She stood at the front of her new classroom, filling the time before the arrival of the sixth-years by pacing nervously. Another ten minutes would see them rushing in through the door, eager to see how their latest Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher measured up to the varied assortment they had had in the past. She wondered how Remus had felt on his first day here. It must have been very hard for him to return to the school, especially when he had to teach the son of someone who had been one of his best friends. This brought her thoughts back to Harry’s bitterness so she shifted them to her first lesson, a terrifying, but less painful, prospect. As she turned to put one of her textbooks back on her desk, she froze. Something had moved in the corner of the classroom, something bright that had glinted in the light from the windows. Maeve held her breath for a few moments, waiting for whatever it was to reappear, but nothing happened. She crept closer to the corner. A bright shaft of sunlight pierced the window, bathing her in warmth; it felt like the sun had bowed down to kiss her face. She shook these fanciful thoughts from her mind, telling herself she had been imagining things. Pulling herself together, standing apprehensively by her desk, she waited for the students to arrive. She braced herself as the sound of many footsteps on the stairs told her they were on their way. The lesson was a double one and would last the whole morning. Whether she would last that long was another matter.
As was the norm at N.E.W.T. level, all classes were made up of mixed Houses. The Gryffindors and Slytherins were to take this particular class together. They clattered through the door and divided themselves smoothly into two separate halves of the classroom, which was understandable, but she couldn’t help wondering if it might be better to make them intermingle. She resolved to try that out at some point, but perhaps for the first lesson it might be a bit much for some of them.
Once the noise had subsided, and they were all sitting there waiting for her to begin, she greeted them with a bright “good morning”.
“My name is Professor Lupin,” she began.
“Yeah, we know,” muttered Draco Malfoy, making the plain girl beside him giggle. Maeve ignored the interruption and continued, trying not to lose control so early in the lesson.
“You may address me as Professor or as Selene; I don’t hold too much with formality and hope that during my time here you will find me approachable.”
There were a few surprised looks accompanied by nods of assent from the Gryffindors, but the Slytherins merely looked bored.
“You may put your wands away,” she began, her voice made sharp with nerves. The startled groans alarmed her. Maeve knew they may have wanted to do some practical work, but she hadn’t expected such a strong negative response. “Just for today we will talk about the aims of this year, what we need to know in preparation for your N.E.W.T.s next year, and what we need to know given the current problems we face in the world outside of school. So I am sorry if you expected to come in here today and immediately have to defend yourself against hexes I threw at you, but…”
“Do you know any good hexes?” Malfoy said slowly with a huge smirk on his face. Maeve sighed, realising she would have to deal with Malfoy sooner rather than later. She turned to him, smiling sweetly.
“I do know some quite good hexes, Mr Malfoy.” She kept her voice as controlled as she could, but she was remembering his treatment of Harry in the bookshop; she just wanted to wipe that ugly leer off his face.
“Yeah right,” he mocked. “How to make someone howl at the moon!”
“Be careful, Mr Malfoy,” she said softly, irritation already beginning to get the better of her.
“Well, show us one then,” he goaded, tipping himself backwards on the chair in a deliberate gesture of defiance.
She withdrew her wand so quickly that no one knew what she was doing until she spoke.
“Eximere Quisquiliae,” she said loudly, and with the briefest of flashes the seat that Draco had been occupying was suddenly empty. There were loud, horrified gasps from the Slytherin half of the room, but the Gryffindors looked amused by this turn of events. Only Hermione put her hand up in concern.
“Yes, Hermione?” Maeve asked, wondering if she should really have hexed a student and just how dim a view Albus would take of the whole thing.
“Professor Lupin, Hogwarts has a lot of magic placed upon it that sometimes can interfere with transportation spells, especially those that are placed on humans.” Hermione looked a little amused despite her apparent concern.
“Really?” Maeve asked. “Do you think perhaps I should bring him back?”
