Just Be Tactful
“That man the
Death Eaters killed was your godfather, wasn’t he? Ginny told me.”
- Luna Lovegood, OotP, p.760 (UK edition)
* * *
Ginny Weasley was
pleased as she reflected that her brother retained no long-lasting ill-effects
from the events in the Department of Mysteries. For one thing, Ron’s appetite had not changed; he sat in his
hospital bed devouring the fourteenth Chocolate Frog from the gigantic pile of
sweets beside him. For another, he seemed well enough to cheerfully criticise
his least favourite subject, Divination.
“… The whole subject’s
useless if you ask me, Firenze isn’t a lot better…”
And lastly, he seemed
to be reverting comfortably back into, perhaps his favourite hobby: irritating
“How can you say
that?” she demanded. “After we’ve found out that there are real prophecies?”
Ginny felt less
satisfied about the well-being of Harry Potter. She watched him, sitting on the
end of Ron’s bed, looking pale and battered and very vulnerable. In comparison to
Ron, she suspected the Department of Mysteries would have a profound lasting
effect on him. It was another burden for him, another weight that he had to
carry around with him, so apparent that she could almost see his knees buckle
under the strain of it. She let Ron and Hermione’s words wash over her as she
watched Harry, and she gave a start as he suddenly stood up.
“… Where are you
going?” Ron asked, interrupting himself.
“Er – Hagrid’s,”
said Harry. “You know, he just got back and I promised I’d go down and see him
and tell him how you two are.”
“Oh, all right
then,” Ginny heard her brother say. “Wish we could come.”
“Say hello to him
for us!” called Hermione. “And ask him what’s happening about… about his little
As Harry waved his
hand behind him and left the Hospital Wing, Ginny felt a stab of envy. His little friend. What were they
talking about? She supposed that the three of them would always be set apart
from the rest, that they would always have secrets they were unwilling to
share. But knowing this didn’t make it easier to accept.
“Hopefully it will
do him some good.”
Hermione’s crisp words
jerked Ginny back to the conversation.
“What will?” Ron
asked with his mouth full of Fizzing Whizzbee.
“A visit to
Hagrid’s,” Hermione said briskly. “It might do him some good.”
“How?” Ron asked,
clearly put out that Hermione thought Hagrid would be any more sympathetic than
been close, haven’t they?” Neville said quietly, from his chair between them
Luna stood up as quickly as Harry had done and put The Quibbler under her arm. Singing a tuneless song under her
breath, she drifted over to the door and out of the room. They watched, rather
surprised, expecting her to reappear. When she didn’t, Ron slumped back on his
“Bye, then,” he
said loudly, examining a Chocolate Frog Card. “Hey, I’ve got Dumbledore! They
didn’t take him off!”
Hermione. “I’m just saying that he might offer Harry a different perspective on
“Who? Oh –
Hagrid,” Ron said. “Er, maybe. I dunno, Hermione.”
“What do you
Ginny knew the
look in Hermione’s brown eyes suggested that she was steeling herself for a
fight. She couldn’t really blame her. It must be torture, downing ten medicines
a day, not able to go out into the sunshine, with only Ron and his
extraordinary pile of sweets for company.
“I’m just saying
that Hagrid isn’t all that tactful,” Ron said defensively. “That’s all.”
“Yes he is!”
good-natured, yes. Tactful, no. He’ll probably dive right in and start talking
about Sirius with Harry.” Ron looked worried.
“Well Harry should talk about it,” Hermione said,
rather shrilly. “You know what he’s like. He’ll bottle it all up, he’ll never
say anything. He needs to talk about it…”
“Not until he’s
ready to,” Ron said firmly.
Hermione breathed out
loudly through her nose, glaring at Ron. Ginny wasn’t quite sure, but she
thought Hermione had just lost an argument.
“Well you’re not
exactly tactful,” Hermione shot at Ron. “Sitting there with your sweets,
laughing at,” she lowered her voice, “laughing at Umbridge. Looking like you’re
having the time of your life.”
“Hey, we were all
laughing at that old bag!” Ron said, not troubling to keep quiet. “And at least
I wasn’t reading out great chunks of The
Daily Prophet. Like he wants to hear all of that right now.”
“I might get some
dinner,” Ginny said, standing up. Partly it was because she could feel a
full-blown argument approaching, and partly because all the talk of tact had
reminded her that Hagrid was not the only one who might put his foot in it…
“Me too,” Neville
said. He looked anxiously between the fuming Ron and Hermione. “Get better
soon,” he said awkwardly.
curtly by way of a goodbye. Ron said nothing, and sulkily threw a handful of
wrappers to the bin at the end of his bed. Most of them missed and scattered
across the Hospital Wing floor. Sighing, waving her wand, and muttering a
spell, Hermione directed them to their proper place.
