Author's Notes: Thank you a million times, all you reviewers! Sassy Chick 999, Mirrordjyn, Lightstream, SailorHecate, Lrnd, selenoliber, Callia, SSJ Leia, princessangelita, Sunshine Silverjojo, wildandclear, MandaPandaAR, PapayaCrazy, Sarah Coldheart, phinea, faerybox, Cloud Spinner, JustYourAverageReviewer, asdfs, Perceval23, LemoN-X-DroP, HRH Feline Queen, MisSs005, moonlights desire, MaskedKey, twighunter, sly-serpentine, MoreEverything, aliceandjasper, Alya Riddle, TheAngelOfSilence, and Maru to Moro.
The reaction to this story has been far more than I ever anticipated. I'm glad I wrote it and I'm quite proud of it, mostly because of all the lovely and appreciative comments I've received from all of you! This is the epilogue but I will state now: there will not be a sequel. The fate of Luna Lovegood will have to be up to your imaginations. :-)
The song that Luna sings at the end is Billie Holiday from the WWII era, 'I'll Be Seeing You.'
Disclaimer: I do not own anything in the Harry Potter universe; JK Rowling does. No profit is being made from this fanfiction and no copyright infringement is intended.
A Conception of Love
Six moons later
The cold white marble was so like his skin. Luna let her fingertips trail along the chill stone column that upheld a ceiling glittering and golden. It was fitting that this might be his last resting place. She read the epitaph, simple and unadorned: 'Here lie the ashes of the Dark Lord defeated by Harry Potter, with the help of Albus Dumbledore.'
'They still can't say your name,' Luna whispered to it.
There were a few hushed whispers as more people entered the museum, the Albus Dumbledore Memorial, newly-minted and thrown up in the wake of Harry's victory. It was off of Diagon Alley and the pretty domed spire at the top was the tallest thing in wizarding London. Built and funded by Harry, with the aid of donations, the space was a war memorial, a tale of 'the greatest wizard that ever lived,' the late Dumbledore. Divided into sections of early life, known portraits, teaching years, alchemical work, and leadership of the Order of the Phoenix, the only breaks to white austere marble were the red-and-gold flags and displays. Luna thought the whole thing was very unlike Dumbledore. It was too bare.
She sighed and etched the words of Voldemort's plaque with an absent finger. A low rumble sounded in her stomach; she was hungry and she thought about chocolate. It reminded her of the first time she'd tasted him. The horrified murmurs behind her alerted her that she was not alone in her sight. As she turned, her blonde hair flared a little behind her shoulders, as though it were a dress, an accessory. Her grey eyes met the gawping stares of a group of middle-aged witches who pointed and tittered at the Dark Lord's place behind her.
'That was He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named,' one of them whispered.
'Not so high and mighty now, is he?' another one giggled. 'You better be careful, girl. You don't want to be anywhere near 'im!'
It was more than Luna could take. She stepped away from the group, casting a look back at the unremarkable state of Lord Voldemort, wondering what he would become in future years. A bogeyman to scare children with. 'Be careful, or Voldemort will get you in your sleep!' He'd always gotten Luna in her sleep.
Into bright sunshine she stepped. It was a Tuesday afternoon and Diagon Alley was busy. Happy. Peaceful. Prosperous. Shops were re-opened, with wizards and witches clustered in groups talking and bargaining and sharing news. A small group of children had their noses pressed against the window of Weasley's Wizard Wheezes, exclaiming over the latest line of tricks. A tiny breeze lifted Luna's hair as she descended the hard marble steps from the Dumbledore Memorial and into the throng.
She stopped and bought some chocolate, dark imported stuff from Mexico, and popped a piece into her mouth as she walked. She enjoyed the thought that it was turning her tongue black. Gringotts Bank was next; Luna needed to take a withdrawal and then she would use their Floo Network to get home. At this point, Apparating was not feasible.
She saw no one she knew as her heels clicked on the cobblestones. A relief, for people meant questions, and too many knew about how she had been in the Dark Lord's company, those months ago. Too many might guess.
