Summary: You, Harry Potter, still surprise the girl who believes in everything. Pure H/L fluffiness.
Timeframe: Post-DH, minus the Epilogue and the Interviews. So, AU.
Disclaimer: It's JKR's world, her characters. I'm just rejecting one reality and substituting it with my own. ;)
Notes: Thanks to everyone for the wonderful feedback so far! I've almost finished posting all my currently completed Potter fics, but I do have a couple more nearing the finish line. And yes, I got "snarfblatt" from The Little Mermaid - it just sounds like the sort of oddball creature our little Luna would believe in. ;)
You don't expect it any more than she does.
She's just wished you a Merry Christmas, and has turned to walk away, to Apparate back to her home - when your stomach lurches in pure panic.
You realize it's going to be a month before you see her face again, before she and her dad get back from their Snorkack expedition. It's going to be a month before you see her face again, and you absolutely aren't ready for that yet.
You need to remember exactly the way that one blonde tendril has fallen loose from her ponytail in front of her wide silver eyes, the way her white teeth worry the soft pink curve of her mouth. The way those eyes sparkle when she smiles, like sunlight on water, only prettier. Especially that.
She seems to smile a lot around you.
Without thinking any other course of action might be possible, you reach for her wrist. Her pulse is warm and steady beneath your thumb.
For a moment, your mind is frozen. She'll wonder why you stopped her, she'll ask if you're acting this way because you've been bitten by a two-tongued Snarfblatt. You kissed Ginny in front of the whole of Gryffindor House, including her brother and ex-boyfriend. But alone with Luna in your London flat, your stomach threatens to turn to liquid.
Her eyes meet yours - they don't look surprised (any more than usual anyway) or confused.
She trusts you wouldn't stop her if you didn't have a good reason. She's always trusted you. Long before you ever returned it, and you wonder whether what you want to do now would be taking advantage of that trust. There are times you look back and are surprised Ginny didn't slap you for that first brazen kiss, and your stomach wobbles again for a much more unpleasant reason as you remember why - and how dismissive you were of it. Ron still hasn't completely forgiven you for breaking his baby sister's heart mere weeks after their brother's death. You tell yourself there's never a good time for something like that, and that putting it off certainly would have made it even more disastrous.
Then you realize that, like the thestrals of your first meeting, you can see your reflection in Luna's eyes. Moonlight fills your vision, and all trace of Ginny disappears.
When you'd been under the mistletoe with Cho, Luna appeared inexplicably in your head. A Christmas later when you'd thought your heart was full of Ginny, during your night out with Luna you hadn't thought of Ginny once. Your stomach still churns from the memory of the Christmas after that, when you'd been almost literally sick with the belief that she was being tortured in Azkaban. Tortured because of her friendship with you.
Now, another Christmas time, and again your head is filled with Luna.
She's still waiting, the hints of an uncertain smile tugging at her lips. A hint of rose brushes her porcelain cheeks as you look at her, which you think (hope?) you've seen more than once lately when she looks at you. She chews on her lower lip, once; something low in you lurches, your heart thunders louder.
You see her start to open her mouth, and know the moment anything comes out of it, your nerve will irrevocably vanish and become more Unplottable than Hogwarts.
She doesn't stop you as you step toward her, almost blindly - hands still on her wrists - and you think you see her eyes close, her head tilt back just a bit, before your own eyes close and your lips find her opened ones.
Well, not quite. In your haste you catch the side of her mouth first, your nose pressing into her cheek. But a moment later you get it right, and your next impression is that her lips are warm, slightly chapped, and taste like... kiwis and pineapple? And they're moving against yours. She isn't pulling away.
You aren't sure what you'd expected, that maybe the world would spin out of focus and time would stop. The world is still there, you know days haven't passed - you just couldn't care less.
In your mind you hear finally, even though you could swear that prior to two minutes ago, it had never occurred to you to kiss Luna Lovegood.
You do know nothing has ever tasted as wonderful as her lips. You don't even like kiwi, or pineapple, or whatever is in that lip gloss. Fruit has always been tied to the memory of watching your aunt feed your gluttonous cousin two or three kinds of tart for dessert, both of them looking at you as if daring you to ask why all you had was the stale toast.
Your next impression is a soft shaking against your lips, still strong enough to pull you - rather firmly - back down to earth.
