Most of the students were already at the leaving feast, but Fiona and Lenny had lingered in the empty common room, where a few debris of last night's celebration were scattered, including Butterbeer corks and Chocolate Frog cards.
"Well, er, I hope you have a good holiday, Fiona," said Lenny, "I'm coming back next year, and I do hope to see both you and Professor Hawthorn again, it wouldn't be the same without you."
"I hope you have a great summer too, Lenny," nodded Fiona, choosing to ignore the remark about next year. As far as she was concerned, she was not coming back. "Any special plans?"
"Well, my mother's cousin and her family are coming for a visit from Australia," told Lenny, "it was always kind of assumed in the family that I will marry my second cousin Carmella when we both grow up, and Mum and Dad think it's time we finally met."
"An arranged marriage?" she asked. "But you are only seventeen years old, Lenny, and – and I know you told me Jews only marry among themselves, but you still have plenty of time to meet someone you really like!"
Lenny's dark eyes surveyed Fiona with a mixture of amusement, exasperation and slight sadness.
"I really like you, Fiona," he said, "you are smart, funny, kind, you are the most terrific friend I have ever had. But what's the use in that? Even if you weren't already in love with someone else, even if by some amazing stroke of luck you happened to like me back, it could never work out between us. Even if you converted to Judaism. I am a Cohen, and we don't marry converts."
"Going for the pure-blood line, are you?" Fiona raised her eyebrows coldly.
"I'm not the one who made up the rules, you know," he said.
Their conversation was interrupted by the abrupt entrance of a flustered Jeremy Hawthorn, upon seeing whom Fiona first flushed, then paled.
"Jeremy!" she exclaimed.
"Well, I guess I'll see you later at the leaving feast, Fiona," said Lenny, dragging himself and his trunk out of the room, head downcast.
When they were alone, Jeremy finally spoke.
"I only came to say goodbye, Fiona. I must go back to packing my things in a minute. I'm leaving."
Fiona looked at him, paper white, then managed to compose herself:
"You should hurry up, then, Professor Hawthorn. The feast is about to start."
Jeremy took a stride towards her and firmly grasped both her hands in his.
"Don't you see, Fiona? Don't you understand? This is the only way we can be together – with you coming of age, and me not your teacher anymore."
"You don't have to leave!" Fiona cried out, sensation coming back to her fingertips. "I don't want you to miss out on teaching, Jeremy, and I planned to drop out of school next year anyway –"
Jeremy shook his head.
"No, Fiona. You will come back next year and do your N.E., you are too talented to miss out on that. As for me," he shrugged, "I will find something else to keep myself occupied, and I will try to come to Hogsmeade as often as possible, so we can still see each other. I'll write. And when you are finished with school, well, my friend Rolf Scamander has been asking me for ages to join him in his research of the ice-breathing dragons of New Zealand. We can both go. Would you like that?"
A smile spreading on her lips, Fiona ran a hand through Jeremy's wavy hair, and for a second, all caution flew to the winds as he leaned in to kiss her.
If there was one more thing that could improve Fiona's mood any further, it was the sight of Torbjorn Rowle breaking into a trot, following Anna's stubborn back which kept moving away from him. Fiona didn't quite make out all Anna said when she finally consented to turn her head over her shoulder and give her ex-boyfriend a scathing look, but she distinctly heard the words "I'm not that stupid, Rowle!"
Fiona smiled to herself as she walked across the hall, dragging her trunk and carrying Althea's cage with her. Taking everything into account, she was glad she came back to school after all.