Muggle Science , Harry reflected, sucks.
After an embarrassing mishap where the Minister of Magic referred to the bubonic plague as “an unfortunate ailment of the appendix” on a national broadcast, debate had ignited throughout Wizarding Europe on the necessity of human biology in the curriculum. Dumbledore had given in to the pressure from the parents and benefactors and found a Squib hack whose scientific education was Bill Nye the Science Guy to condense centuries of biology, chemistry, and physics innovation into a single course.
And it was just Harry’s luck that the teachers had decided their year would be the first to test out the course.
The professor, a white-haired man by the name of Bartholomew, struggled to quiet down the dual Ravenclaw and Gryffindor class. Eventually, he just sat down with resignation. “I guess no one wants their lab partner assignments,” he drawled.
This managed to silence the class. Lab partners were crucial to one’s performance on the only project of the term, and everyone was counting on this course to be an Easy A. After all, as one Ravenclaw had announced earlier, Science? That’s such a bird course!
The professor, smug at the sudden attention he was receiving, decided to take the opportunity to make a long-winded speech about the benefits of studying science. However, seeing that the students were getting restless again, he quickly grabbed the list and started to read it off.
“Ron and Hermione, you will be at Station 2L.”
Ron sent Harry a shit-eating grin, well pleased with the knowledge that he’d be carried through this class. Harry just scowled back, a scowl that deepened when he heard his own name… and the name that soon followed it.
“Harry and Luna, Station 3R.”
Just. His. Luck. He didn’t know a lot about the blonde Ravenclaw, except that she wasn’t exactly right in the head. Looks like he’d have to do all the heavy lifting with the project.
He dropped his books with a heavy thump on the black lab station, merely grunting in response to Luna’s way-too-cheerful greeting. Well, of course she was cheerful. She was about to ride his coattails to an A+.
One glance to the right had him second-guessing that assumption, though. Luna had pulled out her notebook and flipped through to find an empty sheet, leaving Harry to gape at each page that passed.
The class hadn’t even begun yet, and her notes were already beautiful. They were colour-coded in a way that likely only made sense to her, and what he had mistakenly judged as mindless doodles were actually elaborate cell drawings and atomic diagrams turned into works of art that dwarfed entire pages.
Vaguely, he realizes she’s speaking. “...so I’ll get the pH sensor, you grab the goggles and maybe some chart paper so we can graph to determine the equivalence point of the titration?”
He didn’t know what half of those words were. Actually, half was being generous.
Harry supposes the Sorting Hat deserved more credit than it got.
And maybe, he thought as the experiment went on, so did Luna.
She led him through the test, explaining everything he didn’t understand with the waving of her hands and weird-ass examples that somehow worked. At one point, she demonstrated the reaction between the sodium hydroxide solution and the hydrochloric acid with a story about two lions fighting to be king of the hill, complete with adorable roaring sound effects.
Eventually, he gathers up the courage to ask Luna one question that had been bothering him all class. “You’re smart. Like, really smart. So… what’s up with the whole conspiracy theory thing? You have to know that maybe 90% of the things you’re saying are patently false, right?”
Luna laughs, an airy ringing sound that makes him wish he’d joined Flitwick’s choir, if only to recreate that exact note. “Yeah, maybe most of what I say is wrong, or at least, unfounded. But, my dad always says that we have to be wrong to stumble on the truth. I’d rather be a fool who suggests everything than a fool who suggests nothing at all.”
Harry doesn’t know what to say to that, so he concentrates on creating an x and y axis for the graph.
At one point, Luna calls over the professor to ask him why the experiment was being conducted the way it was. She suggests alternative chemical solutions, but the Professor shoots each one down, explaining loudly and with great condescension that the reaction wouldn’t be the same.
Harry can’t help but cringe with second-hand embarrassment as everyone turns to look and her fellow Ravenclaws sneer at her for being wrong, a criminal offense in that house.
Harry tries to defuse the tension with a nervous laugh as soon as the professor leaves. “Geez, that was embarrassing,” he says.
She looks at him, confused. “What do you mean?”
“Just… being proven wrong like that.”
She shrugs, indifferent. “Ravenclaws are so afraid of being wrong, but that in itself is the gravest error anyone can make. After all, humans learn best from their mistakes.”
Harry scoffs, feeling irrationally defensive. “Stop talking like a fortune cookie. Just because that sounds pretty, doesn’t make it true.”
She glances at him sideways. “Classical conditioning. Page 174 of our textbook. Learning is highest when the predicted outcome differs the most from the actual outcome of a behaviour.”
He opens his textbook, confirming the truth of her statement. Once again, only one thought is running through his mind.
Luna and Harry sit in the courtyard of Hogwarts, papers and textbooks spread out across the lawn. It was fall, and he could smell the crisp sweetness of leaves in the air. Harry sipped distractedly from his drink, pumpkin juice, with magical apple-flavoured boba floating and bobbing about in the cup that pop in your mouth and cleanse your palette so that each sip tastes like the first.
