Title: "Words about Heat and Light"

Summary: Luna Lovegood does things her own way. Hermione Granger likes to do them the way they should be done. And life doesn't account for either of them. slash

Disclaimer: You know the usual, this isn't mine. I might have even stolen this part from somebody else. And I've got my own handcuffs, thanks.

Chapter One: The Fawn and the Lamb

The night always seemed more genuine to her. Colors were dark and richer. Sounds were clean and louder. Luna even imagined that she could almost feel the magic pulsing through the corridors of Hogwarts sometimes at night.

Days could pass by, varnished over by the mindless drone of timetable studying and scheduled learning, and she didn't always notice the weeks passing, but the nights were real enough.

Hours of sunlight bled all over the place. Daytime was a messy, fussy thing. People rushing, running all around, frantically talking. Her head ached from all the people talking too fast. Luna missed jumbled words, sentences, conversions from people who vied to save what daylight they could; they'd start, and stop, and wander off before her eyes found their face.

Or she'd wake up from wherever the hazy daylight had taken her, to fingers snapping in front of her. She wanted to tell them that no matter how fast they talked, read, walked, thought, nobody could save the day from ending, just like she couldn't stop the sun from rising. Sometimes at night, she'd wander too much, and would loose the hours.

She'd rise from the dungeons or wherever else she'd been wandering to find the dawn stealing its way through the windows of the castle. Then she had no choice but to find her retreat back up to the tower and get ready for the day.

The day would pass. Somewhere, somehow meals and classes were attended, notes were written, books were studied. Then in an awake moment she'd find dinner to over, and it'd be time to go back up to the common room or library to candle lights that would appear all over the castle.

More notes were created, new books were read, essays were written, and then finally people would start trickling off to bed. Then as the night's silence would build, Luna could shove her books and papers and ink and the day aside, and wander out into Hogwarts corridors to see what she could find.

Luna counted doors as she ambled down the passageway. The castle walls seemed closer here in the higher parts of the castle. She still wasn't all that far down from the common room, but there didn't seem to be that many students out, maybe it wasn't all that late yet.

Sometimes when she wasn't careful, when she lost track of where she was or how soon she had come there, she'd stumble across pairs of snogging students, wildly spending the heat they had salvaged from the day.

Usually she'd notice them first, and would creep around them and continue on, but sometimes they'd wake up still fevered from each other before she noticed, and someone would smirk a comment at her; often one she couldn't quite understand. And then she would rush back to the fresh, still dark.

A little beyond the library, up one floor, and just pass the door with the painting of a fawn and a lamb, there was a corridor that led past a small alcove partially hidden behind a tapestry. Luna was going there tonight, as she had last night, and several nights before that.

She had a project of sorts in the works in that alcove. And even when that project didn't beckon to her the calm, if dank, coolness of darkness and stone made sense in a way that the heat and light of day couldn't. She could retreat here, when she found surprises elsewhere.

XxXx

The alcove had a certain smell about it. Dusty and dormant, there was safety in what was already forgotten.

Not even the Hogwarts elves bothered themselves with the cleaning in here anymore. The tapestry served its purposes. It hid the alcove of course, but it also buffered against the noise of the outside. And it kept the day out too, trapped the light in its subjects, and redirected the eye towards its games.

She had thought about using the Room of Requirement. She could wish for that. She could wish for a dark forest, one so deep the daylight never hit the forest floor. But the forest made her dream, in a way where she couldn't get any work done. She had been left wanting of a place like the alcove during all the hours while she waited for night to come, and during for her first two years in school. Before the night had finally led her here.

There were no trees here, but the light and the dreams stayed out anyway. The light didn't even bother to find its way through the dirty little window much during the day either. But she could make the move; she could take her project and run.

The alcove could go back to being forgotten, and maybe it wouldn't even mind, it must have been left forgotten for so long before she chanced across it while looking for a place to spend her dark hours in. From behind the tapestry, she looked out towards the corridor.

Of course, anyone who came by the fifth floor on their way to Gryffindor Tower could chance by this little alcove with its dingy little window, and if she was working when they did that, when they remembered this alcove existed... If somebody saw what she was doing, well, the other children already looked at her oddly. Perhaps they wouldn't even think much of this.

She could always move the project to some place safer and go back to bringing her schoolwork here. Or go back a little farther than that, into the days she spent sleeping here, curled up against the corner. But the professors seemed to prefer her in class during the day, so as lovely as that sounded, it wouldn't do.

