Stories from Sixth (and Seventh) Year
Spin, crash, burn
"Hermione, Luna's looking for you," Lavender said, looking up from a paper she was writing by the window in the Common Room.
"I know," Hermione replied with some irritation. "People have been saying that all day, but I haven't been able to find her." She regretted her tone of her voice when she saw Lavender recoil. "I'm sorry, Lavender," she apologised. "It's just that it's a bit tiresome to hear the same message repeatedly. You are maybe the eighth person to give me that bit of news."
"Maybe she's with Neville," Lavender offered, raising her eyebrow suggestively.
"I can't find him either," Hermione replied.
"Ohhhhh," Lavender said. "Ask Harry, maybe he knows."
"Harry's on the pitch," Hermione replied. "It's the first practice tonight."
"I take it you don't regard that as a worthy event on your calendar," Lavender replied drolly.
"In a word, no," Hermione said firmly. "Quidditch is a game — a very nice game, but it's only a game. I go to the games, I cheer, I look the other way when your boyfriend brings things into the dormitory when we win the cup, but Quidditch does not regulate my life the way it does with some people."
"Like all of your closest friends," Lavender said with a smile.
"Yeah, like them," Hermione said, hitching her new book bag a bit higher onto her shoulder. "Is that Potions?" she asked.
"No, it's Divination — Firenze has this open ended question that we're supposed to answer 'completely yet succinctly.' When I'm finished with that, then I'm going to take a crack at Potions," Lavender said, wrinkling her nose.
"Let me know if you need help with that," Hermione offered.
"Thanks, I appreciate it, roomie," Lavender said, frowning at her paper as she re-read it.
Hermione scanned the common room, found nothing out of order, and ascended the stairs to the girls' dormitories. Rather than wandering through the rooms assigned to the first year students, as was her practice early in the school year, she went immediately to the sixth-year students' floor.
Her bed was the closest to the window and furthest from the loo, which was as she preferred it. Crookshanks was nowhere to be seen, but as the curtains were drawn on her bed, perhaps he was taking a pre-dinner nap on her pillow.
Hermione drew her wand.
I left the curtains open this morning, I'm certain of it.
She opened the curtains with one hand, wand at the ready.
Luna Lovegood was asleep on her bed, curled in a ball, clutching Crookshanks to her chin. From the blotches on her face, she had probably cried herself to sleep. Hermione had a notion why she was here. She pulled a box of tissues out from her wardrobe and warmed some water for tea, intending to wake Luna when the tea was done. To her surprise, when she was measuring the tea into the pot, she heard Luna's dreamy voice behind her.
"I'm sorry, Hermione, I did not intend to nap on your bed. I have been looking for you," she said with a sniffle.
"Yes, that's what everyone has told me. Would you like some tea? It will be ready in a minute or two," she said cheerfully.
"That would be lovely," Luna said, her overly large eyes blinking at a faster rate than normal.
"I suppose asking you how you got into Gryffindor Tower without a password would be useless," Hermione said.
"Oh, no," Luna replied. "If you were to ask, I would tell you that there are several ways into the tower, but the most reliable way is to bounce an Echo charm off of the portrait at an oblique angle, which replays the last bits of sound from that area — I taught Neville that for the times that he would forget the password," Luna said, rubbing her cheeks with her fingers.
"What's wrong, Luna?"
"It's over, Hermione," Luna said, staring at her, blinking like mad. "Whatever it was that I had with Neville, it appears to be over," she said, grabbing a tissue from the box. The tissue never made it to her face. Luna let out a keening wail, followed by a torrent of sobs. Hermione shut the door and cast a quick silencing charm on the room, moving to sit next to her friend. She rubbed her back and patted her hair, hoping that Luna would find comfort in these actions, feeling inadequate for the job of comforter.
Lavender should be here. I'm rubbish at this sort of thing.
Just when she thought the sobs had played out, Luna began anew. She clung to Hermione like a woman drowning in the surf. This last round of sobs waned, petering out into a string of hiccups.
"I suppose there was no avoiding that," Luna said drolly as she reached for a fresh tissue. "I never thought I loved him, but it hurt terribly when Neville suggested that we call it quits," she said looking up into Hermione's eyes.
"I don't know that I have anything comforting to say to you, Luna. I'm not very experienced myself at these sort of things," Hermione said awkwardly. "I guess this proves one of those smarmy truths that you don't know how much something means to you until it's gone," she said, reaching for a tissue herself.
"You've been hanging out with boys too long, Hermione," Luna said with an odd laugh. "I'm not looking for you to fix me right now, just to listen and hold me while I come unwrapped."
"That I can do," Hermione said calmly, scooting back on the bed, hugging her knees to her chest. "I'm honoured," she said after a moment of silence.
"It's not like I had a whole lot of options, Hermione," Luna said sadly. "I know many people at Hogwarts, but consider very few of them to be true friends. My male friends would at best misconstrue tonight's events, and at worst would attempt to punish Neville, which leaves me with my female friends: you and Ginny, and Ginny has been unavailable all day. You've been so kind as to reach out to me this summer that when I began to fall apart at lunchtime, you were the first person I thought of. I hope that I have not presumed too much of our friendship," she said, reaching out to Crookshanks who had just hopped back up on the bed.
"No, not in the least," Hermione said, "as I said, I'm honoured that you thought of me."
The two girls sat in silence for a while, Hermione straining to think of something useful to say that wouldn't sound like the lyrics to a Muggle love song, Luna absent-mindedly scratching Crookshanks beneath his chin.
"May I ask you a personal question, Hermione?" Luna said, looking at the wall of the dormitory room.
"You may certainly ask — I may or may not answer it though," Hermione said with a smile.
"It has been obvious that you have feelings beyond friendship for both Ronald and Harry for quite some time — how did you choose between them?" Luna asked.
Hermione was silent for a while. "I didn't," she finally answered.
"How can that be?" Luna asked.
"I didn't choose," Hermione explained. "I've always had a thing for Ron, but when I was honest with myself, I knew I had a certain attraction to Harry, which I probably share with the majority of heterosexual girls at Hogwarts. This summer my Mum and Dad had Harry over for a picnic luncheon and Mum began probing Harry about whether or not he was interested in dating anyone in general and me in particular," Hermione began.
"No!" exclaimed Luna. "Wasn't that embarrassing for you — for Harry?"
"It was mortifying," Hermione said frankly. "When I pressed him in private, Harry said that he had a short list of girls that he was interested in, romantically I guess, and that he'd taken me off of his list because he didn't want to ruin our friendship. Your name made the short list, I might add. A few weeks later it was Harry's birthday. Ron came home with me that night to talk to my parents, asking their permission to ask me out. I didn't choose — I was chosen. End of story, full stop."
"I — I am surprised — I had no notion that Harry even knew I was a girl. I take it that Ginny was also on the short list," Luna asked.
"Right in one," Hermione answered.
"I'd always thought that whenever you finally chose between them, I'd throw myself at the other," Luna confessed. "They are both terribly attractive — and I'm not talking about their looks."
"They are," Hermione agreed. "So, may I ask you a personal question?"
"Certainly," Luna replied proudly.
"How did things start with Neville? I know I asked that question this summer when we spent the afternoon together, but you never answered the question, we got onto a tangent and I never followed up," Hermione explained.
Luna laughed, a thin laugh, but still more merry than maudlin. "You are one of the few who can follow me when I'm pinging from thought to thought, which is truly amazing, given how linear your own thinking is most of the time. You are correct; I didn't answer that question, did I? That was rude, I'm sorry. I'll see if I can answer without getting lost in the tangents again," she said, closing her eyes briefly. "Daddy dropped me off at the memorial service, the one for Harry's godfather. He was late, of course. We'd been interviewing one of the victims of the Licking Fungus outbreak in Diagon Alley, yet another story that the Ministry of Magic was trying to suppress last summer. They fear the truth more than they fear Old Tom, you know, thinking that people would prefer to live with lies than any level of dread or fear. I did it again, didn't I? Well, back to St. Simons. Mummy and Daddy would take me to services there when I was younger, before Mum died. We'd attend the Lessons and Carols service before Christmas and sometimes for the Easter Vigil. Our parish near Ottery St Catchpole was too small for anything other than Morning Prayer and Holy Communion once a month. Stepping into St. Simons was a happy thing, even though I knew that Harry would be hurting through the service," Luna explained, stopping to take a breath after blowing her nose.
"Daddy stopped attending services altogether after Mum died, and I haven't gotten back in the habit now that I'm at school. I'm digressing again, aren't I? After the memorial service I had a long chat with Father Martin asking about parishioners I used to know. He asked me about Daddy. Then the music began. I was most surprised that you were not there. It was so odd to see only two of the Three Gryffindors, which is what we call you in Ravenclaw, you know. I love to dance. Mum made sure that I knew how, she thought it made for being a proper witch, don't you know. I figured it wouldn't hurt to ask Ronald to dance. I knew he didn't fancy me the way I fancied him, but I figured that there was no harm in asking. My backup plan was to ask Harry to dance. I figured that I might be able to make him laugh. By the time I made it across the Parish hall, Harry was dancing with Ginny and Ronald was dancing with Susan. They made a striking couple, by the way, should you ever tire of him. So there I was, ready to dance, with no dance partner. Neville broke away from talking to one of the adults and asked me if I'd like to dance. He was very thoughtful," Luna said, breaking to take another breath.
