DISCLAIMER: I've tried to fit this story as snugly as possible into the world of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Harry, Luna, Trevor, and the rest of the gang belong to JK Rowling, as does Hogwarts and its environs. I'm just playing around, and, like the Fat Lady, definitely not making any money.
A/N 1: This is written for the Twin.Exchange September 2008 challenge. Prompts used: a windy day, a stained glass window, Harry/Luna pairing, and the phrase "It's so…big." Thanks to Felena1971 for being a lovely and faithful beta-reader.
A/N 2: Quote from the Beatles used without permission. Hope they don't sue me. Quote from Justin Finch Fletchley and the Sugar Quills is used WITH permission. Thanks, Justin! Cookies for anyone who spots the JFF & TSQ quote.
Luna Helps Out
One: He's a Real Nowhere Man
Harry Potter didn't want to be in the Gryffindor common room, where his best friend Hermione Granger would pressure him into revising for Ordinary Wizarding Level exams (which were still almost two months away), and he didn't want to be at the Gryffindor Quidditch team practice session watching his other best friend, Ron Weasley, play Keeper, because it only made him feel worse about being banned for life from playing his favorite sport. So he opted for being nowhere – or as close to it as possible.
He donned his Invisibility Cloak and just started walking. His feet eventually led him to the practice session anyway, and it wasn't quite so bad when his former teammates didn't know he was there, and couldn't look at him in anger (Angelina Johnson, the Captain), guilt (Ginny Weasley, who had replaced him as Seeker), or pity (everyone else). How Harry wished he could mount his broom and join the game, or even just soar around aimlessly for a while. No matter how bad things got, he always felt better when he was flying. He shook his head briskly, trying not to imagine his confiscated broomstick, languishing, chained up and unused. Unfortunately, even putting aside his frustrated wish to fly, it was agonizing to watch the team struggle so badly.
And, well, maybe two months wasn't too much time when it came to revising for O.W.L.s. Even though it was Saturday (and weekends, he frequently insisted, were supposed to be for relaxation), perhaps he should try to study. It could hardly be more painful than watching the team practice. Under his Invisibility Cloak, Harry sighed and trudged back up toward the castle from the Quidditch pitch. The day was windy and warm, spring having finally arrived for good. The shouts from the Quidditch pitch were quickly drowned out by the creaking of tree trunks and the rustling of bright green new leaves.
If only the Weasley twins, Fred and George, were still around, he thought. They had been banned from playing Quidditch as well, but always managed to find something entertaining to do. They would have been good company on a day like today. But they had sacrificed themselves. They had gotten caught pulling one of their greatest pranks ever – a diversion, created to allow Harry to have a heart-to-heart talk with his godfather, Sirius Black, via the fireplace in the Headmistress's office. Sadly, the conversation with Sirius had not brought Harry the comfort he sought. In a memory belonging to Professor Snape, he had witnessed his father and godfather acting reprehensibly when they were 15 – the same age Harry was now. He had hoped Sirius could give him a reasonable explanation for their behavior. No such explanation was offered. And now, the twins were gone – abandoned their formal education and departed the school in dramatic fashion – and Harry was alone and feeling quite low.
So lost was he in his thoughts that he was almost back to Gryffindor Tower before he knew it. A very strange conversation was taking place right outside his common room, and he stopped on the uppermost step to listen.
Two: They Don't Pay Me Enough
The Fat Lady in the portrait guarding the entrance to Gryffindor Tower eyed the young blonde suspiciously. "Password," she demanded.
"Password?" Luna Lovegood shrugged her thin shoulders. "To enter Ravenclaw Tower, we answer questions – usually puzzles and riddles – to test our wits. Do Gryffindors prefer to test their memories?"
"I suppose they do," the portrait replied, chuckling. "Now, shall we try this again?"
"Of course," answered Luna, "but I don't see how I'm supposed to know the password if no one gives it to me."
"That is precisely the point, dear," sighed the Fat Lady. "It is my job to admit only those who belong in Gryffindor Tower."
"Perfect," said Luna, patting a large lump in her pocket. "Then there's no problem!"
"The problem, dear, is that you must tell me the password. Now: what is the password?"
"Oh," said Luna, gratefully. "What!"
"The password, girl! What's the password?"
"Yes, I know," agreed Luna. "What. So now you open, and I enter, right?"
"No, not right!" The Fat Lady closed her eyes and counted to ten under her breath.
Harry knew he should intervene. The Fat Lady had no idea who she was dealing with. Luna Lovegood – frequently called Loony Lovegood by the less polite of their schoolmates – was a very unusual girl. She had a different way of looking at the world than anyone else Harry had ever met.
"I am asking you, dear, for the password," the Fat Lady explained slowly and carefully. "I cannot let you in without it."
"And I gave it to you," said Luna, pleasantly. "Thank you for helping me."
"What do you mean?" asked the Fat Lady, now utterly bemused.
"Exactly," said Luna. "What." She bounced lightly on her toes, waiting to be admitted.
Harry chuckled, despite himself, and pulled off the Invisibility Cloak. "Mimbulus Mimbletonia," he said.
Both pairs of eyes – Luna's wide silvery ones and the Fat Lady's painted brown ones – turned to Harry with a look of utmost relief. "Thank you," the two said in unison.
The portrait swung away to reveal the entryway to the tower.
"Luna," Harry asked, "What are you doing here? What did you mean, when you said you belong in Gryffindor Tower?"
"Not me," she said, reaching into her pocket. "Him." She extracted a large toad. "I found Trevor, and wanted to return him."
"Good job! Neville will be so relieved."
Neville was always losing Trevor, and then fretting over his wayward amphibian's whereabouts.
"What were you doing under your Invisibility Cloak?" Luna's eyes wandered over the shimmering fabric now bunched under Harry's arm.
"Just walking. And thinking. I don't feel like studying and don't really know what to do with myself today." Harry didn't know why he was telling Luna about how he felt all at loose ends. Something about her just invited confidences. She had always supported him, even when it seemed like everyone else was against him, and he knew she would never judge him too harshly.
"I would love it if you could spend a little time with me this afternoon," she said. "I've been wanting to talk to you about something… Something private."
"Er, sure," said Harry, "I guess so." Why not? It's not like he was doing anything important. And for whatever reason, Luna was a calming influence on Harry's nerves. He knew many people found her infuriating (particularly Hermione), but her soft voice and gentle demeanor made him feel more peaceful, somehow.
"Ahem," said the Fat Lady, pointedly. The portrait hole had been standing open the whole time the two students had been talking.
"Oh, sorry," said Harry. "Look, Luna, why don't you go in and look for Neville, and I'll wait out here. If I come in with you, it might be hard for me to get away again."
"Okay," Luna said happily, and ducked into the hole with Trevor. The portrait closed behind her.
"Thank Merlin you came by," said the Fat Lady. "That girl was going to drive me crazy."
Harry chuckled softly. "That is one of Luna's special skills."
"They don't pay me enough to deal with the crazies," she muttered.
Harry raised his eyebrows in surprise. "Do they pay you anything?"
"No," she replied petulantly. "See?"
Three: Watch out for Wrackspurts
Harry led Luna to the fifth floor, and down a corridor.
"Where are we going?" she asked.
"Fred and George once told me of a disused classroom down this corridor. They said it was a good place to go if you needed privacy, and you did say you wanted to talk with me about something."
"I've heard of it, too," said Luna, "but I don't think it's safe, Harry. Some of the older girls have been there, late at night, and the next morning, their brains have gone all fuzzy. I believe that classroom is infested with Wrackspurts."
Oh, Merlin. Is that the kind of privacy Fred and George meant? He should have known. Besides being pranksters, the twins were inveterate Casanovas, specializing in seducing pairs of sisters or best friends.
"I'm sure it's safe, Luna," said Harry reassuringly. "I've had, er…." He invented wildly. "I've had Peeves chase out all the Wrackspurts just last week."
"That's a relief."
Harry was fairly certain that he knew at least one of the girls who had been here late at night and come back with symptoms of Wrackspurt infection. Cho Chang, the Seeker on the Ravenclaw team, had probably been here with Cedric Diggory before he died at the hands of the evil Lord Voldemort right before Harry's eyes last year. Nowadays, she was probably coming here with Roger Davies, the handsome captain of Ravenclaw's Quidditch team. One thing was certain: she wouldn't be snogging Harry in any disused classrooms. Harry and Cho had kissed at Christmas, but broke up at Valentine's Day after a disastrous first date. Cho wouldn't even look at him these days.
