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First Star to the Right by WitnesstoitAll
Format: Short story
Chapter 1: Happy Marriage, Neville
The night sky smiles down at me from the heavens. Each star hums its own twinkling pitch of approval into the warm summer air. I pump my legs, gently urging the large wooden swing into a slow and rhythmic motion and look down at the two small babes sleeping on either side of my lap. Wishes for peaceful sleep filled with fanciful dreams are pressed into the kiss I lay upon both of their dirty blond heads. Lysander shifts and clamps his thumb more firmly between his lips. Lorcan gurgles contentedly, and I pull a roll of parchment and a quill from my bag. My quill hangs poised, waiting only for the words to write.
Glancing up into the dark expanse, I smile at my muses. Their influence and the past eight years had taught me one thing. Every lost soul turns to the night sky for answers to unasked questions. Every lost soul traverses the stars seeking something they were never sure was missing. Trouble only arises if one mistakes the wrong star for their guiding light. I feel the pressure of warm tears gathering beneath my eyelids; finding the right star from the millions in the sky is like coming home.
I lower my quill to the parchment. I guess I have finally come home.
Luna Lovegood stepped out from the confines of the dank office, humming lightly under her breath. The cool night air brushed light kisses over her cheeks and sent a shiver down her back. She twirled around, soaking in the simplistic beauty of the deep indigo blanket that had settled over the small town whilst she had been locked away at work. Several white-bright stars dotted the night sky. Each one twinkled out an announcement for anyone who’d take notice that the day was over at long last. Luna smiled, for she had taken notice.
She pulled her tan satchel up her arm, turned around, and pulled the large wooden door shut for the night. The click of the dead bolt sliding definitively into place compelled her attention. Her mind vaguely wondered what it might feel like to lock the office door for the final time, to float away from the Quibbler and its incessant deadlines and through the stars to the start of some grand adventure. It was strange, she mused, that something as final as a closed door rarely signified the end. Rather, the closed office door was merely a pause until the morning sun was ready to peek up over the horizon and announce the birth of a new day.
A new day, Luna smiled and resumed her humming as she floated down the lane. Each new day was a new beginning. There was something about the fragrance of the world’s potential that made all of the morning colours brighter. She knew quite well that the secret scent of the world’s potential could only be noticed in the moment when the sun first peeked up over the horizon. Sunrise had always been her favourite time of the day.
As she meandered down the stone lane she did not see the small town around her, but rather the frosted peaks of the Himalayans covered with herds of graphorn grazing amongst the rocks and the steamy jungles of Peru concealing lone lethifold stalking its prey. A bright yellow blossom waved up at her from the lush green earth. Blinking, her dreams faded into the quaint shops and homes that lined the lane. She let a disenchanted breath escape through her chapped lips and clamped her eyes shut. To her surprise, the yellow flower was still there when she opened them, attached to a thin stem that grew through a fault in the road. She bent, plucking the flower from the cracked pavement, and tucked it behind her ear.
At the end of the lane, she turned on the spot.
Shutting the door to her flat, she flicked her wand at the lamp. A soft glow flooded the sparse kitchen. Several piles of parchment lay on the small table, the home of unfinished articles and photographs that hadn’t yet made their way to publication. The cabinets were mostly empty save for several pudding mixes, a box of biscuits, and a tin of tea. The sink was tidy. A single teacup and plate were stacked on the drying rack. Though the space was her functional residence, it certainly was not home.
Luna hung her satchel over the lone chair at the table; the work within it could wait to be unpacked. She made her way through the sitting room. The name of the room always brought a sad smile to her face. One would think that a sitting room would have places to sit, but hers was merely a storage space. Large cardboard boxes were pushed against the colourful walls. It had been over a year since her father had passed away, and over six months since she had finished packing his belongings. One day, she mused, she would have the inspiration to sort through the twenty-five years of memories, but not tonight.
Her bedroom called out to her. A long day of monotonous work coaxed her through the doorway and onto her narrow bed. Tomorrow was going to be a good day; the wedding of a friend wasn’t the sort of thing that happened everyday. Feet tucked neatly under her pillows and head lying flat at the foot of the bed, her eyes grew heavy before she remembered to change out of her robes. The darkness from behind her eyelids surrounded her body like a glove and slowly, bright specks of light appeared across the expanse. Before succumbing to the seductive comfort of sleep, she wondered what it would be like to float alongside the stars.
The music swelled gently around the small group of people gathered on the pier. In the centre, the bride and groom swayed to a rhythm that was all their own. He placed a series of small kisses on her pink lips, oblivious to the audience of their friends and family. A contagious sort of happiness radiated off of the couple and filled Luna’s chest; she could feel a wide grin spread across her face.
