This is a character study for a fic I've been plotting, which I wrote when I realized I didn't understand how Luna had become the person in my story, so I needed to work out the back-story.
Fair warning, while not explicit, the actions in the last paragraph are rather gruesome.
Disclaimer: If you think I own Harry Potter, boy, have YOU not been paying attention the last eleven years! Harry Potter character and concepts are the intellectual property of JK Rowling. Cabal characters and concepts are the intellectual property of Clive Barker. No profit is being made, no infringement is intended.
October 30th, 1997
The cold light of the waning moon shone eerily through the tree branches as the young woman fled into the woods. The shadows danced like hungry specters in the corners of her eyes. Blood trails began to streak her silken robes as thorny branches tore at her during her blind flight through the forest. She had no plan, no sense of direction; she was just intent on escaping the horror behind her.
Marietta Edgecombe didn't understand how everything had fallen apart, leaving her running from her home in terror of her life. Until recently, things had been going very well indeed, at least from the point of view of a supporter of the Dark Lord Voldemort. Someone who opposed him might have had a very different opinion.
After her somewhat disastrous sixth year, and the embarrassment of her 'Sneak' marking, events had become more positive. The Dark Lord had been revealed in all of his glory at the Ministry, and fear had run rampant. Irregular attacks through the summer had kept the terror level high, leaving the populace wondering where chaos would reign next.
Returning for her seventh and final year at Hogwarts, Marietta had been quick to seize on certain...opportunities. She had been tasked to track the whereabouts and actions of various students. Some were destined to be killed, some captured, and some, like Potter, were merely to be watched. Her reward for these assignments was to be able to select targets of her own to be used for her own purposes, so long as they did not conflict with her orders.
Marietta had long hated those girls who were prettier, smarter, or more powerful than she was. Those who were all three earned her special ire. As she had matured, her fantasies of power over these girls had taken on a darker, more sexual tone. Given the chance to indulge these fantasies at little risk to herself, Marietta seized it with both hands. She pointed out the targets, others acquired them for her.
Cho Chang was the first to be taken, captured during a Hogsmeade weekend shortly after Halloween. The Patil twins were next, seized during an attack on the Hogwarts Express as the students returned from Christmas break. The captives were taken to a hidden dungeon under Goyle House, where they were held to await her pleasures.
As a seventh year student, Marietta could leave Hogwarts on the weekend with parental permission. Said permission her mother was only too happy to grant, knowing full well how her daughter was exercising it. She too, had her own appetites that she chose to indulge. This allowed Marietta to spend many enjoyable days and nights with her toys, both at Goyle House, and occasionally bringing a toy or two home for the weekend. Sometimes she played alone, sometimes with her friends.
As the end of the year and her time at Hogwarts had approached, Marietta had decided to grant herself one last indulgence—Luna Lovegood. She had despised the girl from the moment she met her. She was strange, powerful, and quite smart despite her peculiarities. What's more, as she had grown into herself, she had blossomed and become startlingly attractive. But worst of all, from Marietta's view, had been the inability to get to her. No matter what Marietta had done, and she had been very creative, nothing penetrated Luna's shell of calm. The desire to have that bitch trembling in terror at her feet, naked in chains, while she tormented and degraded her, had been too great to pass up. Luna had been taken in the last week of school, during one of her many walks near the Forbidden Forest, grabbed and apparated away at the edge of the Hogwarts wards.
The sound of snapping branches and a low growl dragged Marietta's attention back to the present. She saw a pair of glowing green eyes in the trees to her right. She swerved left, fleeing the eyes as fast as she could run. This pattern repeated itself several times over the next five minutes. So great was her terror, Marietta failed to notice the way she was being herded.
It had been immediately after Luna's capture that events had begun to spiral out of control. First, Goyle Manor had burned to the ground, with all in (and under) it killed. This before Marietta had even had a chance to play with her new toy once! Matters then rapidly went from bad to worse.
