Harry glanced for the umpteenth time up at the clock at the front of Snape's room. Barely half way . . . he thought miserably. He had only completed half of his detention time, yet his hand ached more horribly than after any essay homework Professor Binns had yet ever assigned Harry's class.
I must not jinx or hex my fellow students and teachers . . . He wrote yet again. He stole what he had intended to be a quick glance at how much parchment was left to fill. He guessed that at least two meters of his scroll of parchment had already been written on so that absolutely no margins were left on any of it's sides. With a feeling of painful dread he noticed that at least half the parchment remained blank . . . if he continued much longer he was sure his fingers would fall off . . .
"No rests, Potter," he heard Snape call from the front of the desk, his usual sneer of seeing Harry in utter annoyance present. Aparently the sudden ceasement of the scratching of Harry's Quill had called his attention. Harry returned to his lines and seconds later heard the sound of Snape crossing things out. No doubt awarding unjust grades to the many hard-written essays set in front of him. Harry was sure he had done a more decent job than usual on the essay Snape had set them ("Twelve inches on Dementors and the best way to defend against them"), but he new he could have a better essay than Hermione and Snape would at all costs find a way to award him a failing grade.
He was still not quite sure just how he had managed to land himself here, with detention every night for an entire month, but the memory was still very vivid in his mind . . . it had only happened this morning. As he continued to write, his quill scratching furiously so that it seemed it would break at any moment, and the bones of his hand aching for rest, he ransacked the very back of his brain, trying to figure out just what had made him do it. Why had he flipped out so bad and jinxed everyone in sight?
He decided to start at the beginning . . . or close to it . . . He was outside in one of the corridors with Ron and Hermione, heading straight here for Defense Against the Dark Arts. Normal so far . . . he thought to himself as he continued with the memory.
"Brutal, that essay was," commented Ron inspecting his hand as if he had just finished writing. "I don't reckon my fingers have ever cracked so much . . ."
"Well maybe from now on, you'll learn to put your homework ahead of your leisure time," said Hermione reprovingly. "Though I musn't get my hopes up . . ." she added.
"Just how long have you known us, Hermione?" asked Ron, sounding serious. "You know it's impossible for Harry and me."
"Well I think if you used that homework planner I gave you last year you'd be showing quite a bit of improvement."
Harry and Ron glanced sideways at each other. Harry could not be quite sure about Ron, but he had lost his own homework planner ages ago.
Both were saved the awkwardness of a reply when a dreamy voice sounded across the hallway.
"Harry!" The three of them turned around to find themselves face-to-face with none other than Luna Lovegood. She came marching up to them with what looked like dress robes, and on them a neckalace made of butterbeer corks, matching the one across her neck, in her arms. Upon glancing the dress robes in Luna's arms, Harry found himself suddenly fascinated with his own two shoes. "I'm glad I caught you," she continued in her dreamy voice as she approached Harry. He tried desperately to force himself to look up at her, but he did not think he could take Ron's laughing and Hermione's giggling once they heard what Luna was here for. She stretched her arms toward Harry and he slowly managed to raise his head enough to take the robes.
"Thanks," he mumbled, barely audibly. He could feel his face heat up . . .
"Thank you too," she said, and he finally looked up at her, meeting her silvery, protuberant eyes. "It was rather cold that weekend wasn't it? Oh! I also made you a knecklace last night. I hope you like it."
She was smiling and Harry found himself oddly transfixed by it. He tried a couple of times to say something to her, but a knot seemed to have suddenly formed in his throat. He stole a quick glance over to Ron and Hermione, to see if one of them was already containing a laugh and the other a giggle, but their expressions did not seem to be amused at all. In fact, they looked strangely serious and surprised. He looked down at the knecklace, and, feeling relieved that neither Ron or Hermione were in some kind of fit, picked it up in his hand and studied it curiously. A knecklace of butterbeer corks . . . it had always seemed odd to Harry . . . but then again, this was Luna he was thinking about. Thinking about Luna? he found himself thinking, suddenly with a bit of panic. It doesn't mean anything . . . I'm just wondering about her. Yeah, that's good . . . After all, who would find it hard not to wonder about Luna Lovegood? The girl that wore radishes for earrings, and believed in such strange things as Crumple-Horned Snorkaks?
Harry looked at up at her, meeting her eyes again. She looked so pretty with that dreamy expression . . . What? he asked himself.
"Harry, are you all right?" asked Ron, who seemed to bring him out of a daze.
Y--yeah, I'm fine," quickly replied Harry. "Thanks Luna, it's great," he said turning back to her. He quickly thought to add a smile to this, and was caught off guard when he realized he already was.
She beamed at him.
"Try it on," she said.