This was starting to look bad. The spell had been one commonly used for removing rubbish to the rubbish bin so she had anticipated dumping Draco in the kitchen rubbish area, but this new information lent a certain unpredictability to the spell. In all her time at Hogwarts no one had ever mentioned anything about transportation spells going awry. She knew you couldn’t Apparate, but… she sighed to herself and raised her wand again.
“Contrarius Carmen,” she said quietly, pointing her wand at the place where Draco Malfoy had been, utilising a very useful little spell she had discovered years ago to undo any previous spells.
The smell was the first thing that hit them and the plain-faced girl recoiled in disgust as Draco plopped back into place. He was so full of indignation that he couldn’t speak, but his mouth was also full of an assortment of potato peelings, old newspaper and rotting fish heads, and this was hindering his speech somewhat. Maeve was struggling to fight back a laugh as several chicken bones slid greasily down the front of his robes. There was something that looked suspiciously like the congealing remains of beef hotpot in his hair. The Gryffindors were now hooting with laughter and even Harry had a smile on his face.
“Oh dear, Draco, how awful,” Maeve said with a feigned anxious expression on her face. “But you did ask for a demonstration.”
It was probably as well that Draco had a mouthful of rubbish because otherwise there was no doubt she would have had to take points of Slytherin for his use of several colourful swear-words.
“What’s your name?” Maeve asked the girl who appeared to be Draco’s friend, although the girl in question was maintaining a discreet distance between herself and her reeking classmate.
“Pansy Parkinson,” the girl said sullenly.
“Well then, Pansy, perhaps you would like to escort Mr Malfoy back to your common room so that he can get cleaned up a little?” Maeve was well aware that a quick Scourgify would clean him up, but she was determined to prolong his lesson in classroom etiquette.
“Do I have to?” the girl complained, giving Draco a look that suggested she would rather walk barefoot across broken glass than spend any length of time in his presence. Draco, in turn, looked very put out at this potential abandonment, but Maeve insisted she take him out of the room. They walked to the door -much to the amusement of the Gryffindors, several of whom made rude comments as they passed.
“Nice look, Draco. Not sure about your aftershave though,” jeered one of the boys at the back of the room. Draco half turned to say something back to him, but Maeve intervened.
“That’s enough,” she called, beginning to feel a twinge of guilt at the humiliation that Draco must be feeling. She had been completely wrong to do what she did, but it was that or spend the rest of the year listening to his snide comments and suffering his disruptive behaviour. She watched with relief as Pansy closed the door behind them and she turned her attention back to the class.
“Now then, let’s get back to the lesson.” She looked out at their faces, wishing she knew all of their names.
“So, what’s the most important tool in the fight against the Dark Arts?” she asked, looking around. Several hands shot up, including Hermione’s, but she chose a sandy-haired boy at the back of the room to answer.
“What’s your name?” she asked, a question she was to ask several times over the next few days.
“Seamus Finnegan, Professor, and I’d say the answer was your wand.”
Maeve couldn’t help smiling at the lilting Irish accent, finding, to her dismay, that it gave her a slight pang of homesickness.
“Almost there, Seamus. Your wand is one of your most important weapons. How about you, what’s your name?”
“Nev... Neville Longbottom, Professor,” the nervous-looking boy stammered, dropping his quill.
“Well, Neville, what do you think is the most important tool you posses?” She gave him a smile.
“Y.y.your mind, Professor?” He looked petrified of getting the answer wrong, keeping his eyes downcast as he spoke.
“Exactly!” Neville looked relieved as she patted his shoulder, and he relaxed a little in his chair. “Your mind is the most important thing you possess. If you use it well, you can get yourself out of all manner of…”
She stopped mid-sentence as the door flew violently inwards. Draco Malfoy walked back into the room with a look of satisfaction on his face, despite the fact he was still covered in rubbish. The rotten stench filled the classroom once more. A livid-looking Professor Snape was close behind Draco. He looked with fury at Maeve, who raised a questioning eyebrow at him.
“And just what,” he roared, “is the meaning of this?”
Neville gave a little croak of fear and a deathly silence fell on the rest of the class. Pansy Parkinson hovered in the doorway, looking smug at the prospect of the new teacher being on the receiving end of Professor Snape’s anger.
