A/N: This story contains femmeslash, meaning two girls in love. It's basically PG13 stuff, but if the idea of this upsets you in any way, I'd recommend you don't read this. Otherwise, welcome to a world of small blessings. Enjoy.
It starts just after the war ends.
Luna decides to crop her hair short, short like Hermione's temper is nowadays. She's always shouting at people, and funnily it's always Luna who stops her.
Her body aches from so many Cruciatuses and all she wants is to sleep.
She watches the Trio return from whatever they were doing in the Headmaster's office and smiles at Harry, bedraggled and thin, nods politely at Ronald with his shock of outgrown red hair and the cuts on his face still bleeding, and simply stares at Hermione with a 'let's get out of here' look that she's sure she'll use more often in the future.
They get out of there. The jubilant songs from the Great Hall echo down so many of the broken halls, with jagged shadows appearing like the ghosts that will no doubt appear in the months afterwards as the sun comes up, bright and shimmering with natural magic, shining on a new era and a new start for everyone.
It takes a while to find the right place to stop. But nevertheless they stop, in Firenze's teaching room, the walls broken in some places but the enchantment (magical and spiritual) remains strong. Luna immediately felt herself gravitate towards that familiar faux-forest floor and crumpled, flopping down with such enthusiasm that Hermione gasps.
"Luna! Are you-?"
"I'm quite alright, Hermione. Sit. It's been a long time."
Hermione feels her heartstrings being tugged by this detached, mystical girl, and she crumples too, flopping down so that she can see Luna's face clearly. Her heart echoes in a melancholy tone, such a long time.
"I'm going to cut my hair shorter, to my chin. It'll keep the wrackspurts away better."
Hermione pauses for thought, studying that pale face and suddenly she sees it, her elfin features framed by spiky, gold locks. She smiles, and says,
"It'll suit you."
And Luna's heart sings, because now she knows Hermione is her friend.
Somehow, the Burrow hasn't been hit by angry spells and stands tall, lopsided as ever. The arrangements for Fred's funeral (not to mention Tonks, Remus, Colin, and the fifty-odd others who left that day) are put together there. Harry organizes Snape's funeral himself, along with a portrait for the headmaster's office.
Somehow people keep tumbling into the Burrow to stay – homes have been destroyed, people are being tracked down and the Order prefers the bustling Weasley den to Grimmauld Place, where they would be haunted by so many lost souls, gone forever to a place some soldiers wish they had gone to.
Hermione thinks a lot about her kiss with Ron and what it meant. It was nice, sure, and passionate no doubt, but she when she speaks with Ron nowadays, they're just friends. Perhaps it was nothing but platonic – it would explain the lack of romantic feeling she has towards him.
She asks Luna,
"What does it mean?"
Luna smiles, and takes Hermione's war-worn hands, tracing the lines on her palms with a long, pale finger.
"What would you like it to mean?"
Before Hermione can think, Luna goes on in her dreamy tone,
"I see love in your future. A love that defies logic…but it is not Ronald. No…nor Harry, Neville, Seamus, Lavender, Parvati, Dean, Cho…you cannot help yourself…you are just so full of love for all. Like me."
Hermione blushed. There had been times when she had loved each of those Luna had named; lingering touches on Harry's hand, smouldering glares at Cho and Lavender, and an undeniable attraction to the others. She stared at Luna, who stared resolutely back as the bushy-haired girl asked,
"Where is the answer? How do you know all of this?"
"You already have your answers. It's the questions you need to be looking for."
And with that, Luna drifted off, leaving Hermione with nothing but Luna's sweet earthy scent to cling to.
Luna enjoyed being in the company of so many. The Burrow became a home for all, people chipping in money for groceries and the like, wrapping up warmer and cuddling together in the cold nights so the heating bill was not as high as it would be.
Seamus and Dean stop by many times, sometimes with Neville; though Neville comes and goes by himself most of the time. He's taller now, broader and more substantial – he's a man, at least as tall as Ron and a true hero like him and Harry too. Luna likes talking to Neville the most, because there's something so delightfully familiar about this clumsy, nervous, forgetful boy who has turned into a warrior almost all at once.
When she looks at him, she thinks he is a work of art. This war brought many bad things, but some small blessings – one of them being the transformation of Neville Longbottom into the commander of a great army, the one who roused the rebel yell of Dumbledore's Army at Hogwarts…someone Luna has the good fortune to call her friend.
