A/N: Inspired by "Round Here" by Counting Crows, great song. Umm, I don't usually write Lunafic, but hopefully this one was decent :)

Disclaimer: No, not mine.

~*~Something Radiates~*~

The clock was just a bell in the distance, and if she shut her eyes, it would be so easy to think that they were angels hitting chimes in the sky to awaken the stars.

Perhaps her mother was an angel now, and Luna wondered idly, because thinking about her mother was better than some things, if her mother would think that she was just a little girl playing dress-up again. Luna didn't have any dress robes.

The white dress was a bit too long, and slid almost to her heels, the bodice loose and flowing, better-fitted for the lush figure of a mother than the sylphlike one of a girl. But it was either that, or Ginny's dress robes, and the bright green of those would have choked her fairness into wraithlike pallor.

It was the case, of course, that white and silver and all things pale and luminous stood out, even as the sky began to darken prematurely, and Luna remained close to the door of the cafe, the people a slight blur of indistinct dark and sensible cloaks as they passed, in and out and oblivious. Her face was unreadable, perhaps because most people weren't that literate in their souls.

The first drop of moisture was cold, and she almost shivered, until she remembered that cold water was, in the least, somewhat better than hot tears.

It was nine now, and Barry Dunstan was supposed to meet her here at seven. It would have been a date, because Ginny had reassured her that Barry was a nice bloke. Gryffindor, trustworthy, and she would have experienced something like that at least once.

Perhaps Barry did not like white, and preferred his dates to wear pink or mauve, feminine and pretty and fashionable, and it wouldn't have surprised Luna, because like her namesake goddess, perhaps she had seen too much of the dark.

Most girls would have left in a huff if a date was late fifteen minutes, but Luna was patient, because to the patient come what they want, and her father, she knew, had waited already several years to see a live Crumple-horned Snorkack.

Except she wasn't quite sure what she was expecting, because she didn't have an unquenchable hope, but then again, it would be better to wash away the worries and the day in the rain, the dust that had settled on her mother's dress, than to go back with an empty hand, and... well. As far as they knew, Loony Lovegood had an empty heart already, and perhaps an even emptier head. It was both good and bad, she knew, because their teasing was at least impersonal and honest.

~*~

Blaise tended to dislike the atmosphere of Hogsmeade visits until they were over, and the twitty younger students fascinated by the same sweets in Honeydukes and hyper on too many butterbeers had returned to Hogwarts. And then he was free to roam, and watch as the soulless bright sun lowered and the slender moon rose, shining only when the world was asleep.

Except tonight there was no moonrise, because the rain had started to pour as night fell, and Blaise, his sharp-featured face unsmiling, stepped briskly down the hill towards the main village, so he could walk back to Hogwarts before it started to storm.

The rain was falling fairly hard when he reached the main village, and it was only by dint of a water-proofing charm on his cloak and a quickly conjured umbrella that he remained fairly dry, though the sheets of rain reduced the few moving figures to blurred, almost faceless shadows. He might have missed her... had it been not HER.

She never sparkled, or even shone. Hard, brittle stars sparkled, and the sun shone, but though she was standing under a bright ball of light that was a street lamp, it almost seemed as if she radiated the luminence. An odd optical effect of the rain, perhaps, but he didn't think much on the HOW. Luna, her name was, a soft, crooning sound on his tongue, and he thought that if her name were a taste, it would be like caramel. And there she was, in a white dress that would have flowed like summer wind when dry, but now clung to her skin and ran down in rivulets, molded by the rain. The few people who were still outside paused to stare, and Blaise wondered if they saw the way her hair ran down to her waist like strings of pearls, just slightly wavy and glimmering when wet. She wore a chain of almost childlike daisies in a band around her head.

Here was the one person as isolated by chance as he was by choice, and for her, it was not due to unsociable habits. Whereas he believed in frugality of emotions, he had a vague feeling (nothing was too clear around this enigmatic little Ravenclaw) that her feelings were a tightly closed and exotic, sweet flower that didn't really quite have the water and strength it needed to bloom. But these contemplations would have to wait, because whatever he theorized, Luna Lovegood was standing quite unprotectedly in the rain, and he'd seen enough of thick-skinned gits staring her down in school without watching them gawping at her indecently wet dress as well.

Luna's thoughts, whatever they were, were cut short as a gruff, deep-timbred male voice sounded right in front of her, decidedly NOT Barry Dunstan. "Oy, Lu-- Lovegood, what in the WORLD are you going about, getting yourself soaked to the bones here? Why aren't you back at Hogwarts?"

