Disclaimer: I'm not JK Rowling; therefore these characters are not mine. Of course, you'll see them doing things they definitely didn't do in her novels, so… well, those ideas are mine!
Chapter 28: Be My Valentine
A/N: Special thanks to HJN, who offered me "50 sugar quills and a sexy date with Remus at midnight in the astronomy tower," to Broadwaybaby529 for the Rainbow sprinkle cookies, and to Uathann for the plush Severus, Remus and Sirius.
More special thanks to Felena1971 and Bmdohmen for being my unofficial beta readers. Felena1971 was a crucial part of getting this thing finished: she is a creative genius, and I've really come to rely on her.
Thanks also to MoonNightLover for astutely observing that I'd omitted something from Chapter 26 (Remus being very relieved that the potion worked and that Hermione is alive & well). I did go back and add a few sentences to address that oversight, and the chapter is better for it.
What would I do without you all? (shudders in horror at the thought)
And now…. The Final Chapter!
"Going in to Hogsmeade tomorrow, Granger?"
Fred and George had been wreaking havoc in the common room Friday night, demonstrating more of their Wizarding Wheezes to great applause and laughter from the younger students. Fifth years, however, were swamped with OWL preparations, and the seventh years were revising for NEWTS, so Hermione felt compelled to bring the noise level down a notch. She was a Prefect, after all, and it was her job to help maintain order. She sighed deeply, put down her partially finished Potions essay, and stood, smoothing her school shirt over her hips and squaring her shoulders. Ron, ever so helpful, ducked behind a Charms textbook and pretended not to exist. She scowled as she approached the rowdy knot of Gryffindors. As soon as they spotted her, the underclassmen scattered, and she was left with Fred and George. They turned so that she had to cross around them in order to address them face to face, and she was about to start telling them about the noise-level problem, when Fred asked about her plans for the Hogsmeade weekend.
"Come on, admit it, Granger," added George. "Aren't you getting a little bored with what Hogsmeade has to offer? I'm sure the three of us could think of something far more interesting to do."
"Yes, little Ronniekins will be busy with Quidditch practice all day," noted Fred.
"And Baby Sister as well," said George.
"And Harry will be busy with Cho Chang, that dog – who knew he had it in him?" Fred gestured over his shoulder to Harry. They all turned and looked. The poor boy was pale and sweaty, as if he'd been testing the Puking Pastilles. "Well, maybe he doesn't have it in him," sighed Fred. "He might need more of our tutelage before tomorrow morning."
"But back to you, love," said George, with a hungry look in his eyes, and Hermione suddenly realized that by forcing her to walk around them earlier, they had backed her up against the wall. "We can't bear the thought of you being lonely without your usual partners in crime."
"Maybe you could use some new partners," suggested Fred. "And some new crimes, perhaps, as well. I'm pretty sure we could come up with something illegal to try. Or at the very least, immoral."
"Another generous offer, boys. But as it so happens, Harry is not the only one with a date tomorrow."
"Oi, Granger! Do tell! Are you and Lovegood hitting the town together?"
"Yes, Fred, we are," she blushed.
"You know you won't be able to finish what you started in the greenhouse if you are strolling around Hogsmeade with the masses," said George with a wink. "If I might make a suggestion…"
"It's okay, George. I have it on good authority that the dorms are usually pretty deserted on Hogsmeade weekends, should Luna and I need more privacy. We have some business in the village for part of the day, but if we finish early… And if the situation calls for it…" She was blushing furiously, now.
"Excellent plan, then," nodded Fred, approvingly. "Who gave you that information, Granger? I like the way she thinks! Might have to pay her a call sometime, if you're busy with Lovegood anyway."
Hermione laughed. "I cannot reveal my sources, boys. Now let me go finish my essay so I will be free tomorrow to make the most of my date, will you?"
"Spoilsport," muttered George, but they parted, and let her pass between them.
The next morning, the weather was cool, and the fresh scent of rain was carried on the breeze. To Hermione's mind, it was perfect. Everything was perfect, in fact. Just that morning, a post owl had brought Rita Skeeter's reply: she had agreed to meet Hermione for lunch at the Three Broomsticks. Harry had agreed to meet her there as well, so everything was set. Until noon, Hermione had Luna all to herself.
