry asked, as Luna got out of bed.
"Yes. We're done here. We have to go farther north to find the snorkacks."
"Then why come here?"
"For the Solstice, silly. For the best results we had to do it right on the Arctic Circle. But now if we're going to see the snorkacks, we have to be much farther north."
"Okay, your turn to get dressed."
He wasn't allowed to leave the tent after he was dressed, though. He was put in charge of handing things out to Luna or her father. Soon the tent was empty except for him and he then swept it out. He exited it with the broom, and at Mr. Lovegood's insistence, he helped take it down.
"Pay attention to this, because you'll be putting it up by yourself."
"Yes. Normally, I'd just side along with Luna. There's no other way to make sure we both apparate to the same place unless you have exact coordinates, and between you and me, she doesn't always end up where the coordinates say anyway. So I'll side along you; then come back for Luna. Meanwhile, you can put up the tent." As he was talking they had collapsed the tent, unconnected the support poles, and put the whole thing back into the sack that someone had made for it out of an old pair of jeans.
Harry felt the squeezing through a rubber tube feeling of apparition again. On the whole, he didn't dislike it quite as much as floo or portkey travel, but it wasn't something he was anxious to repeat. He couldn't understand the Weasley Twins apparating all over the place the previous summer. As the feeling went away and light came back, he felt the ground under his feet, but gravity had different ideas and he fell out of Mr. Lovegood's grasp. He ended up on the ground. Mr. Lovegood helped him up with a muttered apology.
He looked around. They were on a hill overlooking a beautiful mountain lake. They were surrounded by tree covered slopes, and he could see the sun flashing off a stream that led to the lake.
"Yes it is. And while I go back to get Luna, I'd like you set up the tent in that clearing right there.
"But before I do, I have to ask you, what are your intentions with respect to my daughter?"
"What are your plans? Is this just a summer fling? Are you going to make her fall in love with you and leave her? I won't have you breaking her heart."
"I wasn't. . . ."
"Then what were you?"
"I. . . I don't know. She invited me to come, and it seemed like a good idea at the time. . . ."
"But now you're not sure?"
"No! I mean, yes. I mean, I love it here! And if it weren't for you and Luna I doubt I would have ever seen it. I can't thank you two enough.
"But I don't want to hurt Luna. She's funny, and beautiful, and wise. And I love holding her. But I don't know what I feel about her. And I don't want to hurt her."
"I can tell you care for her. And I can respect that. Now she tells me that you missed the sex lecture?"
"Er, yes, sir. But it's not like I don't know anything. . . ."
"From the sound of it, you don't know certain aspects of a woman's reproductive cycle. But we can gloss over that. Do you know anything about an unbreakable vow?"
"A little. Hermione, er, Hermione Granger, a friend of mine, was talking about them and magically binding contracts when we were setting up our -- study group. We signed a magically binding contract to not talk about it with anyone outside the group."
"Then don't talk about it with me. But at least you understand that magic can control people. Well, a marriage vow is like a magically binding contract. There is no divorce in the magical world. Husbands and wives are joined magically.
"Now, have you ever heard the physical act of sex described as 'the marriage act?' Well, sometimes it is. It sort of depends on how you were brought up, and what kind of marriage you expect. Some of the dark families expect the wives to be not much more than heir makers, and the marriage vows bind them in that way, leaving the man free to pursue other victims or partners."
"I would never do that," Harry protested.
"No, I don't believe you would.
"However, the magic involved can be rather strange. By engaging in the marriage act you might invoke a marriage vow. That is why rape is so rare in the magical world, too. If the woman is magically powerful enough, her magic could kill her rapist, or make him married to her, which, depending upon the woman's idea of the vow, might force a violent person to attempt to be a loving husband to someone they don't like or lose his life by violating the vow."
"Wow. But what about all those stories about the Death Eater's revels?"
"Dark wizards, Harry. Their marriage vows don't constrain them as much as others. They're written that way. And the other thing -- they don't use magical women, only muggles. They want their fun or their violence or whatever they get out of raping someone, but they don't want to lose their lives over it. Which brings us back to you."
