"Hi Luna," Harry said as he turned around to see who called him.
"Hello Harry," she replied in her dreamy voice as she stopped directly in front of him, not quite touching but a little too close for his liking.
She wore the normal dark blue sweater of their school uniform, but as he looked down at her, Harry was caught off guard. From this close it was obvious she wasn't wearing the typical blouse or bra with it, and he could see her breasts pushing out against the knitted fabric. They stood there like that for several moments before Harry turned his head toward her face and tried not to think about the sight before him. His frustration, which he barely managed to hold in check these days, began to surface as he tried to push the inappropriate thoughts away.
Luna simply stood there, seemingly ignoring his glare as she absentmindedly played with her bottle cap necklace.
"Was there something you wanted Luna?"
She just looked up and stared at him for a few more moments before nodding. "Do you ever have fun Harry?"
That was not what he expected, but coming from Luna he should've known better than to expect anything."Of course I have fun."
"Do you really?" she asked in a surprisingly serious voice as she gazed at him quizzically. "I don't think you do."
"Have you ever had so much that it just wears you out? The fun that continues on with you, even if you don't know you can laugh anymore? Have you ever just let go and enjoy the world?" she emphasized her last question by stepping back and twirling in a circle, her arms spread out to the world.
Almost unconsciously his eyes sought out her chest as she spun, and he couldn't help but admire the way they seemed to bounce and sway with her movements.
Shaking his head, Harry thought about her question. He'd never really thought about it in that way before, but looking at her now and how much enjoyment she received from just spinning, there was only one simple answer. "No."
Luna stopped and turned toward him, extending one of her small hands and motioned for him to follow.
"Where are you going?" he asked as he walked beside her.
"Do you have somewhere else to be?"
"Well... No," he answered honestly. Ron and Hermione were probably still having one of their rows and he didn't exactly feel like being stuck in the middle again.
"Then does it matter where we go?"
"I guess not," admitted Harry. He knew everyone referred to her as Looney, and he probably shouldn't be surprised by how she acted or what she said, so why exactly was he following her?
He walked with her further out into the surrounding lands of Hogwarts, but as they continued Harry began to worry about where exactly they were heading. They were well beyond the normal boundaries of the school now, though heading away from Hogsmeade instead of towards it. He'd never had a reason to go far in this direction before and didn't think anything was around here.
"You accept getting in trouble for the right reasons, but can you do it for the wrong ones Harry?" she asked, seemingly being able to understand his apprehension.
His mind was whirling as he thought about it. Dumbledore, The Order, his professors, even Ron and Hermione would be disappointed in him if he continued. Sure, he'd broken rules before... Tons of them, but they were almost all for the right reasons. The last time he'd really done anything he knew he shouldn't have, was when he snuck out to Hogsmeade during third year. And talking with Professor Lupin afterwards left him feeling so guilty that he hadn't even considered it again. Detentions he didn't really care all that much about, but he'd be letting them all down by doing this. And even beyond that, if they were caught, the Ministry would make a huge deal out of it and probably try to expel him again.
Luna was softly singing to herself and swaying as if dancing to music only she could hear, and apparently had no idea of Harry's moral dilemma. It was actually her singing and dancing- or rather Luna just being her carefree, vibrant, self- that finally convinced him. He wanted that. He wanted to be able to walk around as if he didn't have a care in the world- wanted to be able to have fun, to be able to smile and laugh. He wasn't like that he knew, not anymore at least. Between the Ministry, Umbridge, Voldemort, Dumbledore and The Order, and even his friends this year... Everything just seemed to be against him.
"Can you feel it?" she asked once he caught back up to her.
"Freedom. Can't you feel it? There are no adults here, no one to tell you what to do, how to act, how to think. No closed-minded adults saying only to accept what you can see, or what they say and write; no-one to tell you not to believe."
At first he wrote it off as just another thing Luna would say, but as he thought about it more, he realized she was right. He could feel it, or at least he felt something. Dumbledore didn't know where he was. The Order wasn't following him under some invisibility cloak. The Ministry and Umbridge had no clue he'd left the school. And even his friends, who were driving him nuts lately by either walking on egg-shells around him or arguing amongst themselves, had no clue. He really was free.
There was no big announcement when they finally arrived at where they were going; Luna just sat. It was just a grassy clearing next to a creek they'd been following for a few minutes. There were no trees, though there was a bit of plant growth and a log near the creek, but aside from that there was nothing seemingly special about the spot. Apparently it was where Luna was going though, so he took a seat in the grass next to her.
"What is it you want from life Harry?" Luna asked him out of the blue.
He was tempted to give her a generic non-committal answer, like the ones he'd given Hermione several times before. But for some reason, with Luna that just didn't seem right.
"I don't know," he finally admitted. "I don't know what I want. I just know I don't like what I am. I feel like I'm being pulled in different directions- Hermione wants me to act like her, respect the professors even when they're wrong. Dumbledore and, well, others, want me to be a good little boy who does what he's told and never asks questions. Even my house-mates are trying to make all the decisions for me."
Starting the DA was the right thing to do, and he did enjoy the meetings they had so far. But it wasn't done for the right reason. He only did it because Hermione had nagged, badgered and then pretty much tricked him into it. If they were ever caught, /he/would be the one in trouble, not her. /He/, not Hermione, was also the one that had to spend his free time figuring out what to teach, and then get up and actually teach them all.
Standing up to Professor Umbridge and sticking to the truth was also the right thing to do, and even for the right reason, but everyone seemed to be against him on it. His friends, house-mates, his team-mates on the Quidditch team, and even his Head of House all wanted him to roll over to the Ministry. They didn't understand though. They weren't the ones there; they weren't the ones who saw him fall, who was tortured and nearly died. How could he roll over to them, when he didn't to Voldemort?