But at least so far, nobody else came to this alcove. It was only slightly hidden behind its odd sort of tapestry depicting funny little boys and funny little dogs (though they could be poorly depicted digturls, Luna wasn't sure). Obviously the boys were befuddled by wrackspurts, no other reason to run around like that during the day. Children were more susceptible than adults.

To both, the wrackspurts, digturls, and the twisted high of daylight. Why just yesterday she saw three Ravenclaws, four Slytherins, two Gryffindors, and fourteen Hufflepuffs all muddled up by wrackspurts, running around like small dogs by the lake, or at least they kind of looked like small dogs from the little window on the fifth floor. At least they weren't crying like the boys in the tapestry though.

The boys in the tapestry reminded her of that nursery tale about the naughty boys who were so bad their nursemaid cursed them into a tapestry, leaving them to play their rowdy games without stop until the tapestry crumbled. It was always daylight in the tapestry; she only looked at it sideways. At least the wrong side of the tapestry was dark.

She had once asked her mother how long tapestries lasted, and all she got was a hollow sort of look and her answer, a long time. She hated tapestries.

But she liked this alcove. It had saved her from the older Ravenclaws who had wanted to take her necklace. They liked to take her things. She had offered once to make them their own butterbeer cork necklaces, but they had just kind of laughed in a way that hadn't felt quite good.

They were silly like that sometimes, even when she was pretty sure they weren't befuddled by wrackspurts.

She really could move her project out of this alcove. Perhaps she even should. She could work on it in the Room of Requirement. But she always circled back to how she liked this alcove. Often when she was wandering about the castle, at night too, but more often during the day, her feet would bring her back here.

It was always good company, in a way that familiar spaces often are. Before her project, she would sometimes borrow library books to sneak up here when the light of day was too direct or too bright, so she could do her homework without distraction.

Madam Pince started suspecting her though. So Luna could no longer really borrow as many reference books to bring up here as she used to. It was too bad really.

Especially since most of the books she needed for the project were not really supposed to leave the library (even though they weren't really going far, just up this one floor, to this little alcove.

The books didn't even really notice, she was sure.), but she and the books still sometimes managed to find their way together up here. But she sometimes did her homework in the library.

Sometimes strange things happened in the library. For instance one evening, maybe a day or maybe a week ago, Hermione Granger and her got into an odd sort of argument.

It started out normally enough. Hermione had a rigickrop in her eye, and Luna was only trying to help. But Hermione liked to use words like lasers more than she liked to cry, and her tongue could do such sharp things when it's spitting words out at Luna.

Hermione's words smacked quickly against her, shoving her, leaving her feeling like she was being pushed farther and farther away.

Do words warp and bend the way light will? They can muffle and sting and strangle like light does. But between Hermione and Luna, that wasn't unusual.

Hermione likes to talk more than she will listen, and she uses words that shove spaces and distances between people.

And Luna had just crept forward a bit, to bend herself around and under the words that were shoving against her like heat, to just try to help, when Hermione attacked her in a new different way.

Suddenly there was much, much more heat. Usually heat found Luna like another form of light, but this time it was coming from so close, and it was entrapping, engulfing her within and around Hermione.

Before that tongue could slash hot streaks up and across, like a cold slap to the face that burns after a minute. But this close, her tongue, that heat was sweet. As she wrapped her arms around Hermione's neck to pull them a little closer to that heat, Luna could see why those trysting students would try so hard to bring such heat with them into the night.

Hermione wrenched away and fled as abruptly as she started, leaving Luna in the library. Luna too soon got up and left, but she did not follow Hermione past the fifth floor, though she thought that heat could be nice to have again.

Instead she ducked into the alcove and tried to continue on with her work, as she would have before. Indeed, tonight she had come back to the alcove to continue again. But even now, she was still stuck inside that heat. Hot lips against her own, and whatever it was that Hermione did with her tongue against hers. That sear left its impression across her lips, her tongue, her thoughts.

XxXx

Hermione never did anything without careful and complete consideration first. She was not Ron to be going around doing that kind of stuff all the time. So to go from talking, to berating, to, well, not talking so suddenly, that was not like her.

This was not a good way to start off the fall term with, it just wasn't. The impulse had hit her in that way that her emotions always got riled up around Luna, she felt that same exhilarating rush, that same urge to control what effect that girl had on her, all the while scolding herself for the heat that always rose to her cheeks.

But she always overcame such impulses before, she never acted irrationally; she always used logic. She thought through her actions before she took them. If she was confused, she made lists. She had made a list about this before, last year.

The cons had taken two or three pages. There hadn't even been any pros until two nights ago when she had added one in an angry fit of honesty. But she didn't do these things. She didn't get herself into these situations. And now, she didn't know what to do.

