Prompt: Prompt: After the final battle Luna finds a friend left permanently blinded by a curse. She takes the person in and helps them re-adjust, romance grows // Pairing: Luna/Any
Word Count: 8,701
Warnings: None. Just a smidgeon of post-war angst. :)
Summary: “Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind, And therefore is winged Cupid painted blind.” ~A Midsummer Night’s Dream: Act I, Scene I
Disclaimer: All Harry Potter characters, objects, settings, and situations are the property of J.K. Rowling. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise associated with Harry potter. No copyright infringement is intended and no money is being made from the writing of this fanfiction.
After the war ended and the dust settled and people got over the shock of Harry actually killing He-Who-Made-Himself-Hideous-Voluntarily,
And it was weird, going home. Anti-climactic. Strangely normal when normalcy had, for so long, been the most abnormal thing in the world.
Granted, there was a bit of a gap first. A limbo. A wonky, stilted period where people sat down wherever they’d been standing when it ended and looked around at each other in shock. And then there were tears, and reunions, and at Hogwarts, the necessary collection of the dead and wounded.
But after several days had passed, everyone went home.
Everyone, it seemed, but Luna Lovegood. Luna didn’t have a home. Her home had, apparently, been blown to smithereens.
That was the word Ron had used. Smithereens. Luna had thought that a rather interesting word, and once she’d been to see the house for herself (out of curiosity and a hope that some of her clothes, creature-protection jewelry, and other belongings might have survived) she agreed it was an apt one.
Hermione told her it was an Erumpent horn that did it—blew her house to smithereens—when the house was raided by Death Eaters looking for Harry. Luna couldn’t imagine how an Erumpent got into her house, and had decided that the Death Eaters must have been secretly training them to hunt down fugitives. In any case, the house was a mess and Luna had only been able to salvage a few things: her butterbeer cork necklace, one of her mother’s little painted clay tea pots, some of her father’s research papers. Her Dirigible Plum earrings were a complete loss, but she’d managed to harvest some more and had already turned out several new pairs.
After the visit to her house, Luna had tracked down Harry to apologize on behalf of her father. He’d meant well, and she couldn’t bring herself to scold him for his actions in turning Harry in to the Death Eaters because he was a bit lost without her and had been so frightened, but it just about broke Luna’s heart that her dad had nearly caused Harry to be caught. Harry ermed and ahhed and looked really tired, but he understood, because Harry was like that, and then Luna had given him a modified pair of her new earrings (now hooked into the pointed tip of a sleeping cap) because she knew how much he needed them.
Since Luna was essentially homeless, she didn’t go home when everyone else did. Well, actually, she’d tried to go home. While the house was a large pile of rock and broken crockery, etc., the shed had survived, and with it, all the camping gear. She’d lived in a tent for a day and a half before an exasperated Hermione had come tromping through the field to her front flap, cast an emphatic “Pack!” and then refused to return any of Luna’s meager belongings until she’d come back to Hogwarts.
“You’re not living in a tent, Luna,” she’d said. “You can’t be by yourself right now. No one should be by themselves right now. So until your dad comes back from his trip—”
(Luna’s father had stayed long enough to make sure Luna was alright, and then, when he was done hugging her and crying, he kissed his daughter and headed out into the wilderness, too ashamed of himself to face the world.)
“—you’ll be staying at the castle with me. Friends don’t let friends live in a field, Luna,” Hermione had added when it looked like Luna might hesitate.
So, Luna moved to Hogwarts.
On the sixth day after the Battle of Hogwarts (the second after she’d moved back to the castle), Luna appeared in Madam Pomfrey’s infirmary and volunteered to assist with the injured who remained there—the Hospital Wing was largely unscathed, and many students and Order member s preferred to stay in Pomfrey’s care than subject themselves to the tender mercies of St. Mungo’s, which was overrun and whose doctors were overworked and tired.
It was on her third morning as Madam Pomfrey’s assistant that Luna came across Neville Longbottom. She hadn’t seen him since mid-way through the final battle. She’d thought of him since then, certainly—she’d thought about all her friends—but she hadn’t known where he’d disappeared to afterwards and she had no way of finding out at that point. No one knew where anyone was in all the chaos, really. There were lists—lists of the living, lists of the dead, and lists of those who were still missing—so she knew her closest friends were all still alive. Other than that she didn’t know much about any of them, not even the Weasleys, because Hermione was so busy in the aftermath that she didn’t have much time to chat.
Which is why Luna didn’t know that Neville was still at Hogwarts when she started her work in the infirmary. And she didn’t actually know Neville was there for quite some time afterwards either.
On the morning Luna discovered Neville’s presence, she came in to the Hospital Wing bright and early, just like every other day. She started out by checking the potions Madam Pomfrey left brewing over night because they went through medical potions like candy these days and because Luna was very competent at potion making and Madam Pomfrey needed all the help she could get.
While she was stirring the pepper-ups and adding ingredients to the fever-reducers and the blood replenishers, she snuck a few homemade “charms” (some of which were naturally magical and some of which she’d charmed with her wand) out of her pockets and hung them in the all the shadowy corners she could find in Madam Pomfrey’s office. The poor Madam was tired, stressed, and overworked, and she had far more patients than she was used to at one time, all of them more dear to her personally then she was used to her patients being. She was emotionally and physically wrung out. So Luna hung energy charms, and cheering charms, and as many charms as she could make to keep the wrackspurts away.
