Luckily, I have fem_exchange fic that I never got around to posting!
Break The Sky
Luna/Hermione (Luna/Padma, Hermione/Ron); PG; 2,878 words
After the War. Life goes on, some things are built and some things just break.
Luna remembers the War - the final battle is just smoke and flashes and adrenaline, but she remembers everything that happened afterwards, the bodies in the hall, and she remembers before.
There were the months down in the cellar, which were mostly dark and cold and where very little happened. She tried telling Mr Ollivander stories to cheer him up but he was always too tired to speak at any length, and she couldn't see his face from the few dim pools of light that crept in. She listened to noises from above the floorboards, meetings and secret conversations that she had to reach up to hear, screams and pleas that made her automatically reach up to her ear for the wand that wasn't there. Occasionally there were voices that sounded vaguely familiar, and there were the ones that she quickly learned to hate, and then she heard words like 'Potter' and 'the Mudblood girl' and she had such a sudden rush of joy that she saw stars.
She held her breath and her hands as she strained to listen - heard bangs and shouts and screams that she felt in her spine, but then her friends were being pushed into the cellar with her and she knew, despite knowing that they really shouldn't be here, that everything would work out okay.
Shell Cottage was strange and wonderful - going from cramped and musty darkness to wide beaches and crisp sea air. She went for walks, collected things she found scattered across the sand, made a bracelet out of shells and placed it on Dobby's grave. Mostly, she loved the company, helping Fleur cook dinner in the evenings and having everyone around the table to eat; it seemed like the only time she saw any of Harry, Ron and Hermione, and although they were all always friendly there was something secret about them, a shared experience. One night during dinner she offered to help with whatever adventure they were planning, but they all just looked at her until Hermione politely declined, holding her gaze as she apologised.
She watched them leave in the darkness, saw Bellatrix striding across the garden and knew it was Hermione before she even spoke.
During the Battle of Hogwarts, when all she had was her wand and her wits, she remembers Hermione fighting alongside her. All she ever really saw was glimpses of wild hair and a set mouth as they both dodged and cursed and survived, but when she looks back she sees something fierce and gorgeous and powerful.
Hogwarts reopens in the same year, although with less students, less teachers and more places deemed dangerous and out of bounds. The younger students are there to learn, classes no longer separated according to houses, but some of the older ones want to help with rebuilding the school, strengthening the walls with protection charms and unbreakable seals. Aurors become a common sight as they work around the castle, occasionally letting the keenest of the seventh year students help between their classes (supervised and always on parts that aren't integral to the structure of the castle, but McGonagall understands the need for healing after a battle).
Luna likes working with her hands, smoothing mortar into place with a finger instead of her wand. When asked, she just says she likes the feel of it. Hermione prefers the charms, precise pronunciations and delicate wrist movements, and she perfects them so quickly that some of the Aurors allow her to test the strength of her own work, deftly covering any weak spots. Although the seventh year students are usually scattered throughout the castle, somehow Luna and Hermione usually end up working together, creating a rhythm between the two of them that no one else can quite grasp hold of - and although it's mostly silent, just the sound of mixing and scraping and spell work from them and the others in the area, Hermione always enjoys herself more when she's with Luna.
There are moments when Hermione sees a collapsed wall or a scorch mark through a tapestry and she falters, remembers why is such horrible detail that her wand shakes in her hand. But then Luna is there, slipping her hand through hers and just standing next to her, not trying to pull her away. "We survived," is all she says, and squeezes for a moment before letting her go.
Months pass and Hogwarts slowly looks more like a school than a ruin. They both stay during the holidays and become friends without ever deciding to - they have the same classes and the same work schedule and somehow it seems easier to spend it together than apart.
(a clear day in March and they're working near the top of the castle, cold and fresh and wind tugging at their hair; wrapped up in coats and scarves but they both choose good work over warm hands and leave their gloves in their pockets. There's only three of them up there, the Auror Harkiss fixing cracks in the side of a tower, and when she goes inside to get flasks of tea for them all Luna takes Hermione's hand (fingers so cold they're almost numb but she doesn't complain) and pulls her over to a wide ragged gap in the battlements, facing the lake - Luna stays quiet and Hermione, after a glance at her friend, doesn't ask, and they watch the world until Harkiss comes back.)
