-1Rehearsals

By: Gypsy Scribe

Author's Note: It's been a while since last I posted a story and for that I am truly sorry. But I have a valid excuse. My Dad went into the hospital back in October and he was in and out of hospitals and rehabilitation centers for 6 weeks. My Dad died on 25 November at the tender age of 63. I haven't written in over a month, but I know he wouldn't want me to stop doing what I love. So, here's the next installment in the Neville-Luna saga.

In happier news, I have been pleasantly shocked by the kind reviews my little imaginative romps have incurred. Thanks to everyone who has reviewed!

This story takes place at the wedding rehearsal of Harry and Ginny. As before, I'll start with Neville's point of view. As mentioned earlier, I know it's been a while since I've posted. Thanks for your patience. I hope it has not been in vain. Enjoy!

Disclaimer: Standard: all characters belong to the brilliant Ms. Rowling. The story, however, is mine.

In Memory of My Father

Cecil Stanton

I hate weddings. They make me so nervous. I don't know why. It's not like I'm the one getting married. They just always have. To think of standing in front of God and everybody, declaring my undying love to someone, for always and forever…I shudder. Love is sacred and it should be shared openly but I would prefer something less…theatrical. Something quiet, simple.

This is the first time I've actually been in a wedding so I'm doubly nervous. All I have to do is stand here. That's it. If I can make it from the Weasley's back door to the arbor without tripping everything will be just fine. Still…everyone will be watching. Everyone will see me. Everyone including her.

She's been standing by that table for at least 15 minutes. What could she be doing. Her eyes are closed and she's mumbling to herself. Must be going over her song. Ginny asked her to sing. To be honest, I didn't know she could sing. I mean, I know she can carry a tune; I've heard her hum and it's not bad. Soothing really, but, wow…I'm impressed she agreed to do it. Talk about pressure! And I'm worried about tripping during my entrance.

I've tried not to stare too much tonight. I don't want to call attention to this infatuation as Ron calls it. I know he means well. I shrug it off and mostly ignore him. But he just doesn't understand. It's not an infatuation…it never has been.

It started out as curiosity tinged with confusion (I think everyone who meets Luna Lovegood must be confused at first). Then the confusion gave way to amusement. I found myself smiling for no particular reason, just because she entered a classroom behind me or walked into the Great Hall, her nose stuck behind the latest issue of the Quibbler. I shake my head at the memory. She doesn't read that anymore. It was her Father's paper and it died with him.

The curiosity remained, however, despite the other changes. I was curious about every aspect of this slight, Elvin creature. What made her the way she is? What makes her tick? What's really going on inside that head of hers? She's really far more clever than most people realize. No wonder she was a Ravenclaw.

See, I'm smiling again, just at the mere thought of her. Is she looking? No, thank goodness, her eyes are still closed. She's stopped mumbling. Now she's just…standing there. Again a smile flits across my lips and those blasted butterflies are churning in my stomach, performing their daily ritual of making me feel like a mix between 'what's wrong with me?' and 'I think I'm going to be sick'.

No, this is definitely NOT infatuation. So what is it? I'm still curious. I want to know everything about her. What's her favorite flower, is she a morning person or a night owl, does she even own a pair of socks?

Her eyes are opened now. Ginny is talking with her, pointing to the front of the chairs, off to one side. I guess that's where she'll be standing when she sings. I'll be standing to the other side of her. Good. I didn't want to be behind her. I want to see her. Then again, what if I make some stupid face and embarrass myself? Or worse, what if I make some stupid face and embarrass her? I'd bury my head in the pond if I did that. She's been through enough.

I wonder what the others will think? Of her singing, I mean. A lot of people we went to Hogwarts with will be here. Most of them are guilty of making fun or her (and probably of stealing her shoes). I wonder if they'll speak to her? I have to laugh; I wonder if they'll speak to me. I wasn't exactly 'Mr. Popularity' either.

