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.


On the Edge

Hermione was sitting on the floor in front of the fire in the common room, drying her hair and reading As I Lay Dying. Harry made his way over and sat down across from her on the rug. She examined him over the top of her book as they sat in silence.

"You finish that paper for McGonnagall?" she asked finally.

Harry shook his head absentmindedly, staring into the fire.

She looked for a moment like she was going to scold him, but instead shrugged almost imperceptibly and went back to her reading.

It was quiet for a long time. Hermione looked over at him again. "I saw you and Luna in the snow today." She was smiling, but Harry just nodded. After a moment he turned his head and looked at her silently, but Hermione had the feeling he was seeing right through her and into some other dimension, lost in his thoughts.

She marked her page carefully and put the book aside. Harry's eyes followed the book unseeingly as she set it down.

"Harry…" He looked up at her. "I…I'm not really sure how to say this," she started, "but your life…there are certain things you can't avoid, Harry. And, well…fighting Voldemort is one of them." She seemed to have trouble finding the words. "I mean, whether he comes to you or you go to him, there's gonna come a time when you have to…when you have to put everything on the line and face him," she said, sounding short of breath.

Harry refused to meet her eyes.

"I hate to say it, but you know what happens when Voldemort is involved. People die, Harry, whether…" She swallowed hard. "Whether it's you or the people around you."

He still didn't respond. "Harry, Luna's lucky to have you," she said, "beyond lucky. But because death follows Voldemort it follows you as well…"

She might as well have stabbed him.

"…and you have to think about what that means for you and Luna."

Harry bit his lip. "She means everything to me."

"Exactly." She tried to be gentle but it came out sounding harsh anyway. Her mouth was dry. "I know this isn't easy, and I know I can't expect you just to throw it all away, but you have to consider…I mean…" She trailed off, unable to finish her thought.

Harry felt hopelessly trapped. "But I don't…I mean, how am I supposed to…" He threw up his hands. "Fuck! This isn't fair."

Hermione was silent. With a loud noise Harry let out his breath.

With most of the students away for Christmas break, Luna's dormitory was empty except for her and Claire. She was glad it was just the two of them, since the dark-haired fourth-year was the only one of her dorm mates who ever made any attempt at friendliness.

Luna was sitting on the edge of her four-poster, fiddling with her father's newest invention, when the other Ravenclaw walked into the room. The newcomer smiled at her, and she smiled in response and then went back to trying on the contraption at different angles in an attempt to make it work.

"Saw you and Potter out there today," Claire said, grinning as she hung up her towel. "Looks pretty serious."

The blonde-haired girl blushed and beamed at the same time. "Yes," she said girlishly.

The other girl couldn't help but smile wider. "Good for you! He looks to be a real decent fellow. And also very into you."

Luna glowed at her words.

"I'm sure very…capable as well," Claire said slyly.

The usually pale-skinned girl got even redder. "No! We're not…I mean…"

Her teasing dorm mate laughed. "I know, don't worry," she said. "Take it slow. There'll be plenty of good things with time."

Luna smiled to herself. Yes, plenty of good things with time.

Harry descended the Marble Staircase and slowly made his way across the Entrance Hall, not particularly caring where he ended up. Curfew was fast approaching, but he made no move to return to the Gryffindor Tower. He felt dangerously close to falling over, and threatened to lose his balance more than once as he continued across the empty room, taking measured, disheartened steps in the near-darkness.

He was trying to come to terms with what Hermione had said, but there was something like music in the back of his mind, that rose and swelled and refused to quiet down and let him think straight. He was utterly lost—trapped, with nowhere to turn. He felt impossibly far from Luna. He had the urge to run and find her, to confirm that she was real, that anything was real, to ask her to say his name again and again, to make sure she knew who he was.

He stopped walking and closed his eyes. He tried to focus on something, anything, but the only thing in his head was a whirling storm of noise and emotions.

He strained to imagine Luna's face, her presence, her words. For a moment he considered seeking her out and telling her everything on the spot, but he was afraid of what she would say. He'd already asked her to meet him before breakfast the next day anyway.

He turned to start back up toward the Staircase, then changed his mind and kept walking.

The clouds were just getting light when the two of them reached the edge of the Forbidden Forest. Grasping Luna's hand, Harry led her between the trees, not far from the threstral nest she'd shown him before.

"Sure you can't tell me what this is?" she asked. Harry shook his head without looking back at her. On the one hand, he was thrilled as always to be with her, but he kept remembering what he needed to talk to her about.

They broke into the clearing and Luna let out a little gasp. "Buckbeak!" She ran up to the hippogriff and threw her arms around his neck, eliciting a sound of greeting from the creature. Luna looked back at Harry. "How?"

He smiled, moving toward the two of them. "I got Ron to tell Sirius for me."

Luna turned to him and hugged him. He laughed. "That's not the half of it." He lifted up his school bag for her to see. It didn't take her long.

"Harry, I swear you're the best." Her face was radiant.

He helped her onto Buckbeak's back and got on behind her. Leaning forward, she whispered to the hippogriff, and before long they were soaring over the Black Lake, the cold air biting through their clothes. Harry wrapped his robes around the both of them, hugging Luna tight. They were moving too fast to speak, and so he just rested his chin on her shoulder, trying to think of the words that could possibly reach her.

About an hour later the two of them were sitting on the edge of the cliff overlooking the castle and the lake, having already eaten, their legs dangling over the end. The clouds hadn't budged, and the water below rippled dark gray in contrast with the day-old snow.

Harry put his arm around Luna and laced his fingers over hers. She looked at him, and he smiled slightly and rested his forehead on hers. Her eyes were amazingly bright. After a moment he dropped his gaze and moved away a little.

"Luna…" He stared over the water at the castle. "Hermi—" He stopped. "Luna, I'm not in control of everything in my life. If I was, I'd…I'd do so many things differently—better, and…well, I'm not, and—"

Luna was already shaking her head. "I don't care."

"What?" Harry stared at her. "You don't…? But I haven't even—"

"I think for myself sometimes," she said in a matter-of-fact tone.

"Of course, but—"

"I know who you are, Harry. Everyone does. I know who you are, and I know what that means for me. And I don't care." Harry was still staring. "You're right, things are going to happen, and things are going to change. And what we've got, maybe it'll last, maybe not. But what difference does it make?" She gave him a weak smile. "Where did you expect all this to go? Things end, Harry." She glanced out over the water. "But just because something doesn't last forever doesn't mean it's not worth pursuing."

Harry looked at her as she continued to gaze out into the winter. He tried to find the words to explain his relief, or his understanding, or his ever-growing love, or whatever it was he was feeling, but he failed. He felt the urge to take her lovely face between his hands and kiss her, but didn't, and instead turned to examine the castle with her. In a few minutes they would return, and together they'd be prepared for Umbridge, and after that for Snape, and after that, well…after that maybe they'd see about that kiss.



Hey all,

Well, I'm sure an apology's useless at this point, but sorry anyway for taking forever. Got a little distracted by life for a bit there.

It is, however, about time to end this story. I could continue it, of course, but I think it would be beside the point. The focus is in the right place, and I don't think it needs to be added to.

That being said, this is certainly not the end of Harry and Luna for me. One day when I have a bit more inspiration I'm sure I'll come up with another story and take forever to write it. Fingers crossed.

In any case, thanks to all of you who stuck with me this entire time. I enjoyed writing this story, and I hope you enjoyed reading it. As always, please review and don't be afraid to criticize. Cheers until next time!

Solum optimum,

Markus Akerbus