Title: Let The Sun Inside
Challenge: First time for Livejournal's hpllficathon.
Summary: In the dark during the War, Harry finds Luna.
Author's Notes: Despite the challenge, this story does not focus on sex, as you can see from the rating. Title from the Elbow song "Ribcage". Huge beta thanks go to sioniann, bloodybrilliant & bluerose16.
The day the sun was hidden behind thick, black clouds was the day Harry lost Ron and Hermione. It was pitch black, and he couldn't hear any sounds apart from the rustle of grass beneath his feet and the wind fast in his ears. He yelled his friends' names until his voice grew hoarse, and then he sat down under a tree and waited for it to become light again.
"Lumos," he whispered, the simplest spell he knew. How much it could help now.
He'd sat there for hours when he realised it wasn't going to get any less dark.
It was difficult, but he managed to charm light five feet ahead of himself, just so he could see where he was going. Every now and then he'd hear a rustle or think he'd seen a flicker of light, but it was never anyone. Not even an enemy.
Harry thought of people he knew, what they were doing, where they were travelling and whether it was dark in there, too. Maybe the entire island was covered up in such thick clouds no light could get through. Maybe it was a curse that plagued only him, as that's the way things worked – there were always troubles laid on the path on the one who already had enough troubles.
Harry thought and kept walking.
A few dark days later, he found someone. Or should he say, someone found him.
At first he saw the Thestral. It was illuminating a strange, dark light and its eyes glowed rather spookily as it walked towards Harry. Harry raised his wand to take a closer look at it and it was then he saw a flicker of light not far ahead. The light had a voice.
"Who are you?" it rang in the distance. "Don't feed it!"
The Thestral nudged Harry's hand holding the wand with its muzzle, and Harry tried to identify the voice. It was soft and female, and he was almost certain he had heard it somewhere.
"What?" he yelled at the light, now fast approaching him, shaking as if running.
"I said," the voice spoke, less loud, closer, "don't feed it."
"I don't have anything to feed it with," Harry replied, looking at the horse-like creature. He hadn't even thought about Thestrals eating anything. He looked at the figure behind the light and recognised it. Luna.
"That's good," she said, raising her wand so that he could see her face and she could see his. "Because they only consume raw meat and blood. Hello, Harry."
"Hello, Luna," Harry said, blinking his eyes at the sudden extra light coming from Luna's wand.
"We're looking after the Hogwarts Thestrals, father and I. Our house is just a mile's walk from here. What are you doing here?"
"Looking for Voldemort," Harry replied, trying not to make it sound too dramatic or gloomy. But it was the truth. Their quest was finished, Hermione had destroyed the last Horcrux hours before it had gone dark.
"I see," Luna said, only a hint of seriousness in her typically carefree voice. "Would you like to come in for tea?"
Harry considered his options quietly for a moment, the continuing lack of light, his increasing hunger and his dire need for some company. "Yes," he then replied, "would love to."
Luna took his hand and lead to the direction she had appeared from, even though Harry could only see darkness ahead, for what seemed like miles and miles. But there was light around him as he walked hand-in-hand with the blond Luna, who seemed to illuminate the tiniest bit herself.
When he saw the house, candle light coming through each window, Luna let go of his hand and then he felt a bit lonelier.
But not really. Not really.
"How come we didn't just fly with the Thestral?" Harry asked once they were inside, in the big house filled with peculiar furniture, Quibbler issues scattered here and there, and candles lighting every inch of every room.
"They tire so fast nowadays," Luna answered and dangled two tea bags in front of Harry's nose. "Nettle or avocado tea?"
"Nettle," Harry said, and watched his tea water turn into a dark shade of green.
They drank tea in the light of the candles and in complete silence. The dark outside added a strange depth to everything they did, or didn't do, and for the first time perhaps ever, Harry could look into Luna's eyes and not feel crowded or weird.
Over his cup, he looked into her eyes a lot, and didn't mind when she looked back. He smiled at her, even when his head was filled with worries and fears, and she smiled back and it felt a bit forbidden – to feel so comfortable in such a difficult situation.
After they had both finished drinking tea, Luna finally opened her mouth.
