A/N: Written by Chaser 1 of Montrose Magpies for QLFC Round 9.
Prompt: Luna Lovegood
Optional prompts: (setting) treehouse; (scenario) an argument over what the best colour is; (dialogue) "It's like a beehive in here."
Also for the Build a Zoo Challenge with the prompt 'wonderful'.
Thank you so much to The Lady Rogue for betaing.
Word count: 2207
Whistling under her breath, Luna strolled up the pathway to the Potters' house, her arm linked with Rolf's. He joined in every now and again, their voices blending together in a sweet melody. Neither of them was quite on pitch, but she thought the tune was better for their imperfections.
As they finished the song in unison, she beamed up at him. Between the summer sun warming her bare shoulders and the face of her husband smiling back down at her, she had never been happier.
Their life wasn't perfect; there were dozens of little things that niggled at them, from work troubles to issues with friends to their own trouble conceiving. But if she had to choose between a perfect life and a meaningful one, she would choose the latter every time.
Rolf tucked a strand of hair behind her ear. "I'm going to head inside — see if Hagrid's here yet. Are you going to the treehouse?"
"Probably; unless my feet take me somewhere else."
He nodded, an expression of sincere understanding on his face. There had been multiple occasions where they'd planned to go out somewhere, only for one of them to feel compelled to take a different path instead. After a few such experiences, they'd both learned to trust where their feet — or, as Hermione would say, instincts — told them to go.
They parted, Rolf heading up to the house while Luna looped around the back. Her feet seemed to be perfectly happy going in the direction she planned, so it didn't take long for her to find herself at the treehouse.
Nestled into the crook between two gigantic oak trees, it was quite large — probably the size of a small boat — with a small veranda coiling around the exterior and a zip-wire connecting it to a smaller treehouse further along the garden. To some, it would be the height of extravagance. But Luna knew that the size wasn't by choice but by necessity. Given how many children the Weasley brood had had between them, anything smaller wouldn't have fit them all.
As she drew closer, the sound of boisterous chatter reached her ears.
She climbed up the ladder and knocked on the red-and-silver door. All noise stopped for a moment, followed by a voice calling out: "Password?"
The last time she'd visited, there hadn't been a password. She paused for a moment, frowning, before shrugging and saying the first word that came to mind. They would either let her in or they wouldn't; there was no use worrying about it. "Narnia."
"Aunt Luna!" a group of voices chorused.
The joy in their voices was touching; they all sounded genuinely pleased to see her. Luna might have been the only one of her friends who hadn't had children yet, and that might not have been by choice, but she didn't feel any less fulfilled than she would have otherwise. If it happened, it happened. If it didn't, it didn't. Either way, she would be the best aunt she could be.
Life wasn't perfect, but the imperfections wouldn't drag her down unless she let them.
The door opened inwards, revealing Hugo. "We had to make sure you weren't one of the others," he said. "They've been trying to spy on us all day. They're just upset we won't tell them anything about our super-secret play."
"Won't or can't?" Luna asked. "If you did, it wouldn't be super-secret anymore."
"Exactly!" Hugo stepped back, allowing her to enter.
There were about half a dozen children inside; the younger ones — Rose, Hugo, Albus, Lily, Louis, Lucy, and Roxanne.
The treehouse was packed. A large piece of white fabric was spread out across the wooden floor, a palette and tubes of paint stacked neatly beside it. In one corner, Lucy and Albus were crowded over a notebook. In another, Rose was using magic to attach two pieces of piping together. In the centre, Louis and Roxanne were sitting in front of the fabric. Neither of them seemed to have noticed her; they were in the middle of a passionate argument. Lily was walking between the groups, a clipboard in her hand, giving off the air of being a supervisor of some kind despite being one of the youngest there.
"It's like a beehive in here," Luna said, taking the scene in with wide eyes.
"What?" Hugo frowned up at her. His confusion just made him look even younger and more adorable.
"You're all buzzing around like busy little bees, working towards a common cause and following the instructions of the queen." She nodded towards Lily, who preened at the comparison. "All you're missing are the wings and the honey."
"Oh, I can fly," Hugo assured her. "Dad taught me how the other day."
"Wonderful!" Luna clapped her hands together. "Then you already have the wings, too. It's just the honey left, and it looks like you're all working towards that. You said you're making a play?"
Rose glanced up from her spot on the floor and nodded. "Lucy and Albus are editing the script while I make the props and Roxy, Louis, and Hugo paint the backdrops."
"Ooh. Are you going to perform it for us today?"
"If we get everything done in time." Her expression turning sheepish, Rose added, "Can you not tell anyone I'm using magic? I usually wouldn't, but… well, we're in a hurry. We thought we still had a few more days before the picnic. We only realised it was today, well, today."
Her hair might have been red, and her face might have been freckled, but Rose had never resembled her mother more. Back at school, Hermione had had a reputation for following the rules and respecting their professors, but Luna knew better than most that the Gryffindor had a knack for finding loopholes when it suited her. While Hermione had done it to fight against Voldemort, it seemed that Rose's cause was getting things finished on time.
"If they ask me, I won't lie."
"But they don't have to understand what you're saying, do they?" Lily asked.
"I suppose not," Luna replied with a smile and a conspiratorial wink. "Creativity is rather like magic, after all, isn't it?"