One day, the sun comes out, strong and hot, and the current inhabitants of the Burrow (the remaining Weasleys, the lone Potter, Seamus, Dean, Lavender, Hermione, Cho, Lee, Parvati, Padma, and so many others) all flood out into the garden, so that the air is heavy with love and the ground is covered with people savouring the eccentric British weather, blessing Ottery St Catchpole with a spell of sun (it's nice to have a spell that only does good, except in the case of Ginny Weasley's burnt shoulders).
Luna takes a walk with Neville, hand in hand; there's nothing romantic about it, it's merely platonic, for they are best friends and yes, Luna does love him, though not in that way. Neville's hand is so much bigger than the one she clutched in her fourth year, in between fighting Death Eaters at the Ministry, and she smiles up at him nostalgically, a smile which he returns tenfold.
"How have you been, Luna?" His question comes suddenly, and Luna gives him a dazzling smile.
"I've been great, Neville. Hermione and I are friends now!"
Neville studies her face for a while, and smiles at what he knows is to come – that is, if Hermione decides to allow it.
Hermione Granger did not often find herself being confused.
She was not confused about her body – the war had built muscle to a certain extent, but going without food for such long stretches of time had made her thin and bizarrely stick-like, so she can count her ribs (24 in total, 4 just recovered from fractures) and the knobs of her spine.
The Burrow is too crowded nowadays for everyone to have a bath of their own, so they limit the amount they bathe for the while, and some people agree to share baths when they do bathe.
Hermione surprises herself by agreeing to this; usually she was a private person with regards to revealing herself to other people, even other girls, but now she could not find the energy to protest the practice.
She finds herself bathing with Luna the most. Sometimes it's Ginny, but mainly Luna. She assures herself that she has nothing to be ashamed of by preferring to bathe with a specific person, and feeling ridiculously (almost impossibly) comfortable around that person.
Hermione steps into the bathtub after Luna, settling herself at the opposite end of the bath and stretching out her legs next to Luna. The water is not as deep as usual because there are droughts across the wizarding community, so she can see the outline of Luna's body in the water, and her toes poking out from the water, their nails painted silver. Her own are painted, oddly, the same colour, which she found lying around the house one day and made use of, deciding it was time for a change.
Luna's hair is shorter now, about chin-length like she said, but as knotted as ever. Luna smiles at Hermione and says,
"Do you like it?"
Hermione does not even have to think before she replies,
"I love it."
She watches Luna's smile grow bigger and more dazzling than ever, and she presses her thumbs subconsciously into the gaps between her ribs to stop herself from giggling. She gives a smile back – a real smile, she is surprised to find, then offers to wash Luna's back. As she does, she can't help but notice that every knob of Luna's spine is visible, and her ribs stick out like the bars of a real cage - not just this twin set shielding her every breath from escape.
Hermione sighs, "We'll get better, won't we?"
Luna turns, grasping Hermione's face in her elfin hands, and kisses her chastely on the lips,
"Yes. We'll all get better, eventually."
It is repair day at the Burrow, and it's boiling.
Hermione and Luna help to re-paint the Burrow – Molly decides that a new coat of white paint would make the whole place look better. Ron and Harry are de-gnoming the yard, and Ginny is cleaning the windows, exchanging lovestruck glances with the Boy Who Lived as she scrubs.
Ron smiles at Hermione, and gestures her over.
Luna watches as Hermione resignedly picks her way across the overgrown garden to him, and can just hear their conversation on the breeze.
"Hermione, where are we going?"
"…well, um, R-Ron, we're…"
"I….don't really know."
Luna can see, in the mildly distorted reflection of the window, Ron dipping his head to Hermione's and kissing her softly. As he draws back, there is sadness on both their faces.
"I can't say I didn't know."
"Look, 'Mione, we're not meant to be. I guess…we were caught in the moment, or something, back at Hogwarts, or we had something and we lost it…"
"It's not that I don't love you. I do…just as a brother."
"I think I feel the same, too. It's pretty clear who you belong with, anyways."
But Ron merely smiled, and looked towards Luna, painting away like she didn't have hope rising in her body like a tide flowing back in from far-off lands. Hermione walked back in a daze, and uttered but one word,
Luna looks at her, and smiles mildly, "Nargles got you?"
