Harry and Luna peddled across the lake. The sunlight glistened off the water as their little boat moved slowly ahead. They'd gotten pretty far out, before Harry let his feet rest on the damp boards below.
" This is a lot of work," he said with a breathless laugh, wiping his brow. Luna continued to peddle, sending them spinning in slow circles. Hermione and Fred were coming upon them.
" Ahoy there, matie!" Fred called.
" Are you two having fun?" Hermione asked.
" Probably not as much as you two," Harry said with a teasing grin, making Hermione blush.
" Aw, come off it, Hermy. It's obvious they know," Fred said. Hermione gave them a sheepish grin.
" Oh, no," Harry said. Fred sat up, looking defensive.
" What? Am I not good enough, then?" he asked, then saw Harry was not looking at him.
" Not you. Malfoy's out of the infirmary," Harry said. Fred peddled the swan boat to face the other direction, where Draco and Pansy were gaining on them.
" Hey, Malfoy, nice flying out there," Fred said.
" Sod off, Weasel," Draco sneered, bumping their boat hard with his own, sending Hermione and Fred teetering to regain their balance. Pansy shrieked with laughter as they peddled away.
" Right. Let's go find out if Malfoy can swim," Fred said when the boat stopped rocking. Hermione laid her hand on his knee and shook her head.
" Don't worry, Fred. I've fixed them," Harry said with a wide smile, tucking away his wand. Pansy and Draco called out in distress, drifting away quickly in the wake of the giant squid, who had begun to surface. Pansy screamed in terror at the sight of it and clung to Malfoy, who wasn't looking too brave himself.
" What did you do?" Fred asked in admiration.
" Well, the squid's acting of his own accord. Let's just say they'll have a hard time of it without these," he said, reaching down and pulling up one of the heavy iron peddles from their boat. The four of them laughed, watching the Slytherins drift away.
" Well, hello, Mr. Squid," Luna cooed to the enormous creature.
" Are you happy we came to see you?" The beast responded, its tentacles splashing water at them.
" Hey! Watch it, Mr. Squid!" Fred said, shaking water from his drenched arm.
" We'd better go back, Hermy. I've got to help George with the spook house," Fred said as they waved good bye.
Harry started to throw the peddles overboard, but Luna stopped him.
" Oh, you shouldn't. You might knock an unsuspecting merperson unconscious, you know," she said, her big eyes full of innocent concern.
Harry broke into a wide grin that he felt helpless to suppress. Her hand was still upon his as he lowered his arm, their eyes locked in a steady gaze. His face suddenly felt very hot, as he heard his heart pounding in his ears. He was suddenly distracted by the feeling of something slippery and wet against his leg. He jumped, seeing the deep pink tentacle that had snaked its way between them. Luna laughed, running her fingers lightly over the mollusk's extremity.
On shore, they met up with Ron, Ginny and their parents. Ron was staring at his stick of cotton candy in awe.
" I can't believe muggles came up with this stuff," he said, his mouth sticky and blue from the spun sugar confection. Luna laughed.
" You're turning blue, Ronald Weasley," she said. Ron touched his face with panic, observing the colored fingers he pulled away.
" Is it supposed to do that?" he asked Harry with alarm, who began to laugh as well.
" It's just the dye they use to make it blue," he said. Ginny cast a cleaning spell, returning Ron's face to its usual ruddy pink, while Arthur pinched off a piece of the candy, watching in wonder as the dye bled onto his fingers.
" I'll bet the twins could make a marvelous prank with this ink," Arthur said. Molly gave him a stern poke in the shoulder.
" Aw, Mum, it's okay to encourage them now that they're making money from their mischief," Ginny said with a shrug.
Neville and Hermione joined them, telling them of the horrors in the Weasly's haunted house enthusiastically.
" I thought Neville was going to rip my arm off when Snape jumped out of a cupboard at him," Hermione said, rolling her eyes.
" Well it didn't help that you disappeared after that," Neville said. " I thought something had eaten you." Hermione avoided Harry's suspicious glance.
" Snape was in the fun house?" Ginny asked. Neville shook his head.
" Boggart," he said with a shrug. " I didn't think that house was very fun at all."
" I wish Snape were in the dunking booth," Ron said, rubbing his hands together.
" Oh, but then the line would be too long," Luna said, everyone looking at her with surprise and then laughing.
" Good one, Luna," Ron said appreciatively.
" Let's go ride something!" Ginny called cheerfully, grabbing Hermione by one hand and Neville with the other and pulling them towards the Ferris wheel.
" I'm with her," Ron said.
" I'm not holding your hand though," Ron said to Harry with a laugh as they followed. Harry swallowed hard as Luna's small, cool hand took his.
Ron piled in beside Hermione, after Ginny and Neville were whisked away in their chair above them, and were strapped in by an elf who gave the signal for the wheel to spin again. Harry and Luna climbed onto the narrow bench seat. He could smell her perfume of sandalwood and juniper, as they rose into the air, the seat swinging to and fro from the jerky start of the ride. Luna gasped, squeezing Harry's arm. He gave a little laugh.
" Don't tell me your scared? Not after riding a thestral?" he asked with amusement as they jerked to a stop at the peak of the wheel, while Hannah Abbot and Susan Bones took their seat.
" Oh, not really. I'm just not used to muggle machinery, you know," she said, looking down with a little smile. The sky was growing darker as the wheel began to revolve. Harry watched her face as they rose and descended, smiling serenely at her wonder as she craned her neck to look at the view, the other students in their seats, and the machinery of the ride itself. She took nothing for granted and found nothing mundane in her little world, he thought to himself. The lights of the carnival were switched on, everything twinkling with colored lights. Luna laughed with joy.
