Title: Of Norklesvanian Hairdos and Being Sixteen

Author: Syn

E-Mail: veruca_werewolf@hotmail.com

Rating: PG-13

Disclaimer: These characters do not belong to me. Nope. It's all J.K. Rowling's fault.

Content: Harry/Luna

Spoilers: OotP

Summary: Harry just wants to be left alone. Luna doesn't seem to notice.

A/N: I gotta say, Luna is so fun to write! I saw lots of sparkage in OotP between her and Harry. Even though I doubt they're going to go there, I still felt compelled to make Luna bewilder the hell of Harry.

Feedback: I would greatly appreciate it, thanks.

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"Imagine if all those stars came tumbling down and smashed into the earth. Wouldn't that be something?"

Harry jumped at the dreamy voice directly in his ear and turned to stare at its owner, who was staring up at the sky. He blinked at Luna Lovegood, her pale eyes unblinkingly caught on the spattering of stars slowly coming into focus in the inky purple sky. Her long, dirty blonde hair was pinned up in a strange way, all tufts of spiky hair and silver barrettes.

She looked like Medusa.

"Luna...hey. What are you...?" Harry said, trailing off as he took a slight step back from her.

She tilted her head at him, regarding him with her interested, measuring smile and shrugged. "You weren't at dinner."

"Er...no. I was..."

"Contemplating the stars. It happens. Sirius is bright tonight." Luna said, nodding her head, snaky, spiky hair bobbing up and down. Harry blinked as he felt his throat close slightly.

"Yeah...guess he...it is." He said, following her gaze to the twinkling star in the sky. The Dogstar, he thought. How ironic. Harry's stomach gave a bitter twist. It had been five months since that horrible night in the Department of Mysteries and the shock of it all...he still wasn't over it.

Sirius was dead.

Luna huffed in agreement and leaned against the castle walls, the bronze and blue scarf displaying her Ravenclaw colors snagged on a tiny jut of stone. She didn't notice as she started flipping her wand in her fingers, catching first one end and then the other. The soft whumping noises it made as it hit her palm were slightly annoying, but like most things, Luna didn't seem to notice.

Harry silently wished she'd go away. He'd come out here, just outside the doors to the castle, facing the Forbidden Forest, his back against the cold stone, with every intention of being alone. He did that a lot lately. It seemed the weight of the world was slowly crushing his chest whenever he was near too many people. He couldn't help thinking that maybe...maybe the lives of everyone in the school were in his hands and it was almost more than he could handle at times.

Voldemort was getting stronger by the day. Dumbledore was no longer keeping information from him, though at times Harry wished he would. It was bad out there. Several families had been attacked and there had been a few Muggle deaths. And Harry was here...being trained to fulfill a prophecy made before he'd even been born. He felt rather sick just thinking about it.

Ron and Hermione, at least, understood his need for solitude and quiet reflection. He needed to be away from the whispers and looks from some of the less understanding students at Hogwarts--especially the Slytherins.

Loony Luna Lovegood, however, didn't seem to care about Harry's own inner turmoil and need for privacy.

"Its cold."

"Its October." He pointed out, shaking an unruly lock of dark black hair from his face. His tone was rather waspish, but Luna either didn't care or notice. Perhaps both.

"Did you eat at all?"

"Not hungry."

"Sure you are. They made treacle tart. You always eat that."

Harry didn't know how to respond to that. How did she know treacle tart was his favorite?

"Hot butterbeer." It wasn't a suggestion. She stopped flipping her wand around, pulled two bottles from the folds of her black cloak, said a warming spell with the flourish of a ringmaster at a circus and held one out for Harry to take.

He blinked again, taken aback for a moment before accepting it when he realized she'd probably hold it up all night. The first swallow warmed his cold, slightly panicked insides and did the same for his numb fingers. She took a deep drink and made a smacking noise with her lips.

Her face was still turned to the stars; pale skin bathed in a yellowish glow from one of the guttering torches a few feet down the stone wall. Harry studied her closely, not really sure why he felt the need, but doing it anyway. Luna was odd, there was no denying it, but...he kind of liked that about her. Even the annoying not-leaving-him-alone thing. For some reason, he could talk to her when he couldn't the others.

She just...understood him.

"Your hair is interesting." He managed, trying to find something to say.

