Neville was relieved to find the 6th year’s room empty. He kicked his shoes off, tugged a comic book from the nightstand, and flopped heavily onto his four poster bed. He opened “The Adventures of Whiro the Warlock” and let his mind slip away from classes and the noise of every other person in the castle.
After a mere 10 minutes of silence and solitude, the noise from the common room stretched up the stairs, surpassing its usual din. The noise grew, punctuated by argumentative words and stomping.
“Dean and Ginny,” he said to the empty room.
Within a minute, the door banged open then slammed shut behind Seamus.
It surprised him, but Neville continued hiding behind the comic book. He reminded himself to let go of the breath he was holding, unclench his jaw and shoulders. He wiggled his feet to let some of the tension out.
Seamus broke the silence. “Sorry ‘bout that. Didn’t know anyone else was in here.”
Neville shrugged. “It’s alright.”
Seamus might as well have been a howler for how inconspicuous he was being. Pacing, slamming the lid to his trunk open and shut, huffing himself onto his bed, opening a fizzing whizbee wrapper as loudly as any human had ever done.
Neville lowered his comic book. “Do you want to talk-“
“It’s just Dean and Ginny…They’re always arguing… ” Seamus launched up from his bed and paced the room. “She’s so…”
Knowing a lost cause when he saw one, Neville put the comic book away and sat up. “So…?”
“I don’t know! There’s nothing wrong with either of them, but you smash ‘em together and they just start fighting.”
At this point, Neville knew he wouldn’t get to continue reading or leave the room until Seamus had paced out his ire. “Was that them? I heard shout-”
“Yeah, that’s them alright. I can’t figure it out.” The fizzing whizbee had taken effect, and Seamus now hovered a few inches off the floor, but continued pacing. “If they don’t like each other, they should just call it off.”
Seamus stopped pacing and looked over at Neville, then opened his mouth to say something. “I-I-...” He shook his head and began drawing the curtains around his four poster. “Nevermind, sorry I bothered you, mate.”
“What? Did I say something wrong?”
“No, I just, I know you like your space, I didn’t mean to dump my shite on you.”
Neville could tell that Seamus was giving him an excuse.
“It’s alright. I’m… I’m good at keeping secrets. I won’t tell anyone if there’s something you need to get off your chest.”
Seamus hunched forward, elbows on his knees, and fidgeted with his fingernails.
Neville tried to break the tension in the room. “And… it’s cool if you don’t want to-”
“I like Dean.”
They stared at each other for a long stretch of silence. Neville broke eye contact first, fearing he was being impolite and staring. Don’t make him feel like a spectacle.
“Oh.” His mind was reeling with what to say next that wouldn’t point out how absolutely clueless he was on the subject. “You mean, more than friends, ‘like’?”
Seamus cracked a tiny smile and shrugged. “Yeah. Guess so.”
“How long have you liked him?”
“Dunno. It’s always been different with him. Maybe, last year? In the DA. Pretty sure he doesn’t feel the same. I guess I just don’t like watching him get hurt, you know?”
“Makes sense. You guys know each other really well, you’re always together...”
“Were. Not as much anymore. Now when we are together, she’s all he talks about. And they don’t even make each other happy. Figure that one out…” Seamus fidgeted with his thumbnail. “I just want my best friend back.”
“Do you think you’ll tell him?”
The door swung wide, permitting Harry and Ron to saunter unwittingly into the thick air of the room. They stood in the doorway, aware they had interrupted a conversation, stupidly gaping in confusion.
“Make a lane, gits.” Dean barged in, pushing between them. He huffed as he rushed across the room. He ripped off his shirt, dropped trou, and climbed into bed.
The other four stared at each other. Seamus gave Neville a knowing nod, and rolled back onto his own bed before shutting the curtains. Harry and Ron both gave Neville a weak “hey” before they shuffled awkwardly to their own beds.
The silence was pounding at his brain, and Neville felt the fuse on his panic getting shorter and shorter. He had no idea what to do. He tried to go back to reading, but he couldn’t focus. He put his comic book down and cast about the room for something, anything, that would help. But nothing came to his aide. He sat on the edge of his bed and started to lace up his trainers.
