Title: My Graceless Heart
Summary: "Neither of them are perfect, and neither of them pretend to be, but Justin's shy and Luna's hiding. They're never going to work, but they could." Justin, Luna, and dancing with the devil on their backs. / One-shot, for Lady Sakura-Chan.
Prompt: Advent Calendar challenge - JustinLuna, Valentine's Day
Day: Eight maids a-milking, seven swans a-swimming, six geese a-laying, five gold rings... four calling birds, three French hens, two turtle doves, and a partridge in a pear tree.
Recipient: Lady Sakura-Chan
Notes: Oh, look, is that the date? This is for the fabulous Lady Sakura-Chan; her reviews her lovely and thoughtful, and honestly, I wouldn't know what to do without her. This is shorter than I would've liked, but I hope you love it all the same! Thank you!
"So I like to keep my issues drawn, but it's always darkest before the dawn." - Florence and the Machine, Shake It Out.
It begins and ends, as all good stories do, with a valentine's card.
But six months ago, there would have been no card; no story; no end; and no beginning. Just a boy and a girl and two graceless hearts.
He doesn't love her in September.
It's as simple as that, really. Justin Finch-Fletchley is just another oh-so-perfect Hufflepuff boy, and that's all he'll ever be. Luna Lovegood is so much more, and Justin's okay with that. Really.
But he kind of thinks that he'd like to be like Luna. Justin would love that blonde hair - because brown is just a lie that people who are dark at heart say to make themselves feel prettier - that curls at the ends and hovers at her shoulder blades. And those eyes; black rimmed with carefully applied eyeliner, making the grey seem darker, more vibrant, more dangerous.
Luna's got a gorgeous body without a personality to match, and she's a firecracker, more than any Hufflepuff could be.
She talks about Nargles and Wrackspurts and Justin tries to understand - tries to hang on, by his fingertips - but Luna flies away from him, in her own little world. He ends up content with watching, from down here on the ground.
Maybe he's not been blessed with wings, but he's happy to be held up.
After all, not everyone can fly.
And maybe Luna is kind of a lunatic and kind of a rebel, but Justin looks up to her, in a way. Because he's never been quite as mad as her and he really, truly regrets it. He regrets not letting go to everything that keeps him tied down to his oh-so-perfect-and-oh-so-boring Hufflepuff tie and Hufflepuff life.
Justin Finch-Fletchley isn't like Luna Lovegood, and he doesn't love her. But he could.
Halloween doesn't bring much excitement.
Justin loves Halloween, though - it's his favourite holiday, yes, including Christmas and Easter, because he loves cobwebs and spiders and dark things lurking around the corners. He's at home in a castle of mystery and scary things that he knows can't be real.
He's on the side of the light, but that doesn't mean he appreciates darkness.
October, though, brings things that don't belong in haunted houses - shy smiles and glances over shoulders and dreams over nightmares.
Maybe he's cold, like snow and blankets, and she's warm, like summer and ice creams; she's fire and he's ice. He can't know the difference, and neither can she. She's trapped in her make-believe fantasy and he's too busy running away from reality.
Halloween brings darkness, but it also hands him a torch.
Justin thinks that Luna is kind of special, though, and maybe beautiful. Justin thinks it'd odd that he feels this way about a girl like Luna.
Because Luna's no ordinary girl - not just a tomboy, though that's as close as you'll get to an explanation - and she's something completely different, and completely new, and in a family of cold, hard, brown-headed copies, Justin finds it refreshing.
Because he's only ever been another Hufflepuff boy, and god knows, Luna's never seen him as that.
If she's seen him at all.
November is the time where nothing really happens - Halloween's over and done with, and Christmas is so far away, but maybe that's when Justin realises he likes likes Luna.
Because Luna likes to sing at awkward moments and isn't rude to teachers and doesn't brush her hair, but she has a quirky little half-smile she saves just for Justin and she's not scared of anything and her voice really is lovely.
Luna wears a Butterbeer cork necklace and radish earrings, and Justin shines his shoes and rolls his socks and sometimes forgets his shirt.
She talks about nargles and castles, and Justin listens, because he cares so much - too much - and maybe he even starts to believe.
And Justin doesn't mind, because he's just the socially awkward, loveable little nerd at the back of the class who doesn't hand in his colour-coded homework and lives to defy expectations and make contradictions.
They are both a little insane and a little bit crazy and a little bit mad, in their own abnormal, upside-down, topsy-turvy ways. They're so different but they work, dears. If only they knew.
Neither of them are perfect, and neither of them pretend to be, but Justin's shy and Luna's hiding.
They're never going to work, but they could.
Christmas time is more depressing than you would think; after all, there are elves singing Christmas carols and giant-sixed Christmas trees in the common rooms, and all Justin can think of is... he's alone.
He never really cared much before; Christmas is a time for family, and presents, and fry-ups in the mornings and Christmas dinners and maybe some wine, if he's lucky, but he's not going home this year and he feels a little more alone than normal.
Of course, it's most definitely not because of the insane, lovely girl chatting with her friends near the fire.
But December also brings amazing conversations and smiles in the hallways - but only when Justin's friends aren't nearby. Luna cares too much, and is it wrong that Justin kind of likes it? He even gets a present from her on Christmas day; a box full of what she calls dirigible plums. They smell lovely.
It means being partners in Charms and maybe even working together in their free period after Transfiguration.
It means hovering under mistletoe and singing Christmas carols to make her laugh.
It means... alone. But not for long.
"Luna?" Justin asks her, just this once, just in case.
"Justin!" She turns and smiles at him brightly. Her hair is curled into a messy bun on the top of her head and a quill rests behind one ear, where her wand rests behind the other. She fiddles with a dream catcher weaved through her fingers.
He hands her the valentine's card, and his hand shakes so much he almost tears the paper. Luna takes it gingerly, and sniffs it.
"Rose petals," she murmurs. She shakes the card and sniffs again. "And - and dirigible plums! You kept them?"
"Of course," Justin replies. Luna opens the card, the little vegetables and the rose petals falling out onto her lap. She beams down at them, then up at him. She opens the card, a traditional heart shaped one. Sometimes, Justin thinks, Luna appreciates normal.
She stands up, slowly at first. She takes one of his hand, then leads his other to rest on her waist. She puts a hand on his shoulder.
"Can you dance?" Luna whispers shyly into his ear, and Justin nods wordlessly.
He starts to lead her in a waltz; she doesn't object, but follows him perfectly, each step flawless and graceful and alive. Justin feels as though he's flying.
Luna laughs, and Justin thinks she feels very small - her dainty fingers clutching at his shoulder like a drowning man would clutch at a lifeline. Her feet twist too perfectly, and her earrings ring out sad music against her neck. Her smile is sad when he looks down at her.
"Can you save me, Justin?" She murmurs, and he holds her closer. In another life, he could've felt a brush of feathers against his cheek, would've felt his own wings lifting his feet above the stone ground.
He doesn't. But he can always imagine.
"I can try," he replies softly, and though their hearts beat out of time with the rhythm of the dance, at least they beat in time with each other. Maybe now their story can begin.