Bathwater

Effects of Nargles

Luna skipped her way through the corridor, humming to herself as her long blonde hair bounced behind her; hearing nothing but the sounds of her feet and heartbeat as the moonlight seared in from one of the tallest windows.

She couldn't believe she was actually going to do this. Sure, she was no Gryffindor, but Luna Lovegood was no coward either and it was about time for her to stop acting like one. She had made up her mind days ago and it was time for her to go forward.

It was all or nothing.

Luna stopped on her tracks as she came face to face with the door to her chamber. "I'm here," she mumbled to herself. "What do I do now?"

What do you mean, what do you do now, The Ravenclaw imagined the voice of her best friend Ginny Weasley sound through her head. You go in there, wake the thickhead up, and ask him to be yours forever!

"In that order?" Luna felt a bead of sweat form on her forehead as she replied to the voice.

Do it! Ginny's voice ordered loudly; making Luna flinch from the echo that bounced in her brain.

Luna walked to the door, twisting the key the Headmistress had given her when she gave Luna and Dean the chamber. She inhaled, taking a few seconds to collect herself, and then proceeded to push herself past the door as she smiled lightly and shook out the voice of her best friend from her head. (She had to remind herself that although she was a Lovegood, hearing voices still wasn't sane.)

"Crap, crap, crap. Where did I leave my—Luna!" At exactly the moment Luna began to head towards the bedroom of the chamber, Dean stormed out of it. His bare chest gleaming from the candlelight inside the chamber, captivating the petite Ravenclaw. "What are you—I thought you were staying at Ravenclaw Tower tonight?"

"I was," Luna replied softly, watching all of his glory as he approached her. She never quite noticed the magnitude of the brilliancy he was. The way his bright brown eyes shone radiantly, the way his soft dark skin seemed to look inviting and warm, or the way everything about him fascinated her.

"But I decided to come home," she laughed at the simple complexity of it. "I wanted to...erm...tell you something...Well, ask you would be more like it."

Dean stopped in front of her, almost towering over her. He watched as she smiled a soft, gentle, dreamy smile. Her crystal eyes looking up at him adoringly. He tried not to, but seeing as he couldn't help himself in her presence, he smiled back at her. "…I'm glad you came back, Luna."

The blonde Ravenclaw continued to smile as she began to kneel down, her gaze never moving from the Gryffindor's face as she did so. "Dean, I'm sorry for acting so distant these past days. I know that my actions have hurt you...but please trust me when I say that I wasn't doing it to harm you. I just needed a moment to myself to evaluate everything that I feel for you." And in one knee, Luna scooted herself closer to the Gryffindor. "Dean, I love you. Honestly, I do. Ever since Shell Cottage, I knew it—Will you marry me?" Luna reached for his hand, clasping it gently but firmly with hers. Her pale skin contrasted with his dark skin.

"…You love me?" Dean whispered, his heart beating fast from the overjoy.

"Yes," Luna murmured, biting her lip as she felt a strange sensation to cry. (Damn those Nargles. They were still after her.)

Dean bent down across from her, clutching her hand like a lifeline. "I love you too, Luna." He traced his free palm along her pale, rosy cheek. "And of course I will marry—"

"Dean, I think I'll go back before—" The rest was cut off.

Luna Lovegood's eyes opened wide as she noticed a witch emerge from the room she shared with Dean. A towel was wrapped around her body and her dirty-blonde hair dripping at the side of her neck from the apparent shower she had just exited.

"Merlin."

"Lavender?" Luna rose from the floor, letting her hand slip from Dean's.

"Bloody hell." Lavender looked between Luna and Dean; her eyes scanning them with guilt glittering in her orbs and her face bright red of embarrassment. "Look, Luna, it's not what—"

"You love me?" Luna mumbled to Dean as she stepped away from him and the almost-naked Lavender Brown.

"I do, Luna! I love you, I swear it." Dean tried taking her hand but the petite Ravenclaw spun on her heels, heading towards the door and yanking it open.

"Luna!" Dean and Lavender shouted together, but no response was heard. Just the sounds of her whimpers radiating off the marbled walls.

