The silence of Hermione's flat was broken by a series of familiar knocks. Though the amount and pressure applied was different than the last time Hermione heard them. No doubt because Luna was saying something different this time. She opened the door with a sense of resignation, an expectant look on her features. As surely as she recognized Luna's knock she knew the blonde would realize the reason behind her mood and while she also knew that whatever the other girl said would ultimately be logical despite its whimsical delivery she didn't want to hear it.
Hermione was finding greater satisfaction in being irrationally angry at the moment.
Nevertheless, she opened the door and was met with Luna, tilting her head to one side, wearing what seemed to be that ever present look of concern floating in her clear blue eyes. "Rita Skeeter is a vicious Varnackle who makes a living from writing rumors and lies," Luna said, her voice steady and strong as she closed the door to Hermione's flat and focused her attention on the brunette. Moving forward until she stood in front of the other girl, she cupped Hermione's cheek and moved closer yet, ducking her head to whisper in her ear, "Hermione shouldn't give her a second thought."
"Even if I don't there are others who will," said Hermione wearily, not having the energy to justify her emotions. Letting her head fall, she rested it on Luna's shoulder, breathing in the younger girl's scent as she continued, "Some people believe her, they always do."
"The ones who love us won't," Luna offered in a soothing murmur, rubbing Hermione's back in slow circles.
"Mrs. Weasley did once," said Hermione in supremely tired tones, knowing the older woman was a regular reader of The Daily Prophet and of Rita Skeeter although she had been considerably less fond of her after she wrote an inflammatory biography on Dumbledore. A burst of sudden anger going through her, Hermione pulled out of Luna's arms, pacing the length of her living room, waving her hands agitatedly in the air as she burst out, "I don't understand it! She's left me well alone since the Triwizard Tournament. I thought having knowledge that she's an unregistered Animagus was reason enough for her to let me be but now I wonder if saying that caused her to form some sort of vendetta against me, ridiculous as that sounds."
"Vendettas are hardly advantageous for increasing readership," said Luna quietly and when Hermione looked to her she formed a faint smile. "My father knows her quite well from her early days as a reporter. She once did a spot of freelancing for The Quibbler but I'm afraid she didn't find it nearly prestigious enough."
"Not enough readers," said Hermione with sudden knowing.
"Truth is all a matter of perception," Luna said distantly, focusing on a far off place. "That is what she used to tell him." Hermione released a scoff at this and turning her attention back to the brunette, Luna asked, "What animal can she change into?"
"A beetle," said Hermione, walking over to her couch she sat down with a sigh, reaching out to Luna and smiling when the younger girl stepped forward to accept Hermione's hands. She pulled the blonde closer until she stood, nestled in between Hermione's legs as the brunette moved forward, resting her face against her flat stomach, arms wrapping around her waist. Sighing as Luna gently sifted her fingers through curly brown hair, Hermione said with a good deal of self deprecation, "I trapped her underneath a glass when she was in that form and I should have left her there. That or given her a good squash."
Releasing a soft chuckle, Luna leaned down, pressing a kiss onto Hermione's head as she replied, "That wouldn't have been like Hermione in the least. She's too kind to do such a thing. Even to a horrid reporter disguising herself as an innocent insect."
They were silent for several moments, content to simply be with one another and then Hermione felt compelled to look at the younger girl. A slight frown graced her features when she saw the look of restrained worry that Luna was attempting to hide as she looked to the far side of the flat, out the large bay windows to gaze at the busy streets of London. Suddenly the words of Ophelia and Ginny flashed in her mind and Hermione knew precisely what was causing that expression, the one that Luna had never meant for her to see because that was what she always did. Kept her own fears, her own worries, safely hidden away where they couldn't be discovered… where they wouldn't bother Hermione but that wasn't what the brunette wanted. She wanted to be as much a source of strength to Luna as the blonde was to her. Which is why she tugged on the younger girl's hand, drawing Luna's attention back to her, smiling softly at the look of mild surprise Luna wore at her serious expression.
"I'm not the least ashamed of that photograph," said Hermione, her voice level and filled with a quiet intensity, one that wouldn't allow Luna to doubt the truth behind her words. "I realize it might seem as if I don't want others to know of us, that I'm attempting to hide away what I have with you but that's not the truth of it. Luna," Hermione said her name low and loving, pulling her closer yet and smiling as bright blue eyes became impossibly wide. "I've never felt anything close to how I feel when I'm with you. It frightens me at times, how strong it's becoming, but I love it all the same." She paused, appearing as if she wanted to say something else but she shook her head, thinking better of it. "What we have is so very precious and I think perhaps I've simply been wanting to keep it all to myself. I've discovered I'm not the best at sharing," she confessed wryly. "At least, not when it comes to you. But that doesn't mean I'm ashamed of what we have, not in the slightest."
"Hermione," Luna said her name with a catch in her voice, her fingers trembling as she pushed a lock of brown hair behind the older girl's ear, her hand falling to caress Hermione's cheek.
Reaching up to cover Luna's hand with her own, Hermione continued, "I wanted it to stay between us, what we feel, not for it to be bandied about like some tasty morsel of gossip for the wizarding world to consume. It ruins it in a way, makes it less than what it is and I despise that. Most of all I despise how it's made you doubt how I feel for you. Though I understand that has more to do with me than that awful Rita Skeeter. Certainly I haven't been doing well in reassuring you, have I?" Luna started to protest and Hermione shook her head, smiling softly as she reached up with both her hands to wind them behind the blonde's neck, pulling the younger girl gently down. When Luna's face was just millimeters from her own, Hermione murmured, "I promise to do a better job of letting you know precisely how much you mean to me. Starting this very second."
