Harry is dateless for the Halloween Dance and Draco Malfoy is teasing him about it until Luna step up the plate.
In a corner of a large room, right beside one of the large windows, a young girl, with dirty blonde hair sat as still as death. No one sat beside her and no one had offered to study or bothered to invite her to stay with them - not that it concerned her with the slightest. She rather preferred the quiet, although it would have been nice if she had been invited. No, to be honest she could care less about it.
However her gaze, which to an onlooker seemed glazed and disoriented were locked onto the scene outside the window. The view was not all that great, but it was enough to fuel her curiosity.
The Gryffindor team was practicing today.
The books lay opened but unread on the table before her, as her wistful gaze continued to watch the flying players on their brooms, weave around the field with an agility she could only dream about. She really should be studying for her O.W.L.S, but she couldn’t get herself to concentrate much, especially knowing that he was out there playing right now.
Unaware of the soft sigh she had given, she was jarred from her thoughts as several books were suddenly slammed upon the table right next to her. Instead of giving a jump of fright as any other person would have, she blinked slowly as her red headed vivacious classmate sat beside her with a wide grin.
“Hello, Luna! I was wondering where you .”
“Ginny,” came the soft reply, that was said so matter-of-factly. “I wasn’t expecting you here, I thought you were going to watch your brother practice.”
Locks of red framed the petite face of Ginny Weasley shook her head lightly. “No, I thought about it at first, but decided not to. We have so much homework and we have hardly had anything done.”
“I have finished mine.”
The red head blinked in surprise and gawked at the girl who was still staring at her with a faint amusement. “You….you’ve finished?! When…..when?!”
Luna Lovegood gave another enigmatic smile, before turning her gaze to the window as a loud cheer was heard. It looked like Ronald Weasely, Ginny’s older brother, had just saved another goal. “I finished it last night when everyone else had gone to bed. I couldn’t sleep much.”
Ginny still couldn’t believe it. “Even Herbolgy?! We were supposed to write an essay about the dangers of Shrinking Mum racks ! How could you have possibly finished?!”
“Miss Weasley! If you insist on being noisy, then I am afraid I am going to have to ask you to leave the library!” said Madam Pince looking down at her from the bridge of her nose, glaring at Ginny who had disrupted the quiet of the library.
“Sorry, Madam Pince,” came the quick reply as the girl flushed at being reprimanded.
Luna reached into her school bag and brought out a parchment. Placing it before Ginny, she gave a soft nod. “Go ahead and take a look at it if you like. I don’t really mind.”
The red head looked as if she was going to burst into tears with relief, but she settled for giving Luna a crushing hug instead. She could sense the surprise at her actions and pulling back gently, she grinned. “That’s for being such a wonderful person, Luna. I just wish everyone else would open up their eyes to see how sweet you really are.”
“But….I am dotty, aren’t I?” came the soft question, although a hint of pleasure at the compliment had filled her voice now.
Ginny shook her head, her hands already reaching for Luna’s notes to being writing. “No, you are not Luna. You are just….different, that’s all. And being different is good. If everyone was to be like everyone else, this school would be very boring. Don’t you think so?”
When she got no answer, she lifted her head to call out to the blonde again, when she notice that Luna’s gaze seemed transfixed on something outside. Raising a brow in bemusement at what could have possibly gotten the girl so silent, Ginny leaned a bit closer to see. To her growing confusion, all she could see were the members of the Gryffindor Quidditch team making their way back into the school building. She could see her brother and his best friend Harry Potter, talking rather animatedly. Both of them look rather excited and soon enough they were joined by a pretty girl who just happened to be Hermione Granger.
So, what had Luna so engrossed ? Ginny was just about to tap the girl’s shoulder, when she took another good look. Slowly, realization dawned her and she was unable to stop the cheesiest grin that had come to her features.
“You fancy him, don’t you Luna?” she commented with her grin growing wider by the second. And for the first time ever, Ginny was sure that Luna was actually blushing.
But the typical of the eccentric teen, she only shook her head and focused her attention on the book before her. “I was just checking to see if I could spot a Snipper Wingsnack. They are known to fly around this time of the year and according to my father, they can only been seen during the late afternoon or evening time. You have to be really careful….”