"If you keep frowning like that you'll attract the meddlen worms and become grouchy." She scrunched up her forehead, getting lost in thought for a moment, "That could explain why you've been acting that was so often. There are cures for a worm infestation though. Would you like one?"
Her earnest expression as she called him grouchy and asked if he wanted help was a bit too much for him, and instead of blowing up like he would at anyone else, he actually smiled."What's the cure?"
Pulling out a potion's flask from one of her pockets, she offered it to him. "It's an all-purpose cure for such infestations that I found in the Quibbler a couple years ago. It requires the use of a special mushroom though, and that's why I come all the way over here- to collect the mushrooms."
Harry was getting a bit concerned now. Having a bit of fun and joking around was one thing, but he wasn't stupid enough to drink a potion he didn't know anything about.
"It's safe," she said laughing at him. Luna slowly pulled the stopped from the neck of the green bottle and let it fall to the side of the flask with a gentle tinkle as it hung from a slender chain. Taking a quick drink from it, she swished the liquid around in her mouth for a minute before swallowing. After that she just sat there, her eyes closed and a small smile on her face. Just as he was getting worried though, she sighed and opened her eyes. From the satisfied look in them he could tell she enjoyed whatever was in the bottle. Maybe it wouldn't be so bad.
Harry gasped the moment his fingers touched the glowing flask; he could already feel the magic in it. Even after he accepted it, he still wasn't sure if he was going to take it. It wasn't dangerous from what he could tell, but Harry knew enough about the wizarding world to still be wary of such things. One voice inside him told him to just be a man and take it. Another though- one which sounded surprisingly similar to Hermione's- told him not to do it, that he didn't know what it was, and was being a fool for even considering it. It was actually because of the 'Hermione'inside him that he decided. Harry was tired of her making the decisions for him. He tipped the glass flask back and took a drink.
The liquid was thick, pasty and so tart that it overwhelmed his taste-buds and nearly caused him to throw it back up. He managed to keep it all down though, but was sure he didn't want to take another drink. How could Luna actually enjoy this stuff?
A moment later, Harry received his answer as a warm sensation seemed to build within his mind. Time began to speed by as an intense blur of sensations washed over him. He felt like he was floating in a world of blazing moving colors and sounds. Just as he thought he might be overwhelmed by all the feelings, the warm sensation settled in his stomach and he realized that only a few moments had passed since he drank the potion. The experience of it left him feeling changed, however. He could only shake his head at it as he tried to make sense of what just happened.
"Don't," came Luna's soft voice from in front of him. "Don't think. You're going to feel funny soon, just relax and go with it. Look at the world again for the first time and enjoy the freedom."
He knew about muggle drugs, and had heard whispers of illicit spells and potions from some of the older years, but never thought he'd be doing any. A part of his mind knew it was wrong, but at the moment he just didn't care.
Instead, he did what she asked. For the first time in a long while he just laid there and relaxed. He let Luna's voice direct him and give him a new perspective of life around him. The grass was greener than he remembered, the sky bluer, and the clouds weren't clouds, but rather radish-shaped earrings, another looked a cat, while a third looked like a person. Absently, he wondered what it would be like to live as acloud. To be so high in the sky and looking down on all the ant-like humans.
And then she was there above him, her large grey eyes staring back down at him with a surprising amount of... Harry wasn't sure what to make of her expression. It wasn't the normal dreamy look she seemed to have, but almost caring.
"How do you feel now that the meddlen worm infestation gone?" she asked carefully, her voice lower and more soothing than he remembered.
He laughed. He'd forgotten about the meddlen worms already and realized maybe she was right, because his grouchiness was most definitely gone. A small part of him wasn't sure what was funny, but the rest just enjoyed being able to laugh so freely.
When he finally stopped, he looked at her and saw a great big smile on her face, as if she was really happy that he was happy. He laughed a bit more at that, and this time she joined in with him.
She was there, looking down from right above him again. This time though, she softly touched his face. He liked it, liked the feeling of someone touching. So few people had ever touched him like that before. Hermione had once, toward the end of last year. At the time he thought she really cared, thought she might be the only one who truly cared about him. But this summer had shot that idea down. She was supposed to write to him, supposed to put him in front of everything. Instead she spent the summer with Ron while he was stuck alone once again. Alone. He was always alone when it mattered.
"Stop thinking and just feel," Luna said as she began running her hands softly around his face and into his hair.
He could feel the warmth of her fingers as they touched his skin, could feel the care she took to explore his face, to let him know he wasn't alone. He wasn't sure how long she touched him, or how long he laid there staring at her. All he knew was that she was beautiful. Her long blonde hair seemed to catch hold of the light, silhouetting her face and emphasizing her grey eyes that were so full of caring... Beautiful?Did he really just think of Luna Lovegood as beautiful?
"You're thinking again,"she said while giving him another smile. But this time, instead of just running her hands over his face, she brought her lips down to his for a moment.
His thoughts lasted just long enough to notice her lie down partially on top of him before kissing him again. The thoughts didn't matter after that though. He laid back and just enjoyed the feeling of her lips, of her hands in his hair, her chest on his.
"What is that you're humming?" Harry asked as they walked back to Hogwarts late that evening. "It sounds familiar."
"Wit and faith and love are man's greatest treasure."
Harry laughed, but slowly took one of her little hands in his. Yes, they were most certainly his greatest treasures now.
The potion had long since worn off and he was thinking clearly again, but his smile still remained. His grouchiness, caused only by the meddlen worms he was sure, was gone. He knew there would be trouble with his friends at having disappeared all day, knew his team-mates would be pissed he skived off practice. But it didn't seem to matter all that much to him anymore. He had his Luna, had his freedom. And that was enough.
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