A/N: So this is one of those things that just kind of hit me and wouldn't stop hitting me until I got it all down. It is long and unbeta'd so please let me know if you spot any mistakes.
This is for:
a) The Slash/Femslash Boot Camp Challenge using prompt number 19. Yellow.
b) WeasleySeeker's Goodbye Competition, from which I was provided with the pairing.
c) The lola's Last Kiss #2 Competition, from which I was given the prompts summer, smiles, bittersweet, destiny, ice.
Aaaand, I think that's it! Reviews much appreciated!
They fall in love quietly and painlessly.
Here's how it happens.
The war crashes to a world-shattering crescendo and then, bang, over, gone.
And though the next few weeks – months – involve cleanup and rebuilding and trying to plaster over the cracks, Hannah finds herself working in a small bakery in the middle of Diagon Alley. It's strange, sort of surreal, when she sees her old classmates walk past the shop window in late summer afternoons, sunburnt and sweaty, covered in a fine layer of dust.
She spends her days baking and slicing and making sure everything is perfect before she goes to ice the cakes, and they spend their days toiling away under the hot sun and repairing the place she once called home. But it's all worth it, Hannah thinks, when they come in, with a tinkle of the door chime, and order cupcakes or apple slices or scones, and she sees their faces light up at such small delights. That's why she does this.
As the weeks go on, Hannah finds icing the cakes easier and easier. She moves on from swirls and love hearts to patterns of cherries and tiny orange blossoms. Her customers love her new designs, and the boss, a squat old lady with a face that reminds Hannah of the countryside and a Scottish accent so thick it had taken Hannah a good ten minutes to work out if she spoke English, tells her she's a natural. Hannah glows.
She is practicing her freesia pattern with a bulging piping bag and a smear of yellow icing across her cheek when Luna first enters.
"Hello, Hannah," she says with a dreamy smile. "You look busy."
"Oh, Luna," Hannah says brightly. "I haven't seen you in ages!"
Hannah tries not to remember the last time they met. Spells and screams and dripping blood and fire and Lavender and –
"I know," says Luna. "But I'd heard you were working here. I hope you don't mind me dropping in."
"Not at all," Hannah replies. She smiles warmly at Luna, filled with a sudden gratitude that Luna is her friend. She thinks back to before the DA, when Luna was just a quiet, odd little girl in her peripheral vision. War changes so much.
"Hope you like cupcakes, Luna. I'm trying out some new icing flavours. Want a free sample?"
"Oh, yes, please," Luna smiles.
Hannah lets Luna come behind the counter, into the small kitchen area. She makes her tie her hair up first, and sighs as Luna uses a piece of string that Hannah suspects of being a shoelace, because nothing ever really changes, does it? Same old Luna.
"Ooh, freesias! They're so pretty," Luna says in a singsong voice, turning a cupcake around in her hand. "Did you put the yellow on your face to match them?"
"The – on my – what?"
"On your face. You've got yellow on your cheek. Is it not meant to be there?" Luna asks confusedly, and Hannah feels herself blush as she shakes her head and wipes at her own face with a clumsy hand.
"Stop, stop, you're spreading it more," Luna tuts. "I'll get it.
She raises her hand to Hannah's cheek almost as if she's cupping her face. For just a moment, Hannah's heart skips a beat. Luna wipes her thumb across her cheekbone, sure and steady, hard enough to wipe away the trail of icing across Hannah's fair skin but light enough to make her cheek tingle. Hannah suddenly feels very aware of Luna's hand, the trail of heat Luna's thumb left across her face, her close proximity, the smell of apples and pinewood that drifts from her hair. In that moment, neither of them speaks. Hannah is very conscious of her breathing, breaths that are either too deep and hurt her lungs or too shallow and make her breath hitch.
"I love yellow," Luna says quietly. Her eyes are wide and there is a strange sense of knowing there as she pulls her hand away from Hannah's face ever so slowly.
"It reminds me of the sun," Hannah replies, her voice a little more breathy than she thought it would be.
"Sunflowers," Luna says with a smile. "Sunflowers and smiles and summer."
"Smiles?" Hannah asks.
"Smiles. It reminds me of you, in your Hufflepuff robes. You are one of the smiliest people I know," says Luna. She is smiling at her, and Hannah sees sincerity in her blue eyes. She smiles back.
"Maybe I could make you a sunflower cupcake?"
