-Disclaimer: The Harry Potter Universe is the creation of JK Rowling
-The Storm Before Dawn
-Chapter One: The Storm
It was a clap of thunder that shook Luna Lovegood awake in the in the early hours two days after the battle of Hogwarts. All of the girls that slept her dormitory in Ravenclaw house still slept and Luna on quiet tiptoes circled them one by one to assure herself they were okay.
Padma Patil muttered softly in her sleep when Luna pulled the blankets back up over her shoulders. Cho Chang lay clutching her pillow in her fist and whimpered softly, a sure sign she was having another nightmare. Luna sat next to her and rubbed her back gently until Cho had quieted back into a peaceful slumber.
The other two girls in her room, Parvoti Patil and Lavender Brown were not Ravenclaws but had been welcomed in to spend the night just the same. Parvoti did not wish to be separated from her twin sister and Lavender, as Parvoti's best best had been dragged along for the ride.
Luna took special care to make sure her guests were comfortably sleeping. Ravenclaw or not, these girls had shared something that would give them a bond for the rest of their lives. All had been members of Dumbledores Army, a renegade band of students led by Harry Potter who, in resistance to the ministry of magic, had learned things that had likely saved all of their lives and the lives of many others as well only two days before.
Assured that the others slept peacefully Luna turned from the room and made her way quietly down the long corridor of sleeping girls and down the stairs to the Ravenclaw common room. She settled into her favorite chintz settee near the fireplace and used incendio to stir the fire back to life.
Sitting back she tried to put her mind to peaceful thoughts. The war was over, Voldemort was dead. That meant that those wrongly held by Voldemort and his followers would soon be set free...namely Luna's father.
Xenophilius Lovegood had been imprisoned months before when he had failed to produce Harry Potter after alerting the Death Eaters to Harry's presence at Xenophilius's home. Luna shivered with the memories of being held prisoner at Malfoy Manor as incentive for her father to print ugly anti-Harry Potter lies in his magazine "The Quibbler" and to turn Harry over should he appear. And appear Harry had, along with his best friends Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger, seeking information on the Hallows.
Luna abruptly jumped to her feet and began to pace, not liking at all the direction her thoughts had taken her. It didn't sit at all well with Luna knowing that she was the reason that three of the people who were among the dearest in the world to her had nearly been killed.
Deciding a walk on the grounds was in order, Luna pushed past the entrance to Ravenclaw house and into the dark, empty hallways of Hogwarts and made her way to the nearest exit. Then, thankful to see that the storm seemed to be blowing off in another direction and planning to miss the castle, she pushed her way out into the night.
The entrance courtyard, like the hallways, was deserted at this time of the night and Luna was grateful for that. She had a reputation for always being cheerful and upbeat, she was well aware that people thought she was a ditz, what some called a space-cadet. But Luna had never been particularly concerned with what others thought of her. Otherwise she would have never been able to hold onto the creatures that had lived in her mothers fairy tales. She could care less if others laughed at her unshaken belief in the crumple horned snorkack, wrackspurts and nargles.
Oh sure, somewhere in her mind, she knew they weren't real, but her heart knew that to let go of the creatures of her mothers imagination was to let go of another piece of her mother. Luna wasn't ready to let another go, not when she had so few left. Particularly when she didn't know yet the fate of her father. There had been reports of mass murders at Azkaban when the death eaters guarding it had feared Voldemorts hold was slipping, just after rumors surfaced that Harry Potter and his lot had gotten away once again after stealing something from a vault at Gringotts.
Luna stopped at the top of the long span of stairs that led to the boat house, mentally chastising herself for allowing her mind to go down that dark path once again. Tears threatened and she steeled herself against them. Too many of her thoughts seemed to end in her fathers death, and it was getting harder and harder to push them away. It had been easier during the day. All day yesterday she like everyone else had been far too busy to have time for dark thoughts. Nearly everyone had stayed behind to help clean up the mess left after the war and to aid in the search for the missing. Unfortunately, the search for the missing had largely ended in the discovery of bodies.
Thankfully, those bodies had consisted mostly of death eaters. Luna herself had found the body of the man who had pulled her off the Hogwarts express at Christmas. But now and then, a classmate or someone else from their side would be found in the rubble. Then everyone would gather and a prayer would be spoken with the family just before a detail from the ministry came to escort them with the body to the morgue.