By the time Ginny
and Neville had left the room, they could hear a new argument begin about the
frustrated,” Ginny said, more to herself than Neville. “And worried, because
they don’t know what to do about Harry.”
put his hands in his pockets and chewed his upper lip. “I think we’re all
They walked along
the large stone corridor in silence. The sun was blazing in from the high,
circular windows. It made patches of light on the floor, the dust of Hogwarts
sparkle and dance, and their heads feel warm from the sunbeams when they passed.
Outside, the joyful chattering and screaming of stress-free students met their
ears, sounding horribly out of place in Ginny’s mind. Sirius’s death affected
everything; he was absent with an overriding presence.
sharply to the left, but stopped at the top of a staircase as he saw that Ginny
wasn’t following. “I thought you were going to the Great Hall?” he said.
“I will,” Ginny
said. “Sorry Neville. There’s something I have to do first. I have to talk to
Neville looked a little put out. He started down the stairs on his own,
tripping slightly on the third step.
“I’ll see you in a
few minutes!” Ginny called, as he disappeared out of sight.
She shrugged and
continued walking forwards, quickening her pace. Guessing where she was going,
she trotted up two staircases and along a very thin corridor before she found
who she was looking for.
Walking so lightly
she almost appeared to float several centimetres from the ground, Luna drifted
ahead of Ginny. Her straggly blonde hair ran down her back, her robes were
unceremoniously caught at her right shoulder, and she rocked The Quibbler between her right-hand
thumb and index finger.
“Luna! Hey! LUNA!”
On hearing her
name, Luna did not instinctively whip round like most people Ginny knew.
Instead she turned slowly, like a ballerina in a Muggle music box, until she
faced her companion.
“Oh, hello,” she
said, as if Ginny was someone she had not seen for several weeks, and the visit
she had paid to the Hospital Wing, not to mention the events that had taken
place in the Department of Mysteries, had completely slipped her mind.
“Hi,” Ginny said,
awkwardly. She always found it difficult beginning conversations with Luna. She
noticed that her wand was behind her ear once more. “Um, Luna, can I have a
“Yes,” Luna said
at once. She gazed at Ginny, her unblinking pale eyes practically bulbous in
the darkened corridor.
“It’s just…” Ginny
said, playing for time while she thought. How could she put it tactfully? How could she warn Luna to be careful what
she said in front of Harry?
Luna did not
appear to be thrown by Ginny’s silence. Instead she continued humming her
odd-sounding tune and politely waited for Ginny to speak. The whole thing
suddenly struck Ginny as so bizarre that she almost laughed aloud. How on earth
had Luna got mixed up in all of this? They
were casual friends, she supposed, but Luna hardly knew Neville or Ron or
Hermione. Harry didn’t even appear to have heard of the girl until the train
journey at the beginning of the year. So why had she followed him, them, into
the Ministry of Magic?
“Why did you come
“To the Department
of Mysteries,” Ginny said, a little impatiently. Wasn’t it obvious?
“Oh, there,” Luna
said, watching a fly buzz above their heads. “To rescue Sirius Black.” She said
this as if she was giving an answer to an exam question. Her voice was prompt
“But – but, you
don’t even know who Sirius is,” Ginny said. “Not really.”
forward so their noses were almost touching. Ginny backed away, rather
intimidated at seeing her so close. Luna did not seem to notice, but her pale
eyebrows were knotted together.
“Oh, I think I do
know,” she said in a hushed voice. “I know who Sirius is, really.”
“He’s Stubby Boardman, lead singer of popular
singing group The Hobgoblins....”
“No!” said Ginny
exasperated as she realised Luna was quoting from The Quibbler. “That’s complete rubbish!”
herself. “And that’s rather impolite,” she told Ginny, and stalked away down
Ginny stood still for
a full twenty seconds, at a complete loss, before she realised what she had
“No!” she said
running after Luna. “No, I didn’t mean,” she swallowed her better judgment, “I
didn’t mean The Quibbler was rubbish.
It’s not, um, obviously…”
walking so abruptly that Ginny skidded to a halt to avoid knocking into her. They
had reached the end of the dark corridor, and now entered a larger, lighter
one, where Ginny had Charms on a Thursday afternoon. The windows were lower
down the walls, looking out onto the lake and sporting large stone windowsills.
Ginny hoisted herself up onto the nearest one, hoping Luna would do the same. She
didn’t, instead choosing to stand, gazing at the scene behind Ginny, restored
once more to her dreamy state.
but decided to press on regardless. “You know the people who came to help us
fight? Later on, when you were knocked out? The one that died,” Ginny’s voice
faltered slightly. “That was actually Sirius Black. He was Harry’s godfather.”
“That’s a shame,”
Luna said seriously. “Poor Harry,” she added for good measure.
Ginny gritted her
teeth. She thought describing Sirius’s death as a shame was rather an
understatement. But at least Luna had the awareness to realise its implications
understandably upset about it,” Ginny said. “He thinks it’s his fault, you see,
because if he hadn’t been tricked into going there, Sirius wouldn’t have died.