" Luna, I want to thank you," he said. She stopped looking around and finally gave him her grey eyed gaze.
" If it weren't for you, I'd probably not be here, enjoying myself," he said. Luna smiled.
" But you're the one who asked me to come with you, you know," she said, as the ride slowed to a stop. Harry shrugged.
"Well, thanks anyway," he said, as their feet met the boards beneath them.
Everyone stood still an watched the sky expectantly as the first firework exploded, in the form of a silvery unicorn. There was applause and gasps as a whole menagerie of sparkling beasts paraded across the starry sky in succession. Luna absently grabbed Harry's arm in excitement. Distracted from the display above them, he watched her, her lips quivering one moment, then curved into a blissful smile the next. The thoughts of the prophecy, the war, and Sirius, had all but left his mind for the first day in along time. It didn't feel like this girl occupied the same dark world he had suffocated in during the summer, somehow. She seemed almost like a star, some beacon of hope, that shone above these things, and although she could not make them go away, she was something to look for in the darkness surrounding him. Her grip tightened as a Hungarian Horntail took flight above them. Harry looked about him awkwardly, the put his arm about her waist, her soft hair caressing his arm. She clasped his hand as it came around her, squeezing it with her own.
Above them, another rocket exploded in the sky. There were confused gasps, and quite a few giggles, as a shimmering portrait of Hermione Granger filled the sky, smiling serenely. Many turned to see the shocked girl standing among them, who looked just as bewildered as they. Fred pushed his way to her side, and she laughed and shook her head as he took her in his arms.
" Prettiest firework I ever saw," he said with a grin. Mr. and Mrs, Granger smiled at the young couple.
" He's such a nice boy," Harry overheard Claire Granger say. " I don't know why Hermione kept warning us about him." Ron snorted.
" Boy, are they in for a rude awakening," he whispered, to Harry and Luna, then paused, raising an eyebrow at them as he observed the way they were standing.
" Don't tell me you're in some secret romance as well," he said with a groan. " No one ever tells me anything. My own best friends!" Harry colored slightly, though everyone else seemed preoccupied by the steady stream of fireworks George was setting off. Luna was nonplussed, still watching the sky. Harry just shrugged and smiled.
Dumbledore made a closing speech, thanking everyone for coming and hoping they would make the event an annual tradition. Everyone seemed in high spirits despite the accident earlier that day, and the first Hogwarts Family Day was considered a success.
Although it was rather late, Harry felt too energized to sleep, and loathed to return to the castle. As everyone said good bye, and the students filed back in, Luna seemed to echo his thoughts.
" I'm going to the lake," she said.
" Not sleepy, then?" he asked. She shook her head.
" That's not it exactly. I'll be locked out for sure with everyone there ahead of me," she said.
"Can I stay out with you, then?" Harry asked. " It's a nice night for it." Luna smiled.
" Sure. I think you're spoiling me, you know," she said. Harry gave her a questioning look as they walked to the weeping willow.
" I'm starting to enjoy having company," she said, transfiguring the grass into a blanket and sitting upon it.
" Well, you'll just have to get used to it," Harry said, sinking down beside her. " We're family now, remember?" Luna giggled.
" Why are you so nice to me, Harry Potter?" she asked, timidly brushing his unkempt hair back from his eyes, her silvery gaze full of wonder. Harry took her hand, and kissed the tip of her finger.
" You're kind," he said, punctuating each reason by placing a successive finger to his lips. " You're fun to be around. You're really funny and interesting, and --" He paused, his lips poised above her index finger teasingly, watching her expression of suspense with a grin.
" You're beautiful," he said, leaning forward and giving her a nervous peck on the lips.
" Ugh. I'd have rather stayed out there than had to see that," they heard a voice say, and turned to see a dripping wet Draco Malfoy, followed by an equally dampened Pansy Parkinson.
" It took you this long to decided to make a swim for it?" Harry asked with a laugh. " What, were you afraid it would wash the pomade out of your hair?" Draco glared at him.
" In case you haven't noticed, Potter, there's a bloody monster in that stupid lake that Dumbledore allows to live there," he spat. Luna rolled her eyes.
" That squid is older than Dumbledore himself, you know," she said. " It's been out there for centuries and has never harmed a soul."
" Shut up, Loony. Who asked you?" Pansy said, wringing out her skirt.
" Don't call Luna names, Pugface," Harry said. Pansy looked taken aback.
" I'm telling Snape what you did to our boat, Potter," Malfoy said, with a flourish of his sopping cape as he began to walk away. Luna and Harry laughed at them.
" You didn't have to tell off Pansy, you know," she said, standing and approaching the base of the tree.
" I just don't like anyone to call you names," Harry said with a shrug. Luna began to climb.
" What are you doing?" he asked.
" Come on," she called down to him. Harry placed his feet in the places he saw her place her own cautiously, and climbed up behind her. They sat upon a thick, level limb, the long wispy ends of the branches above hanging around them like a curtain. The full moon's ghostly glow filtered through the remaining leaves, as tiny glowing fairies twinkled in the trees of the forest across the lake, like fireflies.
"See? Isn't it pretty up here in the moonlight?" she asked, her eyes sparkling in the glow.
" Uh-huh," Harry said, mesmerized. Luna swung her slippered feet merrily, looking across the lake and singing softly.
" Potty and Loony sitting in a tree..."
Harry laughed and kissed her.