Hermione was livid. That blasted Skeeter woman. She never liked her. Should have buried her in a cigar box when she had the chance.
But also – that damned Luna. She loved the girl. Knew what a special person she was. And yet she still had her faults. And these faults just so happened to be casting a very dim light on Hermione's most accomplished Human Services program to date.
She knew that the article was probably far from the truth. But she also knew that often times, the truth – what was real - didn't matter. What mattered was what people believed to be real. And people believed Draco Malfoy was taking advantage of the system just like his family always had. And something had to be done.
She looked at her old friend who was sitting in a maroon chair across from her. She got up from behind her desk and sat down in the empty chair next to Luna. She took down her hair from its tight bun and ran her hands through her curls, sighing.
"You know this looks bad," she said.
Luna nodded. For a split second Hermione felt a pang of anger and resentment at how calm Luna looked. But then it went away and she was left with a feeling of great regret.
"I'm going to have to transfer his case."
"He's already been transferred-"
"Four times I know. I read his file. I read every update. I keep a tight watch on this particular case. Luna. Why do you think Draco Malfoy has been in the rehabilitation program for so long?"
Luna thought a moment. "He refuses to open his mind."
"It's not just that." Hermione sighed and rubbed her temple. "Luna. If we let one of the most famous wizards from a family of war criminals be reinstated into mainstream life in a matter of two- three years – how do you think the public would react?"
Luna starred at her friend. The answer was there in the back of her mind but she didn't want to let it out.
"There would be an uproar. People would be angry. Perhaps even riot. This new ministry is so young – we need to let the people know that we are in charge. That we will be tough on crime, and yet compassionate. That things will be different."
So… even if I did call a hearing to go over his case… even if he did follow all the guidelines and swear an oath to live an honest life…
Luna's mind was whizzing and revolving with this new information. She thought she felt the earth slipping from under her for a moment. What was this feeling – revulsion? Careful…
Luna had never been comfortable with … ugly feelings. But it seemed that Draco had been rubbing off on her.
She looked at Hermione and they locked eyes. Luna held it and Hermione broke the gaze. Draco Malfoy would not be allowed to have a normal life of anonymity for years.
"Why did you transfer his case to me?" Luna's voice held an uncharacteristic edge to it.
Don't let it in….
Good. She wanted Hermione to know she was upset.
Anger is too harsh, too unwavering…
"I suppose you feel you deserve an explanation," Hermione looked at her like a mother trying to explain a dying animal to a child.
what does anger get you…?
"I don't believe anyone deserves anything," Luna answered. "But I want one."
Hermione raised her eyebrows. "Good answer," she replied. "But I don't have any justification. You were simply next on the roster."
Luna felt chagrined, but also a little satisfied. Of course, sometimes things just happened. In a way that made her feel a bit better about the mounting paranoia she was feeling towards the ministry.
"So he's being punished," Luna said. "He'll never be able to move on?"
Hermione stood up and poured herself some tea that was set on a coffee table near the fireplace.
"He'll be allowed one day. One day when the ministry needs to give the people a reason to celebrate. To feel secure." She brought a cup over to Luna who held it but didn't make any move to drink.
"People must feel safe. But they also must feel that even the worst of us, can change."
To control means to supply a thin stream of hope…
She sounded as if she had said this line one thousand times to herself in the mirror. Maybe she had.
"I know this sounds… horrible. But the truth is that politics, any way you spin them, are messy. People are used as tools. But it is different now, Luna. Remember how corrupt the ministry used to be?"
"The ends justify the means," Luna said. She looked at herself in the sweet milky tea Hermione had handed to her.
"Luna, I just want you to know that you will be able to keep your job. But as professional courtesy, I will tell you that all of your other clients will be up for an ethics hearing later this month. Nothing will come of it, but we have to document it…"
"To make it look good," Luna said. Hermione nodded, wearily.
"You know," she said. "This isn't all coming from me. I have my own job to think about. The wedding is coming up and Ron and I would like to buy a house…"
"I understand. We're all just trying to move on with our lives." Luna couldn't be angry with Hermione. But she could be angry at the system that forced her hand.