I think it’s more complicated than that though. But I don’t know for sure.”
complicated,” Luna said. She looked completely calm. “Everything always is.”
It was rare moments
like this that Ginny could appreciate Luna being in Ravenclaw. A mystical
intelligence, quite difference to Hermione’s bookish intellect, radiated from
her dotty persona.
There was a soft crash
and Ginny’s illusion was shattered. The
Quibbler, which Luna had continued to swing between her fingers, had
slipped onto the floor. Without a change in expression, she bent to retrieve
it, not noticing that she picked it up both upside down and inside out. On the
window sill, Ginny watched her, swinging her legs, and preparing to get to the
reason for their discussion.
“So, Luna,” she
began. “Do you think you could be careful when you talk about the Department of
Mysteries, about Sirius? Well, when you talk to Harry actually.” Ginny took a
deep breath. “In fact, it’s best if we don’t mention Sirius at all. All right?”
Luna blinked once
or twice. Ginny took this unusual occurrence as a yes.
“We just have to
be tactful,” Ginny told her, remembering Ron and Hermione’s argument. “For
She leapt down
from the window sill and landed neatly on the ground. Readjusting her bag on
her back and turning left, she put her hand on the doorknob leading to the dark
“You love Harry,”
Ginny spun around.
“I – I used to fancy Harry,” she corrected, her face scarlet. “I had a crush, Luna.”
Luna had not
moved. She continued to stare out of the window. Ginny turned to the door once
more, but then turned back to Luna, feeling she should straighten this out.
“I don’t anymore,”
she insisted. “I really don’t. In fact I went out with Michael Corner for a
Luna said vaguely. “My House. And Dumbledore’s Army.”
snapped. She had mounting feelings of irritation. For Michael and his
childishness, for Cho and her prettiness, for Luna and her dreaminess, and for
Harry’s desperate, unbearable pain.
“He’s quite rude
sometimes, you know,” Luna said, turning to Ginny.
“I know,” Ginny
said sourly, remembering the fight she and Michael had had after the
Gryffindor-Ravenclaw Quidditch match.”
“He shouted at me
“When?” Ginny was
incredulous. She couldn’t imagine Michael shouting at Luna. She couldn’t really
imagine him giving her the time of day.
“When we tried to help
him with Sirius,” Luna said. “Do you remember?”
occurred to Ginny that Luna had returned to the topic of Harry Potter without
“Oh, yes,” she
said, trying to catch up. “Yes.”
“He swore at me,
too,” Luna said as if Ginny hadn’t been there.
“Yes, well, Harry
was under a lot of pressure!” Ginny cried defensively. “He always is! He has
loads to cope with.” Although deep down she felt rather surprised; surprised
that Luna remembered Harry’s harshness towards her, surprised that his words
hadn’t simply bounced off her, like everyone else’s did. Assuming everyone
brother’s funny,” Luna said, almost brightly.
sometimes,” Ginny sniggered, pleased to help steer the conversation off Harry.
“He can be a great big prat too though.”
backside,” Luna murmured to herself with a smile.
It took Ginny a
while to work out the significance of what Luna had just said.
backside,” she repeated stupidly, because she didn’t really know how else to
widened to an almost impossible degree and she collapsed into giggles. Ginny
watched her, utterly bewildered. Perhaps she would never understand her.
Perhaps no one would.
“Well, have a nice
holiday, Luna,” she said, feeling it might be the last time she saw her before
laughing and looked uncharacteristically solemn.
“You still care
about him,” she said, and Ginny knew that she was talking about Harry once
“Of course I do,”
Ginny said, a little too fast. “I care about all of my friends.” Even you, she thought infuriately, but
she didn’t say anything.
“You still care
about him,” Luna repeated. She smiled serenely as if incredibly pleased about
something. “Well, have a nice holiday, Ginny,” she said, testing out Ginny’s
Turning on her
heel, she began walking further down the corridor. Ginny grabbed her last
“Just – be
tactful!” she shouted.
answer. She didn’t even wave or turn. Ginny watched her departing form, feeling
oddly as if she had been outsmarted somehow. There was a clatter as Luna’s wand
fell to the ground. Luna continued walking, obviously oblivious. A few paces
later, she reached up and felt her ear before turning around and picking up the
wand which had rolled over under the window she had just passed. Not wishing
for Luna to see her watching, Ginny pushed open the door next to her and
hurried down the opposite corridor.
What had just
happened? Had Luna even listened to what she’d said? And how did Luna even know
about her past feelings for Harry? Ginny blushed. Hard. Had she been that
She wanted to go
after Luna and ask her. She wanted to know why Luna had been smiling at her.
But somehow Luna had managed to get her to close their conversation, and Ginny
would not go back on that.
“Just be tactful,”
Ginny said again, this time to the empty corridor.
Then she broke
into a run to make it to the Great Hall before dinner finished.
* * *