The day that school ended, there was an incident that, if she hadn't been there herself, Marietta would never have believed. One minute she was packing her belongings, preparing to leave on the Hogwarts Express in a couple of hours, the next, she was outside the gate of the castle with her trunk, along with all the other students, and all the teachers from the Headmaster on down, with one exception. The body of Severus Snape was crucified above the gates, dead eyes staring sightlessly down at the horrified throng below.
The teachers had spent some time working together in an effort to penetrate the wards, but it was all in vain. Despite questions from both McGonagall and Flitwick, Dumbledore refused to say anything substantial about what had happened, only that the wards were no longer under his control. Eventually the teachers had rounded up the students, and they had all boarded the Hogwarts Express and returned to London.
Marietta had heard later from her mother that several expeditions from the Ministry, including members of the Department of Mysteries, had attempted entry to Hogwarts. None had been successful. She was also told that the Dark Lord had sent members of his Inner Circle to try, with similar results. It seemed that whoever was in control of Hogwarts had no interest in talking with either side.
Voldemort, unsurprisingly, was enraged by this. Refusing to believe that it was not some ploy by Dumbledore, he demanded that attacks be re-doubled. This action too soon met with disaster.
At first it had only been minor Death Eaters who had disappeared during the course of attacks, but this soon changed. The body of Peter Pettigrew was found atop the Fountain of Magical Brethren in the Ministry Atrium. He had been choked with his own silver hand. Needless to say, this had led to a re-evaluation of the guilt of Sirius Black, and a posthumous pardon.
The three Lestranges were the next to fall victim. Their bodies turned up one morning, impaled on stakes in Diagon Alley. They had been scalped, and the expressions on their faces showed that they had died in agony.
Day after day, more bodies of Death Eaters both known and unknown had appeared. Augustus Rookwood was found, as was his old friend Octavius Bagman, Ludo's father, who had never before been identified as a Death Eater. Both had been tortured to death, and were found with silver knives marked with a crescent moon buried in their hearts.
Even Marietta's generation had not escaped unscathed. In addition to the younger Crabbe and Goyle, believed lost along with their parents in the destruction of Goyle House, Stephen Cornfoot and Kevin Entwhistle had been found. Or rather, small bits of flesh and bone that were eventually identified by St. Mungo's mediwizards as belonging to those two had been found. They had apparently been torn to shreds, and large pieces of their bodies remained unaccounted for.
It was these last two deaths that caused Marietta the most distress. They had been close friends, partners in some of her... special activities. And now, having come home to find her mother's mutilated body in the house, a silver moon dagger through her heart, then being chased into the woods by unknown opponents, she very much feared it was her turn.
Her train of though was broken again as she suddenly passed from the trees into a moon-lit clearing. She fell to her knees, exhausted from her flight through the forest. Several minutes passed as Marietta gasped for breath before she realized she was not alone in the clearing.
A shadowed figure sat quietly on a fallen tree several yards away from her. They were cloaked and hooded with only legs clad in leather trousers and dragon-hide boots showing beneath a dark cloak. The open hood faced towards her, silent and menacing.
Panting, Marietta glared at the figure, "Who the hell are you?"
The cloaked form rose smoothly to its' feet. Gloved hands reached out from under the cloak, grasped the sides of the hood, and drew it down sharply. A very familiar face, blonde hair flowing like water from under the hood, regarded the kneeling Marietta. The only strange things were the eyes. Where they were once vague and unfocused, they were now clear and cold, like chips of ice.
For a moment Marietta could not believe her eyes. Then, she forced her voice to work once more.
"Loony!! But you're dead!!"
The blonde head tilted slightly sideways for a moment, as if considering the point. Then she spoke.
"Dead? No, not yet anyway. Not Luna either, for that matter. At least, not tonight. Some other night, perhaps..."
Hearing the kind of peculiar statements she was used to from "Loony" Lovegood, some of the confidence Marietta had lost in her flight through the woods began to return. She struggled to her feet and stepped forwards towards the other girl, a sneer beginning to form on her face.
"Now, Loony, what the hell do you think you're..."
Without warning, the back of a gloved hand rose and cracked across Marietta's face, sending her sprawling onto her back. She lay there, staring up at the blonde figure above her in disbelief. After a moment, Lovegood spoke again. This time, Marietta noticed that her voice, like her eyes, held none of its owner's previous vagueness. It too was as cold as winter's frost.
