This story is dedicated to my parents, who are both teachers. If only they would read the rest of the Harry Potter books so they would get it...
It had confused Professor McGonagall when Luna, in her fifth year, had responded that her aspiration in life was to be happy. McGonagall was hardly ever flustered, and it was, by all means, an unusual expression on her. She had adjusted her spectacles and sighed.
"Why, yes, that is a very admirable aspiration, Luna, but I was wondering what sort of career might interest you."
That had stopped Luna in her tracks. Before that moment, she hadn't really given any thought to what sort of career she wanted to pursue.
McGonagall had sighed in a partially bemused, partially exasperated way before thrusting a pile of brochures into her hands and telling her to make another appointment once she was ready.
Luna had read over the first few brochures. Healer. Auror. Ministry worker. She thrust them aside. She couldn't see herself being any of those things.
She started to consider other ideas. She could co-edit the Quibbler with her father, as if she wasn't doing that much anyway. She could study the fantastical beasts of which information was lacking (she still couldn't find a single reference to nargles in her care of magical creatures textbook! Not a single one!). There was one job, though, one job that she found so alluring that she was surprised she didn't think of it sooner. She wanted to teach.
And, deep down, she knew that teaching would make her happy.
She couldn't understand why McGonagall looked so shocked when she informed her of her decision. Or why, for that matter, that the moment she left the room the professor succumbed to a loud fit of giggles.
Headmistress McGonagall wears that same disbelieving expression now, as she introduces Professor Lovegood to the school as the new astronomy teacher. Luna smiles and gives a little wave, her radish earrings swinging jauntily. Neville, that is, Professor Longbottom, grins at her from down the head table.
Neville has only taught since the year before. Though it's been several years since he and Luna were students at Hogwarts together, they are still great friends. As the two youngest and least experienced teachers on staff, they end up spending a lot of time together, figuring out how to plan lessons and make classes more interesting. They realize it's a lot more work than they had thought when they had been students. It doesn't matter, though. They both love it and the work involved is entirely worth it.
Sometimes, on starry nights, Luna will take Neville up to the astronomy tower and they will just sit and gaze at the stars for hours. When it's cloudy, they often stay up all hours anyway, just talking about anything and everything. Their students wonder the next day why they are so bleary eyed, but that doesn't stop their nighttime visits. Other times, Neville will bring Luna to the greenhouses and show her the new species of plants he is breeding. He, much to her delight, also keeps her well-supplied with dirigible plums for her earrings.
Over the course of the school year they grow so close that by summer, though both are happy for the break, they are missing each other's presences desperately. When fall rolls around and school begins again, the moment Luna sees Neville, she envelopes him in a big hug, causing the students to giggle. His ears turn pink, but he's so happy to see her that he doesn't mind.
Christmastime comes again and is as beautiful as ever at Hogwarts. The decorations never fail to take Luna's breath away, though, as she points out to Neville, all the mistletoe hanging about could lead to a nargle infestation. That's where they find themselves on Christmas Eve, well past midnight at the base of the astronomy tower after another stargazing session; under the mistletoe. Neville doesn't give Luna enough time to make a comment about nargles, but kisses her softly. Both go on to bed, laughing it off, saying it was nothing, just a kiss between friends. Secretly, neither of them hope that is the case.
On Christmas day, both make their way to Hogsmeade to apparate home to their families. Neville spends the day in St. Mungo's with his parents and his grandmother and Luna with her father. The Lovegoods join the Weasleys for dinner. Harry and Hermione are also there, Hermione grinning from ear to ear as she displays her engagement ring for all to see. Luna gushes and congratulates her, telling Ron that it's about time. Luna sleeps over with Hermione and Ginny that night and they ask if she's found anyone special yet. She smiles and tells them about all the special people she's met in the DA, at Hogwarts and elsewhere and they sigh and roll their eyes. Her speculations about Neville are on the tip of her tongue, but she never manages to speak them aloud.
Their time at home with their families is over too quickly, and on new year's eve, both return back to school. Luna visits Neville's office where he is marking essays, and invites him to come stargaze again that night.
The air is crisp and cold and there is not a single cloud in the sky. Luna and Neville lay flat on their backs, staring up at the heavens. Neville is becoming more adept at finding constellations and planets, and often points them out before Luna does. 'Careful,' she warns hims 'I can't have you take over my job.' He laughs. 'What, and I shouldn't be worried about you taking over herbology now that you know practically everything about my plants?' They talk about visiting their families and friends. Luna confides in Neville about how she used to stargaze with her mum when she was little. Neville tells her about all the bubble gum wrappers his mum has given him over the years. They lay in silence for a few minutes, absorbed in their own thoughts. Then Neville sits up rapidly and Luna follows suit.
"Luna?" he asks, "Will you marry me?" For a moment she is too shocked to speak, then her eyes begin to well up with tears and she nods. He slips her mitten off her left hand and pulls a ring from his pocket, placing it gently on her finger. They both stand up, she envelopes him in a hug and he holds her tightly. As they leave the astronomy tower that night they notice the mistletoe still hanging there. This time it's Luna that kisses Neville.
In the shadows, McGonagall, bedecked in her tartan dressing gown, smiles to herself and dabs at her eyes with her handkerchief. 'I knew that was the perfect spot to hang it.' she sniffs.