Disclaimer: I do not own these characters. J.K. Rowling does.
The moment she saw him, Luna knew her life would change.
She didn't know specifically but she should have. She watched him loom among the Death Eaters. A young man whose eyes were filled with secrets that Luna would like to know, to own, and keep in her very own replica of Pandora 's Box.
It was like he was someone walking around in another 'person' suit. In retrospect, Luna shouldn't have been watching him at all from her place in line.
It had taken her some time to notice that she wasn't with her friends. Even in the end, she was in a different line from them, a whole separate reality.
So she kept her eyes on him to chase away her thoughts.
Someone wrapped their fingers around her neck, with the air of someone evaluating a rare delicacy. She stopped, to keep her body from splitting down the middle like a leaf, veins and all.
"Luna, isn't it?"
If death never brushed its teeth, she believe it would have had this sort of breath; one made of broken, dirty glass and fetid, old meat, as if something had been left to spoil from deep inside. His heart. Too much time out in the sun for this one.
She looked out the corner of her eye to see that his hair was filthy and crusted, like ancient layers of earth.
"I like that name. Perfect, for a wolf to finally devour the moon," he growled, and something wet and alarmingly warm fell onto her shoulder. It was then she started to not care for this place at all.
She was placed in another line, pushed by his thick, calloused hands, one of small children, women who were cursed by looking too young for their age and boys who were much too similar to those paints of cherubs with large eyes. Actually, it was a parade of androgyny. All under-developed and straggly and thin. Barely budding, as her mother would have said.
She felt her name had made her age wane in an instant.
The whole scene was very much like the parting of the red sea, only with much more red to come. The wolves and giants and beasts would take what they wanted, while on the other side, the masked men would take their pick of the litter. She thought they all looked like the demons from fairy-tales yet they were men. Someday the beasts would figure out that even the masked men had bones that would also make their bread.
Luna met his gaze again. He was a thorn in her eye and she was nettled. No one else had seemed to notice. Not even the wolves with their sharp noses.
She watched as the man smiled, and leaned over to whisper to one of the larger masked faces. Then he disappeared, and she scoured the sea of indifference for that one face. He was gone, and she wondered what he had said about her.
The line began to move, and she moved with it, unperturbed and fancying that they were all going to build a pyramid. A small boy slipped and fell, and one of the wolves, sensing weakness, lunged towards him. Luna quickly scooped him up and the wolf laughed coldly, winking at her.
She had to carry him and she was not surprised that he was as light as a papier-mâché child would have been. There was a scream above her, and she assumed a giant had found something to his liking. She hadn't connected the giants with the odd shower of shoes, clothing, and coins during her musing, but now she did. Her first mental picture was of a revolt going on above them in the sky, with a crowd booing and hissing at this turn of events. Perhaps someone had made a wager and had to pay in bloody galleons.
"What's your name?" she asked.
"John," he said, hiding his last name behind small lips, and Luna suspected he was ashamed of it, even among beasts.
"I'm Luna. What's your favorite sweet? Mine's onion gobstoppers."
Again, someone fell behind her on the treacherous ground and was snatched away before they could make a sound.
"I like-the everlasting bubblegum. One time, I blew a bubble as big as my head," he said, shivering.
"Oh, I've never done that before. Maybe you can teach me how."
There was a woman trapped between two of the masks men, and they started to unravel her clothing as she shrieked.
"What do you want to be when you grow up? My career advice never went very well, I'm afraid."
"That's easy. I want to be an Auror, and have a statue in the Ministry with my name on it."
"I bet you will, too. You have hawk eyes, like most Aurors do."
"You've seen them? Where are they? Why aren't they here?" he asked.
Luna didn't mean to say what she did; that the Aurors would be coming soon. That they were merely hidden, having transfigured into clouds.
He stopped breathing in the middle of her story, and she kept on speaking, or at least moving her lips. It was cold, and red leaves shrouded the forest up ahead. She would go in one way and come out differently. She felt the tingling in her bones that the entire forest was a cocoon.