“The meaning of what, Professor?” Maeve asked calmly. She was surprised by Severus’s lack of professionalism in barging into her classroom like this. To counteract his anger, she kept her tone neutral.
“This,” he struggled for words, “this abomination!”
“Are you calling your student an abomination, Professor? I hardly think that’s fair, do you?” she replied evenly.
“You know very well what I mean,” Severus retorted, bringing his anger under control. He lowered his voice to a level that was dangerously quiet. “Can you please explain why you are hexing my students?”
“Mr Malfoy asked if I knew any good hexes, so I was merely giving him a demonstration,” she replied, smiling. “Or are you perhaps suggesting this lesson remains purely theoretical?”
“I am suggesting, Professor,” he spat, “that you refrain from using magic on the pupils.”
“And I am suggesting, Professor, that you teach your students some manners. The sort of sniggering behaviour that boy exhibited earlier will not be tolerated in my classroom. Now, if you have quite finished, I have a class to teach, and Mr Malfoy’s smell is extremely off-putting.”
She turned away from him, serenely walking back to the front of the class. Severus quickly sensed he had come off worse in that little exchange. There would be little point pursuing the matter in front of a class full of students, and he began to regret his rash anger. He turned on his heel with fury oozing from every pore. Severus gingerly put a hand on Malfoy’s back, propelling him from the room.
“And close the door please, Professor,” Maeve called out with a small smile on her face that she tried to hide from the class. The slamming door caused the room to shake, and several bats shot out of the curtains with alarm before realising it was still daylight, so they flapped back to their shelter quickly.
“Now hopefully we will be able to continue our discussion without further interruption,” she said, perching herself on the edge of her desk. Looking at her students, she saw new-found admiration on their faces. Perhaps she was going to enjoy teaching after all.
“Well?” Hermione demanded as they left the classroom.
Their fellow Gryffindors were still chortling over what had happened to Draco Malfoy and had been pleased to see he had not returned to disrupt the rest of the class.
“Well what?” Harry replied, ferreting about in his bag for his timetable.
“What did you think of her teaching methods?” Hermione still hadn’t given up hope of finding out exactly what had happened during the holidays between their new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher and Harry, despite his tight-lipped attitude.
“I thought she was bloody brilliant,” Ron said eagerly. “I’ve never seen Malfoy look so pathetic. It was even better than old Mad-Eye’s ferret trick. And the way she shut Snape up was priceless.”
“Honestly, Ron, I was thinking more of the lesson.” Hermione gave him a pitying look. “I think we can learn a lot from her, don’t you, Harry? D.A. meetings should be interesting now.”
Harry gave up looking for his timetable. He was still reluctantly clinging to the feeling that Maeve had somehow betrayed his mother by getting involved with Snape, although he couldn’t share that with either of his friends. Harry knew he was being completely irrational; he knew that Maeve could have in no way betrayed his mother by a simple attachment. He had just lost all sense of reason during their argument at Grimmauld Place. The problem he now had was that whatever there had been between her and Snape was over, if their confrontation in the classroom was anything to go by. If this was the case then he was harbouring an empty grudge. He was still smarting from some of the things she had said to him during their heated argument at Grimmauld Place, but on closer examination, he had to admit that some of what she had said was true. He could be hot-headed, and he was still young, too young perhaps to understand everything that went on around him. She had told him he should swallow his pride where Professor Snape was concerned, and accept that their Potions master was what he was and would never change. He had then ranted at her about Snape and Sirius’ death and how vile the professor had always been to him. He hadn’t listened when she had tried to explain that though Severus was a flawed man, he was essentially a good one. He wasn’t ready to hear that.
He felt himself growing hot as he relived that awful scene, which had teemed with anger and frustration as she had stormed from his room, raining down admonitions on him. Hermione saw him take on the introverted look that they now knew, so well so she shook her head at no one in particular before announcing that she would be in the library if anyone wanted her.
