Author's Note: This was written for Perspicacity as part of the Sober Universe Yuletide Fic Exchange. Happy 2011, Perspicacity! Hope you enjoy:

Harry and the Hobgoblins

The flagstone corridor felt like ice underneath 13-year-old Harry's stocking feet, but the young Gryffindor soldiered on. His was a mission of honor and revenge; not something that could be deterred by minor discomfort. Besides, his trainers would have made far too much noise for traipsing about Hogwarts at half-one in the morning. Those old corridors echoed terribly, and he couldn't get caught. He'd been warned off revenge by both Hermione and Ron, and if there was a mission that was too risky and ill-advised for Ron Weasley, he knew he was skating on thin ice indeed. But the sounds of his mother's screams still echoed in his head, and the pain of his father's betrayal had become his own only that week, so on he went, alone, ill-prepared, and full of righteous rage.

Harry shivered. The draughty old castle provided nearly as little protection from the harsh mid-winter night as his Invisibility Cloak. Internally, he berated himself for his weakness. He thought of his father, of Peter Pettigrew; that brave man who'd faced down the traitor only to be reduced to a finger for his trouble. But most of all, he thought of the arrogant, sneering face of one Sirius Black. Every time his foot touched cold, unforgiving flagstone, he thought of the man who'd betrayed his parents, leaving his best friends to die at the hands of a madman. He didn't know how he was going to do it, but he knew that that night, he'd make Sirius Black sorry he'd ever escaped Azkaban.

As he navigated the stairs leading to the Great Hall, he began to hear a noise, rather like a rustling. Harry's heart began to pound out of his chest - this was it! Black had found his way into Hogwarts, and Harry was to face him at last. He began to practice whispering "Petrificus Totalus" as quickly as he could, because an experienced dueler such as Sirius Black would give him no quarter, and he might only get one chance to disarm and bind his quarry. As he grew closer to the Great Hall, he noticed a torch lit, and reckoned his opponent had underestimated him. Perhaps he was only 13, but he'd already faced Voldemort three times and survived, killed a Basilisk, and caught the Snitch in every Quidditch match he'd played in which Dementors hadn't given his opponents an unfair advantage. Harry was 13, yes, but he was nothing to trifle with.

Harry stealthily made his way to the entrance of the Great Hall. He stood stock-still under the cover of his Invisibility Cloak, wand gently twirling in his fingers, waiting for Black to show his face. As he waited, he noticed a rather astringent smell, and wondered what dastardly chemical warfare Magical folk had devised. After taking a moment to ensure he still had his senses about him, he carefully moved into the Hall itself, and found himself face to face with someone who looked nothing like Black at all.

"Oh, hello Harry. Small wonder the Nargles are concentrated around this part of the Hall, with you sneaking about under that cloak. They do so enjoy congregating with Wrackspurts, after all."

No, this was not Sirius Black, but rather a blond Ravenclaw from Ginny's year. Without thinking, Harry enveloped her with him under the cloak.

"Ssh! What the hell are you doing here? Are you trying to get yourself killed?" he whispered, moving the girl out of the Great Hall. "There's a madman about, and he's coming here, after me!"

"Oh, you must be talking about Stubby Boardman. Goodness, no. He's in Ireland, you see, on a revival tour with the Hobgoblins. Don't worry, the tour ends in February, so there's plenty of time for your quest to seek your parents' revenge. But right now he's nowhere near here. I'm sorry if that ruins your evening, Harry."

This was new information indeed. Harry was perplexed, but it was quite obvious that this girl had information that was crucial to finding Sirius Black.

"Right," he said, with the officious manner of the Scotland Yard detectives he heard on his Aunt and Uncle's television programmed. "Let's get that torch put out, and why don't you tell me who this Stubby Boardman fellow is, and what he has to do with Sirius Black."

"Of course," the girl replied, a look of recognition and excitement on her face. "You'll want to know all about that, wouldn't you? But first, shouldn't we take care of that?" she said, pointing toward the bunch of mistletoe on the lintel above them. "The Nargles do get quite vexed if their mistletoe is just ignored like that."