Hermione dumbly nods yes, and picks up her paintbrush again, scaling the other precariously long ladder propped up against this jigsaw of a house with ease. Luna smiles; she's wearing a pair of her purple dungarees, the straps pulled up over her shoulders, with Luna's green t-shirt, too, underneath it. Her feet are bare, like Luna's, and she paints with renewed enthusiasm, a gloriously free smile on her face,
Luna looks down at herself. A pair of Ron's old black suit trousers – found in a pile of clean clothes, but given to her by Ron himself – hang low on her slim hips, and an already paint-splattered old white shirt of her mother's is buttoned wrongly over a blue vest. They look free and ramshackle and odd beyond words, but Luna smiles, because they look together.
Somehow Hermione and Luna's transition from friends to lovers is easy and seems like the most natural thing in the world when Luna pulls Hermione close one day and simply says, "Go slow."
Their kisses are tender and filled with curiosity and adventure, and Hermione can only taste Luna – and Luna tastes of the sunlight that is strewn across the mattress and walls like shards of a broken looking glass.
Soon they lay down and their clothing seems to melt away, and here are two bodies so familiar to each other (Hermione knows every fading scar on Luna's body and Luna can count the vanishing bruises on Hermione's) that just seem to fit together.
Luna's hair flows like moonlight over the battered pillows on the makeshift bed Hermione calls her own (and now, Luna's) and Hermione's gentle, scarred hands trace fairy swirls and magical symbols on Luna's body, making her gasp and arch into Hermione's waiting embrace.
They make love for what seems like hours, and when they lie, entwined, together on Hermione's mattress in Ginny's room, everything seems still and perfect.
All the dead are buried by Christmas. Hermione and Luna don white, instead of black, to every funeral, and hold each other's hand in a death grip, tears flowing freely down both faces.
"Why white, and not black, Luna?" Hermione questions at first.
"They would not want us to mourn. They would want us to celebrate the glorious, textured lives they had – that's what my mother told me."
When they retreat back to the Burrow with the rest of the friends staying there, they do not go in straight away, but take off their restricting funeral shoes and walk in their soon-to-be laddered tights up to the hill overlooking the entirety of Ottery St. Catchpole, then clutch at each other desperately, not saying anything but savouring the fact that they live, they breathe and they love, and they are solid in each other's arms as they lie down on the hill and sing to one another inside their minds.
Thank you. The wind echoes their thoughts across the night skies.
Luna's house is rebuilt, and Xenophilius tells his daughter that if she would like to move back, she can.
Hermione bites her fingernails anxiously as Luna goes back to the Lovegood house that brought Luna up to being the magical girl she is, and frets that maybe things will change if she stays.
"He's my father," Luna had said. "He's important to me. But I don't know if I want to move back home. I don't know whether I should move somewhere new."
Hermione doesn't care where this 'somewhere new' is as long as she can go too.
"I might travel, for a while. I'm not sure," she says, offhandedly, as if she isn't stricken by the news that Luna is leaving.
Luna looks at her carefully, "Okay."
The artificial silence hangs heavy over their heads and they feel as if they cannot breathe.
Things do change, slightly. In the end, Hermione does travel, and Luna travels too, following the opposite route around the world to Hermione, so they will meet again in the middle of their journey – Gotebourg, in Sweden, to search for Crumple-Horned Snorkacks – then complete the other half of their journey and decide where they should go from there.
They are not together, at least not physically. But somehow their hearts echo out to each other and they know exactly where the other is on the great big globe of metal they call their Earth. War had given them each different paths, but they had both endured the same horrors in time and were brought together by something that was there all along.
If war could bring such a wonderful thing to the surface, Hermione thought, as she kissed Luna for the last time before they set off in opposite directions, then separation could make this emotional magic endure.
The pair turned from each other, letting their entwined fingers slip apart.
They glanced back at one another with bittersweet smiles, then twin pop!s echoed and they vanished.
A/N: Well, I'll let you know now that this is not the end. This is just a little taster for a fic I'm working on about the pair's individual travels, where they will talk through letters. It'll be based around their self-discoveries as they encounter new people and places, and their self-reliance strengthening while they're apart – I've been reading Emerson's essay on self-reliance and it fascinates me. The sequel may not be immediate, but it'll come and I hope you'll alert this if you like it so you can come back to read more about this ship. Do review, I know you're good at it. (: