Author: Aeolus Harp
Genre: Romance, General
Warnings: Femmeslash - That means a relationship between two females. If you don't like it, then don't read it. Complaints will not be tolerated; In fact, I will probably laugh at them :)
Tolerable amounts of fluff and dark themes in later chapters.
Companion piece to Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, so there will be spoilers.
Disclaimer: I am not J.K. Rowling (unfortunately), so anything you recognize isn't mine.
Summary: Sometimes affection seems so wrong that in actuality it is perfect. Hermione Granger and Luna Lovegood know the feeling. Femmeslash. HBP spoilers.
A/N: I reworked this chapter a bit to fit in with the 6th book I thought it would be more fun to make the story a companion to the book, which, in itself, will pose a challenge. Please read and review to tell me what you think of it.
The course of true love never did run smooth.Love is a familiar. Love is a devil. There is no evil angel but Love.
- William Shakespeare
Chapter I : An Unexpected Gift
Hermione Granger stalked down one of the deserted corridors, as she often did when she was rushing to her next class. Her mind was furiously running through the pages of notes she had memorized for Professor Vector, a feat she had accomplished at one in the morning with little more than her own minuscule cursive and a glass of lukewarm Earl Grey. She knew that in the long stretch of things she really did not need to memorize them, but did so to satisfy her own thirst for knowledge, which was, in some ways, more ravenous than what her Professors expected of her. It was one of those nights that Harry and Ron disapproved of and chastised her at breakfast for, while she sat quietly reviewing and spreading jam on her toast.
Now she felt rushed and exhausted, but pressed on anyway, all the while marveling over how the sensible Hermione Granger could answer every question her Professors asked her but still couldn't figure out how to effectively add 'sleep' into her schedule. Hard to believe it had only been a week since the start of the term and she was already feeling sleep deprived.
She was nearly all of the way down the hallway when a straggly haired blonde came around the corner. She was a dotty looking girl, almost careless in appearance, as her robes seemed a bit ruffled and her blue striped stockings were handing loosely around her pale knees. What gave away her identity was the dreamy, almost sleepy expression and the butterbeer cap necklace tinkering noisily around her neck. Hermione immediately recognized her as Luna Lovegood.
Oh Merlin, she thought morosely, her mind thinking of every possible option to escape. Talking to Loony Lovegood was not high on the list of her priorities.
She abruptly came to a stop and turned around, hoping the blonde hadn't noticed her. Apparently, however, it was too late, as she heard the rustle of a pair of feet rushing up quickly beside her.
"You are walking away from me." Luna said objectively, easily slipping into the same fast stride as Hermione.
Hermione stopped walking and glared icily at her. "Yes, well, I'm in a hurry," she said, a little more bitter than she meant to sound.
Luna didn't seem fazed by her less-than-friendly tone at all. "You always seem to be in a hurry. Don't you ever relax?"
Hermione stared at her incredulously. What a blatantly obvious question--Of course she relaxed, though not in the usual way her peers did. She couldn't help it if she often compared relaxation to laziness, as most students seemed to confuse the two as they sprawled out on a sofa and fell asleep on their schoolbooks. She, on the other hand, believed relaxation included an afternoon with a large tome, open eyes, and an equally open mind, an situation most people would carelessly classify as 'work'. Of course, she doubted Luna (or anyone else for that matter) would understand what she meant, so she decided to avoid an explanation.
"Well," she began in her matter-of-fact voice, "I certainly do relax sometimes, but right now I have classes to go to. Plus I'm a Prefect, so I'm expected to be early." She paused a moment. "Shouldn't you be early as well? It sets a good example." Wonderful, here she was preaching to Luna about punctuality while another half a minute of precious time passed by.
To her surprise, Luna smiled dreamily. "I've never been late before. Besides, I like to look at the pictures in this hallway when I walk through it."
Hermione's eyes narrowed. Pictures? What pictures? She glanced at the stone walls, expecting them to be as bleak as she had always believed them to be. To her astonishment, she realized the walls were covered in them; pictures of knights on horseback, wooded temples, poets engrossed in piles of parchment, lovers sprawled in meadows, all kinds of scenes. In her haste, she had never even noticed them before.
"Oh, those pictures," Hermione said flatly, trying to sound as if she had seen them a thousand times. She didn't like being caught off guard, after all. "Yes, I suppose they are quite lovely."
"You're not very good at lying, you know."
What does it matter? Hermone thought angrily. Still determined to get to class on time, she began to walk again, this time even faster than before. She really didn't care what Luna thought of her for just leaving in the middle of their--er, could you call it a dialogue? Anyway, the girl was, generally, a complete airhead and a pointless conversationalist. Even when she wasn't racing to her next class, Hermione felt no drive whatsoever to talk to her.
After the sound of Luna's whistle-laden breathing began to subside, she began to review her notes again. Celtic symbols... Which symbols were widely used by the Celts? ...Wait, did the Celts even have symbols? She desperately hoped that Professor Vector didn't decide to give pop quiz, as Luna's interruption seemed to have derailed her train of thought.