Well, almost. Colin Creevey had queued up with the girls as they waited for Filch to sign them out. "Did you know that cloudy days like today are excellent for outdoor photography?" He gestured to the camera hanging, as always, around his neck. "The diffuse light is more even, so you get softer contrasts and great detail."
"That's great Colin," said Luna. "I hope you have a lovely time taking pictures today. Do you like to photograph flowers? Birds?"
"Actually," he said in an innocent voice, but with a leer at Hermione, "I most enjoy portraiture. Would either of you girls be interested in posing for me, maybe sitting on those big rocks just outside the village? Or – I know – even better! – Why not both of you together?"
Luna looked interested, and had just opened her mouth to speak when Hermione grabbed her by the elbow and gave her a meaningful look. "No thanks, Colin," said Hermione firmly, "Luna and I have some plans today. But do enjoy yourself."
"Oi, Creevey," came Fred's voice. Colin, Luna, and Hermione turned around to find the twins standing behind them, both looking quite amused.
"Y- yes?" Colin stuttered, apparently unnerved at being addressed by the pair of tall sixth-years.
"Why don't you come with us for a bit, Colin," suggested George, kindly. "We're going to Zonko's Joke Shop and then to Honeydukes. You like candy, Colin?"
"You bet I do!" Now that it appeared the twins weren't going to try out a Weasley's Wizarding Wheezes product on him, he seemed eager to rub elbows with the upperclassmen.
Hermione mouthed a silent "Thank you!" to the twins, who winked at her in return.
"What sweet boys they are," sighed Luna.
Hermione and Luna strolled toward Hogsmeade, taking their time. Soon they were at the back of the pack of students, as most were eagerly trotting up the path, excited about their destination. Luna took Hermione's hand, and Hermione marveled at how small and soft Luna's hand was in her own.
"Where would you like to go first, Luna?" asked Hermione. "Scrivenshaft's? Honeydukes?"
"It doesn't really matter to me, Hermione. Wherever you want to go is fine. Or we could just walk."
"Walking sounds brilliant," she agreed, "unless it starts to rain."
"So how was your visit with your family? How is your grandfather faring?"
A pang shot through Hermione. She felt awful lying to all of her friends in the first place, and now she would have to compound the lie. She stopped walking, and looked into Luna's large, trusting eyes. With a deep breath, she prepared to spin a tale of hospitals, orderlies, and medicinal smells… but then blew out the breath and looked at her shoes instead. She couldn't do it.
"Luna, my grandfather is fine," she finally said.
"You must be so relieved! I'm sure your visit helped him feel stronger."
Ouch. Why did Luna have to be so magnanimous? Hermione felt even worse.
"My grandfather was never ill," she said softly, squeezing Luna's hand. "I'm sorry I said he was. It's kind of a long story, and I won't be able to tell you everything, but… I can't stand lying to you, Luna. Can we find a private place to sit and talk?"
Luna's eyes widened even further than usual at Hermione's admission, but she nodded. Hermione led her into the village and down a side street, and then into the foothills of the surrounding mountains. They found a soft hillside, protected from the breeze by a large outcropping of rock, against which they leaned their backs. The wind through the fir trees made a gentle shushing sound that helped to soothe Hermione's nerves.
"Luna, I didn't go see my grandfather, or any of my family. My grandfather was not ill. Dumbledore created that story as a cover for me." Hermione searched Luna's eyes. "Please don't be angry; I didn't want to tell you a lie, but I can't tell you the truth, either."
The silvery eyes communicated only concern, not anger. "Are you in some kind of trouble, Hermione?"
"No, no. I'm not in trouble." Relief and gratitude broke over Hermione's features. "But I do need to be careful, and there are some things I just can't talk about. I… I want to tell you what I can, but there will need to be some gaps in the story. Can you accept that?"
"Of course, Hermione. All the best stories have gaps in them."
Hermione sighed heavily. "I'm not even sure where to begin!"
"At the beginning, of course," Luna answered.
"Right," chuckled Hermione. But she quickly became more serious, now taking both of Luna's hands in her own. "We are not Dumbledore's only army, Luna. He has a secret society that is organizing forces against Voldemort. It is imperative that it remain a secret, for the safety of everyone involved. I can't tell you the names of anyone in it."
"Are you in this secret society, Hermione? You're still a student!"
"No one can join until they are of age. So, no, I'm not a member. Harry's not, either, but he's been an important source of information for them because he's the one who saw Voldemort return. I've been able to support this group in small ways, because of my friendship with Harry."