Ron boggled at him. “Hey, where you going, Neville?”
“Dunno. Just… out.”
“Okay, well, be careful, mate.”
“Thanks.” He left quickly, taking the stairs in twos.
Luna was sitting cross legged on the floor by the fireplace in the Ravenclaw common room. She was in the middle of drawing the flowers she had picked that afternoon, when one of the fourth year girls walked by and flicked the flowers with the toe of her shoe. They rose up into the air then floated down onto the fire, crackling and curling in the heat. Luna glared up at the girl, who stared down at her and shrugged.
“Whoops. My bad. Sorry, Loony.” The girl walked over to her group of friends, but was stopped mid-way.
“HEY. DICKBREATH.” The whole common room went silent and looked around for the source of the insult. Cho Chang was sitting atop the back of one of the couches, leaning forward and staring down the fourth year girl. “Her name is LUNA. Get it right, or your only friend in school will be Madame Pomfrey.”
The crowd “ooed” and a couple of people whistled.
Luna stood up, gathering her sketchbook and charcoals. She made for the door. “Thanks, Cho.”
“Yeah. I’m going to find some more flowers. See you ‘round?”
“Yeah, see you ‘round.”
Luna ducked out of the common room and tried to ignore the feeling of all eyes watching her leave. She wandered through the secret passage ways she had found while chasing down a particularly nasty wrackspurt. Once out in the grounds, the leaves and grass crunched underfoot. The paper of her sketchbook fluttered with each swing of her arm, and the charcoals clinked together in the pocket of her deep purple jumper. She was almost to the greenhouses when she heard singing.
“...wandered very far, very far, over land and sea…”
She stopped dead in her tracks. She knew that song, and she knew that voice. She ran to the first greenhouse, gently nudging the door open. The voice rang clear, thought she couldn’t see it’s owner.
“A little shy, and sad of eyes...”
Luna joined in.
“But very wise was he...”
The singing stopped, and Luna waited to continue.
“Hello?!” The voice rang out from behind a flutterby bush.
“Hello Neville! Have you forgotten the words?”
“No, I just- wh-what are you doing here?” He made his way into the clearing, carrying a watering can.
“I could ask you the same.” Luna found it difficult to think straight when he gave her one of his half smiles. “But I think it’s pretty obvious why we’re here.”
Neville gulped. “It is?”
“Yes. We’re both being alone.”
His brow furrowed. “How exactly does that work with... two…?”
“We didn’t mean to be together. We set out to be alone, and found each other. Can we finish the song?”
“You’re awfully nervous for an audience of plants.”
“The plants don’t make me nervous.” He looked down at his feet, then back up. He smiled at her again, this time a full, toothy grin.
Her mind drifted into his eyes before she realized what he had said. “Oh! It’s me! I’m sorry, I suppose I have intruded. I’ll be off then, find my own greenhouse full of plants to sing to.” Slightly disappointed, Luna hugged her sketchbook closer to her chest and left.
“Wait!” Neville may have set out to be alone, but Luna’s company was not something he minded. He dropped the watering can he’d been holding and ran after her. He caught up to her just outside the door.
“Luna! Wait!” She spun around. The moonlight shimmered in her long, blonde hair. “We should finish the song. The Venomous Tentacula wither a bit when I don’t finish the songs.”
“That’s understandable.” Luna gazed at him dreamily. “Do you sing to the plants very often?”
Neville felt the color rising in his cheeks, but Luna’s unfaltering smile put his heart at ease. “I do, but… I-I’m not a nutter.”
“I know. You’re just as sane as I am.” She shrugged and smiled at him.
“Thanks, Luna.” He smiled back at her. She was standing close enough that he could see stars reflected in her eyes. He held his hand out to her. “Shall we?”
Neville was caught off guard by her candor, and laughed. “Well, I suppose that is what I meant, yeah.”
“I’d like that.” She placed her hand in his, closing her fingers snugly around his palm. She looked down at their hands, her brow furrowed in thought.
