Though Some Have Called Thee Mighty And Dreadful . . .
Chapter One: Though Some Have Called Thee Mighty And Dreadful . . .
"Take it. Please."
Harry stood there in shock, looking down at the wand being pressed into his hands. He raised confused green eyes to meet her determined blue ones. "But why?" he asked.
She paused, and then just shrugged. "I don't think there's any way of explaining it that you would understand," she said softly. "I don't say that to be mean, I swear it. But I really can't see one of my reasons making sense to you."
"Tell me anyway," he begged her. "Please Luna, let's just talk about this-"
"And what? Try to find another way?" she gave a bitter laugh while running a hand through her scraggly dirty blonde hair. "There isn't another way. I just can't do this anymore."
"But it's over now," he argued. "We're all finally safe. We can have futures, we can be happy, we can-"
"Be together?" she finished for him. "Harry, you don't want that."
"Well, it certainly seems like I do," Harry countered angrily.
"Harry, this thing, it's not real," she sighed. "We both know we shouldn't have started it. But you were upset about losing Susan, and I was so alone after Daddy died . . . Harry, it was never going to last after the end."
"Geez Luna, you sure know how to kick a guy when he's down," he grumbled.
"Now, don't lie, you're not down. You're the highest you've ever been," she smiled warmly at him. "You have no idea how happy it makes me to see you like this. You're finally free of that man, and it shows. You know, in the six years I've known you, I've never seen you greet the day with a smile? Now, I see it almost everyday."
"Luna, please, don't do this," Harry pleaded with her. "If you don't want to stay with me, that's fine. You're right; it was never meant to last forever, but that doesn't mean I want it to end. But if that's what it takes to get you to stay-"
"I'm not leaving because of you, Harry Potter," she admonished him. "Actually, you're one of the big reasons that made me consider staying. And if I could stay for you, Harry, I would. I don't want it to end either, but I can't carry on like this anymore. Everything's different; so many things happened. I'm not that little girl who used to trail after you, babbling about Crumple-Horned Snorkacks and whatnot. I have done things that I'm not proud of doing, seen things that I can't get out of my mind. I can't have peace here, Harry. I just can't."
"So your solution is to run from the problem?" Harry shook his head. "Luna, you've always said that it was better to fight for what's yours. And this is yours; it's a part of you, it always will be."
"Not any more," she said firmly. "Right now, I never want to do magic again."
"Luna, this is ridiculous. It had to be done-"
"Of course it did, I never said that it didn't. But that doesn't change the fact that I helped to take lives out on that battlefield. I don't regret it, because I know what would have happened if we had lost. I fought that war with everything I had in me. But just because I don't regret it doesn't mean that I'm okay with it. I've killed Harry, regardless of the reason, I'm a murderer. And that's something that I have to deal with. I can't do that here."
"So we can send you to a Ministry safehouse," Harry said. "You can be alone and safe at the same time."
"I'm not going to a safehouse, Harry," she told him quietly.
"Luna, there are dangerous people out there who would be more than happy to kill you," Harry exclaimed. "Why can't you see that your plan puts you in danger? You won't even tell me where you're going-"
"And if you truly needed to find me someday, you won't have that much difficulty," she assured him. "I don't need a Secret Keeper, in fact, I don't need any sort of magic for this. And what's more important, I don't want to use any magic for this. I just want to go away from here. Can't you see that I need to do this?"
He fell silent. He knew it was pointless to try and argue with her. Luna had made up her mind, and nothing could get her to change her mind. She was as stubborn as they came; and she wasn't going to take no for an answer. She was going, she was really going, and he honestly didn't think she had any intention of coming back. It was written all over her face. Luna Lovegood was leaving the Wizarding world behind.
"I wish that you wouldn't leave," he whispered to her.
"I know," she said sadly. "And I wish that I could stay with you."
"But you can't," he finished for her. She nodded once, brushing a tear away from the corner of her eye.
"I'm sorry Harry . . ."
