Disclaimer: None of the characters created by JKR belong to me.
The noise surrounding the changing room was deafening, the cheers and shouts of the crowd causing the walls of the room to tremble and shake. The Gryffindor team adjusted their Quidditch robes and did their best to calm themselves before the game.
Ron Weasley leaned against one of the posts and soaked it all in. He let the sounds wash over him and become part of him, part of his own way of calming himself before the start of the match.
"Come on, Ron, the game's about to start!" Ginny patted her brother on the back.
Ron's eyes flew open. "Where's Harry?" he asked.
"I dunno, maybe he's out on the pitch now." Ginny smiled and left the changing room, but Ron could have sworn he heard his sister mutter, "Snogging Malfoy, more like," on her way out.
Ron shrugged off the negative feelings he had started to build up at those words. He could keep his cool during the match – he was sure of it.
Ron could feel his face heat up as he hovered in front of the middle ring. All vestiges of the calm he had established before the game had disappeared as soon as the game began.
Within ten minutes, the score was fifty to zero, favoring Slytherin, and Ron and the rest of the team showed no sign of improving.
"Robins has the Quaffle, zooming along in a similar fashion as the Belgian Flangerwasp. Remember, always bring Snortwort Repellent with you during the season, as they run rampant – sorry, Professor Flitwick" Luna Lovegood's light voice stopped for a moment, and Ron could see why.
"Bludger nearly got poor Demelza there – she's dropped the Quaffle – Pierce has got it now, look at him go…"
Ron watched the action with shock. Demelza usually was able to fly out of the way of Goyle's violent swings. Things weren't right today…
The Slytherin Chaser was coming his way, and Ron prepared to block…
"Pierce scores, and the score is ockechto to flabinvis, as the tribe of native wizards on the Kraman Islands say in their native language. Ah, Professor, you'd like it in English? If you insist…"
Ron moaned aloud and flew around his hoops half-heartedly. It was going to be a long, miserable game.
"And Malfoy's caught the Snitch, making a Slytherin win: 230 to 20."
Ron let his broom glide its way down to the ground, half-heartedly wishing that Luna could have added some meaningless fact to the depressing one of the game. It went horribly. Malfoy had caught the bloody Snitch, and his legs felt frozen from spending so much time playing a lost game.
Ron grabbed his clothes from the changing rooms and headed straight for the castle. He didn't bother looking for Harry – last time he did that, Ron had found his best friend in a compromising situation with his new boyfriend – and saw more of Draco's scrawny arse than he'd ever wanted to see.
Ron shivered at the memory. What he needed to do was to go into the Prefects' Bathroom and –
"Ron, wait up!" Hermione's shrill voice sounded from behind him. Ron turned around to see a mess of black robes and bushy hair running toward him.
"Yes, 'Mione dear?" Ron said in a sickly-sweet voice.
"Oh, stop it, Ron. I wanted to ask a favor of you."
"What could you possibly want of me?" Ron asked, knowing exactly what she was about to ask for.
"I know you'd rather have a big bath and forget about the game tonight, but maybe you could do my rounds, and I'll take yours on Monday?"
"Another date with Snape?" Ron said, scowling.
"No, Ronald. This is purely an academic venture. Professor Snape and I are going to a Potions research function in Birmingham, and he's the guest of honor." Hermione took a breath and grinned. "Afterwards, he is planning on taking me somewhere special, but that is beside the point!"
"Purely academic my lily-white arse."
"Come on, Ron, please? I don't want to call on a favor from Malfoy, even if he is Harry's boyfriend. Besides, Harry told me today that he and Draco would-"
"If you spare me the details, I'll do it – on my honor as the only seventh year without plans this evening."
"Oh, thanks, you're a sweetheart." Hermione reached up to kiss Ron on the cheek.
"Save that for Snape later." Ron brushed a stray hair back from his friend's face and resumed his path to the castle.
It was rather sad, really. Ron was a war hero, a household name (though often misspelled for some odd reason), and fairly handsome. With all of this on his side, he didn't understand why he was spending the night alone looking for troublesome students. Give him a bad limp and an ugly cat, and he'd be just like Filch.
It's not like girls were the top priority in his mind. They ranked pretty high along with Quidditch and food, but they weren't the most important thing. In fact, Ron had considered his friends and family the most important thing in his life… but his family wasn't in Hogwarts, save for his sister who was probably in a corner with Dean Thomas somewhere, and his friends, who for some reason, were happily snogging Slytherins.
Harry somehow got smitten with Draco Malfoy after a Quidditch practice early on in the year, and Hermione later announced she was engaged to Snape. What a mess that was, something to do with a Time Turner and marriage contracts that made Ron's head spin every time he tried to remember Hermione's explanation. All he did know was that Hermione wasn't poisoned, Imperio'd, or threatened with death, and that her Potions N.E.W.T.s were taken in early November and graded by a Ministry proctor so that her results weren't considered fraudulent. Well, that and she went completely nutters at the mention of Snape's name.
