Sitting in a scalding stain of sun, small flies swarming overhead, Ginny says what they both already know.
“I don’t want to leave this place.”
Dusk is falling by the time she says it again. “I don’t want to leave this place.” Her feet look distorted in the cold water of the stream. Dusk is falling, but if she closes her eyes she can imagine it’s still noon and the sun’s still attacking her freckles with its midday ferocity.
What is Luna to do? She can’t stop the passage of time. She wouldn’t want to, not even if she could. Not even if Ginny would ask her. (They had a big argument about it last week. Luna wove her a straw hat to apologize.)
Luna can’t stop the passage of time, but she can try.
She gets up and yawns with her whole body, savouring it, feeling her muscles contract and relax. She sits cross-legged on the grass behind Ginny and starts drawing a pattern on her back. She doesn’t see Ginny’s wistful smile, but she feels the slight shiver that goes through her entire body.
“Remember when you saw that dead bee inside a flower? And you went back to the house to tell me about it?”
It was in July, a month ago. Luna stole Ginny’s favourite pair of shorts that morning and Ginny spent most of the day staring at her thighs, unable to focus on anything. “You sprinkled some of that weird green powder on it and we said a few words.”
Luna hums, a characteristic hm-hum sound. “And later we went to the Burrow for dinner and watched Harry make eyes at Draco over pudding.” She strokes Ginny’s hair. “And we laughed. And that’s exactly what’s going to happen when we die. Do you understand?”
Ginny leans back and lets Luna embrace her; closes her eyes and focuses on Luna’s touch.
It’s going to be alright.
The evenings start to get cold. It's another sign of the summer giving way to autumn with all its dreaded changes, and Ginny hates it, but she doesn’t hate holding Luna in her arms in front of the hearth, looking at the ever-changing flames.
“Tell me something you’ll remember about this summer,” she says, her forehead warm against the back of Luna’s neck.
“I’ll remember the bee,” Luna says after a moment. “The dead bee lying belly up in a pretty pink flower.”
Ginny smiles. “I’ll remember the way spiderwebs glittered in the sun.”
“The way raindrops spattered on that green leaf, one after the other after the other.”
“I’ll remember trying to hold onto each moment before it passed.”
Luna snorts. “I’ll remember trying to hold onto you.” She shifts in Ginny’s arms, turning to face her. She’s smirking. “I win.”
“You win,” Ginny admits, smiling back, and receives the warm weight of Luna’s body on top of hers as a reward.
“It’s the colour of the grass when you’re looking at me,” Luna tells her.
“What about it?”
“It somehow looks greener than any grass I’ve ever seen before.”
These are the colours Ginny can’t see with anyone else but Luna:
The violet of Luna’s cherry-stained hands when they’re making preserves, tightening the lids on small glass jars that look straight out of a page in a children’s picture book, with J for Jam.
The light brown mole on the side of Luna’s breast that Ginny touches every morning, when the house is humming with quiet and filling slowly with light.
The deep glistening black of the local cat’s fur toning in with the matte black of Luna’s watch strap.
The subtle difference between their tans when they’re sitting on the porch in the afternoon light.
The bright scent of Luna’s hair after she lets it dry in the sun,
“What are you doing?” Luna asks. Ginny startles and covers the paper with her hand. She erases the ink quickly with a spell once she’s sure Luna’s attention is on the bookshelf; she must have come into the room to pick something to read.
There’s no need to make a list. It’s better Luna doesn’t realise just how bad Ginny’s got it for her. Sometimes it all still feels delicate; Ginny doesn’t quite trust it to not go crashing down the minute she makes a mistake.
Luna turns away from the bookshelf and looks at Ginny with her eyebrow raised. It makes the small lie feel acutely transparent, and Ginny loves it, she does; loves feeling powerless and known the way Luna knows her. But maybe it’s better she doesn’t put into words what they both already know; not yet.
Maybe next summer.