I do not own Harry Potter nor am I receiving a profit from this story.
A/n: Yes, this is Harry/Luna. Yes, it's fluffy (to a degree). Yes, I made up some words. And, no, I've not gone insane
It was the price of individuality, Luna knew, all the humdrum that surrounded her. And they thought she was weird! Always scurrying around in their little routines, her schoolmates, never stopping stare into the sky or twirl sock-less in the shallowest waters of the lake. It was the fate Luna knew, the one she embraced, albeit rather half-heartedly. If truth be told, she was always looking for that someone who would whistle a sonata with her at two-fifty-one in the morning to attract sugar-spun sprites. She'd never quite found a suitable match, but upon returning to school that year, her fifth, she had been enveloped in an entangled, messy web of friendship. It was a nice little niche to be involved in, even if it did come in a very close second to her love of Crumple-Horned Snorkack expeditions (the most recent of which had been disappointedly unsuccessful). She didn't quite know what they had planned to do this day, Sunday, but she reckoned it would revolve around the library or noisy card games, whichever may've won out to be the day's enjoyment (and directly on just how studious Hermione Granger was feeling).
She pulled her cork necklace over her head (almost complete!) and chanced a glance out the window, feeling she would rather like to spend the day away from the castle. It was just the kind of day she enjoyed to spend outside—overcast and damp with the slightest of hints of rain in the air. She was sure that they'd understand, besides sometimes she thought the found her quite…mystifying, especially Hermione, who just couldn't seem to see past her textbooks. But Luna was working on her. Sticking her wand behind her left ear and her raven-feather quill on her right, she pushed open the door and left the dormitory, humming nicely under her breath. She kept getting odd looks as she wended to breakfast; today she was sure they were admiring her earrings, new, and nearly down to her elbows with sparkling stars. Around and around the spinning staircase and into the entrance hall, who cared if it took longer to get to breakfast this way? It was so much fun, and Luna was sure that if her fellow Ravenclaws would simply slow down they'd realize what they were missing. She paused to chat with the roly-poly wizard in the portrait by the Great Hall's entranceway before actually crossing the threshold (and, to be truthful, he looked quite surprised about that). Light-footedly she pushed open the door and made her way to the Ravenclaw table and plunked down beside some third-years, both of whom moved slightly away from her, giggling behind their hands. Luna nimbly snitched two pieces of toast from the neat little pile on the platter before her and arranged them nicely on her plate before pulling butter and jam (two kinds: grape and strawberry) to her. Carefully spreading each condiment on a separate third of the toasted bread slices she ignored those across from her shoveling food into their mouths with inhuman speed. She was almost tempted to tell them to slow down but some people always seemed to take her advice the wrong way.
A quarter of an hour later, when she had nibbled her toast into nothingness, she got up to leave. Swinging her legs over the side of the bench, she looked at the Gryffindor table and immediately saw the glum faces of Ron and Hermione, who were lacking one of their tightly bound trio. Harry, it seemed, had lost his temper again and now, with low whispers, the two were trying to think of what to do next. Well, with no offense intended, Luna didn't much care for their plan of attack. They didn't understand and that led to the awkwardness that led Harry into solitude. Oh, well, best leave it to them and trust their day would not be ruined if she failed to rendezvous with them in their favorite nook of the castle, the Room of Requirement; the clouds were beckoning so convincingly as opposed to the oppressing stuffiness of the castle's interior. She stood on slippered feet and exited the hall again, floating to the main doors, thinking that she just might collect some scented blossom juice to attract Miniscule Midgiehummers. Yes, that was it, scented blossom juice; she could find that by the lake. And she pushed through the clinging dew of the high grass, towards the murky waves of the steely water. But before she could approach the shining yellow flowers, her protuberant eyes caught on something else, something more substantial. It seemed as though she had solved the mystery of the disappearing Harry Potter. She didn't hesitate to think, because thinking only muddled things, and instead redirected her route to intercept him, as today he looked particularly crestfallen.
"I didn't expect you to be the rain type, Harry Potter," she said dreamily, making him jump a little. She supposed he just wasn't paying attention.
"Oh," he said, "hullo, Luna." He didn't look like he wanted to go back inside…maybe he'd help her?
Extending her vial that had been concealed in her robes in the case of an emergency, she said, "Would you like to help me collect blossom juice? It's the best thing to attract Minis—"
He interrupted her, quite rudely in her opinion, but she never truly minded. "Sorry, Luna but I'd really just like to be—"
"Alone?" she supplied, looking at him with wide eyes. "Well, I've often heard that expression but never fully understood it. Could you perhaps explain it to me?"
He looked at her as though she was half-mad. "Well," he began slowly and grudgingly, "usually it means that someone doesn't want to…talk to anyone else." This statement was said as a question, as though he really didn't understand what she was playing at.
"Well, that's the literal meaning, of course," she explained with an infuriatingly patient air, while Harry looked quite disgruntled. "But I've always thought that when one wishes to be alone, he (or she) simply wants to dwell and dwelling makes things indistinct. Personally, I believe in the saying 'misery loves company', but only company that can relate."
"Wha'?" Harry was clearly confused.