Then Luna dumped out the vase on Madam Pomfrey’s overcrowded desk and replaced yesterday’s wilted flowers with new ones, bright and happy.
“Never underestimate the power of bright colors in the form of lovely, lightly scented flowers to bring peace and joy to a soul,” Luna murmured, repeating one of the few things she remembered her mother saying to her as a child. She then proceeded to fill the ward with flowers also. She finished her initial round at the far end of the ward, parting the heavy curtains and opening the windows a crack to let in fresh air and healing sunlight.
Only then did Luna turn to the patients. She changed bedding, cleaned and re-bandaged wounds, fluffed pillows, and all throughout kept up a cheerful chatter meant to encourage, distract, and entertain those in her care. By the time Madam Pomfrey came in and the two made a second round of the ward, with Luna carrying and fetching and taking numerous notes, it was nearing lunchtime and Luna set about making sure all the patients got the appropriate mid-day meal.
“Don’t forget, Luna,” Madam Pomfrey said as Luna was making a list of requests for the house-elves, “the patient in bed four is to have no gourd products, absolutely none, for another week; it interferes with the curse he’s suffering under.”
Stephan Lyle, no pumpkin juice, Luna wrote.
“Bed six is about healed enough now to be eating some solid food—be careful with it, though, Luna. Her temper’s still up, and you’re likely to have a spot of trouble convincing her to eat the steak now that she can’t just close her eyes and pretend she’s not eating what she’s eating.”
One half extra rare steak for Lavender, Luna wrote. Feed with patience, and from a distance.
“And finally, the patient in bed seven woke up late last night. If he’s awake again in time for lunch, he gets just a small bowl of chicken soup, and make sure he drinks plenty of liquid.”
Bed seven? Luna wondered. Before she could ask who was in bed seven, Madam Pomfrey turned and hurried back to her office to start a batch of Wolfsbane—for Lavender, just in case—and Luna was left wondering.
“Well, I suppose I won’t know until I bring him his soup,” Luna said to herself. So Luna called for a house-elf.
“Hello,” Luna said when one arrived. “I don’t think I know you yet. What’s your name?”
“I is called Bisky, Miss.”
“And are you a Miss Bisky, or a Mr. Bisky?”
The house-elf wrung its hands. “I is just Bisky,” said the elf.
“Alright, Bisky,” Luna said in a more gentle voice, giving up at the obvious distress in the elf’s voice. “I am called Luna. Or Loony. Whichever you prefer.”
The house-elf just blinked overlarge eyes at her, clearly failing to grasp her subtle attempt at humor.
“I think we’ll be ready for lunch in about an hour, Bisky.” Luna offered the parchment on which she’d listed each of the patient’s individual needs for the midday meal. The elf took the parchment and bowed so low that its ears brushed the floor, and for an instant, the top of one of Luna’s bare feet.
“Oh!” Luna breathed. “Excuse me, Bisky, but do your ears feel cold to you? They feel rather cold to me.” Luna brandished her wand helpfully. “I can fix that if you like.”
“No clothes!” the elf shrieked. “Bisky must not wear clothes!”
“No, of course not,” Luna replied, frowning a little. “Why would you think I’d give you clothes just because your ears are cold?” Luna asked.
“When the misses and misters ears is getting cold, they is putting hats and round fuzzies on theys heads.” Bisky shook its head violently, causing its overlarge ears to flap. “Bisky is not to be wearing clothes.”
“Oh dear,” Luna murmured. She knelt before the elf and took its hands, frowning when those were cold too. “I was only going to offer a Warming Charm,” she told it, gently chafing long elf-y fingers between her own warmer ones. “Is it cold in the kitchens? Are there no heating charms down there?”
“The ovens is keeping the kitchens warm, Miss,” Bisky told her, looking confused.
“Only the ovens aren’t running, are they?” Luna reminded gently. “Because there aren’t enough people here. And we are having an unusually cold spring. Poor things, you must be freezing down there!”
The elf just blinked again, looking anxious.
“Well, here.” Luna waved her wand, muttering a gentle Warming Charm while making a mental note to take a trip down to the kitchens later to address the source of the problem.
The elf just stared at her with wide eyes, did an anxious little dance in place, and then disappeared with a quiet pop.
Luna wondered if the poor state of the castle was allowing for an infestation of wrackspurts. She hadn’t know that house-elves were prone to wrackspurt attacks, but this one’s brain had clearly gone fuzzy.
Shrugging, Luna hurried back to Madam Pomfrey’s office and retrieved a silver train case, then went to visit Lavender.
“Good morning, Lavender,” she said, placing the case on the bed-side table and flipping open the metal clasps. “How are you feeling today?”
Lavender gave her a pointed look. “You’re late, Lovegood,” she growled.
“You say that every morning.” Luna’s tone was bland but an amused smile played at the corners of her mouth as she flipped the lid up on the case and began removing trays from inside it.
“That might be because you’re late every morning.”
“There is no—”
“There is a set time, Luna,” Lavender snarled. “We’ve been over this. One gets up. One prepares oneself to face the day. And then one goes out and actually faces the day. You seem to be laboring under the mistaken belief that makeup is something to be put on whenever one has a free moment and a vague inclination.”
