Disclaimer: I own nothing and make no profit
Acknowledgments: Rpeh for some beta work and idea bounding.
Notes: Part two of my four part series of Christmas challenges.
Luna snored. She didn't snore loudly, but she still snored. Harry rolled over in bed and looked at her. She always slept flat on her back. He watched her for a moment and then turned to see the clock. It read eight fifty-nine. He frowned and rolled onto his back.
It had been a surprisingly rough year, altogether much harder than Harry had thought it would be. It had started blissfully enough. Their early December wedding had been a rather quiet affair. It was mostly just people Harry knew from Quidditch, teammates and the like, Ron and Hermione, and the rest of the Weasley family. Well, except for Ginny.
Whoever had two weeks in the pool for how long their truce after the World Cup was the winner. But it had only taken Ballycastle thrashing Holyhead to end everything between them once again.
He rolled back onto his side, not the least bit tired at the early hour, and stared at Luna. He wondered how his first thought when seeing her back what felt like a decade ago wasn't simply how beautiful she was. Perhaps, at the time, her quirkiness has blinded him. Or maybe at fourteen she simply wasn't as pretty as she was now.
He leaned over and kissed her on the forehead as lightly as he could muster, taking in the scent of her vanilla shampoo. At the touch of his lips on her skin she groaned and rolled onto her side, back to him.
"Sleepy," she muttered into the darkness, pressing her behind into him. Harry didn't say anything in response, but instead just held her until she drifted off again. Once he was sure she was out he slipped from the bed and looked around the tent.
Yes, he thought to himself, the tent.
Taking an anniversary vacation to Sweden had sounded like such a pleasant way to celebrate their first year as husband and wife. So, when she'd suggested it, seeming rather sheepish to even do so, he'd agreed immediately.
He had images of relaxing in fancy hotels, wandering through Swedish cities and towns, and enjoying Christmas customs in another land. He'd actually thought the two of them being completely alone for the holiday sounded like a wonderful change of pace.
But what he'd gotten. Was hiking and camping. He'd tried to be a good sport about it. Really, he had. But it was growing harder and harder. They were six days in to their three-week trip and he was losing his damn mind.
And it wasn't even like they were muggle camping. That would have been even worse. No at least he had a controlled environment, access to real food, Kreacher a word away, and the ability to get back to civilization in a split second.
He debated making that retreat far more often than he wanted to publicly admit. In fact, even now, he thought about popping back to Stockholm or anywhere with a hotel, decorations, and a bar.
Okay, that wasn't fair. The tent had a Christmas tree. A real one too. Well, if something magically preserved and decorated counted as real. Harry figured it did.
In fact, really, something more festive showed up every time they set up the tent. He was sure Luna was doing it. But he couldn't figure out exactly how or when she was doing it. He wanted to ask her, but he figured that would spoil it somehow. Instead he focused on trying to catch her in the act. He wanted to tell her how much he loved all of the new decorations as she was doing it. He thought that would make it sweeter.
Catching her had proven to be rather difficult. He was always the last one out of the tent, and the one that packed it up, and then put it out. And usually the first person to enter it. And he made sure to watch her before she stepped outside every morning.
And yet, every single time he entered there was something new. The first day it had been the tree, glowing from magical candles and sparkling with tinsel. He'd marveled at it and laughed merrily, figuring it was something Luna had done that he'd just not noticed when she set up.
But the second night there was a wreath hanging on the inside of the door and mistletoe littered all over the tent. Luna had insisted that they kiss under each sprig. And Harry was certainly not opposed to that. Especially because there were quite a few sprigs above the bed.
He stepped into the kitchen and opened the ice box. Luna wasn't a big fan of beer, so they'd brought more wine than beer. But he'd made sure there were a few. He pulled one out and flicked the cap off, taking a long swig and sitting down in one of the stools at the island in the kitchen.
He glanced toward the bed and frowned as he watched Luna roll back onto her back. She reached out into his spot on the bed, but her arm just fell dead there and she snored once more.
She'd been more affectionate in their time in Sweden than since very early in their wedded days. And he wasn't one to protest against that. When she'd insisted on all of the kisses he'd happily obliged, giggling with her each time their lips parted.
He took another sip of beer. Still frowning at the thought of not being in a metropolitan area. He had debated a few nights previously actually sneaking outside and apparating back to town for a night. But deep down he knew that if Luna found out she'd be beyond heartbroken. So, he'd stayed in the tent. Just like he was doing now.