Hugo took Luna's hand and tugged her over to the centre, sitting on Roxanne's free side and gesturing for her to join him.
Smoothing out her sundress, Luna settled on the floor beside the trio. "What's wrong? I might be able to help."
Roxanne sighed, exasperation pouring out of her. "A few of the scenes are set in a mystical realm, and we can't agree on how to paint the backdrop for them. According to Louis, all of my ideas are horrible."
"Not horrible," he protested. "Just not right."
"What are you thinking at the moment?"
"I was thinking of green." Roxanne gestured to the palette, where someone had mixed yellow and blue together to make green.
It was as light and bright and vivid as the Killing Curse. "Not that shade," Luna advised.
Roxanne blinked at her, looking offended. Luna didn't blame her; usually, she never shot down their ideas, let alone that bluntly. "Why not?"
Luna didn't want to be the one to talk to them about the curse. What Harry did or did not tell them about his memory of his mother's death was up to him and him alone; it wasn't her place to come in and reveal more than he was ready for them to know. And seeing that particular shade in the middle of the play wouldn't be pleasant for any of the adults.
At the same time, one of the things she loved the most about the kids was their insatiable curiosity; they weren't going to let the matter drop without some sort of explanation. "That shade of green attracts Wrackspurts. It would be safer to make it darker."
Lily shook her head. "We don't want the backdrops to be too dark."
"What about different shades of purple mixed together?" Louis suggested.
"My art teacher said purple is associated with royalty and extravagance," Rose said. "What's royal and extravagant about the mystical realm?"
Roxanne huffed, rolling her eyes. "What would you suggest, then, if you know so much?"
"Why not red? It's bold, and we haven't used it much in the other backdrops. It'll show everyone that something's different about this one."
"You just want red because it's a Gryffindor colour," Louis said.
"Besides, red's also destructive like lava," Albus called over from his corner of the treehouse. "The mystical realm is supposed to be safe — confusing and frightening at first, but ultimately a refuge."
"What about blue?" Louis asked. "Blue's calming; that's sort of like a refuge."
Lucy shook her head. "Blue isn't calming; it's anxiety-inducing. Just like the ocean, you can never know what's hidden in its depths."
"That's right!" Roxanne grinned. "You never know when something's going to… get you!"
She went to tickle Lily, who jumped out of the way deftly. "Hey!"
"But you're a Ravenclaw," Hugo said to Lucy, ignoring the scuffle with the composure of somebody who was used to such antics. "Aren't you supposed to have, like, house loyalty or something? Mum and Dad always say their favourite colours are red and gold."
The girl shrugged. "It applies to Ravenclaws, too. We think so much that you never know what we're planning to do until we tell you. Isn't that right, Aunt Luna?"
"Colours can mean different things to everyone," Luna said diplomatically.
With that, they leapt back into the dispute with renewed vigour; this time, all six of them were involved, their voices layering over one another until the treehouse was filled with a cacophony of sound.
Luna looked between the children. Without guidance, they would probably spend the whole day arguing about which colour would be the best. Usually, that wouldn't bother her. As long as they didn't get too invested in it, who was she to decide what was or wasn't worth their time? If they thought that debating about colours was valuable, she was hardly going to get involved.
But Rose had made it clear that they were in a time crunch, and Luna knew that they would be devastated if they didn't get to perform the play while everybody was there. She clapped her hands in the special pattern Ginny had devised, and the children all joined in. A few of the older ones rolled their eyes, but it worked. Once the clapping was done, silence rang out through the treehouse.
Taking advantage of the reprieve, Luna said, "You could use a few different colours. Purple, red, blue, green, yellow — all of the Hogwarts house colours, even. It would be obvious that it was different from the other settings, and it would have a bit of the meaning of each colour mixed in; the regality of purple, the boldness of red, the calmness and uncertainty of blue, the… the vividness of green, and the life of yellow."
The children looked between one another. Then, one after another, they all started to smile.
"I like it," Roxanne said.
"It would get the point across," Louis agreed.
"And it would mean you can stop arguing and get on with it," Rose added.
Luna thought that was somewhat hypocritical since Rose had been the first person other than her to shoot down an idea, but then she didn't know how long the argument had been going on before she arrived.
With that, they all got back to work. Lucy and Albus huddled over the parchment, Rose focused on her props, and Roxanne, Louis, and Hugo started to mix the paints they needed. Lily continued drifting between the three stations, checking in on each by turn.
A beehive indeed.
"Make the green a bit darker," Luna suggested, relief flooding through her when Roxanne did so.
Luna settled back to watch as they continued with their preparations. She knew they wouldn't want an adult's help for the physical side of things, but they did ask her a few more questions over the next hour.
And it was a joy just to be there. When she was little, she used to do similar things, writing jingles and plays to perform for her parents, then, later, just for her father. Of course, not having had anyone to perform with, she'd played all the parts herself. Every time, he would clap and applaud as if they were in a grand theatre rather than just their back garden.
Then, the war had come and stolen her childhood like a thief in the night, and she'd been forced to grow up fast or die.
She was glad that, unlike her, these children would have the chance to grow up in peace. And part of that was due to her, as small as her role in the war might have been.
They weren't her children, but in her own way, she had given them life. Whenever she felt down, all she had to do was look at her unofficial nieces and nephews and remember everything she had already done.
Her life wasn't perfect, and it never would be. But it was full of meaning, and that was everything.