"That must be very rewarding for you, Hermione. I know you want to do all you can in the fight."
Hermione remembered the long hours spent cleaning up the Headquarters of the Order of the Phoenix. Rewarding? Not exactly. But learning to brew Remus's potion, and then getting to deliver it? Oh yeah. "You're right, Luna. I want to do all I can. And I was recently offered a new way to help, but almost no one knows anything about it. Not even Harry. Only Dumbledore, and a few other adults from the group. You see, one of the members has a… a chronic health problem, and relies on another member for his care. I was invited to be a back-up, in case something should happen to the primary caregiver. So I've been learning how to help, and this week I got to put my education to use. That's where I went Thursday night."
"I see. So that's why you needed to lie about where you were going. And why Dumbledore helped you to do it."
"Yes. Can you forgive me?"
"I can, Hermione, but if this ever happens again, instead of telling me the lie you and Dumbledore create, can you just tell me privately that it's something you can't talk about? I would understand."
"Of course, Luna. I'd rather give you truthful, but incomplete, information, instead of another lie. And I do think I may have further opportunities to help in my small way, so it could definitely happen again."
Luna smiled and leaned close to Hermione, planting a gentle kiss on her lips. "I'm so glad we talked about this," she said.
It felt so good to unburden herself. Hermione was reassured to find that Luna wanted to know the truth, but that she wouldn't ask more of her than she could give. She suddenly remembered Luna's words from their first picnic together: You allowed yourself to be more vulnerable and genuine than you had thought possible, and your reward for taking those risks was unconditional acceptance. And you hope the same thing can happen with me. Could Luna truly offer her unconditional acceptance? If Hermione were to tell her everything… It would certainly be a risk, but then – that's what Gryffindors do.
"Luna, there's more."
"More that I want to tell you. And I think that I can do it without saying anything that I shouldn't. I want to tell you about my friends."
"You don't mean Harry and Ronald…." It wasn't a question.
"No. I mean the friends I told you about, from winter holiday."
Luna's face brightened. "Yes, I was hoping that's who you meant! It sounds like you had such a beautiful experience with them. I would love to hear more about anything that made you feel so passionate."
"Heh… yeah." Hermione stroked Luna's hand, wanting the physical contact while she told her tale. "So these friends of mine. I've known them for a couple of years. They're adults – men. And they're part of Dumbledore's secret group, so I can't tell you their names. But I got to spend quite a bit of time with them over the holiday, and really got a chance to know them."
"Oh! When you first told me about them, I assumed your friends were closer to our age. But I believe it's a very good thing to have friends of all ages. We can learn so much from adult friends and mentors."
"Right," Hermione agreed, though her voice shook slightly. She began to trace circles on Luna's palm with her thumb. The steady movement kept her from flying apart at the seams. "I did learn a lot from them. That's what I wanted to tell you."
"Is it this knowledge that has prepared you for your work with Dumbeldore's society?"
"Ha!" The laugh escaped her before she could stop it. "No, Luna," Hermione said, more seriously, "that's not it at all." She took another deep breath, and released it. Time to lay it all on the table, and hope that Luna doesn't get up and walk away. "It so happens, Luna, that these friends of mine have secretly been lovers for many years. I discovered them together, accidentally, and it took my breath away. I've always thought they were beautiful, and if possible, they were even more beautiful together. But it did shock me at first, to see them that way. They wanted to talk with me about what I saw, to make sure I was okay, and then…."
Luna nodded encouragingly. "Go on," she said softly, as she placed a reassuring hand on Hermione's arm, and stroked it gently.
"We began to talk about sexuality, and… somehow we came up with a plan for them teach me everything they knew. One of them had a little experience with girls when he was younger, and the other had a lot of experience with girls. And I had only the slightest experience with a boy. I had a lot to learn, and it seemed like a safe environment in which to explore. So… we set about exploring together, in secret, almost every night of the holiday."
"It sounds like the D.A., except learning secretly about sex instead of learning secretly about Defense," Luna laughed softly. "You really know how to create unusual educational opportunities, Hermione. But I bet you learned an awful lot." She curled herself up next to Hermione, snuggling into the brunette's arm.
"Well, I learned both more and less than I expected. I thought I would learn all about sex. But while I was at it, I learned a bit about love, from watching them. I mean – I love them and they love me, but not the way they love each other. It was so moving to see the passion and commitment they share, and I saw that sex without romantic love – no matter how good it is – isn't enough for me, long term. One day, I want to have what they have."
