Luna was waiting patiently on the bench in the courtyard, swinging her legs absent-mindedly. She was watching the fountain opposite her intently, as if looking for a sign of life from the statuette of the Magical Madonna, water cascading from her cauldron. Of all things to think of an inanimate object, she wondered if it was lonely, trapped on a stone island with no sign of rescue from any handsome and preferably topless sailors. The poor thing was practically shipwrecked.
“Luna? Hey, Luna? Luna!” A voice was pulling her from her reverie.
Neville had been clicking his fingers in front of her face for a fair few minutes, calling her name until she finally surfaced from her thoughts.
“Oh. Hi, Neville.” She smiled as if this greeting was perfectly normal. Where Luna was concerned ‘normal’ was some uncommon rhinoceros creature with ram-like horns that could burp the alphabet.
“Hi, Luna.” Neville replied, used to this method of approaching Luna, but with undertones of nervousness. He had come to visit his Ravenclaw friend for a reason.
He sat down beside her, trying to see what on Earth had captivated her attention for such an intense period, but only saw the floozy in the jacuzzi that was the statuette in the Hogwarts fountain.
An awkward silence passed as both teenagers exchanged looks. Luna’s was of blissful, friendly ignorance. Neville’s was of worry and apprehension. Luna looked at him, and then he looked back. Then they both looked at the fountain. Then to each other. Then Luna looked back at the fountain and Neville continued looking at her, until she turned to face him again. It defined pubescent bumbling down to a tee.
Then, without any sort of warning Neville thrust a piece of parchment Luna’s way. Possibly because he had got so fed up of the strange pattern of looking from the fountain to Luna that he had become dizzy and was holding his arm out for support.
“Oh!” Luna smiled, “A gift!” She was overcome with gratitude.
“I was in the common room checking out my horoscope in a copy of ‘Witch’s Weekly’” Neville chatted anxiously, “and this fell out of the magazine at the page with an article on Celestina Warbeck’s ‘Kiss and tell’ romp with serial memory-obliviator and housewives’ favourite, Gilderoy Lockhart.”
“Aw, that’s sweet, Neville!” she squealed.
“Why? Warbeck’s off her rocker! She was warbling on about this extravagant top-secret affair, but then excused that she couldn’t remember that it existed because he’d used a memory charm on her! I mean how…?”
“I mean for the gift.”
She reached over and hugged him so tightly that he only just managed to squeeze out saying, “It’s not so much a gift, but something I thought you should see…”
She kissed him lovingly on the cheek.
“Luna!” He wiped at the burning spot instantly. “There are people around!”
This didn’t dampen her spirits and she unfolded the ‘gift’ with enthusiasm. She read it’s contents, not at all surprised that it was not a conventional love-letter, more like a list of names. Not that Luna had the capability to look surprised, her eyes were wider than the largest of saucers, they were engorged to the size of dinner plates, and her eyebrows were so highly arched that she struck the continual expression of slight shock.
The Virgin Count, she read. What does this mean? Still, it was the thought that counted, not the virgins. Besides, Luna was hardly one to abide by convention. For her last birthday, her father had bought her a bathrobe made of very rare material; the stuff that the ‘Emperor’s new clothes’ were made out of. Need I say more?
“Oh wow! Thank you Nev!” She exclaimed.
“Don’t call me that in public.” Neville tried to hush her playful name for him whilst shielding his face with his hand so as not to be seen by passers-by. He didn’t like drawing attention to them, he got enough stick from his peers for being his general self without Loopy Loony Luna Lovegood added to the mix. It would soil his outstanding reputation… if he had one.
“Some girls expect flowers and chocolates and heart-shaped things from their lovers…”
“Shhhh! Don’t say the ‘L’ word, someone might hear you!”
“… and that’s all in good spirit, but this present is extra special because it’s personal. You’re a very special boy, Nev.”
“And err… you’re a very ‘special’ girl, Luna.”
“Thanks! It means a lot that you took the time to write this, let alone research it so that you could determine who should be crossed off!” she beamed, “A Virgin List! It’s inspired Neville, really it is…”
“Hold up there, Lune!” Neville raised a hand in alarm to stop her. “I didn’t write it!”
“That doesn’t matter to me, it’s the sentiment behind it…” she held the parchment to her chest so tightly that Neville had to tug hard to free it from her grip.