Luna turned and smiled at her newest friend. “It’s a mask, Lavender. And while you don’t need it because you are a lovely, lovely girl, even with the scars, I understand why you feel the need to wear it. But you don’t need masks with me. And no one else is going to see you. Visiting hours aren’t for another hour and a half, remember?”
Lavender only shifted in place and glanced away. “You are hopeless, Lovegood,” she said with a sigh.
“But I’m learning,” Luna stated cheerfully. “I make us both look less like clowns every day.”
Lavender laughed. On Luna’s first day on the ward, she’d come into the room in time to witness an outright shouting match between Lavender and Madam Pomfrey over Lavender’s lack of cosmetics. That afternoon, Luna had used her 15 minute lunch break to trek up the stairs to the mess of Gryffindor Tower and retrieved what she could of Lavender’s belongings. Lavender had cried when Luna had returned the silver train case to her, and then again after Luna helped her apply the makeup inside it.
“I look like a clown!” she’d sobbed, staring at her face in the mirror Luna held out. And she had. Luna didn’t wear makeup herself and really had no idea how to apply it properly.
So Luna quickly borrowed Lavender’s makeup and did her own. It turned out worse than Lavender’s by far, but when she turned to show the bedridden blond, the girl had stopped crying and stared. Then she’d laughed. Then she’d cried again. Luna was just opening her mouth to apologize for having such a heavy hand with the bright blue eye shadow and the equally bright red lip color when Lavender had pulled the other blond into a hug and cried on her shoulder.
When Lavender had sat back to wipe her eyes, most of her makeup was on Luna’s shirt, and the girls were in possession of a tentative new friendship.
An odd friendship, Luna thought as she set about applying Lavender’s makeup with slowly growing confidence, but a friendship nonetheless.
“Are you paying attention, Luna?” Lavender shrilled. “I don’t want to look like a circus employee again.”
Luna laughed, mostly because Lavender hadn’t looked like a clown since that first day. When she’d realized how much the makeup meant to Lavender, and that the girl was unable to put it on herself, Luna had set out doing as much research on proper makeup application as she could, practicing on herself in the evening and applying her new knowledge to Lavender’s face every morning. Every day she got a little better. And every day, when they were done with Lavender’s makeup, Lavender forced Luna to do her own, teaching the other girl everything she knew about technique and color choice.
It really wasn’t Luna’s favorite pastime, but it made Lavender happy. And all Luna wanted was for her friends to be happy.
On this particular day, as on every other, Lavender waited until Luna was busy doing her own makeup under Lavender’s critical eye to chatter at her. Lavender was fond of gossip, and while she didn’t have access to much while stuck in the Hospital Wing, she had particularly keen ears and a good number of visitors to listen too. Any interesting tidbit she picked up was usually shunted right along to Luna the next day.
A movement in the bed two over attracted Luna’s attention from finishing her makeup and half-listening to Lavender’s chattering. It was the patient in bed seven.
Lavender must have picked up on her distraction because she paused, and then, in a much quieter voice, murmured, “It’s Neville, you know.”
“What?” Luna turned to look at the other girl, a little confused. “What’s Neville?”
“The boy in the bed over there.” Lavender motioned towards the mysterious patient in bed seven. “With all the bandages.”
Luna gaped at her. “What?”
“It’s true, I heard Madam P. talking to him when he woke up yesterday,” Lavender confided. “She called him Mr. Longbottom. There’s no other Mr. Longbottom that I know of.”
“But...he should have had visitors. Doesn’t his grandmother know he’s here?”
“Apparently she’s too heartbroken to visit. I guess he’s not been doing too well, what with the coma, and then whatever is wrong with him now.” Lavender reached out and grabbed Luna’s arm when she stood up from the bed. “He’s not responding to anyone,” she told Luna gently. “He woke up, but he won’t speak, not even when asked a direct question. I overheard Madam P. telling McGonagall it has something to do with shock and trauma.”
Luna felt shocked herself. After learning that little bit of information, Luna could barely concentrate on what she was doing. She just couldn’t picture her sweet, cheerful friend being as...sad as Lavender had described him. It didn’t make any sense.
Well, she would just have to find out for herself.
At lunch, Luna saved bed seven for last. In the intervening time, she had to force herself to concentrate and maintain her usual cheerful demeanor as she passed out meals to each of the conscious patients and administered nutrition potions to those who were not. When it was time to move to bed seven, she was surprised to discover that she felt a little nervous.
He was awake, she noticed immediately, stepping up next to the bed and putting the tray holding his lunch on the bedside table. She could tell by how stiffly he was trying to lay still. She read the chart at the end of his bed, looking for any special care instructions. They weren’t hard to find, Madam Pomfrey had written them in red capital letters and circled them with bold, bright motions that practically shouted “pay attention!”
“Do not remove bandages from patient’s eyes for any reason,” Luna read. “Well, that’s easy enough.” She looked for a name in the upper right corner where patient names were usually written, but found nothing. Madam Pomfrey had written a “7” in the space where the name was supposed to be, just as she had for all the other patients who’d been unidentified or unidentifiable at the time they were admitted to the Hospital Wing. Pomfrey only filled in the names later if she happened to remember.
The fact that Neville had been in such a state as to be unrecognizable upon admittance was not encouraging.
Luna put the chart away and turned back to the patient in question. His face was completely wrapped in bandages except for a narrow slit where the mouth was located. His left hand and arm were in a cast—the spell that had damaged his face and his arm all the way up to the shoulder was a type that mixed badly with healing potions such as Skele-Gro. She knew he had other injuries as well, invisible under the thick blankets draped over both boy and cot.
Luna settled herself on the edge of the mattress near the patient’s hip and gently reached a hand out to brush his good shoulder. “Hello there,” she murmured. “Are you awake?” She knew he was, but she thought it might be impolite to ruin his game of pretend.
There was no answer.
“It’s alright if you don’t want to speak,” Luna said after a moment’s hesitation. “But I need to feed you, so if you could just nod or twitch or make a noise for me, I’ll help you eat this lovely warm soup.” She waited a while longer, somehow certain she could get her patient to respond despite his current reticence.
“Or I can give you this health potion,” Luna threatened cheerily. “It’s really very bitter, but then, it’s not meant to be given to a patient who is awake to taste it. Of course, if you’re not awake, it won’t matter, I suppose...”
After another long silence, patient seven’s head rolled just a little in her direction.
“Oh, good choice!” Luna clapped her hands together softly. A swift pillow-rearrangement, a careful transfiguration of the soup bowl and a nearby quill, and Luna was holding a mug of soup near her patient’s face, angling the quill-cum-straw to the patient’s mouth. He fumbled trying to get a hold of it, but eventually he managed. Luna remained silent as her patient drank his soup, studying the boy and trying to find something, anything, to indicate that her friend was somewhere under all those bandages. Occasionally, he would shift, move his uninjured hand, or tilt his head in such a way that she thought maybe, maybe...
But she couldn’t be sure, and then the mug was empty.
“Good!” Luna praised, glad he’d actually managed to finish it all. She set the mug down, then whispered a cleaning charm over the straw and placed it in a nearby glass. “Now how about some water?”
She held the glass too far from the patient’s face, apparently, because he couldn’t find the straw with his mouth.
“Over here, Neville,” she told him, moving the glass closer and lightly swishing the straw through the liquid in the glass so that he could find it.
His head jerked away at the sound of the name, and he made an anxious sound. If that reaction hadn’t confirmed all of Luna’s fears, the fact that he turned his head away and refused to face her would have.
“Oh, Neville,” Luna murmured, her heart breaking for her friend’s obvious distress. She reached out, hesitated when she remembered he was too injured to hug, and settled for putting her hand on his good shoulder and squeezing. “Shhh, shhh, it’s fine, Neville,” she said, leaning a little closer. “I don’t care what you look like. I don’t care if you can’t see,” she added, knowing blindness was a sure side effect of his injuries. “You don’t even have to talk to me, Nev. Not if you don’t want to. You are one of my dearest friends.” She continued on in that manner for several long minutes until she eventually convinced him to turn back and at least take a sleeping potion. When she left him, he was falling into unconsciousness already, without ever having said a word.
Luna frowned as she carried the lunch tray away.
That wasn’t Neville. That was Neville’s body, but that wasn’t Neville. There was nothing of the sensitive, determined, brave boy with the kind eyes whom she’d once fancied fancying.
That wasn’t Neville, but Neville was still in there somewhere. He was in there, and she was going to find him.
Luna was going to war.
Luna started simple. Every morning when she entered the ward, she hung charms in Madam Pomfrey’s office, and then crept through the still-sleeping ward to hang charms all around Neville’s bed as well. She began with the normal ones—charms for cheerfulness, to ward off depression, and to keep away the various magical creatures so many seemed oblivious to.
She was also careful to bring the sweetest smelling flowers she could find to hang around Neville’s bed alongside the charms. They weren’t always terribly pretty arrangements, but the smell was fabulous; she just knew they’d help keep Neville’s spirits up.
When Neville remained silent and unmoved, Luna redoubled her efforts. The flowers and charms had reached the ceiling and covered the wall behind the beds two over on either side of Neville’s when Luna came up with an idea.
It was a brilliant idea, but one she quickly realized she was going to need help actualizing. So Luna made a special trip to Diagon Alley on her very next day off to visit the brilliant inventor genius, George Weasley.
When she arrived at Weasleys Wizard Wheezes, she was only slightly surprised to find it still boarded up and dusty. After a few minutes of standing and staring at the door—a door that just felt wrong all closed and grey—Luna looked up.
There was a dim light in the recesses of the apartment above the store, so she conjured a Patronus and sent a greeting George’s way. When there was no response, she did it again. And again. And again. She quickly cottoned on to the fact that she was being ignored, but that didn’t faze her in the slightest.
Luna was used to being ignored by her fellow classmates (when they weren’t laughing at her, stealing her things, or looking at her oddly). She’d never let that stop her from doing what was necessary in the past, and she wouldn’t now either.
Luna was going to make George talk to her if it killed her. Because she couldn’t do this without George, and Neville needed her to do this. But also because, while she understood that George was still deep in mourning, Fred would have wanted George to keep being George. And George just wasn’t himself without pranks and WWW.
Eventually George came down. Luna stood still and silent while he yelled himself hoarse for disturbing him, and then hugged him when he cried. When he was calm, she gently petted his head with one hand and gave his shoulders an equally gentle squeeze.
“We all love you, George. You don’t have to be here alone with his ghost.”
She didn’t mean a literal ghost. But she figured he knew that.
George let out a mangled sound that was somewhere between a laugh and a sob, and turned away to wipe his eyes.