"Me? I've never raped anyone. I've never even seen a naked girl."
"What rock have you been living under?"
"Dumbledore's, I think."
Mr. Lovegood laughed at that. "Be that as it may, should you take Luna's virginity, whether it's willing or not, you would probably end up with a marriage bond in effect. Now, as you're not sure what your long term plans are with Luna, I would caution you against taking an irrevocable action that you might regret."
"Er, no sir. Uh, sir, about our sleeping arrangements?"
"I didn't plan on sleeping with your daughter. That didn't come out right. I meant really sleeping, not having sex, which I wasn't planning either. I mean I didn't have. With your daughter." Harry's voice trailed off. "I think I should start again."
Mr. Lovegood broke out in a big laugh. Harry waited until it was over, trying to get what he wanted straight in his mind.
"I think I know what you're asking. You're wondering about sharing a bed with her, even though you're not having sex." Harry nodded. Lovegood continued, "Harry, I trust my daughter, to a point. I think she may be in love with you, which is a dangerous emotion. I'm sure the thought of enticing you into a marriage vow, without you realizing it, has crossed her mind once or twice. Hang on a second, don't go looking so panicked! I said it's crossed her mind, not that she'd do it to you. I trust her to do the right thing, and even if she might be tempted, I'm sure she wouldn't give in to that temptation.
"But the other thing is, despite her teasing, she's really very shy, and I'm sure she'd never have sex with you when I'm around. But it would be wise of you both to make sure things don't get out of hand."
"Well, I'll leave you to set up the tent. I'll be back with Luna shortly."
Dumbledore and Moody looked at the beautiful mountain lake.
"No doubt about it, Alastor, this is where it's pointing."
"Accio Harry's shoe." They had determined that it was only Harry's shoes that were still being tracked by Dumbledore's machine. Nothing responded to Moody's summoning spell. "Well, either the tracking spell was put on something else, or the shoe's no longer a shoe. Either way, it was an ingenious way to throw us off the trail. I wonder if Harry thought it up himself."
Dumbledore frowned and said, "You sound like you're happy he did this!"
"Whether he should or shouldn't have run away isn't the important thing, here. What's important is that he's being cautious. He's thrown off our tracking charms. Anything that the Death Eaters might have put on him is probably gone, too."
"You think the Death Eaters were tracking him, too?"
"Albus, I try to think like a Dark Wizard to anticipate them. If I were a Death Eater after Harry Potter, I would have had someone cast a tracking spell on him."
"When would they get a chance?"
"Oh, I don't know. Maybe that school of yours, where Death Eaters walk around all the time."
"You're not still mad about being locked in a trunk for most of a year? I keep telling you, he was very good at pretending to be you."
"I was thinking of Snape or the children of Death Eaters. But if you want to discuss the events of the Triwizard tournament.. . . ."
"No, not really. What is this tracking? Perhaps that would give us a clue."
Moody conjured a chair and sat on it. "Be my guest. I'm guessing it will be less dangerous than what the students in the Triwizard contest did."
"This one is Koine Greek. And you're right, this one is Latin. This looks rather like a Middle French."
They had set up the camp and were sitting around the table looking over the books that Harry had liberated from the room off the Chamber of Secrets.
"Norse. Oriental, but I couldn't tell you what language. Middle eastern or Hindi. Probably Hindi," Luna said closing the book quickly.
Harry was reading Voldemort's book, making notes in English. "Do you speak Hindi?"
"Maybe one of the Patil sisters could tell us what it's about."
"That won't be necessary."
Harry finally looked up. "You know what it's about?"
"Probably. We don't need to worry about it right now. But I think I know what most of these books are."
"Huh? None of them are about Occlumency as far as I can tell."
"They couldn't be. But you never got instructed in it, so you don't know. Occlumency is a magical discipline. Can you think of any other magical discipline?"
"I don't know. . . .Something like ward breaking?"
