Of radish earrings and spectrespecs: how Luna Lovegood was different
Summary: George/Luna. Luna's the LAST person that George thinks can help him through his loss after the Battle of Hogwarts, but just maybe she'll surprise him. DH spoilers, going into AU. Fairly long one-shot. Fluffy angst I suppose.
Disclaimer: All characters belong to JK Rowling. The only thing I own is the plot.
"George, you remember Luna, don't you…?"
George Weasley could barely suppress his grimace as he glared at his younger brother in abject annoyance, more than irked at being pulled from his nonsensical daydream about well... absolutely nothing, he had to confess; not that it made it ok to interrupt him.
Remember Luna? He was unable to suppress the mild amusement that threatened to curl his lips, but bit back the instinctive smile by setting his face into a stony mask once more.
Everyone at bloody Hogwarts had known Loony Lovegood after all. It wasn't like she was an easy person to forget, was it? Or remotely inconspicuous at that. Not with her bright red radish earrings and psychedelic spectrespecs (free with a special edition of 'The Quibbler'), not to mention the fact that she was barefoot in December and the snow was three inches deep outside the window. Even the evil garden gnomes who frequently invaded The Burrow's overgrown lawn had taken sanctuary in this bitterly cold weather and there were still months of the cold snap to go yet.
Luna removed the colourful spectacles with an absent-minded smile and regarded him with surprisingly intelligent eyes and he was reminded that she was seventeen now, the same age as Ginny. Blimey, the time was flying by- when had his little sister grown up? George sometimes felt like he was the only person who was stationery whilst the rest of the world spun on its axis. The last several months had passed him by in a flash and it bothered him to know that life continued unimpeded, whilst Fred- his own brother- was buried in the ground.
"Hello George," Luna said in a lyrical, polite voice that he remembered vaguely from DADA classes with Harry Potter. Fat lot of good those classes had done Fred, hadn't they? His own blue eyes darkened momentarily as he surveyed the younger girl now, looking from her, to Ron and then to Hermione, with undisguised irritation. What were they all bloody bothering him for? Couldn't they see he wanted to be alone?
George grunted what could barely pass for a civilised greeting, and turned away, burying his chin in the cushion of the battered couch once more and gazing listlessly into space.
For anyone else, such rudeness would have immediately alerted them to the fact that George quite simply did not want to talk.
Luna Lovegood however, wasn't most people.
To George's shock, she sat down beside him on the couch like there was nothing amiss, indeed like sitting there was something she did every day of the week. He was so surprised by her matter-of-fact manner that he found he couldn't even think of a bitter retort or something to say that would make her go away. Words he'd found so easy to hurl at everyone else these past few months now completely escaped him. He just looked at Luna without blinking. Maybe she could take the hint from the dour expression on his face instead.
No such luck. To his annoyance his brother chipped in next.
"Luna just came to bring us some anti-nargle charms," Ron informed George overly brightly, "so we can hang them on the Christmas tree and over the doorways."
"She's very thorough," Hermione added with a sidelong smile for her friend. "It never hurts to be prepared early after all."
"Nargles?" George asked, bewildered and curious despite himself, though he got the distinct impression his brother and Hermione were merely humouring the younger girl. He looked up and for the first time noticed all the butterbeer corks strung on the large spruce tree, set jauntily by the crackling fire. A bloody Christmas tree his mum and dad had insisted on putting up, even though none of them felt much like celebrating the festive season this year. Especially him. His brow furrowed sceptically.
"Nargles infest mistletoe," Luna informed him, her eyes meeting his. "And they like to steal things. It would be a shame if they stole all the nice things in The Burrow, your dad's collection of plugs for example."
George rolled his eyes and went back to brooding, unable to prevent the little snort of disbelief leaving his lips. Ron and Hermione shot Luna an apologetic look as she shrugged mildly.
"Not everyone believes in nargles," was all she said, in that same lilting voice, studying one of Molly's embroidered cushions with fascination.
"No," George said sarcastically; "obviously not, considering they don't bloody exist after all."
"We'll er- go and get us some pumpkin juice," Ron said quickly, taking a step backwards out of the living room as Hermione discretely dug her elbow into his ribs. George's head shot up from the cushion he'd been slumping over in sudden panic, but both Ron and Hermione smiled brightly at him and disappeared before he could utter so much as a single word of protest.
George sighed gloomily.