“Alright, Moon-face,” he said, and Luna was pleased to see his humor had come back enough that he was playing with her name. “What are you doing here?”
Luna took a deep breath. George was fragile. If she handled this wrong, used the wrong words, reminded him too much of Fred, he might break. And that would break Luna’s heart.
For the first time in a long, long while—possibly ever—Luna was worried about conducting herself appropriately in a social situation.
Luna scooched close to George again, thinking that if it were her, she’d want a cuddle when listening to something hard to hear, especially if she’d been sitting in the dark alone (for days on end, if his facial hair—somewhere between stubble and a beard—was anything to go by). She looped her arm through George’s and pressed her cheek to his shoulder, then forced herself to speak. “I have a friend who has lost his eyesight,” she said quietly. “And...And his family. I think he feels like he has nothing left. I think he thinks that, but I can’t be sure, because he won’t talk. But he hasn’t lost everything. He still has me. And Harry and Ron and Hermione. There are so many people who love and admire him. And he’s so miserable, he can’t see it.”
George looked at her shrewdly, a hint of amusement on his haggard face. “You fancy this guy, huh, Lovegood?”
Luna felt her face heat a bit. “I have been making charms to ward off wrackspurts and Chizpurfles and depression-causing Shmoonoggles. But it’s not enough. It’s not really surprising considering all that’s happened at the castle—Shmoonoggles are particularly fond of battlefields, you know,” she told him, conspiratorially. “Now, I have an idea, but I don’t know how to make it work. But I think it will help; not just my friend, but anyone who feels hurt and alone right now.”
“That’s an awful lot of people, Luna-Lu.” He tried to smile, but it just looked sort of twisted.
“Yes.” She smiled sweetly and squeezed his arm. “It’s exactly the sort of thing you’re best at, George. If you’d be willing...I’d really appreciate your help,” she finished desperately.
George made another one of those half laugh half sob sounds and rubbed the heel of one hand against his forehead. “I haven’t...I haven’t done anything since...since before,” he said, voice thick with unshed tears.
“I know,” she said. She briefly wondered if it was too soon to ask this of George. It had only been two weeks...but she rather thought he might be the type to get lost forever in his misery if he didn’t get pulled out of it and set to a meaningful task.
“I know you’d rather I’d left you alone to mourn, and never made you think about...” Luna paused, found herself swallowing back tears of her own. “About starting again. Without him. But we both know that would be wrong, don’t we?”
George snorted softly, but gave no other response. The two of them sat in silence for a long time before George heaved a gigantic sigh, scrubbed a hand over his face, and turned to look her in the eye.
“What did you have in mind, then?” he asked. Luna was so happy with his response that she knocked them both sideways when she threw her arms around him.
Two weeks later, WWW released its newest line of products: whispering charms. The line consisted of various miniature shapes and figures (most of them were spheres, but in a snarky moment, George designed one shaped like Harry, which turned out to be a best seller) that were charmed to murmur a number of different messages. (The one shaped like Harry said “Whatever else is true, just remember: I killed old snake-face!”) Some of them also had light cheering charms built in, and some glowed in the dark, and some did a little dance. The one shaped like Dumbledore had twinkly eyes. All of them were designed to either hang on a wall or be carried in a bag or pocket. And all of them had the tendency of bringing smiles to the faces of their listeners.
The charms were simple, but effective. George named them Moonlit Whispers in Luna’s honor.
Luna hung them all over Neville’s bed the minute George declared them ready. Then, because they seemed to work better than she’d anticipated (she’d caught the stoic Madam Pomfrey giggling at them once), she started mailing them out to all her friends.
(She took the greatest pleasure in sending Harry the one shaped like himself. Harry had shown up the next day, caught her up in a bone-crushing hug, and told her it was from the entire Weasley family—both for the laugh, and for the joy that came from receiving a brand new WWW box, something they’d feared they’d never see again.)
Neville didn’t seem to respond to the charms, but Luna wasn’t discouraged. She just kept changing them out every day so that he never got bored listening to the same messages. The second line of Moonlit Whispers were specially designed for Neville—they identified themselves before speaking, if they were shaped like a person, and activated only when he moved a certain way. Not long after that, Luna spotted Neville experimenting: he raised his arm, and a little Dumbledore twinklingly remarked on the bravery of Gryffindors. He turned his head and a little star-shaped charm sang a song about flying. He wiggled his toes and a Luna-shaped charm reminded him that one is never alone when one has friends.
Luna felt somewhat encouraged by this, but it wasn’t until two days later, when George presented her with his latest Whispers prototypes, that she felt the dark cloud hanging over the ward finally lift.
When Neville awoke to hear Snape recite a dirty limerick about his potions and his wand, Neville laughed out loud for the first time in weeks.
Luna almost cried—did cry, when the sound repeated itself, albeit more subdued, every time he found a new motion that triggered one of the “Dirty Little Whispers” charms. (Luna noticed, though, that Snape was by far his favorite. He kept activating it and smiling. Smiling.)
That was the day Luna knew for sure that she was going to win the war she was raging against Neville’s depression. It might be a long, hard war, but she was going to win it in the end.
Some weeks later, when all but the bandages over Neville’s eyes had been removed, Luna sat down on the edge of Neville’s cot and extended the box with George’s newest invention to her favorite patient.
Neville held the box and frowned in her general direction.