Neville had never tried to be suave, but Luna was making him doubt any future attempts he had planned on. “Is…something the matter?”
“Oh no!” Her smile returned. “Nothing is the matter. I’m just surprised by how good your hand feels. Does my hand feel good to you?”
Neville grinned and gave her hand a gentle squeeze. “Yeah. It really does.”
“Do you think it will always feel this good for us to hold hands?” Her curiosity was genuine, something Neville had always admired.
“I hope it does.” He motioned to the greenhouse. “C’mon, let’s go finish the song.”
She nodded, and they walked back into the warm greenhouse. Neville shut the door, then led Luna through the overarching greenery, past the flutterby bush. There was a loud snapping noise that made Luna drop her sketchbook and jump towards Neville. He pulled her away from a Fanged Geranium and held her close to his chest.
“It’s alright. It’s just Gerald. He’s already lost his teeth for the season.” Looking down into Luna’s eyes, Neville felt the urgent need to get the song out of the way. He loosened his arms around her, allowing her to move away, but she continued holding onto him. She tucked her head under his chin, pressing her ear against his chest. He smiled to himself, then closed his eyes and wrapped his arms around her tightly. He drew in a deep breath.
“And then one day,
One magic day he passed my way,
And while we spoke of many things,
Fools and kings,
This he said to me…
Luna carried the harmony beautifully alongside his soft baritone.
‘The greatest thing,
You’ll ever learn,
Is just to love,
And be loved in return.”
Farther into the greenhouse, a rustling of leaves applauded them.
Luna looked up at Neville in delight. “They liked it!”
“Of course they did.” He knew he was grinning like an idiot, but he didn’t care. “You have a beautiful voice, Luna.”
“Thank you. You do too. I like the way the low notes rumble in your chest.”
“I like you.” Neville said the words before his mind had time to catch them.
Luna nodded. “I like you too. Have-” She stopped short.
“What? What is it?”
“Have we liked each other for a while?”
Neville thought back. “I suppose I’ve liked you for a while, maybe, a couple years now. Since the-”
“Yeah, yeah! You thought I looked cold down by the lake during the second task, so you lent me your scarf.”
“I lent it to you because I thought you were cute. It smelled like you for a long time after you returned it.”
“Oh, um, I’m sorry.”
“You shouldn’t be, I liked it! It wasn’t a bad smell. It was… you. Soap, potting soil, and you. I didn’t wash it for a long time, and I wouldn’t have if I hadn’t spilled soup on it...”
“Er, Luna, what do I smell like?”
“I don’t know, exactly. I smelled it in the potions room the other day.”
“But I don’t have potions this year, haven’t been in there at all.”
Neville didn’t know what to say. He noticed a strand of hair was caught in Luna’s eyelashes, and he gently brushed it out of the way. He tucked it behind her ear and cupped her face with his hand.
“I-I…May I...” He cleared his throat.
“Would you like to kiss me?”
Neville let out the breath he was holding. He was simultaneously embarrassed by her question and relieved that Luna said things in such a direct way. “Yes. Only if you want me to.”
“I want you to. I hope it feels as good as hugging.”
“Something tells me it’s better.”
“Is this your first kiss?”
“You never answered my question.”
“You never asked it.”
“May I kiss you?”
Neville inched his face slowly towards Luna’s. Her eyelids fluttered closed, so he did the same. The tip of his nose brushed against her cheek. His insides were igniting with a rush he’d never felt before. Their lips barely ghosted over each other as he nudged her nose with his.
“Neville?” Luna’s lips tickled his own.
“Hmm?” He open his eyes slightly, but didn’t back away.
“Are you afraid?” Her question was one of concern and kind regard.
He shook his head no, gently nudging her nose with each pass. “For the first time in my life, I’m not. Are you?” When he formed the word “you,” their lips touched briefly.
“Not at all.”
Neville closed the gap, softly pressing a kiss to Luna’s lips. He held very still, but his heart raced with joy. Luna rose up slightly, standing on tiptoe, and pressed her lips more firmly into his. Neither moved for a long moment.
