her book History of the House Elves and set it carefully on her bedside
table. She crossed her hands on her Merino blanket and stared at the ceiling,
keeping her mind blank while she heard the vague sounds of Madam Pomfrey making
the rounds of the Hospital Wing. Though Hermione was the last remaining patient
in the place, the school nurse seemed nevertheless determined to ensure every
single bedsheet and pillow was in its proper place.
Ron and Neville
had been discharged the previous day, but Hermione still had to endure the
seemingly endless supply of potions Madam Pomfrey was concocting, and for
several more days at least, if the nurse was to be believed.
Harry and Ron had
come to visit Hermione at breakfast and lunch that day, but she’d insisted on
their taking time for themselves that evening after giving them a list of books
she would like to read, which they promptly fetched from the library. But as she
lay in bed, staring blankly at the various ornately engraved arches and columns
on the walls and ceiling above her, she was already beginning to regret that
decision. Although she always enjoyed the
company of a good book, she’d found it difficult to drift off to sleep. There
were so many things on her mind lately; she was still waiting for an
appropriate moment to talk to Harry about Sirius, but every time she’d tried to
broach the topic Harry had dropped his gaze from hers and awkwardly muttered
some muffled excuse to change the subject. Hermione had the definite impression
that he was not willing, or at least ready, to talk about it. She knew it would
do no good for him to keep his pain locked away, but also realized she had to
let him come to that assertion at his own pace, much as it chagrined her.
considering whether or not to start another book or to try and get to sleep,
unlikely as that seemed. She was still wide awake even though she’d had her
fill of written works this day, and was debating the merits of one over the
other when the familiar creaking of the Hospital Wing’s door caught her ear.
She eagerly glanced over to see who might be calling at this late hour, at this
point hopeful for anyone’s company.
entered and gently closed the door behind her, a small box tucked under one arm
and a rolled up copy of what Hermione assumed must be The Quibbler in
hand. As the young Ravenclaw turned back around and searched the room with her
large, silvery eyes, Hermione found her conscience disturbed by a slight twinge
of guilt. Ginny had told her earlier that day about the endless ridicule and
derision Luna was enduring, from members of her own house, no less, to the
point where her personal belongings were routinely being taken from her.
Hermione had suddenly felt quite badly about having given Luna a rough time of
it over the past several months, disputing most of the girls’ claims, totally
ludicrous though they were. Granted, the girl was peculiar to a high degree,
but that didn’t excuse the kind of treatment she was receiving.
Ginny had told
Hermione how Luna had saved both her and Ron from the raging Death Eaters in
the planet room back in the Department of Mysteries, while trying to carry a
hobbling Ginny and dragging along an incoherent Ron behind her. Clearly the
girl was not the hopeless loon that many made her out to be.
As Hermione’s was
the only occupied bed in the infirmary, it didn’t take long for Luna to locate
her; she stood at the door for a moment and blinked before making a beeline
straight for the Gryffindor. Only a few days ago Hermione might have groaned
inwardly, but she’d looked at the young Ravenclaw in a much different light
since then. The Prefect in her glanced at the clock on the wall, though she
quickly swept aside the fact that it was well past curfew at the thought of
Luna sat down at
the foot of Hermione’s bed, her wand still tucked in its customary place behind
her ear and her ridiculous Butterbeer cap necklace still hung loosely about her
Luna, smiling dreamily. “How are you getting on?”
said Hermione carefully. “I’m doing better, thanks. Madam Pomfrey says I should
be out of here in a few days...and you?”
“I’ve been rather
busy,” said Luna vaguely, setting the small tin box on the bed between them. “I
sent an owl to Daddy to send me one of Mum’s recipes; I’d actually made some
for all of you, but Ronald and Neville ate my whole batch in the hall earlier,
so I had to go back and make some more. Sorry for the wait.”
apprehension about the contents of the box evaporated, figuring that if Ron
would so eagerly ate something made by Luna it couldn’t be all that bad.
Opening the lid, she saw what appeared to be miniature rabbit-like creatures
with strangely elongated, upturned snouts, all apparently made from chocolate.
“Well, thanks Luna,”
said Hermione, taking one and eyeing it closely as Luna stared at her. “I’m a
bit curious though...what exactly are these supposed to be?”
Crumple-Horned Snorkacks, of course,” said Luna matter-of-factly, as though
anyone in their right mind would know such a thing. “Daddy’s got a much better
idea now about their exact appearance after interviewing all those eyewitnesses
for The Quibbler article a few months ago.”
stomach tightened. She was sorely tempted to point out once again that such
creatures didn’t exist, but after a brief moment’s reflection thought better of
it. The girl had been well-meaning, after all.
“Well, thank you
Luna, that was sweet of you,” said Hermione, taking a tentative bite.
She chewed on it
for a few moments, Luna’s silvery eyes staring at her expectantly. Hermione
realized with more than a little surprise that Luna’s account of Ron and
Neville’s conspicuous consumption of these treats was no exaggeration; they
were truly delicious!
said Hermione, swallowing the remainder of her tiny ‘Snorkack’, “these are
really good! How’d you manage to make these things here?”
