Chocolate with the headmaster
Luna shares a nightly cup of chocolate with Albus Dumbledore during her first year at Hogwarts, and they both manage to find a confidant in the other. Characters belong to Rowling.
The portraits slept blissfully in their frames, dreaming whatever dusty dreams that are given magically animated memories of dead people. The clock had just struck eleven. The corridors of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry were dark and empty. The only sound that could be heard, apart from the wind in the trees outside the castle, and the gently snoring portraits, were the echoes of quiet, slouching steps, steadily growing lauder. The warm light from an oil lamp gradually became visible and made the shadows on the stone walls dance.
"No one there, my sweet?" A wheezy voice hissed. "No filthy little brats out of bed?" The speaker was silent for a moment, as if waiting for an answer, and then he swore under his breath. "They think it's funny that you're hurt, don't they, bloody maggots? Oh, just wait until you're up and about again, then we'll show them, my sweet. Oh yes, they'll be sorry..." The echoes of the steps and the mutterings continued down the corridor and gradually weakened. The girl in the shadows waited until the old man had disappeared in the gloom and she couldn't hear the steps anymore, before she continued her interrupted evening stroll. She had, after some earlier nocturne encounters with the old caretaker, concluded that he was a solitary kind of person that was better left undisturbed as he walked his evening patrols through the castle.
The girl descended a staircase and curtsied to the ghost of a former nobleman, who politely waved back. She stopped a few moments to curiously examine a set of armour by a doorway, and jumped when it waved at her. She was actually a bit surprised that she was alone to be out in the corridors, that the other students were content to spend their night in bed, knowing that the entire castle was waiting for them just outside the door, so full of marvels to explore. But she had learned by now not to question the strange habits of her peers. They were in their full right to do or believe whatever they wished to, after all, and she had no right - the girl sometimes very sternly reminded herself of this - to assume that her own beliefs were any more valid than their.
She waved back to the set of armour and strolled on. When she reached a painting of a basket of fruit a bit further down in the hallway she did something rather curious. She stood before it with her hands on her back and looked up at the big canvas.
"Please, could I come in?" she politely asked. "I would like to make a cup of chocolate, if it is not too much trouble."
She had hardly finished speaking before the portrait swung open and revealed a staircase behind it. The girl thanked the portrait and descended.
The staircase ended in an enormous kitchen, filled by cutlery and cooking gear, jars and pots, ever burning fires and ever cold ice-rooms. There were also uncountable house elves, dressed in the official pillow case of the castle. They were busily at work with the breakfast for the next day, so it took them a few minutes to notice the girl in the doorway. She patiently waited.
At last one of the elves looked up and saw her. She smiled at him, and he put down the loaf of bread he had been slicing and quickly ran over to her.
"Miss Luna!" he piped. "So very nice of her to look in. Does she wish Wibbie to get her something to eat?"
"Thank you very much, Wibbie, but I am perfectly happy as it is," Luna cheerfully answered and bent down to hug the elf - much to its embarrassment. "I would just wish to borrow a stove and a pot to make some chocolate, if you wouldn't mind me doing so."
"Wibbie can make chocolate for Miss Luna, just as good as any other elf," the elf protested, just a tad indignantly.
"Oh no," Luna answered. "It is quite all right. I like cooking."
Wibbie was still a bit reluctant to let her cook all by herself, but in the end, the girl got her wish through, and thus she stood by the stove - careful not to watch the pot of milk (otherwise it will never boil, you know) - curiously squinting at the elfish stenography that labelled the various jars in the cupboard, experimentally adding a few pinches of this or that. As she worked, she chatted happily with Wibbie. She told him of her day and of her classes, and curiously asked him about his day, whereupon she was told about life and duty as a Hogwarts house elf. Quite a number of other elves drifted over to the stove as they talked, and soon they were all engaged in talking, laughing and gossiping. They all tasted Luna's chocolate and concluded that it tasted quite nice, but that she should perhaps consider avoiding baking powder in the future.