A Death Eater stepped out in front of her, blocking her way. The boy's head bobbed against her shoulder, and she felt guilty, like she had been caught thieving, or coveting, or lying. She didn't want to let his body go among the field. She didn't want him to turn into a flower and be killed by the winter.
"The teeth of these beast will not graze your flesh today" he said, as though he favored being a poet but found that the wrong turn and a steady supply of victims made much better…real words come to mind. Words you could feel so much that they were palpable. Luna imagined him discovering this secret by accident.
And he took the boy from her and tossed him aside. "But as for other beasts...' he added as an afterthought, giving her a look through the slits of his mask that sent a foreign shudder through her body.
It was then she knew she should have gone with the wolves.
She had read somewhere that fate was fickle while its cousin death was rarely finicky. So she wondered why she was alive, and why she didn't feel it.
Luna felt a hollow space inside of her, and she didn't want this place to sneak in and fill it up.
She had been taken to a cell and from the looks of it, seemed to have been misplaced. There had been all kinds of plant life, dripping and gripping, and her ears popped occasionally, meaning that she must be underwater. She thought it was an aquarium but for the sickly ones. Yes, people, her cell mates, became ill from the damp air that filled their lungs.
The wolves didn't disappear with the forest, however. They followed the scent of sickness as if it were honey. He would appear outside her cell, and wait till she became aware of him.
"The frost is coming," he said, looking like a child waiting for a holiday. Luna wondered when he had been bitten. If he had been a child at the time, that's why he craved them so. Eternal mates, no longer imaginary, and Luna knew what it was like to be lonely. Yet she hated him.
She feared his visits, and even when she tried to sleep, she would wake up and believe that she had smelt him, his scent having eventually stained the stones. He would reach through the bars, and the walls would push her forward. Inch by painful, dreadful inch, she would drift precariously towards his hands with nails like beetles, ready to infect.
Luna began to let herself drift, between sleep and wakefulness. One day, he would grasp her ankle, and she would know she wasn't dreaming and that the time had come. Not today, he had said.
Lies. Every day. It was every day. The bars themselves looked like jaws.
The sickness was like grinding teeth.
So Luna dreamed of gum less health and warmth in a nice bed, where she lived in her mind and watched the snow white clouds drift by. They seemed to herald the winter months ahead.
When the boy entered her cell, Luna had thought that the frost had finally come.
Indeed. He looked like old man Frost in the guise of youth. Yet when he knelt by her, she found he was strangely warm; his lips were quite nice, not withered and sharp. For some reason, Luna thought of apples, or maybe apple cider.
"You took off your suit to visit me," she observed.
"So you did see me," he muttered. "I was unsure about you. At first, I thought you had gone mad but your eyes were too sharp for you to be of a weak mind. I've since asked about you. And did you, Luna, inquire about me?"
"No," she said. "There was really no one to ask unless I count myself. And you, actually. Why are you here?"
"Ah, this one gets right to the point. Let's just say you've enticed me. These chains look uncomfortable, I must say," he said, pulling on them and making her gasp. "Oh dear, that hurts, doesn't it. I can rectify this situation easily. But only if you promise me one thing in return."
Luna waited patiently.
"That you will try to regain your health with every ounce of your being. That you will death away. With my aid, of course. Fair enough?"
Luna thought it impeccably fair, and nodded without hesitation. The chains slipped onto the ground, groaning from their own weight, and she struggled to stand up. He offered her his hand. In the end, she took it with good will.
"Are you real, by the way? This isn't a dream, is it?" Yet Luna wasn't sure if it was a rude question or not.
"I sincerely doubt you could have dreamed me up, Luna," he said, a touch with familiarity. As if he was already an old friend of hers. "See, I'm perfectly real."
He pressed his fingers to her lips, watching her closely, and she trembled a bit. She had blurred reality to such a degree that his touch almost hurt, as if an old scar had been rubbed.
"Odd timing, you know. I was just about to…leave, I think. What made you wait so long if you were curious about me? When I'm curious about something, I can't wait, really, and I'm never still until I find out more," she said as they traveled down the hall, his arm supporting her.