Harry Potter sat in his office at the Ministry of Magic, ignored paperwork strewn all over his desk as he sat there, fiddling with a string of old butterbeer caps. Luna had made this for him back in seventh year for Christmas. At the time, he had been absolutely horrifed at the sight of it. It hadn't done much for his reputation to have gotten such a gift from a girl everyone still called "Loony Lovegood" right up until her graduation. Of course, he had only been seventeen back then. And when you're seventeen, you just don't have the right perspective. That was something that you gained over time and through experience. And that was why he sat at his desk, playing with a gift that once embarrassed him, but now was one of his most prized possessions.
It had barely been a month after the final battle when Luna had come and told him of her plans to leave. He had been shocked, and hurt, to say the least, but none of his arguments could sway her from her decision. She turned in her wand and kissed him goodbye before he was even able to walk out of St. Mungo's on his own. How he had begged her to stay. The press would have loved to have seen that. The great Harry Potter, on his knees, begging the "eccentric Lovegood girl", as they called her, not to leave.
Luna had been one of his best lieutenants in the war with Voldemort. She was a brilliant girl, as most Ravenclaws are, and she had such courage that Harry often wondered why she hadn't been sorted into Gryffindor in her first year. She had been one of the top strategists in his camp, and when the time had come for the final battle, it was Luna, along with Hermione, Ron, Dumbledore, McGonagall, and himself, who devised the attack plan. It had been a successful campaign. Too successful, it would seem.
She couldn't handle the killing. He should have known it; he should have kept her out of the battle. But they were low on men, and she wouldn't have stayed behind even if he ordered her. She knew it had to be done, and she did it for the greater good, but afterwards, she couldn't look at herself in the mirror anymore. Whatever the reason, she had killed, and she simply could not handle it anymore.
It should have been obvious to him after the Knockturn Raid. Nott had been there. That disgusting bag of slime who had murdered her father and her grandparents, that bastard who had the gall to taunt her after he had been arrested, he had been there. And no matter how much she hated him, she couldn't make herself raise her wand and say those two awful words. Not even when Nott broke free of his chains and came after her with a dagger. She had stood there, perfectly still, and let Ron take care of the situation for her. She hadn't even looked at Nott's body after it had been done. She merely thanked Ron for his quick thinking and then Apparated herself back to headquarters.
It was not in Luna's nature to kill, to take life away, even from the most vile of creatures. What she had done in the final battle had been done out of necessity. Those had been desperate times, and they had executed a desperate plan. They were lucky to escape with only a 32% casualty rate. The Death Eaters had not been so lucky. Hermione estimated that 65% of the Death Eaters died at Godric's Hollow alone. And many more of them ended up either in Azkaban, or dead alongside their former comrades. It had been a decisive victory; but not one without its costs.
The Patil twins, Seamus Finnigan, Dennis Creevey, Hannah Abott, his darling Susan Bones, Michael Corner, Kingsly Shacklebolt, Percy Weasley, Fleur Weasley, Viktor Krum-the list went on. Those who had survived had been hit hard by their losses, and some, like Luna, just had to get away from it. However, all of those people had come back after a short time, and Luna still insisted on being locked away in her little monastery in Sri Lanka.
Yes, he knew where she was. She was right; if he ever needed to find her, she wouldn't make it hard on him to find her. However, it wasn't him that tracked her down. Two months after her departure, Ron limped into his office and threw down a file that contained her location.
"She said you could only find her if it was an emergency," Ron had shrugged. "She didn't say anything about the rest of us."
He still sent her letters, they all did, and they kept up appearances by sending mail to anonymous Muggle P.O. box instead of directly to her little monastery. She probably knew that they knew where she was, and was glad that they decided to respect her decisions by staying away. Harry himself had never ventured near the place out of respect to Luna, though he knew that Ginny and Ron made a habit of sneaking down there at least once a year to assure themselves that she was doing well. Ginny always reported that she looked fine, but Ron was constantly complaining that Luna looked thinner every time he went. She was obviously incapable of taking care of herself properly, he argued, they should just bring her home so that they could keep a closer eye on her. It took all of his strength, and Hermione's, to keep Ron from doing that exact thing.