X

"Beautiful day, isn't it?" Ron Weasley came from inside the castle, strutting himself towards the tree besides the edge of the Black Lake where his best friends sat; their school bags thrown around them and books on their laps. "The sun is out and the birds are singing!"

"You're pathetic," Harry added in the same sing-song tone as his friend reached them. "What the bloody hell are you even on about?" He asked as Ron shrugged his comment off and sat himself on the grass. "Don't tell me you and Parkinson...?"

"Ugh, reading here." Hermione scowled at her two friends as Harry chuckled and Ron turned deep red and she lifted up her Herbology book towards them. "I'm trying to read about plants, not of what Ron's been doing inside of his chamber."

"Or inside of Parkinson."

"Harry!" Hermione raised her eyebrows high. "That's filthy!"

"Ginny taught me." The Boy-Who-Lived sent a wink at his female best friend.

"Mention my sister in inappropriate ways again and you'll wish that Voldemort finished you off," Ron hissed, still keeping his smile on his face but mastering a murdering look.

Hermione rolled her eyes. "Ron, go to your happy place," she inquired casually, her brown eyes returning to the pages of her book.

The redhead did exactly what the brunette ordered, and so, he inhaled three heavy times; humming lightly as he exhaled the air . "Release...Release." He fluttered open his blue eyes and smiled again at Harry and Hermione. "Beautiful day, isn't it?"

Harry raised an eyebrow, exposing his legendary scar as his untidy hair was blown backward by the air. "Parkinson must really have done a wonderful job in the—Ow!" He flinched as a pebble was sent his way and it hit him directly over the nose. "What was that for?" He frowned at the girl, rubbing his forehead.

"He's in his happy place, Harry," Hermione snapped. "I don't know about you, but I personally like having a calmed Ron than the annoying prat that walked around grunting like a troll."

The bespectacled boy sighed a 'fine' and turned back to the other Gryffindor. "How's life treating you, mate? You've been quite cheerful these past few days."

"Pansy," Was all Ron replied, grinning widely again.

"…That's just unnatural," Harry whispered to Hermione while pointing a finger at Ron as he closed his eyes. "I'm starting to believe he was placed under the Imperius Curse."

"Rubbish," Hermione giggled waving his comment away as she too watched Ron smile to himself.

She had a strange twinge in her chest as she eyed him. She was immensely happy that Pansy Parkinson managed to make a positive effect on Ron, but it also caused her somewhat of anger to know she couldn't do it when she had tried for so long. (After all, she had known him the longest and it was only fair.)

"And even if she did," she cleared her throat, turning to Harry, "I can't blame her, or would do anything about it. I'm just excited he's moving forward with his life."

"Yeah, yeah." Harry nodded boringly, turning to his own book and finding that he was still on the first page. "You know, 'Mione, I always figured you and Ron would be the ones to end up together. Well, before they decided to pass the Marriage Law, that is."

"So did I," the witch responded without restrictions, making sure that Ron was off daydreaming not to hear a single word. "I always assumed we would just end up together because I was pushed to him. Seeing as you had Ginny, even though you weren't aware of her yet, and I was left on my own. Ron just seemed to...be there, you know?"

"You don't regret it, then?" Harry asked, keeping his eyes focused on the book. He didn't want to make Hermione uncomfortable with his staring. "The kiss you two shared during the final battle?"

"No, not at all." She shook her brown curls. "It was a momentary thing, Harry. There was a small fragment of me that thought we would die so I went for it. And after everything, after we survived and we began to restore our community, I realized he just wasn't perfect for me." Her eyes flashed quickly to Ron. "And I think he realized it as well." She smiled gently at the redhead who was humming and grinning, looking like a child who'd just received a bag of sweets.

"It's for the best then, eh?" Harry said, letting himself tear his eyes away from the book and joining Hermione's gaze towards their best friend. "Seeing in the condition he was left in after….after Fred's death, you would've lost patience with him. Maybe even grown to loath him and—"

"He wouldn't have cared," Hermione finished for him. "He wouldn't have cared if I stayed or not. He was just so full of rage, he would've pushed me away himself eventually. Parkinson came right on time for him before he lost himself completely, I reckon."

Harry nodded once more. "Do you think that the sorting was actually accurate, then? And that's why you weren't paired with him?"

"Do you think I belong with Malfoy, then?" Hermione let out another round of giggles which weren't amused like the others, but far more nervous.

"Do you think you belong with Malfoy?" He turned the question around. (Harry was not going to answer that and face the wrath if he was wrong. He'd seen Hermione learning new spells in the library the past week. And after so much time with the Slytherin Ferret there would be a chance she'd learned some dark magic and he'd end up without a reproductive system.)

"I...erm... I'm not quite sure," she coughed, moving her gaze from him and back onto her book. Her cheeks were flushing a silent red. "We've been getting on quite well, more than anyone ever thought was imaginable. He can be decent and...charming when he wants to be...but it's Malfoy. I've to expect the worse, don't I? It's common sense."

"It's fear," Harry interjected.

"Fear?" Hermione still kept her eyes firmly focused on the pages of her book, ignoring the twitch her neck gave to look up. "Fear of what?"

"Of believing Draco Malfoy isn't the insolent, arrogant, pathetic, cruel bouncing Ferret," Harry replied smoothly, this time not bothering not to look at his friend. "You're afraid to get attached to the Slytherin, aren't you?"

There was a moment of silence between them.

"…Of course not," Hermione breathed. "I'm not afraid of anything. Especially not Draco Malfoy's sudden politeness."

Harry scoffed discretely. "Seems to me that he has changed."

"You don't know him, Harry."

"True," he agreed, pushing his glasses against his eyes. "But I don't like him either and I see the effort he puts on you every single time you two are together. I see the way he controls his patience whenever you insult him or push him away. I can see the hopefulness on his face when he waits outside of your lessons to escort you to the next. That's effort, 'Mione." He reached over for her hand, taking it slowly and making sure she wouldn't shove him off. "And Draco Malfoy seems to have unexpectedly developed it for you."

There was another round of silence until Hermione huffed. "…But I'm the Mudblood, Harry." Hermione's eyes were still firm. "I was always the Mudblood to him. How can that suddenly change from one moment to another—when did it change?"

"When you became his fiancée, Hermione."

The witch inhaled deeply, still staring at the pages of her Herbology book. "It was out of force, though. Nothing would've changed between us if Kingsley hadn't come up with the Marriage Law."

"I don't think so." Her friend patted her hand reassuringly. "Times have changed, Hermione. People have stopped being the ignorant Purebloods that they once were...But I cannot tell you what to believe. Like you previously said, I don't know Malfoy and the decision of rewarding his efforts is up to you."

"...Release..." Ron murmured from the background.

"Sure he wasn't placed under the Unforgivable?" Harry and Hermione laughed loudly and startled Ron from his mantra.

"—Oi, you three!" A rock was sent flying towards the center of the Golden Trio. "Didn't you hear the bell?" A massive sea of students emerged from the outside classes, Ginny Weasley one of the many that exited Care of Magical Creatures with a slow Ravenclaw trailing behind her.

Harry smiled instantly, jumping up from the grass and heading towards his girlfriend. His emerald eyes shone so brightly that Hermione wondered if it was even possible for them to glow the way they were doing.

"Hello, love." He wrapped his arms on her waist and placed a tender kiss on her forehead.

"Hello." The rest of the Golden Trio waved at the two witches.

Peering from over Ginny's head as he still held her tightly in an embrace, Harry noticed the lingering Ravenclaw in the background. She recoiled to herself, not meeting anyone's eyes. "Luna," he called, "what's wrong?"

Pulling herself from her future husband, Ginny elbowed him. "She doesn't want to talk about it," she told the Golden Trio with their curious eyes. "She's been that way throughout all of our lesson. Neville and Hannah told me that she went to their chamber yesterday night, crying her eyes out." Her freckly face turned to worry. "Something must've happened with Dean."

Luna swallowed roughly beside them, her ears catching that forbidden name.

"Should we...?"

"No, we shouldn't." Ginny shook her fiery hair at Harry, knowing that he was about to ask if they should try and help her. "It's best for her to come to us rather than interrogate her against her will."

Before Luna Lovegood's sadness could cause a tension around them, a group of Slytherins came marching their way towards them from the greenhouses. "Afternoon Gryffindors!" They carried Herbology books and bright expressions.