“The library?” Ron said incredulously. “Hermione, we don’t have any homework yet. What can you possibly want the library for?”
“I want to write a letter and it’s the quietest place to do it,” she said.
“Yes, Ron, a letter. If you must know, I want to thank Viktor for the fantastic time I had in America.”
Ron blushed furiously, looking very put out by this piece of news.
“Yeah, well, you weren’t even supposed to be with him this summer. You were supposed to spend it with us.” He gave her an accusing look, and Hermione sighed.
“I couldn’t pass up the opportunity. It was the chance of a lifetime.” Hermione looked astounded that Ron could even contemplate her not going. “And it was a very productive time for him. He was seen by lots of top-class Quidditch teams. Quidditch is really gaining a hold over there, and this would be a great career opportunity for him.”
Ron grunted something at her, too jealous to string together something comprehensible. He turned to Harry and asked him if he was coming for lunch.
“I’m not hungry, but you go ahead,” he said.
“How can you not be hungry?” Ron asked. The thought of not eating lunch was a horror too great to contemplate for the ever-ravenous Ron.
“Because I’m not!” Harry snapped at him. Ron threw his hands up in a gesture of defeat.
“All right, mate, keep your hair on. See you in McGonagall’s class then.” Ron flung him one last bewildered look before heading off in the direction of the Great Hall.
Harry wandered out of the main entrance and down the steps, wishing that Hagrid were here. Just as at the beginning of last year, their Care of Magical Creatures teacher was mysteriously missing, and Harry could imagine him battling giants in the mountains of Europe. He couldn’t help worrying about him though; especially disturbing was the brother he had returned with last year, who was still roaming the forest. Harry walked all the way to the lake, taking a seat near to the water’s edge. He wished he had someone to talk to; Remus would have been perfect, with his steady brand of shrewd advice.
The sun was high in the sky and he lay on his back, feeling its comforting warmth lulling him into a gentle sleep. The next thing he was aware of was a tall man with golden hair and glowing skin standing before him with an outstretched hand, beckoning him over. Harry struggled to his feet, feeling an overwhelming compulsion to walk towards this stranger. The light in the man’s hazel eyes was almost blinding. Harry found he couldn’t look at his face; instead he shielded his eyes and carried on walking. He could feel himself becoming warmer and warmer, the urge to take off his robes in the sudden heat almost unbearable. The man was saying something, but Harry couldn’t quite catch the words -- something about gold and the moon. He heard the beat of hooves; the golden man smiled sadly and with one last blaze of light was gone.
“Harry Potter!” The voice was urgent. “Harry, are you hurt?”
Harry opened his eyes and found he was still lying on the ground with his robe in a heap beside him. The feeling of warmth still clung to his body, despite the fact that the sun had now disappeared behind a cloud. Firenze’s graceful head bent towards him and he repeated his question.
“Are you hurt, Harry?”
“No, no, I’m fine,” he said, standing up slowly and picking up his robe and bag. “I just fell asleep for a minute.”
“You fell asleep for much more than a minute. You missed your class with Professor McGonagall. I was sent to find you.” The centaur still looked concerned despite Harry’s obvious fitness. “Perhaps a visit to Madam Pomfrey?”
“No, really, I’m fine.” Harry’s head was still filled with the man in his dream. He reminded Harry of someone, someone important that he couldn’t place. “I should get to my last class. What time is it?”
“Your next class is with me in ten minutes, so you have plenty of time. Would you like to walk back with me?”
Harry nodded and fell into step with him as they returned to school. Although he was no longer enduring Divination with Professor Trelawney, he had taken the offer of lessons with Firenze. He wanted to be an Auror and had taken his subjects accordingly, but Dumbledore had thought it would expand his mind if he spent at least one lesson a week with the knowledgeable Firenze.
“Firenze, what do you think of dreams?” he asked.
“What do I think of them?” The centaur gave himself a moment to consider the question. “Well, I suppose they are useful in their own way. Dreams often give us an insight into the workings of our own minds.”
“Can you predict things through dreams?”
