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Six Hundred and Forty-Three Steps

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It took six hundred and forty-three steps to walk down the path from her house and over the hill, across the meadow on the other side and then past the Weasley's pond until Luna reached the Burrow. She counted, and so the first thing she said when she entered the kitchen was, "six hundred and forty-three."

Mrs. Weasley looked up from her knitting. "What was that, dear?"

"Nothing," Luna said, not really feeling up to explaining why she was counting how many steps separated her from Ginny during the summers. "Hi, Mrs. Weasley!"

"Hello, Luna. Here--" Mrs. Weasley stood up and filled up a plate with fresh lemon bars, her knitting needles going on without her. "Take this with you. Ginny's out front, painting the fence."

"Thanks, Mrs. Weasley. Did you know that there is a small oval-shaped animal that looks like a lemon? They hide out in lemon trees - camouflage, you know - and just keep on pretending they're lemons when they're picked. They're so good at pretending that you won't know the difference even if you cut them up and press them for the juice." Luna took a small bite from one of the lemon bars. "Tastes like real lemon, too. Amazing creatures, those Lemon-Headed Branchdroppers."

Mrs. Weasley frowned slightly, her gaze catching on the lemon bars. "Er, right. Well, I suppose if they taste like real lemon, no harm done."

Luna nodded. "Except to the Lemon-Headed Branchdropper unfortunate enough to be picked off the tree, of course."

"Of course," Mrs. Weasley echoed.

Luna smiled and made their way through the Burrow and towards the front door. The house was almost unnaturally quiet. Luna hadn't seen any of Ginny's brothers on her way in, and the twins alone could make enough noise for an entire army.

"Are your brothers out?" Luna asked when she crossed the grass towards the low fence surrounding the Weasley's property.

Ginny turned her head, the sunlight catching in her red hair. "Hello to you, too. And yes. Well, Percy is upstairs in his room, but the others are out with Charlie."

"Weren't you invited?"

"I'm everyone's favourite sister; of course I was invited."

At Luna's curious look, Ginny laughed. "I said no because you said you'd be coming over, dummy. Charlie isn't leaving until the weekend, and I can see my brothers any time."

"You can see me anytime, too."

Ginny smiled. "That's the best thing about living so close together."

"Lemon bar?" Luna offered.

Ginny seemed to appreciate her knowledge of the Lemon-Headed Branchdropper more than Mrs. Weasley, nodding and gasping at all the right places. She solemnly held up the last lemon bar. "To all the brave Lemon-Headed Branchdroppers who gave their lives for these lemon bars." And then she ate it in one large bite, her cheeks bulging.

Luna laughed and thought about the way Ginny's eyes sparkled when she was being silly.

They got a good part of the fence done, with minimal paint splashing, when Luna caught sight of a Purple-Leaf Wooltwig in the Weasleys' hedge. "Did you know your hedge is infested with Purple-Leaf Wooltwigs, Ginny?"

Ginny's eyes scanned the hedge. "No?"

"Right there," Luna pointed out. "They look like ordinary purple blossoms, but they're really tiny insects in disguise."

"How can you tell them apart from real blossoms then?"

Luna gave her an exasperated look. "Well, a real blossom won't fly away when you get too close, will it?"

"Okay, let's test it." Ginny dropped her paintbrush in the bucket and bent over the hedge, her hand reaching for the Purple-Leaf Wooltwig.

"Careful," Luna whispered. "They can sting."

"Hmm, looks like this one's just a blossom, though," Ginny said as her index finger bumped against the it. With a quick twist of her wrist, Ginny picked the purple blossom and reached towards Luna, sliding the stem of the little flower into Luna's hair.

"And?" Luna asked, turning her head to the side.

"Very pretty," Ginny said with a grin, "and the flower's not too bad either."

Blushing just a little, Luna couldn't help but smile. "You really think so?"

Ginny's hand trailed down from the small flower in Luna's hair to her neck, tugging slightly. Luna followed the silent call, stepping close enough that she could count every single freckle dotted across the bridge of Ginny's nose. "I like your freckles."

"I like your everything," Ginny murmured in response. She leaned in, her soft lips touching Luna's. It was only the second time they'd kissed; the first had been the day before, in the pond. They'd sprung apart when Fred and George had come crashing in at the other end. Luna had hardly been able to sleep, wondering what it all meant. Did Ginny like her? Luna knew she liked Ginny; she always had. Ginny was her best friend - her only friend, if she was honest. But she'd never imagined that Ginny might like her, too, so she'd held back today, waiting to see what Ginny would do. Ginny was always the brave one; if she liked Luna, she'd show it.

"So you do like me," Luna said when Ginny slowly pulled back from their kiss.

Ginny laughed, and Luna's stomach did a funny thing. Probably all the Lemon-Headed Branchdroppers in the lemon bars.

"Yeah, I like you," Ginny said. She looked down at the half-finished fence. "I think we've done enough for today. Kiss me again?"


Ginny's smile was soft, and her voice quiet as she said, "I'll hold you to that."

And then they were kissing again, Ginny's arms around Luna's neck and Luna's arms around Ginny's waist. Ginny tasted like lemon and summer and she smelled like jasmine-scented shampoo. Luna felt warm, almost hot, where they were pressed together, and the glint of sunlight off Ginny's hair was the most beautiful thing she'd ever seen.

Luna couldn't imagine a better way to spend a summer's day.