He slid his fingers over the garlands that wrapped around the edge of the island. They'd shown up on day three, frosted in enchanted snow that never left the branch. They were also wrapped around the stools and above the fireplace. Although icicles were affixed to the one above the fireplace.
At that point he'd started paying careful attention to the tent when they broke camp. He'd spend far too much of the next day wandering around outside in the snow while wondering just how things showed up and when.
He knew she was waiting for him to ask. But that would be letting her win. And he was far too competitive to let her win. So instead he just watched as new things showed up day after day with no real rhyme or reason.
The last one, though, he wasn't quite sure how she'd top. A single stocking hung at each end of the fireplace. The one on the left was scarlet and gold and embroidered with 'Harry' up the side. It was decorated with a knit lion, snitches, brooms and Buckbeak, or what looked like him. The one on the right was silver and blue and embroidered with 'Luna' up the side. It was decorated with images of socks, a threstral, a raven and the moon.
Harry had examined them while Luna had bathed that night. They were handmade with an obviously painstaking care. He wondered just when she'd had the time. But deep down he knew exactly when she'd found the time.
He washed that thought out of his brain with a rather large gulp of alcohol. It was nice.
He slipped from the barstool and paced around the tent. But he knew that was a fairly stupid pursuit and would result in nothing more than annoying Luna if it woke her. He went and leaned against the counter for lack of anything better to do and continued on with his drink.
Still he couldn't figure out when the decorating was being completed. She was so tired after their daily hiking she rarely stayed awake much passed whatever dinner they had. Only once had they resorted to summoning Kreacher to cook for them. The rest of the time Harry had while Luna practically dozed at the counter.
And she slept like a rock. He was up before her every morning, which was slightly unusual, but he never seemed quite as tired as her. He wondered if she was exhausting herself more than just during the day.
A pang shot through him at that. Could she be doing all of the decorating while he slept? Sneaking around and putting forth all that effort before he woke and then crawling back into bed? And the whole time she was probably just waiting for him to appreciate it. That thought stung him even more than leaving her alone.
Which really just forced the thoughts of leaving her alone back into his mind, quickly filling it with images of her laboring over stockings. He didn't like it. She'd long since confessed to him that she really disliked being alone. And it didn't help that she hated Grimmauld place.
And Harry couldn't blame her. He knew exactly what it reminded her of. Although it had bothered him that it had taken so long for her to admit it and him to realize it. They'd spent far more time in his small Ballycastle apartment than in his larger home. He'd already started to investigate real estate options. He knew she'd like a house of her own. But he couldn't find something he could see her in.
He knew that it was probably more likely he'd pick out lingerie she'd actually wear than a house she'd actually like. And it had been a bit of a bone of contention between the two of them.
But he wanted to find multiple options and go with her to look and then work with her to narrow them down. He just didn't want it to seem like he was buying a house to have somewhere to put her. He'd found that he really enjoyed cities more than the country, but Luna never seemed comfortable amongst the hustle and bustle.
Whenever they talked of living arrangements the topic grew rather tense. It hurt him to see she was unhappy. And he could tell she was unhappy easily enough. Yet he really didn't wish to argue with her about it. And he knew no matter where they lived town was, at worst, a fistful of floo powder away.
But no matter how he tried to broach the subject they just wound up arguing. Really, he thought, he was a very wealthy professional quidditch player. And he made way too much money to permanently reside in a one-bedroom apartment in Ballycastle.
He'd made the mistake of actually voicing that aloud during one of their more minor arguments. And, perhaps unsurprisingly, it had immediately escalated into their worst row.
At two points in his life people had told him the first year of marriage would be the hardest by far. His first go around it hadn't seemed difficult, but in hindsight his marriage with Ginny was arguably well over before the end of the first year.
He hadn't even really reflected on those words until that argument.
Dwelling on that memory wasn't an ideal way to pass the time, though. He did his best not to. Unfortunately, at that moment, his best was simply finishing his beer. He vanished the bottle and summoned another one to him.
He flipped the cap off and took another swig before standing again. He had too much energy to stay inside the tent. He scribbled a quick note, leaving it on the counter, and stepped over toward the door, stepping into his boots which he'd left beside it, and stepped out into the cold December air in the mountains of Sweden.
It only took him a minute to realize just how terrible of an idea that was. The mountains of northern Sweden were not a very hospitable place to a young man in shorts and a t-shirt. Although, the boots did help to ward against the snow.
Thankfully, though, that young man also happened to be a wizard. And magic could do wonderful things. Sure, it wasn't advisable to rely purely on warming charms, and most of them were more mental placebo than anything else. But he knew enough magic to prevent himself from freezing to death.
He didn't trudge far from the tent anyway. He transfigured some fallen sticks into a chair and then conjured a magical fire before him and stared up at the sky. He knew it was probably dangerous to do so, but he felt confident enough in his own abilities incase anything came. But he thought he was still close enough to the tend to be protected by the area defenses on it.
He stared at the fire for a few moments before turning his gaze upward to the twinkling stares. They were really quite beautiful up here. He searched for the constellations he remembered from Astronomy before his gaze rested on the three-quarter moon and his thoughts drifted toward the past.
He'd stumbled home after a rather late match. Well, not home, he'd thought to himself. The apartment wasn't home. It didn't feel like home. It was too cramped and small and in too quiet of a part of town.
It seemed odd to him, if he thought about it, that when he was trying to sleep he missed the noise and omnipresent light of London. The quiet and still darkness always left him feeling on edge. It reminded him too much of points in his life he'd rather forget. But sometimes, like tonight, it just didn't seem feasible to travel that far.
It didn't help that he'd had a few beers after the match without really eating anything, either.
He made his way through the entryway and up the stairs to the apartment. It was a magical building, but the landlord had placed extensive anti-alteration charms on it. Harry had seriously considered breaking them and altering the place to something more suitable for him.
But when he'd gone to work on that he found that the charms were quite intertwined with the building and he couldn't really remove them without demolishing the entire thing. Which he figured would be rather problematic. Although his teammates on the Bats would probably be incredibly amused by the headlines that followed.
Instead he figured he'd just bear it until his lease was up at the end of the year. Or so he'd figured. But he hadn't counted on his wife.
It was still strange thinking of her as that. He'd never really gotten used to it with Ginny, either. And it still rang oddly in his thoughts. Mostly he'd given up with trying to make it sound normal. He didn't like thinking of her as his wife, or even his Luna. He didn't like qualifying her with a possessive. He just liked thinking of her as Luna.
It amused him how much different she was from Ginny. Where Ginny had never been around, Luna was always around. He liked it, at first. At least until he realized that he needed to sneak away if he wanted to be alone. And there were points in his life when Harry liked being alone. He'd grown accustomed to it in his youth and there were simply points when he wanted to be left alone.
In his adult life he'd simply gone home for those periods. But now when he went home Luna was there. He couldn't order her away. Nor did he really want to. But he also couldn't think of a way to tell her he wanted to be left alone without hurting her feelings.
So instead he'd head to a bar and drink too much. She'd be annoyed with him when he came home. And then he'd feel bad. It was a dysfunctional cycle he wasn't sure how to break.
He entered the apartment, rather surprised to find candles ablaze as he did. A look at the clock showed it was quarter past one, which was typically well past Luna's bedtime. He saw her on the couch, reading one of Scamander's books. He couldn't see the title page but he thought it was just a collection of essays the zoologist had written in the forties.
Harry frowned and wondered why she was still awake. She didn't look at him when he entered. But he could already feel the tension building in the room, like she was making an intentional effort to not look his way.
"Your birthday is February, we got married in December, what holiday did I miss?" he asked quietly. He saw a pot of tea on the counter and warmed it with a flick of his wand before pouring himself a cup.
"You didn't miss anything," she said stiffly.
"Why are you still up then?" he asked. Her mouth twitched.
"Is that a problem?" she responded, more coldly than he could remember her ever really sounding. She closed the book and put it on the bedside table.
"Not at all," he said. "It's just unusual."
"I guess," she said. She stood picked up the mug of tea that was next to her on the couch. She stepped into the kitchen, ducking around him as she did, and cleaned it with a flick of her wand before putting it back in the cupboard.
She was wearing flannel pajama pants with a matching flannel long-sleeved shirt. Both were too big for her and hung off her like a gigantic blanket. He disliked her choice of pajamas. But there was certainly no good way of broaching that subject.
He tried to imagine the conversation. The worst part was that deep down he knew if he said, 'Hey Luna, could you maybe wear less to bed so I can leer at your legs and touch your skin while we cuddle?' that she probably would. But what would that make him? How could he ask her to sacrifice her own comfort for his general amusement? That made him feel like a creep just thinking about it.
"What's up?" he asked
"Nothing," she said.
"This doesn't feel like nothing," he responded, taking a sip of the tea.
"No it's," she shrugged her shoulders and leaned back against one of the cabinets.
"What is it, Luna?" Harry asked, finding himself growing impatient.
"Why is our lease renewal in the garbage?" she blurted out. Harry blinked a bit at her. His first thought was that her name wasn't on it. And as such it wasn't really theirs. His second thought was that his first thought was incorrect and what was his was also hers.
"I hate this place," Harry said.
"I don't," Luna said.
"It's small and cramped and feels too sterile and I can't do anything to it to make it feel like home and it's awful," Harry continued without really hearing her.
"It feels safe," Luna said.
"What?" Harry laughed. Luna turned bright red and turned to run but had to go through him to get out of the small kitchen and he caught her easily. She hid in his chest for a moment before taking one long breath and stepping away from him.
"I don't want to leave," she said.
"But this place is terrible," Harry said. "And I hate writing rent checks."
"This is my home," Luna frowned. Harry just stared at her and then looked around the apartment.
"This?" He raised his eyebrows at her. "There's like nothing of us here. It's so sterile."
"I don't want to move to London," she said. "I hate Grimmauld Place. It's so dark and it reminds me…." She stopped talking mid-sentence.
"We don't have to mo-wait. You hate my house?" Harry asked.
"Yes," she said quietly.
"But why?" he asked.
"It's dark and creepy," Luna said.
"I'm working on that," Harry said.
"You change like one thing a month. Maybe," Luna said. "I'm the one left there when we stay there."
"It's not like you have to sit around," Harry said.
"It's like being back at Malfoy manor," Luna continued.
"What?" Harry blinked.
"It makes me feel like I'm locked in the basement wondering what they'll do to me next," she said sternly. "It's cold. It's dark. And it's terrifying."
"You can't actually mean that," Harry said.
"I do," Luna said.
"That's ridiculous," Harry said.
"Oh? So, you think I'm ridiculous? Just being Loony?" Luna said.
"No, I don't think that at all," Harry said.
"Sure you don't. Do you think I can't tell what people are thinking about me when they look at me? You think I don't understand those glances? They've followed me for my entire life," Luna snapped.
"You never said anything!" Harry responded.
"Because I knew you'd react like this! And we spend more time here anyway!" Luna said.
"Only because it's during the season," Harry responded.
"Well I would have brought it up when you weren't focused on quidditch," Luna said. "And I don't want to have to floo to Ballycastle every day for work."
"But still, this place?" he asked.
"I like this place. You never said you hated it," Luna responded.
"Well it is pretty awful," Harry said.
"It's perfectly fine!" Luna said.
"It's tiny, and cramped, and we can't do anything with it," Harry said.
"Cramped? You don't like being close to me?!" Luna flushed red and looked close to tears as she spoke.
"No! I love being close to you!" Harry said, wondering if constantly trying to hold her and cuddle sort of gave that away or not. "I just want someplace that's mine. Where we can stretch out, and actually do something with it. Don't you want something yours?"
"I can't afford something mine," Luna said. "And I don't want to be a housewife. I don't want to quit my job. I know it's stupid but I like it."
"It's not stupid," Harry said. "But, well, you don't need to be able to afford anything. I can afford pretty much anything we could need."
"That's not the point!" Luna said. She balled her hands together and stared at him for a moment before just shaking her head. "You know what, I don't want to argue. I'm going to bed."
"I'll join you," Harry said, perhaps too hopefully.
"No," Luna said. "Not tonight. Please not tonight."
"I, uhm, okay," Harry said, watching her step into their bedroom and close the door. He remembered remembering that he hadn't even realized there was a door, as they'd never closed it before. It immediately made the apartment feel even smaller than it was.
He frowned and peeled off his shirt and pants before transfiguring the rest of his clothing into pajamas and then he conjured a pillow and a blanket and tossed himself onto the couch and stared at the ceiling. He started counting the popcorns on it as a means of trying to sleep.
A rustling in the woods caused him to slip from the memory. His gaze shot toward the trees. He didn't see anything moving, but that wasn't enough to prevent him from leveling his wand on the tree line.
The wind gusted again the trees rustled once more. Harry tensed for a moment as they did, half expecting a lion or something absurd to come pouncing out at him, knowing full well that there were no lions in the Swedish mountains.
Well no African lions at least. There could be a mountain lion. But it was stupid to worry about that. No if he was going to be worried about some sort of random creature, he should be worried about a Swedish Short-Snout or a Norwegian Ridgeback.
He frowned and thought it was best if he not worry about fighting off a dragon unless he absolutely had to. Of course, so far, the most dangerous thing they'd encountered had been a handful of Glumbumbles on day to. But Luna had distracted them long enough for them to escape unharmed.
Harry decided he was safe, at least for the time being, and went back to remembered being very worried that night. He'd lain on the couch and wondered just what he should have done differently. The obvious answer was talk to her earlier about it. But he hadn't even realized she hated Grimmauld Place. He remembered feeling absolutely lost and wondering if it was the beginning of the end. It had been the only time his relationship with Luna had felt like his relationship with Ginny.
It had taken him over an hour of worrying, an hour of wondering exactly what he should do or say, an hour of reviewing every response in his head and wondering just what should have been different, before he finally drifted off to sleep.
He was awoken what felt like moment later. But it had been at least a few hours, he knew, because the first vestiges of morning light were filtering into the living room. A familiar vanilla scented weight rested on him. He lifted his hands and wrapped them around her.
"I'm sorry," she whispered.
"Me too," he said.
"Forgive me?" she asked.
"Depends on how much my back and neck hurt when I become coherent," Harry said.
"I'll brew you a pain potion," Luna responded.
"I'd prefer a massage," Harry said.
"Call the team trainer," she responded.
"Ouch," Harry responded.
"We're okay?" Luna asked quietly.
"Always," Harry said.
"I'd forgotten how much I hated sleeping alone," she said.
"Me too," Harry yawned, feeling the warmth and exhaustion start to overtake him once more. "But here I thought you felt I was a bit too handsy."
"You are," Luna wiggled against him. "But I still like having you there."
"Uh-huh, sure," Harry teased while cupping her bottom in one hand. She squirmed more against him but didn't protest.
"You really hate it here?" she asked.
"Yes," he responded. "But not because of you. I just. I guess I really don't like paying rent, or the landlord, or the specific apartment. I mean I like Ballycastle. I don't want you to quit your job. But if you wanted to, I mean, I wouldn't stop you."
"I don't want to," she said.
"I know," he responded.
"Although I am really sick of the girls making comments about my ring," Luna said.
"Did I go overboard?" Harry asked, wondering if she'd drop another bomb on him. He'd spent what felt like months trying to pick it out. He'd dragged Titus and Jason to look as well. But he soon realized that their opinions were beyond unhelpful.
Eventually he'd settled on a round diamond with a halo of sapphires around it set on a white gold band. When he'd given it to her and asked the question she'd hyperventilated, then beamed, then cried, then beamed and then finally told him yes.
"Not as much as you could have," Luna said. "And I love it. And Megan is fine because she knows you. But the other girls wonder what little odd Luna is doing with a huge diamond on her finger."
"Mean of them," Harry said.
"People are mean," Luna responded. "Especially unhappy ones."
"They can be," Harry agreed, figuring that was his best option at the moment. He wanted to refute her statement, but he couldn't really do so. He knew full well people could be terrible even if he often chose to believe in them.
"They're just jealous anyway," Luna said, dismissively.
"They should be I am pretty amazing," Harry said. Luna snorted.
"You didn't hear that," she said.
"Yes, ma'am," Harry said.
"I am not old enough to be a 'ma'am' please don't ever call me that again. And don't respond 'yes, ma'am' right now, either," Luna said. Harry fought the urge to make a witty retort, but decided on redirecting the subject.
"Do you really hate London?" he asked, countering her earlier question.
"Yes," Luna said quietly.
"Why?" he asked.
"It's crowded and dirty and smells," Luna said. Harry opened his mouth, but closed it right away and took a moment to not respond with how silly he found that.
"I see," he said instead.
"I don't like cities. They make me feel claustrophobic. And afraid. Ever since—" Luna started.
"I know," Harry said as it clicked in his mind. They'd found her at the train station.
She was going to Knight Bus from King's Cross to The Leaky Cauldron to use the public floo there to get back to her house and her father. But she'd decided that since it was a nice day she'd walk a bit first.
She'd set out into muggle London. And she'd enjoyed it. Everything was decorated and in full holiday swing. She'd spent quite a bit of time looking in windows and smiling at people and Christmas gifts and enjoying the holiday cheer.
He could picture her easily. She'd been young and naïve, not worried about anything. Not thinking Death Eaters would look for her in the city. Not thinking they would even think that Looney Lovegood could be a person of interest. He could see her protuberant eyes marveling at everything, giving her that surprised look he loved so much.
But they had decided Looney Lovegood was a target. Because she knew Harry Potter. And because her father was printing nasty things about them. So they reverted quickly to form and decided that the easiest way to shut him up would be to take his daughter.