"Marietta, Marietta, you're supposed to be a Ravenclaw. I told you, Luna isn't here tonight. If you need a name to use, call me Hecate."
Marietta just lay there, shocked into silence. Lovegood, loony old Lovegood, had dared to strike her. Her, Marietta Edgecombe, servant of the Dark Lord. At first rage coursed through her. Then, like a sudden dash of cold water, prudence arose. She had lost her wand in her flight; Lovegood's could be seen in a sheath at her side. The hilts of several knives also showed on her belt. Like it or not, the balance of power here was not in Marietta's favour. Care was called for at this point, until the balance could be shifted.
She climbed carefully to her feet, keeping a watch on Lovegood's motionless figure. She thought for a moment, and then spoke again.
"All right, Lovegood. You say Luna isn't here. Then who is? Who is Hecate?"
In a flash, the mood in the clearing changed. The menacing figure that was Luna Lovegood relaxed and seated herself once again on the fallen tree. Her voice rose clearly once more through the clearing. However, the tone that had been cold before had changed. While still harsh, it now seemed almost...whimsical.
"Questions? Behaviour befitting of a Ravenclaw, at last. Really, Marietta, the way you've been acting this year. Spying, sneaking, kidnapping, torturing, one would take you for just another inept Slytherin! Any road, how to explain Hecate. Hmmm..."
The blonde fell silent once more, staring pensively off into nowhere. Marietta stood quietly for a time, then shifted nervously. Luna's head came up sharply, and then a hand waved towards Marietta.
"Sit, sit, this may take some time. And we've all the time we need, the night is still young."
Marietta slumped to a seat on the ground, and stared nervously at the motionless figure on the log. The silence continued for a few moments, and then Luna's voice spoke up again. This time, the chill tone had returned.
"Have you ever considered how much pain a mind can take before it snaps? Oh, not physically. I'm sure you have plenty of experience with that from your crude tortures. I mean mental anguish, the type from which there is no relief? Where a lifetime's agony can take but a split-second?"
Marietta made no answer, as none seemed to be expected. The blonde appeared to be talking to herself as much as to her audience.
"I have intimate experience with that kind of pain. Let me tell you a story. I didn't learn much of this story until very recently. Once upon a time, about a decade ago, there was a little girl named Luna. She lived a happy, carefree existence with her mummy and daddy. That is, until the day that happy life was shattered."
"You see, her mummy was a spell-crafter for the Department of Mysteries, and she had been working on a spell to track the mark of a bad man called Voldemort. Even though most of the world believed he was dead, her mummy and the people she worked with did not. Besides, they knew that a number of the bad man's followers, called Death Eaters, had escaped; and they thought that her mummy's spell would be a good way to reveal those people for what they were."
"Unfortunately, word of this work reached the ears of another not very nice man named Dumbledore. He realized that if Luna's mummy's spell worked, a number of secrets would be uncovered, including some that he was desperate to keep. At the same time, he did not want his involvement in stopping that work to become known. So, he decided to take a different approach."
"Tell me, Marietta, have you ever heard of the Tribes of the Moon?"
Luna had stopped and was staring intently at Marietta. Marietta thought hard for a moment. Suddenly, she remembered stories that her mother had told her when she was little, almost fairy tales. She saw Luna smile at her sudden shuddering.
"Ah, I thought you might have heard the stories. The eternal bogeymen of the Purebloods, aren't they? Well, you see, what Dumbledore knew was that Luna's mummy was descended from the Priestesses of the Moon, once the leaders of the Tribes. Being a historian, he also knew about the ancient purges and slaughters performed by the Purebloods against the Tribes. So, seeing his opportunity, he had his lackey, a VERY bad man named Snape, slip her mummy's secret to Octavius Bagman. They had known each other through the Death Eaters, and both Snape and Dumbledore knew that Bagman was a rabid Purist."
