A memorable first encounter

Harry meets Luna Lovegood for the first time

Extract from Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

by J.K. Rowling

In the very last carriage they met Neville Longbottom, Harry’s fellow fifth-year Gryffindor, his round face shining with the effort of pulling his trunk along and maintaining a one-handed grip on his struggling toad, Trevor.

‘Hi, Harry,’ he panted. ‘Hi, Ginny ... everywhere’s full ... I can’t find a seat ...’

‘What are you talking about?’ said Ginny, who had squeezed past Neville to peer into the compartment behind him. ‘There’s room in this one, there’s only Loony Lovegood in here’

Neville mumbled something about not wanting to disturb anyone.

‘Don’t be silly,’ said Ginny, laughing, ‘she’s all right.’

She slid the door open and pulled her trunk inside. Harry and Neville followed.

‘Hi, Luna,’ said Ginny, ‘is it OK if we take these seats?'

’The girl beside the window looked up. She had straggly, waist-length, dirty blonde hair, very pale eyebrows and protuberant eyes that gave her a permanently surprised look. Harry knew at once why Neville had chosen to pass this compartment by. The girl gave off an aura of distinct dottiness. Perhaps it was the fact that she had stuck her wand behind her left ear for safekeeping, or that she had chosen to wear a necklace of Butterbeer corks, or that she was reading a magazine upside-down. Her eyes ranged over Neville and came to rest on Harry. She nodded.

‘Thanks,’ said Ginny, smiling at her.

Harry and Neville stowed the three trunks and Hedwig’s cage in the luggage rack and sat down. Luna watched them over her upside-down magazine, which was called The Quibbler. She did not seem to need to blink as much as normal humans. She stared and stared at Harry, who had taken the seat opposite her and now wished he hadn’t.

‘Had a good summer, Luna?’ Ginny asked.

‘Yes,’ said Luna dreamily, without taking her eyes off Harry. ‘Yes, it was quite enjoyable, you know. You’re Harry Potter,’ she added.

‘I know I am,’ said Harry.

Neville chuckled. Luna turned her pale eyes on him instead. ‘And I don’t know who you are.’

‘I’m nobody,’ said Neville hurriedly.

‘No you’re not,’ said Ginny sharply. ‘Neville Longbottom – Luna Lovegood. Luna’s in my year, but in Ravenclaw.’

Wit beyond measure is man’s greatest treasure,’ said Luna in a sing-song voice.

She raised her upside-down magazine high enough to hide her face and fell silent. Harry and Neville looked at each other with their eyebrows raised. Ginny suppressed a giggle.

The train rattled onwards, speeding them out into open country. It was an odd, unsettled sort of day; one moment the carriage was full of sunlight and the next they were passing beneath ominously grey clouds.

‘Guess what I got for my birthday?’ said Neville.

‘Another Remembrall?’ said Harry, remembering the marble-like device Neville’s grandmother had sent him in an effort to improve his abysmal memory.

‘No,’ said Neville. ‘I could do with one, though, I lost the old one ages ago ... no, look at this ...’

He dug the hand that was not keeping a firm grip on Trevor into his schoolbag and after a little bit of rummaging pulled out what appeared to be a small grey cactus in a pot, except that it was covered with what looked like boils rather than spines.

Mimbulus mimbletonia,’ he said proudly.

Harry stared at the thing. It was pulsating slightly, giving it the rather sinister look of some diseased internal organ.

‘It’s really, really rare,’ said Neville, beaming. ‘I don’t know if there’s one in the greenhouse at Hogwarts, even. I can’t wait to show it to Professor Sprout. My Great Uncle Algie got it for me in Assyria. I’m going to see if I can breed from it.’

Harry knew that Neville’s favourite subject was Herbology but for the life of him he could not see what he would want with this stunted little plant.

‘Does it ever do anything?’ he asked.

‘Loads of stuff!’ said Neville proudly. ‘It’s got an amazing defensive mechanism. Here, hold Trevor for me ...’