Satisfied that she had made herself abundantly clear with words, Hermione decided the rest was best left to the unspoken language of feeling and touch. She scooted to the edge of the couch, lifting herself up to slide a kiss across the pulse point in Luna's neck, tasting the gasp that arose from the younger girl's throat before absorbing it as she pressed her lips to Luna's. When they parted a shy happy smile curved on Luna's lips, lighting her features brilliantly, a smile that Hermione automatically returned as Luna gently traced the line of Hermione's jaw with her fingers. They stayed like that, wearing silly smiles, content to look at one another, sharing in the sheer happiness of the moment. Then Luna held Hermione's face in her hands, her grasp tender but eager as she lowered her head to meet their lips for another kiss, this one deeper, more passionate as their tongues entwined and Hermione rose urgently into the kiss as Luna leaned down, trying to bring them closer yet. In her desire to bring Luna closer, Hermione tugged at the plaid pants she wore, sending the younger girl tumbling forward. The blonde landed sideways onto the couch, laughing and pulling on the sleeve of Hermione's shirt, encouraging the older girl to follow.
In the back of her mind, Hermione realized this was the first time they had done this, laid together, their bodies pressed so close together there was nothing between them but their clothes. They were close when they danced but it wasn't anything like this. For one thing they were standing up when they danced and somehow it wasn't nearly so intimate. While she was nervous, desperately so, Hermione found herself crawling forward, gently lowering herself onto Luna, a soft groan escaping her at how very good it felt to be this close to the other girl, to feel the warmth of Luna's body touching her own. Luna looked at her with pale blue eyes, gentle and kind in their understanding, and Hermione suddenly couldn't stand it any longer, she was possessed with the need to be even closer. Her hand flat against Luna's cheek, her fingers buried in white blonde hair, Hermione kissed the younger girl hard and fast, her lips seeking and demanding, causing Luna to gasp once again at the sensation.
One after another, the kisses slowed until they parted with lazy smiles and Hermione, feeling entirely embarrassed by the behavior she just exhibited, hid her face in the crook of Luna's neck. Appearing to understand this, Luna allowed Hermione all the time she needed to adjust, wrapping her arms around the brunette and rubbing absent circles on her back. It didn't seem very long at all when Hermione moved her head slightly to peer at Luna who met her gaze with a playful twinkle in her blue eyes. Releasing a soft snort at this, Hermione ducked her head, kissing the elegant line of Luna's neck and murmuring against her skin, "You must realize I've never behaved in such a way before." Hermione chuckled and said wryly, "I suppose you cause it in me."
"What's that?" asked Luna curiously, her voice trembling as Hermione's kisses moved upwards, pressing one on her jaw and another on her cheek, coming closer to her lips with each one.
"A loss of control," Hermione breathed and nothing more was said as she claimed Luna's lips with her own. Her kisses became harder, fiercer, and more passionate than anything Luna that had ever known and the younger girl couldn't help but think Hermione losing control was an entirely good thing. Especially when it came to her.
The rest of the week passed without much incident. Gradually the interest in the couple died down on campus and Hermione discovered once she worked at ignoring the attention it soon became something of a habit. By the time she met Luna after her last class of the day on Friday she even found herself reluctantly agreeing with the blonde that the photograph of them in The Daily Prophet was in fact a rather good one. Perhaps that's why she didn't find herself at all bothered by seeing it featured in a shiny gold frame and hanging on the wall of Luna's cottage when she arrived for Saturday morning breakfast. Unlike the other magical photographs that had a place on the wall, she didn't receive a wave from the photographic Hermione and Luna. They were too involved with their kissing to notice anyone watching them, something Hermione couldn't help but sigh at. Perhaps if they hadn't been so involved the photograph would've never been published but that was no longer a worry for her.
Walking into the kitchen, she found Luna standing at the stove, using magic to control the various cooking instruments as she prepared some manner of potato dish in the skillet. Approaching carefully, Hermione slid her arms around Luna's waist, smiling as the younger girl immediately leaned back into her embrace. Nuzzling the curve of Luna's neck, she pushed the white blonde hair aside and deposited a light kiss behind her ear.
"What are you making?" Hermione questioned, her hands sliding underneath Luna's soft cotton shirt with lazy ease, spreading her fingers across her flat abdomen and relishing the heat of the other girl's skin. "It smells wonderful."
"German Potato Pancakes and Raspberry Lemon Muffins," revealed Luna, dropping her hands down to cover Hermione's. "If you behave and have a seat at the table I'll bring them to you in a moment."
"If I behave?" repeated Hermione with some humorous offense, raising an eyebrow in disbelief. She gave Luna a poke in the side, her fingers tickling lightly at her stomach as she drawled, "I don't believe between us I'm the one who has trouble behaving. In fact, I would say I'm practically the very model of good behavior."