Harry wasn't quite sure what a Nargle was, but his two and a half years in the Magical world had taught him that it was never a good thing to allow any creatures to remain vexed for very long. He was just about to ask the girl how to dispatch of these Nargles when he saw her lips puckered and her eyes closed.

"Ah, yes. Mistletoe. Of course," he muttered rather bashfully, and planted a light kiss on the girl's lips. Her face lit up in a smile and she looked up at the mistletoe.

"Yes. Much better. Thank you, Harry. They're quite docile now. But we probably oughtn't tell Ginny about that, even if it was just to soothe the Nargles. She's awfully territorial about you, for some reason." The girl gave Harry a quick kiss on the cheek for good measure, and began to walk toward the lit torch on the opposite wall. Harry grabbed her arm to stop her.

"Wait, you know Ginny? I thought you were Ravenclaw," he asked.

"Well yes," she replied. "Ginny and I used to play together when we were little. She would talk about you all the time; she even had books about you." A look of dawning understanding and embarrassment washed over the young girl. "Oh, how dreadfully rude of me; we've never been introduced, have we? My name is Luna. Luna Lovegood. I live just on the other side of Ottery St. Catchpole from The Burrow, which is how I know Ginny and her family, although it's been a couple of years since she and I spent much time together." She extended her hand, which Harry took, and they walked under the cloak together towards the torch, which they extinguished before sitting at the Slytherin tables.

"Now, I suppose you want to know all about Stubby Boardman," Luna began. "Here's the way I've heard the story: Sirius Black is actually a false name, you see. The man's real name is Stubby Boardman, formerly lead singer of a '70s pop band called The Hobgoblins. Stubby left the popular music scene in 1980, after being hit in the head with a turnip at one of The Hobgoblins' shows in Little Norton - suspiciously close to the time your alleged "Sirius Black" was incarcerated, yes? Anyway, my father has been tracking down some of Boardman's old bandmates to corroborate, but we know enough to tell you that if you're looking for Sirius Black, you're looking for the wrong man."

Harry was shocked. He took a picture of Sirius he'd ripped from the photo album Hagrid had given him and showed it to Luna.

"So, this Boardman fellow. Does he look like this, then?"

"Well, not precisely. But they're both wizards, you see, and they can do such awfully clever things with magic to disguise themselves."

"So, you're telling me that it wasn't Sirius Black that betrayed my parents, but rather it was Stubby Boardman?"

"Not really. I believe I'm telling you that the man you know as Sirius Black has actually disguised himself as Stubby Boardman. Whether or not he was involve in your parents' tragic murder, I don't know. But I do know that if you're looking for Sirius Black, you're looking for the wrong fellow. My father's been working on an exposé for his magazine - oh have you read it? It's called The Quibbler. Anyway, he's going to get to the bottom of the whole mess, and find out who in the Ministry has been trying to cover it all up. You do know that Mr. Black never had a trial, don't you? Or is that Mr. Boardman? Oh dear. It all does get quite confusing once we start using disguises, wouldn't you say, Harry? … Harry?"

Harry had lost track of the conversation, but he was aware of a few things. Firstly, the situation with Sirius Black was much less simple than he'd originally thought. Secondly, somehow this Stubby Boardman person was connected in a rather large conspiracy to protect the man who'd betrayed his parents - a conspiracy that reached possibly up as high as the Minister of Magic himself. And thirdly, as smart as Hermione was about most things, he probably ought to associate more with members of a house known for being clever if he was to spend his days at Hogwarts under constant fear of imminent danger (which seemed likely).

"Right. Luna, I'd like you to question your father for any more information he might have on the Stubby Boardman conspiracy. Any back-issues of his magazine he may have around October and November of 1981 would obviously be helpful, too. Write me as soon as you can - maybe Hermione, Ron and I can work on things while you're gone. Oh, and find me after the Christmas hols; we'll sit down together to go over all of it."

Luna fairly jumped out of her seat with joy. "Oh, will we? That would be ever so exciting! Can we make up secret code-names, too? I'd rather enjoy being called 'Sparrow.' Ooh, we could call you 'Rooster;' wouldn't that be lovely?"