Her head snapped up, a wet strand of hair plastered to her forehead, and he could have sworn that her face flushed just slightly before she gave him that vague smile that she gave everyone (a mask, even if a gentle one) and told him seriously that Snorkacks came out in the rain to shower.

"Well, my little Snorkack," he abruptly unclasped his heavy, thick cloak, and draped it over the rain-translucent dress, "Unlike you, I prefer not to get drenched, and I'd also prefer not to have you faint on me with the onset of a raging fever."

"It's warm," she told him softly. He shook his head wryly, and took her pale wrist in his much-darker hand.

"It's NOT warm, and we should be indoors. Let's go." Putting his conjured umbrella over her head, he steered her into the cafe. If nothing else, they wouldn't get wet. And once they were good and indoors, he could buy them some coffee, so that there would be something she might feel comfortable doing until the rain stopped.

Luna allowed herself to be led to a table for two, and somewhere in the recesses of her mind came the thought that perhaps she would be getting what could almost be a date (a boy, a girl, alone together, that was all she could expect, wasn't it?) despite things. Except it really wasn't, because surely Blaise Zabini, the cold and aloof conundrum that remained by choice in Slytherin's shadows wasn't a fellow that a normal girl dated. "I mean... the cloak," she said suddenly. "The cloak is warm. You were wearing it."

Even as he allowed his umbrella to disappear with a pop, he paused, his eyes a bit bright as he surveyed her. His cloak was still wrapped around her, and her arms in their loose sleeves peeked out from underneath black velvet. The dark material covered her shoulders and breasts, before parting to reveal thin, lacey white fabric clinging to the skin of her thin stomach. He sat down across from her and unceremoniously asked if she wanted something to drink.

"White hot cocoa," she answered. Something sweet and innocent, unlike what was expected.

"A cup of coffee, black, and a cup of white cocoa," he told the waitress, before turning his gaze back to her, almost disappearing into his "warm" cloak. "What WERE you doing outside in the rain?"

"Waiting," she said simply. For what, though? For light? For hope... or redemption or something new? For Barry Dunstan or any other loves that never showed? For the Crumple-horned Snorkacks? Whatever it was, he had not let her continue to wait for it. Perhaps those things would never come, or perhaps he felt that she didn't have to wait any more.

He was not easily satisfied. "Waiting?" he repeated, his voice a bit surprised. "For what? The onset of pneumonia? Honestly, Lovegood, nothing's worth waiting for like that."

The waitress arrived with their drinks, and he handed the woman a few coins. Luna waited until the stranger (Blaise wasn't completely a stranger, because at least she knew his name) had left. "Perhaps friendship is, or love," she told him.

"Perhaps any friend or love who makes you wait like that isn't worthy of either your friendship or your love," he said a bit sharply. "In which case you should tell them to kindly sod off and stop getting any more grief."

Loony, what they saw... did she really feel grief?

"Grief happens," she said softly. "And you don't even know me."

"I'm aware," he said stolidly, taking a sip of his coffee and looking at her steadily. "Care to rectify that situation, Lovegood? I've no intention of going anywhere until the rain lets up a bit."

"Luna," she said softly. "Call me Luna."

"Luna, then," he was right about the way her name felt, on his tongue. "Who were you waiting for?"

"Ginny told me that I was to have a date with Barry Dunstan," she replied simply, "and he did not make it here."

"Oh, what happened to him?" Blaise said a bit contemptuously, "Get eaten by a manticore on the way?"

"I do not know," she replied calmly. It was partially a lie, because the reasoning behind her date's absence was simple enough, a simple matter of reputation and regrets.

"So you waited for him." He felt a strange twinge of anger, whether at her persistence in waiting for an obviously unworthy bastard, or at Dunstan for standing her up like that. "Why? Abhorrent behaviour on his part, and you're not doing anything about that."

"Time passes fast when no one bothers you," she said quietly.

He knew as much, although he felt a pang at her expression of the sentiment. Perhaps to her, being alone and ignored was better than the teasing and jeering. He wasn't quite sure, although that she'd been so conditioned to it that nothing on her ethereal face changed except for a brief flicker of the eyes... he felt his hands tighten a bit around his coffee cup.

Suddenly she reached over, her fingers slightly warmed from her cup, and brushed her fingertips between his eyebrows, the touch almost friendly. "You are frowning," she told him, "And your face will stay that way if you don't watch out."