And Luna laughs and the moment is gone.
Luna returns every day that week.
Hannah does, in fact, make her a batch of sunflower cupcakes that are as bright and sweet as the summer days themselves. Luna trails her finger through the icing and licks it from her fingertips with a satisfied smile, and Hannah blushes a little and laughs and tidies away.
"What time are you finished at?"
"In about an hour. Why?"
"You've made me so many lovely cakes that I think I should do something for you. You can come home with me if you want. I can show you my sunflowers and paint you a picture?"
"Yes, please," says Hannah with a grin, and tosses her tea towel down and starts wiping the counter.
Luna's home is a small, quirky bungalow in the middle of Hogsmeade.
"Daddy says the other house is coming along quickly. It's difficult to build right up from the ground again," she explains, but Hannah doesn't mind because Luna's home is still beautiful.
The sitting room is painted a pale green and has deep purple curtains swinging open in the summer breeze. There are two small sofas with an abundance of brightly coloured cushions, and stacks and stacks of magazines act as tables, holding half empty cups of tea and stray quills. Hannah notices a fair few strange items that she's never seen before, like the long silver tube thingy with a small blade at the top and strip of foil going from the top to the bottom like a makeshift bow, or the fan made entirely of unusually patterned feathers that seem to be slowly changing colour.
"You can leave your bag here," Luna says, pointing at a small stack of Quibblers. "Daddy will be home soon, but he won't touch it."
Hannah puts her bag down and follows Luna through the bright, airy kitchen, so many different shades of pink, and out into the evening sun that spills across the back garden.
Just under the kitchen window are several purple plant pots with gold swirls that seem to show some sort of skeletal horses with majestic wings.
"Do you like them?"
At first, Hannah thinks that Luna means the flowerpots, and she nods enthusiastically. But then she looks up and her eyes follow the long, thick stalk of deepest green, branching out in swooping leaves, up and up and up and, finally, her eyes rest on the open sunflower. She sucks in a quick breath. It's the most wonderful thing she's ever seen.
It's larger than any sunflower she's ever seen before. The petals are the brightest sunshine yellow, and Hannah feels a soft pang of loss for the home she once knew in Hogwarts. Yellow feels like home, she thinks. She reaches out a shaking hand and caresses the silk-soft petals, feeling the leaves tickle her bare arm as they sway in the breeze. She suddenly feels a little misty eyed, and she tries not to look at Luna as she blinks back tears.
"They're beautiful, Luna," she whispers.
"Like you," says Luna, her voice soft and honest in Hannah's ear.
Luna presses a gentle kiss to the back of Hannah's neck, and Hannah feels the hairs there stand on end, as if rising to meet her kiss.
"I suspect they've upset you," says Luna kindly. "You can always go back in September, you know."
And Hannah is at a loss as to how this strange girl knows her so very well. She doesn't trust her voice and so she doesn't speak. She nods sadly, but smiles over her shoulder.
Luna understands. She steps back from Hannah and slips back into her sleepy eyed smile.
"Can I paint you now?" she asks, and, once again, Hannah nods.
She spends a little over an hour watching the sunset in a simple deckchair in front of the tallest sunflower. Her arms are folded tightly against her chest because the sun is going to sleep and with it goes the heat. Hannah feels the gooseflesh rise on her arms as the wind blows chillier than before. Her legs are crossed and her shoulders are slightly hunched, and Luna sits before her with a dragonhide sketchpad on her lap and a glint in her blue eyes.
Hannah's eyes flit from the dying sunlight, a myriad of pinks and oranges, to the skilful swipe of Luna's paintbrush across the thick paper. There is something so comforting about the way Luna works, with a focus and deliberation that Hannah's never seen from her. Hannah feels strangely peaceful here, surrounded by flowers that remind her of before and her strange but lovely friend and the setting sun and everything is just turning out to be better than okay, isn't it?
When Luna shows her the finished piece, Hannah laughs in surprise and brings her hand to her mouth and feels her eyes fill with tears again because it's wonderful. It's her and the sunflower painted in so many shades of yellow, from sunshine to mustard to deep, dark colours that verge on brown and it's amazing and breathtaking and Hannah doesn't know what to say to Luna, so she kisses her.
And perhaps the biggest surprise of all is that Luna kisses her back.
From that day on, there's a gentle sort of shift in their relationship. It's as if barriers and boundaries have fallen and turned to dust and they don't realise how very close they've become.