"I know how it feels to think you're alone," Luna startled him by saying, seemingly out of the blue; "but you aren't you know."
"What do you know about how I'm feeling?" he snapped rudely, his eyes flashing; scarcely able to believe she would dare bring up the subject of Fred, though in an indirect way of course. He regretted his hot outburst immediately when he quickly recalled that Harry had once told him that Luna's mother had died when she was young. Yet before he could muster up an apology, Luna surprised him yet again.
"Well, I suppose I don't know how you're feeling personally," she admitted simply, fiddling with her necklace, one he again noticed was a threaded butterbeer cork- what was it with her and corks? "I've never lost a brother, or a twin at that and everybody's different in how they grieve…"
George suddenly noticed her eyes were a strange blue, so shiny they were almost a silvery violet. Unusual granted, but somehow they fit her. Rather like her dirty-blonde hair that was twisted in a haphazard plait down to her waist- it wasn't neat or orderly by any means and rather straggly as a matter of fact; George couldn't imagine Luna was a girl who used Sleekeazy after all, yet it… suited her.
He blinked; surprised at the uncertain directions his thoughts were now taking him. It felt strangely disconcerting for him not to be thinking about Fred for a change. Even if it was only for a mere split second whilst he contemplated the undeniable oddity that was Luna Lovegood. It was almost like he'd been surfacing through fog and now he'd stepped back into bright sunlight for the first time in weeks. Months even. "I suppose so," he said finally, in answer to her blunt deliberation; "I mean… I've never lost anybody close to me before, either."
Hermione and Ron returned then, carrying goblets of pumpkin juice, which Luna politely waved away; "no thank you," she said with that same half-smile; "I'd better be getting home. I know Christmas is still a couple of weeks away, but there may be some stray Nargles around here you know and I don't have enough butterbeer corks left to repel them all…"
George was startled to feel the small tug of disappointment churning in his stomach as Luna got up from the couch with a bright smile for the three of them. How was that even possible? He'd barely even spoken three words to her.
"Goodbye George," she said simply as she pulled on her spectre-specs once more, "I do hope the weather gets better soon, don't you? It would be a shame for all those gnomes to have to stay away from their houses for too long."
"Luna—" he suddenly placed a hand on her wrist, finding it so slender and delicate it was like porcelain to the touch. She turned to face him; "does—does it get any easier?" he found himself asking, almost timidly.
After a moments pause, Luna nodded, her smile kind, before apparating with a crack.
George just didn't know why he was stood in Luna's front garden. He'd found his way there quite unconsciously, yet now he was here it seemed rude not to see how she was, he reasoned to himself. She was on a week's holiday from Hogwarts before her final exams were due next term and George rather uncomfortably realised that he'd been thinking about Luna Lovegood a little bit too much recently. He'd not even seen her since just before Christmas and he doubted very much given how he'd spoken to her then that she'd even want to talk to him at all. He shook his head ruefully and was just about to turn and leave when-
"George… how nice to see you."
He jumped and looked up, her voice floating towards him from somewhere in mid-air.
She was sat on one of the lower branches of a large oak tree as it happened, swinging her legs as she read through a copy of The Quibbler. It was upside down, George realised with sudden fascination. How on earth could anybody read anything that was upside down? She was also barefoot. Of course she's barefoot, he thought to himself with a sudden smile that genuinely startled him. It felt like years since he'd smiled.
"Do you want to join me?" she offered, peering down at him like there was nothing amiss and resting the newspaper in the nook of one of the knotty branches; "I like climbing trees, don't you?"
George used to love climbing trees as it happened. With a sudden pang of sadness he recalled that he and Fred had climbed every single one of the trees in The Burrow's back garden, countless times over. Nevertheless, he clambered nimbly up the branches and sat down beside Luna, who looked happy to have him next to her. This caused him some bewilderment but he didn't comment on it. He'd been thinking about Fred a lot lately. Sometimes the thoughts of their mischief and outrageous pranks made him smile, other times cry himself to sleep. Sometimes he just didn't know what he was feeling- those were the times when he found himself thinking about Luna again and quickly made himself stop. It felt… wrong somehow for him still to be living his life when his own twin was gone.
Depression settled over George again like a sudden rain-cloud and his shoulders slumped immeasurably; that was when he felt the first spots of rain dotting his shoulders through the closely clustered branches above and he sighed audibly; "great.. bloody April showers."
