A/N: This is something different for me perspective-wise, but I'm happy with the way it turned out. I had fun getting in Luna's head. Don't worry though, it's still Dramione.
This story is dedicated to irianaceleste, who got me thinking about animagus stories. I started wondering what all of the forms would be and got stuck on Luna. When I thought of the perfect one for her, I spent a while giggling, then had to write this...
Like the other oneshots, I didn't bother having this betaed, but there shouldn't be that many mistakes, I did edit it.
Fingers stretched towards the sky, Luna reached as far as her willowy frame would allow, her bare toes digging into the dirt. Professor McGonagall had given a lecture to every year on being an Animagus, and most of the school seemed to simultaneously decide that it would be a good idea to attempt to become one. It was, after all, a very useful skill to have. Luna agreed completely with the rest of her classmates.
After an eager search of every animal she could find in Hogwarts' extensive library, Luna had finally come to a decision, hence her strange practice in the forbidden forest. She thought it was best that she be surrounded by her chosen form when she practiced, for inspiration. What better way to get to know something than by spending time with it?
At the sound of twigs crackling, Luna peered through the trees, just in case something wanted to eat or maim her. It was a legitimate concern so near the Forbidden Forest. The sound wasn't caused by something coming after her; it was an otter running in that slightly awkward way otters had when on land, weaving its way through the bushes and undergrowth in a mad dash.
Luna was confused, having not seen an otter on Hogwarts grounds before. She supposed that stranger things had happened at the magical school, but still, it was worth investigating. Slowly, since they were stiff from holding them aloft so long, Luna lowered her arms and then trailed after the otter as quietly as she could. The small creature seemed too preoccupied with fleeing whatever had scared it to notice the quiet, dreamy shadow flitting after it.
Sides heaving as it struggled to catch its breath, the otter came to a stop in a clearing. Luna darted behind a tree. With her hands pressed into the rough bark to keep her balance, she peeked around the thick trunk. The otter was looking entirely exhausted, its head drooping towards the ground. It was probably exhausting for something so small to rush headlong through the trees. Something must have really scared it.
Luna tilted her head to the side, straining her ears in an attempt to hear anything that may be chasing after the little otter. She was a little worried that it had been fleeing from a predator. Her fingers fiddled with her wand, ready to step in if there was something scary after the otter.
As the blonde watched quietly, the still panting otter tensed, its head whipping around to face the direction it had come from. Its small, rounded ears must have heard something that Luna's hadn't. Its eyes wide with terror, the otter turned and bounded towards the tree line once again.
Quicker than Luna could react, a shadow launched itself into the clearing and grabbed the otter by the scruff of its neck. Just as she didn't think otters were indigenous to Hogwarts, Luna doubted panthers were a frequent occurrence on the grounds. The sleek black cat blended with the dappled shadows cast by the overhead leaves, which explained why it had managed to get so close undetected.
As it was lifted from the ground, the small creature made an ear-splitting screech that Luna would never forget. She was sure it was the death cry of a helpless creature and unconsciously slammed her eyes shut, thoughts of saving it abandoned as it was obviously already too late.
When the fearful squeaking continued, Luna started to worry that the panther may be playing with its food like a smaller cat would do with a mouse. Merlin, she hoped not. It was just cruel to torment the injured and terrified creature. Maybe it wasn't too late to save the otter after all.
Half tensed for blood and gore, Luna snapped open her eyes and raised her wand in case the little otter could still be rescued. Her wand lowered again when she saw that the otter was very much alive and struggling while the panther still held it by the scruff of its neck. The otter didn't appear hurt, just very eager to escape. It was chirping and wriggling frantically – and completely futilely – in the large jaws of the panther, its huge teeth not even puncturing the otter's skin. The big cat was being gentle with its prey.
With a flick of its head, the panther tossed the otter back into the middle of the clearing and then rushed to pin it there with a large paw. Maybe gentle was too kind a word, but it certainly wasn't doing damage to the smaller creature - besides the obvious mental trauma.
In the blink of an eye, the squirming otter transformed into Hermione. The panther had much more trouble holding her still as a human, so it changed into Malfoy only seconds later. He didn't look very happy as he kneeled over her on the forest floor.
Unsurprised by Malfoy's appearance, Hermione swatted at the larger body of her captor in a futile attempt at escape. This only seemed to further irritate the already furious Slytherin that had her pinned. He snatched both of her wrists in one hand and pinned them above her head.
Luna was well aware that people thought of her as insane, but that was just because she noticed things that others missed. What Luna saw was that Hermione appeared to be more embarrassed than actually afraid of Malfoy, and, while furious, there was no malice in Malfoy's eyes. Luna kept her fingers on her wand just in case, but she stayed in her hiding place behind the tree, confident that her friend could handle the situation.
"What the bloody hell was that?" Malfoy snarled, sounding much like the panther he'd been only moments before.