"I--what?" he asked. He struggled for about a second with the descision of whether to argue to this or not, but he decied with the latter. Feeling increasingly hotter in the face he gave the robes to Ron to hold while he pulled the knecklace around his neck. Several passing students slowed to point and look at him, all the while whispering behind their hands to their friends. Harry felt his face about to boil . . .
Once he was done he looked directly at Luna, not wanting to look anywhere else. Her bright expression seemed to calm him down, while at the same time giving him the sensation that his legs were about to buckle. "Looks lovely," said Luna still beaming. "Well, see you later, Harry." And she turned on her heel and marched off. Harry could not help but notice the way in which she walked . . . perfectly straight, while sill managing to move everything about her in some way . . .
It was not until they were outside Snape's room that the subject was brought up. But it hadn't been Ron or Hermione who mentioned it.
"Got a present from your girlfriend, have you, Potter?" Harry recognized that sneering voice before he had even turned around. Draco Malfoy and his usual gang of Slytherins were standing just a few feet away. Pansy Parkinson seemed to be forcing herself to contain what Harry was sure were giggles. "Odd taste you've got, Potter. Hanging around with Loony Lovegood. Couldn't find someone decent, could you?" The gang of Slytherins around him boomed with laughter and Parkinson was unable to contain he giggles any longer.
"Shut up, Malfoy," said Harry in a more threatning voice than he had intended.
"Oooh," went several of the Slytherins.
"Ready to defend your Loony girlfriend, are you?"
"If you don't stop calling her that, Malfoy--" began Harry, but at that moment Snape emerged from his room, looking as ever like a giant bat.
"In," he uttered, and everyone immediately entered.
Harry, Ron and Hermione took seats at the back of the class.
"So?" said Hermione.
"So what? replied Harry.
"Come off it, mate," Ron said, and to Harry's slight horror, the sides of his mouth twitched. "What was that with you and Luna? And these?" he added prodding the robes still in Harry's arms.
"It's nothing . . ."
"It didn't sound like 'nothing', Harry," said Hermione who was utterly smiling.
Harry looked from her to Ron and back again. Finally he gave in.
"All right . . . look . . . remember last weekend? When we went into Hogsmead? I told you I'd forgotten to finish my essay. Which was true--" he quickly added when the pair of them exchanged eager glances. "And I was going back to the castle when I ran into Luna . . ." Harry felt a powerful jab of emotion surge through him. "Well . . . she was walking down the street, all by herself . . . and . . . well I thought I'd go and say hi . . . and then we got to talking a bit and I sort of forgot I had homework up at the castle . . . Well we started walking around, going in and out of stores. After a while we went to the Three Broomsticks--you'd already left--and we stayed there drinking, laughing and talking. We lost track of time and it was already dark outside by the time we'd realized how late it was. Well, it was cold outside . . . so I . . . I took off the extra robes I'd brought with me and I . . . I put them around her . . ."
"Oh, Harry! That's so cute!" she said loudly. Harry gave her a wide-eyed look and she lowered her voice to a whisper at once. Several students around had turned their heads. "Sorry . . . But, Harry, that was so nice of you! You spent your day with Luna! That's wonderful!"
"I'll say," said Ron, looking as though he was rearing himself to laugh and giving the knecklace around Harry's neck an amused look. Harry pushed the knecklace lower.
The bell rang and when Snape entered the room everyone fell silent at once.
"Take out your books and turn to page one hundred and seventy-eight. I will now"-- he waved his wand across the air--"be collecting the essays I set you." Dozens of rolls of parchment zoomed from the students' bags and formed a neat stack on Snape's desk. "Hopefully this time you managed to write something decent, and not the usual waste of time." He looked around the room, and his eyes, as always, lingered slightly longer on Harry. "Now, on this chapter, we will be--" but he was interrupted as there was a knock on the door. His lip curling, obviously wondering what could be so important he must be interrupted mid-class, Snape crossed his room to the door and opened it. "What are you doing out of class? I'm teaching," he said in a voice of forced calm.
"I'm here to give Harry a message."
Immediately, Harry spun his head around to look at who was outside. It hadn't really been the mention of his name that had called his attention, but the owner's voice. There was no mistaking that dreamy tone . . .
Shaking slightly, no doubt with anger, Snape stepped back from the door and allowed entrance to Luna Lovegood. Once again, Harry felt his face grow hot . . .
She crossed the room, effortlessly ignoring the sudden wave of whispers, and handed Harry a folded note as soon as she had reached him. Harry took it without question and watched as she turned on her heel and walked back across the room. He was about to unfold the note to read when something happened that roused a sudden, uncontrollable anger within him . . .
Malfoy stuck out his foot beside his desk and Harry watched in horror as Luna, having not expected this, tripped on it and landed hard on the stone floor.
The effect was immediate. The room roared with laughter and heavy giggling, courtesy of Pancy Parkinson. Even Snape, a teacher though he was, sneered heavily. The laughter was suddenly the most irritating and enraging thing Harry had ever experienced . . . In a single moment, without realizing it, without even thinking about it, he was already on his feet, wand at hand, watching Luna's body lay on the ground, completely devoid of motion. Obviously she had been knocked out.