"I love the rain," Luna said dreamily as she tilted her face upwards, "it's like… it's cleansing the earth."
George looked at her in abject disbelief; "it's cold and wet. Not to mention we're both now bloody soaking," he pointed out rather unnecessarily. The mention of 'cleansing the earth' reminded him once more that Fred was buried in the ground and he couldn't suppress the little shudder that rushed through his body at the thought.
"But it's clear and fresh at the same time," Luna pointed out with a bright smile as she looked at him. She had raindrops stuck to her eyelashes and George was suddenly struck by how beautiful she was. The thought scared him.
"Don't you even know what everyone calls you?" he demanded, suddenly irritated that she was always so calm and placid and that even something like an April rainstorm didn't faze her. Why was she always so bloody mild-mannered and cheerful? It wasn't right.
Luna tilted her head and a small enigmatic smile crossed her face as her wet hair stuck to her head. "'Loony' Lovegood?" she hazarded a not-so-wild guess as she played idly with the end of her damp plait. She seemed almost amused by the nickname.
"That doesn't bother you?" George asked her in disbelief, wiping rainwater out of his eyes. "The fact that everyone thinks you're bloody mental? Just like getting soaked in a rainstorm doesn't bother you?"
"Why would it?" Luna responded with an idle shrug; "everyone's entitled to their opinion. As long as I know I'm not loony, it really shouldn't matter what anyone else thinks."
George smiled sadly; "then that's the difference between me and you Luna," he offered quietly, "you think you're different. I just think you stick your head in the sand and refuse to see what's really going on around you."
He apparated with an angry crack, leaving Luna staring at the space where he'd been sat, a look of disappointment on her face.
Luna looked up from where she was sat quietly on the Ottery-St-Catchpole riverbank, dangling her bare feet in the fast moving stream. "George," she said with a pleased smile; "how nice to see you."
George looked down at her in disbelief. Had she forgotten that the last time he'd seen her he'd been an utter prat? He'd been stewing over how to apologise to her for months, considering sending any number of owls to her at Hogwarts apologising for his behaviour, yet here she was acting like she didn't even remember how ill-tempered and horrible he'd been to her. He scratched his freckled brow in confusion. He really didn't understand girls. Especially not ones like Luna.
"Do you want to sit down?" Luna offered, moving over on the spiky grass to make room for him. "The water is wonderfully cool here…"
George studied her for only a second before sitting down beside her. "What I said before—" he began awkwardly; "I—I didn't mean it. I was just-- I'd been thinking about Fred and--"
"George," Luna interrupted him kindly, "it might be nice if you take off your shoes and tell me all about him."
So George did, untying his shoelaces and dangling his lanky feet in the water with a relieved smile.
That hot summer's day in July wouldn't be the first time they'd sit and talk about Fred, but it was the day that stuck out most vividly in George's mind. It was the day when he realised that Luna wasn't the person who'd been sticking their head in the sand.
George somehow wasn't surprised to find that Luna loved to twirl dizzily amongst the fallen autumn leaves. Barefoot of course. Why have it any other way?
Her toes crunched recklessly amongst the leaves in her father's front garden, kicking them haphazardly up in the air and George couldn't help but notice her carefree, joyous expression as they floated gently around her on the light October breeze. A rake stood idly by, and he imagined she'd initially been grooming them into a pile, but had got distracted. Vintage Luna.
A smile lifted his lips and he spoke, shoving his hands into his pockets self consciously, understanding he'd been staring at her but not comprehending why; "hi."
"George," she turned and smiled at him, not at all fazed to be caught dancing barefoot all by herself, and not one single shred of embarrassment on her pretty face; "how nice to see you again." She said that almost as if she didn't remember he'd seen her only two days earlier. His visits to Luna's house were becoming more and more frequent and he found she was always pleased to see him. At least George thought she was. He found he actually hoped she was.
"What are you doing?" he couldn't help asking, as he gestured to the rainbow of leaves now scattered over the grass, a midst of golden, red and orange hues. Colours synonymous with autumn, George's favourite time of year.
"The drying leaves feel simply wonderful between my toes," Luna reported mildly, "and I like to dance. Why not?"