He pointed out the list, “No look – Harry and Ron are at the top of this list, and earlier in the common room they were acting strangely along with Ginny and Hermione. This is another one of the ‘members only’ in-jokes, I know it! Do they forget that we’re in the DA too?”
“Nev, I think you need to get over Dumbledore’s army, it kind of died after last year.” Luna patted him on the head reassuringly, but he swatted her hand away in a quick reflex action. “Sorry,” she added, “I’d forgotten about your intimacy issues. It’s perfectly normal, the healer said with your condition, one is five Wizards…”
“Luna! There’s people about!” Neville turned a deep shade of purple with embarrassment.
“‘People’ didn’t put you off that time when we…”
“Luna!” Neville practically gagged her as several seventh years walked past, eyeing them suspiciously. Neville smiled at them as they walked on, before releasing Luna.
“Neville! I didn’t know you were into…!”
“Stop that!” Neville snapped, but in a stage whisper, waggling his finger at Luna. He felt as if he lost his sanity when he was around her. “You’ve made me forget what I was saying…”
“Knowing your memory, that thought train will be lost to us forever then.” Luna observed, shaking her blonde hair loose from her shoulders.
Neville paused for thought before saying, “That’s right. I was bringing the list to you because you’re crossed off.”
“That’s because we had sex Neville.” For someone so dreamy, it often shocked when Luna cut straight to the point with blunt logic. He guessed that’s why she was put in Ravenclaw, every now and again, if you watched hard enough, she came out with pearls of wisdom.
“Shhhh!” Neville interjected, “We don’t want the whole world to know! Which is why I’m putting an end to this ‘list’ nonsense! Who have you told? Why is it public knowledge?”
Neville’s hand was visibly shaking as he held up the parchment in Luna’s amused face. She snatched it from him and quickly scribbled his name out from ‘The Virgin Count’ using a quill that she kept tucked neatly behind her ear.
“There. Problem solved. Now we’re equal.” Luna smiled at her logical solution, but Neville looked as if he was about to tear his hair out.
“WHAT HAVE YOU DONE?” He shouted, so loud that a flock of threstals grazing in the forbidden forest could hear, and promptly left their food in fright, flying upwards. So much for not drawing attention to them. Now the whole courtyard was staring.
“I’ve crossed you off. Now everyone will know about both of us, rather than being misled that it was just me with someone else. I thought you’d be pleased?” She continued smiling, her eyes as wide and as shiny as the crystal balls Trelawny kept in her attic classroom.
“Luna, has anyone told you you’re about as subtle as a bludger through a window? In fact, you’re as subtle as you throwing the bludger through a window, with you on the other side catching it and throwing it back saying ‘Nice one, Luna! That was subtle!’. You’re about as subtle as Ron and Hermione’s obvious love-rays.”
Luna raised an eyebrow at Neville. She couldn’t help it. Her friend’s breakdown of virgin-paranoia was highly amusing. It was virginoia!
Neville shook his head, “Sorry, that was a terrible extended metaphor, I can’t help it I use complicated imagery when I’m nervous or stressed…”
“I know, Nev. The healer said…”
“No, Luna!” Neville stopped her right there. “No, no, NO! Listen carefully when I say: I don’t want anyone to know about us, or what the healer said, or that you modelled your bathrobe for me, understand?” He kept looking over his shoulder as if to find an expectant eavesdropper there.
“Why?” Luna asked.
This stumped Neville to some extent, because he didn’t have an answer for this question other than ‘BECAUSE YOU’RE A FREAK!’ and he didn’t think that was true. In truth, I suppose Neville was afraid of what Harry thought of him. Always Harry’s loyal friend, it didn’t seem right that Neville had a life experience that his hero didn’t. It wasn’t love-logical. So, in response to Luna’s question, Neville went for a more plain explanation.
“Luna. We had a one off thing. One. Off. That’s why they call it a ‘fling’, because if you say ‘one off thing’ very fast then that’s what it sounds like. And, yes, we may have… copulated…”
“Copulated? Do you have to put it so clinically?” She laughed.
“… but that was the end of it. Remember? We decided not to see each other like that again. We decided that some bathrobes were better left in the closet, if you know what I mean? Am I right?” Luna nodded, albeit burst bubble, but legs still swinging happily under the seat of the bench.