'The Lovegood living room!' she shouted after her business at Gringotts, flinging down Floo powder with a flourish of her graceful hand and suppressing the urge to throw up as a dozen rooms spun in front of her eyes. She stepped out, feeling relieved and very nauseated.
In the garden she sat beneath the willow tree. The blades of grass between her bare toes waved at her, bright with their season's growth, so green it hurt the eyes to look. The birds chirped and the small insects came out of their winter's sojourn and into the light. On a small knoll, not too far away, was the young sapling of a yew tree, planted six months ago. It was doing well. Neville had given some recommendations as to how to water it. Luna enjoyed her trees and she enjoyed the crisp March sunshine as she sat. It was the Death Moon this month.
With an unconscious gesture, Luna caressed the firm swell of her belly, just starting to become obvious. It was her first pregnancy, of course, so she did not show as soon. But the Other heartbeat was strong and healthy inside her. A life, from death itself. She whispered things to it, sang songs, heard the baby boy inside her with his small still voice. For it was a boy, his son growing, his immortality. She felt as though she knew him already, and wondered what their son would look like. A handsome boy, of course; she hoped he would look like his father.
The elder Mr. Lovegood came out of the house with a tray of sandwiches. 'Are you hungry, Luna?' he asked.
'No, Daddy,' she said. 'I ate some chocolate. It was enough.'
'You're eating for two. Here, have a ham-and-cheese.'
Luna's mouth twisted up in a smile. 'Fine.'
'Have you decided yet?'
'Yes,' said Luna, looking up into the kind, wrinkled face of her father. He'd aged so much during her captivity; he looked twice as old as he was.
'I'll hate to see you go, daughter,' he said. 'To travel in your third trimester…'
'I know. But I have to. I can't explain why, exactly, but I don't feel safe here in Britain.'
'Is it because of Harry Potter?' Mr. Lovegood said darkly. 'His latest speech to the Wizengamot was worrying. Rules and regulations are no way to prevent Dark magic. A free press, now there's the ticket…'
'I know, Daddy,' Luna said. She did not want him guessing the truth of what she carried in her womb, so she avoided further conversation about Harry Potter and his quest to eliminate Dark Magic. For all her father assumed, the child was Neville's, and Luna was just being modern about it. Sometimes his tendency to jump to conclusions worked in her favour.
'So?' said Mr. Lovegood, kneeling on the grass next to his daughter. 'Where will it be?'
'India,' said Luna. 'I'll move to India.'
She had not chosen the place randomly. It was called Asrayaswal, meaning 'haven' in the native Hindi, and it was a tiny wizarding village in the hills above the Muggle city of Darjeeling, India. The sacred five peaks of Kangchenjunga loomed nearby. The winter snows had yet to melt, but Luna did not find it a hardship, for her small stone hut was cozy and sturdy. It had five rooms, all of them circular with rough-hewn walls; the house reminded her of the mountain. One of the rooms was already turned into a nursery in anticipation of the baby, who would arrive in a month or so.
Luna, who looked all sticks-and-balloons with thin limbs and a round belly, waved her wand to set the water boiling. 'How much sugar?' she asked Prema, her friend.
'Two spoons,' said the older woman. Prema was a midwife and trained Healer, among other things, and in her nineties. Her hair was prematurely white, for a witch, and looked stark and beautiful against her dark Indian skin. With black, warm eyes she glanced sharply over Luna's form. 'I hope he comes mid-April. There is a special alignment that month, during the full moon in Scorpio. It would be good luck.'
Luna smiled. 'I think he will.' She was not a believer in astrology, or hadn't been until she came to India and learned the ancient Vedic ways. Several strange predictions given her by her Indian astrologer had opened her mind (which, for Luna Lovegood, did not take much effort). She'd had her own set of premonitions about her son… he would be a powerful wizard. That much was clear.
Luna poured the milky, sugared chai into glass cups and handed one to Prema. They settled by the fire. 'Have you thought about names?' Prema asked.
'Not yet,' said Luna. 'I'll give him a name when I look in his eyes. Then I'll know.'