"How was he as a dancer?" Hermione asked.
"Well, I'd heard stories from Ginny about the Yule Ball — apparently he's improved a bit since then. We had a lovely time. I tried to give him graceful opportunities to bow out or dance with another girl, but he asked me to dance for all the numbers. When things broke up for the evening, he came home with me by Floo, because I wasn't sure whether or not Daddy would be home yet. I'd had a lovely evening, so before he took the Floo back home to his grandmother's house, I wanted to make sure that I gave him a hug. That part didn't quite work out, you see. I had my mouth open to ask him a question when he kissed me, although later he claimed that I kissed him, which is preposterous. It was a bit more than I'd bargained for, although it was a lovely kiss," Luna said, staring off into the distance. She was silent for a minute. "Evidently he enjoyed the evening, or maybe he enjoyed the kiss, perhaps both, I'm not certain any more. He owled me the next day with a very nice note and asked me to the Muggle cinema the following Friday. We've been seeing lots of each other ever since. We had a bit of fun, I learned a lot about snogging, and then we talked last night about where things were going. I respect him, I really do — he's an honourable man. I hope that we can remain friends without being all odd and awkward," she said, stopping for a moment. "All right, I'm odd, he's awkward, so maybe we can be friends without being spectacularly odd or awkward, how's that?"
Hermione smiled what she hoped was a cryptic smile, nodding her head.
The door to the dormitory burst open, admitting a tousled Ginny Weasley, still outfitted in a grubby Quidditch practice uniform. "Whoo-hoo!" she exclaimed, thrusting her fist into the air before catching herself, mouth open, staring at the two girls sitting on Hermione's bed.
"Hullo, Ginny," Luna said airily.
"I — I'm so sorry that I barged in here without knocking," Ginny stammered. "This isn't a good time, is it?" she asked, looking at the pyramid of used tissues on Luna's lap.
"Of course it's a good time," Luna replied cheerfully. "Hermione has been most helpful, lending her ear while I used up all of her Muggle tissues," she said with a wry grin.
"I heard about Neville," Ginny said. "I'm frightfully sorry."
"You've nothing to be sorry about," Luna replied. "We made a mistake, we fixed it, now we're moving on." She tossed the tissues into the rubbish bin by Hermione's bed. "Well," she said, standing up from the bed. "I'll be going now so you can share your joyful secret." Luna looked out the window at nothing in particular.
Hermione caught Luna's hand. "We're all friends here, Luna," she prompted.
"What made you think that I was getting ready to drop a big girly secret anyway?" Ginny asked.
Luna turned to face Hermione. "I've known Ginny since we were both toddlers. She generally does not tolerate being grimy or sweaty, but instead of going to the showers after Quidditch practice, she runs up the stairs, past her floor to burst into your room. As the castle is not on fire, I presume that this she wishes to share something that she would rather share with you than her small-minded, gossiping roommates," Luna explained.
"Meow," Ginny replied.
Luna smiled broadly. "Yes, it's catty, but recently-heartbroken Ravenclaws are to be given allowances, lest we turn into hosepipes," explained Luna.
"Well?" Hermione asked Ginny.
"Thanks for reining my brother in," Ginny said. "He gave me clean-up duty with Harry after Quidditch practice tonight." She paused for effect.
"And?" Luna asked.
"And we had the pitch to ourselves as we put all the gear away and then walked back to the castle. A lovely unsupervised, uninterrupted moment," she said.
"Did he kiss you?" Hermione asked excitedly.
"How was it? Luna asked.
"How was what?" Ginny asked.
"The kiss, silly," Luna replied.
"Oh, you know, the usual for first kisses," Ginny said. "Bumped noses, smeared glasses, I think he may have split my lip," she said, putting a finger on her lower lip. "But on the whole I wouldn't trade it for anything."
"Well done," Luna said. "I must say that I'm surprised, however. I thought that you were much further along than that," she observed.
"And what's that supposed to mean?" Ginny asked, hackles rising.
"You relate to one another as a well established couple. I presumed that you had already been intimate," she said, looking down at her shoes. "You're bonded, aren't you?" she asked as she looked up.
Ginny nodded. Hermione gasped softly.
"I shall not share that admission with anyone. It's very easy to keep secrets when most people don't believe what you say in the first place," Luna offered.