It was probably good that Luna thought Wrackspurts were affecting the older girls, Harry mused. He didn't want her to think he had brought her to this room so that he could snog her. Not, of course, that Luna wasn't snoggable. In fact, Harry thought, sneaking a sideways look at his companion, she was rather attractive, in an offbeat kind of way: long blonde hair almost to her waist, fair and – now that he bothered to notice – flawless skin, a small nose and those large silvery blue eyes, soft-looking pale pink lips, and a slender frame. Once you got past her necklace made of butterbeer corks, the radishes she wore as earrings, and the way she kept her wand tucked behind her ear when not in use, Luna was actually kind of pretty.
Luna turned to him as they approached the door to the classroom in question, and caught him looking at her. "What is it Harry?"
"I, er…" Harry was at a loss. "I- I was just wondering how you found Trevor." Phew.
"I just thought about where I would go if I were a toad," she said, which seemed perfectly sensible, especially for Luna. "Toads like to be near water. So I went down to the lake this morning, and walked along the shore looking in the reeds and grasses, and croaking. Eventually, he answered, and I picked him up. That's when you found me in front of that portrait."
Harry had a hard time of it, but managed not to laugh at the image of Luna having a croaking conversation with Neville's pet toad.
"Good thinking," he said, opening the door for her. "Trevor doesn't usually get that far from the tower. He must have escaped when Neville was going to the greenhouses or something."
"Probably so," agreed Luna, stepping inside. "I've noticed Neville takes him with him wherever he goes."
"At least he tries," Harry added, with a chuckle.
The door fell softly closed behind them, and Harry found himself standing mere inches from Luna, grinning stupidly at her.
The sunshine poured through the dusty stained glass windows, making a mosaic of color on the floor and the opposite wall. A rainbow of swirling dust motes, stirred by the opening and shutting of the door, made Luna look as though she were at the center of a kaleidoscope. Harry felt slightly dizzy.
Luna must have seen something of his lightheadedness. She took his calloused hand in her own soft, small hand and led him to the center of the room. "Shall we sit right here, where the sunshine can warm us?"
Harry nodded, though he was already feeling quite warm. Speech, for some reason, seemed impossible at the moment. They sat, the movement sending more whorls of multicolored dust into the air around them. On the side that faced the windows, Luna's face and hair were covered in a riotous patchwork of color. Her other half was cool, calm, and shadowed.
"Thank you for taking me here, Harry," Luna said, watching him. "I wouldn't have come on my own, because of the Wrackspurts, but it is truly beautiful here in the daytime. I wonder if at night, when the moon is full, the moonlight makes these same colorful patterns everywhere."
It probably does, thought Harry, now picturing Luna in this room at night, with soft, muted colors surrounding her, standing very close to him, as she was when they first entered the room today.
He shook his head to clear those images away. It was daytime, and although they were certainly quite alone in this dreamlike place, they were here for a purpose – a purpose that did not involve him pulling her close and tasting her soft lips. What was coming over him, anyway? Maybe the place was infested with Wrackspurts after all.
Four: It's So… Big
"You," he croaked, and then cleared his throat to try again. "You wanted to talk with me, about something private?"
She giggled. "You sounded almost like Trevor for a moment, Harry!"
He smiled sheepishly. "Must be all the dust," he said. "I'm all right now." Again, he felt a big stupid grin on his face, and tried to look more serious. "What is it that you wanted to say?"
Luna's smile slipped off of her face, too, and she looked quite grave – as grave as Harry had ever seen her look.
"It's my Patronus," she said. "I've been practicing and practicing, and I think I've finally got it."
"That's excellent, Luna," he said. "Well done!"
Harry had taught the Patronus charm to the members of Dumbledore's Army, their secret Defense Against the Dark Arts club, and very few had been able to produce one. It was advanced magic, but he felt it was important. A Patronus was the only thing that would chase away a Dementor – a monster that sucked all the good feelings out of a person, and could – with its kiss – even suck away a person's soul.
It was a good thing his friend (and former Defense teacher) Remus Lupin had taught him the Patronus charm a couple of years ago. Just this past summer, two Dementors had attacked him and his cousin Dudley, and very nearly kissed them both. Yes, Harry was a firm believer in the necessity of being able to produce a working Patronus.
"It's a hare," she told him, almost apologetically.
"What's the matter with it being a hare?"
"Will it do the job? It seems so small. Your stag Patronus, Harry – it's… it's so… big. Will mine be able to protect me the way yours protects you?"
"I'm sure it will, Luna. I don't think size matters that much, really."