'Wise,' Prema nodded. 'Best to let the child speak for himself. They always have minds of their own, even from the start.' She let out a cackling, comforting laugh. 'Your son will take after you, I predict. A kind heart. Good as gold, all the way through.'
'I hope so,' Luna whispered into her cup of chai. Through her mind flashed images of the father, who was anything but good… yet somehow, she knew the child would be all right. Only once had she penetrated Voldemort's insanity to find his true divine face, but that night, that love, had resulted in her pregnancy. That one fact made it welcome. Luna would love her son as she'd loved his father: without conditions. A smile graced her pretty face and she spoke aloud in the direction of her belly. 'My darling boy, such a joy!'
Prema sang them a song, an ancient lullaby from the Bhagavad Gita, the holy poem. Luna felt her eyes start to close. The late-season snow fell outside, soft and gentle, blanketing the wizard's village in purity.
The high mountain places of the world were temperamental. Luna discovered this when spring arrived on the same day as her baby. She woke up one morning with the first, minor birth pangs, and outside her door the remaining snow was melting fast. The air was warm and fragrant, bringing the promise of blossoms, and as the snow turned into merry rivulets down the mountainside, Luna thought it sounded like music. The tinkling of bells. She pressed her hands to her belly and sent off a Patronus charm to Prema, with the message to come to the cottage.
Luna's Patronus was now a large swirl of a snake that looked something like Nagini. It had not always been, of course, but such things were known to change with good memories. Prema had commented that the snake did not match up with Luna at all, but had fallen silent at the look on Luna's face. There was much the Healer, for all her compassion, could not be told.
It was mid-April, Luna noted, and full moon. This birth was fortuitous. She grimaced as a stronger cramp tore through her belly and she remembered what she had read about childbirth: it was most difficult the first time a witch had a baby. She took deep breaths, in one nostril and out the other, balancing her body's energy. She spoke in soft tones to the baby, still inside, to reassure it that it was welcome.
'He's coming?' Prema asked, her round face spread into a wide grin, as she popped her head in the open window. 'Get in your bed, child, so I can prepare everything.' Prema bustled around to the front door and entered, carrying a basket full of potions and cloth.
Luna was in labour all day and into the night. The pain was intense, screaming, but somehow exquisite too. As the full April moon grew over her head, the baby came, a healthy son.
That first month, when her belly was flat again, Luna wrote an article about the mythical Starblossom flower and sent it to her father in England, where it was published in The Quibbler. It had her byline, although no one in the Order was aware that she was abroad. For all they knew, she was still in Devon with her dad. There had been rumours that Luna was pregnant, but that was unconfirmed. Even Ginny was in the dark… especially Ginny. Her husband was paranoid and would put it together in an instant.
Luna was not sure they'd destroyed the Red Thing, the Dementor, and the thought of it terrified her. If it was still sniffing about under Harry's orders, that could turn into a large problem for her and the baby. It reinforced her decision to raise her boy overseas. The child's father had known India and the world beyond; she wanted to attain that worldliness, too.
The Himalayan Mountains were wrinkled and crisp like stiff white cotton rising above her head. Daffodils bloomed in the garden, and as spring grew warm, great swarms of butterflies flew languidly through the air. They came in droves of thousands, all colours, and Luna had never seen anything like it. She sat in the garden outside of the stone house and watched the clouds of butterflies. From the Indian Wizarding Wireless, the rhythmic, jangling beat of music made Luna's feet twitch in her pretty shoes.
She wrote letters to her remaining acquaintances, to Ginny and Neville and Severus and Hermione (the latter two had been married), though she could never tell them the biggest news of all. A part of her wondered if Severus had guessed the truth about her condition, but deep inside she knew he would never say a word. Always mysterious, even the prying Hermione would not have wrested everything from him.
In those early days, when the baby was brand-new and they were far away from everything, Luna would sit him on her lap and sing him a soft little song.
'I'll find you in the morning sun… and when the night is new…
I'll be looking at the moon… but I'll be seeing you…'
The baby (whose name was Seth) stared up at her with cool, perceptive grey eyes beneath a tiny patch of fine dark hair. He seemed to know of whom she sang.