Luna looked at her with adoring eyes, and Hermione melted. "You will, Hermione," Luna said, confidently. "I know you will. So, that's how you learned more than you expected. How is it that you learned less than you expected?"
"I thought we were covering just about everything – that I was learning anything I would ever need or want to know about sex. But… I still have more to learn. I've only ever been…" Say it, Hermione, she admonished herself. Gryffindor courage, girl! "I've only ever been with men. Kissing you, touching you… it's all new to me. It's like nothing I've ever felt before." She put a finger under Luna's chin, and brought their mouths together in a slow, probing kiss.
When they broke apart, minutes later, Luna smiled. "It's all new to me, too, Hermione. But I am looking forward to exploring it with you."
"Me, too," said Hermione, but she still felt uncomfortable. "So it doesn't bother you, that I had that experience?"
"No! Why should it bother me? It didn't have anything to do with me. As long as all three of you enjoyed it and no one got hurt, I don't see a problem."
"Would it bother you to learn…" Hermione's voice was choked with anguish. "Luna, I saw them again this week. One of them is the one with the health problem I mentioned, and I saw them both Thursday night."
Luna frowned slightly, a crease between her pale eyebrows, and then asked, "And how is Professor Lupin?"
Hermione jumped away from Luna in alarm. "Luna! You frighten me sometimes! Are you able to read minds?"
"No, Hermione, please… Come back. Come sit with me again. You didn't mean to, I know, but you gave me enough clues to figure that part out on my own. Please come back to me." She patted the ground next to her.
Slowly, Hermione returned.
"Thursday was the full moon. A 'chronic health problem' that just happened to require extra care at the full moon was a bit of a giveaway, Hermione. It was rather big news when Professor Lupin was exposed as a werewolf during my second year, so I knew of his condition. You said you'd known your friends for a couple of years, and that's how long ago he was teaching at Hogwarts. Obviously, he knows Dumbledore, and as a former Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, he would be an ideal member for the society you described. Don't worry – I won't say anything to anybody. Oh, and I agree with you, by the way. He is beautiful."
Hermione stared at Luna for a long moment, and then she laughed quietly. "Luna, I am reminded yet again never to underestimate you. Yes. Remus – Professor Lupin – is fine. I helped him through his change this month. I don't know if I will get other opportunities or not. But Luna, I spent the night with my friends. We…"
"It's okay, Hermione. You renewed your sexual relationship with them while you were there."
"I did. It doesn't bother you?" Hermione was almost a little hurt that Luna seemed so unaffected by this news.
"It doesn't bother me. It's not as if you broke a date with me to be with them – you had legitimate business to do. I assume the sex was just a perk."
Hermione laughed, louder this time. "A perk! I love it. Luna, your perspective on things never ceases to amaze me. You're incredible."
"What's so incredible? I know that your feelings for them don't diminish the way you feel about me. It's like fire."
"The way I feel about you is like fire?" It did seem an appropriate metaphor, but it was strange to hear Luna say it.
"Well, that's not exactly what I meant. Here, let me show you." She conjured two candles from thin air, and Hermione couldn't help but be impressed by her skill. Luna used her wand to light one of the candles. The stone outcropping protected its small yellow flame. Then she held the wick of the second candle in the flame of the first, until it, too, was topped with a small flame. "When you share the fire – light one candle with another, it doesn't diminish the first flame. You can light a thousand candles from that first one, and its flame won't get any smaller. Love is like that, too. The human heart has infinite capacity for love."
Hermione watched the twin flames. She stared at them so long that when she returned her gaze to Luna, she still saw the flames before her, now dancing in Luna's eyes. "How is it, Luna, that you know so much about love?"
"I watch people, and I learn," she said, shrugging. "You've certainly observed the same phenomenon, though. For example, you're an only child, but Ronald has brothers and a sister. Is Ronald's mother's love spread more thinly because she has more children? Does she love him any less than your mother loves you?"
Hermione thought about Molly Weasley and the fierce love she had for all seven of her children – even Percy. No, she could honestly say that Mrs. Weasley's love for any one of her children was not diminished because of the others. Her eyes shone with emotion as Luna's lesson struck home. She shook her head. "No. Mrs. Weasley loves Ron as much as any mother could love her child – and the same is true for all six of his siblings."