"I'll tell Draco myself if you don't mind." She set the cup on Hermione's desk and left the office.
Luna had suggested they go for a walk.
Draco hadn't left his apartment in a week and she felt it wrong to have their last meeting be in his dark grey flat. She'd rather they be in public listening to Christmas carolers.
She bought some books. She asked him about his plans for Christmas. He told her he didn't have any.
They walked down the promenade looking at the lights and decorations being set up. Even though it was early November, Christmas cheer was already abundant. Perhaps this was a bad idea. Perhaps this should have been done in private. But it was too late.
Luna gathered her scarves around her.
"They're taking me off your case," she said. "You'll be transferred to a new specialist."
Draco stopped walking.
She didn't want to say anything else so she kept going. He caught up with her. Grabbed her roughly by her upper arms and studied her face, his eyes moving rapidly back and forth searching for the cruel joke.
He bent down to kiss her and she turned her head so his lips landed on her cheek. He tried again and she wriggled the other way. He ended up burying his face in her neck. She felt bad. She wanted to kiss him too. But that felt cruel and cruelty was one of Luna's rarest feelings.
"They're taking you away from me," he growled. Suddenly self-conscious, he looked up at the few people who had stopped to watch. Someone snapped a photo. Someone laughed out loud. He took his hands off of Luna and righted himself. He turned and walked home.
That night in her dreams, Luna was a hare again. She was running again, but this time it was through desolate tundra. There were no other animals. No other beings for miles. The moon lit up the sky. The stars were gone. A single spotlight of blue-white landed on her and she wanted it gone. She ran faster. Tried to shake it off. The great fire beast was gone and nothing was pursuing her. Instead, she was the pursuer. Chasing something far off in the distance that never seemed to grow closer. The hair on her body stood up like static and she tried to scream but she had no voice. She'd never chased anything in her dreams before. But somehow, this time…She knew if she kept on … if she kept moving forward then maybe ….
Luna woke to an owl tapping at her window. She opened it and let the morning snow trickle in. The owl squawked and Luna fed it a treat. She took the envelope off the owl's leg and sat on her bed to read.
It was from Draco's new rehabilitation specialist. She couldn't get him to talk to her. He was impossible. Angry. Certainly alcoholic. He had ruined her office by knocking over an entire bookcase and scaring her cat. Could Luna help please? Perhaps some words of advice?
Luna wrote back, ask your supervisor. Perhaps seek the help of Hermione Granger.
And sent the short note back with the tawny owl.
Ginny looked at Luna from across the table. They had met for lunch but Luna hadn't eaten anything. She suggested they take a walk. Luna looked so small and pale all bundled up beneath what looked like four different scarves and a dark brown cloak. Ginny asked about Theo. Luna shrugged.
Another letter. The same specialist. Draco had stopped appearing for meetings. He had stopped attending AA and anger management. He had not been answering the door of his flat. The specialist was worried.
Luna sent a letter back – find Marigold. And let the owl take the message away.
Luna was preparing to attend a Christmas party at Ginny and Harry's. The tawny owl appeared again bearing another envelope. The specialist was very concerned about Draco. She found Marigold hanging around a flat in Knockturn Alley. She looked bad off. Marigold hadn't seen Draco for about ten days.
A sense of dread rang through Luna as she read the words, I fear the worst.
She was not allowed to see Draco since he had been transferred. She didn't want to do anything more that would cause his inevitable delay. She owled the only person she knew might help her.
Pansy knocked on Luna's door none too gently.
She entered Luna's flat without saying hello and took off her heavy wool coat, let it sit on the arm of Luna's sofa. Beneath it she wore a cream colored jumper, a black skirt, and tights.
"You're lucky," she said as she plucked an invisible piece of lint off her sleeve. "That I hate my family."
Luna gave her some tea – one sugar no milk. The two women sat down at her kitchen table.
Pansy took out a fine padded leather portfolio and a muggle fountain pen. She didn't offer up any explanation.