“No, dreams are internal things. They have little to do with anything that will come to bear in the world around us.”
Harry looked puzzled. “But last year I had dreams that…”
Firenze nodded. “Harry, those weren’t really dreams; your mind was connecting with another. Tell me, have you had a dream that is troubling you?” Firenze paused on the soft grass, regarding Harry carefully.
“No, not troubling me. I thought I recognised someone in my dream. Someone I feel is close, but who I can’t place. It’s like I lost someone, if that makes sense.”
“I suggest you look at people you have perhaps distanced yourself from recently. Do not be fooled by appearances in dreams. It is often not the form they take that is meaningful; it is the feelings behind them. Perhaps it is time to reconnect with certain people.”
Harry’s mind immediately shifted to Maeve, and it became apparent just who the man in the dream had looked like. It wasn’t Selene Lupin. It was Maeve O’Malley, or at least what he could remember of the brief glimpse she had given him. Was his mind telling him to repair the damage caused by the argument last week? The memories of the dreams that Voldemort had caused him to have last year came rushing back and he hoped that this wasn’t somehow connected. He was hesitant to go to Dumbledore with this; nothing had been mentioned about resuming Occlumency lessons so he wondered if perhaps Professor Dumbledore thought that particular danger had passed. This dream had been just a dream, and the man in it couldn’t have had anything to do with Voldemort, although it had seemed as real as the dreams from last year; in that respect Harry was worried. He contemplated telling Hermione, but he knew she would insist he tell the headmaster. In fact, she would probably tell Dumbledore herself after the events of last year.
They arrived at the Divination classroom, the remainder of the day passing in a haze of softly burning herbs combined with visions of the stars. As far as Harry was concerned, Firenze’s lessons were much more convincing than Professor Trelawney’s had been. He was glad he didn’t have to spend another year with her forever telling him he was permanently on the point of death. He knew now that he would always be in constant danger, and he didn’t need some wild-haired woman going on about it all the time. Ron kept shooting him concerned looks through the lesson, which was quite impressive because they spent most of it on their backs looking at a ceiling that had been transformed into the night sky. He finally caught up with Harry as they tumbled from the classroom, grateful that the first day of lessons was over, but appalled at the amount of homework they already had from McGonagall.
“What happened, Harry?” he asked. “We were really worried about you. I thought Hermione was going to burst several blood vessels, she was getting so worked up.”
“I fell asleep by the lake,” Harry replied, with a touch of embarrassment in his voice. “Really stupid of me. I bet McGonagall was mad, wasn’t she?”
“More worried than mad, I’d say. She collared Firenze and sent him to find you. I can help you with our homework, but she might want you to catch up with the lesson in your own time.”
They reached the portrait of the Fat Lady, who looked down at them with a dejected expression on her face.
“Wonder what’s up with her?” Harry whispered to Ron, who shrugged.
“Dunno,” he said. “What I do know is the password, hot buttered crumpets.” He said this last part to the Fat Lady, who immediately threw her arms up in despair and gave a sad wail before swinging open to allow them in.
“Bloody hell,” Ron said, “I don’t think I can put up with that racket for very long.”
“Maybe she’s fallen out with Violet,” Harry suggested. Violet was the Fat Lady’s friend; they spent most of the day gossiping as they wolfed down copious amounts of chocolate.
The common room was bustling with students trying to find reasons for not doing their homework. The only one pulling out their books was Hermione, although she stopped as soon as she saw Harry and dashed across to him.
“I was so worried,” she reprimanded him. “I bumped into Firenze and he said he had found you asleep outside.”
“Sorry, I didn’t mean to worry anyone. It was just hot and I felt sleepy.”
Hermione was about to continue with her lecture, but Ron shook his head at her so she closed her mouth abruptly. Ron was just pleased to have Harry in a talkative mood again, and he didn’t want Hermione’s bossiness making him clam up.
“What’s up with the Fat Lady, anyway,” Ron asked, changing the subject hurriedly.
“Oh, she’s on a diet,” said Hermione.
