A RATHER LOONY CHRISTMAS

written by: Markus Akerbus

companion to: Harry Potter

setting: Order of the Phoenix

description: Harry begins to enjoy his evening walks with Luna a little more than he expected.


CHAPTER I

Beside the Lake

December arrived, and by that time Harry had developed a habit of wandering the Hogwarts grounds after dinner, morosely marking the ever-replenishing snow with his tracks. Between Umbridge's terminally irritating presence and the alarming increase in homework for the fifth-years, he would much rather spend his time alone. Ron and Hermione, in any case, were increasingly bogged down by their prefect duties, which had managed to grow exponentially with the onset of the holidays, so he was left rather peevish and wanting to get away from it all.

He trudged through the snow along the shore of the Black Lake one evening, Hagrid's impending probation making his already sodden shoes all the heavier. Umbridge was getting to be a real pain. He reckoned he was starting to hate her as much as Snape, going after Hagrid simply because he was a half-breed. Hagrid was one of the few things Harry still liked about Hogwarts.

And Cho, he thought, although the dark-haired girl hardly looked at him outside D.A. meetings. He hoped that the upcoming Christmas break would clear up a few things between them. Maybe if he could get her under the mistletoe…

He reached the edge of the Forbidden Forest, and hovered on the border for a moment. He decided against proceeding. The sky was getting dark already, and he had a star chart to finish for Astronomy.

He turned around to head back to the castle and almost bowled over a small, blonde figure walking in the opposite direction.

"Oh, hello, Harry," she said vaguely. "I didn't see you there. Have you been watching for Blibbering Humdingers too?"

"Er, of course not…I mean, no, I was just…nothing." Harry stopped. "What about you?"

"I was looking for—"

"Right," said Harry, mentally kicking himself, "that was a stupid question."

"There're no stupid questions, Harry."

He smiled to himself. Even in his foul mood Luna made him feel better.

"Well, I was just heading back, so…" He gestured loosely in the direction of the castle.

"That's great, we can go together," she said brightly. Harry started off through the snow, and she fell into step a few feet to his right.

Harry glanced at her. "Erm, Luna?"

"Yes?"

He indicated the generous amount of space between them questioningly.

"Oh," she said dreamily, "I wanted to leave space for the Fuzz-Eared Larkspurs." She smiled at him. "They get grumpy if you get in the way," she added.

"Right, well…okay." They walked in silence for a few moments.

"I heard you were banned from Quidditch…"

"By Umbridge, yeah."

"Well, that's good," she said, "It was a bit of a distraction, wasn't it?"

Harry almost choked. "What?" She was starting to sound like Hermione.

"I mean, now you can focus on other things."

Harry shrugged, calming down. "I don't really want to focus, I guess." She looked at him. "I mean, I can't stand Umbridge, and Hagrid might go on probation, and no Quidditch, and Cho—er…" He cleared his throat. "Nothing." He kept walking.

Luna was watching his face. "You know, Cho talks about you a lot."

Harry's head snapped over to look at her. "What? Er, I mean…okay. What…kind of things does she say?"

"Oh, just about you and Cedric and…"

Harry made a noise of disgust.

"Harry?"

"That's all she every wants to talk about."

"Well, she really cared about him," said Luna gently. "And she cares about you too. She's just trying to figure out how she feels."

"You know, I reckon I'd rather be distracted after all. This stuff's too complicated." Harry looked at her. After a moment he said, "So, er…what were you just saying about…Frosty Larkers?"

She laughed. "Frost-Eared Larkspurs."

"Yes, those."

"Well, they're these adorable little blue creatures, like fairies," said Luna. "They're invisible most of the time but I think I saw one when I was on vacation in Scotland…"


Harry walked her all the way back to the Ravenclaw tower, and after she disappeared inside he just stood there staring at the door. Then he shook his head, smiling to himself, and turned back around.

By the time he arrived back at the common room Ron and Hermione were already done with patrolling the corridors, and they both looked up from the couch as he clambered through the portrait hole.

"You're back rather late," said Hermione. Ron went back to coloring in the margins of his copy of Hogwarts, A History.

"Er, yeah…" he said, trying to wipe the idiotic smile off of his face, "took the long way back."

"You look ridiculously happy," she observed, before writing another line of her essay.

"Oh, well…yeah, I guess so."