"Let's start with those letters. Show me."
Luna gave Pansy the letters the specialist had sent. She recounted the last day she had seen Draco.
Pansy read each letter several times, scrawling furious notes in her book. Every now and then she would mutter to herself. Luna could pick up words like, "Daft…miserable…always been this way…." But didn't interrupt.
"It seems she's been growing steadily worried," Pansy said. "At first, she was simply asking for advice. But now she's worried he's dead."
Luna swallowed. She hadn't been able to say it out loud. Dead.
"I know this is morbid. But we must be practical." Pansy began packing up her small leather briefcase. "We can't go to the ministry because you'll get in trouble. First we'll check the morgues." She looked at Luna sternly. "Then the bars."
And so they did. Thankfully the morgues didn't have any pale blonde wizards in. So the witches took the streets around Draco's flat, and then the ones that weren't so close.
The snow was picking up and it was getting hard to see.
"Pansy," Luna called above the roar of the wind. "What if-"
"Don't say it," Pansy looked fiercely over at Luna. "If you say it out loud, it becomes real."
They stopped into several homeless shelters. Nothing.
Then they rounded the corner and found themselves in midtown. Luna couldn't feel her toes and cast a warming spell. She looked up and saw something glimmering through the thick folds of the snow – the glowing neon sign of the cinemaplex appeared like a beacon.
The cinemaplex was relatively busy for a holiday. Pansy leaned into Luna and said "Jewish wizards get first dibs on everything Christmas eve."
There were several shows playing. One was a double feature of singing in the rain. The girls showed their licenses to the teenager at the ticket counter who sighed and let them pass with little more than a glance at their credentials.
He was there, sitting in the middle row. Just sitting and watching. He was wearing a thin jacket and pants. His hair looked unwashed. He had a layer of thick blonde hair on his face.
On screen Gene Kelly gazed down at Debbie Reynolds and said, "From where I'm standing the sun is shining all over the place!" and leaned down to kiss her.
Pansy sighed and chose the seat in the back row closest to the exit. She tilted her head to Luna who nodded and walked down the deserted aisle to sit next to Draco.
He didn't acknowledge her presence, his eyes were glued to the screen.
She started to say something but he hushed her, bringing a finger to his lips.
"This is my favorite part," he said.
So Luna settled down next to him and they both watched Gene lip sync and frolic in the rain. The sun's in my heart and I'm ready for love…
They finished the movie and then watched it again. Then My Fair Lady came on and they watched that too.
Somewhere in there Pansy had tapped Luna on the shoulder and told her she was going home. Luna thanked her and offered her payment. Pansy shook her head and wished her merry Christmas. Then she wrinkled her nose and said that that sounded corny and walked away.
After the movie ended, the manager came inside and told them that the theater would be closing.
They got up and left the theater but the snow was still falling so they quickly dodged into a café.
Luna ordered two teas and sandwiches for both of them. He hadn't looked like he'd been eating.
They ate in silence.
"Please be kind to your specialist," she said. "I think she's new and she's not prepared to deal with you." Then, in her most stern voice -"Don't do this again."
Draco nodded. He ate slowly. He studied her face, his eyes tired.
Luna felt like crying or maybe laughing. "I was so scared," she said in a quiet voice. "I was so scared."
She walked him home. He closed the door quietly behind him. She waited until she heard the door lock and then apparated home.
Pansy apparated to the Weasleys to find them just getting home from a party. She made no move to apologize for the unexpected late night arrival. She waited until she was invited in and then sat impatiently on their sofa in the parlor.
Hermione offered her some tea but she refused, stating she wouldn't be long.
There was one thing, Pansy said, that she hated more than liars. It was people who refused to acknowledge they were repeating the past. Even worse were people who tried to justify it.
They had all been through a war. They had been children and many had made mistakes. She had. And she would never forget. And she had learned from them.
She recounted the night's events. She told them that Hermione was ruining not only one but two people's lives. And that death, as they knew, spread rapidly once released into the world. Death of the heart spread even faster.
She left then and went home, ignoring a howler from her mother asking why she never showed up to family functions anymore.