“Oh, well,” said
Luna, clearly happy that Hermione had found the treats to her liking, “I asked
the house-elves if I could borrow a small part of their kitchen. They really
are quite nice, you know.”
up another treat from the open box. “You know how to get to the kitchen?”
“Yes,” said Luna
vaguely, apparently entranced by how the candlelight played across the back of
her hand. “The elves tell me a lot of things about Hogwarts when they visit
late at night, actually. Although that Dobby fellow is rather an odd one, with
all those little hats he wears.”
“You mean you’re
still awake when they come to clean?” asked Hermione, wondering what Luna meant
by all the ‘little hats’. “Don’t they come at the wee hours of the morning?”
“They do,” said
Luna simply, now losing interest in the back of her hand and taking a chocolate
treat herself. “I don’t really sleep very much, so it passes the time.” She
nibbled on the chocolate’s elongated ‘horn’, staring at Hermione.
For a while both
were quiet, chewing on their own chocolates, Hermione thinking furiously for
any subject she could bring up without involving some nonsensical discussion of
mythical creatures or theories.
But Luna finished
her chocolate and rose from the bed. “Well, goodnight,” she said airily and
smiled as she turned to go.
“Er, Luna wait,”
said Hermione, wincing a little as she sat up straighter in bed. Luna turned
back to her, eyes fixed in that oddly penetrating stare of hers.
Hermione began, indicating the chair between the two beds with her hand.
“Please stay for awhile, I’d like to talk to you about something.”
Luna seemed to
consider her for a moment, her head tilted slightly to one side. Hermione
laughed inwardly. The gesture made the young Ravenclaw look for all the world
like a bemused pixie.
Luna drifted over
to the chair and gracefully took her seat, though she sat in a ramrod-straight
posture that seemed to convey unease, which stunned Hermione.
“I know what
you’re going to say,” said Luna in an unusually subdued voice.
“You do?” asked
Hermione, curious as to what the other girl might possibly be thinking.
“I should’ve done
more to protect Ronald and Ginny from those people,” said Luna. For the first
time since Hermione had known her, Luna was averting her eyes and was gazing
down at her intertwined hands on her lap.
“I really wanted
to...” her voice trailed off, staring at her hands as though they were miles
hardly believe what she was witnessing. Luna Lovegood, normally never one to be
even remotely flustered or at a loss for words, had grown silent.
listen,” said Hermione, her heart heavy from seeing Luna in such a state. “I’ll
tell you, you had the subject right, but certainly not the message.”
returned slowly to Hermione’s, her head still tilted to one side, her usual
expression of surprise now replaced by one of uncertainty. “But I wasn’t able
to...they both got hurt,” she whispered, Hermione’s heart sinking further upon
seeing those enormous grey eyes suddenly glittering with tears.
“That’s NOT what
Ginny told me,” said Hermione firmly, gritting her teeth slightly from the pain
as she rolled her legs over the side of her bed and sat up, facing Luna.
Luckily Madam Pomfrey was now tending to some paperwork at her desk at the far
end of the hall and hadn’t noticed.
“Luna, you got
them both out alive. Ginny told me everything you did, how you fended off those
Death Eaters and got them out. I think what you did was truly remarkable, and
what I wanted to tell you was,” Hermione looked straight into Luna’s
silver eyes, “thank you. From all of us.”
Once more Luna’s
gaze dropped. Hermione felt exasperated. “And also...sorry. I never really made
it easy for you, did I?”
Luna looked up
with an air of seriousness about her, a striking contrast with her usual dreamy
countenance. “Oh, that’s okay,” she said quietly. “I’m quite used to it, you
know. Most people seem to think I’m rather odd. Many call me ‘Loony Lovegood’,
Hermione, “I wasn’t very nice about it. I just...well, I have a bit of a temper
sometimes, as I’m sure Ron would tell you. And I’ll tell you something else,”
she added in a conspirational whisper, “Ron is starting to recall what happened
back in that room, and I think he’s really impressed how you handled it...”
Luna stared back
at her. “Well, that’s good, I suppose,” she said vaguely. “I...rather like the
company of your little group actually.”
Hermione felt a
growing empathy for the girl before her. “Luna, I know you’re not as immune to
abuse as some might think. No one can be. I just want you to know, if ever you
need someone to talk to about that, I’m here for you. We all are.”
Luna continued to
stare at her for several moments, her large protuberant eyes unblinkingly fixed
you,” said Luna in her typical dreamy voice. “It doesn’t really bother me much,
but...that’s rather nice of you, actually.”
They were both
silent for a long moment, Luna seemingly lost in thought. When she opened her
mouth again Hermione thought that Luna might just take her up on her offer
right then and there.
“Well I suppose
I’d best be off,” said Luna, rising from her chair. “It’s past curfew already,
and I’d really rather not get caught wandering the halls at this hour by Mr.
Filch. Although that cat of his is quite adorable, don’t you think?”
dreamily at Hermione before making her way towards the hall entrance and then
quietly slipped out the door.
after her. It would take Luna to call Mrs. Norris ‘adorable’. She
wondered...had she just gained a friend in the odd little Ravenclaw?