"No, ward breaking would be an application of the discipline of wanded magic, while permanent wards are in the area of magical artifacts. Potion making is a different discipline, or an application of the discipline of Alchemy. Apparition is an application of magical movement, another discipline."
"Which I don't seem to have the knack for."
"Hey, you only had a short lesson today. Don't get discouraged. Anyway, Occlumency is more than just a technique. You can get away with clearing your mind using meditation, and that can defend you against many mind attacks. But a powerful Legilimency attack could still overwhelm you. And Occlumency isn't even about defense mainly."
Mr. Lovegood looked up from the book he was reading.
"Not specifically, no. Luna, I agree, these appear to be Occlumency books. Harry, an advanced form of Occlumency is all about organizing your mind and enhancing its power -- memory, learning capacity, analysis. As a by product it will protect what's inside from just about any sort of magical attack, even Veritaserum and the Imperious. But the advanced form involves a ritual whereby you create a book. The book is the sum total of your knowledge on any one subject. That one is on potions, for example."
Luna took up the explanation, "It has to be something you know about; something you're good at. What happens is that while you're writing, your mind is actually organizing and sorting everything you know. You don't even know what you're writing until you go back and read it.
"The drawback is that you can never teach that subject, and even learning anything new is very difficult. You just can't do it. But neither can someone break into your mind unless they read your book. My guess is that that bookshelf you found in the vault was the Potter family Occlumency books."
"Would this be Voldemort's book?"
Luna shook her head. "From what you read to us, that isn't set up like an Occlumency book. For one thing, he put his name in it. You'd never find that in a real Occlumency book. Knowledge is ego-less."
"You don't know Voldemort. . . Oh. Well, I think it will still be useful for figuring out how to kill him dead."
"These other books will be nice. There's nothing like an Occlumency book to learn from. Of course, you're just getting one person's knowledge, and they could be totally ignorant of many aspects of the subject. Which brings us back to you. Have you chosen a subject yet?"
Harry looked up again with a surprised expression and said, "What?"
"I assume you're going to want the best protection you can get from Voldemort's mental attacks. Besides all the other advantages it will give."
"Well, I haven't decided. If it's something I'm good at, then it would be either Quidditch or Defense, but in neither am I really good. Or perhaps I should say, knowledgeable. I'm a great seeker, and excellent flier, but overall Quidditch strategy? Ron has more knowledge than I do. And while I'm good at defense compared to all the people I taught last year, we have to admit that's not hard. Anyone with the drive could have learned what I taught."
"Well, if it's between those two subjects, I'd rather you use Quidditch. I hope you can continue teaching me, at least, to defend myself."
"But someday, I'd like to teach my children to play Quidditch."
"That's so sweet," Luna said, and went back to looking through the books.
"You never told me what that Hindi book was about," Harry said, realizing that Luna had changed the subject.
"It's either a sex manual, or about sex magic, I can't tell without reading it."
"How do you know?"
"All the pictures."
Mr. Lovegood broke into the conversation again. "I think I better have that one, Luna." He held out his hand until Luna reluctantly put the book in it. He flipped through it and his eyes widened. "Er, yes. You can have it back after you're seventeen."
Luna looked towards the lake. "We have company."
Harry followed her eyes. "What are they?"
"Crumpled Horned Snorkacks."
"Ah, Minerva. How thoughtful to welcome me back! But I've only been gone since this morning."
"Don't be foolish, Albus. Ron Weasley received word from Harry."
"Wonderful. Did he say where he is?"
"Here. This is a copy. You read it."
Dear Ron and everyone,
When my uncle's welcoming committee said I should write every three days, they didn't say who I should write to, so I'm writing to you Ron with the understanding that you'll pass along the information to your father.
I'm on vacation. I've never been on vacation, and with Voldemort gunning for me because of something in that prophecy I realized if I don't do it soon, I'll never get a chance. Do you know I've never seen the ocean? I still haven't but I intend to do so before this trip is done.
This is just a quick note to let you know I'm fine. Will write again in a few days. If I don't get it exactly every three days, I'm sorry. Don't worry unless it's been a week between my letters.