"Yeah, mate," Ron commented without looking up, "been hitting the Firewhisky again?"

"Nah, just…had a good stroll." He walked past them to the boys' dormitory, ignoring the looks of some of the fourth-years.

Ron looked sideways at Hermione. "What's up with him?"

Hermione laughed. "Never you mind."


Harry woke up the next morning feeling better than he had in ages. He dressed, grabbed his bag, and was halfway out the portrait hole when he remembered his astronomy chart.

Cursing, he wheeled about and ran back into the boys' dormitory. Ripping the curtains of the four-poster aside he proceeded to poke Ron violently until he responded.

"Shove off, Harry." Ron rolled over and tried to ignore the fingers repeatedly being planted in his ribs.

"I need to see your astronomy homework."

"Bloody hell, mate," Ron said into his pillow, "I didn't do it either. Go find Hermione."

"I just copied her paper on Asiatic antivenoms yesterday."

"I don't care, ask her again."

There was no way Harry would do that, so he decided to rush it at breakfast. He stumbled back out of the common room and down to the Great Hall. Hermione wasn't there at all, so he threw his textbook open on the Gryffindor table and started flipping pages. He found the chapter on Mars and skimmed through the first few lines.

"Was it really necessary," grumbled Harry to a bowl of oranges as he pulled out his chart, "to make every sentence a riddle?" He read the paragraph again, but it didn't make any more sense than before.

"You look flustered this morning."

Harry looked up. "Oh, hey, Luna."

She sat down next to him and glanced at his blank paper. "Invisible ink? Teachers here tend not to give credit for that you know."

Harry couldn't tell if she was joking or not. "Nah, I just forgot." He looked over at her thoughtfully. "Luna…you wouldn't happen to know anything about astronomy…"


There was only an hour of darkness before class started, so Harry and Luna hurried up to the Astronomy tower directly after dinner. Harry set up his telescope and peered up at the darkening sky for a moment.

"Just need to fill out some positions," Harry said, retrieving his sextant from his bag.

Luna sat back and watched him. "So what's the story behind that," she said, pointing at a rather vicious-looking bite taken out of his book bag.

"Hmm?" Harry paused in his work. "Oh, we were trying to bait nifflers once. Guess I wasn't that good, cause it went after my bag instead." He pointed at his black wizard's hat, which he still kept in his bag. "One time Buckb…this hippogriff thought it was a chew toy or something, ripped it right up. Haven't worn it since, of course."

Luna smiled. "Hagrid's Buckbeak?"

Harry looked at her. "Yeah, how'd you know?"

"I used to go down and see him second year. Best friend I ever had," she admitted softly. "Never did find out what happened to him."

Harry laughed. "He's staying at my godfather's place in London. You know, if you want to see him…"

Luna beamed at him. "That would be wonderful." Harry smiled too. "But…how? I mean, why would Hagrid give him away?"

"Well, they were trying to execute Buckbeak, and—you remember the…" Harry trailed off. He'd been about to say 'dementors,' but he felt suddenly cold.

"Harry…" Luna's voice lost all of its vagueness. The intensity of her concern made Harry feel wobbly at the knees. "I didn't mean to get…I mean, I'm sorry if I—"

"No, it's—it's fine." Harry felt the urge to glance around and check for the groping hooded figures.

Luna was silent for a moment. Then she scooted closer, putting her hand on Harry's arm. "You'll be alright, Harry."

"Yeah." Part of him believed her. "So, er…you got anything interesting in your bag?"

Luna's face brightened, and she dove for her bag and started shoveling through it. Harry smiled and looked through his telescope again.


"Harry, not one of these astronomical deductions is correct. I thought you said you got help."

Harry shrugged. "I thought so too." Then he started laughing, and Hermione just had to look on and wonder.

END OF CHAPTER I


4/25/14

Hey all,

Just want to apologize for any canon inaccuracies in the story—it's been about five years, regrettably, since I last read the novels. Please let me know if there are any mistakes that are bothering you.

Also, sorry to those of you who may not like short chapters. Because of my tight schedule I can't afford to spend large chunks of time on writing, and I want to get what I've done out to you guys as soon as possible.

Hope you guys enjoyed this first chapter, I'll have the next one up as soon as possible, which might not be for several days, unfortunately. In any case, please review and don't be afraid to criticize. Thanks!

Solum optimum,

Markus Akerbus