"I miss Hogwarts."
"Where's your father?" Harry asked, looking around the large kitchen, looking to avoid the subject of school as the memory of Dumbledore dying still stung.
"London, interviewing a member of the Vampire Alliance about their position in the War." Luna got off her seat and began to pick up the tea cups and spoons off the table.
"Will he fight alongside Aurors and the Order?"
Luna shook her head, her back turned to Harry as she muttered cleansing spells for the cups.
"Why not, isn't he a perfectly capable wizard?"
"Three sides to every war," Luna said, her voice surprisingly dark. "Two fighting against each other, one suffering no matter what. My father considers himself as one of the third group. The civilians, the incapables."
"Hardly very noble of him," Harry said, a bit too spitefully than he'd intended. He regretted his tone instantly.
"I'm not like him, but I understand his position." Luna shrugged and then turned back to face Harry, smiling calmly. "If you're hungry, we can eat."
He was, and they ate, and Harry wondered what it was like to be one of the incapables. The ones with no burden on their backs. When cleaning out the table he accidentally touched the back of Luna's palm and then, to excuse the contact, brought his hand to his mouth, stifling a yawn. She hardly noticed and went on telling him about how aliens came to Earth millions of years ago and developed the entire Muggle population out of dust.
"Muggles wrote a book about it. It's called the Bivel, I think," she said and Harry smiled but didn't say anything.
She showed him the spare room in the Lovegood house. It was brightly coloured and filled with peculiar artefacts, ancient rugs on all the walls, drums and spears lining the walls. The bed was wide and, as Harry found when he lay down on it, almost too soft. It was early but it appeared late and Harry fell asleep easily.
The last thing he heard was Luna blowing the candles and the door clicking shut as she left the room.
The only way of telling time was to watch the big, wooden clock in the Lovegoods' living-room tick away. Seconds, minutes, hours, they watched it, sometimes turning their weary eyes away to look at each other.
As moments passed, days went by with them speaking very little, drinking tea, waiting for the light to come out from behind the dark, thick clouds, the looks they exchanged grew sometimes hasty, sometimes lingering, always embarrassed and often charged with the tiniest bit of electricity.
That's when Harry realised he was alone, and with a girl.
The owls didn't mind the dark, and every day reports came in. No one but Ron and Hermione, who were currently in London at the Order's headquarters, knew where Harry was and Harry intended to keep it that way.
He didn't want information leaking out, Death Eaters finding him here. Finding Luna.
"During the first war, the sun hid like this as well."
Harry turned away from the clock. "Really?"
"Yes. Or at least, that's what some people said. Some people said it wasn't true. Dad figures they were embarrassed, thought they'd gone insane when it got dark all of a sudden for days and days."
"The sun isn't really hiding," Harry said, "it's just the clouds coming in front of it."
"Maybe the sun told them to do that," Luna said lightly and kept her eyes on the clock.
Harry hated sitting around, waiting as if constantly on the eve of some great battle. He thought about venturing outside, being engulfed by the dark, but Luna's worried face, whenever his eyes would wander over the front door, convinced him to stay put.
Here. With her.
"Who do you miss?" Luna asked, her eyes on the clock.
"No one," Harry replied automatically, but it wasn't true. He missed those who were gone.
"Ron and Hermione?" Luna tilted her head curiously.
Harry shook his head. "No, they're safe. If they weren't, I'd know."
"I don't know," Harry shrugged, looking down at his feet. "I just would."
He didn't see her turn her head away from him. He never really considered that he might have something Luna Lovegood didn't.
One day, watching the clock, gazing through the windows into the prevailing darkness, Luna's hand landed on the back of Harry's. He looked up, surprised.
"Even night creatures get scared of the dark sometimes."
"I see," he said hoarsely, becoming very aware that she was sitting so close to him.
"It's good to have another creature by one's side."
She squeezed his hand, her finger tips touching his sweaty palm, and he nodded in agreement.
The more the days went by, the more light they had inside the house, or so it seemed.
They were more relaxed now. Harry entertained Luna with stories Ron had told him and Luna read Quibbler articles aloud to him. The atmosphere was never light nor extraordinarily cheerful but they felt calm, and with the War being so distant, they even allowed themselves to be happy.
