Don't own the characters. If you enjoyed this one-shot, say so.
Luna walked down the corridors and marveled.
Ginny strode beside and slightly ahead, yammering amiably about how cracked their new Defense Against Dark Arts professor was, while Luna expected the walls to press in and squish her at any moment, like a pudding. She clutched her book bag a little closer to her hips, and tried to pay attention to Ginny's version of the gang's latest theory about the new instructor's mysterious vocational qualifications.
The very thought was enough to make Luna nervous. She was in a group. She had friends. Plural. She no longer ate alone, walked the halls alone, did her class work alone. In fact the only things she did manage by herself these days were sleep, bathe, and (sometimes) study. It was horrid and exciting and unexpectedly annoying, all that the same time. She was included, she was part of something, she was trusted.
Worst of all, she was popular.
She didn't understand it. A completely alien experience that she didn't quite know how to turn off. She didn't know that she would turn it off given the choice, but dear pickles she wanted the option at least! She was sure she hadn't done anything different, yet she was walking through the corridor with Ginny, and Harry had started up conversation with her twice over breakfast, and not a single item had disappeared from her trunk in a fortnight. Most days Harry and his friends didn't even realize how much attention they garnered. She had noticed because she liked to watch them; being suddenly thrust into the center with these particular people was a much different, and more iffy matter. Luna hadn't updated her Pros/Cons list in weeks, but she hadn't thrown it away either.
"So Hermione thinks she might be a vampire slayer from America, and Dumbledore brought her here for manpower in the coming months. What do you think?"
Luna started, and looked into Ginny's cheerful freckled face.
"I would think a vampire slayer would have other priorities."
"Exactly!" Ginny agreed. "I told her it was hogwash. I mean, truly. A vampire slayer would be no good against You Know Who, and really there's a whole population of leeches out there that need her attention. I think ever since she read that book by that boring old man from Bath Hermione has been romanticizing the whole thing and secretly wishes she'd be picked for destiny or cosmic duty or somesuch."
They pushed through the doors to the library, and Luna almost winced when a third of the eyes in the room turned their way. She wasn't used to being noticed without deliberately instigating it herself. She wasn't prepared when it kept happening like this. Who knew friends were such a nerve-wracking investment?
"I roll my eyes still. After being best friends with Harry for 6 years, you'd think she'd know better than that, Hermione of all people. And that book was horrid! I tried to read a page once while she was in the loo, and I almost had a hemorrhage. Nobody writes that dull unless they truly hate the world."
Luna pursed her lips, and gingerly pulled out her chair as they sat. "Hermione is very idealistic," she said, and let it hang in the air for a moment, "but I don't think she really wants to be a vampire slayer." The Weasely girl sighed, and twirled a lock of hair.
"You're probably right, Luna. I just let my brain rattle on again." A tentative smile sheepishly appeared on her face. "I guess I'm boring that big Ravenclaw mind of yours, huh?"
Luna looked at Ginny's wavery smile, and panic fell upon her shoulders like a ton of bricks. No, Ginny couldn't think that! Ginny couldn't think any such thing! Oh no no no, she was losing them already! First it would be Ginny, and then Neville and Ron and Hermione and they'd all stop talking to her and Harry wouldn't pull her aside in the halls anymore to ask her about her favorite story in the Quibbler this month and everything would go back to before and it would all be her fault!
"NEVER!" Luna shouted, lunging across the table and grabbing Ginny's hands under her own. "I'm not bored by you at all, never think so!"
The library was mysteriously quieter than normal, and Luna realized with abrupt mortification that she was clutching the other girl's hands, her skin was flushed tomato red, Ginny was gaping like a fish and the entire room was looking at her.
Ms. Lovegood pulled back, chin held high, and sedately placed her palms down in her lap. Her back straightened, and she tried to cultivate a last-minute air of aloofness.
"Luna?" her friend whispered.
"Yes?" she whispered back after a moment.
"We're not going anywhere, you know. Hermione, Neville, Ron, and I... and Harry. We're not going to go anywhere without you."
A whirlwind passed through Luna, and she almost giggled.
I know, she could have replied, I haven't had a minute to myself in ages.
But all she did was run her hands through the ends of her
hair and blink repeatedly as she looked down at her textbook. From between the
pages a bookmark of Nike, Goddess of victory, smiled softly up at her.