Enjoy your summer.
Harry, the boy-who-vacations-at-least-once-in-his-life
Dumbledore looked up from the letter to see the expression on McGonagall's face that students dread to see.
"I told you! I told you they were the worst kind of muggles. What sort of people would never take one of their children to the beach? Ever?"
Dumbledore's protestations that Harry wasn't their child didn't placate the assistant headmistress. The verbal attack went on and on. Dumbledore went to bed that evening with a very big headache.
"Good night, Harry."
"I think we need to go back to our own beds."
"But I like sleeping with you."
"And I like sleeping with you. But your father told me of the consequences should we lose control."
"He wouldn't really chop you up, Harry."
"Huh? He didn't say anything about that."
"Oh. Well, whatever he threatened you with, he wouldn't really do it."
"He didn't threaten me at all. It's just that I'm too young to get married, which I think would be the result of our going too far."
"I don't see how we can go too far. You haven't even kissed me."
"We're sleeping in the same bed. We're not wearing very much."
"But I don't believe you would go too far. I trust you Harry, and however far you go would be fine with me."
Harry closed his eyes, took a breath, and cleared his mind. A thought that he had achieved the goal Snape tried to beat into him with a lot more distraction than anything that had happened in Snape's office fluttered across his mind, but like all thoughts in that state, he let it go.
"You're so tempting. But I'm not ready, and I don't want to make a mistake that we'd both regret."
It was Luna's turn to close her eyes and take a breath. "Very well, Harry. May I have my sleeping bag back?"
They sorted out the bedding and lied down again. Harry leaned over to Luna and kissed her gently. Her eyes popped open and stared at him.
"I'm confused. I thought you didn't want me."
"I don't want to go too far. As you said, we haven't even kissed. So if this is a journey, we should begin at the beginning, right? Good night, Luna."
Luna had trouble going to sleep after that.
"Why don't you write him a letter and ask him where he is?" McGonagall was sitting in the Headmaster's office discussing the situation with him.
"The Weasleys and Miss Granger and Remus and even Tonks have done that," Dumbledore answered.
"I put an Owl intercept on his mail to keep anyone from sending him hexes or tracking charms."
"You're intercepting his mail?"
"I've been doing it his whole life. How could he have grown up a normal child if he received hundreds of letters every day praising and thanking him."
"He gets hundreds of letters?"
"At first, yes. And then after a few years only around Halloween, Christmas, and his birthday."
"Well, take it off!"
"It's not that simple. After he acquired his owl I modified the charm. His owl became the focus of it rather than the Dursley's house. That way it would be in effect even at school. I would have to cancel the spell on the owl to release the mail block."
"Then do so!"
"The owl is with him."
"Well, that will guarantee him a quiet vacation."
"At least we have that silver lining. The goblins have been writing him."
"And why is that a problem?"
"He doesn't know anything about his heritage."
"What! Albus Dumbledore, you told me you would instruct him on what he needed to know! Are you saying that he has no idea about his rights and obligations? How could you!"
"In order for him to lead a normal life, I felt it was better that he didn't worry about certain things. . . ."
"Like who the Wizengamot is going to force him to marry?"
"I have that all figured out. I even have the agreement with Arthur almost worked out. When the time is right, I'll present it to Harry as a /fait accompli./"
"Right before he kills you. If he cares for anyone it is the Granger girl."
"But she would be totally unacceptable to most of the membership. Besides, I have a back up plan."
"I'm all ears."
"I've been working out a contract with the prettiest girl in his class in mind, just in case. I've even made some discrete inquires."
"Prettiest girl? Good Lord, Albus! You don't mean the Greengrass girl!"
"Her father is marked! Despite the Imperious defense they used, they were probably avid supporters of You-Know-Who!"
"That is why the contract would have to be iron clad. We can't give her any loophole which would permit her to kill Harry without dire consequences to herself."
"I think I need to go, Albus. I can't begin to tell you how wrong this is."
"Nonsense, Minerva. It's for the Greater Good! You'll see."