"I prescribe to the belief," he began, and his movements spoke with him, added a touch of cold flair to every word and made them hiss against the crucible of his lips. "That timing is everything. Why, would you have been so quick to accept my offer months ago? What if you were to go against your best interests out of spite? I find isolation and one's own thoughts are the best tools for wearing down such a callous thing as spite. I confess I had to temper my desire to make your acquaintance."
Luna couldn't help but be flattered. When she was flattered, she was always leery. That was when they plucked your wand out from behind your ears and turned your nose into a carrot. Out of all her favorite things, carrots were at the bottom of the barrel. But some part of her whispered stubbornly that she had liked the way he talked. She hadn't ever seen anyone mold their language into their own image.
"Tools? Why not friends?" she asked. "I like being alone sometimes. I can't get away from my thoughts so they aren't friends, I suppose. They can be my worst enemies."
"I misspoke, then." She thought he looked amused, and his grip tightened, though not uncomfortably. "Speaking of friends, who-if it's not too painful for you to recall-was with you that day? I've been wondering how someone like you ended up here, in the Dark Lord's prison."
"Oh…well." She was ever so weary and leery of him, and she wanted some food. She felt empty. "I was in a club at Hogwarts."
"My, this is some club. I'm impressed. Part of the requirement is to fight Death Eaters, is it?"
She gasped. "No, no, it isn't…exactly."
Luna wondered if that had been it, exactly. The requirement was being loyal, not a sneak like her fellow Ravenclaw. The mirrors had mocked Edgecombe for days. Quite cruel things… mirrors with all their gratuitous kindness. Really, the mirror only saw what you saw, and in that, they were unstoppable.
"Tell me the truth, Luna." He had become solemn, like a stone balance that was about to measure the worth of her heart. If her heart was faulty, it would be fed to the crocodiles. "I had been hoping to count you as a friend, and I am not as…tolerant towards fabrications. You understand, I hope."
Luna never liked lies herself, but she was tolerant of them. Her father had said that to keep an open mind, you sometimes had to let the flies inside.
"I…suppose. I was with Dumbledore's Army."
He paused, and she sensed a hiccup in his train of intentions.
"That's the truth," she added helpfully.
"You still kept his name after his fall." There was some bitterness, or emptiness, in his voice, and Luna felt a little…sorry.
"Well, unofficially. Do you have a name? Perhaps we could form a club as well."
He laughed, his face becoming handsome once more.
"No need, no need. You know, I think I will enjoy your company. Maybe you'll chase away my boredom this week."
Luna was certain she had turned into a cocoon during the night.
For she was wrapped up in a silky apparatus. She shut her eyes tightly, afraid. Look what she had done; she had let herself go. And who knew what she would turn into? There was a toad. That was a given. Or a moth. She had always liked fire, and as a moth, she could cope. Was there a spider outside waiting patiently for her to emerge? She wouldn't even be able to fly (or hop) away in time.
There was a dry, humorless flapping sound beyond this cocoon, and Luna shuddered. Oh dear, it was a bat. A whole flock of bats. They were dancing around out there, building a house for her soul, and she wasn't having that at all. Bats had no taste at all and it was common knowledge that they made for poor decorators.
Luna found she could poke a hole through her shield, and she allowed her hand to explore the environment. Or antenna, as it was.
There, she detected a strange alignment that felt like another hand. Knuckles, to be precise. Had the bats been given hands to tie knots in her hair? She moved downwards, and found what felt like a shirt. Someone seized her hand, and she screamed.
"Sorry to interrupt you, but I thought it best to stop your explorations there."
Then she remembered to her chagrin.
The room was resplendent; well, if resplendent things could be so…personal. Everything was placed so perfectly that she felt alien to the very idea of it. It was interwoven into something more, and she just wasn't ready to see it yet. There was no mood here; there was no whimsical after-thought. It was personal but at the same time, worlds away from her comprehension, cold and unattached.
He wasn't Jack Frost, apparently. He was old man time, complete with his scythe.