After a while, the head house elf came to check on them. The other elves were chased back to work, and Luna sat down with her chocolate and started to read the Quibbler, which she had brought with her. It was a new issue that she hadn't read before, and soon she was engrossed in her reading. The kitchen was warm and nice, and the buzzing sounds of the house elves working made a fine background noise, preventing the silence from disturb her reading. She didn't notice the respectful squeals of the house elves as another person entered the kitchen, or how the head house elf herself greeted the guest and offered him a cup of chocolate that she apparently had already prepared. It wasn't until a shadow fell over her magazine that Luna looked up. A man stood before her, regarding her with a twinkle in his eyes.
"Would you mind if I sat down?" he asked, indicating the empty chair on the opposite side of Luna's table. She shook her head in silence, slightly nervously, and he sat down. He shot a curious glance at the magazine in front of her.
"The Quibbler?" he said, and took a small sip of the steaming content of his mug. "A most intriguing issue, don't you agree? I was particularly entertained by the article about Mesopotamian runes and their use in antique charms." Luna beamed at him.
"Thank you, headmaster," she said, encouraged by his friendly smile, the nervousness quickly evaporating. "It's a rather good article, I think."
"Indeed. The goat-finding rune was well researched, and would probably be found useful even to this day if properly translated... for any such person who finds himself with goat finding business at hand, of course."
"You never know when you might need a goat," Luna answered with an almost singsong voice, earning another twinkle.
"Now, correct me if I am wrong," the headmaster went on, "but aren't you Miss Lovegood, and happens to be daughter to the editor of this very magazine?"
"I'm Luna," Luna answered promptly.
"Ah, yes," the headmaster said. "You were sorted into Ravenclaw just a few months ago if I remember correctly. The sorting hat informed me that the two of you had quite some discussion before it reached its decision. So tell me, if you please; how do you enjoy Hogwarts so far?"
"I like it very much," she said heartfelt, and then she arched an eyebrow. "Your welcome speech was enjoyable, you know, even if it wasn't very long. Nitwit is a nice word."
"I'm glad to hear it," he answered with a twinkle and took another sip on his chocolate.
"All the corridors and stairs and small rooms that are hardly ever used..." she went on excitedly. "I found a passage under the stair to the owlery the other day that took me to the charms corridor! And there is a portrait of a really pleasant knight that tells stories if asked nicely... And did you know that there are Gringyl flies in the dungeons? I told professor Snape, but he did not seem to be very interested."
"There are more things to explore in this castle than can readily be discovered in a lifetime," the headmaster mused.
"I like to be part of a group," Luna said dreamingly, putting down her mug on the table. "When the professors talk to the whole class, it's like we are a single person, not a lot of different people. It's like belonging, you know. Then I don't miss daddy so much."
"I remember the feeling," Dumbledore agreed, a slight undertone of nostalgic in his voice. "Everything is new and exciting, and you are busy exploring, getting to know your peers and forming friendships. I do envy you, Miss Lovegood, for being in that prosperous phase of your life."
"Mmmm. I wouldn't mind being friends with people. There are a lot of friends in my year, and it looks like they have fun..." she tilted her head to the side in an almost pixious manner and looked directly at the headmaster. "Do you have any friends?" she asked with wide eyes.
Dumbledore hesitated for a moment, but didn't show any other sign of being put off by the girl's direct manner. He smiled at her.
"Ah, that's a very good question. You see, at my age, friendship is a rather more complicated matter than at yours..." He paused for a moment and regarded the girl on the other side of the table with a thoughtful expression. She looked back without blinking. "...more complicated in some aspects, at least," he added. "Anyway, old friendships, rather like old wine, get more mature and tasteful as it ages. It might also, however, get spoiled and simply undrinkable. In either case, just like all old vintages it becomes more precious and treasurable for every year. I'm sad to say that old persons like myself to a regrettably extent have lost the ability to form new friendships with the energy we once possessed."