"I know you love your friends, Hermione," Luna said, simply. "And I know that it won't prevent you from loving me." She renewed their kiss, and for several minutes there was nothing more to say. There were only lips to kiss, earlobes to suck and nibble, faces and necks to stroke, bodies to wrap in each other's arms.
It won't prevent you from loving me. Could Hermione find love – true love – with Luna? She had come to adore the girl's offbeat perspective, her candor, and her wisdom. The way she was at once so grounded and so prone to flights of fancy. And Hermione did love the feel of Luna in her arms, all softness and curves – so different from the hard, flat planes of Remus and Sirius, but intoxicating nonetheless, in a whole new way. When she kissed Luna like this, she could feel the girl opening herself completely, allowing Hermione to get lost in her. And now Luna knew – as much as Hermione could share with her, she had shared, and Luna had not rejected her. Hermione happily buried herself in the scent of Luna's hair, the taste of Luna's kiss, the warmth of Luna's embrace.
But eventually, Luna pulled away, her face thoughtful. "So…" she said slowly, "what's it like?"
"What's what like, Luna?" Hermione kissed her neck, impatient to get back to the snogging. Luna's lips were so soft and yielding, her body so inviting.
"Sex with men."
"I suppose it depends on the man, Luna," she replied, now toying with Luna's earlobe.
"Or men, in your case," Luna teased. "What was it like for you, with your men?"
Hermione stopped what she was doing, and looked directly into Luna's eyes, grinning widely. "It was glorious. Absolutely, without question, glorious."
Luna's silvery eyes sparkled. "I'd like to try it sometime, I think. Sex with men."
Hermione felt a sudden rush at the thought of sharing that experience with Luna. Life could not get much sweeter than this, she thought. "Luna, my darling, that's very, very interesting. I know for a fact that if we ever wanted to invite a man to join us, we would have no trouble finding willing participants. I've even had a couple of offers from interested parties. Or," and she remembered the Polyjuice Potion idea, "there are some other fascinating options open to us as well."
Luna laughed at Hermione's excitement. "Maybe a bit later down the road we could look into those options. For now, let's just focus on each other, and see where that leads us."
Hermione laughed at herself, too. "That's perfect, Luna. That's what I want to do right now, too. But I love that you are as curious and adventurous as I am."
"Yet another thing we have in common," Luna said, giggling.
"So… Luna," Hermione began, "If you haven't yet tried sex with men, and if kissing girls is as new to you as it is to me… Then you haven't…"
"That's right. There have been both witches and wizards I've admired, but aside from a couple of rather awkward kisses with boys, no… I haven't…"
"Merlin, Luna – but you seem so comfortable and confident!"
"I just know that being with you feels right, Hermione." And she snuggled closer, reaching her hands into Hermione's brown curls, and pulling her close for another deep, slow kiss.
The next time they came up for air, Hermione had to ask Luna another personal question that had begun to burn in her imagination. "Luna…," she said, hesitantly. "I think of you as such a calm, serene person. I just can't help but wonder…"
"What is it, Hermione?"
Hermione was blushing a deep rose. "I was just wondering… what it would take for you to lose that serenity. What would make you go wild? What would make you cry out in passion?" She was breathing faster just imagining Luna getting swept away and losing control.
Luna smiled coyly, as she eased herself down onto the cool grass, pulling Hermione down on top of her. "If we hadn't been interrupted in the greenhouse, I feel certain you would have found out."
"Then it does happen?" Hermione rolled off to one side, cupped Luna's breast in her hand, and kissed her way down Luna's graceful neck. "You do lose control sometimes?"
"Oh yes," Luna sighed, and Hermione wasn't sure if that was an answer to her question, or a reaction to the kissing and stroking… "I do, Hermione. But… so far, only when I'm alone."
Hermione groaned, her mind now aflame with images of Luna in a four-poster with blue hangings, back arching, head tossing, stifling her cries with her pillow, her fist, or her hair. "I would love to see you lose yourself like that," she murmured. To have you crying out my name, she thought. To be the one to take you over the edge. Hermione pushed her knee gently between Luna's thighs, and buried her face in Luna's hair.
Luna had been caressing Hermione's back, but her hand slipped lower, onto her arse. She pulled them closer, pressing their bodies together. "You… you want to watch me?" she whispered in disbelief. Her body trembled, as if a shiver had raced up her spine.