"Waiting to see if you can get the answers to the Herbology exam, are you? Well, a galleon per answer!" Blaise said mockingly as he waved his test high in the air. "I expect I did much better than Longbottom will, so of course the price is pretty high."

"Impossible," Pansy snorted, tearing herself away from her group to head towards Ron. "Longbottom's the future Herbology teacher, mark my words. He'll be teaching our children about those ruddy plants in years to come."

Blaise rolled his eyes as he ignoring her and he spotted the blonde Ravenclaw. "Hello, Lovegood." He wrapped an arm around her shoulder. "How's it hanging, love?"

"Low," Luna squeaked in a tiny voice. "Very low."

"Those Nargles following you around?" Theodore Nott questioned in amusement, nudging Luna as he stood on her right side.

"Hippogriff attack you?" Gregory Goyle added as he took her Care of Magical Creatures book that was slipping from her tiny hands. He was surprisingly gentlemanly about it.

In her own little world as her brown eyes only found the ones of Draco Malfoy in the knit of Slytherins. " Hello," she mumbled as she turned a scarlet from the intensity of his eyes.

She watched as Draco tugged a smile on his glowing face and then begin to walk to her as he ignored the twenty-questions that his friends were having with the Lovegood girl. "Had good lessons so far?" Malfoy whispered to her, pressing a kiss to her cheek as he took her Herbology book.

"A bit," she answered back, a smile also spreading on her face.

Smack! Smack!

"Stop it, Zabini!"

"Oi! I was asking a question!" Blaise shouted, wincing from the two slaps Ginny's hand sent his way.

"What kind of question is asking her if Dean poked her roughly with his wand?" She sent another slap towards him.

"It would explain the flinching!"

"…Thickhead," Hermione and Draco said together, their hands clasping and their fingers intertwined.

Another group consisting of Gryffindors and one Hufflepuff came walking towards the Golden Trio and the Slytherins.

"Ron, you forgot this in Potions!" A book was thrown at the redhead kissing Pansy Parkinson; smacking him directly on the side of his face. "Forget it next time and I'll burn it. I'm not your bloody keeper, Ronald Weasley. Just because we're paired—" Lavender Brown stopped in her complaint, her eyes landing on the blonde witch.

Having had found the same person Lavender had, Dean stepped from behind his friends. "Luna?"

"Careful, Pansy," Luna Lovegood came out of her miserable expression with an intense glare. Something so unnatural that Ginny and Neville, her two closest friends, raised their eyebrows highly. "Better keep Ron close to you or Lavender might think he's available."

Hermione's jaw dropped. "Luna," she said in a shocked voice.

"Look, I am sorry," Lavender spoke, cowering away from the furious look on the petite witch's face. "Dean can explain everything—I can explain everything if you gave me the chance. It's not what it seems, I swear it. I'm so sorry."

"Sorry isn't good enough." Luna's glare was interrupted by angry tears. "You can stay over regularly now, I'm never going back." She pushed her way out of Blaise's hold and stomped her away from the sight of the two guilty Gryffindors.

Letting go of Hannah Abbot's hand instantly, Neville reached and grasped both Lavender and Dean's arms. "Don't even think about it," he snapped at both of them. "We better head to the greenhouses now." And with some effort, he pulled them towards the direction of the greenhouses without retorts.

"Did you see that?" Ginny still had her eyes open wide and surprise written on her freckly face.

"I know," Ron said, nodding along. "Lavender does have great throwing skills." He picked up his Potions book.

"…I wonder what happened." Hermione, pulling Malfoy along, took one step forward to try and get a view of Neville struggling with Dean Thomas.

"Clear as day, isn't it?" Pansy said, rubbing Ron's face. "Why Lovegood's upset?"

None of the Gryffindors said anything, instead they cocked their eyebrows at the Slytherins.

"Thomas cheated," the Slytherins said all at once, smirking at the confused faces of the Gryffindors.

Ron gave a loud gasp as Harry and Ginny both scowled.

"He did not cheat."

"Oh, please," Blaise scoffed. "We know what we're talking about here, Miss Soon-to-be Potter," he retorted to the defensive best friend of the Ravenclaw. "That bloke did poke his wand around and it wasn't with Lovegood. What a shame, if I may same. Lovegood's pure and Brown's been...used."