She brightened. "That's good to hear," she said. "I guess I thought the bigger it was, the better job it could do."
"No, I think it's more important that it be well-formed."
"Well, yours isn't just big. It's beautiful, too," she said, blushing slightly.
He blushed, too. "Thanks, but that's not what I meant. It doesn't have to be beautiful, but you want it to have a strong, solid shape. If you're producing a corporeal Patronus, instead of just silver mist, I think you're doing great. Can you show me?"
"I think so," she said, and closed her eyes. The trick to creating a Patronus was to think of something happy, and then focus those good thoughts through your wand while saying the incantation. She smiled, and Harry felt free, since her eyes were shut anyway, to admire the way her lips curved gently upward.
Suddenly, her eyes popped open and focused intently on the end of her wand, and she said the magic words loudly and clearly: "Expecto Patronum!"
A silvery, shimmering light burst from the end of her wand, and quickly coalesced into a nearly opaque hare with a pearly sheen, which bounded around the room, the colors from the window bouncing off of its surface.
"You did it!" Harry watched in awe as the hare made one more lap of the room before disintegrating. "Luna, that was brilliant!"
She glowed with pride. "Thanks, Harry. It's because of you, of course – you're a really good teacher."
"That's nice of you to say, Luna. I really didn't know what I was doing, but somehow it all seemed to work out. I always looked forward to our DA meetings. I wish we could continue them, but it seems too dangerous now that Umbridge has proof that we were training under her nose."
Their Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, Delores Umbridge – who had been slowly taking over the running of the school with a continuous stream of Educational Decrees from the Ministry of Magic – had forbid them from learning any practical defense, insisting that theory was all they required. When Umbridge discovered their secret DA meetings, Headmaster Dumbledore took the blame, and vanished from the school before he could be imprisoned. Unfortunately, that left Umbridge in charge as the new Headmistress. Life at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry had never seemed bleaker. Although Umbridge dressed in garish pink clothes, she seemed to bleed all the color out of their school. Her leadership meant more rules and regulations every day, and greater and crueler punishments for those who got caught in any transgression.
"We'll get a chance again, Harry," Luna said encouragingly. "I know we will. And look: I still carry this with me everywhere, just in case." She showed him her fake Galleon, the method of communication Hermione had devised for the DA.
Harry smiled, glad he wasn't the only one who missed the DA so much. "Was your worry about your Patronus the only thing you needed to talk with me about, Luna?" He rather hoped she had another concern, and that they could stay alone in this sunlit room together for hours. This surreal environment made him feel as though he were in another universe entirely from the troubled one he had left behind. And, thanks to Luna, he was not alone here, but with a sympathetic friend.
"It was," she said softly, placing her hand over his. "Do you need to leave?"
"No, not really. There's nowhere else I'd rather be right now."
She beamed. "Same here," she said happily.
Five: Show Me Yours
Harry looked around the room. Desks and chairs were shoved up against the far wall in a crazy jumble. Other than that, the room was quite empty. "What do you want to do?" he asked.
Luna looked at the red splotch of light that illuminated their joined hands. "Would you mind showing me yours again, Harry?"
"My Patronus?" He didn't think she wanted to see his Galleon. She must have meant his Patronus.
She nodded. "It is so lovely, Harry – so big, and so strong… It makes me feel safe. It makes me feel like nothing bad could ever happen to me while you're around."
He drew his wand, and tried to think of something happy. As always, his thoughts turned to his parents. Though they had died when he was only one year old, he knew that they had loved him, and that thought alone was usually enough to allow him to produce his big, beautiful, strong Patronus – a stag, a symbol of his father. His father, who along with his godfather, had tormented a socially awkward teenaged Professor Snape. His mother, who in that same memory had insulted his father and left in a huff. His previously glowing happy thought now felt tarnished to him.
Think of something happy, he told himself. But the more he cast around for something, the harder it became. Dumbledore – gone. The Weasley twins – gone. Cho, who wouldn't even meet his eyes. His chained-up broomstick and lifelong flying ban. Umbridge, that foul goblin of a Headmistress, running the school into the ground. Hagrid, the Care of Magical Creatures teacher and one of Harry's closest friends, worried about getting the sack any day because Umbridge disapproved of his half-giant heritage. Professor Snape, who he almost felt sorry for, treating him more cruelly than ever in class. Lord Voldemort gaining strength, building his army of Death Eaters…
Happy! Happy! Think of something HAPPY!