Suddenly she felt Luna's presence beside her again, this time close enough that she could feel the other girl's arm moving simultaneously with her own. She groaned inwardly and turned to face the fifth-year Ravenclaw, who was looking at her intently.
"What is it?"
"I know you were lying, because your left eye twitches whenever you lie." For someone whose head in the clouds most of the time, she can be very observant sometimes, Hermione mused, nearly hitting herself for wondering why it mattered anyway. Why the hell did she care how observant Luna was? She had lost interest in any possible thing to do with Luna Lovegood, her personality, or her irritating persistence to talk to her at this point.
"Look Luna, I really need to get to class," she said, exasperated, "so could you please just let me go?" Taking the blank look on Luna's face as a sort of approval, Hermone began to walk again, this time expecting to be left alone (finally!).
"Wait!" Luna said breathlessly, rushing to catch up with Hermione's massive strides.
That was it--the dotty blonde had just destroyed Hermione's patience. She turned to give Luna the biggest tongue-lashing of her life, when Luna unexpectedly grabbed her wrist and looked her straight in the eye.
"You can't leave yet; I have something to give you," she said.
Hermione blinked. Something to give... me? Why on earth would she want to give me something? The thought of all of Luna's strange passions went through her mind, and she almost laughed. It's probably a copy of the Quibbler, or a doctored up photo of one of those ridiculous mythical beasts she believes in...
To her astonishment, Luna gently pryed open her fingers and placed a small, oddly shaped silver pendant in her hand. In the center was a oval-shaped, milky white moonstone that had an ebony-colored symbol carved effortlessly into it. By the condition of the silver, it seemed to be very old, as several messily executed spells had been used to keep the metal somewhat shiny. The whole thing had to be worth well over five hundred galleons.
A wide eyed and, for once, speechless Hermione looked up. Luna had her head cocked slightly to the side and seemed to be considering the pendant. "I always liked the weird symbol on it."
Hermione waited, expecting some other reason for the priceless gift would arise and answer the question hanging on her lips. Luna, however, pursed her lips together and, seemingly satisfied with that explanation, she turned on her heel and skipped in the opposite direction, not stopping to say anything else to the rattled Hermione.
Did Luna just call something else weird? This coming from a girl who just gave her a priceless pendant and offered no reason for it? Hermione held the pendant in her other palm and ran a finger over the edge, her logical mind quickly becoming cloudy and baffled at the lack of coherent reasoning behind it. She wanted some explanation for the seemingly random present. Luna may be dotty, but she would not just give something so priceless away. Oh please, Hermione, she thought to herself, it's Luna we're talking about. Stop trying to analyze her behavior--you know it's a lost cause.
"Luna--I... I can't accept this," she finally stammered to the retreating figure of the blonde. For a moment it seemed as if Luna had ignored her, and she suddenly felt very foolish and exposed. She should never have taken it in the first place. Now she felt almost obligated to return the pendant to her, a situation she did not really want to be in. Well, if she hadn't surprised me in that weird, nonchalant way of hers, I wouldn't have to, she thought, gritting her teeth slightly.
"Keep it," a sing-song voice replied suddenly, making Hermione jump out of her trance. "Daddy was using it as a Crumple-Horned Snorckack charm, so it would just melt eventually." The blonde then paused for a moment, then turned to face Hermione. "You should get some sleep. You seem a bit out of sorts."
Hermione watched Luna turn around the corner. Her first thought was that of the guilt that had begun to gnaw on her insides after Luna had handed her the pendant. She had been harsh with her earlier, far too harsh. It wasn't Luna's fault that she was exhausted and in a bad mood, and yet she brushed her off like the plague. Out of sorts indeed, Hermione thought grimly, remembering Luna's words.
It would have been so easy for her to throw the gesture away as one of Luna's strange ideas of proper social behavior and to attach no importance to the gift or her response to it. It would have been uncomplicated for her last year after meeting Luna for the first time. But now... Now I have to remember last year at the Department of Mysteries, Hermione thought. This wasn't just the girl who liked to read The Quibbler upside-down and put her wand behind her ear anymore--This was the girl who had followed Harry, Hermione and the others to the Department of Mysteries of her own accord, disregarding the risks; who had fought her way through Death Eaters only to be flung across a table like a rag doll (or so she had heard, Hermione had been unconscious at the time); who had somehow lessened the weight of Sirius's death to Harry by saying something that had helped him cope. No, she could never be the same Luna Lovegood that Hermione had once scoffed at as a flake, yet she had just treated her that way.
She tightened her hold on the pendant and closed her eyes for a moment, letting the memories of last year flood her mind. The feeling of her hand on the cold metal seemed to signify something. She vaguely wondered if it was some sort of burgeoning respect for Luna that, though steadily growing, would take a while to fully develop.
Far off in one of the distant courtyards, a large clock let off a resounding chorus of bell chimes that signified the changing of the hour. Nearly shaking in surprise and even horror, Hermione's eyes widened and she nearly collided with the wall in her haste to turn and get to class. In a moment, all thoughts of Luna Lovegood were veiled by more pressing issues and Hermione was less than willing to accept any compromise between them.
It was only later that she realized she had given the pictures a short, but nonetheless appreciative glance as she had rushed by.