Rating: Extremely mild R.
Ship(s): Harry/Hermione, Harry/Luna, Harry/Hermione/Luna, mentions of past Ron/Hermione and eventual Viktor/Hermione.
Warning(s): Not really. There’s a mention of lovemaking and the presence of breasts.
Author Note(s): AU. EWE. In the modern era, Harry and Hermione find no difficulty in maintaining a convenient long-distance relationship. Things change and tumble toward an unexpected end when Hermione, Harry, and Luna (Harry’s ex-girlfriend, and possibly the love of his life thrice denied) all meet in Wizard London.
Disclaimer: Characters and settings belong to J.K. Rowling, who was so kind to set a perfect playground for us amateurs; I thank her. There’s no profit I’m making out of writing this, no profit other than my giftee’s eventual pleasure.
Luna Lovegood was used to being the centre of attention; yet, it was a very different kind of attention she got while she was still a somehow bizarre Hogwarts student. Back then, she wore the scars of teenage cruelty as proudly as she wore her clinging earrings. She had a whole lot of earrings, and she had taken a whole lot of wounds. Looking back at those times, Luna didn’t merely frown. She smiled. She found everything amusing. “And here I am now”, she always thought. Another sip of coffee, another pick at the Chinese food; Luna adored the cardboard boxes. At the beginning she had spent hours twisting and turning the boxes in her curious hands. She would heartily admit at any time that the Muggle world was so full of wonders, or mysteries; it was the perfect place for her.
“And did you hear Luna Lovegood lives among the Muggles now?”
The question found Harry unprepared. Of course he had heard. Every witch and wizard had. Living in the Muggle world wasn’t something out of the ordinary; it just happened. Being one of their celebrities was.
“Quite a weird girl she was, don’t you reckon?”
Harry stopped halfway between a nod and a shrug. Even now, after years, he had mixed feelings about Luna Lovegood – what for a name she had, he thought, so apt.
“I hear you’ve been –“
Harry’s eyebrows arched in surprise; he swallowed quickly.
“– classmates”, his interlocutor finished.
“Actually”, his voice merely shook, “we were in different Houses while at Hogwarts. But we were – we were friends.”
The word left an alien aftertaste, between acid and sugary, wasn’t she moody all the time, after all? Harry lifted his tray, half his lunch still lying there, untouched, and walked slowly to the waste bin. His annoying, nameless colleague followed him with his dark, narrow eyes. Potter. He puffed. Such a pug.
Hermione Granger fancied finding a letter on the kitchen counter every week. On the one hand, there was the excitement of not knowing which day was he going to choose; on the other hand, she had the safe feeling of being involved in something smooth and constant.
She dropped her shoulder bag and hopped on the counter, the letter in her hands. Browsing around quickly, she found a stash of cinnamon biscuits hidden behind a bowl half-filled with fruit; it was fine enough; certainly, there was nothing else to eat in the whole house, as small as it was. “My darling”, she read in a whisper. She frowned. “He’s slowly becoming more and more traditional”, she mused.
That was hard to understand. Hermione would have thought him more influenced by Luna’s ways; the two of them had spent a few years together, all in all. She hadn’t been too often in contact back then, she had to admit, what with struggling to advance career-wise, and not to sink all the ships she and Ron had built a safe – they thought – harbour for. The first one she had managed, as always; the second, they had failed together.
Do I miss him?
She didn’t mean Ron. He was too much of a distant character. They were sending Christmas cards to each other, Happy Christmas, joy, and prosperity, and let’s forgive you chose my best friend, and I let you do it. She meant Harry.
Being in France was lovely, indeed. She had fallen in love with the country when she was only a toddler. Working as an exchange teacher at Beauxbatons was part of a bigger picture she had always dreamed of. However, Harry wouldn’t join her there; Aurors didn’t switch countries at a finger snap. So they trailed further an awkward relationship sprinkled with Floo powder.
“...it would be lovely to have you here for Easter.”
Hermione was seriously thinking to go just to see what was making him be so tame.
It was good they didn’t use TV sets; he would be tempted to switch his on every Wednesday evening – though it’s silly, the name of the show. Luna Lovegood Tells You What Would. Hermione would comment it’s not even grammatically correct, Harry thought. He took another sip of tea. It was a fine brand, he liked it. Mildly spicy, sweet for the rest, no aftertaste, far from the Earl Grey days he and Luna would argue upon. She thought him funny for not trying magic brands, and sticking with a pompous Muggle product; it’s far from being pompous, he used to argue.
“You and your Muggles”, she would laugh. “One day I’ll run to live among them, to see what’s that you love so much about life there.”