"Bagman then visited Azkaban, to see an old friend of his named Rookwood. Such things were easy to arrange if you greased the right palms. Bagman explained his need to trap and kill someone to his old friend and Rookwood provided a contact to him, the name of a woman in the Floo Network Office who could arrange a temporary interruption at Luna's house."
At the mention of the Floo office, Marietta gave a sudden intake of breath. She tried to stifle her reaction, but it was clear Luna had heard it.
"Yes, you begin to see where your family enters the story. It was your mother who blocked the Floo. Bagman still had access to Death Eater materials, including robes, anti-apparition wards, and other tools. He gathered those, and on the appointed day, set out for Luna's house."
"When the wards went up, the Floo did not respond, and Luna's mummy saw the robed and masked man approaching their house, she knew her life was over. Her husband was at work, and there was no way to reach him in time. But she hoped that she could still save her little girl's life. She grabbed her daughter, and hid her in a cabinet under a Body-Bind and Silencing spell. At that moment, she decided to take a dreadful chance. She established a mindlink with little Luna, and fed all the history of the Tribes, and her own work, into her little girl's mind. She then shut the cabinet, and waited for her executioner's entrance."
"I won't go into any details of Bagman's actions, frankly, I think you'd enjoy it too much. Suffice it to say that he took his time, and his pleasures, on Luna's mummy. When he was finally finished, and she was dead, he disguised her murder to look like a spell accident, contacted your mother to remove the Floo block, and left their home."
"As you might imagine, little Luna was beyond traumatized. Her mother's mindlink was shock enough, but to then have to watch, silent, motionless, and helpless as her mother was slowly tortured to death? Well, little Luna's mind couldn't take the stress, and it shattered."
"And that, my dear Marietta, is how I was borne. The shattered fragments of Luna's mind formed into new personalities. One, naming herself the Lore-Keeper, took charge of the information that their mother had implanted, safe-guarding it until the proper time. Another kept the original name of Luna, and epitomized the innocence and peace of childhood that had been ripped away that day. And I was the third. Hecate, the warrior, the holder of all the pain and rage erupting from the events witnessed. So I lurked beneath the surface, always aware, channeling anger and violence away from innocent Luna, waiting for my day to come."
Luna had stopped, and was looking at Marietta expectantly. Marietta didn't know what to say. The tale sounded fantastical, but though the person in front of her looked like Luna, she sounded nothing like her. The thought that all this might be true terrified her. A madwoman in front of her, armed and with a grudge against Marietta's family, was not a comforting thought. However, remembering what was left of her mother, it was a thought that seemed all too real.
Finally, she managed to speak. "If this is all true, what brought you out now? And how can you possibly know all this?"
Luna laughed. The sound was not merry, but like icy branches screeching across a slate roof. It made Marietta shudder once more.
"Out now? Why, I've been out for ages. But to answer your second question first, I learned the true story of my mother's death from my friend Harry Potter. And he learned it from the source. He ripped it from the diseased mind of Snivellus Snape!"
Marietta gaped, "Potter?? But no one's seen him since..."
"Since Hogwarts was sealed in June?" replied Luna. "Not true; I've seen him, at Hogwarts. It was Harry who cast everyone out of the castle; Harry who sealed the wards; Harry who slew Snape. Not that that need concern you."
"As for your first question, as I said, I've been coming out for some time, at least for short periods. You didn't really think it was innocent little Luna who was such a strong fighter, did you? I was the one who trained with the D.A.; I was the one who fought at the Department of Mysteries. And I was the one who killed Bagman, Rookwood, and your mother."
Marietta stared in horror. "You?! But how? The wards on our house..."
Once again the chilling laughter came ringing forth.
"Why, Marietta darling, the answer to your wards is the same as the answer to my long-term appearance now, in place of Luna. You, Marietta, you. You were my ally in both cases."
"You see, when the fathers of your dimwitted friends Crabbe and Goyle seized us, they were prepared for spacey little Luna. Hecate, on the other hand, was quite unexpected. How they laughed and leered over the huddled body of poor Luna. The laughter stopped when I buried a blade in each of their crotches. The morons hadn't even searched our body. Screams soon replaced their laughter. But of course, with the silencing wards over the hidden rooms under Goyle House, there was no one to hear the screams."