It was no use.
"I'm sorry, Luna," he said, wiping moisture from his cheeks with the back of his hand.
"It's all right, Harry," she said softly, giving his shoulder a squeeze. "I bet that happens to everyone now and then."
"It's not all right, Luna. I've been having a really hard time lately thinking of something happy, and I can't let myself get like this. Voldemort wants to kill me; he always has. I don't know why he has it in for me, but I keep having to face him, and somehow I keep surviving. I need to be stronger than this, for the next time his path crosses mine."
Luna scooted closer to him, stirring up more spirals of rainbow-colored dust. "I believe in you, Harry," she said simply. She leaned over and kissed him on his damp cheek. "You'll be strong enough when the time comes. And you won't be alone. All of us in the DA will stand and fight with you."
Harry looked up, and met her shining eyes. "Thanks, Luna. That means a lot. I don't want anyone in the DA to be in danger because of me, but it helps just to hear someone say they believe in me. I- I'll be all right. I just need to work a little harder at finding my happy thoughts these days."
"Do you want to know what I do?"
He nodded firmly. Luna never really seemed sad – a welcome relief after his brief relationship with Cho Chang, who seemed to cry at the drop of a hat. How was Luna able to maintain such a light heart, when doom and gloom seemed to have settled over the castle like a cloak? She was, in fact, possibly the happiest person he knew.
"I make my own happy thoughts."
"What do you mean, Luna?" Harry desperately wanted to know. When even the thought of his parents was failing him, he needed a new plan.
"I don't have any control over reality, Harry. None of us does. And sometimes, like right now, things don't go our way. But we always have hope. I just imagine exactly how I want things to be – how things could be better in the future. If I pay more attention to my hopes than I do to any current problems, I can always think of something happy."
"Hope," Harry repeated. Imagine how things could be better. He imagined Delores Umbridge getting the sack, and Dumbledore returning to Hogwarts. Damned if he didn't feel stronger already! He imagined Dementors disappearing in a puff of smoke. He imagined Voldemort being hit with about a dozen killing curses at once, fired by himself and the members of Dumbledore's anti-Voldemort organization, the Order of the Phoenix. So what if these visions were not real? With his strength returning to him, Harry felt as though he could make them become real.
"I think I can do it now," he said, standing, and brandishing his wand. "Expecto Patronum!"
Luna gasped as a large silvery stag leapt from the tip of Harry's wand, and cantered around the room, its coat dappled in the rainbows of sunlight still streaming through the stained glass windows. "Harry, it's awe-inspiring," she said, and grasped his free hand. "I knew you could do it."
He turned to her, and as his eyes met hers, completely diverting his attention from his Patronus, the stag faded away. "I couldn't have done it without your help, Luna," he whispered.
They both held their breath, the moment stretching out, impossibly long.
And then, somehow, they were kissing. Harry wasn't even sure who started it, but he didn't care. This was happiness, right here, right now. Kissing Luna. Luna, who always believed in him. Luna, who could converse with toads. Luna, who always had hope. Luna, who – like Harry – stood out from the crowd, but never seemed to mind. Luna's soft hands, warm lips, and tangled blonde hair.
"Luna," he whispered against her lips. He pulled her closer, and her lips parted slightly, deepening the kiss.
Her breasts were squashed against his chest, and his… well, it was probably getting less comfortable for her to be held so tightly against him. He released her, and felt himself blush all the way up to the tops of his ears. "I'm sorry," he said, now terribly self-conscious about the front of his trousers, but knowing there was no way to hide his condition.
"Don't be," she smiled. "That was my first kiss, Harry, and it was exciting for me, too. In fact," she giggled, "it might be a bit easier to conjure a Patronus now."
"I was just thinking the same thing," Harry chuckled.
She pulled her wand from behind her ear, and he drew his wand as well. "Expecto Patronum," they said together, and a hare and a stag burst forth from their wands.
Harry reached for her once more, and pulled her to him. The hare and the stag splintered into shards of pure color and dissolved.
A/N: My first time writing Harry as a lead character. How did I do? Reviews?
OH - just a reminder for any of my regular readers: most of my forthcoming stuff will probably show up on my new joint profile with beta-reader / frequent co-author Felena1971, "WordNerds2008." It's user ID# 1673268, but Shiny Objects suggested I add that profile to my favorites list to make it easier for you to find it, if you are having any trouble (and several folks have told me they did have trouble finding it).