“A diet!” Ron exclaimed. “All she ever eats is chocolate. A diet will finish her off.”
“She’ll give up in a few days.” Hermione looked at him witheringly. “It’s a woman thing. My mum is always starting diets and they never last beyond a week.”
“How stupid is that?” Ron said. Every day he found new reasons to be bewildered by the ways of girls.
“Right, I have homework to do,” Hermione said. Both Ron and Harry grimaced with disgust.
“There is no way I am doing any homework tonight,” Ron said flatly.
“Me neither,” Harry agreed.
“Have you sorted your Potions problem out yet?” Hermione asked Harry, who shook his head.
“Dumbledore will force Snape to take you… he has to,” Ron said.
“He doesn’t have to,” Hermione interrupted. “It is entirely up to Professor Snape who he takes, and we know he won’t take anyone with less than an O.” She didn’t need to add that Harry had only managed an E, which for most subjects would have been sufficient. For Professor Snape, however, it was not.
“Well, I just won’t take Potions then,” Harry said with a twitch of his shoulders.
“You want to become an Auror. You can’t be an Auror without a N.E.W.T. in Potions,” Hermione argued.
“Not necessarily,” Ron said, although there wasn’t much conviction in his voice.
“Yes, you do,” Hermione corrected him. “Potions is essential to becoming an Auror.”
Ron made a face at her, but she ignored him and turned back to Harry.
“You really need to see Professor Dumbledore. What about Occlumency?”
“Hermione, please stop going on about it. I have no Potions classes scheduled for this year and really, I’m not too unhappy about that because I don’t think I could stand to be in a classroom with Snape.” Harry was getting fed up. He had only been here two days and already Hermione was nagging him about things he had no control over. Professor McGonagall had promised last year that she would get him through his exams, so he was putting his faith in her that she would arrange some way for him to do Potions. Perhaps a private tutor could be found.
He was still musing over the Potions problem at dinner, although the sight of Professor Lupin was distracting. She was eating her dinner at the teacher’s table, while in deep discussion with Professor McGonagall. He looked away quickly as both of them turned their eyes on him. He got the distinct impression that he was in some way included in their conversation.
“Why don’t you go see her after dinner and try to patch up your differences?” Hermione said when she caught Harry looking thoughtfully at Professor Lupin. “I’m sure you would both feel better.”
“You didn’t hear them arguing,” said Ron. “It was enough to wake the dead.”
Harry gave Ron a cold look, so Ron immediately turned his attention back to his dinner, which was much more satisfying than talking to Harry at the moment.
“I might talk to her,” Harry said, thinking back to his earlier dream and remembering the implied significance of it. Perhaps it was some sort of sign that he should heal the rift.
Harry didn’t get the chance to see her that evening because Professor McGonagall called him to her office straight after dinner. As he had predicted, she wished to offer him a solution to both the Occlumency and the Potions problem.
“You are aware, Mr Potter, are you not, that Professor Lupin is not quite what she appears to be?” she asked him after he had sat down opposite her.
“Yes, Professor,” he said.
“Then you also know she has a formidable reputation in the Potions field.” She was looking at him very intently now.
“I didn’t know that. I don’t know very much about her really,” he stumbled over his words. “We had an argument and… well, we haven’t spoken since.”
“Oh, Mr Potter.” Professor McGonagall looked extremely exasperated with him. “You really must learn to control your temper. Whatever did you argue about?”
Harry looked very uncomfortable and began to pick at the sleeve of his robe.
“Well?” she said.
“She told me about her friendship with Snape,” he said finally.
“Professor Snape, and what of it? Surely you don’t extend this ill will between you and Professor Snape to his friends as well?” She looked incredulous; it was this look more than anything that made him fully aware of just how stupid he had been. “I have spoken with her this evening. She wouldn’t tell me the nature of your argument and now I understand why. I know you have been through an awful lot recently, young man, but you are not alone in suffering loss and confusion. A little less introspection would be appropriate from now on, I think.”