With a growl would have made Remus and Sirius proud, Hermione reached for the back of Luna's thigh, and pulled it to her, so that Luna's leg was wrapped around her waist. "No, Luna" she rumbled thickly into the younger girl's ear, "I want to help you!"
"Ohhhhh," Luna moaned, and she rolled on top of Hermione, kissing her fiercely. She gasped as Hermione's palm slid from one arse cheek to the other, and then slid forward.
Merlin, Luna was hot – literally hot. The warmth emanating from between the girl's legs was incredible. Hermione was completely aroused, and from the dampness of the thin cotton fabric under her fingertips, it appeared Luna was in a similar state. "So wet," she breathed into Luna's neck, meaning either one of them, or both, it didn't matter at all.
As if on cue, a soft rain began to fall. Then, a thunderclap, and the rainstorm broke loose.
"Damn it all to hell!" cursed Hermione loudly, as the two girls broke apart. "Let's get to the Three Broomsticks!"
They arrived at the Three Broomsticks drenched and out of breath. But within a few minutes, they were dry again, seated side by side in a corner booth, and enjoying a drink together.
"That was crazy, Hermione," said Luna. "It was almost like you made it rain by talking about getting wet. Have you noticed that we tend to get wet together? Like at the D.A. meeting, when your Aguamenti spell went wild?"
Hermione gulped, and it had nothing to do with her cherry syrup and soda. Yes, she had definitely noticed a distinct increase in moisture whenever she got close to Luna. "It wouldn't have gone wild, except you were trying to help me up just as I was casting it!"
"I'm sorry," Luna laughed, though she didn't sound sorry at all.
"Don't be," chuckled Hermione. "I rather enjoy the way your clothing clings to your curves when you're soaked to the skin. I have to admit, I've been fantasizing about you ever since that night. And I should warn you… My fantasies have had a way of coming true lately."
"How much time do we have before Harry and Rita join us?" Luna asked the question so softly, that Hermione had to lean very close to hear her.
"Over an hour," Hermione answered, rather sad that Luna had chosen to change the topic. Perhaps she had been too forward.
"How convenient," Luna said.
Though the girls were sitting very close, their faces only a couple of inches apart, Hermione had to watch Luna's lips in order to understand the soft-spoken girl amid the din of the pub. It was rather distracting, as Hermione became lost in thoughts about those lips – so full and soft, and a delicate shade of pink, like the inside of a conch shell.
"Why is it convenient to have to wait over an hour for them, Luna?" Hermione was already thinking ahead to after the upcoming interview, and trying to figure out how best to invite Luna back to her dorm. If the gods were willing, perhaps she would yet get to feel those lips on her body that afternoon.
Luna pulled the cocktail onion out of her gillywater and sucked on it, slowly twirling the stick it was speared upon. (Oh, to be a cocktail onion…) She smiled coyly as she returned the onion to her drink, and gave the gillywater a stir. "That gives you plenty of time to tell me all about those fantasies you mentioned."
The girls' knees were touching under the table, and Hermione pushed gently with her knee – just enough to say Hello to Luna's knee. Luna smiled a very big smile, and slid her hand under the table to stroke Hermione's thigh.
The two conversed in whispers and sighs and completely lost track of the time, until a much less-polished-than-usual Rita Skeeter sat down with them and started sucking down a firewhiskey. A large movement across the room caught Hermione's attention, and she turned to see Hagrid exiting the pub, leaving a bewildered-looking Harry behind. She called him over. The interview went well, once it got started, and Hermione was enormously pleased that they had gotten an early start on it.
"Well, Harry," said Hermione brightly, after Rita had gone, "we'll leave you so you can catch up with Cho again, all right?" She was in a rush to get Luna out of the pub and back to Gryffindor tower. Harry seemed a bit off, but then, he had been acting a bit off for days. It must be that he's still nervous about spending time with Cho, she thought.
Hermione took the paper umbrella out of her drink, and grabbed Luna by the hand. Once outside, she transfigured the miniature version into a nylon umbrella big enough to shelter them both. "Luna, I hope I'm not being too forward by asking you this," she began, looking hopefully into Luna's eyes, "but would you like to come to my dorm with me for a bit? I expect Parvati and Lavender will be in Hogsmeade for the rest of the afternoon. They always come back at the last minute, with bags and bags of new things from Gladrags."