No matter how strange he thought she was back in school, Ron and Luna had grown close during the fight against Voldemort. He had been with her when they discovered the bodies of her relatives. Ron had helped her through that entire ordeal, and when he found out that she left, he almost lost his mind. His arguments against her departure were exactly the same as Harry's, and so they would presumably have the same lack of effect on Luna. Ron hadn't stopped his quest to get Luna to return home, and his letters to her all contained the same message. He wanted her to come home; and she would never agree. She wasn't ready to return just yet, she still needed more time. But it had been five years. Wasn't that enough time? Couldn't she drag herself away from that place for even a brief visit? Harry hadn't laid eyes on Luna since the day she left, and right now, he really wanted to see her.
It had been eleven years in the making, but he had finally done it. Harry Potter had finally caught up with Bellatrix Lestrange and got revenge for his godfather. He hadn't killed her, though he had wanted to, but she was now back in her old cell at Azkaban, shrieking death threats at anyone who came within ten feet of her cell. She was due to get the Kiss in a few days, and that would be it. The final high-ranking Death Eater would be effectively shut down, and it would only be some of Voldemort's younger and weaker underlings left to deal with. Draco Malfoy and his little clique were still unaccounted for, as was Marcus Flint, Blaise Zabini, and a few other of his former schoolmates. They'd be found, and soon. They were running out of places to hide, and now they had none of the veteran Death Eaters to rely on. It was all a matter of time.
His thoughts turned from Luna to the bottle of Firewhiskey in his top drawer. He felt that familiar itch swell up in him again. He really shouldn't have any; he was trying to cut back. Hermione and Ginny had begged him to lay off the liquor. Ginny had even cried while she begged him, and so he had promised to try. But it seemed that whenever his thoughts turned to the things in the past, the urge to toss back a few was almost irrestible. It took the edge off, and sometimes, Harry needed that more than he needed the air he breathed.
Harry was pulled out of his thoughts by a knock on his door. He looked up just in time to see Ron and Hermione enter, the latter shooting very exasperated looks at the former. All thoughts of the Firewhiskey fled his mind as she watched the two of them squabble like they always did.
"Twenty-six, and you still haven't mastered the most basic rules of etiquette," she muttered disapprovingly. "You're supposed to wait for an invitation before entering a room, Ron."
"I knocked, isn't that enough?" Ron asked, though his question was directed more towards Harry than to Hermione. Harry just shrugged and waved them into his visitor chairs.
"What brings you here? he asked them.
"We've come to drag you away for lunch," Hermione announced as she took her seat. "You work so much and forget to eat. It's not healthy to skip meals. So, it's time for lunch."
"Hermione, it's three in the afternoon."
"A late lunch then," she shrugged before flashing him a sheepish smile. "We were planning on getting you sometime after noon, but we got buried in work, and so . . ."
Ron rolled his eyes at his friend before setting his eyes on Harry. "So, have you heard from her?" he asked with a gesture to the necklace.
Harry sighed and dropped the necklace on his desk. "Unfortunately, no. She hasn't responded to my letter just yet, but then again, I did just send it three days ago. Muggle mail does take some time to get things from here to Sri Lanka."
"We should just pop in and tell her what the news is," Ron grumbled. "It's not like we'd be trying to get her to leave again. Just telling her the good news-"
"And bringing magic back into her life," Hermione finished for him. "You know how she feels about the matter. She wants to be magic-free for the time being, and we have to respect that. And that means we can't just Apparate ourselves into the middle of her monastery to catch up."
"Hermione's right, as usual," Harry added. "We have to respect her wishes. She would do no less for any of us. And I don't know about you, but I'm feeling a bit better with Bellatrix behind bars. That's the last major Death Eater out there. Whether or not she knows it, Luna's a lot safer than she was before."
"I'm sure she'll send a response as soon as she gets Harry's letter," Hermione said. "And who knows? Maybe this event is big enough to lure even Luna out of hiding."
"You honestly believe that?" Ron asked with an arched eyebrow.