People around them start to notice. It's in the smiles that linger a second too long, the twitch of a finger towards a lonely hand, the eye contact that forces others to look away for fear of intruding.
Hannah never thought she could be this happy, and certainly not with Luna, not with a girl. But when you've been through war and seen so many lives that never got the chance to know such happiness...well, you don't question things. You live and you accept it.
And that's exactly what they do.
There is one night when the stars are hidden behind swirling storm clouds that the magic feels like it's fading.
Luna asks, "Do you believe in destiny?"
"No," says Hannah. "I don't think so."
"Really? You don't think that our futures are written in the stars? Daddy said that they were placed there by Psychic Psulos, little pixies who sneeze stardust," Luna says.
Hannah gets up to close the window and pull the purple curtains tightly shut.
"Even if that is true, there are no stars out tonight," says Hannah with a sigh.
"That's where you're wrong," Luna says, but it's not mean or insulting. Just honest.
She stands gracefully and pulls the curtains back ever so slightly. She peeks through the gap and Hannah watches her dirty blonde hair fall over her shoulder, bright in the moonlight.
"Just because you can't see them doesn't mean they aren't there," Luna says. "Can't you see the glow?"
Hannah walks to the window and places her cheek next to Luna's. This contact feels warm and safe. Through the gap in the fabric, Hannah can see the dark clouds swirl menacingly, each shade promising several rainy days. And if she looks hard enough, she can see the gentle glow of the stars behind the thinner clouds, like a lost echo in the sky.
But she still doesn't believe in destiny.
So she says, "No," and kisses Luna goodbye.
After their first fight, it occurs to Hannah that this will never last.
They argue about something stupid, some creature that doesn't exist or something, but Hannah realises that she can't stay with Luna forever.
Luna is far too free, far too hazy for Hannah. She's trying to catch wisps of air that her father promises are real, and Hannah's never been one for adventures.
In the long run, they won't work.
But that's okay because, right now, they're happy.
Even if Luna doesn't talk to her for four days because she insulted the group of Wrackspurts that were apparently making her "irrational".
The days in the bakery become a little more disheartening when all she can see out the window are people dressing in thick black robes, holding soggy paper bags and rushing home in the storm.
The door chimes never tinkle quite enough and Hannah finds herself making too many cupcakes, though she doesn't make any more than usual.
Even Luna doesn't come, and Hannah quashes the urge to send an owl to ask where she is.
Instead, she decides to make a cake. Not her dainty little cupcakes or her apple tarts or her raisin bakes, but a full-on three-tier cake.
She throws herself into measuring and mixing and kneading, baking and cleaning and dusting, cutting and shaping and brushing, stacking and icing and decorating. At first she thinks she'll do a wedding cake, three tiers of white and delicate swirls in palest pink.
But then she thinks that's a little too safe, a little too dull, and when you spend all your time with Luna Lovegood, white just isn't enough. So she does the bottom layer a deep, dark purple, the middle a cranberry red and the topmost tier goes a smoky grey that is almost black. And on every single tier, she adds bright, perfect yellow stars and golden glitter and maybe even a few hidden sunflowers.
It takes her hours, long after she should have closed the shop, but it doesn't matter because there were no customers anyway. She thinks of sending it to Luna, or asking Luna to come here, or a thousand other things that involve her and Luna and this mountain of cake.
But, instead, she cuts herself a slice of black-grey cake, takes one bite and finds that the buttercream inside is a little too bittersweet.
Maybe Luna wouldn't have liked it anyway.
She throws the rest in the bin.
Luna turns up at Hannah's little flat with a bouquet of sunflowers and smiles as if nothing has changed.
Hannah lets her in and tries to believe it hasn't. She pulls the curtains so she doesn't see the tops of the trees with their changing leaves, and she tells Luna she loves her.
"Do you think you'll stay in the bakery forever?" Luna asks one dreary afternoon.
"No," Hannah says thoughtfully. "I don't think I'd like that. I'd grow sick of cakes after a while. I think I'm growing sick of them already, actually."
Luna snuggles down further under the duvet and lays her head on Hannah's chest.
"Good," she says. "Then you can come with me."
"C-come with you?" Hannah says, her heart suddenly beginning to pound. She's felt it coming for a while, but here it is, she thinks, the end is here and she doesn't know how to react.
She stops herself from kissing Luna quiet. She needs to hear this.