"I have noticed they are very well-dressed girls," she laughed. "Hermione, I would love to see your dormitory. Let's go!"
Though the girls had strolled slowly into the village that morning, their walk back was much more brisk – and the rain had nothing to do with it.
The Fat Lady was busy eating chocolates with her friend Violet. "Happy Valentine's Day, dears," she said with a wink. "Don't do anything I wouldn't do!" She gave Violet a huge, wet, sloppy kiss as she swung open and let the girls pass. Hermione blushed as she led the way through the portrait hole.
Luna looked around in awe at the Gryffindor common room, but Hermione hurried her past the curious first and second year students, and up the staircase to the girls' dormitories. Up they climbed, until they reached the fifth year dorm. Hermione stopped just outside the door and pulled Luna into a kiss. She reached behind her to the doorknob, and pushed open the door, backing into the room and pulling Luna with her, not breaking their kiss.
But Luna broke the kiss to gasp, and Hermione opened her eyes and looked around to see what had caused such a reaction. Her breath was taken away – the floor was covered in red rose petals. At the same moment that her eyes registered this fact, the floral scent reached her – it was an overwhelming combination, and its source was a total mystery.
"Hermione, it's beautiful," Luna breathed, her eyes shining.
"It is beautiful, Luna, and I wish I could take credit for it, but honestly, I have no idea who did this to my dorm!" She led Luna to her own four-poster, noticing for the first time that the hangings were closed – and Hermione never left her bed that way. She peeked cautiously inside and laughed. "Luna – it was Fred and George! Look!" She threw open the rich red and gold hangings to show her: the bed itself was also spread with petals, and on the pillow was a heart-shaped box of chocolates, and a sign in large red letters. "Happy Valentine's Day, Hermione and Luna," it read, and it was signed "Love, Fred and George."
"I knew I liked those boys," laughed Luna.
"Me too," said Hermione. "And didn't I tell you my fantasies have had a way of coming true? Because chocolate definitely features in some of them, and here are all the supplies we need."
"Then this must be from them, too," said Luna, indicating a gift box on the nightstand.
Hermione had been so intrigued by the mystery of the flower petals and the closed hangings that she hadn't even noticed the box. It didn't really look like Fred and George's style. The twins liked to do things in a big way – like putting flower petals all over the entire dorm. This box was too elegant, too classy: it was small and silver. A folded note card peeked out from under a black satin ribbon. Her heart pounding, Hermione opened the card, with Luna looking on curiously. "To Hermione and her Moon Goddess. Use it well."
"I'm your Moon Goddess?" Luna's eyes were wide, their color now flecked with red reflections from the décor and the rose petals that surrounded them.
"You are, my darling," whispered Hermione, brushing Luna's hair back from her face and kissing her again.
"What could it be, that we are to use well, do you think?"
"I cannot imagine," Hermione admitted, though the wording of the card made it clear that it could only be from one of two people in the world: Sirius Black or Severus Snape. She turned her attention back to the box in her hand. "Shall we find out?"
"Please," said Luna. "I'm so curious!"
Hermione pushed the bed hangings open the rest of the way, and the two girls sat cross-legged on the bed, the box between them. She pulled off the black satin ribbon, and gave it to Luna. "This would look beautiful in your hair, Luna."
Luna tied her hair back with the ribbon, and Hermione lifted the lid of the box.
She reached inside and unfolded the tissue wrapped around the gift – and she burst out laughing so hard that she fell over sideways into the rose petals on her duvet.
"Hermione?" Luna looked slightly alarmed. "Is this another part of your fantasies coming true? You didn't mention anything about black leather fur-lined handcuffs!"
Hermione gasped and tried to recover. She gave Luna's hand a reassuring squeeze. "Maybe down the road a ways, eh? Not for our first time, I promise."
"What a strange thing for Fred and George to have given us! It doesn't really fit with the chocolates and roses, does it?"
"This gift is not from the twins, Luna. We apparently have several people wishing us well on Valentine's Day."
"Do you know who it's from? The note wasn't signed, was it?"
"No, it wasn't. But I do know who gave us this gift. And remember when I said there would be some things I just wouldn't be able to tell you? This is one of those things. Suffice it to say that I told a few very close friends that I had a date with you today, and how excited I was at being able to spend Valentine's Day with you. This is from one of my friends who has a bit of a darker sense of humor, but who means well."