"We're not keeping it a secret, actually," Ginny said after a moment.
"But neither are you shouting it from the rooftops," Luna countered. "It is time that I got back to my own room," Luna said, giving Hermione's hand a squeeze. "You have been a true friend today, I shall not forget your kindness."
"Friends always know how to find me, Luna," Hermione said solemnly.
"I shall treasure that, Hermione. But I really must be going. Good night, Gryffindors," she said in a sing-song tone.
"Good night, Luna," Ginny and Hermione chorused as Luna padded out into the hallway.
September 5, 1996
Where to start . . .
All of my professors have made their point by now. It's OWL year for the fifth years and we've been cruising through school for the first four years, forgetting what little we'd learned by the first weekend in July, arriving back at school with perfectly empty heads, but if we agree to buckle down and only sleep four hours a night, we might revise our way to a passing grade on the O.W.L.s. As much as it pains me, there might be some truth in those owl pellets. Hermione hates coffee, but the first (and probably last) time I saw her with a latte in her hands was when she began revising in earnest last year.
Personally, all this talk about O.W.L.s makes me want to hurl. I have my tutorial with McGonagall tomorrow — step one on becoming an Animagus. Having already experienced life looking through transfigured eyes I guess I'm not as awed by the task as I once was. I mean, being a dragon is cool. Being a snow dragon is ultra-cool, and now I'm supposed to be getting hot and bothered about turning into a common housecat? Puh-leeeze!
Harry kissed me today. I suppose that it should be a Really Big Deal (I am memorializing it in my diary, aren't I?) but at this point in our relationship it was nice, but kind of anticlimactic.
I was surprised though, I'll give him that.
Being at school, I have to have my Occlumency shield up halfway almost all the time I'm awake. If I don't, I'm hearing a little buzz in the back of my skull from all the magical minds in the immediate vicinity. That buzz doesn't need to go on very long before it becomes really annoying.
We had our first team practice for Quidditch tonight — we'll be holding try-outs on Saturday to fill the spots that are missing and hopefully to fill a reserve bench as well, but before we did that, Ron wanted to see all of us do our stuff. As practices go, it was more than all right. It's a bit odd, though, to see Oliver Wood channelling through my brother, though. I guess it goes with the Captaincy. After practice, His Excellency, the Captain of Quidditch, pressed those closest to him (me and Harry) into service, putting the equipment away and making sure that the pitch was ready for the next team. By the time we recaptured the Bludgers that Sloper had failed to properly secure, it was well past sundown and dinner, but Harry and I are frequent diners at Chez Dobby, so quieting the growling in my belly was not a major concern.
When we walk together, Harry usually has his hands in his pockets and I have my hand in the crook of his arm. That seems to fit us as a couple, rather than the arm around the waist that so often degenerated into a bum squeezing session when I was with Michael (not that I have any objection to Harry squeezing my bum — it's just not his style). On rare occasions we'll walk holding hands, which can get out of control if we aren't on top of things — when we have skin-on-skin contact we can talk mind to mind; Harry calls it "touch-talk" - but if we get too worked up, we have the same problem we used to have with Double Legilimency — we walked into a number of walls and almost fell down an equal number of staircases before we figured out that certain things should be best left to times when we aren't moving.
Because we were on level ground, we were holding hands, which I didn't mind at all. Halfway back to the castle, he stops and says "I don't want to go in just yet," and then looks at me in the pale light of the moon. I should have seen it coming, but it was a long day at the end of a long week. He leaned down and kissed me. We bumped noses, of course, and it took quite a while for Harry to get the smudge off of his glasses left by my oh-so-cute nose. My lip's a bit tender too. I did kiss him back once I got over my shock and surprise. Walking back to the castle, I'm sure that the smile on my face may have strained a few muscles too.
We agreed to shower and then meet for a rendezvous at Chez Dobby. I raced up the stairs to bounce in Hermione's room, when I found she had a red-eyed visitor.
Neville and Luna broke it off today. :(
I didn't get the particulars, and didn't particularly want to know the particulars. When I met up with Harry later tonight, he told me that he'd discussed it with Neville. Now there's a case of the blind leading the blind, Neville going to Harry for relationship advice, but there you have it. Neville, honourable lad, felt bad about snogging a girl that he didn't have deep feelings for. They have agreed to stay friends, but they're going to nix the snogging for now. I predict that they'll end up in each other's arms before Christmas, but I've been wrong about a lot of these things before.
Well, diary, I'm knackered, and tomorrow's another school day.
Copyright © 2005 - J Cornell — All rights reserved.