Luna was seven years old when she realized that everything you know isn’t anything if you don’t know everything. She was happily skipping down the street with her father beside her, her blond hair in pigtails, her arms swinging to the tune of a hum in her head. She might have been humming aloud - she tended to do stuff like that without knowing it.
They passed by a book store and behind the glass was a book with a lovely cover of a unicorn. It wasn’t realistic really. The unicorn looked too much like a large horse with a golden trinket on its head, but standing in front of the window was a little girl in raptures. The little girl had thin sandy hair and her hands were clenched into little fists that she held in front of her chubby face. Her eyes were glowing with a happiness that was like the cup that Luna poured too much water into. Beside her stood a tall boy who obviously did not want to be there. His face was scrunched up with extreme disgust.
As Luna passed by the two, a few words snatched her ears and tugged at her still growing heart.
“Are they real, Jim?” a small voice cried, restricted by emotion.
The boy snorted and answered, “Of course not, stupid.”
Luna stopped swinging her arms and the tune in her head came to a rather abrupt halt. She marched over and pushed the boy aside so that she could address the little girl.
“They are real,” she said vehemently. “I saw them.”
Luna was going to get into big trouble when her dad found out. Everyone was going to be unhappy with her. Don’t speak to the Muggles, Luna, her mother had told her. Don’t tell them about us.
“They are?” the girl rasped, her eyes as big as saucers that were ready to take off the ground.
“Yes,” Luna declared. She felt a hard push to her side and stumbled slightly.
“Don’t lie to her,” growled the boy.
“I’m not!” exclaimed Luna indignantly. “Unicorns are real.”
“Then why haven’t I seen one?”
Everyone called her father a cukoo and some even said he was a liar. Luna was at an age when she was beginning to doubt that everything her parents said was true. In one moment, all her doubts were stamped upon and thrown out as she realized, with the boy’s poorly planned words, that the world was only as large as you were willing to make it.
She stamped up to the boy and proclaimed with absolute certainty, “It’s only fake because you believe it is! I know it’s real and so it is.”
She turned to the little girl and said with as much conviction as she could muster, “Believe me.”
The little girl nodded hesitantly and with a satisfied toss of the head, Luna flounced over to her father.
He wasn’t angry at her at all.
He was grinning broadly and Luna didn’t ask. Some things were more important than secrets.
There were oceans that moved and changed.
Hermione Granger held onto anchors and they were frustrating to the strange girl with the blond hair because she honestly liked Hermione. She liked the entire trio, in fact. They held in their young hands something so rare and precious some have stopped believing in its existence. They had true friendship. It shone in little ways - like the tiny and bright candles that lit the Great Hall. It shone in the way Harry Potter would walk into a room looking for all the world as though he held the universe on his bony shoulders and seconds later, a red head and a brown one would each appear at his side. It shone in the way their three heads bent close together - red, black, brown - and Harry Potter lessened his load by handing them each a star from his heavy weight.
It shone in big ways, as well.
In Luna’s third year, when Harry Potter disappeared, and a scream of such despair erupted into the sky. She turned to look at Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley and couldn’t figure out which of them had emitted that awful sound. In the end, she decided that it was a combination of both their pain.
There were oceans that raged and existed with endless limits. It wasn’t that Hermione was a know-it-all who refused to think she was wrong. Luna saw things through eyes that were like glasses that allowed her to see a different angle to things. Hermione Granger didn’t care so much about being wrong herself. She was, however, devastatingly frightened that the things she knew to be true weren’t.
There were little stains of blood, barely noticeable but nevertheless there, on one of Hermione’s robes. She’d been up all night making clothes for the elves because making clothes has nothing to do with death. Making clothes had nothing to do with thinking that the people you love most could die any second. Her knowledge was her anchor and for all her talk of reason, Luna thought that Hermione had somehow deluded herself into thinking that all problems could be solved. The girl with the brown hair had built pillows to hide the knives.
Luna just allowed her pillows and her knives to lie side by side. Which one she landed on when she fell would be up to fate.
Ginny used to rant and rave about Harry. She would blush and she would sigh dreamily. There were doodles in her old notebooks that lay nestled somewhere forgotten in her trunk. Luna didn’t understand before, but she did now.
There was just something about Harry Potter that reminded Luna of the things her father wrote about. His existence seemed to be evidence that impossible, unreal things could exist.