The words had just poured out of her, censoring the madness that radiated in pulses around that girl, Hermione would cut through with what words and proof she could. With reason. Quick and fast, calm but heated, rational yet still fevered; she'd fix the strange, unbalanced ideas that Luna would crash into the air in her ridiculous sort of way.

That's how she dealt with Luna Lovegood. She certainly did not kiss a girl in the middle of an argument, and then run off like a ninny. She especially did not, ever do anything like a ninny.

But then until two evenings ago, she also didn't kiss Ravenclaws in public. And up until then she certainly would never snog Luna in middle of a hissed (and yes teary) argument in the very back of a semi-deserted library. Hermione sank down onto the floor by her bed and winced. It was just not done.

But then one second Hermione was trying to convince Luna that she did not have (of all silly things) a rigickrop attacking her eye, and the next… well she wasn't sure what she was trying to convince Luna of then. It had all started out with was an eyelash.

A simple discarded eyelash that had gotten into her eye. A simple explanation for a tearing eye, no outlandish ones needed.

But of course simple, reasonable explanations do not travel far with Luna. For just as Hermione was patiently explaining that and searching for her handkerchief, Luna got that slighted, contrite look of hers on her face (the one that made her look even a little more unfocused than usual).

Because one second Hermione was talking and rubbing at her stupid eye that was still tearing, and the next second Luna was really close to her.

And with that quiet pout, she was still talking about how one has to kill rigickrops in some silly sort of way, and then Hermione was thinking about how she much she wanted to throttle that girl, and damn it, her eye was still tearing.

And then her face was too warm, and Luna was much too close still talking about rigickrops and heat of all things and… And then Hermione kissed her.

Hermione shoved her hot face into her hands; she hadn't seen Luna since. That girl probably thought she was crazy.

Lavender Brown and Parvati Patil came into the dormitory. Lavender wasn't quite over her and Ron's break up, and as usual upon seeing Hermione went straight to her bed, and grabbed her cloak left again, telling Parvati to hurry up on her way out.

Parvati also grabbed her cloak out of her trunk, but paused slightly at the door to quietly tell Hermione that Ron was yelling up the staircase for her, and wouldn't she go down and get him to shut it already? Hermione glanced at the door, she hadn't even heard him.

She went into the bathroom, splashed cold water on her face, then also hurried down; maybe he and Harry had found something important.

XxXx

Luna ducked quickly through the night's chill and around the dappled bushy branches, and went farther along the twisting path heading deeper into the forest. She thought that she had originally found it about here.

She looked up towards the trunk of what could have been an old, creaky oak tree, but she wasn't really good at names, but it still looked like the same tree from two years ago. It was just as big, and it loomed just to the right of where the path forked; one to go both back to the castle and another that bended around some other low trees before dipping out of view.

Luna clutched her damp cloak tighter around herself and turned into the wind. She hadn't wanted to come back here, but had run out of other options.

She had originally been standing over there near that path-fork looking up into the chilly darkness of the top branches of that large tree, when she had first seen that little gleam out of the corner of her eye. A small sort of white pebble was almost glowing out from under one of the bushes off to the other side of the path.

At first she had thought the light leaking through the heavy cover above might have simply be reflecting off a smooth surface and jumping into the back of her eye… But it was night, and with the wind and clouds, the moonlight wasn't all that strong. So she had crept closer, and it was then that she found the pebble.

The same pebble that two years later, resided at times under her pillow, in her robes' pockets, or safely hidden in the alcove where she worked upon it or one of the others that she had found by the lake.

But none of the others hummed, and none of them stayed cold to the touch either. And while all of the other pebbles were about the same grayish color and general shape, none of them glowed when she looked at them from the corner of a glance.

So far she had tried some different spells and hexes, and even clear nail polish once, but now she had a different idea. She headed over to where she had first picked up that little pebble, in a winter detention spent trailing after some professor and trying to stay both warm and awake, because she had thought the pebble to be pretty. Pretty enough to keep.

And now she was back, with more pebbles, and she let them slide off her hand into the bush. They fell haphazardly, glancing off what twigs and branches that were there, before settling into the dead leaves below.

Luna would come back for them later. She wanted them to give off that same strange, cold glow and hum. Maybe they would absorb here what she couldn't teach them back in the castle. She looked down at the ground; the cold was seeping through her boots, freezing her blood from the inside out. She really should have cast a warming charm. Chilled, she went slowly back to castle, the whispers and dreams on the wind left behind her.

XxXx