"You have good friends, Hermione. It's sweet that they care so much for you that they went to this kind of trouble."
So Severus wanted her to enjoy herself with her Moon Goddess, did he? He couldn't have… Well, he could have, but he wouldn't have… Would he? Hermione looked carefully around the room. Was Severus here, in the dormitory, disillusioned, evanescaroma'd, and silencio'd again? It seemed possible, but unlikely.
"Is something the matter, Hermione? Are you looking for something?"
She shook her head, and brought her attention back to the gorgeous blonde witch on her bed. "No, Luna darling, nothing is wrong. But if you don't mind, I'd like to get rid of some of these rose petals. I think the scent is making me light-headed."
Together, they vanished most of the petals, leaving just a scattering of them on the bed itself. Then Hermione, with one last glance around the room, closed the hangings around them, and gently pressed Luna backwards onto the bed. She opened the box of chocolates and fed a piece to Luna, who sighed in appreciation of the delicious treat, and anticipation of the pleasures to come. When Hermione kissed Luna, the taste of chocolate on her tongue was rich and decadent. Before long, their clothes had been dumped in an unceremonious heap beside the bed, and Hermione began to worship Luna's body like the Moon Goddess she was.
She smiled to herself as she remembered her sleepless nights with Sirius and Remus, and everything they had taught her, about sex, and about love. Merely two months ago, she had been almost as inexperienced as Luna was now – and their enthusiastic tutelage had brought her so much joy and pleasure. She couldn't wait to share that journey of discovery with Luna. As she reverently stroked and kissed her, Luna's vocal responses gave Hermione confidence that she would be able to take Luna outside of herself, lift her to the plane of ecstasy she had experienced at the hands of her generous lovers. She was grateful for the knowledge she had gained with them, and firm in the knowledge that she was ready now to explore anew with the lovely girl in her arms. The territory was unknown, not just because it was her first time with a new lover, nor even because it was her first time making love to another girl – but because, for the first time, Hermione sensed the potential for love. What would happen in the future, Hermione could not foretell – Divination never having been her strong suit – but Luna's words echoed in her mind: I like you, you like me: that's what's important. Everything else is just details, and the details will sort themselves out if we follow our hearts. Once again, Hermione had the sensation of Luna opening up to her, and Hermione followed her heart right in.
A/N: This is the end! (hears Doors lyrics echoing spookily in head) (But then, most of you are too young to know that song, aren't you?)
I'm sorry this chapter took so long! As a straight (but not narrow) girl, I suffered a bit of writer's block with the femmeslash parts. Purely in the name of literary research, of course, I rented and watched two fun movies that gave new meaning (to me) to the term "chick flick"! "Kissing Jessica Stein" was fun and funny, but only moderately hot. "Loving Annabelle" was moving, well-acted, and VERY hot, but I do recommend if you watch it that you go to the special features for the alternate ending – much happier that way. Just as I sat down to watch "Loving Annabelle," the doorbell rang and it was two Jehovah's Witnesses ladies trying to save my soul. If only they'd known what I was watching, I probably wouldn't have been able to send them on their merry way nearly so quickly! ("I may be goin' to hell in a bucket, baby, but at least I'm enjoyin' the ride!" Oh sorry – every now and then I break into Grateful Dead lyrics…)
I do know that Hermione/Luna is not a comfortable ship for many of you (though some of you seem to love it!), but it seemed like the right place to leave things. Hermione seems to be in good hands for right now (heh heh)… and has many options still open to her for the future. However, this particular journey has reached its end.
Do let me know what you thought - it was quite difficult to conclude this thing. I know there are still some loose ends, but that seems to me to be sort of… appropriate. There's always another story. I may write up some stories about those future options, but they will be just that – other stories.
p.s. By the way, you guys seem to really love the Snape. Last chapter got more reviews than my first 6 chapters combined! I think I'll be writing a more Snapified story soon (maybe next). If you want to be sure to check it out, tag me with an Author Alert so you'll get an email when I put something else up.
p.p.s. Added in early April 2008: I am thrilled beyond belief to let you know that this story was nominated for a few Quill to Parchment awards (best multiple partner, best mid-length fic, and best Trio era) and my one-shot "HBM" has also been nominated in several categories (best male slash, best humor fic, best one-shot, and best Marauder era). If you liked this one, please go to awards (dot) quilltoparchment (dot) come and click on "Vote" to case your vote! Thanks for your support!