Disclaimer: No resemblance to JK Rowling, or any other author living or dead is purely coincidental. That said, I am not them.

Dedication: for Lori. ♥


- but slowly -


The thing to know about Harry was that he was a bit slow, as such things went. He had to be encouraged much like an Indian night-blooming violet, but perhaps that could wait a while yet. Besides, Luna had some ideas about things to investigate here... maybe soon, then.

It was a lazy, bright June afternoon, and Harry was rubbing her back rather nicely. He was also saying something; she wasn't sure. She didn't know when this started, exactly, but she didn't mind if it continued for a bit.

Her mind drifted, and she watched the tiny fish darting beneath the sparkling surface of the lake with some fascination.

"Will you tell me something?" she said absently, picking at a reed. Oooh, there was a jellyfish not far off. Luna thought she'd read something about the jelly being good for growing fins on one's ankles... but she couldn't be sure.

"Hmm? Oh, sure. What is it?" Harry sounded distracted, but that was understandable. It was very warm out. That was the one drawback to moonlight, really; it wasn't quite warm enough.

A few of them were bright yellow, and several had hints of orange.

"How do you feel about the crimson Wish Fish? I think I might see one, but they should only grant wishes on Sundays."

Luna was waiting patiently for the crimson one to show up (the one that granted wishes), but she knew she was going to have a long wait.

"Um..." Harry's fingers squeezed a bit hard, but it wasn't unpleasant. "Do you want to go?"

Luna's toes felt rather pleasant in the cool water, and the fish were nicely ticklish.

"Where should we go, then?" Luna said, smiling to herself. Harry's hands paused slightly, and Luna inclined her neck to encourage him. Perhaps she should take off her shirt to make things more comfortable?

"Er-- I-- that is-- um--" Luna smiled wider, covering her mouth as if she yawned. "As long as it's not Madam Puddifoot's," Harry muttered sullenly. "I'm never going there again if I can help it."

She didn't question that assertion, though Luna did like tea. Especially the kind that gave one interesting dreams.

"You can pull down my shirt a bit more," she said, rolling her right shoulder considerately. "While you decide."

Harry made a curious choking noise, but his fingers skidded across Luna's bra-strap almost immediately, tugging awkwardly at her necklace. Almost every time Harry touched her (tentatively, as if he wasn't quite sure he ought to), he pulled something, whether it was her hair or her necklace or her earrings or her bra. It let her know he was there, she thought.

His palm was warm and still on her bare shoulder, and Luna shivered a bit. She wasn't quite sure where the magic fish went; they all looked rather similar for a disconcerting, poised moment.

The lack of movement reminded her: Harry wasn't rubbing her back.

"When someone isn't moving, don't you think they're being really slow?" she said.

"Maybe it's just that everyone else is going too fast," Harry said unexpectedly. "So fast they're just a blur, and then they're gone."

Harry was breathing next to her, making the tiny hairs of Luna's neck stand up. "Yes," she said slowly. "Some people can never slow down, so their whirring bits get rusty and--"

"Luna, don't, just--"

She stopped.

Harry's fingernails were hurting her, and Luna pulled back her feet out of the water, tucking her legs beneath her. Harry held on. What was she saying again? Harry made her forget.

"The afternoon is best for going somewhere new, I think. Don't you think. Harry?"

"Yeah." Luna frowned; the sun was making the edges of the clouds glow faintly, but the light was dimming. Harry moved away, shuffling beach stones with the scuffled toe of his shoe.

"Slowly," she said, peering underneath the water for her shoes. They would be shining crimson there, to attract the Wish Fish, but she couldn't see them. "I like walking barefoot anyway, and... and I've never been to Zonko's. Can you believe it?"

"I can't believe it," Harry said, walking around to look for her sparkling sandals.

He probably thought she wasn't looking, but Luna saw him roll his eyes at her. After a moment, he drew his wand rather casually (though Luna felt particularly alert whenever his hand moved with confidence) and transfigured a washed-up log into a pair of simple wooden shoes.

Harry flushed, rubbing the back of his neck awkwardly, but Luna laughed before Harry could say anything. After a moment, Harry laughed too, as Luna thought vaguely that wooden shoes could have their advantages. She would have a good time making them bright red tonight. They would also make good hat accessories.

"You do want to go on a--" Luna blushed a bit. This was really not her... field. "Walk?"

"Date?" Harry smirked.

She looked off into the distance. The clouds looked like clowns; all of them. It was a good sign, maybe. "Possibly yes."

"I don't need to go, Luna. I'm already there."

Sometimes slow was just the right speed, Luna thought.