Her severe look made him feel very abashed. The anger that he had been feeling was being replaced with a grim determination to do whatever was necessary to fight the threat they faced. He knew now that this involved being a little less judgemental and a little more accepting of people that were trying to be truthful with him.
“You have to accept her help, Harry. She is the only solution to your Potions problem. Professor Snape is adamant that he will not take you, so you will have to take your lessons after normal school hours. This is a great sacrifice on Professor Lupin’s part. She is giving up a lot of her time for you and for your organisation. A little gratitude would not go amiss.”
He nodded and knew that he would have to go and apologise to Maeve, he could no longer afford to hold grudges. In her case, he didn’t want to. He hadn’t forgotten how happy she had made him feel, how it had felt like being close to his mum, albeit briefly.
“Professor Lupin is also a very good Occlumens.” She leant across to him. “Harry, please do not underestimate Professor Lupin. She comes from a very powerful Irish family and will make a strong ally for you.”
He nodded again. If Professor McGonagall respected her this much, she must surely be something exceptional, and he remembered the way she had managed to shut up the portrait of Mrs Black back at Grimmauld Place when everyone else had failed.
“She has agreed to try and teach you Occlumency. I would hope you will make some effort this time. It will not do to shrug off these offers of help; they are for your own benefit.”
“I will do my best,” he said truthfully. A new resolve was being born in Harry. Slowly he was coming to accept the prophecy and its implications. With this acceptance came the understanding that he needed to start taking all the help that was offered him. He was still affected by his earlier dream; the man had been so real, so immediate, so filled with love. Harry started in his seat as he recognised that fact. Love wasn’t something he was used to. He had good friends and people that he supposed could be said to love him, but the feeling he had had in his dream was of a far deeper love than anything he had so far experienced. Now that he recognised this, he suddenly felt the loss of that stranger keenly.
“Professor,” he said quickly, “may I go and see Selene… I mean Professor Lupin… I have something I need to say to her.”
Professor McGonagall gave him a curious look; this boy was a mystery to her. Her students normally posed some level of difficulty, but Harry with his purity and his innate goodness had always had her flummoxed because he acted on instinct. Minerva was far more logical than that.
“Of course you may, if she will see you,” she said pursing her lips together.
“Thanks!” he said, leaping up from his seat and quickly leaving the office. He raced through the corridors, up the stairs, past flickering torches and a slumbering Peeves. He had no idea what exactly he wanted to say to her. He wanted to feel something of that love that the stranger had given him, and he instinctively knew that the only person who could give it to him was Maeve O’Malley.
Harry reached her door breathless, unsure of what he was going to say. He knocked quickly and was rewarded with a welcoming ‘come in’. Maeve was sitting at her desk writing something in a large book; as she looked up he was struck forcibly by her eyes. They were the same ones that had blazed fire at him earlier and once more he felt the warmth of her presence. She tipped her head to one side as they regarded each other in silence for a few moments before a spark from the fire made them both jump. She stood up and crossed the room to him.
“I’m sorry, Harry,” she said. “I said some awful things to you. It’s been impossible to forget them.”
“It was my fault.” He looked at her with sorrow. “I let my hatred of Snape get in the way.”
“It’s understandable,” she said. “Sometimes I loathe Severus too, but he is a good man, Harry.”
He was about to interrupt, and she held up a hand.
“No, Harry, he is a good man, I tried to tell you this the other night, but you were too upset. He has his reasons for being the way he is. It doesn’t excuse his behaviour, but it does go some way to explaining it.”
Harry wanted to argue the point, but he didn’t want to spoil this small reconciliation so he gave a small nod.
“You have seen Professor McGonagall?” she asked.
“Yes, she told me you were going to help me. Why?”
“I don’t know, Harry, I just have to help you. There is something, something I can’t quite grasp that makes me believe we are on a course already set for us.” She gave a small laugh. “Call it fate, if you will… or chance.”
The fire suddenly flickered wildly as high flames shot up the chimney; the room was bathed in golden light. Both Harry and Maeve gasped as a rich, sweet laugh filled the room.