“Oh, just admit it Luna” Ginny cut in with barely concealed exasperation. “You were looking at Harry all this time. There is no such thing as a Snipper Wing snack ! Even the name sounds ridiculous.”
Ginny suddenly wished she hadn’t said that because of Luna’s normally passive features had now tightened into one of irritation. The blonde might be placid when it come to other things around her, but once any mention or ridicule was made of her father or his paper : The Quibbler, Luna was known to become highly defensive and extremely protective.
“Just because you haven’t heard about it, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.” she said coldly as she got to her feet and began to pack up her books. She was just about to stuff them into her bag, when several of them flew up into the air and were thrown a good ways away from her. Ginny growled as she noticed the group of fifth years snickering in the corner. One of the boys mouthed ‘Looney Luna’ and before she could control herself, the red head made a mad dash towards him with her wand raised, only to be stopped by the hands of the very girl that had been taunted.
“It’s okay, Ginny. There is no need to get yourself into trouble over me.” She gave a wan smile to the flustered red head, before making her way towards her books to pick them up. In the process, she tripped over her own feet and it didn’t take a genius to know that she had been hexed again. Sighing softly, she got off the floor and dusted her knees, noticing with a faint grimace that her robes were now stained. She would have to wash them tonight after all.
The giggles and laughter from the other students seemed to fly right over her, as she put the books into her bag. Ginny could only watch helpless, not knowing where to slap the oblivious girl or to hug her again. “I’m sorry, Luna. I didn’t mean to make you upset,” She finally mumbled softly. “Do you want me to walk you back to your dorm?”
“No, it really ok Ginny. Just make sure you give me back my parchments before going to bed tonight.” Giving her friend another small smile, she made her way out of the library and into the halls.
She had grown a bit taller over the holidays and at fifteen, the signs of how lovely she was going to become had begun to show. Her blond hair was still limp and lifeless, but her eyes were what seemed to be her trademark. Forever remaining in that dreamy state, the startling blue of their depths seemed able to stare right into one’s soul. She was not particularly pretty, but she was not ugly either. According to Ginny, if Luna would just take the time to really pay attention to her appearance, she could turn out to be a stunning young lady.
As she made her way towards the notice board, completely oblivious to the stares and snickers that followed her as she passed by, she saw that a small crowd had begun to gather around it.
Most of the sixth years students were in front of it, prominent were the trio of Draco Malfoy, and his perpetual companions, Crabble and Goyle. In his familiar loud voice, the blond Slytherin announced without preamble. “Humph ! It’s time again for the Halloween party. I wonder who Potter is going to be taking this time around. Or haven’t you found anyone yet?”
Luna, as well as everyone else had spun around to face the bespectacled boy, who was still dressed in his Quidditch uniform. Unaware that she was holding her breath, she listened to Harry’s angry retort. “Why don’t you mind your own business for once, Malfoy? Don’t you know when to give it up?!”
Obviously the blond didn’t, for he spoke up even louder. “Why, what’s the matter, Potter? You can’t be upset over the fact that I just asked you about your date? Whatever happened to that…what’s her name now? Granger? Oh, of course….you wouldn’t want to waste your time with a Mudblood, would you?”
Ron Weasley, made a dash for the smirking boy but was quickly held back by Harry, who muttered out thickly but with barely concealed venom in his tone. “Shut up, Malfoy or I will make you eat your words.”
“Oh, really ? And what are you going to do to me, Potter ? Turn me into an ugly slime ball like yourself ?” Hardly waiting for a reply, he stepped up to his audience and unannounced loudly “ Everyone…..if you dare! Who would like to take Mr. Potter as a date for the Halloween Party? Come on, don’t be shy!” He cajoled as no one made any effort to lift their hands or say anything. A few giggles and chuckles were heard here and there but no one said anything.
Hermione shook her head in exasperation. “Let’s just go, Harry. Let’s leave him to make a fool of himself.”
“What’s this?” Draco asked in a falsetto tone of concern. “I thought you were popular, Potter. I was sure that all the girls would have fallen to their knees to get a chance to be with you. Whatever happened to your celebrity status? Have you fallen short?”
“Malfoy…” Harry began dangerously, his eyes now narrowed into thin slits of fury.