They meet in the grounds, unplanned but everyone is taking advantage of the early summer sun and heading for the lake or the Quidditch pitch. Hermione spots her first as she walks towards the lake with a couple of books cradled in one arm and a small bag in the other - she stops as she sees a solitary figure sitting facing the water, bare feet and a cascade of blonde hair almost glowing in the light, then immediately sets off towards her.
Luna is on her feet before Hermione calls out, and she turns and grins, wide and relaxed, when she hears her name. Hermione smiles back and doesn't notice how easy it comes, just falls into step beside her as they walk away from the castle. "I wanted to go sit over there," Luna says, pointing towards an old oak tree partway around the lake, "but the couple under it were busy. I hoped you might come out and sit with me."
They aim for the shade with no real direction, eventually finding a wide, low tree set back from everyone else but still in view of the water. They sit close together at the edge of the shade, bright spots twisting through the leaves, and Hermione opens one of the books on her lap but doesn't immediately start reading. Luna lies down and stares up at the trees, eyes moving as though she's searching for something in the branches. "I think there might be a family of Glumbumbles up there," she says eventually, pointing at a cluster of leaves, and Hermione glances up and smiles.
"Possibly," she agrees, before putting her book down on the grass and lying down next to Luna. "What else might be around here?"
So Luna starts listing all the creatures that may or may not live in the Hogwarts grounds and Hermione honestly tries to remember them, learning more than she realises and laughing whenever Luna does. Her cheeks ache a little and her clothes shift into awkward places from lying on the ground, but she doesn't care as she and Luna both lie on their sides, facing each other and giggling. Something changes a little, nothing noticeable at first but Luna puts her hand on Hermione's waist to steady herself and it feels like warmth spreading from her fingertips.
Her hand slides down to Hermione's hip, her thumb brushing back and forth over the bone and after glancing down at the touch Hermione looks back up to find Luna looking at her, a soft smile and wide eyes and in a flash Hermione wants to lean forward and kiss her (she thinks of half-forgotten dreams and idle glances and hopes it doesn't show on her face, that the blush she can feel rising is hidden by the shadows). Luna's smile grows a little wider and she leans forward as much as her position allows, her thumb still sweeping gently across Hermione's skin, until they're close enough to be sharing breath and she watches the dappled shade dance across Hermione's cheek, light catching at the corners of her lips.
Luna kisses her, slow and gently and Hermione cups her chin, fingers brushing her cheek; her mouth tastes like summer apples, sweet and sticky, and she thinks of sunlight.
There's a splash and they break apart, both turning towards the lake to see a tentacle waving lazily above the water for a moment, then sinking back down beneath the surface. The ripples spread and fade before Hermione lifts her head, a blush and an apology already on her lips, but Luna is kissing her again before she has a chance to say a single word and this time they pull away more slowly, a lingering promise between them and when Luna says, "We should go inside," Hermione quite readily agrees.
There are warm nights under the stars and days of studying or repairing the castle, exploring and rebuilding and recharming, and sometimes Hermione leads them down a darkened crevice just so she can push Luna against the wall and kiss her, and sometimes Luna wakes her up in the morning by climbing into her bed and covering her skin with her tongue.
They don't try to define it between themselves and they don't explain it to anyone else - Luna seems perfectly content with this and, after a while, so is Hermione (a few nights of being reduced to a single point of exquisite emptiness and she understands, why Luna is so comfortable with this and why it's rational to just relax and let herself feel).
After exams finish they stay on at the school to continue mending it, and Hermione is offered both a teaching spot at Hogwarts and a research position at the Ministry. While she's deciding which one to accept (with lists and flow charts and long talks with Ron, who just agrees with everything she says), Luna announces that she's going travelling around the world for several months, possibly longer. It's the first Hermione has heard about it, and she's so stunned and irrationally angry that all she manages is a stiff, "Have fun," before quietly storming out of the room.
It's a while before Luna comes to find her, having been caught up in telling her plans and having everyone else give suggestions of where she absolutely must visit and where to most definitely avoid, and by the time she does Hermione has sent her acceptance letter to the Ministry and is about to set off to see McGonagall.
"I didn't know you wanted to come," Luna says, when she catches her in the doorway of the girls' dormitory.
"I didn't," Hermione snaps back, and pushes past. Luna doesn't follow.