Hermione smiled and weakly, and then sighed. "No, not really. But we can hope, can't we?"
"I know it's not much, but it's the best I can afford right now. I hope it's not too much of an inconvenience. But then again, it's still a lot better than what you've had for the last little while, isn't it?"
Luna shut her eyes tight and tried hard not to shake as Draco draped an arm around her shoulders and guided her through the doors of her new "home", as he called it. The arm that was casually hanging over her shoulders now tightened as Luna attempted to drag her feet in protest. His fingers dug into her arm as his other hand snaked out to grasp her by the waist. He squeezed her hard and she gave a tiny gasp in shock.
"Don't be so difficult, Luna," he ordered her. "We're already here, and there's nowhere for you to go. So you might as well get used to it. Come on girl, open your eyes and look upon our humble abode."
She finally opened her eyes, if only to avoid irritating him further. From what she remembered of her school days, Draco Malfoy was not a pleasant individual once he was annoyed. She had been there in the Gryffindor seats during her sixth year, and she had seen him break Ginny's arm by striking her with a beater club. after the redhead had dared to mock his Seeker abilities. That particular stunt had gotten him tossed from the game, and nearly suspended until Professor Snape interceded on his behalf. Draco was given a month's detention, and Ron matched him for that time after he attempted to kill the boy for assaulting his sister. That had started the worst feud between Gryffindor and Slytherin in twenty years, and several students were on the verge of expulsion before the end of the year. Pansy Parkinson had been one of those individuals, after Professor Hagrid accused her of trying to kill his dog Fang, though that was never proven.
Pansy. Merlin, she had killed Pansy Parkinson. Pansy Parkinson, with her straight black hair and ice-cold blue eyes. Pug-Faced Parkinson is what they had called her back in school. She had been an utter cow in her youth, and she hadn't changed much when she became an adult. She was wretched at school, at everything except DADA and Potions. She had been attached to Draco's side since Luna's second year, had accompanied him to the Ball during the Triwizard Tournament, and been apart of Umbridge's Squad during that dreadful fourth year. Pansy had always been cruel to her, always turned her nose up at her when passing her in the hallways, and more than once she had tripped Luna up in the middle of the hall. And now Pansy was dead, and she was to blame.
"I'm going to be sick," she mumbled pitfully as she stumbled. Her stomach was churning violently as the visions of Pansy's body came back to her. And the blood, all that damn blood. Crabbe and Goyle had been collecting it when she felt. Why on earth would they be doing that? What were they planning?
"Really Luna," Draco admonished her as he led her further into the house. "You're not handling this well at all. I expected more from you, being one of Potter's former stars."
"That was a long time ago," she replied, grateful to see that he had directed her to the washroom. She fell to her knees before the toilet just as the bile rose up her throat. She clenched the sides of the toilet as she was sick, barely able to stop herself from jerking when Draco held back her hair for her.
"Such a mess," he said with a cluck of his tongue. "You're going to be high maintenance, aren't you?"
She wiped her mouth with a shaking hand and turned her head sideways to see him. "You could spare yourself a lot of trouble and just let me go," she whispered desperately.
"Now Luna, do you really think that's going to happen?" he asked with a short laugh. "Even if I did decide that you're a lot of trouble, I couldn't let you go now if I wanted to. We've already started, and now we've got to finish."
"Finish what?" she asked tearfully. "What do you want from me, Draco?"
"A whole lot more than you would think," he replied in a serious voice. "You know, before Potter won his glorious war and killed my parents, I had quite the life. A pureblood wizard, with money, looks, and power. And now, I've only got the looks, and hardly any of the power left. Do you know what that war took out of us? All our dark books, all our dark artifacts-all our inheritances! We have nothing, and all because the Dark Lord couldn't get over a pathetic speck of mudblood like Potter. He had to kill the boy himself, couldn't let anyone else do it for him. Do you know how easy it would have been to just walk up behind him the hallways and sink a dagger into his back? It would have been too easy, but we were told to obstruct, but not harm. He was for Lord Voldemort, and only for the Voldemort. And because of that unhealthy obsession, Potter was able to destroy Voldemort and our parents who followed him. We're all that's left of the Death Eaters, and none of those idiots with Potter have even put that much effort in trying to catch us. They think we're weakened without the older generation, but they don't get it. That generation was what held us back. We could have been so much more than what we turned out to be, if it hadn't been for them. We could have won that war, if it hadn't been fot them."