“Surely someone wants to go out with Potter! No one? Not a single one?” Draco gave a melodramatic sigh of disbelief. “How sad. The boy who is believed to have defeated He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named on more than one occasion can’t even get a date…”
His words died as a hand shot up at the back of the crowd. It was soon followed by a calm and steady voice that seemed to float over the students.
“I will be Harry Potter’s date.”
Everyone spun around as if on cue to stare at the serene figure of Luna Lovegood. For several seconds, it seemed as if the entire student body had been rendered speechless for no one was capable of saying a thing. Even, Draco had been sent gawking in disbelief. Finally, after what seemed like eons, a student broke out in giggles and before long, everyone was howling in barely controlled mirth.
Luna lowered her hand slowly. She glanced at Harry and saw that he was staring at her with mixtures of dismay, shock and irritation on his features. She wasn’t sure which was worse, but rather than dwell on it, she gave a light shrug and began to make her way back to her dorm.
At least she had given everyone a good laugh for the day.
Unfortunately, news had the tendency to spread like wild fire around Hogwarts and before long everyone was talking about Luna being Harry’s date for the upcoming Halloween Party. If it bothered the blonde, she gave no sign of it. However, on Harry’s end, the past four hours had been nothing short of hell for him.
He just couldn’t believe it.
“It’s not all that bad,” Ron tried to reason as he stuffed another chicken into his mouth. They were in the middle of dinner and after a long day of Quidditch, the red head was more than starved for food. “I mean, you could have ended up going dateless.”
“That would have been much butter,” Harry snapped as he stabbed at his fruit salad angrily. He had tried to catch Luna’s gaze throughout the evening with every intention to get her to meet him to discuss their situation. But the blonde was proving to be quite difficult as she had made it a point of duty by burying herself behind the pages of The Quibbler.
Swearing beneath his breath, he finally got to his feet and began to make his way towards the Ravenclaw table. Ignoring Ron and Hermione’s gasps and pleas for him to sit down, everyone in the room watched his movements with interest as he stopped beside Luna to cough lightly. “May I have a word with you, please?”
Without lifting her head, Luna replied serenely. “It’s dinner and I cannot leave until I am finished….”
“Look everyone,” Malfoy sniggered loudly. “Potter is talking to his girlfriend.”
Some of the students went into peels of laughter again and feeling his face burn with mortification, Harry placed a hand on Luna’s arm and unceremoniously led her out of the room. Surprisingly she came without much of a fight, and once out to the safety of the almost empty hallways, Harry stopped and spun around to pin cold green depths on her.
“What the hell were you thinking, Luna ?” He cried out desperately, completely ignoring the looks of interests that came their way from the portraits around them. “You know full well that you and I cannot be….be…” He couldn’t even say the word.
But it looked as if he needn’t have, for the girl replied simply. “You do not wish to be my date.”
Harry stumbled with his words for a minute, still not used to her direct manner of speaking. Well, he really shouldn’t have been surprised since Hermione was a bit like that. Shaking his head quickly to clear his jumbled thoughts, he tried again. “Look, don’t try to make me out to be the bad guy here, Luna. I didn’t ask you to volunteer yourself. Why would you do that?” he asked in genuine bemusement.
Luna gave a long suffering sigh and shifted her wand from her right ear to left. “I really don’t know what the big deal is, Harry. It’s just a stupid party and you don’t have to dance with me if you don’t want to. Besides, I never really liked dancing, you know.”
The young wizard felt like he was talking to a brick wall. For several long moments, he could only stare at her, his confusion growing as he wondered just what it was about this girl that had his thoughts so mixed up. His intention had been to come out here and to tell her off or scare her away from becoming his date, but the more he stared into those unbelievable blue eyes of hers, the more the words he had so carefully planned seemed to slip away.
‘She sees what I see…she feels…how I feel…’
“Gah!” He shook his head again and closed his eyes and without opening them, he shouted out desperately. “Just don’t try to do anything like that again, Luna! Okay? We are not going to the party together and that’s final !”
Without giving her another glance, he spun on his heels and made his way towards his dorm.
He suddenly had no desire to speak to or see anyone.
The weeks that followed seemed to be one that was carefully choreographed by Harry. He made sure to never bump into the blonde Ravenclaw by accident or to even acknowledge her presence around the school grounds. And although, Hermione wasn’t too fond of the girl, she still couldn’t help feeling a bit irritated at her best friend’s behavior.