Luna merely patted his hand, ever-patient. “It’s a gift from George, made especially for you. George was quite insistent that it will become your ‘very favorite possession ever.’” Luna tried hard to mimic George’s tone of voice, but suspected she wasn’t succeeding very well. She didn’t always understand the nuances in the tones of others’ voices.
Neville’s fingers clenched tightly on the edges of the box. After several long, silent moments, Luna took the box back, opening it up and removing the contents. When she’d freed them from the packaging, she picked up Neville’s nearest hand and placed George’s gift in his palm.
“Hello,” said the wild-haired doll. “My name is Bellatrix Lestrange.” Neville froze. “I am an evil, evil Death Eater. Please, I beg of you, punish me for my sins.” Neville let out an odd, choking laugh at that, and Luna found herself smiling as she wrapped the fingers of his other hand around a long pin shaped like a sword.
Neville placidly let Luna maneuver his hand until the pin met the doll, but when Bellatrix let out a long, screeching “Ow!” at the contact, Neville cracked up. He began jabbing the doll with the pin on his own, cackling every time it let out a pained cry.
Luna was just feeling comfortable enough to leave Neville to it when he managed to catch himself with the pin rather than the doll. In a fit of frustration, Neville threw the doll as hard as he could, and Luna watched it bounce and slide under one of the beds opposite Neville’s.
Neville apparently retained enough sense not to throw the pin, although he clenched it in his fist so hard it bent.
Luna sighed at the sight of tears leaking out from under Neville’s bandages and gently pried his fingers open so she could set the pin aside. Then she took Neville’s hands in hers.
“I know they’re your eyes,” she told him quietly. “Losing your sight...that’s not a small thing. You must feel like you’ve lost your whole world. But Neville, you can do this. You’re a Gryffindor. You defied Voldemort. You can do anything,” she finished, tone and expression both fierce.
Neville sat and absorbed her words for awhile. Luna let him, holding his hands tightly and waiting for him to frown, or smile, or squeeze her fingers...anything to show he’d heard her and understood.
What she got was so, so much better.
“Do you think he could make a Snape doll next?” he asked, voice hoarse from more than a month of non-use.
Luna’s response was to throw her arms around him and cry on his shoulder.
Shortly after the Bellatrix incident, Luna dragged Neville out of his cot, bundled him up in cushioning charms (just for the walk), and forced him to go outside.
“Sunshine is good for the soul, Neville. You’re going out if I have to physically drag you,” she told him.
“You wouldn’t just levitate me?” Neville asked, in a now-common show of irritated snark.
“Dragging you would be more effective in making my point,” Luna replied serenely. “So I think I would probably choose that method over levitation.” She offered her elbow to Neville so that she could guide him out of the Infirmary. He grumbled when he took hold of her arm, but he followed her with complete trust in her ability to keep him from smashing his face into something, so Luna ignored his low-grade bad mood.
It took them awhile to make their way from the Hospital Wing to the lakeside, mostly because of the stairs and because Neville still tired easily, but eventually they made it. When they arrived, Luna gently helped Neville to sit down on the lawn not too far from the lake.
“There’s a tree trunk two feet behind you,” she told him, “so you have plenty of room to lay down and enjoy the sun.” She sat beside him, close enough that he could reach her with an extended arm, but far enough away to give him a sense of independence. “The Lake is four meters straight ahead, that funny rock outcropping—you know the one—a ways to our right, and nothing but lovely green grass everywhere else.”
The two of them sat in silence after that. It might have been uncomfortable if Luna had been anyone but Luna...but she wasn’t. Luna was comfortable in almost any situation so long as she was with friends. Even friends who where were injured and perpetually grumpy because of it.
Luna flopped back on the grass, causing Neville to turn his head in her direction. It looked a little odd since his eyes were still covered by bandages—bright green today with little drawings of hinkypunks and doxies and the face of a tall, big-eyed creature Luna once saw in a Muggle magazine that Harry had informed her was called an “alien.” She giggled when his movement made it look as if the doxies were actually flying.
(Luna changed the bandages every morning, and every morning she drew new designs on them, which she described to a pretending-not-to-be-amused Neville in great detail. At least, she thought he was only pretending.)
Neville frowned at her, then reached a hand out and felt along the ground until his fingertips brushed her shoulder. “Are you lying down?”
“In the grass?”
“Doesn’t it itch?”
Luna examined Neville’s puzzled expression—or what she could see of it anyway. “Haven’t you ever laid in the grass before?”
“Not without a blanket. Gran—” Neville stopped, then swallowed thickly. Luna winced a bit, knowing that Neville generally avoided mentioning the woman who’d raised him with an iron hand and then abandoned him in is time of greatest need. She wanted to get up and hug him but refrained. “Gran never let me lay in the grass without a blanket. Too dirty, she used to say.”
Luna reached out and took Neville’s hand, squeezing it gently. “It’s nice, laying in the grass.” She gave his hand a little tug. “Come on. Try it.”
Neville eased himself down beside her, wiggling in an effort to get comfortable. Despite the awkwardness of supporting himself one-handed as he did so, he refused to release her hand. He clung to it like a lifeline as he lay stiffly on his back, his eyes bound against all light and his face a mask of apprehension.
“Hey,” Luna said, gently shaking their clasped hands. “Relax. It’s just a little grass.”