"Must I list all of your exploits at Hogwarts?" asked Luna, tilting her head to look at the older girl who frowned at this, her nose scrunching up in a manner that the blonde found altogether charming. "I could begin with your use of the Polyjuice Potion in the second year if you would like..." Luna trailed off as Hermione's frown turned into a soft scowl. Chuckling quietly, she gave the older girl a brief kiss before pulling out of her embrace and making a shooing motion with her hands. "Go on, have a seat and let me cook our breakfast in peace."
"I'm going," Hermione grumbled, not at all happy with this unusual form of blackmail, wandering away from the delicious smelling kitchen and heading into the small dining room.
She had just sat down when Luna called out, "I've put out a bit of interesting reading material for you to inspect. Do let me know if you find it enjoyable. I told Daddy it's amongst his finest pieces of writing."
Eyeing the latest edition of The Quibbler rather skeptically, Hermione flatted the parchment and immediately she focused on the large headline that read: Insectual Infatuation, A Tale Of An Illegal Animagus' Tragic Love. Her eyebrows shot upwards and Hermione couldn't help the burst of laughter that escaped her the moment she finished reading the large and flashing headline that featured a picture of a disgruntled Rita Skeeter beneath it. The article was written by Xenophilius Lovegood whose name was proudly displayed in all capitals with bold print.
It detailed how Skeeter, an unregistered Animagus, had fallen in love with another Bombardier Beetle while in her transformed state and ended up having several hundred insect offspring that she was now being forced to raise alone after her mate was brutally squashed underneath the shoe of a passing Muggle. At the end, there was a heartfelt request for donations to the beetle children health fund be sent to Rita Skeeter at The Daily Prophet.
Hermione just finished reading the article when Luna walked into the dining room, her eyes lidded and a knowing smile on her lips as floated their plates filled with breakfast food and two glasses of orange juice onto the table. "I think it's an example of journalism at its finest, don't you?" she questioned, her voice airy and supremely pleased as she sat down next to Hermione at the table and offered the brunette a fork with a quirky smile playing on her lips.
Accepting the fork, her eyebrow lifting and that skeptical look returning to her features, Hermione drawled, "I'm unsure. When did writing for revenge become an edict of journalism?"
"It isn't revenge, at least not on Daddy's part," said Luna quite firmly.
"Oh?" asked Hermione, the skeptical expression still clinging to her features.
Taking a sip of her orange juice, looking very satisfied with herself, Luna murmured, "I might have told him that she was an unregistered Animagus and what form she took but what Daddy chose to make of that information was wholeheartedly his own decision."
"Luna," Hermione said her name much in the same way a disappointed teacher would with a naughty child. This caused Luna to frown as she set her glass down, tilting her head expectantly at the brunette. "What if Skeeter has it in her head to find a barrister and file a lawsuit against your father and The Quibbler for libel?" She couldn't help that a large part of her found the actions the younger girl had taken to be completely flattering and altogether pleasing but there was the ever present logic that reigned in her mind. Hermione simply couldn't ignore what the consequences of those actions might be. Particularly when they involved Luna's father who, while very odd, was also terribly sweet man. "What then?"
"For it to be libel it must be proven it's a false statement," replied Luna, her voice a bit sharp, telling Hermione she hadn't appreciated her previous tones in the least. "I hardly think Ms. Skeeter wishes the matter of her status as an Animagus to be investigated as it surely would during the length of a trial."
Considering this for a long moment, Hermione watched Luna push her food absently about her plate and she realized that her concern hadn't been stated in the best way, upsetting the younger girl in the process. Which was the last thing she wanted to do, especially when deep down she had been so very happy to discover what Luna had done for her. It was hardly the first time someone had protected her but all the same, there was a strange sort of fierceness in the fact that Luna had gone after Rita Skeeter as publicly as the reporter had done to them. It flattered her tremendously and caused a thrill to go through her, that Luna had taken the time to find such a fitting way to put Skeeter in her place. Had it been Ron it would have been nothing more than a few absent complaints and perhaps a confrontation at the offices of The Daily Prophet if whatever she published had been outrageous enough. For Luna, the fact that it upset Hermione was enough to take action and that made her happy. Deliriously so. This hadn't been made clear to the blonde though and now she had upset her.
That wouldn't do. It simply wouldn't do at all.
Pushing her chair back and rising to her feet, Hermione made her way over to Luna, standing behind her chair. She ducked her head down, pushing blonde hair to one side before her arms wrapped around Luna's chest, whispering in her ear, "I'm sorry. I never meant to sound as if I don't appreciate what you did. I just don't want you to get into any trouble because of me, is all. You or your father. But that doesn't mean I don't love what you did for me."
"Really?" Luna's voice was quiet, a mere hush of sound, and if Hermione hadn't been so close she would have missed it utterly. Only she was close, so close that she could move her head and look into uncertain blue eyes.
"Really and truly," Hermione assured, an affectionate smile gracing her features as she laid her palm flat against Luna's skin, taking pleasure in its silken texture. Resting her forehead lightly against Luna's, she murmured, "In its own way, it's dreadfully romantic, having that article published."
"More than challenging her to a duel?" asked Luna, a slight smile tugging at her lips, one that Hermione couldn't help but return as she watched the welcome light of amused knowing return to pale blue eyes.
"Well," Hermione said this with thoughtful consideration. "In that case, I suppose it's more practical than romantic." When Luna formed a tremendous pout on hearing this, Hermione laughed fondly, her fingers smoothing over the lines around her mouth until they disappeared from sight. Once they had, she moved in closer, her breath ghosting over the blonde's skin as she murmured, "I still find it far preferable to a duel and impossibly romantic."