Later on that night, while doing their homework, she stole another glance at the boy who was ‘supposedly’ studying. Harry’s gaze seemed transfixed on something outside the window and his hands continued to doodle nonsensical words on his parchment. Finally, giving a small snort of exasperation, Hermione slammed her books hard on the table to get his attention.
“Harry! You aren’t even studying,” she admonished as she noticed the tell-tale spots of embarrassment on his cheeks. “We have got tests tomorrow and Potions with Snape which you know you are not good at.”
Mumbling a quick ‘Sorry’, the boy tried to focus his attention on his books, but found to his dismay that he couldn’t. A conversation – if you could call it that – he had had with a certain Weasley, kept ringing in his head and it seemed as if it would never go away.
Harry ran up the stairs as quickly as he could. Ron and Hermione were waiting for him in front of the Great Hall. He had been going through some last minute plays with Angelina, the Gryffindor Quidditch captain, and was already running late for dinner.
As he passed the second flight of stairs, he froze in mid-stride as he came face-to-face with the scowling visage of his best friend’s sister.
“Ginny,” he exclaimed a bit breathlessly, as his hands reached to brush away some of the long black bangs that had fallen across his forehead. “Is there something wrong?”
The red head’s frown deepened as she tapped her foot impatiently. “Everything is wrong, Harry,” she bit back coldly. “I don’t know what your problem is, but you have got to know that not everyone can be as tough as you are emotionally!”
The sixth year blinked in confusion at the outburst, all thoughts of Ron and Hermione…and dinner for that matter, out of his mind as he stared at the girl. “What are you talking about?”
“You know very well what I am talking about, Harry. Luna!”
At the sound of the name, Harry felt something heavy drop to the pit of his stomach. He didn’t want to admit it was guilt, but the emotion was so strong that he felt himself get a bit weak in the knees. However, Ginny Weasley was not finished.
“She has been nothing but kind and nice to you and look at the way you treat her ! If you didn’t want to go out with her, you could have just done it in a private way instead of yelling it to her in the hallway and embarrassing her! So, she doesn’t show her emotions that much, but that gave you no right, Harry!”
Suddenly feeling defensive, he frowned and retorted. “I didn’t ask her to be my date. She brought this upon herself ! She must enjoy everyone laughing at her then!”
Oh, come on. You heard them, just behind the veil, didn’t you ?
Stop thinking about that!
I believe you, Harry…
“You are very ungrateful, Harry! Luna is a sweet, kind and…”
“Then if she is so sweet, why can’t she find someone else to take her to the stupid party?!” He finally bellowed in frustration. He didn’t want this feeling of confusion to continue to linger within him. He didn’t want to keep feeling this weakness at knowing that everything Ginny was saying was right. Luna had been there. She had seen, felt…known what he had been going through and try as hard as he might, he just couldn’t get rid of that reassuring smile and words she had told him last year.
“I don’t want to be with her!” He finished angrily, only to feel the his skin prickle with awareness as he was sure that the very girl they had been talking about was standing behind him. Ginny’s gasp of shock was more than enough to solidify his assumptions.
“Hello, Ginny…Harry,” came the familiar vague voice as the blonde came up the stairs behind him. She gave a small smile to the couple and pointed to her hat with the lion upon it. “I am just testing it to see if it still fits. I had to create a spell to make it fit better, but I think I can still wear it for the match tomorrow.” And turning to give the silent boy another small smile, she tapped her hat lightly and said softly, “Good luck, Harry.”
She spun on her heels and continued to make her way up the stairs, now humming ‘Weasley is our King’ beneath her breath. Once out of sight, Harry sagged limply against the balustrades and closed his eyes, oddly aware of how much faster his heart had been beating all this time. Opening them up again, he met the amused ones of Ginny.
“What?” He snapped quickly.
“Oh, nothing,” Ginny replied with a light giggle as she began to make her way down the stairs. “I just hope you wake up and open your eyes, Mr. Potter, before it’s too late.”
He groaned and buried his face in his hands. There was no way he could ignore it now. Luna Lovegood completely intrigued and yet bewildered him.