"Nevertheless, despite that little show, I'm glad you're awake. You've slept for days. I trust you're rested. Lucid, even…or not. I have something for you."
He rose quickly, apparently having remained dressed throughout her slumber. She hadn't realized how tall he was until he stretched up to reach the highest shelf, and she saw some of his back where his shirt crinkled up.
It seemed to be a just a glass orb or an egg, then Luna saw that it was, in fact, a model of an eye. She couldn't quite make out the intricate carvings around it, or the color of the iris. Not even the color of the abyss that was just beyond the pupil. He placed it on the pillow besides her head, and smiled like he knew a secret.
"Well, what do you make of it?"
"I think it's special."
He seemed pleased. "Yes. Yes, it is."
He was focused on her, though, while he spoke. "You can hold it, if you'd like. If you are careful."
She didn't need to be told that it was precious, and she picked it up with reverence. "Whose eye was it?"
"Accounts differ on that matter. The specifics have been lost over time. What I do know is that it had been retrieved from behind the Veil."
Luna's interest was now seething, and her palms tingled. There had been those voices, those rain sweet voices. They had been saying, or singing, or screaming, and she never could make it out. She thought this eye was similar to his eyes, all in implications. Luna had discovered that looking into his eyes was enough to make her dizzy.
"But I forget myself…you know all about the Department of Mysteries."
Luna looked up quickly. "Then it wouldn't be much of a mystery, would it. I've only seen the Veil and some of the other rooms. I was in a hurry because I was being chased and cursed so I really couldn't think on it all."
"Didn't your mother work there? Her name was on the records."
She found her stomach twisting into knots. He knew all about her, it seemed, and she knew nothing about him.
"You know, I don't know your name. Funny, isn't it? You can be anyone you want. Take any person's life and make it your own."
"So I've been told. But for now, my name is Tom. I've survived the war, like you, and am merely filling the time. As I said, you interest me greatly."
"But you didn't…you…you had to have his permission, right," she said, her mind clicking things together painfully while her weariness and memories still ran red. She trembled. "He's the one who has to be interested."
"Very, very good. Took a little longer than I expected but I'll let that slide for now. You see, Luna, you shouldn't have been aware of my presence at the field. So, I imagine, you have quite a talent for seeing past illusions…at least the magical ones. Now, this is where you should pay attention. The Dark Lord has always made use of his resources, and in case you didn't realize it, you are a resource."
"Are you one, too?" she whispered, feeling alone. Resources reminded her of squid ink. It was painful being squeezed through a quill. For a moment, Luna thought he wasn't quite clear of his position himself.
"That doesn't matter. What matters at the present is that you impress him enough to let you live. Unfortunately for you, I am beginning to doubt your use myself."
Luna couldn't help but feel this was rather late notice. She glared at him moodily, and gave him back the glass eye. Resources, indeed.
"You're a squid," she said, and untangled herself from the rich fabrics that had warmed her. His face darkened, contorting into that forbidden, silent forest, but she didn't really care.
He wasn't even good enough to be ink, she thought happily.
"That doesn't bode well for you, Luna. Your sight's missed the mark by a whole chain of being."
"Not really. You did say I had talent," she said smugly.
The abyss of the hall was cold and intrusive, and she couldn't help but remain close to him. It was a maze, and they walked through mirrors, traps, and death. Everywhere. There were heads on the walls, and hands holding torches, and eyes on statues. She felt that the old castle had changed indeed, and had someone become infected with its captors.
"I've been forced to reconsider my position," he told her, in confidence. "You are remarkably lacking in foresight. No matter what you see at the present, you can never use it achieve any end."
Luna was grim…quite literally.
"Do I have to kiss his feet?"
"I don't like feet."
"I'll keep that in mind for when you claim you don't want to part with them."
"Please, don't make fun. I don't know where they've been, and I really don't want to get loose lips."
He stared at her in the darkness, and she tried not to look at the letters that formed this place of cold grey. She hadn't been able to enjoy her drink this morning, either, at the old, Gryffindor table in the Great Hall. The leftover tears in the air made the liquid taste like begging.
