by Jennifer-Oksana

Ginny can't get over how far and fast everyone flew after Hogwart's and Voldemort's final, crushing defeat. One would guess they'd been the losers, not the victors, by the speed and diversity of their flight. The world had once been so small -- Hogwart's, Hogsmeade, the Burrow, the Ministry, a few hidden locations connected by fragile lines of magic -- and now Ginny could run into a wizarding type from Surrey to Tibet to Palm Springs, California (and it had been such a surprise to see Lupin, watching a ginger-haired boy play guitar in a hotel bar with obvious adoration that Ginny'd never mentioned it to anyone else) without trying.

So it isn't a surprise to find Luna again, though perhaps the circumstances were a bit more surprising, though thoroughly believable in the context of Loony Lovegood's antic disposition.

She runs into Luna on a full moon night in December, tolerantly holding court in a Muggle "Goth Club" in New Orleans for a few weeks while she's on assignment for her father. Apparently the Muggles of New Orleans are much more believing in magic than most of that lot, and they claimed that on rainy nights, you could hear pirate ghosts singing in the alleys. So Luna had a room she could get to on the streetcar line, watching with credulous eyes the ghosts who walked down the sidewalks, danced on the lawns with faerie lights providing a glow on those stately old mansions that don't mind having the Unplottable and Unknowable stowed in their columns and between their property lines.

Luna also has a white crushed velvet dress hanging on her lithe frame, black kohl eyeliner haphazardly applied to her eyes -- Ginny thinks the line's supposed to be drawn out deliberately, but Luna had apparently forgotten and the eyeliner beneath Luna's right eye is a quarter-inch thick and then trails down her cheek. Her lips are garish, glowing purple, and there's glitter crusted in her skin and hair, sparkles that reflect every iota of the dim, smoke-filled light slithering through the room.

But Ginny's eyes slide right over Luna's dress and her makeup without comment -- it's all vintage Loony Lovegood, down to the intricate mehndi on her hands that are covered up with cheap fake tattoos of Muggle "superheroes" like Wonder Man and Spider-Woman. It's the shoes that catch her eye.

Red shoes. No, not just red shoes. Ruby slippers. Red satin dancing slippers with the remnant of red glitter flaking off them and two paste rubies resting like twins, one on each shoe. The soles must be harder than ballet slippers, but Ginny can see the red ribbons twined around Luna's calves as though they were, and it tickles her fancy. What's more, she has images in her head of pressing her own lips to those be-ribboned legs, dragging her tongue upward to hear Luna murmur, in that half-awake voice that now has an erotic edge to it in its resignation, "oh, well, that's not something you see every day. Though more these days than in the past. My daddy's doing a feature about it. The fluidity of sexual identity in young witches..."

The fluidity of sexual identity in young anything would be a more accurate description, Ginny thinks, having been turned on by a boy wearing a pair of braces to hold up a white net tutu, a pair of cut-up jeans beneath the tutu, and black duct-tape X's over his nipples, a girl with two-inch spiked blue hair and fishnets as a top, and a number of androgynous creatures that Ginny could only partially assign boy or girl labels to even with scrutiny.

And there is Luna, dancing and wearing a crown of iridescent stars. Her arms are really quite compelling, weaving and turning intricate patterns as she jostles between all of them until she runs into Ginny, who is aware she's too redheaded and plump and sensibly solid (though she prefers "juicy" as a rule, to describe her body) to move through this crowd of ethereal, spangly people who are lost in their own private world. But she imagines the skin-tight black vinyl corset she's wearing over the sheerest of black nylon tops has her looking close enough, and Luna certainly takes a moment to eye Ginny's amplified cleavage before smiling that daft, airy smile of hers.

The crowds melt away and Luna's smiling.

It's as though Luna knows that Ginny's going to buy her a drink -- perhaps absinthe if these Muggles dabble at all in illicit substances -- maybe just a gin and tonic if not.

Understands that Ginny will earn the envy of all of them by moving with Luna, her arms slowly snaking around that slender, silver-bangle-enclosed waist (and only Luna Lovegood could get away with a belt of silver circles over white crushed velvet and not look absurd) until they start dancing as one body, not two.

Wants Ginny to lead her out of the club gently but firmly and press her up against the crumbling brick and the bone-chilling cold. For make no mistake about it, the chill in New Orleans is real and wet and seeps deep on a December night, so deep that it will send goosebumps through both of them as Ginny softly and carefully places her mouth against Luna's, waiting for the fumbling, befuddled response that will come with increasing passion.

Expects Ginny to take them back to Luna's warm and cozy hotel room, to push the mud-edged white velvet up to Luna's waist as she unties those red satin ribbons, massaging the exposed skin delicately with her fingers and with her lips and with her tongue before turning her attention -- elsewhere.

The future melts away like snow before the sun, and it's just Luna again, looking tolerant and rather amused as she smiles.

"Hullo, Ginny," she says, extending her arm out in what might be welcome or what might be an elaborate dance move as she leans backward. "How nice that you're here!"

And Ginny, who knows it all and is not displeased, just smiles back.

"Hullo, Luna," she says, joining her old school chum on the sticky, crowded dance floor. "Been a while, hasn't it?"


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