Hermione cringed away from him, pressing her body deeper into the leafy ground. Her wide brown eyes wouldn't meet the intense silver stare boring into her from above.
"What was what?" Hermione squeaked, trying to wiggle away from him.
Even from way across the clearing and behind a tree, Luna could tell that Hermione was only feigning ignorance. It was a bad decision; Malfoy's eyes darkened with anger. Luna could tell he was reaching the end of his temper. She still doubted that Malfoy would hurt her friend, but Luna pulled out her wand and subtly pointed it in their direction, just in case. He looked like he was furious enough to allow his anger to consume the both of them.
"Don't play dumb, Granger. It doesn't suit you," Malfoy spat viciously. If Hermione's wince was any indication, he was probably squeezing her wrists a little tighter than before.
Luna was just stepping out of her hiding place to rescue her friend when something surprising happened.
"Fine!" the brunette shouted, suddenly not cringing away from Malfoy's restraining presence. "I kissed you and then ran!"
Quickly, before either of the two on the clearing floor noticed, Luna slipped back into her hiding place. All the anger had bled from Malfoy at Hermione's admittance. Luna was a little surprised that Hermione had run form anything, but she supposed it was understandable; Malfoy was a very intimidating person, even when he wasn't trying to be.
"And why did you run?" he asked quietly, leaning down slightly so that their noses were almost touching. Luna felt scorched by his gaze from metres away; she could only imagine what Hermione felt to have it focused completely on her and at such close range.
Hermione sunk further into the ground. Her cheeks were flushed and her eyes were too-wide, but Luna wasn't sure if it was from the chase or the proximity to the blond man. She suspected the latter.
"Come on, Granger," Malfoy taunted when she remained silent. "You're brave to the point of recklessness when it comes to fighting Dark forces intent on genocide, yet you can't even look at me properly?"
"You didn't kiss me back," she said, her voice small.
Malfoy's shoulders eased slightly, but Luna doubted Hermione noticed. Despite his facade of arrogance, Luna had a feeling he'd been worried that Hermione had fled for a different reason, possibly because she thought the kiss had been a mistake or something.
"I had just mastered an animagus form and turned back into myself, still disoriented. Can you blame me for not reacting immediately when you launched yourself at me and kissed me?"
Now Hermione was definitely blushing. Luna felt a little bad for her friend; she couldn't imagine a conversation so intimate would be easy when almost literally nose-to-nose.
"I was excited that you finally managed it," she mumbled. "It took me forever and you changed after a few months."
"I had a good teacher," Malfoy said simply.
Luna didn't think Hermione was in danger anymore, but she kept watching. Spying on friends was wrong, but Luna had a very healthy sense of curiosity. Besides, the Forbidden Forest was known to be a gathering place for Wrackspurts, and Luna didn't want her friends to fall victim to the troublesome creatures.
Hermione smiled at the compliment to her teaching skills, but the smile melted off of her face as she stared into Malfoy's eyes.
Like the rest of the interactions Luna had witnessed between the two, one moment they were still, and the next they were a flurry of motion. Malfoy lowered his head the mere centimetres needed to connect his lips with Hermione's at the same time he released her hands. Not for a second did Luna worry that Hermione didn't want the kiss; the brunette's arms immediately wrapped around his shoulders and tugged until he was practically lying on top of her.
Smiling serenely, Luna snuck away, giving them their privacy. She didn't have to work very hard at stealth since Hermione and Malfoy were so obviously distracted, but she still took care not to tread on any stray twigs. It would be a shame to interrupt what had obviously taken a long time in coming. Hermione and Malfoy had shared a palpable tension between them for the last few years.
The smile was still on Luna's face when she emerged at the edge of the forest and resumed her earlier activities. She burrowed her bare toes in the dirt and stretched her arms above her head, careful to allow herself to sway slightly in the breeze. It was important to try for authenticity if she wanted to be as successful with her animagus skills as Hermione and Malfoy obviously were.
She shifted slightly to see the amused green eyes of Harry looking at her questioningly. The animagus business was more work than she'd initially thought; holding her arms upright for the long time she'd been standing there was really putting a strain on her muscles. Still, Luna persevered, determined to do the animagus transformation process properly.
"Did the Nargles take your shoes again?" he asked, looking at her toes. Luna supposed it was a little cold for bare feet, but she was on a mission and couldn't let something like temperature interfere with it.
"No, Harry, I'm familiarizing myself with my chosen form so that when I try the animagus transformation, it will go more smoothly."
She could see the confusion on his face as he tried to figure out what form she had chosen. Luna was used to people giving her that slightly confused look. Her daddy said that only small-minded people would let their thoughts on her beliefs dictate their treatment of her, and Luna thought that was wise. She only befriended people who accepted her eccentricities.
