"Is it me, or are we spending more time at home than in our own flat?" The recently Disapparated Fred Weasley said with a half-smile as he walked down the dirt path toward the Burrow.
"Well if we didn't come round a few times a week we'd starve to death," answered his lanky redheaded twin George. "Unless you want to start cooking."
"Me? Cook?" Fred nearly stumbled as he laughed. "That's rich."
"So what do you think Mum's making?"
"Who cares? It's Mum, isn't it? Whatever it is will be good."
The twins neared the front door. Fred reached out to open it when he caught movement out the corner of his eye. He turned and spotted a familiar figure with glasses and black hair coming down the path.
"Evenin', Harry," the pair said in unison.
Harry Potter kept walking, not acknowledging them. From the look on his face, he didn't seem to register anything around him.
Fred looked to George, brow furrowed. "What's up with him?"
George shrugged. "Hulloooo, Harry!"
Harry continued to ignore them.
"Oi, Potter!" Fred called out. "Watch out for that puddle!"
A second after the warning, Harry stepped in the puddle. He pulled out his dripping wet foot, examined it dispassionately, and resumed his slow gait.
"Well, something's bothering The Chosen One." Fred slapped George on the shoulder. "C'mon. Let's go sort it out."
The twins jogged over to Harry, who didn't notice them until they were about a foot away.
"Oh. Hey Fred, George." Harry greeted them without much enthusiasm. "You just get here?"
Fred emitted a snorting laugh and looked to his brother. "'Did you just get here' he asks. We got here a minute before you did. Even tried to warn you about stepping in that puddle."
"You better use a Drying Charm on that." George nodded to Harry's soaked shoe. "And a Cleaning Charm. Mum will have a fit if you track mud into the house."
"Oh. Yeah, sure. Thanks guys."
Harry started forward, but Fred and George halted him with gentle hands on his chest.
"Hang on a second," said Fred.
"What?" Harry sounded a bit annoyed.
"What do you mean 'what'? Something's going on with you, Harry."
"Yeah," George chimed in. "Your body's here, but your mind's somewhere far, far away."
"So . . ." Fred clasped Harry's shoulder. "What is it?"
Harry sighed, his shoulders slumping. "It's nothing. I just . . . have something on my mind."
"Must be a pretty big something." George sidled up next to Harry.
"You-Know-Who?" asked Fred.
Harry shook his head.
"Okay." George stared into the orange and gray evening sky, thinking. "Strategies to win the Quidditch Cup?"
Again, Harry shook his head.
Fred's finger snapped up, his face aglow. "I know! You're still trying to make sense of Ickle Ronniekins and Lavender Brown being together. Lost cause, Harry. That pairing doesn't make any sense."
"It's none of those things. I'm . . ." Again, Harry sighed, and averted his gaze from the twins.
"Wait a minute." Fred leaned closer to Harry. "I think I know what it is. That far off look . . ."
"The sighing," George added.
"Acting like the world around him doesn't exist."
The twins each put an arm around Harry and grinned.
"George, I do believe Harry here fancies someone."
Harry said nothing. But from the way he swallowed and blushed, Fred knew he hit the proverbial nail on the head.
"So spill it." Fred waggled his eyebrows. "Who's the bird?"
Harry chewed on his lower lip. "Well . . . I don't know. It's just . . ."
"Don't want to cooperate, eh?" George glanced to his twin. "Looks like were going to have to guess, Fred."
"Right then. Let me see. Um . . . Oh! Is it Susan Bones? I noticed her making eyes at you at some of the D.A. meetings last year."
Harry gave a quick shake of the head.
"Okay, my turn," George declared. "One of the Patil twins, I bet."
"Maybe both of them," Fred chortled. "Blimey, Harry. You in to threesomes?"
Harry grunted at him.
"Okay, then. Not the Patils."
Both Harry and Fred gaped at George. Several seconds passed before Harry found his voice. "That's not even funny."
"Sorry. She just popped into my head for some reason."
Fred cranked an eyebrow. He thought about delving deeper into his brother's fixation on their old Divination professor, but decided against it. He didn't need the nightmares.
"Wait a tic. It's not . . . It's not Hermione, is it?"
Harry whipped his head toward Fred. "No! C'mon, Fred. She's like a sister."
"Speaking of sisters," George said, "it's not our precious Ginny, is it?"
"Of course not. She's like a sister to me, too."