“Ladies and Gentlemen,” the voice of an old schoolmate, Lee Jordan, broke through the enchanting aura that had settled over the pier, “Mr. and Mrs. Neville Longbottom.” Applause overwhelmed the music as it faded away and was followed by an upbeat dance tune. “Now let’s get this party started, we have a marriage to celebrate.”
Luna watched as the witches and wizards gathered at the reception began to move in time to the rhythm pulsing out of the wireless. Every surface of her body itched to join them.
“Please remember,” Lee’s voice bounced lightly over the crowd in his most professional MC voice possible, “that all drinks served at the bar are compliments of Mr. Longbottom’s best man, Mr. Harry Potter. Any and all donations given will benefit the Phoenix Memorial Fund for orphaned children.”
Luna caught Harry’s eye through the crowd and gave him an enthusiastic thumbs-up. The fund had been Ginny’s idea; it was the only cause that had persuaded her husband to use his societal prominence to promote. Of all the billions of people in the world, Luna thanked Circe that Neville, Ginny and Harry were among the few that she could consider friends.
The melody shifted to yet another dance beat. She felt it soak in through her pores and into her very bones; resisting it became useless. She threw her arms up above her head and twirled in place. The music carried her to the bar, and she danced along the way. Catching her breath, she greeted the bartender and ordered a pumpkin juice.
“You know that you could have ordered more than a pumpkin juice, Luna. Drinks are on the house.”
She turned towards the sound of the familiar voice, throwing her arms around the source. “Harry.” She tightened her arms around his shoulders. “You’re right, where are my manners?” She dropped her arms and turned towards the bartender. “Can I have another one, please?” Luna handed Harry the second juice. “There you are. Drink up. It’s a marvellous night for a pumpkin juice.” Luna returned his smile as he sipped at the juice. “So how are things?”
The two friends talked. Harry regaled stories of the Auror office and of the excitement of renovating a ‘fixer-upper home.’ As he spoke, the smile on Luna’s face grew wider. It was good to hear talk of the world outside of the Quibbler office.
“So how have you been, Luna? You’re awfully quiet this evening.” Harry eyed her with concern.
She inhaled deeply, having nothing of much interest to contribute to the conversation. “Oh, you know, I’ve just been –”
“I’m sorry, hold that thought, Luna.” Harry’s attention was trained across the dance floor to a where a small, red-headed boy was hastily crawling. “The little tyke is far too adventurous for his own good. Dammit. I’ll be right back.”
Luna shook her head. James had grown quite a bit since she had last seen him; Harry and Ginny certainly would have their hands full for a long time to come. She sighed, took a sip from her drink, and emptied her pockets into the donation tin.
“Alright ladies and gentlemen,” Lee’s amplified voice piped up over the music, “the time has come to for you all to dance with the bride and groom.”
Luna fell into Neville’s line. It was so odd to think of him as the groom. In her mind, he was just Neville – the kind, sweet, brave wizard who had stood by her side time and time again. When her turn came, she placed her hands on his shoulders. Looking up into his face, she could see that he was still that wizard. He just was decorated in dress robes, an elated smile and lipstick smudges.
“Happy Marriage, Neville.” Luna leaned up onto her tiptoes and planted a loving kiss onto his cheek. “I’m so happy for you. You look radiant.” They swayed around the dance floor.
“Erm, thanks Luna.” Neville said after a moment. “I am really happy. Everything is finally right, you know? Gran’s doing well, Mum’s safely tucked away, I have a job I love, my best friends are all here and I just got married. It’s unbelievable.”
Luna studied his face as he struggled to find the rest of his words.
“It’s an amazing thing.” He finally said.
“What is, Neville?”
“Finding where you fit into the puzzle, you know, your place in it all.”
Luna took in his words. They filled her with happiness for the once awkward schoolmate, but left a hollow feeling within her chest. A tap on her shoulder alerted her to the fact that her time with Neville was finished. She gave him one last smile and relinquished him to the smiling face of Hermione.
Neville’s words turned over in her mind long after she had left the reception. They mulled under the bright light of the moon and simmered as the first hints of the morning sky rose above the horizon. She inhaled the air of the new day deeply. The world’s potential was without boundaries. Why then was she a puzzle piece without a spot that complimented her passions and whims perfectly? As the bright dome of the sun peeked up into the skyline, Luna knew what she had to do.
A/N: So I would firstly like to thank you for chosing to read this story. Luna has always been one of my favourite characters in the HP series, but I am terrified of writing her. Nothing quite like facing your fears, eh? Secondly, I would like to thank TGS for their endless support especially Rachel (PenguinsWillReignSupreme) for allowing me to bounce this idea off of her months ago and Gubby (GubraithianFire) and Annie (Ellerina) for reading over this.
Edited 11/13/2011. An additional thank you to everyone who has read and supported Luna on her grand adventure. A special thank you to a special group of friends. Rave on.