"Not sure that birds are really my - "

"Oh, yes, well. We'll come up with code-names later, I suppose. Meanwhile, I'm off to write Father, so he can prepare. He'll - "

"Luna?" Harry asked.


"It's nearly half-two. Perhaps you should just go to bed? You'll see him tomorrow at King's Cross."

"Right. Yes. Very well, then," she stammered. "We should probably get to bed, don't you think?"

Sir Cadogan (who'd been replacing the Fat Lady since Black's attack) gave Harry rather an inquisitive look, as he was strolling into the Gryffindor common room at quarter to three. Harry shrugged this off; he'd been doing important work, after all. Certainly, it wasn't work that ought to have been left to a 13-year-old, but it was work that needed doing. There was a madman on the loose, said madman had been responsible for his parents' deaths and was after Harry to finish the job. And neither the faculty nor his -

"Harry James Potter, where on earth have you been? We've been worried sick about you!"

Right. His friends.

Harry wasn't certain how exactly one could whisper a screech, but Hermione Granger was nothing if not a capable young witch, so Harry just left the question alone. She and Ron Weasley were standing at the bottom of the stairs looking at him with amazingly synchronous stern expressions.

"C'mon, mate," Ron added. "You promised. You said if you were going out for a stroll that you'd bring me along. Now what were we to think when you showed up missing?"

"I'll tell you what we thought," Hermione interjected. Either A, Sirius Black had come in the middle of the night and snatched you out of your bed, or B, you'd gone on a suicidal quest to kill him yourself. Either way, it's just - "

"Stop!" Harry whispered forcefully. Look, it's alright. I'm here. I'm not dead, not expelled, and I'm right here. Plus, I think I just found out some rather valuable information that we can start to research tomorrow. But first, Ron, what do you know about a rock group from the '70s called The Hobgoblins?"

"Not much," Ron replied. "Bill was quite fond of them for awhile his fourth and fifth year; they were a pretty popular revival band with teenagers back in the '80s. I thought Mum'd gone completely 'round the twist when he came home Christmas one year with the fang in his ear the way their bass-player had it."

"That's great, Ron. Really. Did they have any concerts; perform publicly at all?"

"No, they haven't spoken since the incident with the turnip - why the sudden interest in the classics, Harry?"

"Well, I met this girl downstairs, see. Bit of an odd sort, but she knew things. Things that make quite a bit of sense once you start to think about them."

1970s rock and roll wasn't really holding Hermione's interest too well. Odd girls with hidden knowledge, however, was a different story.

"What kinds of things?" she asked, a bit more quickly than she would have were it not three in the morning.

"Well," Harry began. "Have you ever wondered why Sirius Black never had a proper trial, or why the Hobgoblins chose right now to have their reunion tour...?"

As Harry began to tell the story of how Stubby Boardman and Sirius Black were, in fact, one and the same, he saw changes come over his friends. First, Hermione had followed along nodding at every point. Then her demeanor became more quizzical, more puzzled. Ron didn't hold out quite as long, and as he began to audibly chuckle, Hermione's serious expression turned into a nearly pitying smile, like one would give a five year old who was attempting to explain why water is wet. Harry, for his part, articulated his points all the more forcibly the less credulous they appeared to his friends. By the time he was done, both Ron and Hermione were struggling to maintain anything like composure, and Harry was nearly shouting.

"Really, Harry," Ron asked as Harry had appeared finished. "Stubby Boardman's behind all this? What's his big plan, then? Making us all carry around those silly two-necked guitars?"

"Did they call this the 'Frosted Permanent-Wave Conspiracy'?" Hermione asked, doubled-over laughing.

"Look," Harry said, quite frustrated with his friends. "This is what I have. It's the first information I've been given about anything related to Sirius Black or what his purpose is in finding me. I don't see either of you trying to help!"