“Oh. Okay Nev, err… Neville.” She replied, her smile wavering slightly. She looked so vulnerable and sweet that Neville wanted to give her a big hug.
“It’s okay, Lune.” He nodded solemnly, glad that they could finally come to some sort of agreement over this whole ‘love-logic’ thing.
“Can I ask you just one thing though, Neville?” Luna asked of him.
“Anything.” Neville replied, placing a hand supportively on her back.
“Do you want to do it again?” She offered. The look of shock on his face prompted her to add, “Now?”
A brief pause ensued while Neville stared with disbelief at the blonde.
“Go on then.” He caved in and kissed her full on the lips in front of the whole courtyard. The pair were so enthusiastic they didn’t even notice the shadow of someone fall upon them.
“Well isn’t this cosy?” The taunting sneering tones of Draco Malfoy caused them to part instantly, “Longbottom finally got himself a girlfriend at last? Although I suppose you’d have to be as loopy as old Loony Lovegood to shack up with that.” He lifted up a set of Weasley Wizard Wheezes’ extendible ears. “Amazing what reception you can get on these… Its like pornography for the ear canal…”
“Piss off, Malfoy, you big pervert. Just cos you’re not getting any doesn’t mean you can encroach on everyone else’s good fun. Now go back to your crochet set, you old maid.” Neville found himself saying. Luna had really loosened his tongue.
Taken aback by this out-of-character retort from weedy Longbottom, Malfoy was stunned into silence. He tried to think of comeback quickly, but only opened and closed his mouth like a goldfish, dumbfounded.
Luna laughed, “Maybe we should find somewhere a bit more… private?”
- - -
Hermione is working late at the Ministry of Magic. She is wearing a tight pencil skirt and a tight blouse, stretched tightly across her chest. I loosen my collar as she drops her wand on the floor and bends over to pick it up. All too soon we’re both packing up to go home. She beats me to the door and so I have to endure watching her walk down the corridor in that skirt until we reach the lift.
“Going down?” she asks, politely.
“I wish.” I mumble to myself before replying, “Yes.”
And so we enter the elevator. Its silent at night, there are no memos flying around to disturb us. The woman on the intercom coolly announces our departure from the department.
Hermione catches me gawking at her and I blush a deep scarlet. She smiles cheekily back. I’m about to open my mouth for an icebreaker when the lift slams to a halt. Hermione wobbles on her six-inch killer stilettos, revealing a garter belt holding up her suspenders from the high slit in that amazing skirt. I jut a hand out to help her balance. She places a soft hand on mine in thanks.
“Sorry for the delay. This vehicle is malfunctioning. Please be patient while we fix the error.” The woman’s voice tells us.
But she’s still holding my hand. And despite the obvious difference in strength between us, she is the one pulling me closer with a dreamy look in her eye.
“Ron…” She starts to say, and I’m suddenly very aware that my jaw has dropped.
“Yes…?” I manage to whisper hoarsely. I’ve waited for this moment…
“Hi guys!” A cheerful voice calls down the lift shaft. We break apart at once.
“Hi Harry.” We reply.
“Since when are you the maintenance man?” I ask him, snapping fiercely.
“Hey, this is your fantasy, Ron.” The smiling boy beamed back. “Ron. Ron? Ron!”
“Ron! Hello? Anyone home?” Harry called Ron back into the world of conscious thought.
This would usually prompt an irate repartee from the fiery redhead, but considering the circumstances today, Ron chose to ignore Harry’s existence.
“Merlin, Ron! You were away with the fairies there! Daydreaming were we?”
“About Lavender.” Ron defended, although no one had yet accused him otherwise. Then he remembered that he was not speaking to Harry, and turned his back on his best friend.
Harry sighed, “Talk to me.”
“There’s nothing to say.” Ron fixated his gaze at an interesting pattern on the wallpaper of the Gryffindor common room.
“I didn’t ask her to say that in a note! She wrote it!” Harry protested, “You know I only think of Hermione like a sister. A platonic, non-sexual sister that is, not an incestuous Freudian sister, obviously. How was I to know that Hermione had those kind of feelings for me?”
Ron guffawed loudly at this, much to Harry’s annoyance, “What?”