He smirked slightly, leaning forward just a bit. "Nothing wrong with that. Could be useful to scare obnoxious little Gryffs."

"You do not scare me," she told him matter-of-factly. "Although you confuse me a little."

"Why?"

"Because you're supposed to laugh at me," she told him, "Hide my wand, perhaps. Call me Loony. It's almost jarring."

"Well maybe THEY're not supposed to laugh at you, hide your wand, or call you any names," he scowled again. "And I think YOU should get used to being called by your real name."

She gave him an odd, almost-warm look, before turning her glance down towards her cup. The dim light of the cafe shimmered slightly in her drying hair. "What does coffee taste like?" she asked him idly.

"Bitter," he told her, "Rich, strong. Takes a bit getting used to."

Luna raised her eyes to the powerful young Slytherin man in front of her and smiled a secretive little smile that was far more genuine than the vague up-curve of lips that she shielded her inner secrets from the harsh world with. "This tastes like normal chocolate, except milder and a bit more sweet."

"Perhaps you can taste coffee someday, and I can taste that," he remarked.

"Perhaps."

The subject changed then, to classes, and Quidditch, and favourite types of candy. Had they had the focus to analyze things, they might have noted it as the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

~*~

If time passed quickly when one was not bothered, then it fairly flew when one was in unusual good company. She was so busy, truly paying attention and not feeling apprehensive about giving her complete focus, listening to him speak, that she didn't even hear the distant chimes of the clock.

When their waitress came to collect their cups and tell them that it was three o'clock in the morning, and that they had to leave, she wasn't even tired. Sitting up, she stepped towards the door and back out into the spring night, Blaise right behind her.

The rain had lessened to a slight drizzle now, though he still insisted that she keep his cloak for the walk back. A lonely path in the dead of night with a dark Slytherin. It was enough to strike shivers of fear down some hearts, but she wasn't afraid.

If he had intended to hurt her, his goal would have been so much easier accomplished if he'd jeered at her from the moment that he appeared in front of her in the rain.

He was warm, she found, because he brushed against her ever-so-slightly as they walked, and through the layers of fabric, something radiated. It was almost comforting, like protection or a benediction of sorts.

She didn't even notice herself smiling, but he did, because he was watching her face out of the corner of his eye. He sensed that it would take a lot of observation to be able to read the nuances that were so-carefully-hidden by that dreamy smile and that mild, airy voice. But he was a Slytherin, and it was somewhat second nature for his type to investigate the seemingly-unreachable.

They had just reached the dark, silent doors when she turned around, slender fingers reaching up to unclasp his cloak and holding it back towards him. "I am dry," she told him quietly. "Thank you."

He looked down towards her, to ascertain her claim, and at that exact moment, the moon slid out from behind a dark cloud, and bathed the world in her gentle light.

He stared at her fixedly as her hair suddenly shimmered like frost, her delicate form cleaned and beautified by the light that was her namesake. Moonlight, he decided, became her. His favourite hour. A spirit-like girl with ageless eyes and an almost-heartbreaking face of strange beauty and posies in her hair. What happened next was destined, perhaps, since he led her out of the dark, drenching rain.

Reaching out and taking his cloak, he took the opportunity to use his other hand to cup her chin. He felt a surge of triumph as her eyes widened in a very unguarded, very readable expression of surprise, and felt his body warm all over when he pressed his lips firmly against hers, moving his hand to her shoulder and feeling her tense for a moment.

Perhaps he'd learned her lesson of patience, though, because he continued kissing her, gently, coaxing her to relax, carefully so as to not startle this ephemeral and feylike gift, so hard to find and so easily lost. His grip abruptly tightened, his other arm winding around her as she leaned slightly against him. That she was responding was somehow, in its odd, subtle way, more significant than the far bolder attentions of many a prettier girl.

They parted a few moments later, and Blaise had the satisfaction of seeing her pale cheeks flush rose, before he pushed the door open. They parted in the Great Hall, after a quietly whispered good night, and headed their opposite ways to think about it all.

As Blaise returned to the Slytherin Common Room, he reflected, in satisfaction, that right now, in the very least, their lips tasted the same. Strong and yet delicate, bittersweet, dark and light harmonized. Feeling oddly jubilant, he went to bed with every intention of dreaming about pearly hair and white dresses and moonlight.

He wasn't disappointed.