"Well, maybe if I'd mastered that G-minor 7 chord, I'd be able to - "

"Right. I can see perfectly well how much help the two of you are going to be with this. Doesn't matter. Luna can help me with this just fine, and I hope the two of you have a very happy Christmas laughing it up. I'm going to bed," Harry shouted, and started up the stairs to the Boys' dormitories.

"Wait, Harry!" Ron called up as he was leaving. "Did you say 'Luna?'"

"Yeah, what of it?"

"Ravenclaw, blond hair, about yea high, kind of a far-away expression about her?"

"That's her." This put Ron into further hysterics.

"C'mere, mate; I know the girl. She was a friend of Ginny's growing up. Nice enough kid, don't get me wrong, but her family - they're a bit, well, daft. Her father puts out this magazine, see, and - "

"And I'm not sure I care. She said she'd help; you two obviously have no interest in helping, and that's all I need to know. Goodnight." And with that, Harry finished stomping up the stairs to the Third Year boys' room.

The following morning's breakfast saw Harry sitting with Luna at the far end of the Ravenclaw tables. She kissed him fondly on the cheek as she got up; an act that did not go unnoticed by most of the student body, including Ron, who brought his hand to his forehead with an audible slap. Hermione, for her part, simply shook her head, sadly. It was a long, quiet Christmas holiday for the Trio.

By the time Luna and the other Hogwarts students returned to school, Harry was quite the expert on the collected works of Stubby Boardman. He'd listened to each of The Hobgoblins' ten albums at least a dozen times, had copied down the lyrics to most of their songs, and looked for themes of deception and hidden identity, thinking there might be clues to Boardman's purpose in his music. He wondered if the other band-members were in on the conspiracy, but decided against that, seeing as how the group had to disband for the plot to go off. He read articles in the library from popular magazines of the day, and generally annoyed Madame Pince with his questions about such "frivolous" matters as "that disgusting noise you children insist on listening too." As much as the crotchety librarian sort-of frightened him, he persisted, as his life really did depend on his research.

Luna, for her part, barely got her things back in her wardrobe in Ravenclaw Tower before she was by Harry's side; stacks of Quibbler back-issues in hand. Together they went over Harry's research and the information she'd gleaned from her father. They pored over Daily Prophet letters-to-the-editor about the "Dark" influences of rock and roll music of the 1970s, and the dangers it posed to British youth. They mapped out tour dates and flight plans, looking for runic connections in the group's 1978 travel itinerary. They spun the records backwards, listening for the infamous "I Am Sirius Black" voice said to be hidden in the fourth track on the first side of "Axes and Augureys". By February, Luna and Harry had learned about as much about The Hobgoblins as one can learn about a rock and roll band.

There were very few students up for breakfast on Sunday morning, fewer than usual, as Gryffindor's partying after their thrilling victory over Ravenclaw the day before had lasted well into the small hours. Harry was sitting at the Gryffindor tables, as Luna would still be asleep for another three hours, Ron until just before Sunday Dinner at two, and Hermione had already come and gone by half-eight. He'd gotten used to eating his meals alone while with his own house, so it was a bit strange when he noticed someone sit down next to him.

"Well, Harry," he heard a girl's voice say. "It's Valentine's Day next week. Any idea what you'll be doing for Luna?"

Harry turned to see a strangely affectless Ginny Weasley sitting next to him, all signs of stammer and blush gone. He opened his mouth to answer, but she continued to speak.

"Of course, it's your first Valentine's Day as boyfriend and girlfriend, so you'll certainly need to do something special. Perhaps you could initial a butterbeer cork for her to add on to her necklace - something she'll look at and always think of you."

Harry stood up and began to gather his utensils. "Right. Luna's a lovely girl who happens to be a friend of mine. Not my girlfriend, understand? And yes, she's a bit odd, but she's a friend of mine, so if you're going to sit here and mock her, I'll just - "

"Wait, you and Luna aren't boyfriend and girlfriend?"

"No, we're just working together on this thing, see, and - "

"That little tart," Ginny exclaimed. Harry began to defend his friend, but thought he might want to hear Ginny out, first. "Do you know that she claimed a five-galleon bet we made when we were eight because she said she got to be your girlfriend first? Here she was, making wild claims about snogging you under the mistletoe, going on about how much time the two of you spend together, and Merlin only knows what you're getting up to in the Library at all hours, and it's all made up?"