"No. Just kneel. Keep your eyes down. Don't speak unless spoken to…a dose of common sense will cure your lip problem as well."
"Really?" she asked, and felt some pleasure at his company. Even if he was just an invertebrate.
"I guarantee it. Just pretend that your lips are sealed."
"But what do you seal lips with, Tom?"
"I'm going to ignore that," he said, dismissively. Yet Luna really didn't know, and she sighed.
"I'm not going to do very well," she said. He pondered this. While he did, she noticed that he was dressed in robes that really didn't suit him. He was dressed in black, and his image bled into the background. She would have dressed him in rich colors, like red.
"I'll help you on one condition," he said slowly.
Luna thought that sounded very familiar.
"If you calm your mind, I can tell you what to do. Would you like that?"
Luna nodded eagerly, feeling like she would be struck down by the fear of the possibility of never finding her father or her friends.
"A little lesson in foresight for you, Luna. Everything has a price." He grabbed her suddenly, and pushed her up against the wall, trapping her with his body. "You have to pledge yourself to me first. Give yourself up entirely, mind, body, and soul."
Luna didn't struggle, feeling a bit overwhelmed. She studied him, wishing she knew how he worked.
"I hardly know you."
"You never will, and yet you'll know me completely. Of course, you won't understand this until I show you."
"Will he mind, though? Actually, it seems like he would take this rather personally," Luna observed, remembering that every Death Eater had had a mark on them. He wiped away their faces, just for his collection, and tricked them into taking the masks out of desperation. One must have a face, and it really didn't seem to be Tom's place.
"It will be our little secret," he whispered, leaning closer.
Luna thought this scene would have looked very telling, in a Vane way, to any spectator. But he had chosen the route less traveled, apparently, and no one, not even the ghosts of lost prisoners, interrupted them. She tried to figure out if she had ever been this physically close to anyone in her life; there was no fond memory of someone's body defining hers.
"I don't know what you want," Luna said.
"You. I want you, with all your abilities, to wear my mark before any other. I was the one who found you. I was the one who let you salvage your humanity from the wolves. You owe me your life."
"Will anyone see your signature? That…I let you have me?"
"Never. I guard my possessions as fiercely as I do my secrets."
"I don't want to be a pet. I've had pets, and they were my friends, but I don't want to be one. I've never put myself in their shoes before. I feel awful now for making that one poor thing dig straight to center of the earth."
"…I…won't make you do that," he said smoothly. "You see, I'm a reasonable master. Besides, you want to find what's left of your little club, the great Dumbledore's army of children."
Luna blinked. How had he known? Was it written all over her face?
"You need me," he said.
"Like you need me," she responded.
He was out of sorts here, and his worth was being judged. Whether he would go free or be imprisoned like she had been. Luna saw the situation with clarity, and was afraid. Not of him, but at her previously dormant calculating side. Her mind was an ice-box, and she was going through the motions. A shudder went down her spine like a stick down a long flight of stairs, and she knew why. He needed her. She had gained something new, and this time it wasn't a hat for someone to take. It was a person.
"Yes," he said, slowly, as if it had pained him to admit it.
"Then go on. Write on me, and it had better not tickle."
He drew his fingers along her arm, and she felt a wave of pain follow close behind the sensation. No, it certainly didn't tickle, or tingle, but only seared, only reformed her skin by separating it from the impurity-herself. She didn't scream, and instead she bit down on her lips. A warm, sickle-like taste filled her mouth. She was awake, and yes, she felt that hollow space inside of her being filled. Gently at first, and then an onslaught without mercy. Her limits were tested and peeled away. Broken. She had always been used to being alone. Now, she had endless company, and her heart set itself to a new rhythm. She swore she felt hands around it, as well.
Her skin was not marred, her flesh was not burned. It was what was underneath that mattered.
"It is done. It is in the past," he whispered soothingly. "Let it die there. Now, let's see if I can keep you alive within the next hour."
-Please tell me what you think :)