“A little grass,” Neville repeated tightly. “And a few bugs. And some dirt. And who knows what else because I can’t see any of it!” Neville’s hand gripped hers, the pressure too-tight and painful, but Luna didn’t let go. Instead, she twisted onto her side to face him.
“You’re right,” she said. “You can’t. But that’s why you have me. To help you see with your mind what you can’t see with your eyes.” She poked his forehead for emphasis.
Neville’s jaw tightened. “What does that even mean, Luna?” he snarled.
Luna poked him again, letting her fingertip rub at the frown forming between his eyebrows, then smiled and wiggled closer, resting her head on Neville’s slightly hunched shoulder. Neville went completely still in surprise, and Luna’s smile widened.
She stayed like that, not moving, barely breathing, until she felt Neville’s hand loosen around hers. Then she kept still some more until Neville heaved a deep sigh and his shoulder relaxed under her cheek.
Only then did Luna begin to speak. She started with the dappling of the sunlight through the leaves of the nearby tree, moved on to the ants in the grass, the Giant Squid’s serene travels, and the shapes she found in the clouds above. Everything her eyes fell upon, she described in greatest detail, painting pictures of the Hogwarts grounds with her words so that Neville could “see” it all too.
Sometime in the midst of Luna’s description of a cloud shaped like a graphorn (but which morphed into a dragon mid-description, causing much hilarity), Neville loosened his hold on Luna’s hand long enough to lace their fingers together. Luna hid a smile against his shirt, rearranging their hands more comfortably between them, and went on to describe the a bird flitting by.
Sometime later, when Luna had described everything she could think of and had fallen silent, she noticed how hot the afternoon was getting and decided that wading in the lake would do them both good.
It took some cajoling, but Neville was in a much nicer mood than he had been when they’d first come outside, so she managed to convince him fairly easily.
“If I trip and fall and drown in the water,” he grumbled (rather good naturedly), “just remember it’s all your fault.”
“Alright. And when you have fun cooling off and finally remember how wonderful an afternoon at the lakeside can be, just remember, that’s my fault.”
Neville snorted, but he kicked off his socks and trainers and let Luna guide him into the shallows. He clutched at her arm nervously, but let go long enough to reach down and roll up his pant legs when his first step into the water soaked his cuff.
After that he was a little braver. He held her hand to keep himself stable but he waded around, kicking and splashing, with no encouragement from Luna whatsoever.
Things were going extremely well, so Luna relaxed a bit and quit watching Neville like a hawk to make sure he didn’t trip and fall. She started wading around a bit herself, laughing at Neville’s antics and describing things for him, like the fish darting around their legs and the watery plants wrapping around their feet and ankles.
And that was when Neville tripped and fell face-first in the water. The force of his fall yanked his hand out of hers, and Luna could only stare in shock as Neville was momentarily submerged.
She blinked and then leapt into action, reaching for whatever part of him she could get a hold of and mentally cringing at the foul mood Neville was bound to come out of the water in.
Which is why she was shocked when, upon righting himself, Neville sat in the shallows of the lake, sputtering and laughing.
“Are you alright?” she gasped, catching his face between her hands and tilting his head this way and that, checking the bandages to see if they’d come loose.
Neville batted her hands away. “I’m fine, Luna.”
“Yes, but you know how important it is that your eyes stay covered until the curse has completely run its course,” she said, double-checking the charms sealing the bandages to the side of Neville’s head. “Otherwise you could have a relapse and possibly—” Luna was cut off when her knees were knocked out from under her by a sweep of Neville’s arm and a wave of water suddenly washed over her head.
Luna resurfaced, coughing and spitting. “Neville!”
Her friend laughed. “You brought me out here to relax and have fun, right? Take you own advice, Lovegood.” He splashed water at her. “Stop worrying about me—I’m fine—and my bandages—also fine—and have a little fun.”
Luna blinked once, twice, her brain still processing Neville’s words. But when they finally sunk in, Luna grinned wickedly. “I’ll show you fun, Longbottom,” she said, and there must have been something of her expression in her voice because Neville lost the playful expression and raised both hands, palms out, between them.
“Now take it easy, Lu,” he said. “Remember, I’m just a poor blind boy. A cripple. A—Ah!” His words devolved into laughter and then spluttering as Luna tackled him backwards.
They spent the afternoon laughing and splashing and laying in the sun.
“What are you drawing on my face today, Luna?” Neville asked, tilting his head so that Luna could secure the bandages (blue today, she’d told him) to the side of his head.
“Nothing,” she replied happily. “There’s no time for arts and crafts today.”
“No time for you to draw on my face?” Neville’s tone was incredulous. “It’s practically your favorite thing to do, after drawing on Lavender’s face.” He frowned. “We should maybe talk about your obsession with drawing on people.”
Luna laughed. “Today is a day for new favorite things.”
“You,” she poked his chest with one pointy finger, “are going to school today.”
“I found your wand. I’ve been searching for it for ages, you know. But now that I’ve found it, I’m taking you back to school.”
“What good will that do?” Neville burst out angrily. “I’m blind, remember? My wand is more useless to me now than it was during first year when everything I touched became a new disaster.”
“And thank you so much for reminding me that I am now effectively a squib!” Neville ended on a deafening shout.
Neville’s displays of temper were far and few between these days, but Neville was still a far cry from the determined, easy-going boy who’d lead a guerilla army of schoolchildren against a castle infested with Death Eaters for months on end.