"Well, not exactly made up, but - "

"But what, Harry? Did you or did you not snog her under the mistletoe?"

By now there was a bit of an audience at the Gryffindor tables. Harry tried to think of exactly the right way to explain what had gone on between him and Luna, but none of it really made sense, especially to him. But, Gryffindor that he was...

"Well, it wasn't exactly a snog, more of a - "

Ginny's head sank to the table, while the rest of the Gryffindors present gave Harry a hearty round of mock-congratulations. Red-faced, Harry left the table in a hurry, salvaging the last bits of his dignity that allowed him to walk, rather than run out of the Great Hall. He trudged up the steps of Gryffindor Tower, through the common room (where he pointedly ignored Hermione, who was curled up with her Arithmancy text on the large couch), up the stairs, and flopped onto his bed, heart heavy and mind baffled.

Harry supposed he should ask someone about what he'd heard, but whom? Hermione (if she would talk to him at all) would certainly just try to dissuade him from spending any more time with Luna, so he'd not get an honest answer there. Ginny, well she's not exactly impartial on this score either, is she? And that just about exhausted his list of female friends who weren't Luna. Harry's own instincts weren't telling him very much, either, so he decided to take a very un-Gryffindor approach and ignore this rather nebulous problem altogether. Besides, there was the matter of a rogue vocalist with a questionable sense of appropriate use of metaphor in his lyrics who was after him, and Harry reckoned that figuring out how to handle him was a much more productive use of his time than trying to figure out the vagaries of the fair sex.

The following Saturday morning was the beginning of a Hogsmeade weekend. Harry, still not in possession of a signed permission slip, was in no rush to add the smuggling of a second-year off the grounds to his list of offenses should he be caught out-of-bounds, so he bade Luna a fond good day after breakfast, and made his way to the third-floor corridor from which he had successfully snuck into Hogsmeade in December. Under cover of his Invisibility Cloak, Harry once again made his way into Honeydukes without incident. While he contemplating a flavor of Fizzing Whizbees he hadn't tried before, he felt hands brush against him, then seize him by the arms. He looked around and saw that Ron and Hermione were the ones now forcibly dragging him out of Honeydukes and into an alleyway next to the store.

"Just what in the hell do you two think you're doing?" Harry asked, rather more loudly than was prudent, given his out-of-bounds status.

"Right, mate. Listen 'ere," Ron began. "We know about the concert tonight, and we're warning you off going. Luna's a mile past barmy and all, but she's a good kid, and you're, well, you, and we don't want to see either of you expelled for some useless hair-brained scheme."

Harry was puzzled, and more than a bit irritated to see half of the jar of Whizbees sold in the time they'd been standing out there, else he might have played his cards a bit closer to the vest.

"Concert? What concert?"

"The Hobgoblins, Harry. They're - oof!"

"Oh, brilliant subterfuge there, Ron," Hermione said, more than a bit annoyed. Maybe you should have just bought him the tickets yourself."

"Are you trying to say I couldn't afford tickets to a concert at the Hog's Head? Is that it - poor-jokes now?"

"I was saying nothing of the sort, it was just you're - Harry?"

Harry was already half-way back to Hogwarts by the time Hermione had noticed him gone. The new Peppermint Pixie Whizbees would have to wait until April, as there was work to be done. He picked up his Firebolt where he'd left it at the passageway's entrance, but was on foot once he got inside the castle. Harry was breathless by the time he'd reached the library.

"Luna... Tonight... Hobgoblins... Hog's Head... Plan..."

"I'm sorry, Harry. What are you saying?"

"Tonight... The Hobgoblins are... at the Hog's Head. We should go... but we need... a plan"

Luna's eyes opened even wider. "Oh, Harry. I think I'll be the only second-year Ravenclaw girl with a date for Valentine's Day, even if it is a couple of days early. How lovely. Yes, a plan. We certainly don't want to get caught, do we? We should dress ourselves rather like teenagers about to go out on the town, don't you think?"