They'd stalked her. She'd felt it. But she couldn't put a finger on the feeling. But it frightened her. Her instincts had told her to stay around people. But all the people around her were muggles, so she couldn't really tell anyone, or summon the Knight Bus. And she hadn't learned how to apparate yet, either.
She weaved through the streets, trying to figure out the best way to the Leaky Cauldron without leaving the crowded streets. But the dread filled her. She'd see something out of the corner of her eye, but when she'd look there would be nothing. Or she'd feel something behind her and then flash around to see nothing.
It hadn't mattered. The feeling just grew worse and worse. She tried to flee from it. To move further and further away from it. But it didn't work. No matter where she went she could feel their lingering presence behind her.
Eventually she made a wrong turn and wound up in a dark alley. She turned back to leave and they were there. Four of them. Her instincts kicked in and screamed to fight. She drew her wand and managed to get a stunner off into one of the men. But four on one wasn't particularly good odds.
They'd pinned her to the wall and taken her.
She'd been stuck at the manor, at least physically, until he'd rescued her. Sometimes he thought she was still there mentally. But he didn't know how to broach that subject with her.
She'd told him everything that had happened in the manor in a drunken stupor one night. Her talking after too many glasses of wine, her crying, her recounting everything, had been one of the worst nights of his life.
He'd cried with her, he'd held her, he'd told her that no matter what she thought, and no matter what they did to her or told her, she was good enough for him. No, she was too good for him. He was lucky she'd settled for him.
"So, cities are bad," he said, trying his best to not think any more about where his mind was going. Trying not to picture her, his beautiful young wife, in those evil situations.
"London is bad," Luna said.
"And my house is bad," Harry said. "Because it's in London?"
"Well that doesn't help it," Luna said.
"What is it?" Harry asked.
"I'm almost positive that it shared the same interior decorator as Malfoy Manor," Luna said.
"Ah," Harry responded.
"I mean if we gutted it," Luna said.
"Not if you don't like London," Harry said.
"But you like London," Luna said.
"I like a lot of places," Harry said.
"Like?" she asked.
"Well I like Ballycastle," he said.
"But not here," she said.
"Well right now here is pretty nice," Harry said.
"If I lay on you constantly we'll be fine?" Luna said.
"I thought we established we were already fine?" Harry asked.
"Well yes, but what happens if I get off?" she asked.
"Let's worry about that later," Harry said.
"Okay, later," she said quietly. "When is later?"
"I don't know," Harry said.
"Okay," Luna said. She was silent for a few moments before whispering. "What do you want, anyway?"
"You," Harry said without hesitation.
"I would have thought that the ring and adopting your last name would have indicated my stance on that," Luna said.
"I can be slow," Harry said.
"I know," Luna said. Harry chuckled quietly under his breath.
"I hadn't really thought about it too much. I think like a nice two story out on the coast. Maybe overlooking it up on some cliffs. A little garden. Close enough to walk into town if the mood took me, but far enough away to be secluded," Harry admitted, picturing it in his head. Luna was quiet for a moment. Harry wondered what was going through her head. He wondered just what she thought of him. He wondered if she thought he wanted a grand manor with a lady of the house and more gold leaf than should be legal.
"That sounds nice," Luna said, her body pressing back into his as she spoke.
"I thought so," Harry said, feeling calm rush through him. He knew nothing was settled yet. He knew things would still be rough here or there. But he also knew that they'd be able to move past things. That they just need to talk it out.
The trees startled him again. He slashed his wand over toward them, images of Graphorns flashing through his head. But nothing emerged. And nothing seemed out of the ordinary on the windy night.
He chuckled to himself, knowing full well that there was nothing to actually worry about. Or at least hoping that there was nothing to actually worry about. He relaxed in his chair and watched the window blow the pines. He refreshed his fire with a flick of his wand and turned his gaze toward the tent, thinking that perhaps he should return to the tent.
But he decided against it, instead taking a moment to sip his beer. He'd at least wait until he'd finished that. And then maybe even get another one, before he thought about trying to sleep.
The beer, some type of ale aged in Firewhiskey barrels, warmed him what felt like nearly as much as the warming spell he'd used to withstand the cold. His eyes flashed once more to the trees as the branches rustled once more.
"Harry?" Luna called from the tent. He let his gaze linger on the trees for another moment before looking back to the tent.
"Out here," Harry said.
"It's freezing," Luna said, waving her wand over herself. Fur lined boots appeared on her feet and a fur lining sprouted out of her nightgown as part of her own warming spell filled her. She stepped toward the fire as Harry waved his wand and conjured another chair. She handed him a fresh beer as she sat next to him.