Why not, indeed? George couldn't help the grin spreading from over his face at her blunt appraisal. The entire situation was so patently Luna Lovegood and he realised that this was what he missed when she wasn't around. What he had thought of at first as 'odd' or 'loony' was merely different and George Weasley was suddenly discovering that perhaps different was good.
"Do you want me to help you to rake the leaves again?" he offered, pulling out his wand. "I know a charm for that."
"So do I," Luna replied with a patient smile, "just… sometimes it's nicer to do the work yourself than having to rely on magic all the time, don't you think?"
George hadn't thought of it in that way and slipped his wand back in his pocket; "I suppose so," he concluded; "though I never usually think like that when I have to de-gnome The Burrow's back garden by hand."
The two of them worked in comfortable silence for thirty minutes, Luna humming under her breath. Soon a large pile of leaves had been pulled together around their feet and she eyed them with satisfaction. "I love the colours of autumn," she told him, bright-eyed, "even though the leaves are dying, they're so vivid and… alive somehow."
"Like Fred," George wasn't sure why he said that, all he knew was that it was true.
"Just like Fred," Luna agreed, seeming pleased with his response.
George leaned over and kissed her.
It wasn't a forceful, passionate kiss, yet it wasn't a peck either. It was a warm brush of the lips and his hand gently cupping Luna's face in the way he now realised he'd been wanting to for months. To his relief, he felt her tentatively respond, and then he felt her small hands rather uncertainly resting on his back, pulling him ever so slightly closer to her and suddenly his heart was soaring in a way it never had as they eventually broke apart for air.
"That was nice," she said simply, though he noticed that she looked rather wide-eyed all of a sudden. He thought with a chuckle that it was the first time he'd ever seen Luna Lovegood wrong-footed.
"Nice?" George couldn't help asking, wrinkling his freckled nose and running a hand through his shaggy red hair. "I was hoping for more than just 'nice,' Luna."
She looked shy all of a sudden; "well, I have no real basis for comparisons," she informed him, her eyes meeting his and a small flush on her cheeks. "Though I imagine that were you to maybe kiss me again, then there would be some thorough grounding in my beliefs and I could give you a more adequate assessment of the situation."
George grinned; "bloody Ravenclaws… why use three words when fifteen will do instead?"
Luna beamed at him as she timidly slipped her arms around his neck; "please kiss me again, George," she prompted him.
So George did. Right there in the stack of recently raked leaves. And this time both of them knew it was more than nice. It only seemed natural to tumble back into them, sending them scattering up into the air once more as Luna let out a happy laugh of delight as she took his hand and rested against him.
They were both silent, but it wasn't uncomfortable. Far from it. George honestly couldn't recollect a time he'd felt so relaxed or content.
"Luna?" he began ten minutes later.
"Mmm?" she said absently as she lifted her head from his warm chest, her eyes meeting his with so much affection and trust that momentarily he lost his train of thought; then he remembered what he'd been about to say:
"Why do you never wear shoes? Is it because you think the nargles will steal them?"
For a second a ghost of a smile lifted her lips and then she shook her head, radish earrings swinging merrily.
"Then why?" he prompted, curiously, stroking her hair.
"Everyone hid my things at Hogwarts," Luna revealed mildly, "shoes included. I just get into the habit of not wearing them after a while. It's easier that way."
George looked angry, almost outraged at the thought of people teasing her by hiding her possessions; "bloody hell, Luna… that's not very nice."
Luna shrugged; "it's quite alright George, I just imagine that people liked my things very much, to want to hide them. Especially my spectrespecs. They always come back to me eventually."
He smiled and settled back into the pile of leaves, not caring that they were scrunching in his red hair, nor sticking to his t-shirt. Luna was right there beside him and that was somehow all that mattered.
"Mmm?" he propped himself up on his elbow and trailed a fingertip down the bridge of her nose, as she giggled.
An almost smug grin was spreading over her face as she regarded him; "are you really telling me I've actually got you believing in the existence of nargles now?"
"I'm reserving judgement," George told her simply, "I think Christmas will be the real test."
"Christmas?" Luna looked positively hopeful at that.
"Mistletoe love," George reminded her with a bright smile, "and I intend to have lots of it this year. Just get your butterbeer cork charms ready, alright?"
A/N: My attempt at a hopefully somewhat believable pairing between Luna and George. I always thought that perhaps they'd fit and this is my first time trying to write Luna, who is just so difficult! Oh well. Please let me know what you think. Thanks very much for reading :)