"Well, I suppose, yes. But really, shouldn't we have some questions for Boardman once we get there? And how are we supposed to know whether it's actually Boardman or Black?"

"Oh," replied Luna. "You leave that to me. Meantime, you're right. We really ought to have some questions for whomever it is we find singing for The Hobgoblins tonight. But you just make sure you're wearing something with some blue in it. We want to match, after all."

Harry and Luna worked for the next several hours developing questions for both Stubby Boardman (most of which were devoted to the Rotfang Conspiracy and the use of dentifrice to control world markets) and Sirius Black (which wasn't really a question, more of an exclamation "Die you traitorous scum!") before breaking to get ready. They met at half-seven on the usually empty second floor, then ducked under Harry's Invisibility Cloak to walk to the third floor and the secret passageway. Once inside the passageway, they jumped on Harry's Firebolt and flew to Hogsmeade, nimbly avoiding the shop owner and some rather delicate-looking fixtures on the way out of Honeydukes.

The opening act was a group of bean-sídhe whose wailing was so powerful that the audience had been warned not to arrive until they were finished. Harry and Luna, although not experienced concert-goers whatsoever, heeded this warning and arrived just as the stage crew was changing the set between acts. When the lights went out, Harry stuffed his Cloak into his pocket, as no one could make out who he was, anyway. The lights were overpowering, the music deafening, the fireworks mesmerizing, and this all before the show even began. Once the music started (with a rousing version of "The Unforgivable Hammer," it was Luna who became mesmerizing. The normally reserved twelve-year-old was now vigorously bobbing her head in time to the music, singing along with each song, and dancing - well, Harry had never seen dancing like that before, and he wasn't sure he ever hoped to again. He reckoned, however, that Luna was simply having a good time, and after all the help she had given him in sorting out the conspiracies and secret identities, she'd more than earned a bit of dancing.

Luna, it turned out, was quite familiar with all of the band's songs, even songs they hadn't studied as part of their research. She knew every word, and with every song her singing grew louder and her dancing more, well, ferocious. Harry, for his part, was doing his level-best to appear as if he was having a good time, humming along to the tunes and tapping his feet.

"Come on, Harry," Luna shouted in his ear over the din. "Dance with me."

"What's that?" Harry shouted back.

"Dance with me, Harry Potter."

And that's when the music stopped. Harry and Luna both looked up towards the stage, where Stubby Boardman was looking at the two of them quite maniacally.

"Potter!" Boardman screamed, and leveled his wand at the Gryffindor, muttering an incantation.

Harry didn't see it coming, but out of the darkness, a large, scruffy black dog tackled him, bringing him to the ground just as a nasty, purplish spell whizzed over their backs. The dog then transformed into a man, just as malnourished and scruffy, who stood with his wand pointed at the stage.

"Petrificus Totalus!" the man shouted, and it was a solid hit. Stubby Boardman, true to his name, keeled over, stiff, next to his microphone stand.

"Someone call for an Auror!" the mysterious man shouted. Then he grabbed Harry and Luna and Apparated away.

The three of them landed, rather gracelessly, in front of the Shrieking Shack. Harry gingerly reached for his wand, which was safely tucked in the back pocket of his trousers.

"There's no need for that, Harry," the man said. "I don't mean you any harm. If I did, I'd have left you to Boardman, wouldn't I?"

"But this is - "

"The Shrieking Shack, yes. It's not haunted, though. It's perfectly safe. And you really oughtn't keep your wand there, son. You'll loose a buttock that way - don't they teach you anything at Hogwarts these days about wand safety?"

Harry wasn't quite convinced, but he allowed as how if this stranger wanted to hurt him, he would have already. Still...

"Who are you, then?" Harry asked.

"Yes, of course. I should probably introduce myself, shouldn't I. My name is - "

"Relashio!" was heard from behind some bushes about 10 meters away. The stranger blocked the spell with ease, and sent it in the opposite direction, ensnaring his would-be attackers.