"Practically romantic," added Luna, her tones mischievous and her gaze twinkling.
"Enormously so," Hermione agreed as they remained like that, looking at each other and smiling, a second away from kissing but holding off on it just to enjoy the moment for what it was.
Then Hermione released an exasperated growl that only grew stronger when Luna chuckled at this reaction and she moved swiftly forward to seize the younger girl's lips in a kiss. Luna welcomed the kiss with a happy sigh, opening her mouth immediately, leaving a clear invitation for the brunette as her own tongue swept into Hermione's mouth, sucking and tasting deep, moving in a sweeping exploration that left Hermione quivering and breathless.
It would be some time before they parted and when they did their breakfast was completely cold but it wasn't anything either of them would have changed. Especially not when that was a one of the rarer things in life which could easily fixed with a spell. Quite the opposite of most issues involving romance.
Professor Ipson had a serious look on his face and Hermione found it made her nervous. It wasn't to say that the man was incapable of being professional, that was anything but the truth, though it wasn't in this manner. He always had this sort of softness to him, a kindness which clung to his round frame and while it was still there, it was faint, held back by the solemnity that surrounded him and she didn't like that in the least.
"As you know, I've submitted the first portion of our work to the review board," Ipson said this slowly, his expression remaining serious and Hermione noted Luna was following suit, something which worried her more.
"What did they say?" Hermione blurted this out, unable to help herself, wanting desperately to disrupt the mood that had taken over his tiny office, making the clutter and mess of it unbearable.
"In a moment," said Ipson rather absently and he ducked his head, searching through his messy drawer before he released a happy murmur and seconds later his hand shot out, holding two wrapped Sugar Quills, presumably for Luna and Hermione to take. Hermione remained where she was, staring at the candy but Luna moved forward, taking them both and unwrapping them, presenting the brunette with hers just as Ipson rose back up, a Sugar Quill in his mouth, a grin playing on his lips as he sucked away. "Go on," he encouraged, waving his hands at her. "Have one. This is meant to be a celebration, after all. What kind of celebration takes place without sweets?"
"It went well then?" asked Hermione, absently holding her Sugar Quill instead of enjoying it like Ipson and Luna.
"Stupendously," Ipson replied warmly, taking a bite of his Sugar Quill and waving it at her. "They've approved the completion of the project and I've been guaranteed publication when its finished. Though," he sighed heavily and a frown pulled at his features as he lowered the candy from his lips, "there is a bit of sad news."
"What's that?" Luna voiced the question this time, her voice airy and strangely reassuring.
"I've only been given the funds to hire on a single assistant for the project," said Ipson and he had a genuine look of despair in his eyes. Seeing this, Hermione realized that he didn't have any idea how to choose between them. While the idea of working for Ipson full time and getting paid for it appealed to her greatly, she wasn't a Student Healer like Luna. In fact, she was still floating in the murky waters of being an undecided major at the University. That being so, it made much more sense for Luna to remain working with Ipson. She was about to say this when Luna started speaking.
"Hermione is more suitable, you ought to offer her the position," offered Luna, removing the Sugar Quill from her mouth, smiling when the brunette looked at her with wide eyes. Laughing quietly at this, she reached out to gently touch her cheek and she continued, "You mustn't look so surprised. I might be perfectly capable of doing research but I haven't the same love of it as you do and between the two of us, you are the only one with the ability to make learning tremendously interesting with your writing skills."
"But Luna--" Hermione started to protest.
"Come now," soothed Luna as she pressed her fingers tenderly against Hermione's lips. When the brunette quieted, she smiled and her fingers fell away to gently caress the line of her jaw. "This goes well with our plans, doesn't it?"
Blinking and searching her mind frantically for what the younger girl could possibly be talking about, Hermione relaxed as she recalled that conversation from what seemed like so long ago. Inside the tent in the depths of the Kerala Backwaters, Luna speaking on how she wanted to spend her life searching for creatures like the Krodha Swinging Lizard, proving their existence to the doubting public and how she imagined Hermione with her, writing it all down in a book. Taking this position, working with Ipson, learning what it took to have an educational text published was certainly a logical step in that direction. Especially when you considered that Luna had another year to complete in her studies as a Student Healer. Turning her attention to Ipson who met her gaze with amused and understanding eyes, Hermione wondered if his wife acted with him much the same way Luna did with her. In a strangely loving but subtly scheming way that caused one to give into almost any demands. If so, she would surely have to commiserate with him over it and ask him for a bit of advice when it came to dealing with a partner who had such tendencies.
"Well then," said Ipson kindly, spreading his hands out in a welcoming gesture. "It appears I have myself an assistant. That is, if you're agreeable to taking the position, Miss Granger. It would be a full time commitment and I'm afraid that at sometime it would require you to concentrate on the research completely, leaving your studies by the wayside."
"That's fine," said Hermione in almost rushed tones, afraid of him changing his mind perhaps. "I want this chance very much, Professor. I think that Luna is right… I might be suited to this kind of work and I want to discover for myself what it entails to get an educational text published as it's something I have interest in doing in the future."
"Wonderful," Ipson said happily and he paused to look at his messy drawer before looking at Hermione with a certain playful gleam in his eyes. "Would you like another Sugar Quill to celebrate or something different? Perhaps a Jelly Slug? Or maybe a Sherbet Ball?"