Luna couldn't help but remember the shock when the body of little Dennis Creevey had been found. He was so tiny, and only a third year, but when his brother Colin had snuck back in, obviously he hadn't been alone.
"Damn it Luna!" she cursed at herself as she reached the bottom of the stairs and walked toward the pier "Stop thinking about that rubbish!"
"Hasn't anyone told you, the first sign of insanity is talking to ones self?" a deep voice behind her made Luna jump and she spun around to locate it's source, firing off a stupefy that just missed its target. Behind her just to the side of the stairs sat George Weaseley, his knees pulled up under his chin.
"You missed. Harry would be quite disappointed, after all that he went to to see us taught that defense curse properly."
"You scared me." Luna tucked her wand back up the sleeve of her long sweater.
"You're lucky it was me and not some death eater looking for a way off the grounds." George got to his feet "You'd make a very pretty ticket out of here Miss Lovegood."
"What are you doing skulking around down here anyway?" Luna shot him an frustrated look "Sitting around lying in wait just to scare people are you?"
"No actually." George let lose an unreadable sigh "I came down here so my mum and dad wouldn't have to watch me bawling again."
George looked at his feet "It tends to make them cry and I can't bear being the cause of that."
A light clicked on in Luna's memory and she remembered... Fred Weasley, Georges twin brother, had been killed.
"Oh heavens." Luna put her hand over her mouth "I'm the worlds biggest prat. I'm so sorry."
"Don't see why you should be, you didn't kill him." George was carefully pulling his mask in place that he wore to convince others he was okay.
"No." Luna put her hand on his arm "I'm being horrible, a complete prat. Speaking to you so rudely just now. I should have have known..."
George looked down into the silvery depths of her eyes, his mask slipping back a few degrees at the intensity of the compassion he saw there.
"Known what?" He said, his voice sounded choked
"You came here to be alone, to mourn." Another realization hit Luna "And I'm intruding on that...I'm sorry, I'll just...just go and leave you be."
Luna turned to the stairs when a bright bolt of lightning slashed across the sky, the brightness blinding her for a second and the following clap of thunder was so close and so loud that she jumped and totally without intent, Luna found herself suddenly cheek to chest with George Weasley.
"Oh...Hello there." George said, a bit of a chuckle in his voice "Thought you were leaving...but if you wanted a cuddle...you only had to ask".
Luna, blushing to the roots of her hair, lifted her hands and pushed against him, breaking free of his grasp.
"No I don't want to cuddle. Why would I want a cuddle with an arrogant pig like you George Weasley?"
"You tell me Luna, you're the one who jumped into my arms uninvited."
Luna felt her hackles rise at his presumptions "I'll have you know I didn't jump into anything ...on purpose."
George just laughed as another bolt of lightning struck overhead, followed by a louder clap of thunder and Luna jumped again, thankfully this time away from George.
"Jumpy little bit of fluff aren't you?"
"I just don't like storms and... Oh! I don't know why I feel a need to explain anything to you, I could care less what you think. I'm leaving. Goodnight Mr. Weasley."
"Come now Luna, we've held one another. Surely you can call me George."
Lightning cracked again, this time it hit the metal torches only a few feet from where George and Luna stood, Luna moaned a little and jumped a lot as the wind kicked up and it began to lightly rain.
"Goodbye Mr. Weasley." Luna ran to the stairs as the rain turned suddenly into a downpour but found herself pulled back before she reached them.
"What do you think you're doing? Let me go!"
"Are you out of your mind? You want to be charred crispy? Those metal torches are like lightning rods. You go running around between them you'll get yourself killed."
"I'd much rather take my chances than continue to stand here and be mocked by you, thank you very much!"
But Luna was helpless to resist as George dragged her inside the shelter of the boat house and stopped by a ladder.
"There's more shelter in the loft, we stay down here were going to get soaked."
Luna looked at him doubtfully
"Just quit arguing with me and climb." Hesitantly Luna obeyed, then moved away from the ladder to distance herself from the annoyance now climbing the ladder behind her.