Ginny glared again as she was ready to smack him once more but he took a step away. He laughed, shaking his head at her and motioned Nott and Goyle forward. The three began to walk away as he said, "She acts like we aren't Slytherins. We're known to be deceivers."

Ginny huffed, crossing her arms as she heard Zabini perfectly well. "Do you think…" She trailed off, looking at her fiancée.

"He better have not." Harry frowned, not wanting to believe it as he began steering Ginny away.

"Well," Ron cleared his throat, placing his arm around Pansy's waist, "we better get a move on too." Both of them waved at their respective friends and followed Harry's steps.

Hermione knitted her eyebrows together.

"Don't look so upset, Granger," Draco said, noticing her conflicted expression. "You honestly can't expect everyone to be decent. I don't mean to justify what Thomas did because, well, it is Lovegood and she wouldn't hurt a fly, but sometimes we do things without thinking them. It's a common mistake among the human race."

"I don't believe Dean could be capable of such things...But if he did...How can someone hurt the person they love? An impulse can't justify the pain you cause the other person." She looked up to the Slytherin, her eyes determined and pensive. "And it's certainly something you can't forgive. A mistake is a mistake, Malfoy, I believe that, but when you know that you're causing the hurt, even if the other person isn't aware of it yet...something should spark up inside of you."

"…I would never hurt you," Draco interjected softly, moving to face the brunette as he gave her hand a squeeze and let his eyes pierce right through hers once more. He allowed himself to gaze at her entire being, to look profoundly inside of her eyes to try and find her soul. To try to discover it and find how extraordinary it actually was.

"…Not like that, ever."

Hermione felt her heart give a loud thump. "I…No one is ever certain of that, Malfoy. A promise like that can't be made. And besides—"

"Besides, Granger, you are mine." He placed his fingertips on her lips, silencing her. "And what I claim as mine, I protect it like the most valuable treasure."

Her breath seemed to thicken as it made its way out from her mouth.

Was he being true, she couldn't possibly know. But what she did know was that Harry was right. It had been almost three weeks since the pass of the Marriage Law and she was aware of his efforts. She saw the way Malfoy tried his hardest to get her to cooperate, to make everything so much simpler than it was. She wasn't sure if she could spend the rest of her life with him, but she had to try. She didn't even know if she felt something for him, but she couldn't deny that blush that seemed to be attached on her face when he was around.

"….I don't believe you, Malfoy," she whispered, tearing herself from her thoughts. " I'm not an idiot, but…" Hermione placed her slender finger on his lips, keeping him from protesting. "I'm willing to try this. To actually try this without kicking or complaining."

"You won't regret it," he murmured from behind her finger.

"Maybe, but the Nargles haven't done their magic yet."

He raised his eyebrow, a little distracted. "What are Nargles?"

"I," Hermione removed her finger from his lips, "have no idea. But remind me to thank Luna for her teachings."

And she closed the distance between them, moving her free hand behind his neck and pulled herself closer to him in a second.

And it was in that one swift and courageous movement that Hermione placed her lips on Malfoy's. She couldn't help herself to smile at the surprise twitch his lips gave, but she quickly forgot about it as she started embracing the sweet, soft, feel of them.

Her breath quickened heavily along with the rate of her heart and the rushing blood flowing throughout her entire body, but what she was most aware of was Draco's touch. His fingers snaked into her curls and the tight press on the small of her back.

Their first kiss was one that seemed to be bottled up with years worth of emotions. So strong, passionate, intense, rough, sweet, domineering, struggled, forced, soft, and determined.

Hermione pulled away in self-control as she heard the Slytherin's heavy breathing. She smirked at him, one that was worthy of his approval and admiration; one that could have given him a run for his galleons.

"Herbology. I'm late." She flicked his cheek with her fingers and took her book from him.

"What the hell?" Malfoy mumbled to himself, turning rapidly to see the Gryffindor Princess walking casually to the greenhouses ahead. "…What was that?" He asked, feeling his heart pound so loudly in his chest it made competition with the blush forming on his face.

Oh, yes. He was totally fucked now.

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