Ron shook off his musings and walked over to a shape in the distance. It was probably a student he'd have to reprimand and take points from.
"Ronald, what brings you here?"
Luna stood next to a window overlooking the Hogwarts grounds. She looked more than pretty, almost ethereal, with the moonlight giving her face a glow and making her long hair seem to be a cascade of spun silver down her back.
Ron coughed, as his throat had suddenly gone dry. He was waxing poetic over Luna Lovegood. Of all girls, she had to be the weirdest. Straightening out his Prefect badge, Ron said, "I'm making my rounds. And you are out after curfew."
He winced after that. Instead of sounding confident and authoritative like he wanted to, he sounded like Percy.
Luna said nothing in reply, smiling at him dreamily and looking out the window.
"Aren't you going to say anything? I could take off house points or assign you a detention."
"In approximately fifteen minutes, the Fluvian Fireflies should be out to mate in the light of the moon."
"The what?" All Ron heard was 'mate,' and it made his face heat up.
Whenever Ron needed Hermione to repeat something for him, she would turn up her nose and speak in an exasperated tone that made Ron feel dim. But Luna seemed pleased at the prospect of a willing listener.
"Fluvian Fireflies. Their wings are sometimes used as an ingredient in love potions, and during a waxing moon, they do this amazing mating ritual. It looks like a small fireworks show."
When Ron furrowed his eyebrows in thought, Luna sighed, a short shrug of breath and sound. "It's okay if you don't believe me."
Ron blinked away his wondering why he didn't already make her go back to her dormitory. He tried to reassure Luna, even though he didn't know why he would try to do that, either.
"It's not that, I'm just thinking." Like she'd believe that. "I've seen some unbelievable things – an underground chamber in this school that wasn't supposed to exist, way too many unregistered Animagi, and souls of people being split apart." Taking a breath, he said, "I just wonder why I've never seen those fireflies before."
Luna beamed and gestured to the window. "You only have to look for them."
They sat on the floor of the corridor after Ron cast a Cushioning Charm over the stone. He had his hands on his crossed legs and his thoughts flying about much more than they usually did. He mostly focused on one thing with a sort of single-minded determination, or what his mother called his stubborn streak, but now he had musings about why he still hadn't made Luna go back to her dorm, how they had been sitting there without speaking for almost ten minutes and he didn't mind, with the way Luna was humming softly to herself, the moonlight bathing them with its soft glow, and Merlin, he could see the curve of Luna's breast through her pale nightgown. Ron looked away.
"I'm sorry you lost the game today." Luna had stopped humming and turned her gaze from the window to Ron.
"Thanks. The season isn't over yet though, as long as we beat Ravenclaw in the next match. No offense."
"None taken. Our team needs to tighten things up on the offence – our Chasers just wander about like Wriggling Mankslors on the pitch."
Ron was about to comment on her sharp observation of the Quidditch season – and ask her what exactly were Niggling Nangspors or whatever she called them – when Luna grabbed his arm and pointed to the window.
"It's starting!" she whispered, pressing her face to the glass and looking in the direction of the Forbidden Forest.
Ron edged up to the window with her and tried to see what she could. His eyes searched the edge of the forest and the darkness within it, trying to catch a glimpse of sparkling light. He could see nothing of what Luna said though, and looked away from the glass.
"Do you see it?" Luna asked, still pressed up against the window.
Ron almost blurted out that he saw nothing at all, but she sounded so excited to be standing in a dark corridor, looking for creatures she believed existed.
He pressed his face to the window as Luna did, his breath steaming up his view outside. He focused on the sight in front of him, looking for the fireflies the way he imagined Harry would look for the Snitch.
He blinked, and out of the corner of his eye he saw a flash of gold.
Thinking he actually saw a Snitch, Ron looked at the gold, which wasn't a Snitch at all. A burst of colors flashed before his eyes, red and blue and green exploding out into the shapes of stars. Almost as soon as the show of light had begun, it ended, the fireflies fading into the treetops of the Forbidden Forest.
"That was brilliant," Ron said, pulling back from the window.
"Best one I've seen," Luna said idly, tracing her finger through the fog her breath left on the window. Something about her voice now didn't sound right, not after the excited way she spoke about the magical creatures she believed were real.
"I saw them, Luna. You were right – you just had to look for them."
Luna's eyes went wide for a moment as she cocked her head to look up at him. "You're looking at me."
"I hope you don't mind if I kiss you now," she went on to say.
Ron couldn't understand Luna's leap of logic and decided he didn't have to. Threading a hand through her hair, Ron touched his lips to hers. She responded with touches to his jaw and a parting of her lips.
And when Ron raised his head to breathe, he saw the fading pairs of mist on the window and Luna's drawing of a heart on the moonlit glass.