True Indicator of a Soul Mate
Deborah Peters

Hermione couldn't help herself and checked her watch once more, letting out an impatient sigh. "She was supposed to be here ten minutes ago," she muttered, almost to herself.

"I thought you told her to meet us here at eleven-thirty." Luna Lovegood, who was sitting across the table from her in the Three Broomsticks, peered at Hermione. "It's only eleven-thirty-five."

Hermione frowned and stirred her drink, watching the cherries spin around in a circle. "Well, she's late, in any case."

"She is," Luna agreed. "Do you think she's part-Umgubular Slashkilter? Because they're notoriously—"

"No, Luna," Hermione interrupted, a little tersely, "I'm positive she's not."

"Ah," said Luna. "I suppose it would be difficult for a Slashkilter to become an animagus. In addition to their tardiness, they also tend to lack the control needed for such a difficult transformation." She took a sip of her drink and added, "Also, are you Ronald's true love?"

Hermione stopped stirring her drink. She lifted her eyes in a manner that was almost comically slow and said, at last, "What was that you just said, Luna?"

Luna blinked and repeated, "I asked if you were Ronald's true love."

Hermione swallowed. "Er..."

"I think you are," Luna said matter-of-factly, "but I've been wrong about things before. For example, did you know that Vermicious Knids are hardly vermicious at all?"

Hermione found her voice. "...Vermicious Knids? As in, the fictional—"

"No, no, not the fictional Knids," Luna interrupted, "The real ones. How am I to speculate on the vermiciousness of fictional Knids? I've never seen one."

Hermione fought the urge to laugh. "Nor have I."

Luna shrugged. "Well, then. You see, I was always under the impression that Knids were quite vermicious, but as it turns out, they're rather mild-mannered." She paused, then added as an afterthought, "They are squishous, though. Soggy, too. That's not a myth." She nodded and took a sip of her drink. "Daddy's a little nervous about taking Ms Skeeter's article for the paper. He's glad to print a story on Harry, of course, but he says that what Ms Skeeter writes is sometimes just unbelievable."

Hermione stared. "Is that so."

Luna nodded. "All that rubbish about you being Harry Potter's girlfriend? Please." She rolled her too-large eyes.

Hermione managed a weak laugh. "Heh. Right."

The two girls sat in silence, sipping their drinks, for a moment longer, before Hermione blurted out, "Luna, why did you ask if I'm Ron's... you know?"

Luna blinked. "Why didn't you answer?"

Hermione's mouth opened and closed. "Because... it's a ridiculous question. Obviously, I'm not Ron's...whatever. Ron and I aren't even dating."

Luna frowned. "What difference does that make?"

"Well..." Hermione resumed stirring her drink. "I just think that if I were his... true love, we'd, I don't know, go to Hogsmeade together once in a while or something..."

"Is a Hogsmeade weekend a true indicator of a soul mate?" Luna inquired.

Hermione shook her head. "Of course not. That's not what I said."

Luna sighed. "Thank Rowena. I was hoping Terry Boot wasn't my true love."

"Well, I don't—wait, you went to Hogsmeade with Terry Boot?" Hermione said, looking up from her drink.

Luna nodded. "Yes, but he wasn't very interesting. He doesn't believe in the blubbering humdinger, for one."

"But, Luna," Hermione said, feeling a bizarre sense of déjà vu, "there is no such thing—"

"Regardless," Luna interrupted, her eyes narrowing a little, "I still think you're Ronald's true love."

Hermione set her drink down on the table. "Luna, why do you think I'm Ronald—Ron's—true love?"

Luna tapped her index finger on her chin. "Well, because... because I'm not."

Hermione was visibly startled by this. "What do you mean?"

"I believe that I could care deeply for Ronald," Luna said, with the air of someone reporting the weather. "I admire him greatly and I think he's quite handsome. But he doesn't feel the same about me. Everyone knows that this is because he is deeply in love with you."

Hermione couldn't help herself from gaping a little. "What? No, no, he's not—"

"And," Luna continued, ignoring Hermione's protests, "since Ronald is so very clever, I think that he wouldn't be so deeply in love with anybody if she were not his soul mate. Therefore, I must conclude that you are Ronald's true love. Am I right?"

Hermione took a deep breath and let it out slowly. "I..." She stood, seeming to contemplate the best course of action. Luna just stared blankly at her. "I... think we ought to be talking about what Harry ought to say in Rita Skeeter's article," Hermione said at last in a rush. "Obviously, he should talk about Voldemort's return, and the Death Eaters—should he mention Umbridge at all?"

Luna leaned forward over the table. "He loves you."

Hermione dropped her head onto her hands. "Why do you keep saying that?" she asked, her muffled voice only slightly louder than a whisper.

Luna shrugged. "You ought to love him back, is all."

"Well, well, well," a voice interrupted. "If it isn't little Miss Perfect and... company."

As Hermione lifted her head from her hands, she realized that she had never been so happy to see Rita Skeeter. "Have a seat, please, Ms Skeeter," she said, gesturing for the reporter to sit next to Luna. "Harry should be here in a moment."

Later, when Hermione would reflect on that afternoon's meeting, she would be grateful for Luna's relative silence during the interview. Of course, she would also realise that the tune Luna had been humming under her breath was "Weasley is Our King."

No wonder the room had felt so warm.
A/N: First of all, thanks to Frankie Beeblebrox for inspiring the New Improved Version of this story. As for the Vermicious Knids, they are, of course, the creation of Roald Dahl, and they are actually quite vermicious, as illustrated by the following limerick taken from Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator:
Oh you Knid, you are vile and vermicious!
You are slimy and soggy and squishous!
But what do we care,
'Cause you can't get in here,
So hop it and don't get ambitious!