George stomped up to her and took her arm, wheeling her around to look down. "That's why."
Another flash of bright light illuminated the ground and Luna saw the high waves and the wind tossing the spray about, quickly wetting the inside of the lower floor of the boat house.
"Oh." she said sheepishly and stepped away from the edge, then stood shivering in a corner far away from him.
George went to one of the boats and began digging around under the cover, finally locating what he was looking for he turned back, a piece of heavy white canvas in his hands. He shrugged out of his wet sweater and shoes, then spread the canvas out, doubled it over and sat down and pulled it up around his shoulders.
Luna watched him warily as he flipped a bit of the canvas open, offering her a warm place to sit, but she hesitated.
"Merlin's drawers, I don't bite. Look, you're cold right? " He rolled his eyes as she continued to ignore him "Come and be warm, or freeze, your choice."
A violent shiver went up Luna's back and she edged closer, her teeth beginning to chatter. Finally she kicked off her wet shoes and sweater and sat next to him, allowing him to adjust the canvas around her shoulders.
"Lord but your a stubborn thing. I was beginning to wonder if you were planning on holding out for an engraved invitation."
"Must you speak?" Luna looked away from him
"It makes communicating much easier, speaking does."
Luna still refused to look at him.
"I don't feel a particular need to communicate at the moment." Luna decided to close her eyes and try to sleep. Maybe if she fell asleep she could sleep out this storm.
George didn't seem willing to allow it however.
"Pity, I thought you might be able to expand my mind a bit...you Ravenclaws are suppose to be the smart well traveled ones. Of course, we can't all spend our summers scouting out horned crumbled snoresacks."
Luna grit her teeth.
"It's crumple horned snorkacks. And in order to expand a mind, you must first have a mind. Unfortunately, you seem to be out of luck, wonder you haven't blown yourself up instead of everything else you get your hands on."
"Well, we can't all be the offspring of great publishers of the literary world like you."
It occurred to Luna then why he was being so nasty. Her father had nearly gotten Georges brother Ron killed...because of her. No wonder he hated her.
"Please, I'm tired, I think I'd like to try to sleep."
"Too bad I feel up to talking then isn't it?"
Luna jumped up and walked to edge of the loft.
"I certainly do wish this storm would end. I do hope it won't halt the progress of the repairs to the castle."
She wasn't prepared for the voice that came just over her shoulder.
"We'd all like things we don't get. I certainly don't. I'm sure you'd like for your father not to be in prison for being a filthy snitch to Voldemort."
"Shut your filthy mouth." Luna spun on him
"Hit a nerve have I?"
Luna didn't stop to think, and she didn't hesitate. She wheeled back her fist and punched him as hard as she could. George flew backwards, landing on his back on the canvas.
"You're a stupid pig George Weasley! A stupid pig who runs his mouth about things he is too stupid to understand! My father only did what he did because he had to save me. I'd assume you'd have done the same thing had it been your sister or brothers, then maybe you wouldn't. You seem to be just another heartless bastard without a care to others feelings and fear." Luna was crying furiously "It was my fault, so you just go on ahead and hate me, talk rubbish about me all you wish if it makes you feel like a big man, but leave my father out of it!"
And then she was backing down the ladder and as soon as her feet his the stone of the boathouse floor she was off and running for the stairs.
"Luna, come back!" George yelled "I'm sorry!"
Luna hit the stairs and didn't spare a glance back. Lightning and thunder coursed all around her, the bright flashes and pouring rain blinding her at moments. She didn't care, all she wanted was to be away from that boathouse and George Weaseley's ugly words. Then her bare feet slipped on wet stones and she grasped onto the railing but it slipped underneath her fingers and she fell hard on the stone stairs as a bolt of lightning found purchase on the torch just over where she had fallen.
She lay there breathing hard, the taste of blood full in her mouth. Then she felt hands on her back, gently lifting and turning her.
"Luna? Luna are you okay?" a gentle hand brushed the hair from her face and she found herself looking up into the scared eyes of George Weasley.
George lifted her to her feet and she winced. He yelled over the wind to be heard "The storm is getting worse, we need to get back inside."
Lighting hit a torch several yards up from where they stood and Luna jumped and nodded, allowing him to piggyback her back to the boat house and up the ladder.