She had done it; running away. Harry still wondered, three years later, if her decision has been – at least slightly, maybe partly – influenced by their intimate life. She always made up her mind in a split second, he would give her that. But why? Sometimes he wondered if she understood why they broke up.
His hand trembled. The quill slid a few inches.
“- it would be lovely to have you here for Easter.”
Luna smiled to herself when she thought of her personal packing method. She had to come up with something that was both quick and magicless if she wanted to travel within the Muggle world. It had taken her a few months to brush it up, until she was completely satisfied; she had to be, at least every Tuesday, the day before she had to step on screen and predict the future for eager callers. Besides that, however, there were countless interviews, and the odd photo shooting, so she had to be prepared. No pillow marks, no skin imperfections, no bad breath – no tears, no memories of Harry Potter.
Clacking the suitcase shut, she straightened up. For a while she just let her gaze wander about the room, without focusing. Why am I doing this? American Muggles had a specific term for it – but then again, they had a specific term for everything; they called it unfinished business.
“So I fled.”
Luna was used to talk to her reflection in the tall Venetian mirror. Sometimes she liked to pretend it was her best friend, her alter-ego, her apparent twin.
“I fled from him.”
Eyes shut, she travelled back in time; only for a glimpse, and not very far, somewhere near the end, when they both knew the end was near and yet denied it every day; when there was still lovemaking and whispering and fondness. We could, Harry would start. Her index finger pressed upon his lips made him swallow his words bitterly.
He had loved her to the end.
She loved him still.
“Don’t go all French on me.”
“Actually –“and how he loved that smile! – “I do have a few new tricks to show you.”
Xenophilius looked older than she remembered him. No stress. People were getting older; it was in their very nature; no stress. Luna shivered at how quickly she seemed to adopt American ways of saying things; American ways.
“Did your accent change?”
She shrugged between his short barks of laughter, before throwing herself in his open arms. It’s good to be home for a while, she thought, shutting her eyes to block out the tears.
“I’m glad you didn’t go to Durmstrang instead.”
Hermione pierced Harry with an intent glare. He seemed at ease; she liked that. He was casually leaning on his elbow, playing with the olives in his plate. She remembered he hated olives. It was a very good restaurant, still, a fancy one. Harry and restaurants – the thought was almost scary.
“Someone’s quite an admirer of French tricks, then”, she teased.
“Oi! It’s not that. But I know the names of the current staff. There’s a certain Viktor Krum among them.”
He’s so silly, she laughed inwardly, then she laughed for real, and they laughed together; Hermione missed the hollow in Harry’s eyes because the laughter was so honest, so warm.
They walked out of the restaurant arm in arm. Hermione giggled every now and then; seeing Harry so lively, so purposeful was the last thing she imagined. It’s a good Easter present, she thought. They decided to walk home, and they paced gingerly, turning around a corner, stars ready-to-admire glittering in the sky.
“Watch out, you’ll –“
Stargazers never watch their feet. Harry rubbed his shoulder.
The voice he had bumped into froze him on the spot.
“Luna.” Hermione tilted her head politely enough. “Mr. Lovegood.” Another tilt.
She came home. “You came.”
Hermione’s brow arched, but she didn’t dare ask.
“You summoned me.”
Harry thought of the last time when he had felt like hiding in a dark corner and not showing his sorry face to the world for centuries. His memory didn’t serve him well; he had to find something else to think of. He needed something entertaining enough, and silly, and not serious at all, to make him avoid thoughts and images he thought unwelcome.
She came home. And Hermione wasn’t speaking to him, of course. He had expected her to react more rationally, like she always did. He had to admit, though, that the encounter and its course haven’t been easy for her to take; no one felt at ease; maybe old Xenophilius, but he wasn’t part of it.
“I need to find her”, he muttered.
He wasn’t sure which one he meant.
“I’m having a hard time focusing in this fog.”
Same old. “Luna. The fog, it’s outside.”
She laughed softly; her long blonde hair was shinier than ever – American wonder products? It had a lighter hue upon it, and highlights. It looked good, very good. Liquid white gold. “I know. It’s the feeling.”
Hermione shifted in her chair. It was a very comfortable one, vintage for sure, Xenophilius Lovegood had fine taste in furniture, or maybe it had been his late wife who had furnished the rooms so elegantly. She didn’t like to think it was Luna’s touch, her hand, the same hand that had so often touched Harry in the past. It’s the past, that’s the key-word, Hermione, she tried; but then she looked in Luna’s big eyes, and she knew. It was still there.