And to his dismay, he found that there was nothing he could do about it. Or so he thought.
“Just go with her to the dance, Harry,” Hermione said quietly. He lifted his head sharply to stare into her smiling visage as he felt a dull color of red creep up to his cheeks. Had he been that obvious ? “I might not like her…completely,” the girl continued. “Still a bit too kooky for me, but…I think…I think you should just give a chance, you know ? It might turn out to be all right in the end.”
Give her a chance…
He gave only a light grunt and forced his attention to his Potions assignments. Suddenly, the days ahead didn’t look too bleak for him.
They had won the match against Hufflepuff and through it all, the unmistakable roar of Luna’s lion had given him an incredible surge of confidence. He had felt it the very first time against Slytherin last year and the feeling was no different this time around. As he had touched down to the earth with the snitch in his hands, his gaze had quickly gone towards the Ravenclaw section. Sure enough, Luna was there with a wide grin on her features, hands wildly waving the blue colors of her house.
Their gazes had remained locked for a brief moment, which had seemed like an eternity to Harry. His heart rate had quickened again - and he knew it wasn’t just from the race he had finished. Her eyes were so blue…so startling blue against her pale features that they seemed to illuminate her entire being. It wasn’t until he was knocked to the ground by his exuberant teammates, was he finally able to break the spell.
An hour later, he found himself pacing the hallways in front of the Ravenclaw dormitory, ignoring all the knowing glances and snickers that came his way. Each time the door opened or someone came up the stairs, his mouth would go dry in nervousness, only for that feeling of eagerness to deflate again as the person he sought never showed up. His palms were sweaty and he kept rubbing them down the side of his robes in growing agitation. He was going to lose his nerve. There was no way he could continue with this.
Ah, forget it.
He was just about to make his way back to his dorm in disappointment, when Padma Patil’s voice reached his ears. “If you are looking for Luna, I think she is by the lake.”
Unable to stop the blush that rose to his cheeks, he gave a curt nod to Luna’s fellow Ravenclaw and began the long walk towards the school’s beautiful lake. All, the while mumbling the words he had practiced to say to the girl once he met her again.
She point her wand out before her and mumbled the words softly to her self over and over again, but somehow she couldn’t make the nasty ink stain on her robes disappear. Someone had sent a bottle of ink flying towards her during class earlier that day and no matter how many times she had scourigified her robes, they just wouldn’t go away.
With a small sigh of resignation, she sat down on the grass and stared at the sparkling blue lake before her. Unconsciously, she began to sing ‘Weasley is our King’ again, only this time, she replaced it with Harry. A dull heat filled her cheeks and she raised her knees to her chin, hiding it within them.
She liked it this way anyway. No one around to laugh at her foolish fantasies or dreams - not that she cared if they laughed at her or not. She guessed she liked seeing other people happy, especially when it was at her expense.
She just wished that could make Harry laugh.
She groaned softly and tightened her arms around her legs, feeling the soft breeze of the evening brush against her skin. “Harry…Harry….Harry….” she mumbled softly. She wondered how many times she could say his name in one minute.
“Harry…Harry….Harry…” Someone is calling my name…
She spun around so fast that she ended up falling flat on her back against the cool grass. She found herself staring into Harry’s amused visage upside down and a responding smile came to her face.
“Hello, Harry. I was just wondering how many times I could say your name in one minute.”
Stumped at the comment, Harry could only mutter out a soft ‘Eh…’ before yelping in surprise as a hand wrapped itself around his ankle.
“Sit down…if you want to,” she said quietly, still holding his gaze as if daring him to insult her again. But Harry didn’t need to be told that twice as he sank to the grass beside her. She sat upright and smiled brightly at him, which in turn sent his face flooding with color again.
“You had a good game today,” she began after five minutes of relative silence. “I have never seen you fly that fast before. It was great. My father says that he will have to write an article about the fastest wizard ever, but I think you are much, much better than Mr. Wimple-o-will.”
Harry was unable to get himself to speak, realizing with a dull ache in his chest that he actually enjoyed listening to Luna. She had begun with another tale of her father’s article about Snipper Wingsnacks – something that had Harry blinking in disbelief – but her avid storytelling and enthusiastic words seemed to make everything so much more believable. He was sure that if she proclaimed that she had been in a fierce battle with a dragon, he wouldn’t have the urge to fight the logic.