"Glad to hear that." Fred patted him on the shoulder. "Because if we thought you were having lustful, perverted thoughts about our baby sister, we'd have to hurt you."
"Look. It's not Ginny or Hermione or Susan Bones or the Patils . . . and definitely not Professor Trelawney."
"Then who?" Fred persisted.
Harry didn't answer. Instead he turned away, gazing at the hills near the Burrow.
Fred followed the boy's stare. He assumed Harry was just lost in his thoughts again, until he realized what lay in the direction of his gaze. A house. An odd-looking house where lived . . .
"Harry," Fred said in a hushed, surprised tone. "It's not . . . Luna Lovegood."
Harry said nothing. But from the way his body tensed up, Fred knew he hit the mark.
"Harry and Loony!" George threw his head back and laughed. "I wondered if there was something going on between you two when Ron told me you went to Professor Slughorn's party together."
"Don't call her Loony," Harry snapped.
George took a step back, raising his hands.
"Sorry," Harry said sheepishly. "But I . . . it's just when I'm around her . . ."
"You wanna snog the living daylights out of her." Fred beamed.
"So have you?" asked George.
"Then get to it, lad." Fred threw out his arms in mock exasperation. "What's holding you up?"
"I don't . . . I don't know if she feels the same way about me."
"Here's a thought." George held up a finger. "Why don't you ask her?"
"What if I do, and she tells me she just thinks of me as a friend?" Harry lowered his head. "What if I ask her and it ruins our friendship. I mean, I like her. As a friend and . . . well, more than that and . . . I don't know. Can we just drop it?"
Harry marched away before the twins could stop him. He pushed open the front door of the Burrow and disappeared inside, not bothering to dry his damp shoe.
Mum's gonna love that, Fred thought.
George slid next to his twin. "Poor, poor Harry. So confused. So bloody thick."
"Well said, George."
"So . . ." George folded his arms. "Do you think Loony also fancies Harry?"
"Maybe. Only one way to find out."
Fred's smile extended ear-to-ear. "By giving our quasi-sort-of-kind-of-adopted-brother a little push in the right direction."
"How do you propose we do that?"
Fred bobbed his head from side-to-side. "I got it. After dinner, let's head back to the shop and grab some Filibuster Fireworks."
"How's that going to help Harry?"
CLOSED FOR FAMILY EMERGENCY.
Fred and George hung that sign in the window of Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes before Apparating to one of the hills halfway between the Burrow and the Lovegoods' house. They had learned from Ginny after dinner last night that Harry and Luna liked to take walks around the area during the late morning or early afternoon. The two cast Concealment Charms on each other, blending in with the country landscape around them, and waited.
Shortly before eleven the twins spotted Luna skipping up one of the hills, carrying a picnic basket. A few minutes later Harry met her on the top of the hill, positively beaming as he gazed at her.
The two strolled through the fields. Fred charmed an Extendable Ear, which also blended into its surroundings, to follow the couple. Harry talked about his old Potions book that had belonged to the Half-Blood Prince, his latest suspicions regarding Draco Malfoy and how Bill's fiancé Fleur Delacour was driving everyone barmy.
For her part, Luna went on about nargles, heliopaths and how she planned to make a garlic necklace for Harry to wear if he ever had to meet Minister of Magic Rufus Scrimgeour again.
"He is a vampire, you know," she reminded Harry.
They came to a halt by a small stream, where Luna unfurled a blanket on the ground.
"This will make a nice place to picnic." She knelt down and opened the picnic basket. "Who knows? We might be lucky enough to see some jobobbles."
"Jobobbles?" Harry canted his head as he took a knee beside Luna.
"Oh yes. Lovely creatures. They make the most beautiful cooing sounds. Though they only do it when they are around people who are depressed. It helps cheer them up."
Fred and George turned to one another, their faces contorted.
"So tell me, what does Harry see in her?" asked George.
"Who knows?" Fred shrugged. "You know what they say, though. Love is blind."
"And a bit mental."
"Are you warm enough?" Harry asked as he accepted a sandwich Luna removed from the picnic basket.
"I'm all right. Well, I do feel goosepimples on the back of my neck. I couldn't find my scarf before I left home. I think nargles may have taken it again."
"Here." Harry unwrapped his red and gold Gryffindor scarf from his neck and put it around Luna's.
Fred and George turned to one another and sighed quietly. "Awwww."
"Thank you, Harry." Luna ran her thin fingers over the scarf. "That's very kind of you."