"Thanks," he said. He finished his first one and then vanished the bottle before starting on the second. She took a sip of her own and then turned her gaze to the sky.
"Stargazing?" Luna asked, referencing the note he'd left.
"Well it seemed like a nice night, and the air is so clear up here. I thought it would be a shame to waste it," Harry said. He winced as soon as it came out as Luna took another sip of her beer.
"Sorry for being tired," she said.
"It's alright," Harry smiled. "I wasn't too far off of joining you, anyway."
"I still wish I wasn't so tired at the end of the day," Luna said.
"It's fine we're doing a lot of hiking and exploring during the day. It's certainly understandable," Harry said. Luna frowned at the patronizing nature of the comment.
"Still," she sighed. She turned her gaze to the forests as Harry turned his own to the clear skies.
"It really is beautiful up here," he said.
"It is. I always loved how clean it all felt. And fresh. And piney," Luna said.
"It is quite nice," Harry said, debating if 'piney' was a word but figuring since he wasn't Hermione he didn't need to call her on it.
"Did you see that?" Luna asked, sitting up in her chair and gazing into the tree line with furrowed brows.
"Probably just the wind," Harry said. "I've thought I've seen something a couple of times, but nothing comes out. I think it's just the wind rustling the pine needles."
"Probably," Luna said. She gazed toward the tree line for a few more minutes before relaxing into her chair. "I think the defenses on the tent stretch out further than that anyway. But…"
"But what?" Harry asked.
"I thought I saw red in the trees," Luna said. "Not just movement."
"Must be the fire playing ticks," Harry said.
"Must be," Luna agreed half-heartedly. She turned her gaze to the sky then, smiling at the constellations above her. Harry watched her. He liked watching her. He loved her profile, her eyes, her smile. But then he saw it. A faint red glowing orb in the tree line. A red glow that instantly reminded him of Lord Voldemort's eyes. Except there was only one orb floating in the trees.
His out-of-practice Auror instincts took over before his brain. He shot up and leveled his wand on the trees. The orb dimmed but didn't vanish.
"Luna get back to the tent," he said sternly.
"What why?" she asked. But then her eyes found where he was looking.
"I don't know what that is," he said. "But it's obviously infiltrated our charms."
"Then what's the point of the tent?" Luna asked, standing by his side and leveling her own wand on the trees.
"Good point," Harry said.
"Come out," Luna said to the trees. "We see you." The red light flashed again for a moment before dimming lower than before. A soft noise emanated from the forest. But it was nothing Harry understood.
"We don't understand," he said. "Show yourself and we won't harm you." For a moment nothing happened. But then Luna stepped closer to the trees. Harry tried to block her but instead just moved with her. The light dimmed again and Luna froze.
But then it grew closer. And closer. And closer. Until an abomination broke through the trees.
No, Harry thought, that was too harsh. It was ugly, for sure, but calling it an abomination was too far. He stared, taking in what he was seeing.
"Oh," Luna's voice hitched as it came to her well before it came to him. "Oh Merlin." And she ran forward, slipping away from his outstretched hand as he tried to hold her back, and wrapping her arms around the creature.
At first Harry thought it was a purple camel. But that wasn't right. It's fur seemed to shimmer between fur and scales, and differing shades of purples, blues and pinks. It had a single hump of a back, but the legs were much shorter than a creature one could ride.
"Mrawm?" It intoned as Luna squeezed it. It kept it's long and flat face focused on Harry. It almost seemed to be asking permission so Harry just nodded. It nuzzled into Luna then and Harry noticed the horn. It was perhaps a foot and a half long and crimped every few inches. The tip of it glowed red as it nuzzled her.
"Harry!" Luna gasped. "Are you….are you….are you seeing…this?" She struggled to get the words out as sobs shot through her.
"I am, love," he said, his wand still leveled on the creature.
"They exist, Harry. They exist! It's real!" Luna gasped.
"What?" Harry asked, lowering his wand and stepping toward it.
"It's a Crumple-Horned Snorkack!" she yelled. Harry stopped dead in his tracks and looked at it. Memories of her defending their existence firing through his mind. Harry stepped up toward it. One of it's eyes slid to him, slowly, and focused on his wand. He lowered it and tucked it into his pocket before reaching out and touching it.
"It's freezing," Harry said.
"Mrawm," the Snorkack toned.
"Come by the fire," Luna said, stepping back from it. It looked at her and tilted it's head to the side. And then a loud crack echoed through the mountains. When they turned the Snorkack was sitting curled next to the fire.