Part of you is relieved - at least she hasn't backed away in disgust. Or slapped you. But you can't let yourself off the hook, because no one ever expects the other person to giggle.
"Are you really that bad at kissing?"
You pull yourself back, your lips reflexively pursing inward as if retreating in embarrassment. You wonder if you don't have some weird curse with first kisses. Cho cried over Cedric, and Ginny - well, it had certainly been more pleasant, but you wonder how much of that was because you hadn't been able to see past your own euphoria, see her much at all.
Cho cried, and Ginny never said a word. Now, with Luna Lovegood, she puts her fingers to her mouth and giggles, the strings of silver beads in her hair shaking and twinkling with the movement as if they, too, are laughing.
You aren't sure whether to be confused or offended - this is Luna, so she very likely isn't trying to insult you. But why even she would find a moment like this giggle-worthy? Maybe she did think it was because of a two-tongued Snarfblatt (whatever that is).
She stops giggling after a moment, but that brilliant smile remains, peeking out from behind her ring-covered fingers. And you realize if you had to give up the memory of all those kisses by the lake to keep the memory of this one bumpy kiwi-pineapple one, it wouldn't be a difficult decision. Because - imperfect or not - it's with this girl.
"That tickled," she says.
It's like an airtight door slams shut somewhere in your brain, sealing off everything but her words. Your tongue flits across the surface of your lips, as if by doing so you'll be able to figure out what it was about them that gave her that impression. "Tickled?" you manage.
"And the mistletoe's on the other side of the room, Harry," she adds, pointing to a shining white cluster above the archway leading to the kitchen. She stares at you, tilting her head from side to side as if looking for something, maybe some sign of illness. "Or were you trying to avoid the nargles?"
It's like a punch to your gut and hot anger bubbles in your throat, in your eyes. Not at her, but at the world that only sees her as Loony Lovegood, the one that's never given her any reason not to think that mistletoe is the only way someone would try to kiss her.
You look at her - the long, wind-tangled hair you imagine tangling further in your fingers, the huge star-colored eyes that always seem to see inside you without trying - and you're mad at yourself for taking so long to learn she was worth it.
"It wasn't the mistletoe, Luna," you say.
Her eyes widen just a bit - and then her face is serene again. You wouldn't even have noticed if it was anyone but her, you think. You always notice the tiny things about her, be it a smudge of dirt on her nose, or the first hints of chipping on her sparkly rainbow fingernails, or the way her pulse flutters beneath your thumbs - because she still hasn't moved her hands from yours. "Oh."
Then next thing you know you're moving towards her again - not because you're leaning, but (your heart soars) because she's pulled you.
This time, there's nothing bumpy about it. She takes the lead, her lips slide across yours eagerly, almost hungrily. Nerves awaken that you never realized you had. You dimly wonder where she learned to use her mouth like this, and decide whoever he is can be killed later.
After a couple of moments - your body somehow a bit behind your brain - you respond. Taking your time, assuring her in a way words cannot - you've always been lousy with them anyway - that this is not because of some stupid clump of weed, or a brain addlement, but because it's her, because you wantto. Her cheeks fit perfectly into your palms; your fingers slide effortlessly into her hair. You feel her grip on the front of your shirt tighten, knuckles a live wire brushing your collarbone. Her breath grows heavier and raspier - definitely not giggling. And knowing that it's because of you spurs you even higher and further, opening your mouth against hers. Then you feel something brush between your lips -
Your eyes fly open, and she continues for several moments until she opens her own eyes and sees the look on your face.
"You didn't like that?" she asks, eyes even wider than usual. "It certainly seemed like you - " She glances down at your trousers, frowning.
It doesn't even occur to you to be embarrassed. This time, you're laughing. Her face furrows. Something in your heart soars at the realization that you, Harry Potter, still surprise the girl who believes in everything.
And that she will always surprise you.
"I liked it a lot, Luna," you say, sliding your thumbs against her wrists, not caring that you must have the absolute silliest grin on your face. "You just - " you gesture feebly.
She stares at you another moment, and for the first time, you actually see her avert her eyes shyly before looking back at you.
"I always wondered," she says with a half-smile, that tendril of hair still falling across her face, "what it would be like to do that with you."
You raise your eyebrows. "Just that part?"
She giggles again, and you know it's not because of tickling.
Neither of you speaks again for some time.