"You've been pushing people away Harry like they were pesky Purple-Painted Fuzzy-stings."
"I've not been pushing anyone—"
"You have," stated Luna simply, "and it's quite natural. But they worry about you, Harry Potter." Harry, instead of answering, heaved a heavy sigh and swept his brilliant eyes to the far side of the lake, an insistent wind whipping through his hair. Luna could feel that it was time to grow serious, even if she didn't quite like it. She rather imagined the frivolity would anger Harry; surely it would've angered her if someone had used jokes to talk of her mother at the funeral. "You dream of him, Harry." It wasn't a question.
Taking a deep breath that shuddered very slightly, Harry expended a one-word answer. "Yes."
"I used to dream of my mother as well. But you can't dream, Harry, you have to remember. If you don't remember, it consumes you. If you don't remember, you die inside, and what's the use of living then?"
"I do remember," Harry said, his face contorting funnily. "The bloody—"
"Not the bad, Harry, never the bad, because then you forget the good!" She laid a spidery hand on his forearm, sensing the slight finch it caused. "I think I'll—what's the phrase? Ah, yes, I'll leave you alone now, Harry. The blossoms are calling." She skipped off in the direction of the west-most rock-overhanging, not noticing his emerald-eyed gaze follow her all the way there.
Luna sat on the floor, keeping a well-trained eye on her vials of clear liquid, but so far there had been no surprising visitors. She was sure they were out there but where she could only speculate. On the wind, she supposed, and it wasn't flowing anywhere near her dorm window. She craned her head to glance at the funny glowing clock her daddy had sent her—eight-oh-six. Superb—she was allowed to stay out until nine (not that rules would much inhibit her). Just enough time to whip up to the South Tower (not the Astronomy Tower, mind, she didn't want to disturb the people who had made plans to meet) and try to observe some Miniscule Midgiehummers. Jumping to her feet, she pulled her robes over her pajamas (violet with neon green Crumple-Horned Snorkacks) and gingerly corked one vial before storing it lovingly in an inner-pocket. She slowly strode to her destination, stopping to pat Mrs. Norris on the head, who was quite friendly when you weren't breaking any rules. She lightly climbed all 372 stairs that led to the little alcove she was aiming for. She sat for maybe eight minutes, undisturbed, gazing unblinkingly at the little collection of juice she had place on the stone windowsill, content with the cool wind playing across her face. Quite suddenly, however, slight noises disrupted the quiet as someone ascended after her. She was staring at the door when he came in, which in turn caused his cheeks to flush a very slight pink.
"Er, I saw you come up here," Harry said by way of explanation, skirting the issue of why he had climbed so many stairs to follow her. Luna, who had never placed much reliance in words, stared at him inquisitively, inviting him onwards through his eyes. When he said nothing she merely patted the ground beside her.
"Sit down," she said. He complied, somewhat reluctantly, and nearly six feet from her.
"Luna," he said abruptly, "the veil."
"Yes?" she encouraged at his slight pause.
"What made you say they're still with us?" Harry said this all rushed, as though it was something he wanted to shove out into the air as quickly as possible.
"Well, you could hear them, couldn't you Harry?" she enquired confusedly, as though it should all make perfect sense.
"Hearing them is different," he said doggedly. "It's not the same as being…well, with someone, I suppose."
"You heard them, Harry," she said. "But did you listen?"
"They're the same thing!" There was a definite edge of annoyance to his voice now, as though he regretted coming to her for any sort of answer.
"Not really, if you think about it."
"Luna, I can't… I can't feel anything. He's not with me." There was the tiniest, barely detectable break in his voice that suggested his real inner turmoil.
"Of course he is, Harry. You're never without him, I know. He's like a Shadow-Gobbler—always adhered." She could see his hands shaking ever so slightly as they grasped his robes. She looked at him with wide eyes, sweeping her hair into her face. "They tell you that it gets easier with time Harry…but it doesn't really. It just gets different. You have to learn to heal or it's like a sucker, pulling the hope from you."
"How can I heal?" Again, that small detection of a shake. "I can't feel him," he said jerkily.
"I know where he is," she said in a lazy voice. "He's where everyone tells you he stays."
"And where's that?" Harry had adverted his gaze just a little to the left.
"Here, Harry," she said, scooting so as to cross the considerable gap between them. She placed a long-fingered hand on his chest, a bit to the right. "Here." She lifted her head to see if he had gotten the point, her longish eyelashes not so far from the shine of his irises.
Harry jumped and grabbed his bag. "I have to go," he said, crossing the floor quickly. This time it was her who watched him leave.
Over the next fortnight Luna thought of him often, though she assumed that it was in response to the enigma he had revealed himself to be. She quite wanted to help him, as everyday those eyes of his dulled just a little bit more. He'd come when he wanted, she surmised, and no use prying or he'd clam into a ball and likely never talk about it again.
