Quite Nice Chapter Three
Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter, nor am I receiving any sort of profit from this story.
A/N: This chapter is decidedly not quite nice. Also, I know that it's been a long time since the last update (almost two years!), but in my defense, I never intended this to be a continuing piece of fiction. Generally, I just take the inspiration and go with it. I actually do have an idea for another chapter, but I don't know when I'll find time to sit down and write it. To anyone who's still reading this, drop me a review and tell me how you like the deviation of style in this chapter. This chapter definitely came from the new picture of Luna that was just released from the fifth movie (which comes out on my birthday!), and I'm really excited about seeing her on the big screen—though I could do without Daniel's horrid haircut. Oh, and the "HJP" signity a change in scene, because the formatting here is being a bitch.
Delicately, Luna plucked the silver robes from her wardrobe, and stared at them in a split-second of indecision, almost as if she were gauging their worth. As a slow smile spread across her face, she placed the garment onto her four-poster bed and shifted her shoulders so her black school robes could flutter to the floor. It was her first technical date, this Christmas party of Professor Slughorn's, although considering the "just friends" stipulation, it wasn't really anything that could or would resemble something in the romance novels she read from time to time. She took her time pulling her dress-robes over her arms, toying with the idea of weaving garland into her hair to account for the festive holiday spirit. Picking up a silver bracelet from her bedside table, she trailed it along her wrist and snapped the clasp shut, taking a second to admire the way it glittered in the candlelight. Looking in the mirror one last time, she smoothed an errant strand of hair and proceeded to glide down the steps into the Ravenclaw common room. She wended her way through the chairs, not noticing the slightly condescending stares (and accompanying whispers) she was receiving from her house-mates.
After climbing out of the portrait entrance, Luna stared wistfully at a largish painting that hid her favorite way to the Entrance Hall, but vetoed the urge to follow it; she was late as it was. She made her way through the straggling crowds in the hallway and slowly wound her way into the crowd that was gathering outside the Great Hall. She stood still in the middle of the room, just barely registering the awful look Romilda Vane was blatantly gifting her with, and tried to stand on her tiptoes to spot Harry. She was standing for only a couple of seconds before she heard someone call her name through the crowd.
"Luna! Hey—ow, watch it, Smith, that was my foot—Luna, over here!" Luna leveled her gaze to find Ginny trying to shove her way through the accumulating crowd to get to her.
"Hello, Ginny," Luna said lightly when the Weasley girl had finally made it over. "There are quite a lot of people here, aren't there?"
"For no reason, too; most of them aren't allowed to go to the party at all," Ginny said exasperatedly, as she lightly touched her hair, trying to gauge if it had become mussed through her exertions. "Harry'll be down soon, I expect. But, here, do you mind if I fix your hair a little? It's a bit, erm…wild." Luna nodded slowly and within twenty seconds, her stylized curls cascaded off of the top of her head and down her back. Ginny used her wand to sever Luna's holly necklace and stowed it in an inside pocket of her robes, placing her wand with it.
"There, that's better, Harry won't be able to look away from you," Ginny said confidently, although Luna had the distinct feeling that she was looking a lot less ready for a Christmas party. "Listen, I've got to go meet Dean—I'll see you later, Luna!" Luna didn't have time for a goodbye as Ginny ploughed back into the throng, and she was just about to try and re-style her hair blindly when she spotted Harry. He caught her eye and found his way to her.
"Hi," he said. "Shall we get going then?"
"Oh, yes," she said, and he led her into Slughorn's highly decorated office.
The party was going swimmingly, in Luna's opinion. Harry had gotten her an introduction to the most fascinating people (though she wasn't sure if she was fond of the man in the corner giving her a thoroughly hungry look), and Professor Trelawney was assuredly fascinated with the information she had on the Rotfang Conspiracy—risky business, the Aurors caught up with dental disease, and no one else had believed it, either, which was a shame. She barely acknowledged Harry's departure to the men's room, but she certainly noticed when he came back looking as though he had just found out something important. She disengaged her conversation from Trelawney rather ungracefully, and as the woman left (muttering something about sherry and palmistry), Luna turned to Harry, and said, "You look all a bother. Is something wrong?"