Shaking her head in gentle refusal, Hermione found herself laughing from sheer happiness. Looking to Luna and seeing the soft approval in her blue eyes, for the first time in a very long while, Hermione felt as if everything was right in the world and she liked that feeling very much.
They left Ipson's office holding hands and smiling, Hermione chuckling as Luna moved in front of her, swinging their hands to and fro while walking backwards. "We must go out and celebrate," Luna declared. "It's required."
"Required, is it?" questioned Hermione, quirking an eyebrow.
"It is," said Luna, nodding her head for added emphasis. "It's legally enforced."
Laughing at this and pulling Luna close to her, ceasing their walk in a deserted corridor, pressing the blonde against the cool stones of the archway. "Might I ask precisely who is the fearsome enforcer?" she teased.
"I am," Luna breathed, slipping her hands down to hook her fingers in the belt loops of Hermione's pants, pulling her forward until their bodies were pressed firmly together. The brunette kept her hands on either side of Luna's head as the blonde trailed her hands up her sides in an intimate caress. "Though fearsome isn't quite how I'd like you to describe me."
"How then?" asked Hermione, lowering her head and shivering as Luna's arms wrapped around her in a firm hold, the younger girl shifting in just the right way so their hips came in contact.
"Irresistably charming is fancied," admitted Luna and before Hermione could respond, she kissed the brunette hard and fast, causing the older girl to moan low and sweet, especially when Luna's left leg worked its way in between her thighs, bringing them in even closer contact.
When they parted, Hermione's head was low, resting on Luna's shoulder and her breath was hot on the neck of her skin as she muttered, "That's precisely what you are and it's also what makes you so very fearsome."
Chuckling happily, Luna had no response but to give Hermione another kiss. One which enforced the belief that the brunette had just stated and made her impossibly grateful to be proven right in the process.
Danse Magie Danse was the same as Hermione had remembered it but somehow Corinne wasn't nearly as bothersome upon meeting her a second time. Perhaps it was the distinct lack of flirting that occurred with Luna and the look of silent respect she held in her eyes when Hermione wrapped an arm around Luna's waist. Winding their way through the levels of the club, they finally found themselves at the edges of the large dance floor.
Luna turned to the older girl, starting to ask if she wanted to have a drink before they danced but the question never came because the instant they faced each other, Hermione pulled her into an kiss. One that continued as she led them onto the dance floor, Luna moaning into Hermione's mouth, tangling her fingers in curly brown hair as the brunette placed her hands on her hips in a steadfast hold. They continued kissing as they swayed to the music, lost in the pulse and beat of sound, aware of nothing but one another and the glorious sound surrounding them. And as it went on, Hermione realized she couldn't care in the slightest if Rita Skeeter and her horrible photographer was there this very moment, taking an endless slew of pictures of them.
The only thing that mattered was her feelings for Luna and Luna's feelings for her. As far as Hermione was concerned, the rest of the world and their approvals and disapprovals could go rot. She knew what she wanted and she knew what she felt. Though it did frighten her immensely, making her shake and tremble in Luna's arms simply because it was so much, more than she had ever experienced with another and Hermione thought it was possible to lose herself in it.
It never appealed to her, those women who suddenly became absorbed by the men they loved until there was nothing left of who they used to be as a person. Hermione couldn't understand how it was possible to love someone that much but she knew now where it came from because of Luna. She could feel herself slowly changing and while she thought they were good changes she wondered if she was becoming like those women and the thought frightened her.
All the same, Hermione wasn't sure she could stop it, she wanted, needed, Luna so much.
How did Luna feel? Sometimes it was clear as a crystal ball but there was so much about Luna that Hermione didn't understand, that she felt perhaps she would never understand, short of being inside the blonde's mind and legilimency didn't hold any sort of appeal to her. Their kisses were slowing into a lazy halt and Hermione trembled at the feel of Luna's hand resting against her cheek, her fingers softly stroking her skin.
"Something is the matter," Luna said this as a statement of fact, knowing it to be the truth.
Ducking her head, hiding it in the crook of the blonde's neck, Hermione didn't reply because she didn't quite know how. She wasn't sure what she could tell the other girl to reassure her, she wasn't even sure what had caused this mood in the first place. This was meant to be a happy night, a celebration, and there was so much to celebrate. Her new position with Ipson, her acceptance of Luna's feelings, the realization of her own feelings…
Only the fear remained and Hermione wondered if it would stay there until she said the words. Again, she found her mind drifting, this time to a conversation with Ophelia and how infuriatingly patient Luna could be. How she would wait endlessly for others to come to her just to be certain she wasn't forcing her unwanted affections onto another. There was no doubt that Luna knew her physical affections were wanted but perhaps emotional affection was in dispute because Hermione had never begun to hear those words being spoken.
As Luna's hands spread across her back, stroking it soothingly, Hermione knew it had to be said, that it was only possible way to rid herself of this last bit of fear involving their relationship. So she lifted her head, her lips a breath away from Luna's ear, arms tight around her waist, moving them closer yet as she whispered, "I love you."
She was still, terribly, horribly, still.