"This is how they wear it in Norklesvania. I think it'll catch on here soon." She said, completely flattered, the snaky spikes once again bobbing in thanks.

"Er...Norklesvania?" He had a feeling he knew where this was going.

"Oh yes. It's a small country near Estonia. The Quibbler ran a whole issue on it last week. Didn't you read it?" She said matter-of-factly, pushing her wand behind her left ear. Harry wondered if she knew her father made just about everything in the Quibbler up on a whim. At least he hoped he did...

"Uhh...no. Sorry."

"Well, you can borrow my copy. Its a fascinating read."

"I'm sure it is."

"So...are you going to tell me what's wrong or not? You don't really expect me to believe you're studying the sky, do you?"

Harry was once again taken off-guard by her abrupt change of subject. He choked on a mouthful of butterbeer and felt her clap him on the back with a solid thump. He swallowed and coughed a little, the hot liquid searing a path to his stomach.

"Luna...I really don't..."

"You can tell me." She meant it too. He glanced at her, noticing how the horrible, pinned up, spiky Medusa hairdo was not as jarring as it had been at first sight. It was almost sort of cool if he thought about it...

He smiled a little and leaned against the cold wall once more.

"How do you know I'm not star-gazing?" He said, his tone slightly teasing. He was amazed at his suddenly good mood.

"You haven't looked up at them since I got here."

"You distracted me!"

"Its the hair isn't it?" She said so seriously and thoughtful that he chuckled despite himself.

"The hair is cool, Luna. Really." Harry placated her, holding out his hands, butterbeer sloshing around in the bottle. Luna's bulging, unblinking eyes looked him over, unabashedly studying him. "What?"

"Nothing."

"What!?" He insisted when she kept staring at him.

"Can I touch it, Harry?" Her dreamy voice asked in a reverent whisper.

Harry went completely still, the words floating around in his head as he tried to wrap his brain around what it was she'd said exactly.

She wanted to touch it. IT? What it? Surely she couldn't mean...

Harry blushed crimson and dropped his butterbeer. It clunked dully on the flagged stone court, but didn't shatter. He felt the warm seep of spilled butterbeer pooling around his battered sneakers as he turned to look at Luna.

"Wh--what?"

Luna turned to him, tucked her lip between her teeth and screwed up her face in a determined expression. Harry swallowed hard; suddenly feeling like his Adam's apple was choking him to death.

"Can I?"

"Uhh..." He couldn't quite find his voice. What was she playing at? She didn't wait for his permission though. She was suddenly very close and he was suddenly looking down into her wide, protuberant eyes. Her hand came up out of nowhere and he felt it in his hair, pushing the wild strand he'd been fighting with earlier out of the way. Harry fought the urge to shiver, feeling a creeping wave of gooseflesh come up across his skin as he looked down at her. The corners of her lips quirked up at the sides; she drew her pale eyebrows up and then, Harry felt her fingertip slide across the small raise of his scar.

She traced the jagged lightning bolt with her fingertip, sending little eddies of alternating warmth and cold across Harry's skin. He opened his mouth slightly, not exactly sure what the world had happened or why his breath was suddenly mingling with Luna Lovegood's or why his hands were on her elbows--when had they gotten there?

Her mouth looked inviting all of a sudden and he thought...well...it wouldn't be so bad. Kissing her, right?

Luna suddenly dropped her hand and shrugged her shoulders.

"Hmm...Feels like the scar I've got on my leg from crashing Daddy's broom last summer."

"Huh?" Harry shook his head, dropping his hands from her elbows.

"Well...I thought it might feel different. But I'm glad it doesn't."

"Why?"

"Did you know you've got a pimple on your chin?" Her pale eyes squinted at his chin and he blushed deeper than ever. Harry hastily stepped back, fighting the urge to clamp his hand over his chin. Luna sighed and took another drink of her butterbeer, completely unaware of the hammering in Harry's chest.

He picked up his spilled butterbeer bottle from the flagged stones, biting down on his lip as he did so.

"Uh...Luna. I came out here to um...be alone." Harry tried to explain as he attempted to get his mind back in order. She'd completely thrown him for a loop.

"Did you?" She said conversationally as she leant back against the wall with a gesture of her hands and turned her misty gaze back up at the sky. Harry's eyebrows rose.