"Did it just apparate?" Harry asked.
"I think so!" Luna exclaimed, taking out her wand and pointing it at the tent. "Accio notebook!
"How could it possibly," Harry said.
"It must be super powerful for a creature," Luna said. The Snorkack just focused on Luna. She sat back in her chair and flipped the notebook to an empty page. Harry watched from behind her as she started to sketch it.
He saw the fervor take her over as she started to document everything about the creature as if determined not to miss a detail. They both let her work in silence.
"Thank you," Harry whispered at the creature when he was sure she was too absorbed in her work to notice.
"Mrawm," it said in response. It seemed to know every moment when Luna needed something. It would turn, or shift, or change position on command. And then when she'd finished drawing it, it let her examine and prod it.
The examination took well over an hour. It seemed to understand when she was done and chose that exact moment to stand and nuzzle her once more After a moment it nodded at Harry and with one more 'Mrawm' it disappeared with another loud crack.
"I don't believe it," Luna said, turning to him.
"Me either," he said. "Is that why you wanted come to Sweden?"
"No. I mean it's why my dad and I used to come here. But that was always in summer. I just remembered liking being here. I was actually going to suggest we spend another week in Stockholm when we got back. I really just wanted to explore a bit. I didn't think we'd actually find anything. I just like being out in the woods really."
"Will anyone believe us?" he asked.
"I don't know that I'll tell anyone," Luna said.
"Why not?" Harry asked.
"It seemed nice. I don't want people swarming it and trying to hurt it," she said.
"It did," Harry agreed as he watched her sign and date her notes with her wand before levitating the notebook back to the tent.
"When did you decorate the exterior of the tent?" she asked.
"I didn't," Harry said, turning to look at the tent. It was now lined with ornamental decorations, the fire from their small camp reflecting in them, causing them to sparkle. "But I had been meaning to compliment you on the decorations in the tent."
"I thought you were decorating the tent," Luna said.
"I suck at decorating," Harry said.
"Well I haven't been doing it," Luna said. "I thought you were doing it when I was sleeping."
"I thought you were doing it before I woke up," Harry said.
"No, not me," Luna said.
"Well then who is breaking in and doing it?" Harry asked.
"Kreacher?" Luna suggested.
"No. Not like him. Wait, you don't think?" Harry turned back toward the fire and stepped toward where the creature had rested next to it.
"No way, how could it possibly?" she asked.
"How could it apparate?" he asked.
"Well I don't know it obviously had some sort of magic," Luna said as Harry kneeled next to where the creature had been moments before. He reached for something on the ground, his fingers rubbing against the fabric as he lifted it up. A soft jingle emanated around the mountain as he held it up.
"Uh, Luna?" he asked. He held up a plain white stocking with red trim and a jingle bell on the toe. It was decorated with a bright yellow sun, crossed broomsticks, a bright red quaffle, and a purple creature that looked surprisingly like a camel. Letters up the side of it spelled out the word 'Aurora'.
"Uhm," Luna blushed as she saw it. She looked away from him.
"Luna?" Harry asked again.
"Yes," she nodded, bringing her gaze back to him.
"Yes?" Harry asked. "Yes as in you're acknowledging me or yes as in yes?"
"Yes," Luna nodded and took a deep sha2ky breath before adding. "Yes." There was a brief flash of red light from the trees again, but neither of them noticed as Harry took her into his armed and kissed her hard.
"How long?" he asked.
"Eight to ten weeks," Luna said. "I haven't actually gone to the healer yet but I just know."
"Wow," Harry said.
"I'm sorry we didn't get to talk about it," Luna said. "I wasn't even trying. I must have messed up the potion somehow. Please don't be mad."
"Why would I be mad?" Harry asked. "I'm excited. I'm happy."
"Me too," Luna smiled brightly at him, her eyes wide and adoring. "And I guess you were right."
"About what?" Harry asked. Luna made an annoyed face at him.
"We're going to need another bedroom," she said. His lips met hers a moment later. When they parted he whispered to her.
"I think I found one we should look at. It's a two-story stone cottage just outside of town. Up on the cliffs by the sea. Lots of land. Needs some work, but we are magical," Harry said.
"It sounds nice," Luna said.
"We'll check it out when we go back," Harry said.
"I'd like that," Luna said.
"Should we go back inside and hang this above the fire?" Harry asked, holding up the stocking.
"I'd like that too," Luna said. Harry extinguished the fire with a flick of his wand and then took her by the arm and led her back to the tent. They slipped back inside, arm and arm, moments after midnight of their second Christmas.