"Wine makes you giggly," Luna observed. "And judging from Elisabeth and Celeste in my year, so does friendship. Who is your best friend?"
"Quite a few of those I have thought of us such are by now unfortunately outlived by me," the headmaster sadly said, and immediately Luna's eyes were filled by tears and sympathy. She put a hand on the headmaster's.
"I wish they weren't," she said with heartfelt voice. He couldn't but smile warmly.
"Some of them would certainly share your wish, but not - I dare say - all of them. Quite a few had lived a long, ripe life and were quite content with leaving at the time. Anyway, it is not as though I'll never see them again."
"Death is an adventure, Luna," the headmaster said seriously. "The biggest of them all, perhaps. Well, except for life, of course. I'm confident that when my duties here are finally over, I will have opportunity to reforge some old acquaintances."
"That's true, you know!" Luna exclaimed excitedly. "They are still there for us, just out of sight. They wait for us!"
"Ah," Dumbledore said, suddenly all attention. "I take it you have personal experience of..."
"My mother," Luna simply said. "Two years ago. I miss her a lot, actually." Suddenly, the headmaster got an gleam of realization in his eyes. He gave Luna a glance that was a strange mix of pity and curiosity. But when he spoke, there was only regret and comfort in his voice.
"I do remember, yes. I'm so sorry to hear about it," he said and squeezed the girl's hand. "A great loss, indeed."
"Well, yes," Luna agreed. "But as you said, I'll see her again. And until then I can at least talk to her." She tapped her forehead with a knuckle and smiled. "The dead can hear you when you think of them, you know."
"Oh, deary me. I certainly hope not," the headmaster cried. "I wouldn't find a moment of peace for years to come. Not as long as I am featured in half of the modern history books."
"I think of you every time I eat a chocolate frog," Luna added helpfully. "You and Mister Flamel... Is he your best friend?" Dumbledore twinkled, and nodded ever so slightly.
"Nicholas, Nell and I have had the pleasure of a long and fruitful collaboration. Also, I find a great pleasure in their perspective of half a milennia of experience. Yes, I think you might say that they are my best friends. And I usually had great hope that they would outlive me, which is a comfort at my age."
"I like Mrs Flamel," Luna said and took a gulp of her chocolate. "She thought my name was pretty and she told me a lot of interesting things... Daddy was doing an interview with them, and brought me along," she added as an explanation."
"I'm sure Nell enjoyed the company of curiosity and intelligence such as represented by yourself," Dumbledore commented.
They were silent for a moment or two, sipping on the contents of their mugs, enjoying the silence of each other's company. They smiled at each other, small smiles as if they were sharing a secret.
"Luna…" Dumbledore said after a little while. "It might be of interest for you to know that quite some years back, I had the great honour of sharing certain research projects with your mother. She is a highly intelligent woman, and I had a very interesting time." Luna looked up, her eyes wide.
"You knew mummy?" she asked with amazed – and just a little uncertain – voice.
"Well, perhaps 'knew' is to strong a word," the headmaster smiled. "But I certainly had the pleasure of interacting with her for a time. I even met you once, even if I doubt you remember it, since at the time you were just two or three years old. You were a highly curious child though – to the extent that we had to rely on rather impressive magical tricks to keep you distracted enough to have study peace."
"Could you please tell me about her," Luna asked attentively. The headmaster scratched his beard.
"Oh, I do certainly have tales about your mother that could last for many a good night, but no doubt you have no interest in most of our boring research – even if you perhaps might attach some amount of curiosity to our translation of mermish spells. However, your mother was in possession of a creativity which sadly is rather rare nowadays. She was a most remarkable woman, as I am sure you are well aware off. I just want you to know that I hold her in the deepest respect." Luna nodded solemnly.