Luna opened her door to find Hermione standing in her hallway. This was odd, she hadn't visited her apartment since she first began renting it years ago.
She let her in and offered some tea. Hermione folded her jacket neatly in her arms and looked around the flat.
"This place is lovely, Luna," she said. "Just how I knew you would decorate it."
Luna sipped her tea and starred at Hermione. She was a bit surprised at how fast the anger had turned into resentment and boiled beneath her like a spring below the earth.
"I…" Hermione took a sip of her tea, added some milk, took another sip, set it down on the table before her. "I fear I made a mistake."
She looked uncomfortable. It was always hard to admit you were wrong. Luna softened. Felt the water die down.
The only time anger is unhelpful is when it refuses to go away…
"As of today, I'm transferring Draco Malfoy back into your care. Recent events have been brought to my attention and have shown that you proved to be doing more good than harm and… I shouldn't have let politics get in the way of …. Of what's right."
Hermione's mouth quivered. She placed her face in her hands gently but her shoulders shuddered with heavy sobs.
"It's just so hard Luna." Her voice broke with a harsh gasp. "You don't understand – how hard it is to- the pressure!"
Luna left her cup on the table and went over to sit next to Hermione. She placed a comforting arm over her back and rested her head against her friends.
"It's like – everything we do is – hiccup – maximized by the press, the gossip is – there's no privacy there's no air-"
"Oh Hermione, no one will ever let us forget." She knew it was true and yet it sounded so unhelpful. How could the truth be unhelpful?
"I want to," Hermione moaned into her hands. "I'd like for everything to go away sometimes. I'd like to move out to the country and have a normal job and a normal family – have – God - have a normal relationship with my parents. I'm just trying to do what's right. I always have." Her sob broke into a harsh laugh.
The world won't change so we have to…
"It's funny," she said. She wiped at her eyes and nose with the sleeve of her cardigan. She sniffed. "We were just children. And we grew up fast because we had to. But we were still children. And back then it seemed so obvious - right and wrong was so apparent. And now it feels so muddled. But it must have been just as muddled back then - I just couldn't see it. And now the war is over but sometimes…" she looked out the window at the city around them. "Sometimes it feels like it's still going on."
Luna's nose buzzed and realized she had been crying as well and ran to fetch the tissues. When she came back to the living room Hermione had opened the French windows and was looking out onto the city. The wind swept her hair around in a rich halo. She closed her eyes and breathed in.
The next day Draco received the official letter that he would be transferred back into her care. Soon after, Draco received a letter from a white snowy owl.
It was from Luna, asking when a good time for her to stop by would be. She had read his file and felt that they had lots of work to do.
The New Year was here.
They sat in silence across from one another in Draco's rough grey flat. Above their heads plaster cracked and split, turned into rivers and quivered as people above moved about.
Two flutes of non-alcoholic champagne rested, sweating, on the coffee table between them. They both agreed it was the healthy choice for both of them. It was late and fire works already sounded from somewhere deep in the city.
He had gotten a haircut. A shave. Was wearing a black jumper and black pants. Looked a bit less gaunt. A little softer, perhaps.
Luna was wearing a spangled silver shift. She wasn't so calm anymore – a little fuller in spirit, a little more energetic in emotion – but she still retained her original shape and found that her new qualities fit in quite nicely.
They locked eyes. What is reality but what everyone believes to be true…?
Slowly, they both began to smile.
Luna got up from her chair and walked over to him. He watched her as she did so, heavy lidded and anxious, taking in every movement of her body.
She positioned herself on top of his lap and leaned down until her forehead rested upon his. Encircled his neck with her small hands. Their noses touched, both a little chilly. She smiled as she gave him a slow kiss.
"Happy New Year," she said. He smiled back and his hands reached up to tangle themselves in her hair, pulled her towards his face again for more.
He flipped her onto her back and was on top of her, heavy and warm. Laying kisses all throughout her face, her neck, her chest, her stomach.