He dumped the toad into Harry’s lap and took a quill from his schoolbag. Luna Lovegood’s popping eyes appeared over the top of her upside-down magazine again, to watch what Neville was doing. Neville held the Mimbulus mimbletonia up to his eyes, his tongue between his teeth, chose his spot, and gave the plant a sharp prod with the tip of his quill.

Liquid squirted from every boil on the plant; thick, stinking, dark green jets of it. They hit the ceiling, the windows, and spattered Luna Lovegood’s magazine; Ginny, who had flung her arms up in front of her face just in time, merely looked as though she was wearing a slimy green hat, but Harry, whose hands had been busy preventing Trevor’s escape, received a faceful. It smelled like rancid manure.

Neville, whose face and torso were also drenched, shook his head to get the worst out of his eyes.

‘S – sorry,’ he gasped. ‘I haven’t tried that before ... didn’t realise it would be quite so ... don’t worry, though, Stinksap’s not posonous,’ he added nervously, as Harry spat a mouthful on to the floor.

At that precise moment the door of their compartment slid open. ‘Oh ... hello, Harry,’ said a nervous voice. ‘Um ... bad time?’ Harry wiped the lenses of his glasses with his Trevor-free hand.

A very pretty girl with long, shiny black hair was standing in the doorway smiling at him: Cho Chang, the Seeker on the Ravenclaw Quidditch team.

‘Oh ... hi,’ said Harry blankly.

‘Um ...’ said Cho. ‘Well ... just thought I’d say hello ... bye then.’

Rather pink in the face, she closed the door and departed. Harry slumped back in his seat and groaned. He would have liked Cho to discover him sitting with a group of very cool people laughing their heads off at a joke he had just told; he would not have chosen to be sitting with Neville and Loony Lovegood, clutching a toad and dripping in Stinksap.

‘Never mind,’ said Ginny bracingly. ‘Look, we can easily get rid of all this.’ She pulled out her wand. ‘Scourgify!

The Stinksap vanished.

‘Sorry,’ said Neville again, in a small voice.

Ron and Hermione did not turn up for nearly an hour, by which time the food trolley had already gone by. Harry, Ginny and Neville had finished their pumpkin pasties and were busy swapping Chocolate Frog Cards when the compartment door slid open and they walked in, accompanied by Crookshanks and a shrilly hooting Pigwidgeon in his cage.

‘I’m starving,’ said Ron, stowing Pigwidgeon next to Hedwig, grabbing a Chocolate Frog from Harry and throwing himself into the seat next to him. He ripped open the wrapper, bit off the Frog’s head and leaned back with his eyes closed as though he had had a very exhausting morning.

‘Well, there are two fifth-year prefects from each house,’ said Hermione, looking thoroughly disgruntled as she took her seat. ‘Boy and girl from each.’

‘And guess who’s a Slytherin prefect?’ said Ron, still with his eyes closed.

‘Malfoy,’ replied Harry at once, certain his worst fear would be confirmed.

‘Course,’ said Ron bitterly, stuffing the rest of the Frog into his mouth and taking another.

‘And that complete cow Pansy Parkinson,’ said Hermione viciously. ‘How she got to be a prefect when she’s thicker than a concussed troll ...’

‘Who are Hufflepuff's?’ Harry asked.

‘Ernie Macmillan and Hannah Abbott,’ said Ron thickly.

‘And Anthony Goldstein and Padma Patil for Ravenclaw,’ said Hermione.

‘You went to the Yule Ball with Padma Patil,’ said a vague voice.

Everyone turned to look at Luna Lovegood, who was gazing unblinkingly at Ron over the top of The Quibbler. He swallowed his mouthful of Frog.

‘Yeah, I know I did,’ he said, looking mildly surprised.

‘She didn’t enjoy it very much,’ Luna informed him. ‘She doesn’t think you treated her very well, because you wouldn’t dance with her. I don’t think I’d have minded,’ she added thoughtfully, ‘I don’t like dancing very much.’

She retreated behind The Quibbler again. Ron stared at the cover with his mouth hanging open for a few seconds, then looked around at Ginny for some kind of explanation, but Ginny had stuffed her knuckles in her mouth to stop herself giggling. Ron shook his head, bemused, then checked his watch.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

By J.K. Rowling

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