"I just hope it's okay for a Ravenclaw like yourself to wear Gryffindor colors."
Luna softly chuckled.
"So, um, do you come down here often?" Harry asked before taking a bite of his sandwich.
"Why? Do you think I get depressed sometimes?"
"Um, well. No. I mean, I'm not implying anything."
"That's all right." Luna slid closer to the stream. "I know that I've told you before that I'm fine being alone. But there were times over the summer when I missed being with you and the D.A. I'd never been part of a group before, where people would actually talk to me . . . or I should say, treat me kindly. You, of course. And Ginny and Neville and Ron. Sometimes Hermione. Oh, and there was this one time George Weasley jinxed Zacharias Smith when he tried to put millipedes in my bookbag."
Fred turned to his twin, nudged his shoulder and grinned. "You old softie."
"Shut your gob," George responded with a half-smile.
Harry reached out and gently grasped Luna's shoulder. "You know, Luna. If we're ever out of school and you feel lonely, you can always owl me. You know I will write you back."
Luna took her large eyes off the stream and turned to face Harry. "Thank you, Harry. You know, I've never met a boy who's been as kind to me as you."
"Well, you're . . . I mean I . . ." Harry drew a long breath. "What I really want to say is . . ."
"I think that's our cue, George."
"Right then." George pulled out a long rocket from the inside of his jacket and planted it in the ground. Fred used his wand to light the fuse. The tiny flame crept closer to the bottom of the rocket as Fred checked on Harry through the Extendable Ear.
"See, Luna. Um, around you I can . . ."
Fred smiled and shook his head sympathetically. Fear not, Harry. Help is on the way.
The rocket shot into the air with an ear-splitting shriek. Both Harry and Luna snapped their heads in the direction of the sound. Seconds later hundreds of white sparks blossomed in the air. They swirled in a glowing maelstrom before coalescing into a distinct form.
A rather crude image of Luna floated above them, with a pair of large eyes taking up half the round face. Sparkling words hovered above it.
LUNA . . . YOU ARE AS BEAUTIFUL AS A MOONBEAM.
Fred blinked, a perplexed expression on his face. He looked to George. "'You are as beautiful as a moonbeam?' That's the best you could come up with?"
"Well it does fit her name. You know. Luna, Moon. I did pay attention a couple times in Astronomy Class."
Fred rolled his eyes. "You're a complete git."
"And I suppose you're the ultimate authority on all things romantic?"
"Well I could do loads better than you and your beautiful moonbeams rot."
Before George could retort, the twins heard Luna's dreamy voice through the Extendable Ear. "Harry? Did you do that? Do you really think I'm as beautiful as a moonbeam?"
"Uhhhh . . ."
"Say yes, Harry." George quietly cheered him on.
"Say no, Harry," Fred countered.
"Well . . . um, I have no idea who did that." He nodded up to the sparkling image of Luna.
"Okay. But you didn't answer my other question. Do you think I'm beautiful?"
"Um . . . I . . ."
Fred watched Harry's shoulders tense up before he continued.
"Yes, Luna. I think you are beautiful. I think you're wonderful and brilliant and insightful and caring and ever since we went to Professor Slughorn's party I . . . I think about you all the time. I . . . I really like being around you. I feel so . . . relaxed when I'm with you. I feel like I can tell you anything. And everything that's bad with this world, Voldemort, the war, I can actually forget about that when I'm with you."
"Oi, is he rambling or what?" George glanced over at Fred.
"I wonder how she's going to respond."
Luna said nothing. She just stared at Harry, her huge silvery orbs meeting his green ones. Neither said a thing. The world around them went still. No wind, no trickling stream. It was as if nature held her collective breath, waiting for Luna to respond.
She reached out and grabbed Harry by the collar of his sweater. Surprise lit across his face as Luna launched herself at him and smothered his lips with hers.
It didn't take Harry long to recover from the initial shock. He wrapped his arms around Luna as the two kissed hungrily.
"Well, George. I think we can declare this a success."
"And you didn't think the beautiful moonbeam thing would work."
Harry was now on his back, with Luna on top snogging him fiercely. He slid his hands through the tangles of Luna's long, curled dirty blond hair.
"I think it's time we were on our way." Fred slapped his brother on the arm. "Besides, standing here watching those two thrash about, it makes me feel like a pervert."
"Yes. We'd best give these lovebirds some privacy."
The twins headed back to the Burrow, each wearing a triumphant smile.