There was a total lack of motion the moment Luna heard these words. It was as if Hermione had broken something very essential inside of her and the brunette began to worry that she had misread Luna's affection for her and she started to pull away and it was in that instant that Luna came alive again. Her hands cupping Hermione's face, holding her in place, her blue eyes solemn and searching her deep, looking for the truth behind the words.
"I love you," Hermione said again, knowing somehow that Luna needed to hear it, though it was more seen than heard thanks to the strength of the music playing. Hermione wondered if perhaps this was the most ridiculous thing she had ever done, declaring her love for this girl on the middle of a crowded dance floor in France.
Watching Luna with lidded, concerned eyes, Hermione saw her release a cry at this and before she could respond, Luna was kissing her and Hermione felt her say the words in return. She felt them murmured against her lips in kiss after kiss, each one hungrier, more passionate than the last, she felt the words formed and she heard them murmured in a low and throaty moan. Suddenly the words no longer mattered as much as the feeling behind them, one that Hermione couldn't possibly misinterpret, not with Luna sucking long and hard on her tongue, her arms wrapping around her in a possessive hold all while they instinctively swayed to the music still playing.
Leaving Hermione to think this was the best celebration she ever had.
They barely managed to separate from one another to retrieve their wands from Corinne. The French witch had a knowing look in her eyes and a playful smile tugged at her lips as she handed the wands over. With her arm firmly wrapped around Luna's waist, Hermione gave a flick of her wrist, disapparating to the cottage in Ballyvaughan.
Moments later, they stood in Luna's bedroom and Hermione immediately flushed red, not quite sure how they wound up in that exact location. She meant to transport them to the cottage but she hadn't thought of that specific room. Or at least she wasn't aware of it if she had. In response to Hermione's embarrassed blush, Luna chuckled in soft and gentle amusement, reaching up to cup the brunette's cheek, tenderly stroking it with the tips of her fingers.
"It's fine," Luna soothed, "I was thinking the very same thing."
"But I wasn't!" Hermione protested and when Luna raised an eyebrow at this, Hermione turned redder yet, looking away from the blonde as she vaguely muttered about not wanting to seem like she was rushing Luna.
Hermione felt her chin grasped in a light touch, turning her head until she looked into Luna's blue eyes that shined with affection and the brunette felt her heart swell with emotion. "What's right can never be rushed," Luna murmured. There was a slight pause then she tilted her head to one side and questioned, "But how does this feel to Hermione?"
Instead of replying verbally, Hermione pulled Luna closer and captured her lips in a kiss. One that was slow and sensual, learning everything the blonde wanted and giving it to her. Splaying her hands on the small of Luna's back, her breath hot on the younger girl's skin, she murmured, "It feels perfect." Meeting Luna's lips for another kiss, Hermione sucked lightly on her tongue and slipped her hands down to move underneath her shirt. "You feel perfect."
"We feel perfect," Luna added, a smile in her voice as she covered Hermione's hands with her own, encouraging them upwards until they were cupping the blonde's breasts. Leaning forward, pressing the entire length of her body into the brunette, blue eyes were dark with desire and she questioned, soft and serious, "I want this. Does Hermione?"
"So much," said Hermione breathlessly, her thumbs absently caressing Luna's breasts, delighting in the sensation of the nipples becoming hard through the thin material of her bra. The blonde released a gasp, moving into Hermione's touch, one of her hands falling from the brunette's and sliding up to tangle in curly brown hair, pulling her in for a fierce kiss.
The kisses continued as they moved backwards towards the large bed covered with a checkered rainbow quilt that would have seemed quite out of place in a normal person's bedroom but this was Luna and as she had once said herself, she was anything but normal. Something that Hermione found herself incredibly grateful for because she was certain that no normal person could make her feel the way Luna did in this moment. She had never considered herself a wilting flower in bed, lying back and asking Ron to be gentle with her or any other such foolish things she had read in countless bad romance novels, but at the same time she never thought she was particularly aggressive either. Ron tended to take the lead in such things and she never found herself frustrated nor upset over the situation. It was perfectly naturally to let his desires set the pace of their sexual encounters.
For the first time in her life, Hermione was taking the lead in bed. She was certain that Luna wanted this too, she knew it with every kiss and caress the blonde returned but she also knew she was the one taking charge. That it was her escalating desire that had put them on this bed, Luna in half sitting half laying, resting back on her elbows as Hermione sucked at her neck and her hands moved eagerly down to the edge of Luna's shirt, pulling it up and over the blonde's head.
It was her desire for Luna that caused the other girl to release a low moan and push Hermione's hands down towards her pants, motioning them to follow her shirt for another quick removal. They were tugged sharply downwards, pooling at Luna's feet where Hermione hastily tossed aside her shoes and socks before following suit with her pants.
There was a moment where she was immobile. Hands resting softly against the pale skin of Luna's calves as she gazed up at the blonde. Hermione never noticed the large window on the far side of the bedroom but now it was impossible to ignore as the light from the full moon streamed through, illuminating Luna in such a way that the brunette felt her breath still in her chest. She slowly slid her hands upwards, luxuriating in the silken feel of the younger girl's skin, taking in the way she trembled beneath her touch.
Coming to a stop at Luna's inner thighs, a slight smile curving on her lips as the trembles continued, accentuated by a gasp as Hermione leaned forward, kissing her long and hard and deep, making her every intention known. One hand lay resting against Luna's flat stomach, tips of her fingers just barely playing under the blonde's panties while the other moved up her back, unhooking the bra with an ease and skill that Hermione was slightly surprised at but glad for nonetheless.