A week later and a group of them are standing at Hogsmeade Station, preparing to say goodbye before Luna heads off to the south of France. Hermione stands with them and smiles at the right moments and chimes in with everyone else, but her gloved hands are light on Luna's shoulders when she hugs her and she steps back quickly, looking away. Luna just looks at her a little sadly and moves away from everyone, the air smelling so perfectly crisp and autumnal that she had to stop and simply breathe for a moment, letting the scent of damp earth and cold, still air wrap around her. She smiles as she curls her fingers around the strap of her bag and steps onto the train, finding a window in front of her friends and waving goodbye as it pulls out of the station.
Hermione moves in with Ron, in an inevitable kind of way. Luna moves through cities and countries and continents, exploring and learning and sketching some of the beautiful things she sees. At first she sends letters, postcards to her friends back home, a couple to Hermione but they're so full of wonder and delight that there isn't room for anything else, and slowly the letters stop coming as Luna travels further. She unexpectedly meets an old housemate in a small wizard town in India, and through warm nights of quiet talking, heads together or thrown back in laughter, she gains a companion for her journey.
It's bright and cold and Hermione doesn't feel like having any sort of celebration, the ground frozen in lumpy ruts and the trees edging the house all bare. They are at a party in memory of something, a great event among the many that should never be forgotten but right now Hermione doesn't care enough to find out. Her arm is linked through Ron's and her heels, despite being quite modest, are still catching on the uneven ground and her ankle hurts already and she has a report to finish - but various people insisted that she should be there, that it was an unofficial reunion as almost everyone who fought was going to be there, which meant Luna.
(it's over a year since she's seen her, and although she knows she should be feeling a lot of conflicting emotions right now, mostly she just feels ill)
The mansion is as extravagant as all the ones used for events like this are, so Hermione doesn't notice the ice swan paddling around its bowl, or the ivy that twists down the columns lining the huge room and tries to wrap around the ankles of those loitering at the sides. She scans the room while Ron pulls her towards the free bar, and she spots her at the same moment Ron spots the butterbeer and lets her arm slip from his; Luna smiles at her with the warmth of an old friend, but her lips don't move as her eyes turn to Ron and Hermione has a flash of something - jealously, or despair - but it's gone in a moment as Ron nudges her side and whispers, "Hey look, it's Luna. Is that Padma next to her?"
She looks again, past Luna's bright hair still long and tumbling over her shoulders, and yes, Padma Patil is standing close to her side, her arm around Luna's waist and her hand on Luna's hip. The touch is light, resting, but there's something intimate about it that makes Hermione clutch for Ron's hand as he makes a step towards her. "We can talk to her later," she lies, steering him away. "Oh, there's Harry and Ginny!"
Luna watches their sudden change in direction, Hermione's slightly fixed smile, and thinks that maybe she understands as Padma's fingertips press down for a moment and she turns with a soft smile already on her lips. She greets old friends and meets new partners and whenever she pauses, takes a moment to glance around the room and rejoice in the sight of all her friends together, somehow Hermione always seems to be on the other side, not looking in her direction.
Hours pass and night swiftly descends, but the harsher bite of cold is kept back by the charmed garden, still warm and filled with twinkling lights that dance from plant to plant. Hermione, feeling slightly dizzy from the sea of familiar faces and haunted names, makes her way out with a glass of wine in one hand, past the patio and down into the garden. She wanders for a little while until she finds a fountain with a wide stone edge and sits down, carefully placing her glass to one side and toeing her heels off, flexing her feet until the aching subsides a little.
And then Luna is sitting down next to her, feet already bare and toes pushing through the grass and Hermione can only think to reply with, "Where's Padma?"
"Oh, she's still inside. Dancing with Michael Corner, I think. I came out here to watch the fairies, they prefer it when people are looking at them." One flies over their heads and Luna follows it, turning her head as it disappears around the corner of a bush. Hermione just nods, then shakes her head a little and stares resolutely in the opposite direction. "Where's Ron?"
"Inside, with Harry," Hermione replies, although it's mostly a guess. She picks up her wine glass and takes a sip, waiting for Luna to say something, but she seems content with the silence and watching the garden and Hermione feels like something is wrapped around her throat, like too much is trying to get out and is stuck, caught. She thinks she should ask about her travels, ask her how she got together (and there something comes a little loose, the idea of something public instead of casually tucked away) with Padma, what amazing places she saw and wonderful things that she discovered, but. She doesn't.
She holds her wine glass to her chest, and goes inside. Luna doesn't follow.