"Harry! No!" called Hermione, looking horrified, and Ron, at her side, silent, but looking aghast.
"Evanesco!" cried out Harry. Malfoy's seat vanished from under him and he fell to the floor. The laughter ceased immediately. "Expelliarmus!" he called next, this time aiming at Snape, who was not quick enough to draw his wand and was blasted behind his desk, from which he did not get up again. One of the Slytherins drew out his own wand and fired a jinx at Harry. "Protego!" Harry's shield was so powerful that the jinx did not only rebound on the attacker, but also struck out several others. In seconds, those who were hit developed increasingly growing noses.
A few more spells later, and Harry, Ron, Hermione, two other Gryffindors and five Hufflepuffs were the only ones not on the ground, groaning from being hit. Everyone was starring wildly at Harry. Ron had an almost admiring expression on his face, which he quickly turned to surprise when Hermione caught his eye. Dust was fluttering on the air and Harry was breathing heavily. His eyes fell on Luna who had still not awoken and he rushed to her side. He put his wand back in his pocket and turned her over. She had a nasty cut on her forehead, which was bleeding. He stroked away a few strands of hair that were across her face and with almost no effort, he picked her up into his arms. He exchanged glances with Ron and Hermione for a second or two, then walked straight out of the room headed toward the Hospital wing.
And 15 minutes later, McGonagall and Snape came in and assigned me detention for a month, thought Harry savagely, as he was brought back to the present, having finished his recollection. He still did not know what had caused it . . . Why did he go so berserk? Obviously it was because he had been angry that Luna was treated in such a horrible way, how almost everyone in that room had laughed at her . . . But that did not entirely explain the abnormally high level of anger he had experienced . . . Luna deserves better . . . he thought to himself. She's so innocent . . . so free . . . how could anyone treat her badly?
"That will be enough for today," said Snape so suddenly that Harry jumped in his seat. He looked at the clock. He had overpassed his detention time by three minutes. He looked at his parchment. Every visible bit of it had been written on . . . aparently, it seemed, in increasingly smaller writing. He hadn't even noticed having written so much . . . "Unless of course," continued Snape, "you wish to continue?"
Harry immediately rolled up his parchment, placed it on Snape's desk, put away his quill, swung his bag over his shoulder, and exited the classroom. It was already past midnight, and he did not want to be caught outside his dormitory by Filch. So without any further ado, he started walking down the hallway to his common room. But he had barely taken three steps, when from behind him, he heard an unmistakable dreamy voice.
"Harry," it called after him, and as he turned, Luna Lovegood had walked up to him. She had a serene look on her face, her second most usual look. Harry's eyes traveled from her own, up to her forehead. She had a bandage wrapped around it. Harry wondered whether Madam Pomfrey had decided on this because the cut was not severe enough to use magic on.
"Hi, Luna," said Harry, nearly breathless. He felt a tickling sensation in his stomach and his face begin to grow warm again.
But Luna did not reply back at once. She grabbed Harry by the arm (his legs felt oddly weak), and led him down the hallway, where they turned left. Halfway down this new hallway, she dragged him behind a tapestry, into a hidden passage that Harry had not been down before. He was feeling increasingly nervous. Why had she brought him all the way here? To where they were alone and unnoticed . . .
As if reading his mind, she said, "So Filch doesn't find us," and she smiled at him so that he felt his insides squirm. "Listen," she continued before he could say anything, "Professor McGonagall told me what happened . . . in Professor Snape's room . . ."
Harry froze. Was she angry? But when she smiled at him, he calmed down, unable to look away from her eyes. She did not immediately continue what she was going to say, but it didn't seem like she was hesitating either. Harry simply continued to look into her misty eyes. He saw her eyes travel down to somewhere in his neck. He looked down too and saw the knecklace she had given him. Almost subcontiously, he reached for it and pulled it out more, so that it was perfectly visible over his robes.
"You kept it," she said dreamily.
"Of course," he said grinning. "You gave it to me."
Luna beamed at him.
"It was very nice, what you did." Harry's stomach did a backflip. "I'm sorry about all the detentions you got, though."
"I don't mind them," said Harry truthfully. Who cared about a month's worth of detentions? Luna seemed to be happy enough. Instinctively, he grabbed her hand in both of his, all the while looking into her eyes. "Luna . . ." She looked at him with a tilted head. How can anyone think to hurt her? And for the second time that day, without really thinking, he moved his head closer to hers . . . She did not move away . . .
Whether they were together several seconds, minutes, or many hours, Harry didn't know, nor did he care. He felt a powerful surge of happyness throughout his body as he broke the kiss, and carried Luna Lovegood all the way to her common room.