AUTHOR'S NOTES: It's hard to get these two right - both in-character and correctly interacting. Please let me know if you think I did good! (or bad, or whatever!)
It was probably the strangest proposal of marriage ever made in the history of wizardingkind.
Then again, they'd never been 'ordinary'.
The year after she finished school, Luna went travelling around the world with her father. No clear idea of where they were going, but Harry received owl post from them wherever they went.
He remembered the letters from China best - perhaps because they were written in wizarding Chinese - a gloriously detailed calligraphy hand that made no sense until he tapped the thick, flexible parchment with his wand and spoke the translating charm over it. Then the ink lines swirled about each other to form a somewhat angular Asian script in what was obviously not a quill hand.
Paintbrush, Hermione declared after a quick study of the letter. The ink was made with soot and ox gall - it was thicker than the stuff they got in their inkpots.
"Ox gall?" Ron looked green at the thought.
"This from the man who shovels whatever's on his plate into his mouth without looking at it," she said scathingly.
Harry let them bicker harmlessly and set down to reading the letter in the falling twilight of Number 12 Grimmauld Place.
Daddy and I were honoured to attend a real Chinese wedding the other week, Luna wrote. He could just imagine her sitting at her desk with a paintbrush and ink, scribing the characters with her looping, careful script. The Chinese wizards have bred some very interesting creatures here - the most impressive being tame miniature dragons. Harry could just think of Hagrid's eagerness at the thought of tame miniature dragons. He made a mental note never to mention it to Hagrid.
They are Chinese Fireballs, or so the trainer said, and he let me feed one. There was only a little danger - if the dragon flamed it might burn the skin off my hand, but that wasn't likely. Daddy was very worried, but I thought it was quite exciting. I wanted to buy one and bring it back with us, but the trainer said they don't do well in anywhere but China. So we didn't get one. I wouldn't want to kill even a tiny dragon.
He could imagine the wrinkle that would slightly crowd her forehead as she considered the dilemma of wanting a dragon but not being able to have one. It wouldn't be a worried frown of Ron's type, or Hermione's harried concern, but rather a momentary bewilderment as Luna considered the options available and discarded them one by one.
Anyway, the wedding was beautiful, and they had dancing monkeys with bells on and fish that swam in the air around the couple. I asked the dragon-trainer about them, but he said they don't do very well outside of China, either. The priest tied red string around the fingers of the married couple to signify that the gods had bound them together, and then everyone cast charms to make the red and gold confetti into cats and pigs and horses and bells.
For some reason, he remembered that letter in later years, as things got harder and tighter, and the circumstances of the wizarding world became more tense.
Voldemort was dead, his body returned to dust by Harry, his spirit equally destroyed - although Harry refused to take that responsibility alone. Unfortunately, his Death Eaters refused to lay down and die in quiet peace, or give up their vendetta against Muggleborns the wizarding world over.
And so Harry and Ron joined the Ministry as Aurors while Hermione took a course or a dozen in Spellmaking. She, Ginny, and Neville could be found thick as thieves when they met, discussing the advantages of this potion over that, of this ingredient over that, and Harry and Ron just sat back and let it all flow by.
Luna wrote for the Quibbler, and if that publication was still laughed at in some circles, there was no open laughter at it among the six who had gone in to defeat Voldemort and come out older, wiser, and no less scarred than Harry.
His friendship with Luna had surprised him. She accepted him where he was at, as he was - not even Ginny could quite manage that - too much of her mother in her, he supposed. And he was no Mr Weasley or Ron to take the haranguing of a woman he loved meekly. Come to that, he was no Neville Longbottom to let Ginny's occasional lectures run off him like water off a duck's back. For someone who'd been so self-effacing in the earliest years of their common schooling, Neville was very self-possessed now they were all grown up.
And Harry and Luna remained friends while the other members of their group paired off. Just friends. Good friends, yes, but just friends.
They were at the Weasley's the afternoon that Luna brought up the red string again. Ron and Hermione had an argument which entailed slammed doors and the words, "Well, if you don't know what it is then I'm not going to tell you!"
Harry rolled his eyes at Ginny who was unsuccessfully trying to hide a smile. He left Ron to make up with his aggravated girlfriend and sat down beside Luna who was looking slightly sleepy as she propped up her head against her hand.
"Red string," she said, apropos of nothing.
Harry waited. It might take her a little while to complete her non-sequitur, but she usually did in the end.
"The Chinese wizards believe that the gods connect red string between the little fingers of people who are meant to be together." She held up her spare hand, her little finger raised up. Harry was minded of a Muggle movie he'd lately seen in the cinemas, but he said nothing of it - Luna, like Mr. Weasley, had never quite got the hang of the Muggle world.
Harry tried to see the situation Luna's way. "So…it gets caught on things?" It was a guess, but the reward was her smile, faint and dreamy in the summer afternoon.
"It gets caught on things," she confirmed. "Tangled up, like now." She waved a hand at the door through which Ron had followed Hermione. Then she smiled, just a little impishly. "I think Ronald will be quite busy untangling their string for a while."
Harry paused, glanced at the Burrow with it's peculiarly sprawling stories, and decided it was better not to ask.
Hours later, standing on the doorstep of her house in Ottery St. Catchpole kissing her, he figured it was better to ask.
She made the question moot.
Like her namesake, there was a clarity to Luna at night. The faded, blurry edges of her sharpened by evening in the same way that the moonlight leached the darker tints from her hair, leaving her hair moonlight-pale, although not as pale as the bare skin he touched with hands, lips, limbs, and body.
As the weeks stretched into months, the only thing Harry found himself having to untangle was their limbs in the mornings. And sometimes her hair from his throat and arms.
"So," Ron said one afternoon as they took a break from their Auror studies. "You and Luna, eh?"
Harry drank his butterbeer and wiped his mouth with the back of his hand. "Yes." his friend had a distinctly evil grin on his face when Harry looked at him again. "What?"
"Hermione insisted you guys were just friends," Ron crowed. "She's going to owe me for this one!"
And, Harry suspected, Ron was tickled that Hermione didn't know everything.
He wasn't sure when it dawned on him that it wasn't just a temporary thing - a fling or a brief romance or some stupid phrase that was used to describe this kind of relationship.
Maybe it was when he found her slippers in his bathroom, or his comb full of blonde hair, or remembered that he'd left his favourite pair of boxer shorts at her place - the ones with the Hungarian Horntails that flew all over the material.
Or maybe it was the night they had an argument over something small and stupid and walked coldly back to his London apartment in the chill March rain.
They clattered around the kitchen, fixing themselves mugs of tea or chocolate, and not talking, although Harry suspected the anger was more on his side than hers.
A thought brushed by his mind.
The next thing he knew, he was pulling open cupboards and yanking out drawers, on a hunt.
"Harry?" Luna turned. "What are you looking for?"
"Sewing kit," he mumbled.
Sensibly, she reached for her wand. "Accio sewing kit!"
A moment later, she had it to hand and was watching as he yanked out the loop of red thread from the sewing kit, leaving needles, scissors, and the other coloured threads tossed all over the bench. A glance at her showed her puzzled by his intensity, if curious about his purpose. Her expression was no less curious as he took one hand from her mug and tied the thread around her little finger.
It was more difficult to tie the thread around his own little finger, and in the end, she had to help him. And then she looked at his hand and looked at hers, and blinked owlishly up into his eyes.
Harry waited and tried not to hold his breath. He knew she understood him. This was Luna. She had to understand.
"You're not a god, Harry."
Of all the answers he had expected, that wasn't one of them, and he was pretty sure his bewilderment must be plainly on his face because she qualified. "Only the gods can do this."
With a sinking feeling, like his stomach had just descended to the level of his knees, he realised she was utterly in earnest. Embarrassment stung his cheeks - it was as bad as asking Cho Chang to the Yule Ball, only to discover she was already going with Cedric. He looked away.
Her fingers touched his cheek. "But it was lovely of you to say so."
And she kissed him.
It was probably the strangest acceptance of a marriage proposal in the history of wizardingkind.
Then again, they'd never been 'ordinary'.
- fin -