She's coming this way. Must be time for her to rehearse. I notice something odd about her: her eyes are wider than usual and she seems to be walking a bit stiff. She stands at the appropriate spot and waits for Ginny's cue. She can't find a resting place for her hands and she's ringing the life out of them. She's nervous! Call me crazy, but I never thought I'd live to see the day Luna Lovegood would be nervous about anything. She always seems so sure of herself, even if everyone around her thinks she's lost it.

Yes, it is more than mere infatuation. The butterflies are gone and my heart is breaking.

With only a slight hesitation, I walk over and sit down in front of her in the second row from the front. I know they're watching me. Ron's probably giggling and whispering to Harry. Hermione is probably punching Ron in the ribs. I can't see them and I don't care.

Luna

I don't say her name out loud, only think it as strongly in her direction as I can. If I was standing right now I'd stagger backwards: she's looking right at me. Did I somehow send her some telepathic message? If so, maybe I can send her this:

Don't be nervous. You'll do great.

I smile at her. She stops biting her bottom lip and smiles back. It's shaky but it's a smile nonetheless. Something in her posture relaxes. Her shoulders drop and she stands up straighter. Now she's stretching her neck from side to side, loosening it up as if she were going on the Quidditch pitch and not about to sing for a wedding. Once more she looks at me. Once more I will a message to her:

I believe in you.

To my astonishment, just as soft music flows towards us from somewhere in the back, she mouths two words:

Thank You.

She closes her eyes, takes a breath and all the world fades to black. There's nothing, no one but the two of us. Her voice, it's angelic. I'm a bit relieved, and quite shocked. It doesn't even sound real. Her voice isn't strong or vibrant, it's as soft as the thistle down that dances over the tops of the cat tails at the pond's edge, as delicate as the wings of a fairy. It's light and airy as moonlight and it streams through me, caresses me as a soft, cool breeze tiptoeing through leaves on a star lit night. I'm entranced to say the least.

When she finishes, I applaud. No, I stand up and clap, loudly, enthusiastically. I'm not the only one. Ron and Harry are clapping right behind me. Hermione is smiling with tears streaming down her face. George is cat calling and whistling. Mrs. Weasley is weeping openly, though I would wager it was more for the marriage of her 'little girl' than over Luna's voice. Everyone rushes up to congratulate her. She smiles and blinks, wide eyed at them all, thanking them, saying she got her voice from her mother who, it was said, could charm smile out of a Minotaur if given the chance.

To that I laugh silently. As the group fades away and she's left standing alone, I wander over to her.

"You have a beautiful voice." I hope it's dark enough in the lantern light that she can't see me blushing.

She smiles, "Thank you, Neville. I couldn't have done it without you."

Confusion must be written all over my face. She laughs, a sound which causes my head to spin and my feet to feel a bit too large and my knees a bit too wobbly for their own good.

"It's your eyes." She says, "you can't hide anything in them. Everything you are and think spills through them, watering the ground and seeping into everyone around you."

She looks down at the ground, perhaps a bit embarrassed by her poetic outburst. I smile. No one's ever been that liberal with a compliment to me before. Before I can say anything she looks up at me, her penetrating gaze dazzling me and throwing me for a loop.

"Was it really ok?" her voice quivers, tinged with doubt and hope.

"Ok?" I blink several times. "Luna it was…you are…" Then I do something that will keep me up all night long, wondering why I did it and what could she be thinking of me for doing it. I take both her hands in mine, her delicate, porcelain hands in my large, clumsy , brown ones. "I don't think I've heard a more beautiful sound in all my life."

I know they heard me. I can see the rest of them standing off at a distance, watching our exchange, gathering ammo to tease me with later, to query her about this evening, to add fuel to their curious fires. I don't care. Because right now she's looking at me, not pulling away, not talking, just looking at me with those big, blue eyes. And they are filled with tears. Great, shining dew drops from the deep pools of her soul. Now I know, beyond any doubt, it's most definitely not infatuation…it's love.