When they broke apart, Luna dropped back down onto her heels. She smiled up at Neville with a heat he had never seen in her eyes before. They both laughed, entirely overrun with happiness.
“That’s a lot better than hugging.” Luna reached up and wound her arms around his neck and shoulders.
“Sorry about being so tall.” Luna giggled at this, and Neville was pleased with himself for making her laugh.
“Hmm… Maybe we can fix that.” She looked over her shoulder.
Neville blanched, then asked nervously, “How?”
She let go and searched around the greenhouse, checking under the planting benches. “Aha! Here!” She returned to him, placed an overturned wooden crate at his feet and stepped onto it triumphantly. “A kissing crate!”
They were eye to eye now. Luna draped her arms over his shoulders. Neville grinned, and wrapped his arms around her waist. With no hesitance and much more enthusiasm, he leaned in and kissed her. Luna tightened her arms around him, and he felt her fingertips press into his shoulders and back. He pulled her small frame in closer to his chest. She kissed him deeply, pressing their lips together, almost too hard. But Neville felt the same, that they simply could not be close enough.
Luna broke away suddenly, catching her breath. “I wish we’d done this sooner.”
Neville brushed her cheek with his thumb. “Me too. I’ve definitely thought about it before.”
“Last year, in the Hospital Wing, when we got back from the Department of Mysteries.”
“Oh. I would have kissed you then, too. I wanted to stay by your bedside while your broken nose healed. But, after a couple hours, Madame Pomfrey sent me back to my room.”
“You sang to me, then, didn’t you.”
Luna smiled sheepishly and nodded.
“I’d forgotten until now, I kind of thought I had dreamt it up. I’ve had dreams about you before.”
She stared at him intently for a moment, then captured his lips again. She smoothed her hands across his shoulders and onto his chest, making his heart race in the best way ever.
Luna tried to get her brain to stop reeling, but she had so many questions. She broke away again and examined Neville’s face for any notion of doubt, but all she saw was his ever-present kindness.
She shifted slightly on the wooden crate, which wobbled beneath her. Neville steadied her, and she was struck by how nice his arms felt.
“Neville, I’m pretty sure I like you a whole lot.”
“That’s good. I, um, I’m pretty sure I feel the same way about you.”
Luna cocked her head. “Does this mean I get to kiss you in the corridors?”
Neville’s eyebrows shot up. “Er, yes! Yes, I’d like that. A lot.”
“Can we sing to the plants more often?”
“Yeah! I come down here often. I like the peace and quiet. But, I like it better with you here.”
“Can I…” Luna didn’t want to seem over-enthusiastic. “Would you like to…”
Neville laughed. “I kinda thought we were.”
“The other couples I’ve seen… they’re more… Oh, are we a couple? Would you like to be a couple? I’ve wanted to be a couple for a while now, but if you’re not in-”
He cut her off with a kiss, sending her questions tumbling to the floor. His arms pulled her close again, and she held onto him with every ounce of affection she felt.
Curiosity getting the better of her, Luna smoothed the tip of her tongue over Neville’s top lip. He continued kissing her, drawing a deep breath and pressing closer to her. He returned her gesture, which made her nerve endings ignite.
A crack of thunder broke them apart. Rain began pattering the greenhouse roof, quickly turning to a resonant rush of water. Once again, Neville’s half smile made Luna’s heart flip. She finally felt free to act on impulse, and kissed his cheek at the top corner of his smile.
“I’ve wanted to do that for a while,” she admitted.
“Yeah. I was distracted for an entire history of magic lesson thinking about what it would be like to kiss your smile. I even drew a picture of the way I thought it would feel.”
“Can I see it sometime?”
“Sure. It’s not in my sketchbook, though. Since I was in class, I just drew it in the margin of my book… but… I have other drawings in my sketchbook.” Her stomach fluttered at the notion of sharing her drawings. She prefered to keep them private, but that was due to people having a propensity for being unkind. “Would you like to see?”