"Once they were no longer a problem, I searched those rooms. First I found what you'd left of poor Cho. She was mercifully dead by then. I never cared much for her, not after how she tormented poor Luna, but even at her cruelest she didn't deserve what you did to her. And you were supposed to be her friend."
"The Patils were my next discovery. They were alive, although to say 'alive and well' would be stretching things. I doubt they'll ever speak again, after what you and your friends did to them. Their screams destroyed their vocal chords, from what I could tell. Discovering them did teach me two new things, though, which any good Ravenclaw should appreciate. Did you know they learn the animagus transformation as children in India? Once I'd shattered the spell-manacles they were in, they found shifting quite simple. Also, it seems that injuries to the human form do not carry over to the animal, or vice-versa. They were much healthier in their other forms and quite talkative as well."
"The three of us left those rooms soon after and made our way through Goyle House. I'm afraid that after their experiences and what I'd seen, none of us were feeling particularly merciful. No one survived encountering us. Afterwards, burning the house down just seemed to be the simplest way to clean up the mess."
"We caught up with Stephen and Kevin as they were coming home from Diagon Alley one evening. Parvati and Padma had a bone to pick with them over their treatment, not that they left many bones in the end. Still, it's the thought that counts."
Marietta looked past Luna to the edge of the woods. There were two green-eyed shadows moving out of the trees, stalking slowly and silently towards the unwitting blonde. If they attacked Lovegood, and stopped to feed, it might give her the chance to escape. She tried to sit still without reacting as Luna continued her tale.
"As for your house, that was just as simple. You had needed to key the twins into your wards physically in order to bring them home for your games. After you believed them dead, with typical Pure-brained short-sightedness, it never occurred to you to remove their status. While the wards would have prevented them from entering by magic, nothing stopped them from running across the lawn in their animagus forms, hamstringing your mother and breaking her wand, then changing back and disabling your ward's keystone to allow me entrance. Shortly after that, I finally had my chance to vigorously explain to your mother my displeasure at her role in our mother's death."
The shadows crept closer and closer, Lovegood still as unaware as before of their presence. They seemed to gather themselves, and sprang into the moonlight...
And Marietta was shocked as two jet-black leopards were revealed, not attacking the blond, but rubbing and fawning against Lovegood's body.
The chilling laughter rang out for the third time that night. "Oh, but I will have to make a Pensieve memory of your face just now. It would amuse Harry to no end. Really, Marietta, I told you my name. Where would the Moon's Hunter be without her companions? After all, Odin had Hugin and Munin, Thought and Memory. Meet Kāmanā and Khēda, Rage and Sorrow. I know that they've been eager to see you again."
Luna raised her hands from where she'd been stroking the heads of the two great cats. They stepped forward a pace, and their bodies blurred like softened clay. Where two leopards had crouched, two women stood in their place, their naked bodies glistening in the moonlight. Black hair fanned out over dark brown skin, their hands raised before them, fingers curled like claws. Two pairs of dark green eyes stared out of two identical faces. Marietta shot to her feet, her terror returned in full force. In those burning green eyes she saw her own death.
She tried to stall for time. "Potter will never accept you... and the Dark Lord..."
Lovegood just shook her head gently. "Wrong again, I'm afraid. Harry has changed greatly from the Gryffindor Golden Boy you remember. The things he learned from Snape's mind, not to mention what happened afterwards, well, let's just say that they left their mark. Harry's already met Hecate, and he accepts her, just as he accepted Luna."
"As for Voldemort, he will meet Harry tomorrow, and what started sixteen years ago that very night will be finished. But as I said earlier, that's not a worry for you. The dead need not concern themselves with the living. Goodbye, Marietta."
Marietta turned and tried to flee, even as the leopards re-emerged from the women before her. She traveled no more than a half-dozen steps before she was brought down. For long minutes after, screams filled that moon-lit clearing. The screams were followed by the sounds of tearing flesh, cracking bones, and hungry snarls. Then, at long last, silence returned to the forest.