Luna was finally naked and it was the most beautiful thing Hermione had ever seen.
She kept looking at every inch of the other girl, fixed and frozen by the sight of endlessly long legs, pale skin that glowed in the light of the moon, and the soft swell of breasts, perfectly round and curved, meant to be held in her hands. Hermione was frozen but Luna was not and she smiled, sweet and playful, it pulled at her lips as she reached out to Hermione plaintively, a small pout forming on her features as she took hold of the collar of the brunette's shirt.
"Hermione is wearing entirely too many clothes," Luna murmured, her voice musical in its teasing, her chuckle reaching an ideal note as she unbuttoned Hermione's shirt while the brunette remained in place, simply watching. Pushing the shirt off, not caring where it fell on the floor, already intent on unbuckling Hermione's belt, Luna peered up at the older girl who met her gaze and arched an eyebrow at the amused expression on the blonde's face. "It isn't the least fair."
"Oh?" Hermione drawled, her eyebrow remaining arched, a smirk forming on her features. Covering Luna's hands with her own, she deftly unbuckled her belt, quickly followed by her pants as she continued, "Allow me to correct the situation?"
Wearing a smile which was oddly coquettish despite the fact she was naked, Luna laid down on her stomach, observing Hermione as she removed the last of her clothes. "If you must," she sighed, looking disappointed. "I wanted to do it myself."
"Ah," said Hermione wisely, unsnapping her bra and drawing it down her arms, a mischievous smile quirking on her lips, she dropped it on Luna's heads, laughing when the cups fell slightly over the blonde's eyes. Luna tilted her head back, her pout back in full force, making Hermione's laughter increase, though she formed a sympathetic expression as she lowered her head and kissed Luna by way of an apology, removing the bra from her head as she did so. "I'm faster."
"Speed is optimal," Luna breathed, moving into a sitting position and tugging Hermione onto the bed.
"Only in removing clothes, I should think," teased Hermione, pushing Luna back, her curly hair falling like a veil as she hovered over the younger girl. When Luna rolled her eyes at this, Hermione laughed again, kissing her soft and sweet and slow, wanting to take the time to remember every little thing about this moment. How Luna still smelled of raspberries, how her skin was smooth and strangely cool though the more of Hermione that pressed against her the hotter she became, how the blonde released the tiniest whimper when Hermione sucked on her tongue and cupped her breast, drawing them even closer together. There was always the logical part of her mind at work and Hermione knew she probably ought to be nervous somehow. After all, this was the first time she had been with another girl but that hesitation, that fear, never came. Though this was technically unfamiliar it was so very natural, as if this was meant to be and somehow she just knew, whatever happened, whatever she did, it would be right. Not only for herself but for Luna as well. That's why she surged forward, her kisses becoming more urgent as her hands started an exploration they had been desperate to begin for quite some time. While the desperation was there it was also accompanied by a need to be as perfect as she could for Luna. She knew whatever she did, they did, would be right but there was a chance it wouldn't be perfect and perfection was a standard that the brunette did like to live up to. She pulled her lips from Luna's, smiling at the groan of protest the younger girl released. Her breath falling heavy and hard, Hermione pushed a wild lock of hair from the blonde's eyes, cupping her cheek as she said, her voice low and thick with desire, "Tell me what you want?"
Again there was that silence, that stillness, then a smile lovelier than any Hermione had seen before lighted Luna's features and she rose up, kissing the brunette expertly, leaving her panting slightly when they parted. "Hermione," she whispered.
For several seconds Hermione waited for the rest but when she saw a hint of a smile and the dark glow of desire and unwavering love in Luna's blue eyes, she realized that was it. All Luna really wanted in this was to be with Hermione. That was she needed, all she wanted, and in that moment, Hermione realized something startlingly important about her relationship with Luna. From the start there had never been any expectations placed on her. Luna never held any sort of preconceived notions about Hermione and her personality and her wants and her preferences, she let Hermione simply be, never saying anything was right or wrong in her actions or her thoughts and why should that suddenly change in this moment? There was no great plan to this, it was about them being together and expressing their love and their want and oh god, Hermione moaned as Luna moved her kisses down her neck, sucking on her pulse point as her hands explored every inch of the brunette, it was about their desires.
Moving her way down Luna's body, leaving a trail of kisses as she went, Hermione's hands splayed across the blonde's pale skin, stroking and memorizing the arches and curves until it was all she knew in her mind. Stopping her journey only when she was nestled between Luna's thighs, gently nudging them further apart, her breath hot, vaguely tickling the light dusting of blonde hair and Hermione was drawn to look up, away from her intense study, and into Luna's eyes. Instantly she was struck by the look of pure and absolute lust and a sort of frantic pleading in blue eyes as they met her gaze.
"Please," was all that Luna said.
A distant part of Hermione realized she never thought about what Luna would taste like but as she parted her folds, Hermione's tongue flattened against Luna's clit for the first lick, the texture thick and salty but slightly sweet, she somehow knew it would be like this, it would be perfect and she would be intoxicated, wanting to taste more. Moving in deeper and sucking harder, taking Luna's clit in her lips, delighting in the jump of the blonde's hips and the way her fingers dug into her hair, encouraging her further. Time had escaped Hermione and nothing mattered in this moment but continuing to taste and study and read the signs of pleasure Luna was experiencing in every quiver of her body and every gasp that escaped her mouth.