Ron had to turn and look at his friend when he said, “Harry, do you honestly think that there is any chance on Earth that Hermione would fancy you?”
“Of course, in her note…”
“Lies and deceit!” Ron contradicted, “She’s having you on!”
“She… might not be.” Harry objected, suddenly rather defensive about the whole subject, “There might be a chance that…”
“No there isn’t.”
“But you said! You said I was a basilisk-duelling, Gryffindor-swording, genuinely dashing hot rod!”
“I never called you a ‘hot rod’, Hazza.” Ron raised an eyebrow, “And I meant that about girls without brains, or possibly blind women.”
“Thanks, Ron.” Harry seethed.
“Pleasure.” Ron grinned.
“So I take it you’re talking to me now?” He added, at least one positively thing had come out of this conversation, Ron was finally speaking to him again after the whole ‘Hermione’s-note-of-implied-rampant-sex’ debacle.
“Well, at first I thought maybe you two were playing a practical joke on me. Y’know, ‘Ronald Weasley, dumbass sidekick gullibly falls for mischievous prank’.” Ron explained, “But now you’ve told me that you actually thinks she’s got the hots for you…” He laughed again at this, much to Harry’s aggravation, “… then I guess she’s trying to fool us both.”
“I still don’t see why you think that Hermione was lying in that note! It seemed pretty sincere to me!” Harry argued, folding his arms childishly.
“Isn’t it obvious, Harry? And they call me the dumb one!” Ron said, smug that, for once, he was the Ravenclaw who had uncovered this mystery before ‘the-boy-who-lived’.
“What do you mean?” Harry pulled a confused face.
“She knows about the list!” It was simple love-logic.
“What!” Harry exclaimed, his facial features as contorted as ever, “How did you figure that one out?”
“Think about it, Ginny was acting pretty strangely earlier aswell. She was making a lot of innuendoes that were a little too ironic considering we’d just written up a list of virgins, Harry.”
“Now I come to think of it…!” Harry put two and two together and got… Harry, Ron, Hermione, Ginny… FOUR! “Hermione was singing that Madonna classic with a little too much bravado…”
“The sickle drops! What do you want, a slow clap?” Ron rolled his eyes, something he’d never thought he get to do, “I’ve been onto those minxes since the very start, Harry! For the-chosen-one, you’re really not that bright.”
“Oi!” Harry protested.
“But they don’t know that we know.”
“What? You’re not making any sense, Ronald.”
“They’re playing with us, Harry! They’re laughing at us! They know we’re virgins!”
“Oh Merlin… well then… what do we do?” Harry asked, dumbfounded and slightly put out that he didn’t already have a plan, but Ron was way ahead of him, twirling an invisible moustache.
“We call their bluff! We play her at her own game! WE’RE GONNA GIVE HERMIONE THE NIGHT OF HER LIFE!”
“I beg your pardon, Won-won?” Lavender had sneaked up on the ginger mastermind just in time to hear him bellow his last line of dialogue, “But you said you’d spend the night with me…?” Ron flushed a hue deeper and darker than his house colours.
“He’s err… washing his hair.” Harry came to his rescue, smiling at his best friend’s girlfriend. Ron mimed a thumbs-up to him behind her back.
“With you?” She asked Harry, raising and eyebrow and crossing her arms.
“… yeah.” Harry answered, “Ron’s not quite got the ‘lather, rinse and repeat’ action down to a tee, so I said I‘d… help out?”
Ron’s thumbs up turned into a glowering rage and an emphasised thumbs-down action at his poorly improvising friend.
“Oh. Then I guess that’s alright…” Lavender shrugged and walked off.
“Oh. That was strange.” Harry commented when Lavender was out of earshot. “I wasn’t expecting her to take the excuse that easily…”
“Merlin, Harry! Lather, rinse and repeat? Thanks a bunch!”
“Never mind that, I’ve just got Lavender out of your hair… literally. Now what about this cunning plan of yours?”
“Well,” Ron smiled, “It’s a simple matter of love-logic…”
- - -
author's note: I'm sorry guys and girls, it was another one of those linking chapters again. I was umming and ahhhing about putting it up (I hate it) but if I don't then the next chapter won't make sense... :( anyhoo, please leave a review, tell me how I can improve it!