"And now, what?" she demanded. "You're going to start another war? You're going to meet Harry on the battlefield and destroy him once and for all? Draco Malfoy, you could never defeat Harry Potter, no matter what you did. He's above you."
Instead of angering him, her words only made him laugh. "That might be true," he consented. "But I for one am not itching to find out. While the idea of a face-to-face battle to the death between old Scarhead and I is appealing, I have other things to do. You see Luna, you don't win a war by playing by the rules or adhering to a code of conduct. You win a war by doing something the other side would never imagine doing. I think you understand that a bit better than most people. You were with that group of people who killed Voldemort. Imagine, all that talk of good and honour, and the only way you were able to take down your enemy was through deceit and sheer numbers. I wonder, does your conscience never nag you for that stunt you pulled? I mean, lying and manipulation were supposed to be Voldemort's weapons of choice, not yours."
She didn't reply. Her eyes were downcast and focused intently on her hands. Images of Pansy's body was now intermingled with memories of that horrible day on Godric's Hollow. She remembered laying there, waiting nervously for all of it to begin. She remembered seeing Voldemort and his Death Eaters approaching, she remembered grabbing her wand, and she remembered the charge.
"If I could do it again, I would," she said finally. "Because it was a dirty trick, and it wasn't honest, but at that point, none of us cared. You can dissect it all you want, it doesn't change a damn thing. We told you that we wouldn't rest until Voldemort was dead, and we didn't."
"And look at you now," Draco interjected snidely. "You may have won, but you didn't emerge as victorious as you had hoped. Potter spent half of his time chasing after Lestrange, and the other half drinking himself into oblivion. Granger had to give up her dreams of teaching at Hogwarts so she could clean up after the mess her friends made at the Ministry. Weasel's killed so many Death Eaters and dark wizards during the war that he's got a permanent target hanging over his head. Widows, orphans, sisters, brothers, fathers, mothers, grandparents-you name it, they want his head for killing a loved one. He's been attacked four times this year alone, and his family's not doing much better either. If half that brood didn't turn out to be Aurors, there would have been no saving them. And you, look at you. You're so damaged by what happened you can't even bare to live in that world you fought so valiantly to create."
"And now what? You lock me away? Torture me for months before dumping me back on Harry's doorstep? Is this the way to get revenge?"
"Not at all," Draco replied, snatching up a bit of her hair to play with. "This isn't revenge, my dear girl, this is how I'm going to win this blasted war, once and for all. You don't get it just yet, but you're worth more than the panic your disappearance will cause for Potter and his Merry Men. You're worth so much more."
She looked up at him as he fiddled with her hair. He merely winked at her before he dropped her hair and pulled her back onto her feet.
"Enough of this nonsense," he said as he pulled her out of the washroom and into the hallway once more. "Now it's time to show you the best part of the house."
She allowed herself to be pulled along behind him. He stopped at the end of the corridor and dragged her until she stood directly in front of him. He had her facing a closed door, and as he reached over to turn the knob, his right arm went around her waist and held her right against his body. He pushed open the door to reveal a fairly clean bedroom. There was a bed, a nighttable, and a larger dresser, but other than that, the room was bare. There was one window in the left wall, but it had bars on it. It reminded her of a prison cell, and she supposed that's what it was meant to be.
"This is the master bedroom," Draco announced as he pushed her further into the room. "We're going to be spending a lot of time here."
"'We'?" she repeated faintly.
"Yes, 'we'," he confirmed. "After all Luna, I told you we were going to be close. And we are going to be close, just like every married couple should be."
She gasped and twisted around to look at him. "'Married'?"
"What? Did I forget to mention that before?"