Luna held the teapot with grace. Hermione wondered if she had learned some manners in the States – they were good at socializing there, she heard. No. Luna’s grace came from inside. She moved like a veela, and she wasn’t even aware of it.
There was no point in holding silence for too long. “I think –“Hermione started, talking to Luna’s teacup.
Kindness or ruse? Hermione decided it was kindness. This was the same Luna of many years before, Loony Lovegood, the same big eyes, oversized but serene, the same weird earrings, an innocent soul trapped in an adult body that had to borrow social moves.
“I think Harry –“
Darn. Those eyes. And then, his eyes; when they had met, the three of them, so awkwardly, his eyes were burning like coals, iridescent coals dipped in – what am I thinking of? They burned. He burned.
“I think Harry still has feelings for you.”
Of course he had hoped. It wasn’t like he didn’t care about Hermione; Hermione was his closest friend. Edgy she might have been, when emotion took over reason, but, that asides, she could be trusted. She wasn’t flighty and volatile; she wouldn’t run away. And when they first made love, he didn’t feel empty, his hands cupped her breasts eagerly, and there was safety and comfort in getting inside her. She had seemed to enjoy it as well. All was good; except that, it wasn’t good for long.
“Convenience and comfort.” Luna was thoughtful; she patted the second cup of tea. “That’s something we never had. With us...”
“You were all for the thrill.” And how did I find the guts to smile?
“Perhaps. It worked out quite well. Every now and then we’d have our own quarrels; who doesn’t?”
We don’t. Hermione was almost ashamed to admit she had never fought with Harry. She kept it in. She wondered why she didn’t choose to speak to Luna earlier; it might have been the safe way out for them all. “He bought a ring”, she said, but there was no satisfaction, it was just a piece of casual information.
Luna swallowed difficultly. “He wrote to me, weeks ago. He asked me to come for Easter. I did. I have my father too. But I –“
Hermione stopped. She meant to say something; more; anything at all. It would be so easy, she thought.
Harry made up his mind.
Coming out of his safe place, he found Hermione packing hastily.
“I beg your pardon?”
“I thought it better to visit my parents for Easter; it’s in two days, I have the time to book a flight to Australia and get there safely. They’ll be happy to see me.” She didn’t look at him.
Startled, Harry grabbed her arm; Hermione stopped, a shirt hanging loosely between her fingers.
“What’s this?” he demanded; I don’t like his demanding voice. She was glad, however; it was easier if she tried to hate him; at least slightly, vaguely, just a bit.
“I’ve been seeing someone else”, she blurted out.
Lying hurts just as much as saying the truth. His mouth twisted. Hermione planted her nails in her palms, almost willing to make blood trickle out and wash away the shame she was feeling; the pain; the love. For the first time in her life, she felt she loved Harry. She loved him fully, truthfully, and righteously.
“Is it Viktor?”
The same male pride, but it wasn’t bothering her anymore; she couldn’t even perceive it properly between all the tears she felt flooding her throat. “It just is.”
“You shouldn’t leave again.”
Luna laughed softly. “Don’t you think America is good for me? Or perhaps it’s not good enough?”
An edgy smile; a victory. What does he want?
“Do you really enjoy being a television guru?”
She might as well. Harry thought of all the weird, odd, or eerie deeds she’s ever decided upon. She might as well.
“I don’t really have something to come back to, except my father. And he claims he’s happy; the money I make there is helping me to keep him safe.”
It was the longest conversational break he could think of, since the awkward years of Muggle pre-school. “What if –“
Her right cheek frozen in a glass kiss, Hermione kept her eyes shut. It was easier to control the tears. She didn’t like the idea of the other passengers seeing her cry; in many respects she was still very rigid. And that was exactly what had made her think there was something, a je ne sais quoi that had launched her in a deeper analysis; of course, she always analysed.
Harry had been slowly embracing tradition for her sake. Idiot. There had been no Viktor Krum; no one; no one else. She wasn’t sure before, for her it was more than convenient to have her freedom, her teaching and her books, and to still think warmly of a safe place to come back to, every now and then. Idiot, this time she aimed at herself. If only she had it figured out earlier; her feelings.
Muggles did say humans are only realizing the value of a certain thing when they lose it.
“Stay happy”, Hermione whispered, for she knew he was.
Harry froze when she stopped his hand in mid-air. He had dared to hope, again. And –
“I’ll do it.”
He gulped; the tiny box in his hand felt suddenly heavy. He dropped it back in his pocket, and waited, biting his lower lip. With Luna, he never knew; one never knew.
There was tenderness in her voice he wasn’t sure he had heard before.
“Will you marry me?”