He’s struggling to find the perfect spell to create a diorama that interactively exhibited cell mitosis for his Muggle Science class. To be honest, he wants to get this project completed as quickly as possible. It was Luna who suggested the courtyard to study in, and Harry couldn’t help but feel self-conscious sitting with the Ravenclaw outcast in such a public area. Malfoy would be coming back from Quidditch practice soon, and he didn’t want to give the Slytherin any more ammunition.
His shoulders ache as he bends over the magical spellbook, skipping past Piertotum Locomotor and a spell that fixed one’s posture with a bit of regret. If he wasn’t in such a rush and so swamped with schoolwork, he’d love to learn new spells.
Not finding what he was looking for, he straightens out and stretches with a groan, freezing as he catches sight of Luna beside him, sitting cross-legged in the grass. Her blonde hair flowed in waves down to the ground, and her eyes were closed. Her face registered bliss as she sipped her pumpkin juice, squirming happily as the concoction hit her taste buds.
Finally opening her eyes, Luna caught Harry staring at her and hummed with content. “Sorry, were you saying something?”
He just coughs and shakes his head, snapping his eyes back to the book.
He wonders at how someone born to magic could continue to hold such a deep appreciation for all its little intricacies. He wonders when he’d stopped.
Instead of frantically skimming through the magic spellbook, Harry settles back in the grass to read it with leisure. They had time, after all.
Harry doesn’t know when exactly he starts enjoying Luna’s company. Maybe it was the long conversations about the intelligence of magical creatures, her complete disregard for his “Boy who Lived” status, or the way she surprised him into fits of laughter with a sarcastic comment about Professor Bartholomew’s toupee. Whatever it was, at some point, they gave up the pretense of study sessions and just hung out because they both wanted to. Of course, the other Gryffindors had something to say about that.
First, he had to deal with Fred and George Weasley. Harry had become fond of the dreamy blue and bronze Ravenclaw common room, and the twins mocked him relentlessly for his role as a traitor. At least, that was until they realized he was the perfect franchise opportunity, a vessel to get their pranking goods out to an “international audience”. Despite having been turned into a human Fedex shipping container, he didn’t mind, mainly because the two had now stopped teasing him about the time he’d name-dropped Luna six times - in a conversation about Quidditch.
Meanwhile, Hermione thought their burgeoning relationship was cute, smiling knowingly whenever he puffed out his chest or surreptitiously checked his hair as soon as Luna entered a room, invariably lost. Ron just clapped him on the shoulder approvingly, commenting that the Ravenclaw was a ten, “if the whole hippie aesthetic was your thing”.
Out of everyone, he thought Ginny would be the biggest issue. She had a habit of eyeing him and Luna suspiciously whenever they talked in the halls between class or made funny faces at each other across a crowded Dining Room. On one particular Winter day, she caught Harry cozied up against Luna in the Gryffindor common room, Harry having spent twenty minutes debating whether or not to put an arm around her as they recounted their days.
Seeing Ginny stalk over with determination as soon as Luna left to go back to her dorm, Harry groaned internally. He really didn’t want to deal with her jealousy from some leftover childhood crush.
She plops down in front of him on the table, and opens her mouth before Harry can interject. “Luna’s my friend.”
Harry furrows his brows in confusion, tilting his head.
Ginny points a manicured nail at him, vaguely threatening. “I protect my friends. Remember that.”
As soon as she leaves, Harry slumps back into the couch, tension seeping out leaving him boneless. He could only describe his emotional state as inordinately happy and… somewhat proud.
Luna wasn’t the social pariah she thought she was.
He thinks it’s about time he made it clear to her how loved she really was.
Harry stands on the outskirts of Hogsmeade. He wishes the magical golden letters would fizzle out behind him, fade into the fog and mask his embarrassing error. This was a mistake, he thinks feverishly, almost hyperventilating.
be wiht mE, it reads, because Harry is an idiot who can’t even ask a girl out right.
As soon as Luna rounds the crest of the hill, she spots it. Stopping in her tracks, her eyes go from the lettering to Harry’s nervous face and back.
Her eyes sparkle brighter than the golden lettering, and Harry will forever swear that her smile cleared out the fog to create a path between them. She runs the rest of the way, her long skirt flying out behind her as she jumps into his arms and the two spin and wobble from side to side with the force of the embrace, giggling stupidly.
Green eyes meet grey as Luna pulls away just enough to let him see her amused face. Tweaking his nose with her own, she quirks her mouth at his sheepish expression. “Language is subjective, anyways,” she reassures. And that’s the last thing either of them say for a long while.
As their lips finally part and they both breathe heavy, hot air into the space between them, Harry smiles.
For once, he too knows the value of being proven wrong.