"I will tell her that you said so," she promised. He bowed his head ever so slightly in a gesture of gratitude, hesitating for the split of a second before he went on.
"I'm obliged to you…. Further on the topic of your mother, there is a certain question on which I wonder if you perhaps could satisfy an old man's curiosity."
"I'm sure I can," Luna said airily, and he smiled.
"Yes, so am I," he agreed, and regarded her attentively for the few moments. "You are very much like her, you know."
"That's what daddy says too," Luna commented. Dumbledore stretched out his hand and gently turned her face towards him.
"Do you mind?" he asked and she shook her head, slightly, in his hand. Dumbledore leaned forward and stared into her protuberant, silvery eyes. Luna calmly and unblinkingly met his gaze. After a few moments he withdrew with a thoughtful expression.
"The Nox was lit by Lux of Luna..." he quoted. "You are a strange someone, Luna Lovegood. A rare mixture of strength and weakness, and with an astonishing mind. You are your mother's daughter, and it is moonlight in your eyes. But you're also your father's daughter, and will one day go out in the world and claim it for yourself. You know the taste of freedom, and have both courage and knowledge enough to find your own path of wisdom. Still, yet you are just a little girl. What place will you fill in history?" he asked, a hint of concern in his voice. Luna smiled.
"Oh, that's easy. It's this one," she shrugged, indicating her chair. "Right here."
"Yes, most probable," he laughed. "Even so, I do expect you to have your fair share of adventures before you leave this school. Might I be so bold as to give you a piece of advice, Miss Lovegood?"
"I wouldn't mind at all!" she answered, curiously.
"It's nothing special," he shrugged. "Nothing more than I tell every student of this school, should the opportunity present itself."
"That makes it very special, doesn't it?" she commented. He nodded
"It would be even more so if the occasional student would listen to the advice, apart from hearing it. Anyway, my advice is simply that you are a remarkable girl, Luna." She looked at him attentively a few moments, but he didn't seem inclined to continue.
"Is that the whole advice?" she asked. He nodded.
"I'm a remarkable girl... well, thank you. That's a really nice thing to say, you know."
"My pleasure. Should you ever doubt the fact, then please let me know and I can repeat myself."
"I will," she promised, and they fell silent once more. Dumbledore drank his chocolate with something far away in his eyes, while Luna regarded him.
"You are worried," she stated after a little while, and he looked up and met her gaze.
"Yes, I'm afraid that I am," he admitted. "One of the many duties I have as a headmaster seems to be alarmingly hard to fulfil to satisfaction."
"It's the monster!" Luna said, eyes wide. "Do you think it's a gorgon? Or perhaps a vampire? Oh, I bet that wicked man Scrimgeour has something to do with it..."
"I'm afraid that Rufus Scrimgeour, his eventual other shortcomings aside, is not connected to the dangers afoot," Dumbledore sadly replied. "They are quite a bit more ancient than he has any claim to be, for one thing. Come to that, they are more ancient than even I have any claim to be, which is not an entirely soothing fact."
"But Colin and Mrs Norris will be fine, won't they?" Luna asked, causing the headmaster to sigh.
"Yes, they will. Once we have prepared the mandrake root they will be up and about again. But to tell you the truth, I'm not fully confident that we will continue to be so lucky in the future to be restricted to near-fatal incidences."
"Oh, I am," Luna said cheerfully. "We'll be all right and the monster will stop attacking people and move down to the lake and be friends with the squid and daddy can write a story about it and publish it!"
"I dearly hope you are right," Dumbledore said. He sighed. Luna put her hand on his.
"It will be all right, you know," she repeated, her voice filled by confidence. "Really."
Dumbledore smiled at her, thankfully
"Faith such as yours is rare indeed these days. I'm glad to have you at the school, Miss Lovegood, even in these troubled times."
"Oh, I'm glad to be here," she happily answered. "After all, where would I otherwise have seen the Gringyl flies?"
