Disclaimer: JKR owns. I only play. You do not sue.
Length: 500 words
Summary: Neville finds what he's been looking for. Maybe.
Note: Written for the Slytherin vs Mod!Squad Quidditch match at hogwarts_elite. Winning entry. *\o/*
Concrit: Always welcome and appreciated.
There are faces on the ceiling of Luna's bedroom, with a golden thread looping around them. Friends.
Neville's throat tightens with unexpected joy. "Did you do that yourself?"
Half of him expects her to say no. Why would anyone spend time painting his face across a ceiling?
"I did," says Luna.
There is no embarrassment in her eyes, no false modesty. She's changed since Hogwarts, but one thing remains: like everything about her, Luna's affection is unconditional and unashamed.
Neville could never say that about anyone else in his life. His gran demanded proof of his quality before she looked at him without doubt in the tired lines of her face. It took violence to prove his worth.
To Neville, the portrait says, "I like you just the way you are."
A man could fall in love.
For two years they are each other's world: Luna the sky and Neville the earth. They laugh over drinks with Aberforth; they walk the needle-strewn paths of the Forbidden Forest. Neville spends weekends at Luna's house. They visit the elder Weasleys for tea.
When Neville works in the greenhouses, sometimes he looks up and peers through the foliage, at a swatch of sky the colour of Luna's eyes. He's never known happiness before, but this is it.
This is it.
"I'm leaving," says Luna one day as they walk to the castle gates.
Neville grins and squeezes her hand. "Yeah. I'll see you next week--"
"I'm leaving," she insists. "On a Grand Tour, sort of. To see the world, and... Daddy's gone, now, and I'm... a little lost."
"When will you be back?"
"I don't know," says Luna. "Maybe never. I don't want you to wait."
A chip of ice breaks away and falls, irrecoverable, to the bottom of Neville's heart. "Oh."
"I love you," says Luna. It's still the truth, and plain to see. "I want you to be free."
"What if I don't want to be free?" asks Neville. Another sliver of ice is in his throat, and it is choking him a little.
"Everyone does." Luna's face is very serious; she'll brook no argument.
Neville doesn't want to hold her back, to make her regret anything. Not on his account.
He smiles, and means it.
The Lovegood-Scamander wedding ceremony is as solemn as the swarthy, dark-eyed groom. There is very little Luna in it all, until the dancing.
Neville's wife smiles and tells him to go on. So he does. "May I?"
Luna smiles like the sun, holding out her hands. As they circle-step into the crowd, Neville remembers an afternoon in greenhouse two: Luna put a sprig of parsley in her hair and insisted they dance to ward off the Spuddering Forteflies.
Luna is quiet, and Neville thinks that perhaps she's remembering it too. Six years. Then the music stops.
Garlands of Neville's best Silverbells trill in the Thestrals' black manes. Staring in the wake of the wedding carriage, Neville whispers, "I loved you best."