Harry looked at Luna and thought she was beautiful and then told himself it was the increasing light.
Outside, it was still dark as ever.
Another day sliding by, they were preparing supper when a plate fell on the tiles and broke.
Something else broke that night, as well.
They kissed for the first time and Harry's head was yelling things he wanted to let Luna know, explanations, motives, confessions. He gasped single words between kisses, until Luna broke away from him and looked at him, her eyes knowing and less distant as usual.
"I'm not doing this because of this situation or the dark or---"
"No one ever does," she whispered and kissed him again, pressing her smile against his.
He couldn't define whether it was clinging or just wanting to have someone there or whether it was something true that ran deep, some presence that had always been looming somewhere in the background.
Whatever it was, it felt right and good and brought light to the days that were dark and hope to the nights that were darker than the days.
She tiptoed to his room one night and he gazed at her in the light of a single candle.
"It's too dark," she spoke.
"You're afraid of it?" Harry asked, puzzled.
"No, I was just using it as an excuse to sleep by your side tonight," Luna said lightly and took a hesitant step closer.
"Oh." Harry shifted beneath his blanket to make room for her. "Okay."
They lay still for an hour or so, neither falling asleep, Luna's head resting on Harry's chest.
"May I kiss you?" Harry asked awkwardly as he watched the flame of the candle flicker. Luna's head rose off him, and he saw her relaxed smile.
She kissed him. Worlds might've not been turning over but they were spinning as her form slid over his, the blanket kicked off and then, his voice strained as his hands desperately tried to figure out where to place them, he said, "I want to kiss you more."
"As do I," she whispered.
Her eyes were half-open as she straddled him and spun her wand around her head, murmuring a spell that lit up all the candles in the room.
They undressed each other clumsily, but it didn't matter because it was real. It was honest.
Luna sat up, naked and beautiful, her face shadowed from every candle shining behind her back, and she smiled.
"Can you see me now?"
Harry didn't think of Ginny then, before or after or during. Ginny was just a wait-and-see, Ginny was a maybe-some-other-time, an opportunity Harry had willingly let slide. He didn't regret it. He had a feeling he never would.
She slept beside him, but he couldn't sleep. Not even when all the candles were blown out, and the wind was breezing cooly from the opened window.
She had whispered intimate things like,
"If you die, I will try to not shed a tear but every tear I shed I will bottle and pour on the flowers on your grave. If they wilt you'll know I've been crying."
She was Luna. She would say things like that. But she was different in his eyes now. He understood her. Understood the distant gaze in her eyes, and how present it was, really. How present she was.
He didn't want to leave her. He hoped he'd never have to.
When he woke up, Luna was standing in a frog-green bathrobe beside his bed, looking out the window.
"Come see the clouds," she said and Harry got up.
He saw them. The tiniest crack in one of them, a bit of light escaping.
Luna slipped her hand into his.
"To celebrate this, we'll feed the Thestrals dead bunnies for breakfast," she said happily and led Harry downstairs.
He didn't tell her about the pain in his scar. That he knew Voldemort was moving.
As the hours went by, the light increased and soon they could tell it was almost midday. They didn't watch the clock anymore. They didn't need to.
The pain got stronger and by the night, Harry could feel him nearing, step by step. But his pace slowed down and so Harry fell asleep next to Luna, his hand in her hair as she slept tightly close to him.
At the break of dawn he couldn't wait any longer.
She walked with him to the doorstep, still dressed in her nightgown.
"Bye for now." He smiled, wanting to believe it really was just for now.
"See you," Luna said, and stood taller in order to kiss him.
"At least there's light now," he said as he looked at the sun shining through the clouds, lighting the garden he saw properly for the first time.
"It's amazing how little you end up missing it," Luna pondered in a serene voice and Harry almost laughed.
He kissed her one last time and then walked through the garden, some plants hovering over him, mysterious-looking flowers looking as if they were smiling or about to eat him.
He wasn't really leaving, he thought. He would return. Now that there was light.
Light. How little he had missed it.