"What?" he queried distractedly. "Oh, no, nothing's the matter. You want something to drink?" He left without an answer, which was rather rude, because she really did want a gillywater, and perhaps a cream puff, from the refreshments table. Her eyes trailed his back as he wandered through the crowd, looking for someone, before he gave up, got two glasses of butterbeer, and brought them back. She accepted hers ungraciously and took a small sip when he returned. He continued to scan the crowd, taking random gulps of his butterbeer and hardly paying Luna any mind. Spotting the Fat Friar in the crowd, she left Harry without a word to talk to the fun-loving ghost. Harry didn't even seem to care that she left, as she gave him a sidelong glance, and Luna decided that dating was not like anything in any romance novel she'd ever read (even a just-friends date, which usually ended up as a not-just-friends-date in the books she perused). The Fat Friar delivered some gossip, which she took in half-heartedly, wondering what exactly was going through Harry's mind, about things, about her. He hadn't said a word about their encounter with the Spanish sugar fairies, and that was over two months ago. She felt an unfamiliar tightening in her stomach that she associated with a feeling she rarely felt—annoyance. She took two deep breaths as the Fat Friar left to pursue a conversation with Nearly Headless Nick and led herself back to Harry, who now looked as though he was deeply in thought.
"It's getting quite late, isn't it?" she intoned airily. "I think I ought to head up to my room. I still have to finish knitting a scarf I intend to give to my father for Christmas."
"I'll walk you back up," he said, looking at her for the first time in an hour.
"No, that's quite all right," she replied. "You haven't really been paying attention to me tonight, and I can manage on my own, thank you." She said this without a trace of resentment or anger, but Harry still had the good graces to look guilty.
"It's no problem," he said, and they left the room together, Harry pulling her quickly out of the way of an impending Slughorn and into the dank hallway. They were both silent as they made their way to the entrance to the Ravenclaw common room, not encountering anyone as their footsteps echoed on the stone floors. Luna could appreciate companionable silences, but the one she was experiencing at that moment seemed to encompass the entire space around her until she could barely breathe and wished for a topic, anything to talk about, to come to mind. She had never had a problem like this before—never felt compelled to fill a silence, or to restrain herself from saying things, and she wondered frantically if she had come down with the silence-inducing measles, her father had written about in the Quibbler earlier that month before concluding that it was an impossibility, because she currently had no green spots on her forearm (though she did check thoroughly, just to be sure, just to find an explanation for this inexplicable awkwardness that could not be dispelled). They stopped in front of the common room entrance, and Harry avoided her eyes, scuffing his foot on the ground.
"Well," Luna said, "I had an almost-enjoyable time, so thank you for inviting me. It was nice to feel included. Have a Happy Christmas, won't you?" She turned to give the password to enter the Ravenclaw dorms, but before she could say anything, Harry spoke.
"Listen, I'm…sorry, you know, about not paying attention to you, but something happened, and I can't really tell you."
"You needn't tell me anything," Luna said as she turned to face him. "I rather understand." She ran her tongue over her lips to wet them and watched curiously as Harry's face flushed. "Are you quite all right, Harry?" she asked concernedly. "You're awfully red in the face." She touched his wrist and looked into his eyes, finding something indiscernible glimmering in the green depths of his irises.
"I'm fine, Luna," he said faintly.
"Are you sure?" she responded, stepping on her tiptoes so she could stare more intently at his pink face. She removed her hand from his wrist and placed it on his cheek, gauging the temperature. "You're also warm—perhaps Madame Pomfrey could help? Or some kipper grease?" She had gotten almost uncomfortably close, checking for a sign of one of the flushed-face diseases her father had told her about, and as she said the last few words, her lips had just barely brushed against his cheek. All of a sudden, his hand had seized her wrist, his fingers had brushed against her waist, and his lips met hers as he pushed her against the wall.
This was different than the times before. It wasn't a soft meeting of lips underneath a tree, nor a coerced kiss for the amusement of fairies. It was harsh and hungry and undignified, and Luna had hardly expected it. Harry's hand had bunched up the clothing at her waist, his hand had entangled itself in her hair, and the pressure of his lips had caused hers to part. His tongue touched hers, tentatively at first, then more boldly, and Luna thought she wouldn't mind if she could do this forever. It seemed to last an eternity and a second at the same time, and if she didn't have the wall supporting her back and Harry supporting her front, Luna was sure her knees would've collapsed, causing her to fall to the floor.
With one last swirl of his tongue, Harry pushed himself away, and Luna looked at him, half-confusedly, half contentedly. She stepped forward unsteadily, ready to engage in another kiss, and Harry stepped just as unsteadily. Chest heaving, he said, "We shouldn't do this anymore." Luna saw the briefest flicker of uncertainty in his eyes, the faintest suggestion of unadulterated guilt in the line of his mouth, before he turned and walked briskly down the hall, his shoes clicking authoritatively on the stone.
Luna stood against the wall, lips swollen, short of breath, tears prickling at her eyes feeling for the first time in six years as though someone had taken her heart and shattered it against the flagstone.
To Be Continued (soon, I hope)