Hufflepuff, Seventh Year


Genre: Drama

Word Count: 1291

AU I guess. I mean canon doesn't not say that Cedric Diggory and Luna Lovegood are second-cousins, nor does it not say that the Diggorys have a farm with sheep, cows, and chickens.

For the Houses Competition

Pandora was experimenting like she always did, Luna couldn't even tell you what, but all her life she loved watching her mother work, even when the experiments shook their house. Pandora was usually so careful, but something went wrong. Luna saw several sparks and the crescendo of bangs echoed around the room. Then, she was on the floor with her mother's body hunched over her.

Belphoebe Diggory, Luna called her Auntie Bel, was actually the one to rescue her, having heard the commotion when she was herding sheep. Daddy was chasing a story and the Weasleys and Fawcetts lived too far away to have heard what happened. The rest was a blur. Luna was entirely checked out even as her injured leg was mended as much as it could and wrapped up. She didn't hear Daddy's words as he checked her over and asked her what had happened.

And then there was the funeral.

Mummy loved having weekly tea with Mrs. Weasley, Mrs. Diggory, and Mrs. Fawcett, so all three women showed up to pay their respects for their friend. Luna was approached by Ginny Weasley and Cedric Diggory. She and Ginny sometimes played together, and Cedric was Luna's second-cousin. She hardly heard a word they said to her. Probably condolences and 'I'm here if you need me's.

Afterwards, Luna locked herself away in her room. Nothing interested her. Not her paints nor her books. Though Daddy mourned, too, he tried to keep a stiff upper lip. He still edited The Quibbler and he made sure Luna changed her clothes, brushed her hair, and at least had food available for her. Whether or not she ate it he couldn't control.

Luna mourned the rest of the summer and all through the fall. The house was prepared, Mummy's workshop area was completely removed, reducing their home from a castle to a rook. All that remained was her mummy's absence and the limp in her walk from her leg injury.

One snowy afternoon, she was sitting in front of a fire and Daddy was typing away on his typewriter. The radio was going but the volume was turned down so low the voices were garbled, almost as if they were underwater.

"Someone's here," said Daddy absently.

Sure enough, someone knocked at the door.

"It's open!"

To Luna's surprise, Cedric entered the house, bundled up in winter cloak. She hadn't really spoken to him for a while. Not since he started Hogwarts anyway. He was always nice to her when he came for tea with Auntie Bel.

"Hello, Cedric," said Daddy. "What brings you here."

"I'm going to take Luna to the fields with me," he said. "I've got Daffodil and Mel all saddled up."

"I'm perfectly content here," said Luna.

"It's not a question," said Cedric, going up the stairs to find her winter cloak, gloves, and a hat.

"Go on, love," said Daddy. "You haven't left this house in months."

When Cedric brought her winter clothes, she wrapped up in them and followed him outside. The cold was a shock and she found herself more awake than she had in awhile. Waiting for them was Cedric's cream-colored horse, Daffodil, and brown and white, Mel. Auntie Bel's family owned farmland and they raised sheep, cows, and chickens. Cedric gave Luna a boost onto Mel before mounting Daffodil.

"Come on," he said, more to the horses than to her.

Luna gripped onto the reins as Mel trotted along after Daffodil. The winter air froze her cheeks and light flakes of snow dusted her hair and eyelashes. She scanned the fields and windbreaker trees all caked with heavy snowflakes. It was bleak. Luna actually found herself relieved to find it wasn't beautiful outside. It was awful when the world didn't want to be sad with you.

The pair rode out to the field where the sheep were searching under the snow for grass. Cedric didn't say anything, choosing instead to sit sideways in his saddle and write out a letter. Who he could possibly be writing to, Luna had no idea.

"Why are we out here?" Luna asked at last.

He shrugged. "My mum said you haven't gotten out anywhere lately. So, I thought I'd help out."

"Just because we're related doesn't mean you have to help me."

"I know, but I want to." He glanced up from his letter. "You can't stay holed up in your room until Hogwarts."

"Well… not with that attitude," she mumbled.

He chuckled. "Luna, I know you. You're an explorer. There's only so much you can explore inside."

"Maybe that's what I like now," she said. "Staying home… tea by the fire…"

"Merlin, Morgana, and Gandalf look!" Cedric shouted.

"What? What?" Luna asked, looking around wildly.

"Did you see that?"

"No! See what?"

Cedric pointed at the line of trees. "I saw something in there."

"Was it a bird?" Luna asked lamely.

"Not quite," he said. "It had wings, yes, but it was also furry, and it had a scaly tail."

An image of the creature popped in her head. Daddy had heard about one a few weeks ago. Wait… Cedric could be making this up…

"Did it have a blue throat?" she asked.

"No," he replied. "It's red."

"It's an Umgubular Slashkilter!" Luna gasped. "We have to follow it! Come on!"

She kicked Mel's sides and took off toward the tree line, scaring the life out of the sheep. Cedric followed close behind.

Luna was elated. Imagine if she actually found an Umgubular Slashkilter.

"Did you see where it went?" she asked Cedric once they reached the trees.

"It was just a flash," he said.

"They are rather sneaky creatures," she said. "They can be trained to carry secret messages and they're masters of disguise. They can look like birds, weasels, or lizards. You only know it's actually them because they can't hide that red throat."

Cedric dismounted his horse. "Let's go find it then."

The sun broke through the silver sky at the same moment Luna smiled.

"That's it," said Cedric, stretching out his hands to help her down. "Can you walk okay?"

"My leg still hurts some," she admitted. "I'm afraid I can't walk quite right. See?" She demonstrated by limping a few steps forward.

"Why don't you try skipping?" he suggested.

Luna paused. There was an idea. She found that she skipped easily along the ground, the toes of her boots crunching in the snow.

"Now that you can move," said Cedric. "Let's go find that Umgubular Slashkilter."

They explored the trees but there was no sign of the creature.

"Perhaps we should go back," she said.

"Giving up already?" Cedric asked, raising an eyebrow.

"Certainly not!" she replied and pointed to the ground where there were a set of perfectly circular tracks. "See these? These belong to a Blibbering Humdinger! They love to steal sugary foods out of rubbish bins, so we need to find cookies."

"That's a relief," said Cedric. "For a minute there, I thought you were doubting."

"Well… maybe… for a bit," she said. "Until you brought me out."

Cedric put a comforting hand on her back. "Hey… remember what Aunt Pandora always said. Anything can exist, someone just has to find them. Yeah?"

Luna smiled and nodded. "Yes."

"Now," said Cedric leading her back to the horses. "My mum's baking cookies this afternoon, so we can take some back out here and look for that Blibbering Humdinger. You should also take a bath and brush your teeth because you stink. Maybe that's why we couldn't find the Umgubular Slashkilter."

Luna broke into a laugh and clutched her sides finding that small comment unbelievably funny.

As they rode back, she realized that she hadn't stopped smiling since they began their chase.