"Er... What animal are you mimicking?" Harry eventually asked.
"A tree," Luna smiled dreamily up at the branches spread out above their heads. She loved the way their leafy crowns sheltered people from the elements as well as the harsh sun and how they provided furniture at great personal sacrifice. They were even the source of her favourite salad dressing, maple syrup. There was just so much to love about her leafy friends.
Harry looked a little dubious, so Luna clarified.
"I was thinking a nice poplar, or perhaps a willow."
After a few confused blinks, Harry's face settled into affectionate amusement. "I'm not sure that a tree will work."
Luna was used to people telling her that her ideas wouldn't work, but the only way for her to really know would be to try. If the tree transformation didn't pan out, her alternative was a bunny. While Luna loved petting the long-eared creatures, she wasn't sure she was cut out for the fast-paced life of a rabbit. The serene existence of trees was much more her style.
"I won't know until I've tried," Luna said placidly, making sure to bend just right when the wind rattled the branches of her fellow trees.
"Have you seen Hermione?" he asked again, clearly choosing not to comment further on Luna's most recent endeavour. "She's been disappearing a lot for the last few months; Ron and I are really starting to worry. She gets this far-off look on her face and just stares blankly at nothing. Yesterday she stared at the same page in a book for over an hour. Hermione, not reading a book!"
Luna nodded sympathetically. Harry liked his world to stay the way he was used to, and for him, Hermione not reading created the same upheaval as the universe tilting on its axis.
"I'm sure she'll tell you what's on her mind when she's ready," Luna said consolingly. "I thought I saw Hermione headed back to the castle a while ago, you might want to check the library," she added. It was wrong to lie, but whatever had happened between Hermione and Malfoy looked awfully new and tenuous. Luna wasn't sure if Hermione was ready to face her protective and opinionated friends about it just yet.
Harry disappeared into the castle not a moment too soon. A crunching from the direction of the clearing signified that Hermione was on her way out of the forest. In comfortable silence, Luna waited for her friend.
Hermione was so preoccupied with trying to smooth her exceptionally messy hair down that she walked right past the silent blonde.
"Harry was looking for you," Luna said to Hermione's back when the other girl was just passing her.
Jumping, Hermione whipped around. "Luna, I didn't see you there!"
"No, I imagine you were rather preoccupied," Luna said, smiling dreamily. "You might want to cover that love bite and remove the leaves from your hair; people will ask questions that you and Malfoy probably aren't ready to answer."
The redness that had been giving Hermione a rosy and thoroughly snogged look faded at Luna's words.
"Don't worry," Luna was quick to reassure, "I won't tell anyone. I did tell Harry that I saw you going into the castle though, so you should probably have an explanation for him."
Absently, Hermione tugged her shirt collar to hide the darkened patch on her neck and blindly ran her fingers through her hair until she found the stray leaf. "He's not going to understand," Hermione said quietly.
For someone so smart, Luna thought Hermione could be rather silly sometimes. "He's your friend and he cares about you, he'll come around. Harry's just worried about you."
"Do you really think so?" Hermione asked, some colour coming back into her pale face.
Even though trees weren't technically suppose to move – or talk for that matter – Luna nodded. Hermione was a brave person, but she cared too much. Luna knew Hermione would be miserable if she lost her friends, but she also knew that if she really cared about him, Hermione wouldn't give up on Malfoy just because her friends didn't approve.
"Thanks, Luna," Hermione said. "It's good to know that you at least accept that I'm allowed to snog whomever I wish."
She headed off in the direction of the castle, still flattening her hair.
Luna smiled after the brunette. Her obsession with solid facts took some getting used to, but Luna knew the Gryffindor was a lovely person under all of her bookish oddities.
"You better not tell anyone, Lovegood," Malfoy snarled, stepping out of the shadows. Luna noticed that the malice that had disappeared while he'd been talking to Hermione was back – with a vengeance.
Luna brought her aching arms back down to her sides. This was a conversation she should probably have with her hand near her wand – just in case. It felt nice to finally give her muscles a break regardless of her reason for lowering her arms.
"Don't worry, Malfoy," Luna said, her dreamy voice not reflecting any of her wariness. "I won't tell anyone that you actually have a heart. But remember, now that you've given it away, people are eventually going to notice," Luna patted him on the shoulder in what was meant to be a consoling gesture. She suspected that he was too absorbed in her words to even notice that she'd touched him.
Poor boy, he probably hadn't even realized that he loved Hermione, and she'd broken the news to him so crassly. Luna felt a little bad for that, but it was done, and there was no sense dwelling on it. On the bright side, she strongly suspected that Hermione felt the same way. He was going to have to learn that for himself though; it would be cheating if Luna gave him hints. She was relatively certain that he wouldn't believe her anyway.
Luna left him to his thoughts and drifted towards the castle, wondering if every day in the life of a tree was so interesting.