"When life hands you Gringyl flies, you do wise not to protest," the headmaster said with a twinkle. "Now, pleasant as it is, exchanging points of views with you, Miss Lovegood, I seem to notice that the hour is getting rather late. And incidentally, I have faint memories of a certain regulation in this school concerning curfew - a point of time after which students are not, as it is, allowed to wander the corridors."
"Absolutely," Luna agreed. "You said so at the feast - remember? Also, mister Filch has it on his list about..."
"Indeed so," Dumbledore agreed. "However, your own presence at this place, at this hour, suggests a certain degree of disobedience to that very rule." Luna met his gaze.
"I didn't wish to disturb anyone. I only wanted to make some chocolate. I'm rather fond of the company of the house elves, actually."
"Yes, I'm quite sure you are," Dumbledore agreed. "And I must confess that also my memory slipped a few times in my youth, concerning school rules and bed times. I do not wish to restrain an exploring spirit unnecessarily, Miss Lovegood, but as long as the monster of Salazar Slytherin goes uncaught, I would be very obliged if you could promise me not to wander the corridors alone at night. It is a safety measure I fell is necessary to impose under the circumstances."
"Oh, but I'll be quite all right," Luna answered. "The monster only attacks people with muggles as parents, after all."
Dumbledore hesitated a moment. If any other person had said what Luna just had said, he would have suspected malice, superiority or blood prejudices hidden in the statement. But in Luna's voice were only serenity, and perhaps a tone of mild surprise at the monster's folly, having such a choosy diet.
"Yes," he said after awhile. "It certainly does appear to be the case. But even so, I would appreciate if you could refrain from crossing its path, not to risk any fatal incident." Luna hesitated a moment, but then she nodded.
"Well, if you think so… I promise," she seriously said and tapped herself three times on her temple. The headmaster smiled
"I'm glad to hear it. The rules are there to be obeyed after all, which brings us to the subject of finding a suitable punishment for tonight's breach." Suddenly Luna looked slightly concerned.
"Will I lose house points?" she asked. "Only, my classmates get a bit upset when I do, and I wouldn't want to distress them."
"No," Dumbledore firmly answered. "That won't be necessary. However, I find that a detention would be in order." Luna regarded him in silence, somewhat cautious.
"One rather classical detention is kitchen duty," he went on, "why I hereby appoint you, Miss Lovegood, to prepare a mug of that highly intriguing chocolate of yours for me and for yourself next Thursday night - if that is convenient with your schedule. To avoid unnecessary lonely corridor wanderings, I will escort you myself from Ravenclaw common room. Would that be an appropriate punishment in your opinion, Miss Lovegood?"
Luna thought it over for a second and nodded.
"Yes, I imagine it would be rather fitting," she said, smiling a dreamily smile.
"Very well," he said and stood up. "Then I think it is time for the two of us to return to our respective sleeping quarters and leave the elves to peruse their duties in peace." Luna put down her mug on the table and allowed the headmaster to help her to her feet. Together they left the kitchen, eagerly discussing - yet again - the Quibbler's article about Mesopotamian runes.
The house elves dutifully waited until the odd couple was without ears reach before they started to gossip. They were used to the headmaster wandering by, when his nights were sleepless and he needed the solitude of a crowd to muse on his many challenges, but he usually kept for himself those nights, and even if it perhaps did his challenges good, it certainly did not do much to relieve him from his worries. This little girl, on the other hand had – even as the house elves were not exactly sure how – managed provide the headmaster with much needed comfort. It had been a long time since they last had seen him as happy as he had been this night, and they were glad for it. House elves are sensitive for their master's moods, after all.
Luna's visit at the Flamels' is described in the story "By Lux of Luna" by Nimbus 1944, who, well ahead of Dumbledore, associated the remarkably appropriate opening line of the poem "Carmen Possum" with Luna Lovegood.