Autumn had quickly changed the Hogwarts' grounds into an explosion of oranges and reds ruffled by the cooling wind. It was arguably Luna's favorite season, though she was apt to change her mind. This weekend most were spending it in the quaint village of Hogsmeade, happily exchanging gold for chocolate and practical jokes. Luna had ventured out of the gates this morning to replenish her diminishing stores of parchment rolls but shopping really wasn't her cup of tea. Instead she had come back early against the throng of excited scholars, ready to spend her day in a different fashion, deciding what to do when the prominent trees by the greenhouses caught her eyes. After she retrieved a heavy sack from her trunk, she trundled back outside, looking rapturously at the small pieces of fruit dangling between the violent blend of leaves. Wrinkled green cranberries: her favorite scent, when dried and added to a homemade mixture. It was a good climbing tree as well, with close branches. And she hadn't climbed for so long!
Bag between her teeth, she hoisted her feet onto the lowest branch and began to scamper as a squirrel might, stopping among the highest reach of leaves, perched in a supporting crook. Hands now free, she began to pluck the ripest ones from their home, careful not to squish even one. So intent on what she was doing, she didn't notice someone sit directly under her until she accidentally dropped a berry. A messy mop of black hair was all she could really see, but it didn't take much to place it. If she believed in coincidences, she would've surely thought this was one, but she was sure everything happened for a reason. Just like the inattentive fruit that slipped from her hand and dropped neatly onto the head below her. With a jerk of his neck, Harry looked up at her perplexedly; she knew that she was quite a scene in her climbing clothes (yellow dress, frayed with age, and Muggle jeans below it).
"Luna?" he called, still sounding unsure as to why she was in the tree in the first place. "What're you doing up there."
Luna held out her bulging bag so he could see it. "Collecting wrinkled green cranberries," she said simply. "They're for my potpourri, you know." It was rather pleasant to hold a conversation from the tips of trees, but she could see Harry didn't quite like it, and her bag was near overflowing. So, tying the top of the sack off with a small bit of string, she climbed one-handed down the tree, falling nimbly to the right of Harry, who, as always when around her, looked uncomfortable.
"I saw you in Hogsmeade," she said as he backed away from her a little; she had landed a bit close.
"I was bored," he said defensively, avoiding her eye, suggesting that his reason wasn't his only reason for the early arrival. They sat in silence for a few minutes, with Luna staring at him and him staring anywhere besides Luna.
Suddenly, she broke the amicable silence. "What do you see, Harry Potter?"
This question had him looking at her again, but it had clearly invoked thoughts about her sanity. "The grounds?" he offered as though giving an answer in class when he didn't know the answer.
Luna frowned slightly. "And… what color is it?"
"Well, brown, I guess." He still sounded unsure of what she was asking.
"That's what you're looking at, Harry Potter. What do you see?"
"I don't get—" He stopped as Luna flopped to her back, gazing upwards at the sky.
"Lie down?" she asked, swiveling her head so she could see his face as he looked around for somebody watching. Then, after making sure there was no one there, he slowly, hesitantly lied beside her, as though he felt it was the stupidest thing to do at that precise moment. "Point to the clouds," she instructed now, and moments later his hand slowly went up, a very dubious expression still on his face.
"Luna, what—" For she had reached up as well, putting her fingers over his to point with him
"What do you see now?" she asked in her usual dreamy fashion.
He sighed, his fingers tense under hers. "Leaves."
"That's what you're looking at, Harry," she repeated. "What do you see?"
"All I see are leaves and a bit of sky"
"Do you want to know what I see, Harry?" she breathed. "I see beauty. I see cooperation. But I also see life preparing for death. But understand them, Harry! The leaves are happy about it! They've changed to such brilliant colors. They know they are going to die, and they accept it. They do not mourn when their partner dies before them but only know that they will follow sooner or later." At some point in her explanation, her hand had relaxed and melded into his. He didn't notice when it happened but when she stopped talking something in his hand tightened and he pulled away.
"Why does it bother you, Harry?" She propped herself up on one grass-stained elbow to look closer at him and when she had done so, he looked half ready to get up and leave.
"What bothers me?" he asked carefully, again avoiding her eyes.
"Closeness. A touch." He remained silent, his stare flicking to hers. She got a little closer and answered her own question. "Because it's not normal for you, is it? People never were close to you when you were young."
Two seconds passed before she heard the quietest of answers. "No."
Without thinking, without asking, and closer still, she placed her finger on his face, tracing the contour of his expression. "Your face is sharply shaped, Harry," she observed. "There are so many rough angles." Her finger brushed over his scar, his cheekbone; all the while he looked extremely discomforted. "You've seen so much. But your eyes…they're your life. You can't hide them, in all their humanistic glory." She trailed off, very close now as she stared into emerald depths.
And all of a sudden, he kissed her.
One moment he was just lying their under her, the next he had come upwards and touched his lips to hers. Instinctively, Luna's eyes fluttered shut—it felt so good, so warm and sweet and gentle. After a few seconds he broke away, and she saw the reality return to his eyes, could see that he was afraid he'd upset her. Well it was quite the opposite, but he rolled out from under her and made to get up.
"Sorry," he said. "I didn't mean—"
"You're really not used to it, are you?" she asked. "It makes you so uncomfortable to listen to something other than your brain." He looked at her unmoving, as if he couldn't think of what to say. After a few moments she said, "That was quite nice, actually. Can we do it again?"