"Well you wanted to know."

"I knew that already. WHY do you want to be alone?"

"Why are you pushing?"

"I like you." She said, so simply and matter-of-factly that Harry stopped and gazed at her stupidly. She glanced sidelong at him and lifted a hand to play with the clinking string of butterbeer caps around her neck. For the first time, Luna looked slightly nervous.

"Oh." Was all Harry managed to get out. "You do?"

"Yes. I rather think I do. It's strange." She nodded her Medusa-like head at him.

"Why is that strange?" His voice sounded much more indignant than he'd meant it to be.

"Well, Ravenclaw's are awfully clever, aren't they?" Before he could respond, she plowed on. "Its not very clever of me to like Harry Potter, is it?"

"Why is that?" He asked, feeling numb all of a sudden.

"Well I don't know if you've noticed, but I'm not Cho Chang."

"What's Cho got to do with anything?" Harry was out of his depth and he knew it. What in the world was Luna's point? He was lost in a sea of bewilderment and Luna wasn't helping any. She sighed, sounding much more like Hermione than either girl would have probably liked.

"Boys are quite slow."

"We are not!"

"What were you thinking about?" She changed direction on him again, like a school of fish detecting danger and darting quickly to the left.

"EVERYTHING!" Harry burst out in exasperation, throwing up his hands and tossing the butterbeer bottle without really meaning to. It shattered on the stones about thirty feet away. Neither of them paid it much attention. "Sirius is dead! Voldemort is stronger than EVER! I caught Ron and Hermione SNOGGING the other day! There have been more attacks all summer! People are DEAD and I feel responsible! Snape's been really laying into me in Advanced Potions because I BARELY scraped together enough O.W.L.S to take his class. Malfoy is walking around like some big prat even though his father's in Azkaban and...and I'm really, really stressed out!"

Half of it sounded much more pathetic when he said it than when he was thinking about it. Luna didn't seem to notice though.

"Do you feel better?"

He scowled at the blonde Ravenclaw and then thought about it. Yeah...he did feel slightly better. He'd been keeping things bottled up, keeping things from his friends, especially Ron and Hermione. He went slightly pink in the ears when he realized he'd let slip what he'd seen going on between his two best friends the other day. He was glad they were too busy to notice him or he'd have been even more embarrassed.

"Yeah...I do." He managed, drawing himself up as Luna beamed at him, obviously very pleased with herself.

"Good. I was very worried about you. Keeping things bottled up can cause spontaneous combustion, you know. One in ten Muggles and wizards die of it every year." She touched his arm and said in a very serious voice, "Harry, don't be a statistic."

Harry wanted to laugh, but he only managed to smile and bring his hand up to Luna's, giving it a squeeze. Warmth flooded his insides and he felt an urge of gratitude toward her. At least he thought it was gratitude…

"Thanks, Luna. I'll...try to avoid it in the future."

"You can always yell at me when you can't take it anymore. I don't mind." She shrugged, dislodging a straggly strand of hair from all the silver pins on her head. It floated across her face, tickling her nose.

Harry considered this for a moment, seeing the sincerity in her unblinking eyes. The corners of his lips pulled up despite himself and he replied wholeheartedly, "I'd like that."

Luna looked elated. And, before he could move or even blink, she stood on tiptoe, kissed him soundly on the mouth and then swept away toward the castle, bronze and blue scarf fluttering out behind her like a battle standard.

Harry's mouth snapped closed. His mind was completely empty for a few moments before he remembered what Luna had said. She liked him.

"Huh." He muttered, leaning against the cold wall again, his mouth feeling strangely nude. Why was he always getting kissed and left in a completely confused state? He hadn't even had a chance to kiss her back...not that he liked her...

Didn't he?

Harry crossed his arms over his chest, toeing the butterbeer soaked stones with his sneakers. His stomach gave an uncomfortable flip-flop and for once, he wasn't thinking of the crushing, doomed possibilities of his future. For the first time in a long time, Harry Potter was just a sixteen-year-old boy thinking about girls and kissing and pimples on his chin.

He smiled. When he saw Luna again, he was going to have to thank her.

And do it right this time.

In the now pitch-black sky, the Dogstar winked at him laughingly as he wended his way back toward Hogwarts and his friends. He didn't look back.

(end)

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