George sat her carefully back on the canvas. "Are you badly hurt?" His hand trembled as he examined her split lip.
"What do you care?" Luna said miserably and tried to struggle out of his grasp. "You hate me."
"I don't hate you."
Luna looked at him in surprise, "You don't have to lie."
George sighed and began looking for his wand "I have no reason to hate you." He found his wand and said softly "I can heal your lip, if you feel you can trust me."
Luna wondered at the shift in him. He had been cold before, callus, instead he was now caring and warm. Where he had been cruel, he was now kind. Even his voice and face had changed. He was softer and so gentle, even vulnerable. But then hadn't he shown his vulnerability to her once already, when she had first come across him?
"... actually ,I came down here so my mum and dad wouldn't have to watch me bawling again. It tends to make them cry and I can't bear being the cause of that."
Luna nodded "Thank you. I'd appreciate that, it does hurt a bit."
"That was a horrible fall you took." George pointed his wand at her lip and spoke a healing spell. "I thought you'd been struck. It was very close to you."
"No, just me being clumsy I'm afraid" Luna touched her lip "That's much better, thank you."
"You shouldn't have been out there." George lifted the edge of the canvas and pulled it over her and then himself "It's my fault you were. I was a damn bloody arse, and I apologize."
Luna shrugged "You have a right to be angry, you should be angry about what my father did" Luna sighed "But please understand, he only did it because he was scared, about what they would do to me. It's really me you should hate, not him."
George shook his head and relaxed back against the wall "I don't hate anyone...look, I'm afraid you had the misfortune to come across me at the worst possible time. I was in full feeling sorry for myself mode. I'm sorry I took it out on you."
Luna looked at him. All his pain and grief seemed to be sitting on the surface now, as if he hadn't the strength to hide it any longer.
"I guess I did the same." She blinked down at her knees "I was trying to outrun my own fear, running into you was a bit like slamming into a brick wall and having them thrown back at me."
"Well, aren't we just a lovely pair of miserable fools?" George's sudden smile caught Luna off guard.
"I'm sorry, for what my father did." She said sadly "It was terrible and unforgivable really."
"No. You were completely right."George shook his head "What your father did was no different from what I or my father would have done had it been Ginny. It's a fathers duty to look after his children first and damn everyone else."
"I'd have told him not to, if I could have." Luna shivered again as the memory of Malfoy Manor swept over her
"Are you still cold?" George fussed with the canvas around her shoulders
"I'm fine." Luna smiled softly "And I forgive you, if you'll forgive me too."
Luna put out her hand and George took it, instead of shaking he kissed her fingers.
"There's nothing to forgive." Luna began to protest and George shushed her "But if it makes you feel better, I forgive you."
Luna wondered at the change in him. He was really quite...charming when he wanted to be.
"This is the George Weasley I remember from the DA." Luna smiled "I like you much better this way."
George smiled and wrapped his arms around his legs, resting his chin on his knees.
"He's still here somewhere, I think." He turned his head and looked at her "Right now, its hard to see much besides anger and sadness." He closed his eyes and Luna felt her heart ache for him as a wash of tears broke from his eyes, rolled down his cheeks and was absorbed into the canvas. "It hurts so much to think he's never coming back."
George whimpered softly and Luna reached out for him. "Oh George...oh...it's okay."
Looking back George was never really sure how he ended up with his head in Luna's lap sobbing while her hand gently smoothed his hair and she spoke soft words of comfort. The storm outside continued to rage around them and as the storm inside him began to wane George decided that however he had gotten there, where he was, was a very nice place to be.
Okay, so, this was suppose to be a one-shot but, I don't think I am capable of writing one-shots anymore. I have an idea of how I could go on with this, but first I need to know if anyone thinks I should or not. LoL
So, review and tell me what you think!
BTW, Yeah, I know George is a total ass and out of character...but his brother JUST died 48 hours before this takes place...so...
Anyway, there will be at least one more part to this.
Chapter Two: Dawn
Not totally sure what will happen yet, I'm still working that out in my head. It will depend on if I decide to take this further or not into Luna's search for answers about her father...with a little help from a certain Weasley.