Author's Note: I would like to say right here and upfront that I have never been to France, and as such have no idea if this is an accurate representation of a French hotel. I would reckon not. Anyway, if you have been to France, please ignore all errors—at least those that pertain to my lack of French hotel knowledge. Thank you. Please review.

Disbelieving in Trees
Potter47

Chapter One
The Hotel Corridor

Luna walked down the hotel corridor of the Hotel Corridor, wondering who had come up with such a strange name for a hotel. Of course, it probably meant something in French, like 'beef,' or 'throw rug.' Luna had never liked French. Too greasy.

She had been wondering ever since she arrived what had made Hermione Granger choose this hotel of all places. It was...well, it was large, and expensive, but it was distinctly confuzzling in Luna's opinion. (Her unfamiliarity with the language did not help, but honestly: the room numbers on the doors counted by twos!)

As such, just after Luna passed room fifteen and seventeen, she ran into number nineteen, or would have if the doorway had not been blocked and she was in more comfortable shoes.

"Luna—wait," number nineteen's occupant called as she walked past the doorway. It was Ronald, of all people, and he looked quite sheepish. "Er...do you know how to tie a tie?"

Luna blinked. "You wore a tie every day for seven years, Ronald," she said curiously, walking backwards to Ronald's door (she had overrun it and stopped at twenty-one). "Surely you haven't forgotten?"

"No, I mean—" Ronald gestured at the cloth round his neck. "This, a—what did she call it? Oh—a bowtie. Do you know how to—how to...?"

"How to tie a bowtie?" Luna finished. "Of course, yes. Daddy never quite got the hang of it, you know, and he just hates the other kind. Simply dreadful."

Silence. Luna stood, gazing at Ronald from the corridor, not moving an inch. Ronald blinked.

"Well...could you?" he said awkwardly. Luna quirked her head at him.

"Of course I could. That's what I just told you."

Ronald blinked awkwardly again. "Er...would you? Help me, I mean?" he asked, and now Luna smiled.

"Why didn't you say you needed help? I thought you were just asking if I knew." Luna quickly scooted under his arm that rested against the opposite side of the doorway, and into his room, before tugging him by the cuff of his Muggle suit in after her.

"Where do you have a mirror?" Luna asked.

"You need a mirror to tie my tie?" Ronald said.

"Of course not—but you need to learn, don't you? How ever would you learn if you couldn't see it? It's not as though I could simply tell you how, that would be silly."

"Oh...er...right," said Ronald. "Well there's one right here on this closet—" And he gestured to a shiny closet whose sliding doors were full-length mirrors.

"Of course," said Luna, "there's one in the loo—this room's just the opposite of my room, you know—my bed's on that side, not this side, and the same with the wardrobe, and look: the loo," and she led the way to the loo.

Luna seemed to take her time on the tie, clearly pointing out each step to Mirror-Ronald. The actual Ronald stood rather uncomfortably as she fumbled about his neck.

"So, how do you like the place?" he asked. "Hermione says she's always planned to have her wedding here—"

"That's vaguely creepy," said Luna conversationally. "She planned to have her wedding here when she was a day old? An hour? A milli-moment? I hadn't even figured out who I was going to marry at that age..." She looked downward for a moment, as if deeply puzzled by something.

Ronald blinked once again, inwardly shaking his head in disbelief. "Not quite what I meant, Luna. But whatever."

Silence. Luna fumbled round Ronald's neck some more.

"I'm surprised Hermione hasn't taught you to tie a bowtie," said Luna, and there was something odd in her voice, something unusual. Ronald wouldn't have known what it was.

"She tried, I guess," said Ronald. He took a folded piece of paper out of his pocket, and unfolded it. Writ upon it were a great many big words in small writing, and intricate diagrams that bore no relation to a bowtie, neck, or anything else remotely relevant. (To Luna, anyway.) "She gave me this yesterday."

"How on earth did she expect you to learn from this?" Luna said incredulously, stopping for a moment in her task to peer at the paper. "Is that word even English?" she asked, squinting. "I don't think it is, but I'm not sure..."

"Beats me," said Ronald, shaking his head. He furrowed his brow, looking up at his reflection again. "How long does this take, anyway?"

"Oh, I'm just about done...now!" Luna said, standing back triumphantly. They both looked in the mirror then. Luna looked him over admiringly, though she did not like the look of his suit. It was so...refined, and Ronald was not a refined person. It didn't suit him, no pun intended.

Luna narrowed her eyes slightly and let out a breath. That wasn't all that didn't suit Ronald, not in the least, no.

"Well," said Ronald after a long while. "What do you think?"

"She's too old for you."

Silence. Ronald was quite positive he had heard wrong. Luna still gazed into the mirror and did not seem to notice she had said anything peculiar.

"Excuse me?" said Ronald after a great many milli-moments.

"I said she's too old for you, Ronald."

Ronald nodded, as if disbelieving. "That's what I thought you said. But what I don't get is...what in hell are you talking about?"

"Hermione. She's much too old for you." Luna said this as if it was perfectly obvious and she was simply repeating the information for the thousandth time, for he had to have heard it many times before.

"What are you on about, Luna?" said Ronald. "Hermione is five—"

"Five-and-a-half."

"Hermione is five-and-a-half months older than me, that's not too old for—"

"Yes it is," said Luna.

Ronald blinked several times in quick succession, looked back at Luna, and determined that she was still there. "You're...you're just...you are nuts, Luna."

"Oh?" said Luna interestedly. "Pecans?" She narrowed her eyes. "Or...pecahns?"

"I rest my case," said Ronald. He began as if to take her by the arm, thought better of it, and simply walked out to the door, Luna in tow. "Now, thank you very much, Luna, but I think you'd better be going. I'll see you at the ceremony."

And now Luna smirked, which seemed to baffle Ronald beyond belief. "Tuesday at six o'clock, on the nose," she said. "Down by the gazebo." Luna began to frown as she wondered why Ronald had wanted his tie on, and his suit, when the wedding was not for two whole days. And where did he think she'd be going, so that he wouldn't see her till the ceremony?

"Yeah," said Ronald, nodding, and leaned against the doorway again. "I didn't ask if you knew when and where the ceremony was taking place, I just said—"

And now the smirk was gone off of Luna's face, and a look of horror and revulsion replaced it. She narrowed her wide eyes menacingly at Ronald.

"She's rubbed off on you."

And then she was gone, leaving Ron with his mouth hanging open in the hotel corridor of the Hotel Corridor.

"What was that about?" he said aloud, before shutting himself back in his room.

——

Luna stopped again in front of number twenty-one, which she remembered was her own room—she had almost gone right on past it.

She slid the little card thingy into her door lock like Hermione had shown them all earlier, but the light did not turn green, and the door did not unlock. She frowned, and tried again. Fiiip—click. It opened this time, and Luna wondered why the light turned green when it opened and red when it stayed shut. Red was better than green—everyone knew that.

Removing her shoes, Luna enjoyed the feel of the hotel room rug beneath her feet. It was quite cool, and somehow hard and soft at the same time. Her father would have called it very somewhat hoft.

Laying down on the neatly-made bed, Luna gazed up at the ceiling, with its swirls of off-white plaster, and let her eyes relax. She scooted herself up on the bed so that her head rested on the shiny-looking pillows, and breathed in the scent of the room. It smelt good, and reminded her of the hotel she and her father had stayed at in Sweden after fourth year. That one had been more sensible, however; it had used keys, not card thingies.

Closing her eyes, Luna drifted to sleep. When she awoke it was night time, for it had been daytime when she'd fallen asleep. When she did wake up, she felt quite uncomfortable, and as such got up and took her pyjamas from her sootcase, even though they were a bit dirty. She wondered why Muggles carried clothes with soot.

Brushing them off, she put them on and climbed back into bed. Much more comfy. She pulled the blanket up over her shoulders, and closed her eyes once more—but suddenly she heard what sounded like whispers, but may well have just been muffled voices, coming from behind the wall.

"I saw Luna today," said Ronald's voice, and Luna's eyes widened. She scooted up on the bed, pressing her ear flat against the wall.

"That's not surprising," said Hermione Granger's voice, causing Luna to narrow her eyes. "She is only a room away."

"She is?" said Ronald.

"Of course; she's right in there." And, presumably, Hermione had pointed at the wall between the rooms.

"She is?" said Ronald again. "Oh."

Silence, and Luna couldn't hear anything.

Hermione sounded as if she were changing the subject: "I was talking with Professor Snape earlier about the wedding, and—"

"Oh, I'm sure he loved that conversation," muttered Ronald. "Really, Hermione, why'd you invite Snape of all people? Like he cares that we're getting married."

Luna did not like the way he said 'we're getting married', as if he meant 'we are getting married', meaning that it was a definite. Nothing is ever definite until tomorrow, anyway.

"Because I invited all of our professors," said Hermione.

"Oh, you invited Umbridge? And Trelawney?"

"That is not what I meant," Hermione snapped. "You know that. I invited all of our professors except the ones that were horrible—"

"And Snape wasn't horrible?"

"He was a good teacher, Ron. He knew what he was talking about." A beat. "How many times do we have to argue about this? I'm surprised you didn't call him evil this time."

"I was getting to it," said Ronald. "I question his sanity as well; something must be wrong with his head if he actually came. Seriously, though, you have to admit—"

"You are unbelievable. God, what do you have against Professor Snape?"

"Why do you like him so much?"

Silence.

"I'm going for a walk," said Ronald.

"Well remember, don't use magic—" began Hermione, and it seemed as if she had said this many times before.

"I know, Hermione. See you later."

"Bye."

Silence once again. Luna leaned forward, resting her cheek on her hand, thinking. Should she...? She reckoned she would. Standing, Luna lowered herself off the bed (it was very tall) and rummaged in her sootcase for her fluffy-Snorkack slippers. She found them, brushed them off, and plopped them on the floor, before sliding her feet into them.

Taking one of the dressing gowns from the loo, Luna walked out into the empty hall. It was unnaturally bright for this time of night, and she wondered which way Ronald had gone. Right or left? R for Ronald or L for Luna? It was not a difficult decision for her: right. It was the way she would have gone.

Her feet padded with a sort of floppy noise as she walked, trying futilely to tie the dressing gown as she went. The footsteps she made echoed softly, and she felt very alone. Her heart was even quiet, and usually she could hear it beating.

Eventually, she reached a door marked 'STAIRWELL' in little letters and whatever word meant 'STAIRWELL' in French in big letters above it. Luna turned the knob, and went down the grimy-looking stairs behind it, all the way down to the first floor. She stepped out into the lobby, and looked round futilely, but did not see Ronald. She walked over to the lobby desk and asked the French lady that sat there, "Have you seen a man about twenty, tall, red-haired, unbelievably handsome?"

The lady, who did not speak English very well, shook her head hesitantly, and then pronounced slowly and delicately, "Honeymoon?" and smiled.

Luna shook her head. "No. My name means moon, though. Does that count?"

The lady shrugged as if uncomprehending, and Luna left her in peace. She walked out the door in the back of the lobby that led to the rear car park, and breathed in the brisk night air.

When she spotted Ronald by a lone, out-of-place-looking tree, however, Luna's breath came in short pants, which really did not suit her at all; she was more of a long skirt kind of girl.

Ronald leaned against the tree, and a bright light shone down upon him, from a lamppost high up above. He was all that could be seen in the car park, though even if he wasn't, he would have been all Luna saw.

Luna went over to him, but he did not look up at her; his gaze was fixated pointedly at the pavement. Instead of talking to him, Luna walked round the other side of the tree and leaned against it, just as Ronald was doing. He lifted one foot up, pressed against the tree, and held onto the bark with one hand. Luna did the same, though she could not see that he had done it.

They stood there for a long time, Ronald completely unaware of his companion and Luna aware of nothing but hers.

She breathed in the unnaturally cool night air, but all she could smell was him. The knowledge that she was just inches away from him, and he was not moving...it made her feel alive. She let her eyes close, and felt complete.

Luna noticed then that if a light shines on one's eyes when they are closed, one sees orange. Luna liked orange very much, especially at the moment, and so made it a point to thank the lamppost later on.

The world was silent, but for the distant beating of Ronald's heart; Luna still could not hear hers; perhaps it was because she was not breathing.

A while later, Ronald sank to the ground, back pressed against the tree still and knees reaching up to his chin. Luna did the same, unknowing.

As it were, Luna was seated in such a way that she was invisible from the hotel. If, say, someone had looked out of the window in room nineteen, all they would have seen would have been a form, clearly, leaning with his back against a tree. A light shone upon him, but his face could not be seen.

Assume, for a moment, that this someone knew Ronald Weasley very well — or at least thought she did — and had known him for a long time. Say that she would recognise his silhouette.

Perchance this someone would realise how lonely Ronald was, knowing him so very well. Perchance this someone would realise that it was all her fault that Ronald was lonely, and would therefore realise that she should call off their wedding because she was not the right person for him.

Is this plausible?

Perhaps not, but it was precisely what Luna hoped — wished, desired with all her heart — would happen.

TBC