Madam Pomfrey came hurrying out of her office to scold him, but Luna met her eyes and signaled that she was taking care of it. Pomfrey looked doubtful, but retreated all the same.
When Pomfrey was gone, Luna studied Neville’s defensive pose and angry scowl and sighed. She shifted the tray full of bandages and potions from Neville’s cot and placed it on the bedside table. Then she sat on the edge of Neville’s mattress.
“Neville,” she said, touching his chin gently with her fingers, tilting his stubborn face back toward her. “I know. I know how much you hate feeling useless and how much it meant to you when you realized what a good wizard you actually were. When you realized you could do whatever you wanted, anything you set your mind too. But—”
“Hush, Neville.” Luna took his face between her hands when he tried to jerk his chin away. “You are incapable of being useless, Neville. And after what you’ve done this last year, no one, no one, other than you, is ever going to think you’re useless again. Even without your eyesight. Even if you never did magic ever again.”
She held his face still for a long, long moment, knowing he could feel her stare. Then she released him, brushed his hair from his face.
“But, as it happens, you are capable of doing magic. With your wand. Without your eyes. Neville, you are not a squib. Not now, not ever.”
Neville’s jaw dropped. “Wha—what?”
“You. Are. Not. A. Squib.”
“How? I thought...I thought...How?”
“You’re not the first wizard to lose his eyesight,” she reminded him gently. “There’s such a thing as blind magic. It’s hard,” Luna added. “The book says it’s difficult to learn it when you’ve been doing magic by sight all your life. But I believe in you, Neville,” she told him with quiet confidence.
“Ok.” Neville sucked in a breath. “How?”
“Hermione and I have been doing research. In the restricted section,” she added in a hushed voice. Hermione had seemed very familiar with the restricted section, but Luna had never been in it before. “The restricted section is fascinating, Neville. And a bit creepy. There is a book in there that—”
“Stay on point, Ravenclaw,” Neville murmured with a quiet chuckle.
“Oh!” Luna remembered. “Yes. Well, Hermione and I finally found something last week. It’s all about how to do blind magic. Instead of seeing the world around them with their eyes, aiming their wand, and casting, this book explains how the blind ‘see’ the world around them with their magic and then cast according to what they sense. There’s also a chapter on blind-aid spells, like how to get a book to read itself out loud. I’ve been studying the spells and techniques all week, and now I’m going to help you learn to do it.”
“Blind magic.” Neville sounded awed. “Alright then, Lovegood. Instruct me.”
“That’s ‘Professor Lovegood’ to you.”
The first week was torturous for both of them, and the second was little better. Halfway through the third week, Neville accurately cast a Cheering Charm at Luna from across the room.
At the end of the fourth week, he cast a Summoning Charm that hit her on the first try. When she flew across the room into his arms, knocking them both over backwards, he laugh in excitement, then tugged her close and kissed her square on the mouth.
“Let’s try the charm again,” he said. “I think I’m starting to get the hang of this.”
It was several minutes before Luna got her wits back.
The day Neville’s bandages came off permanently was the day Neville first kissed Luna without a magical success prompting it.
She was almost accustomed enough to the kissing that she didn’t go speechless afterward.
When Neville left the Hospital Wing and moved up to Ravenclaw Tower (which now functioned as the living quarters for all who remained at Hogwarts), he held Luna’s hand all the way.
Neville was more than capable of getting around on his own these days—he was proficient enough in blind magic to navigate the steepest of stairs and the tightest of crowded corridors—but he held Luna’s hand anyway.
“Just so you know, I’m holding your hand because I want to, Lu,” he assured her as if she didn’t know already. “I always want to hold your hand,” he added, kissing her knuckles as they walked.
Luna just smiled, and when she thought Neville least expected it, she crowded him into a corner and kissed him. He kissed her back with a happy laugh, completely unsurprised.
“One of these days,” she told him when she pulled away, “I’m going to manage to surprise you.”
“Persistence is the key to success,” he replied mildly. His grin was gigantic. Luna looked up into his unseeing eyes, perfectly aimed in her direction, just as they always were (as they always had been, she was only just now realizing), and kissed him again.
Luna took great joy in trying to surprise or scare Neville, which was almost impossible to do now that he could “see” so much of the world with his magic. Her favorite method was sneak-attack kisses, but she’d been known to tackle him coming down stairs, tip-toe up behind him when he was preoccupied with something, and leap out around corners and doors. She’d even creep about when he was conversing with Dean or Hermione. Sometimes Neville tried to play along, but Luna could always tell when he wasn’t surprised.
It didn’t stop her from trying. It was fun, and helped reemphasize how much Neville could do with his magic these days.
But mostly it was just fun. Especially the kissing bit.
Neville tugged her closer, leaning back into the corner and settling her securely against his chest. He brushed his hands through her long blond hair, tucked a few loose strands behind her ear, then cupped her jaw and tilted her face up. “I see you, Luna,” he murmured, proving that he sort of could, in an odd and magical way, by unerringly brushing a finger down her nose.
Neville always said “I see you” when they played this game. Luna was beginning to realize that when he said “I see you,” he meant “I love you.”
She smiled a smug little smile that he couldn’t see—because Luna was a clever clever Ravenclaw who’d figured out his silly I-can’t-say-the-words-yet boy-code—and teasingly whispered back, “I see you too.”