There were very few instances when one would see Dean without Luna, or vice-versa, in the days following their escape from Malfoy Manor, and the subsequent death of Dobby. Springtime was mild in the West Country that year; the weather nearly oppressively cheery given the tumultuous and dangerous world outside the heavily-warded grounds of Shell Cottage. One halcyon late afternoon found Luna walking along the shoreline, levitating seafoam and watching as it was carried off by the ocean breeze, with Dean walking alongside her, humming mindlessly as they walked.
"What's that you're humming? It's pretty," Luna asked.
"Oh, just a song," Dean responded. "No idea what it's from, but you reminded me of it. It's called 'I'm forever blowing bubbles.'"
"That's adorable," cooed Luna. "Is it a muggle children's song?"
Dean chuckled. "No. I think it's from an old movie or something. Really not sure. But when it's sung by the Firms during at Upton Park during the Millwall derby, you'd certainly never mistake it for a children's song."
"The Firms?" Luna asked.
"Oh, right. Mobs of hooligans who get together to drink themselves legless and beat each other unconscious."
"And that has something to do with football?"
Dean laughed broadly. "So I've heard. But I've not figured that one out myself. The clubs have gotten better about the fighting, though. Police in the stands, everyone has a seat and must sit during the match. It's gotten loads safer."
They walked a little further. Dean began to sing the song sotto voce, while Luna whipped the seafoam into grand whorls that she spun above her head. One particularly large one collapsed before she had a chance to banish it back to the ocean, splashing Dean on its way down and sending the pair into a fit of giggles. They stopped for a moment as Luna used her wand to dry him off.
"Do you miss the football?" she asked as she finished her drying spell.
"Well, I did," Dean replied, shaking the bits of seaweed and other flotsam out of his hair. "But that was probably the only thing I enjoyed about being out on the run all year. Every Saturday I'd Apparate to Upton Park, or wherever United were playing, and sit with the Firm. Caught my first footie match in six years at Old Trafford in September. We lost, of course – actually that was the first of three straight losses – but if I'm honest, after last season I'm just glad we're still up in the top flight. We were nearly – I'm boring you senseless, aren't I?"
"Oh, no. This is all terribly fascinating," Luna reassured him. "But – but muggles can't really fly, can they? How do they manage it for football?"
"'Top Flight' is just an expression, Luna. It means the top league of football. You see, there are hundreds of teams in England alone, and they can't all play each other, so each year the bottom teams go down to play in a lesser league, and the top teams in the lower leagues go up."
"That would make Ronald quite sad if that were to happen in Quidditch."
"Quite," Dean agreed. "But at least Chudley would never lose by an even thousand to Puddlemere. So it has its advantages."
They walked a bit longer; Luna remembering to keep her seafoam creations on the ocean side, rather than over Dean's head. Every once in a while she'd announce what type of creature she'd just sculpted – more often than not one Dean had never heard of – and Dean would nod and tell her they were lovely, and Luna would smile and whoosh it away, just to start over with another one.
"You never did teach me football, Dean," Luna said.
"When did I say I would-?"
"In the dungeon. You promised if we ever got out, you'd teach me."
"Well, we've only been out a week, and-"
"And in that whole week you've taught me nothing of football," Luna pouted. "I've really been looking forward to that, too."
"Oh, yes, well, I suppose I ought to, then." Dean stammered. He sat on the sand, pulling out his wand, and Luna did likewise. Dean then drew a diagram of a football pitch into the sand with his wand, marking out two teams of players with H's and M's each in a neat 4-4-2 formation.
"Now then," he began, putting on a bit of a professor's cadence to his speech. "Football is played by two teams of eleven men. The object of the game is to move the ball into the opponent's goal using only one's feet or head, or - well, without using one's hands or arms."
"Just one ball?" Luna asked.