He stole another sideways glance at her and swallowed tightly. She wasn’t wearing her familiar earrings that set her apart from others, neither did she have her butterbeer corks around her neck. In fact, she looked rather…plain without any of those things and just as he was about to open up his mouth to ask, he noticed the horrendous ink stain on her robes.
“What happened to you, Luna?” he asked softly even though he was sure of the answer already.
She stopped talking long enough to notice where his gaze had gone to. “Oh, this…someone threw my ink pot at me. I tried to clean it up but it wouldn’t…”
“Scourgify,” Harry mumbled softly as the stain quickly vanished. He tucked his wand back into his pockets and gave the blonde a gentle smile. “That should take care of it.”
Luna gave a soft nod in response, not really sure of why Harry doing this for her would mean so much. She clutched the robe tightly in her hands and stared at the lake before her, allowing the silence to descend between them. Darkness was beginning to fall rather fast and both knew that they would have to go in soon, but yet, neither made a move to get up. Harry, deciding that there was no time like the present, finally took a deep breath and began quietly.
“I…eh…I…” he shook his head again and cleared his throat. An incredible wave of shyness had now come over him and he was sure that he was going to act like a fool in front of her. “I’m sorry, Luna.”
The girl gave no knowledge of having heard him and not sure of why that would be so reassuring, he lowered his gaze to the grass and continued.
“I don’t really expect you to forgive me completely for what I said to you and believe me when I say I would understand…in whatever decision you wish to take.” He stopped and stole another shy glance at her, wondering what she was thinking or doing now. Although, she wasn’t looking at him, Harry could still tell that he had her undivided attention. Smiling softly to himself, he sat up a bit straighter.
“I guess what I am trying to say is that maybe…if you still want to that is…would you…would you like to be my date for the upcoming Halloween party, Luna?”
The sounds of several students talking in the background on their way to the Grand Hall filled the silence. Along with the soothing sounds of the lake and its environs, it seemed to give the air a sense of added mystery and intrigue and for a brief moment, Harry wished that he could bottle up this moment and never let it go. He felt a sense of peace, such of which he had never felt before. It was almost the same way he had felt when Luna had told him that everything would be all right last summer. His gaze shifted towards the lake again. When nobody else had been able to feel his pain and anger at the lost of his godfather Sirius, Luna’s word and strength led him through. He suddenly realized with a dull pang of his chest, that he needed her strength - needed her to be by his side, no matter how long it took.
‘Always be with me…’
His thoughts were quickly cut short as he felt something heavy rest itself against his shoulder. It took him a minute to realize that the soft, ticklish thing against his chin was actually Luna’s hair.
She was leaning her head upon his shoulder.
The roses on Harry’s cheeks grew darker and he felt his heart rate quicken. Her hair smelled like strawberries and as he closed his eyes gently, he allowed himself to enjoy its heady and almost intoxicating scent.
With motions that seemed to be done purely on instinct, his arm snaked around her waist to pull her closer to him. They remained like that for a long time, oblivious to everyone and everything around them. Before long, Luna’s serene voice cut through the companionable silence.
“I still can’t dance, you know.”
The moon was beginning to peek its ways through the clouds now as Harry gave a light chuckle before replying. “Neither can I.”
Luna lifted her head a little to stare into Harry’s smiling visage, her own features lighting up with a genuine feeling of relief that sent the boy sucking in a harsh breath at how pretty the action made her look now. No, she has always been pretty, he deduced. He had just been too blind to really notice it. I made him smile for me. I finally made him laugh. A happiness she couldn’t explain filled her chest as she laid her head back upon his shoulder. And giving a light nod of understanding, she whispered softly.
“It’s okay, Harry. We can’t be perfect in everything we do. That is what makes us just…ordinary people, right?”
The young wizard who was destined for greater things, felt something tug painfully in his chest and he tightened his arm around her waist. He wasn’t sure of what would happen if both of them from here on out, but there was one thing that was clear and definite in his mind now. In a voice that had deepened with meaning, he closed his eyes and whispered his reply softly into her golden locks.
“We might be ordinary people, Luna. But to me, you will always remain…extraordinary.”