"Hermione! Get this off of me!" was heard next, from the same bushes, and Harry ran to his friends, with Luna and the stranger behind him.

With a forceful "Finite," the spell was lifted, and both Ron and Hermione had their wands leveled at the strange man, who returned the gesture.

"Leave him alone, Black!" Ron shouted. "Haven't you done enough to him already?"

Harry took a good look at the stranger and gasped. Here, right in front of him, was the man who betrayed his parents, condemning him to life with the Dursleys, helped Voldemort, killed one of his best friends in cold blood...


Sirius slapped Harry's wand out of his hand. "Dammit, Harry. Stop that. I told you I'm not here to hurt you. Here - have my wand if it makes you feel any better."

Harry took Sirius's wand, but kept his own trained on the man. He spoke to Sirius in a cold growl. "You keep saying you're not here to hurt me. Why did you betray my parents, then, if you're not here to hurt me?"

"I didn't"

"You're lying!"

"I can prove it!" Sirius shouted, nearly in tears himself. "Hermione, how long do rats live, naturally?"

"A pet rat can live up to three years," she replied. "Four, in special circumstances."

"Very good," Sirius answered. "Fifty points to Gryffindor. Now then, Ron: how long has your family had Scabbers?"

Ron stammered for an answer, but none came.

"Exactly. Now, if you can bring him to me, I'll show you who your rat really is..."

Sunday's breakfast was a quiet one for Harry, Ron, Hermione and Luna, as they had yet to have gone to bed Saturday night. Sirius had shown the four of them that Scabbers was, in fact, Peter Pettigrew, thereby proving his innocence to the four of them. They'd brought him in to see Professor Dumbledore, who'd made arrangements to have Pettigrew brought in to Auror custody, which would begin the process of clearing Sirius's name. Harry, Ron and Hermione had patched things up with a few mumbled apologies, and Ron and Hermione were even civil to Luna when she sat next to Harry at breakfast.

Luna was first up from the table, and Harry caught up to her as she was heading back towards Ravenclaw tower.

"Luna, wait. I'm - I'm sorry your father's theories about Stubby Boardman weren't true. I'm sure he can find another story to break, though."

"Oh, it's okay, Harry," Luna answered, breezily. "I wasn't really ever convinced that Stubby and Sirius were the same person."

"Wait- you were the one who told me about it. What have we been doing for the past three months, then?"

"Winning a bet. I got your first kiss, your first date, and I'm your first girlfriend. That's 15 galleons Ginny owes me already. Who knows, in a few years, maybe I can double that." Luna shot Harry a jaunty wink, which he returned with a shocked expression.

"To marry you, silly. We were eight when we made these bets.

"Oh. Right," Harry stammered, trying to maintain his cool. "But wait, you were never my girlfriend. And that kiss and that date were both under some dodgy circumstances, if you ask me."

"Harry, what do you - "

"Right," Harry continued, suddenly finding his courage. "And I don't think it was very fair of you to take Ginny's money like that on false pretenses. You should really give that five galleons back, and not ask her for the other ten. It's not right, Luna."

Luna looked absolutely devastated. Tears began to well in her large, silver eyes.

"But- but Harry. Didn't you like the kiss? Do I not kiss well?"

"Well, no, I mean, yes, of course. It was lovely; it's not that at all, it's just - "

"And does this mean you don't want me for a girlfriend? Don't you like me, Harry?" Luna continued through sniffles. "Haven't we had fun together? I've enjoyed it; I'm sorry you haven't had a good time being with me."

"Of course I have, Luna, it's just - "

"Just what, Harry?" Luna asked, tilting her big, wet, hopeful eyes up at him.

"Nothing, Luna," Harry said, defeated. Luna rewarded this with a quick squeeze and a peck on the cheek.

"Then I do win after all. That's ever so lovely to hear, Harry. I do enjoy holding hands with you in the corridors. Well then, I'm glad we've had this discussion, aren't you?"

Harry looked at her mutely in response. Luna kissed his cheek again, skipping away.

"I'll see you for lunch," she called after him. "Boyfriend."