"Right. Just the one. The game is dead simple, actually. There are four main positions: goalkeeper, defenseman, midfielder and forward. They generally line up thusly (here he gestured to his diagram), and only the goalkeeper is allowed to handle the ball."
"And only men play?"
"Actually, no. There are women's teams as well, some of them quite good, actually. But generally, the men's game is at a higher level."
"And what about the naked man?"
Dean looked up from his diagram, quite startled. Even after months nearly alone with her, Luna would always find a way to surprise him.
"Naked man?" he asked.
"Right. I caught a bit of a game once on a storefront television. There was a red team and a blue team, and red and blue fans in the stands, and all of a sudden a naked man comes running across the field wearing nothing but a sock over his willie. He jumped up and down in that circle in the centre, and was tackled by a dozen or so bobbies right about here. It was quite thrilling, really, but I was confused as to what side gained the advantage after he was tackled, as the whole park seemed to be cheering."
Dean laughed a bit as he began to understand what Luna was describing. "Oh, that. No, that's not actually part of the game. That's just a fan from the stands who had a bit too much to drink, and probably made a bet with one of his mates that he couldn't get to the other side of the pitch. All it did was stop the game for a bit, until he was tackled off the field. He was probably arrested for tresspassing, actually."
Luna frowned. "Oh. Well, you didn't have to laugh at me about it. How am I to know that your muggle games are so dreadfully simple. Oi! Kick th' ball inna net, wot?"
Dean put his arm around her and squeezed her to him. "You're right. I shouldn't have laughed. And yeah, if you've grown up on Quidditch, I reckon football would seem a bit simple."
They sat in silence while Luna pouted until she felt she'd pouted long enough.
"The songs, then," she asked. "Is there just the one?"
"Oh, no, not at all. 'Forever Blowing Bubbles' is just West Ham United's song. Liverpool have 'You'll Never Walk Alone,' and there are others, but I don't know them off the top of my head." Luna giggled.
"What's so funny?"
"Oh, I'm just imagining this great group of yobbos all singing these sweet songs in unison, trying to sound hard. If I didn't know you better, Dean Thomas, I'd suspect you were having me on. Teach me the bubble song, then?"
"Yes, come on. I'll cast a spell and no one will hear you. Sing it like a right yob, too!" Luna grabbed his hands and pulled him up with her.
Dean shook his head, chuckling. "OK. We'll see what I remember.
I'm forever blowing bubbles,
Pretty bubbles in the air
They fly so high, nearly reach the sky
And like my dreams they fade and die"
"Well, that's not terribly optimistic if you're a football fan, is it?" Luna asked.
"I suppose not. But if you're a United fan, you've come to a quiet peace with disappointment. At least that's what my granddad told me. He's the one that took me to my first match – oh, mum was livid. But it was brilliant. We were still in the second division, playing the likes of…"
Luna smiled along with Dean as she watched him remember that first match. Then, quickly, the moment was over as she planted a quick kiss on the tip of his nose.
"Close your eyes," she said, and he did, still smiling.
"Alright then, they're closed."
Luna waved her wand a few times at the seafoam, taking a bit more care this time. After about three minutes, she was pleased with her creation, and walked over to Dean and grabbed his hand.
"You can open them now."
Dean opened his eyes slowly, and in front of him, in sparkling seafoam letters, was spelt out the words "Fuck Millwall."
"I could kiss you, you know," he said, squeezing her hand gently, his grin beginning to ache from overuse.
"Well, I suppose you'd better, hadn't you?" Luna replied.
Author's Note: This was for the Teachers' Lounge forum's Drabble Tag. The prompts were "Dean, Luna, Shell Cottage and Delight." I've wanted to write out a story like this forever, or at least as long as I've known that "Forever Blowing Bubbles" is West Ham United's stadium song, because it sounds so wonderfully Luna. And yes, all of the soccer references were painstakingly researched. West Ham United wound up in 8th place in the Premiership in '97-'98; quite an accomplishment for a team that was nearly relegated the season before.