"Yes," Luna says. "You can come with me to Sweden. Haven't I told you? I leave at the start of September. I'm going to search for Crumple Horned Snorkacks."
And it's a bit like destiny and Wrackspurts all over again because Luna believes and Hannah doesn't. There is a roar of thunder outside. September is two weeks away.
"I- I can't," Hannah says.
"Oh. Okay," Luna says softly.
With no more questions to ask, Luna falls asleep in the silence that stretches between them, and Hannah counts the cracks in the paint on her ceiling that show the glimpses of the yellowed stain beneath.
Luna comes to the bakery the morning before she leaves. She walks up to the counter and rests her hands on the dark wood, but does not move to go behind it.
"I love you," she says by way of greeting, and Hannah smiles.
"I love you, too."
And she does, with all her heart and everything that she is, but she sometimes love is not meant to last. She knows that. They both know that.
"I'll miss you," says Luna. "I really will."
"You'll come back," Hannah says, though neither of them is quite sure when.
"Here. This is for you," Luna whispers, her voice oddly light. "I've called it My Sunflowers because that's what you'll always be to me."
Hannah takes the painting from her, fingering the simple silver bow that Luna has affixed atop it.
"Thank you. I love it," she says sincerely. "Hang on, I have something for you."
She wanders back towards the kitchen and takes the plain white box from one of the lower shelves.
"For you," she says, and hands it to her over the counter. She realises then that somehow, without either of them noticing, their barriers and walls have slowly been creeping up on them, and now they're almost back to where they started.
Luna opens the box carefully, and Hannah sees her face light up and her jaw drop. It reminds her why she started working here in the first place.
"Oh, it's beautiful, Hannah!" Luna says, and there is something akin to awe that smothers her words.
"Like you," Hannah says.
She looks down at the box in Luna's hand and smiles. She spent all night making it. Perfect petals and thin-veined leaves and the big dark centre and that colour, oh, that colour. It's beautiful.
It's bright blue.
"I hope you find what you're looking for, Luna," Hannah murmurs.
Luna meets her eyes, blue on brown, and says, "You, too."
Then she runs her finger gently over one blue petal and raises her finger to her lips.
"Delicious," she smiles, licking the icing from her fingertip. "Vanilla?"
"Of course," Hannah replies.
They share one last smile before Luna checks her watch.
"I have to leave now. I can't be late. I've a portkey at three, but I've to sort of find it first."
"Oh," is all that Hannah can think to say.
"Goodbye," says Luna.
It is not a loud goodbye, but it still echoes around the bakery and hits Hannah square in the chest.
"Goodbye, Luna," she says, feeling a little awkward and terribly sad.
But she knows that love is love and sometimes it's forever and sometimes it's just brief and beautiful.
So she watches Luna leave.
But just before Luna walks out Hannah calls out.
And before she can open the door all the way and let the early morning rain scatter across the floor, Hannah runs from behind the counter and kisses her once. The kiss is loving and sweet and perfect.
Luna pulls away first.
"I really have to leave," she whispers to Hannah's cheek. She wraps her arms around her tightly, careful of the box in her hand, and holds her close.
And this time, they mean it.
Hannah scrubs blue from under her nails and savours the taste of vanilla for the rest of the day.
They see each other two years later at Ron and Hermione's wedding.
Hannah wears dark blue dress robes with a line of silvers stars around her waist. She hooks her arms in Neville's and rests her head on his shoulder as she watches the wedding unfold.
Luna wears flowing yellow robes that shift in the autumn air but hug her swollen belly tightly. She is heavily pregnant, and she is positively glowing. Her husband is tall and dark haired, and sits with his thin arm wrapped around her.
Their eyes meet across the room. Luna smiles. Hannah smiles back.
Ron and Hermione kiss and the crowd roars.
Hannah turns back to Neville, watching his joyous smile and the happiness in his eyes. It's different to everything she had with Luna, but it's just as perfect, just as special. There's no end in sight, she thinks, and she finds she hopes there never is.
"I love you," she whispers. "Let's get married."
Neville's eyebrows shoot up and his eyes widen.
"If you're sure."
"I've never been more sure of anything in my life."
And maybe she does believe in destiny. She kisses him softly.
Neville's kiss tastes of sweet green tea and mint, and Hannah finds that she doesn't really miss vanilla after all.
They fell out of love quickly and willingly.
This was how it happened.