"Where on Earth could Harry be?" Molly Weasley stared out the window over the kitchen sink. "It's almost supper time."
Both Fred and George, sitting in the living room, looked up from the rough draft of their latest Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes catalog. They stared at their mother as she continued looking out the window, worry lines etched in her face. Seconds later they caught one another's eye, and snickered quietly.
"Fred. George. Have you seen Harry?"
"Um, not since this morning, Mum." Fred tightened his lips to keep from laughing. Oh if Mum only knew the truth.
"I know he usually likes to take walks with Luna Lovegood." Molly placed her hands on her hips. "But they've never been out for so long. What could they be doing all day long?"
Fred turned away, shutting his eyes as an explosion of laughter built up behind his clenched teeth. George buried his face in his hands, his shoulders convulsing with silent chuckles.
"What's wrong with you two?"
"N-Nothing, Mum." Fred wondered how long he could maintain his self-control. "I'm sure Harry's okay."
"Yeah." George's voice quivered with burgeoning laughter. "I'm . . . I'm sure he's in good hands."
Fred pounded the coffee table in front of him, snickers slipping through his teeth.
"What in the name of Merlin has gotten into you two?" Mum's face reddened. "Look, no more games. Do you know where Harry is, yes or no?"
Fred took a couple of breaths, trying unsuccessfully to settle himself. He debated whether or not to tell his mother. Would she be overjoyed that Harry found a girlfriend, or would she go into overprotective mode, like she usually did with Harry, and throw out names like "hussy" and "strumpet" and "tart?"
Before Fred could decide, the front door opened. In walked Harry, wearing a lopsided grin. His hair was mussed more than usual.
"Oh Harry. Where have you been?" Mum strode over to him and wrapped him in her arms. "I was getting so worried. I . . . oh my. What's this on your face?"
Mum licked her fingers and wiped at a couple smudges on Harry's face. "What were you doing to get so dir . . . hang on. Harry? Is that . . . is that lipstick?"
Fred looked over to George, his mouth forming a perfect O. George put a fist against his lips and silently laughed.
"What were you . . ." Mum drew a breath of surprise. "My goodness. What's that on your neck?"
Harry's face went completely red. "Um . . . Uhhhh . . ."
"Come on, Mum," said Fred. "Leave the poor boy alone and let him compare notes with Ickle Ronniekins to see whose girl snogs the best."
Harry fixed the twins with huge bulging eyes.
"Fred, behave yourself! Harry, I didn't know you were seeing . . . oh wait. Harry. Are you and Luna Lovegood . . .?"
"Uhhh . . . um, I . . . well . . . yes, Mrs. Weasley. We were . . . snogging." Harry's gaze shifted to his feet.
Slowly, a smile spread across Mum's face. "Oh, Harry. I think it's wonderful you found someone. And Luna's so nice . . . odd, but nice."
The smile vanished from Mum's face, replaced by a concerned look. "Now, you didn't, well, get ahead of yourselves, let's say, while you were . . . you know."
Fred watched as a quizzical look fell over Harry's face. Suddenly his eyes lit up when he realized what Mum meant. "Oh no, Mrs. Weasley. We didn't, um, 'get ahead of ourselves.'"
"Well, good. You two are much too young to be doing . . . that. But you just make sure you treat her with respect."
"Oh yes. I will. Count on it."
Mum smiled again and hugged Harry. "Oh Harry. I'm so happy for you. And make sure you invite Luna to dinner sometime. Perhaps tomorrow. Now go get washed up, dear."
Harry nodded and headed toward the stairs. He stopped as he neared the twins and just stared at them.
"Had a good day, did you, Harry?" George gave him a knowing smile.
"It was you two, wasn't it?" Harry asked pointedly.
"It was us two what?" Fred responded.
"The fireworks. The one that said Luna was as beautiful as a moonbeam. You guys did that."
"Maybe we did," Fred answered with a sly grin.
"Or maybe we didn't," George added.
Harry stared at them quietly for a few seconds, then grinned. "Thanks, Fred. George. You guys are the best."
Still smiling, Harry bounded up the stairs to the bathroom. The twins watched him depart, nodding in satisfaction.
"You know, Fred. After what we did today, we should create a whole line of romantic fireworks."
"Brilliant idea, George. Only try coming up with some better love messages. I mean really, as beautiful as a moonbeam?"
"Hey. It worked, didn't it?"
- THE END -