When Luna came her body lifted off the bed, her toes curling into the checkered rainbow quilt, her back arching and her fingers curling into Hermione's hair, and when she was finished, she gently fell and her fingers relaxed, faintly stroking Hermione's scalp and the brunette grinned, quite pleased with herself as she rested her cheek against Luna's thigh and looked up at the blonde.
"Hermione enjoys getting good marks," observed Luna, her voice a bit shaky but entirely amused. When Hermione appeared as if she might scoff in response, the blonde reached out to her, tugging her forward until the brunette rested the length of her body against Luna. She caught Hermione's lips in a slow kiss, filled with nips and tugs, taking total control of the situation as she gently rolled the older girl onto her back, her hands resuming their exploration from earlier. Once they parted, Luna kissed Hermione's cheek, a faint nibble on her earlobe as she murmured, "But so do I."
And as pale hands, cool but growing warmer by the moment as they caressed Hermione's breasts, tweaking and teasing her nipples, making Hermione moan into Luna's mouth as the blonde kissed her lush and luxurious and long, wanting the kiss to last, stretching it out as she sucked on her tongue, tasting over and over again what the brunette had to offer, Hermione recalled with a grim sort of humor that Luna was in Ravenclaw and they were a House known not only for their knowledge but their pleasure in getting things right. Usually in the best sort of way. This definitely could be included as one of them.
Pulling back just the barest breath, Luna looked into Hermione's eyes, seeing the confusion and the want there, feeling the brunette tangling her fingers in white blonde hair, tugging her back in for another kiss. A smile curling on her lips, Luna's voice that was normally so light and airy and carefree was low and throaty and thick as she murmured, "I want to be inside Hermione." Eyes widened but no response came from Hermione and Luna lowered her head, their lips almost touching as she continued, "I want to feel Hermione clutch, throb, and pulse around my fingers. I want Hermione to squeeze me tight and scream my name when she comes. I want Hermione to know with each touch and kiss how very much I love her. But," Luna paused and that smile was back again, mischievous and infuriating in the wake of Hermione's increased lust, "what does Hermione want?"
"All of that," Hermione groaned and she pulled Luna in for a kiss, desperate for some sort of contact. When they separated and Luna slid down, capturing a nipple in her mouth, she groaned, threading her fingers through blonde hair as she said, "Everything you can give me and anything more. Whatever you want."
It was the right answer in Hermione's opinion because suddenly Luna was kissing her again. Kissing her sweetly and with such strength of conviction that the brunette was certain she could melt from the heat of it. As they kissed, the blonde shifted on top of her, hands sliding down to cup the inside of Hermione's thighs, spreading her legs apart and encouraging them upwards, and Luna pulled away from their kiss to whisper in sweet instruction, "Wrap them around me."
Moving on instinct and instruction, Hermione did as she was told, wrapping her legs around Luna's waist and she was rewarded with another kiss, her tongue captured and sucked, her body heated and ready, hips twitching at the whisper soft caress moving across her skin as Luna's right hand slipped between her legs. She gasped into Luna's mouth, moaning her name as long fingers slipped inside her, legs wrapping tight around the blonde as she felt herself lifted by the younger girl's left hand, clutching at her hip, keeping her slightly elevated as Luna moved deeper inside of her, touching a place somehow Ron had never reached.
The need to thrust down, to have Luna deeper inside of her took hold of Hermione and it was then that she realized why the blonde was clutching her hip with her left hand as she felt Luna help her. They moved together, Luna's right hand, her fingers thrusting up as Hermione and Luna's left hand thrust down. Laughing in a joyful sort of disbelief, Hermione felt her legs squeezing the blonde tighter in encouragement and it was then that Luna's thumb circled her clit. Light then hard then light again, a constant teasing and tormenting motion that accompanied the thrust of her fingers, and it drove Hermione mad.
Just as Luna had wanted, Hermione cried out her name as she came and when she came she came long and hard and what seemed endlessly by her point of view. When it was over and Luna's fingers slipped out of her, Hermione felt much like a melted piece of chocolate, hot and sticky and utterly delicious. Her legs unhooked from Luna's waist, lowered gently to the bed by the blonde who caressed them softly before looking at Hermione who watched her with a lidded gaze.
There was a shy sort of smile on Luna's lips, only a ghost of it to be seen as she moved towards Hermione, her hand reaching out to push a lock of brown hair from Hermione's eyes before cupping her cheek. Sighing and trembling as the brunette wrapped her up in an embrace, pulling her close, Luna nuzzled into the crook of Hermione's neck, burying her face there as if she was searching for something, a type of confirmation as she breathed Hermione in. After several moments of this, Luna relaxed into Hermione's arms, her voice light and airy and so very happy as she murmured, "I knew we would smell right together."
For once, Hermione understood precisely what Luna meant by this and she agreed completely with the sentiment. They did smell right together. But in her opinion, one which she intended to tell Luna after she was done kissing her, they also felt right together.
And tasted, and sounded, and looked, and pretty much all of the senses and anything else magical and more they were right together and if anyone ever said differently Hermione was sure to correct them. Because she had finally found something to love more than school and study and the pursuit of knowledge and dusty texts.
Luna Lovegood. Who smelled just right.