Luna loved bubbles. They were one of her favorite things in the whole world. She loved the way the colours bounced inside them.
She loved how they distorted the world around them in their reflections. Sometimes two bubbles caught together and floated in the sky like lovers. They revolved in the air like miniature planets.
If you looked closely you could even see the particles start to disintegrate before they disappeared with a fairy whisper of a pop.
Sometimes she’d even sit there looking at the bubble mixture on it’s little hooped stick without ever blowing a bubble, watching the colours whirl around. Watching the lines of a rainbow she could only see when the light caught it just right.
On another such day Luna was sitting in one of Hogwarts many courtyards, next to a fuzzling water fountain. She was watching her bubbles float into the clear spring sky or else fall to earth and pop upon her thighs.
Luna wasn’t stupid –which was the opinion of most people who chanced upon her forever surprised looking face- she was quite the opposite. She was intelligent, so much so that she was in danger of being caught in the world of the mind.
Luna found life much easier to cope with if she spaced out, if she believed and kept hope in the impossible, if she tried to see the world from every angle, if she didn't she feared she would go mad.
Neville was one of the people who already deemed her mad, however it didn’t seem to bother him.
As Neville walked glumly into the courtyard a bubble popped upon his nose.
He looked up at Luna in surprise.
‘Hello, Neville. Would you like to talk?’
Neville’s soft features looked downcast as he propped himself up on the bench next to her. He’d lost his puppy fat and Luna thought he was quite handsome, although he did tend to look nervous and apologetic.
Luna titled her head and gazed at him.
‘Would you like a biscuit?’
The boy next to her didn’t reply but she reached into her shoulder bag anyway and pulled out a ruffled brown paper bag. She passed it to him and he took it with a mumbled thanks.
‘What’s the matter?’ she inquired curiously. ‘Did an Orthrapian Gogglewurk steal your underpants?’
Neville held the bag in his hands without opening it. ‘I hope not. It’s more that I’ve bummed it up again. I can’t do anything right.’
Luna didn’t reply. Instead she blew out a soft fan of bubbles.
‘I really love bubbles did you know Neville?’
Neville blinked in surprise at the sudden topic leap.
‘I…erm… I guess I didn’t…’
Luna nodded solemnly, her eyes following the little rainbow spheres as they floated up and away.
‘I’m a bit like a bubble. The world in overwhelming otherwise... But you…’ She cast her big eyes about her, Neville’s own followed while he was obviously trying to follow her train of thought.
‘You are like…fire!’ she clapped her hands together.
Neville blinked. ‘A fire? What, I’m yellow and burn people?’
Luna hardly seemed to notice his comment. ‘A fire needs air to grow; otherwise it suffocates and won’t work properly. Everyone in your life is like water. Every criticism kills your fire a little bit more. You need air to grow but the more water people pour on it the less likely it is that it will ever grow.’ Luna paused, took a deep breath, blew some more bubbles and then continued. ‘Obviously not many of the teachers here have made a fire without a wand.’
It was obvious on Neville’s face that he hadn’t followed a word.
‘I don’t think you’re stupid Neville, just not confident. Every time someone criticizes you, you just make more mistakes. People can’t expect you to grow when they constantly criticize you.’
The corners of Neville’s lips quirked ever so slightly.
He reached into the paper bag and pulled out a rainbow coloured biscuit. He bit into it and watched as Luna blew additional bubbles next to him.
‘Don’t you ever feel wretched Luna? That people think you’re...you know... loony?’
Luna continued creating bubbles.
‘Oh, I used to, but then I realized that being “cool” isn’t what makes me happy.’
Neville swallowed his second bite of biscuit.
There was another silence.
Luna sighed contentedly. ‘Little things make me happy. Butterflies. Rainbows. The smell of rain on hot stone. Biscuits. The stars.’ Luna put her bubbles bottle in her breast pocket. ‘People get so caught up in things that they miss the really beautiful tiny details.’
The next day Neville sat in potions, he felt nervous and on edge as always while Snape breathed down his neck. His potion was the wrong colour and was beginning to bubble. Neville was on the verge of throwing in the wrong ingredient again, when unexpectedly he paused.
Colours were swirling around inside one of the bubbles, below the green tinge.
The particles began to split and the bubble popped on his nose.
He stopped, re-checked the instructions and began again.
At lunch the weather was sweltering hot with clouds floating lazily above them, threatening to burst at any moment
Luna found Neville in the same courtyard she’d sat the day before. He smiled as she came close, he held out a paper bag.
‘I got you some cookies.’
Luna grinned. ‘Thanks.’
‘I made a perfect potion today Luna. Snape couldn’t find a single fault.’
Luna sat next to him and dipped her toes into the fountain. Rain started to tinkle on them and Luna breathed in deep the tinny and musty smell coming from the hot stone being tickled by raindrops.
For the first time in months Luna didn’t reach into her breast pocket for her bubbles.