Luna knew that this was a predicament she never should have put herself in.

She knew, if she was completely honest with herself, that she never should have accepted Ginny Weasley's hasty invitation to go out to Hogsmeade the last night before Christmas break. Or, failing that, she should've said something when the redhead cajoled the bartender of the Hog's Head into giving them two ancient bottles of firewhiskey, or when she summoned the cigarettes, or when they found the bench, hidden so deep in the woods near the Shrieking Shack that it was easy to imagine it had wandered out here before some spell wore off, and no one but them knew it existed…

But one thing led to another, and now she was here, on a park bench with a Gryffindor-full of daring and brimstone and fire-raising a dusty blue-glass bottle of firewhiskey to clank with the other girl's-already almost drained, while Luna's was more than halfway full-a cigarette dangling lazily from her lips and wreathing the night with smoke, her heart hammering faster than it ever had before at the feel of Ginny's warmth pressed against her own, the knowledge that she was so far in tonight that none of it would matter tomorrow…

Ginny tipped the bottle to her lips, and grinned ferociously at Luna as she tossed it aside, the single careless action reminding Luna of everything the other girl was that she wasn't-daring, recklessly brave, beautiful…

Ginny, drunk as she was, seemed to recognize something of the worry in Luna's eyes, and she grinned in response. "Sorry," she proclaimed. "But you've got to admit, it was fun."

Luna shrugged, refusing to commit to agreement, but grinned at her companion as she did so, denying disagreement as well.

Ginny's reckless smile faded into something softer, and she reached out to take Luna's hand, sending shivers down her spine. "Hey, I really am sorry if…if you didn't want to do any of this. I just thought…" Ginny sighed, and dropped Luna's hand. "I really didn't think. Which is why you're the one in Ravenclaw, I suppose."

Luna had to laugh, and the sound of it lit up Ginny's chocolate eyes.

"Thank you," she murmured, and for a second Luna thought she was just talking about the laughter. "That's what friends are for," Luna reminded Ginny. "To laugh at your jokes."

Ginny smiled, and shook her head. "Not just for that, you idiot. For…for being my best friend." Luna opened her mouth to protest, and Ginny shook her head, placing a single finger on Luna's suddenly tingling lips. "Ssh. You are. The only person I have who's never hurt me. Even my diary turned out to be Lord Voldemor…" The last word trailed off, and Ginny slumped onto Luna's shoulder, eyes fluttering closed.

Luna stared down at her, heart suddenly wrung painfully together in her chest. The only person who'd never hurt Ginny…her brothers, who had all left her behind every single year of her life to go somewhere she'd never truly be able to follow them, Harry Potter, who she'd loved for so long and who'd never even looked at her in return…

Abruptly, Luna was filled with incredulous disbelief at the unfairness of the other girl's life, remembering how she'd watched and admired the other girl's strength, even when she was just a stranger willing to talk to someone whose dad was crazy and who everyone thought was crazier, and suddenly so afraid that if she ever told Ginny how she felt, she would be just another person shoveling pain onto the pale, freckled girl who looked so young and fragile in the silver glow of the moon above them…

A single tear splashed onto Ginny's cheek, and for a moment, Luna didn't realize it was hers. Then Ginny's eyes drifted open. "Don't cry," she whispered, reaching up a hand and pulling it away glistening with trickling diamonds. "Please."

Luna's breath caught in her throat, and the silent tears continued to fall. Ginny's eyes clouded with confusion-and then they cleared, and she hooked a hand through Luna's hair, pulling herself up to press her lips against Luna's.

She tasted of firewhiskey and cigarette smoke, acrid reminders that this was nothing but a mistake, but Luna didn't care. She didn't care that tomorrow Ginny wouldn't remember this, that Luna was breaking all of the rules she'd made so carefully for herself on the mornings when she couldn't look away from the Gryffindor table, or that she'd spend the rest of her life pretending this didn't happen.

Because, for once, Luna Lovegood was perfectly happy, despite the fact that she was still crying, and she wasn't going to let anything else get in the way of that.