He said dark, low, gravely things in her ears. Told her he'd never let her leave again. Told her that if anyone ever tried to take him away he'd find a way back to her. He told her how he'd thought about her all these months. Wondered what it would be like to touch her like this. To feel her underneath him like this. His words made her stomach clench and her toes curl.
She sighed and arched into him. She kissed him back, everywhere she could reach. She took his jumper off and ran her hands down his body. Found the unhealthy red scare of his dark mark. Kissed it too. They slid off of the couch and onto the soft carpet of the floor.
His hands were all over her, firm but gentle- on the smooth curve of her back, on her small breast and her taut nipples, on the swell of her behind and the softness of her inner thigh. He kissed her once and then his hand was somewhere else. And then his mouth replaced it. Luna let out a long sigh and closed her eyes.
She pulled him up to her face again and kissed him, hard. She ground against him and he let out a groan.
Luna flipped on top of him again, pulled down his slacks and watched his face as she slowly settled down to meet him.
They moved together, sweating, and laughing, as the New Year chimed out throughout the city.
After, when Draco fell asleep in his bed, Luna got up and padded to the kitchen. She poured herself some water and went over to the little plant on the sill. She knelt down before it and smiled. Gave it a drink and took a sip herself.
After Draco had disappeared she had feared this little guy would die. But it seemed that even plants showed resilience. She leaned even closer to it and whispered,
"I tell you this- to break your heart, by which I mean only that it break open and never close again to the rest of the world." (1)
Spring was Luna's favorite time of year. The cherry trees blossomed; the birds came back, the soil smelled fresher, cleaner, healthier.
Today was the day Ron and Hermione would finally marry. A large white tent was raised in the back yard of The Burrow just as Harry and Ginny's had been.
All around, people apparated into view wearing their finest robes. Everyone made their way in couples and small groups down towards the entrance of the tent. In the distance a string quartet beckoned the guests closer. A light breeze made its way through the field and played amongst the people milling about.
Hands wrapped themselves around Luna's waist. She giggled and turned to see Ginny's amber eyes shining down at her. They laughed and hugged each other. It had been a long time coming – finally their friends – their family would be wed.
Harry reached out a hand. Draco clasped it and they shook stiffly but not angrily. They looked at each other, cleared their throats, and then looked back at the crowd walking down to the tents below.
"I hear you're taking a trip," Ginny linked elbows with Luna and they began to make their way down. Harry and Draco followed.
Luna smiled. "Well now that Draco's finally done with the program, we'd like to travel a bit."
"After my birthday, we'll be off to Berlin and then we'll make our way from there." Draco's voice was confident and as warm as the sun. Still, of course, with his usual edge.
Harry nodded along. "Berlin is fantastic," he said. "We have friends there you can stay with if you'd like."
Draco raised an eyebrow and told Harry that would be great, thank you, they could use some new friends. Ginny smiled at the men and told them that anyone could face the world alone but why should they have to? (2) Harry gave his wife a kiss. He placed a hand on her slightly swollen stomach.
Luna looked back at Draco. He came up and took her hand. He stood proud and tall just as she knew he always should. She too had grown over the last year but not upwards; rather, she felt she had been elongated sideways like the roots of a tree.
"I don't know how long we'll be gone," she said to her friends. She looked up at the sky and let her long hair fall down her back. Let the wind breathe through her reassuringly for a moment. "But please, don't forget us."
1. Mary fucking Oliver. Read everything she's ever written.
2. N. . She's a great writer.
A/N: And that's all, folks! This was not as long as I thought it would be at first. It definitely had the potential to be like… novel length. But I wanted to wrap it up because I have some other things to do.
I wanted to explore the idea of collective PTSD that often ravages groups of people or whole societies after war. I also wanted to explore the ideas of relative truth and memory, muggle inclusion post-war and how each character adjusts to this growing world with varying degrees of success. Who knows whether or not this was successful.
There was an alternate ending that was perhaps a bit darker. All my stories have great potential to turn out very dark. But sometimes you need a nice light-hearted ending. I liked this ending and I hope you did too.
Anyways, thank you for reading! Till next time.