It was fourth year and Luna was taking a walk outside in the hopes that she would catch sight of some mysterious creature. He was lying on the ground, his hands behind his head, and he was watching the clouds.
Some students whispered, after that article in the Daily Prophet, that Harry and Hermione were secretly in love. Harry lay on the grass and Luna thought suddenly, No, that couldn’t be.
They were too much alike. They were like rocks. They both needed something to sweep them away.
Harry needed something like clouds or something like fire. He needed a mystery, someone to keep life adventurous after the adventures was over. Odd how that could be.
Ginny gave up too soon, Luna thought in surprise. It could have been her. She could have been the fire.
Then, even more unbidden, came the thought, If he couldn’t have fire, then he could have clouds. He could have something thin and dreamy.
For some odd reason, that thought was very uncomfortable and Luna marched back into the school with more force than was strictly required.
Ron Weasley was simply a hoot.
He was wild and funny and angry and Luna just wanted to follow him around and examine him. There was something just so deliciously fascinating about him and Luna watched him when she could. She watched him closely and so saw things that would have been seen as unimportant by other people. He ate with his mouth open, for one thing, and his right foot always tapped when he became impatient or irritated. The faster it tapped, the greater his irritation or impatience.
She also noticed further things that cemented her belief that the idea of Harry and Hermione could never be.
Ron Weasley made fun of the girls. That could be expected of a growing boy.
He would be sitting in the Great Hall making a disgusting joke about something, to the eager ears of the boys, and right at the punch line, Hermione Granger would walk in. He would instantly clam up.
“Go on, Ron. What happened next?” the boys would press.
“Yes, Ron, what happened next?” the Gryffindor girls would drawl because they knew the reason behind his sudden silence.
Harry Potter said nothing because he would be laughing so hard.
“Er…nothing,” Ron would reply quickly, with a darting look at the bushy head sitting across from him.
Luna heard about the off-color reference about Uranus made by one Ron Weasley to a Gryffindor girl. She couldn’t imagine Ron making the same joke to Hermione.
Luna had been in a store, preparing to buy a necklace to match her earrings, when she heard loudly and clearly, “Listen, do you have any presents for a girl?”
“Naturally, gifts for girlfriends are very plentiful during the - ”
“Not a girlfriend!” Ron exclaimed - squeaked was more like.
“Well, do you know what your sister would like - ”
“Not a sister.”
“Mothers are rather - ”
“Not a mother.”
“Then - who?”
“Just a friend! Can’t people understand that? A friend!”
There was the sound of a door being yanked open and slammed shut. Luna was hiding her grin behind a cup with purple elephants.
Some anchors were made out of knowledge and books. Some anchors were made out of clouds and fire.
And some anchors were made out of a Gryffindor girl hidden under a mass of brown hair.
It wasn’t going to be Cho Chang. Everybody knew that.
What everybody didn’t know was that it could be Ginny or Luna. Even Harry Potter didn’t know yet, but one day he will.
One day he will see the faces of two girls in his mind and he will make a choice.
Luna doesn’t anticipate or hope for that day because then the surprise will be ruined.
One day, she will stand by a lake and her hair will be dirty, like it always is, and her wand will be tucked safely behind her ear. She will turn around and Harry Potter will be there, torn apart by war with the soot of the dead still on him.
One day she will gasp delightedly, no matter what, and smile as she says, “Oh, so the day has come. You’ve made a choice.”
“Yes, I have,” he will say and the sun will shine no matter what he continues on to say.
Luna will not be dragging herself across a battle field of ruins to three bodies, clutched together even in death. She will not see three heads - red, black, brown - close together as though the Universe had exploded on top of them. She will not see the way their anchors weren’t enough to hold them.
She will not trace closed eyelids and whisper, “But you haven’t made a choice.”
The only things that are real are the things that you believe in with all your heart.
Dreams can become reality if you leave no room for doubt.
Since the day that first year when she saw the three of them together, Luna knew.
“I believe you,” Luna declared in her fourth year.
Because in the end, the only true magic is the one of belief.
Author’s Notes: In which this could have been a chapter in my other ficcie “Like Water on Charcoal,” but it isn’t because ol’ Voldie doesn’t die. I think half-way through this, I was thinking along the lines of Should I put this in LWOC or not? and then decided not to because, well, this wasn’t so much about Luna so much as it was about the people she observed. That and I already had another idea for the Luna chapter of LWOC. And thanks to Elanor who is so nice about everything.