Luna hopped down and scooped up her sketchbook from the cobblestone floor. She brushed off the grit, then flipped to a section that had been dog-eared. Neville sat on an open section of a potting bench, leaving room for Luna. She held the sketchbook to her chest and climbed up beside him.
“Sometimes when I draw, I add in the things I can’t see, but I feel them being in the room.”
Neville’s eyebrows furrowed. “Like, Nargles?”
Luna smiled. “Yeah! Nargles and wrackspurts, Auras and energies, that kind of thing.” She nervously ran her thumb across the top of her sketchbook, rumbling the pages in quick succession.
“I promise I won’t laugh.”
“But, what if you need to?”
“Well, then, I promise I won’t laugh at you. I might laugh if I misunderstand something at first. Is that ok?”
“Of course.” She leaned her head on his shoulder and sighed. “Here, this one is from last year.”
She handed over the sketch and closed her eyes. She swung her legs and waited for Neville to ask questions.
“This is me, and… is that Ron?” He pointed to a pair of dueling figures.
“I remember this.”
Luna sat up straight and stared at him. “You do?”
“Yeah, we were practicing defensive spells in the room of requirement. Ron and I were paired up that day, and I wasn’t able to focus because I had a lot on my mind. That’s what this is, right?” He pointed to a vine of ivy that was growing out of his head and curling around his arms.
“Yeah! I… no one’s ever understood before. Although, I don’t really show people my sketches much.”
“I dunno why, it’s pretty plain to me. That’s exactly how I felt that day.”
He turned a page. “This was before Christmas, that’s Dobby’s decorations.” He pointed to a cluster of tiny dots. “What are these?”
“Nargles. They like mistletoe.”
He nodded and flipped to the next page. It was a picture of a large bow floating in mid air, dripping with a dark liquid. A small puddle formed below, but it was comprised of the word “lies” written repeatedly in jagged handwriting.
“Umbridge,” he said darkly. His jaw muscles tightened.
Luna nodded and bit her lip. Neville wrapped his arm around her and kissed her forehead. She swallowed the lump in her throat, unwilling to let bad memories ruin the moment.
“This one is better,” she noted, flipping forward a few pages.
He looked down There they were, six kids flying atop skeletal horses, like terrifying carousel animals that had floated off their stand. His face lit up. “Luna, this is brilliant! They’ve always looked ugly and scaley to me. But you’ve made them look... regal. Elegant.”
“They’re really quite sweet.” She pointed to the Thestral ferrying a bushy-haired girl, whose eyes were shut tight in a grimace. “This one is my favorite. She’s very gentle, which is why I sent her over to Hermione. I know she doesn’t like flying.”
“You can tell them apart?”
“Sure, when you spend enough time around them, they all have a bit of personality.”
Neville stared at her, grinning broadly.
He shook his head. “Nothing, I just…” He set down the sketchbook and picked up her hands. “I really like the way you see the world.”
His words felt like water on dry land. “Really? Most people-”
“People suck, Luna.” He slid off the potting bench and stood in front of her, still holding her hands. “I know what other kids say about you, and I hate them for it. You’re the best person I know. You’re really smart, and you see things other people don’t see. If they listened to you, they’d understand more about the world and maybe even themselves.”
Luna felt her cheeks grow warm. She had to swallow the lump in her throat again. “Thank you, Neville. That’s…” Her eyes began to sting. “That’s the kindest thing anyone has said about me.”
“Well, you deserve more kind words.”
“I think everyone does. There’d be a lot less uncertainty if everyone were honest and kind.”
Neville cupped her face in his hands and kissed her. He broke away, but lingered close to her. “Sorry, on top of everything, you’re really beautiful.” They both smiled.
A yawn stole over Luna. “I’m so sorry! That wasn’t a commentary on you! I-I think you’re handsome! A-and interesting! I promise!”
He laughed. “It’s alright. I suppose we should stop pretending we’re stuck in the rain and go back to the castle.”
“What if I say I can’t find my wand?”
“That’s a tough story to sell…” He pointed to her ear, behind which she had stowed her wand. “You know, I almost poked my eye out earlier.”
Luna felt her eyes go wide. “Oops!”