A/N: I'm sorry for the delay. And I'm even more sorry that I can't even say whether I will be able to continue this or not. I have ideas, which I am hoping to get written, but I don't think I'll be doing this story in May, so… We'll just have to see. But if some of you are interested in this, and I get some time before the new year has gone on too long, I should be able to fit in at least a couple of more chapters here.
Malfoy Manor: Luna Lovegood
She has stopped counting the days. She attempted it at first. She's not sure why. Maybe it gave her a false sense of something like control. Maybe it just gave her something to do, to fight for. And she needed something.
By Christmas Eve, she still had some sense of night and day, of when she was supposed to sleep and not. But that wasn't the only reason why she knew. Additionally, there had been that heavy, metallic feeling in the pit of her stomach that rose when she saw it so clearly in front of her, almost tangible; her father, trembling violently, staring at their undecorated Christmas Tree. She could see it, feel it. She had never spent a Christmas without him before.
By now, though, she has lost track. There has been too many times of her just putting her head down and awakening, not having any idea if she has been gone for two minutes or twelve hours.
Ollivander isn't much help, either. He's long since given up. Not just on keeping track of the time, but he's given up period. The first few days, he was mostly staring at the wall, silently, or dozing off, and she had been sure that he'd be of no use for company whatsoever. To keep herself from crying audibly from the panicking, heart-constricting fear (not that she imagined he'd even notice), she focused on counting. Seconds, minutes, hours. And days.
It wasn't much, but it was the only thing that she could think to do to keep her mind from wandering to her father's loneliness (and what they could do to him, now, if he tried to get her back, as she knew he would not be smart enough to restrain himself from), Neville's soft kisses (and his hand in hers and his eyes that glittered more than she knew he wanted her to ever acknowledge, his hand that gripped hers and needed her), the new hollow darkness behind Ginny's eyes (and Luna couldn't stand the thought that she would now have worsened her spirits even further by abandoning her too)…
But, after what she had estimated to be four days, she had realized that it wouldn't do to not even try to get to know the only company she was presented with (except for the occasional food deliveries from a white Draco Malfoy who refused to look at her). So she tried. Ollivander was hesitant at first. Well, more defeated than anything. And exhausted. But when he didn't have the strength, she started talking to him anyway. She tells him about everything she can think of, every bedtime story that her mother made up, every creature that she knows exists even if everyone isn't open-minded enough to realize it. She makes sure to stay clear of any sensitive, too personal subjects, though. She tells herself it is for his sake – that this would be no way to improve his spirits. But, really, it is more because she doesn't trust herself to speak of her loved ones. If she doesn't speak their names out loud, she can at least pretend that she's not spending every moment swallowing the fear that rises inside her every time it hits her that she's not there anymore. When she was there, she didn't know if they were all going to go on being fine, but she could almost live with that. She lived in the now, and they were there with her. Now, she doesn't even know if they are alive, and even if they are, she's not there to witness or enjoy it.
Awakening her from her half-sleeping state of misery, the one they refer to as Wormtail enters, leering, with a refill of fresh water.
"Happy New Year, isn't it?" he snarls, chuckling at his own joke, locking the door without waiting for an answer.
So, it's New Year's Eve. Has it really been that long? (Maybe she should be glad she has lost track of the days.)
Mr Ollivander speaks her thoughts, sighing. "New Year. It's been that long now, then."
"Yes," she whispers, swallowing away the wetness. She needs to be strong for him. By this account, she has barely been here two weeks. She can't compare with him, even if she too is starting to forget what sunshine looks like. "But it's a new year soon, then, Mr Ollivander." She forces a smile into her voice, and even though she knows he can't actually see her, she's sure he can tell that it's not real. "Maybe this year, someone will come for us. Or it will all end, somehow."
"How?" His question is sceptical.
"Harry Potter. He's doing something. He's trying. And – he's my friend. I know he'll do it, Mr Ollivander. It might take a bit of time, but he'll do it. And maybe this is the year for that. We have to believe that."
She closes her eyes against the doubt in his voice. "Yes, Mr Ollivander. We do have to believe that." She lets out a breath, waits a moment for a reply she knows won't come. "I never did tell you about the Loser's Lurgy, did I, Mr Ollivander?"
There's a definite relief in him at the change of subject. "No, Luna, you didn't."
"Well, when you're playing Quidditch and you keep dropping the Quaffle for no obvious reason, you might be suffering from it. I am sure that I witnessed it last year in a Hufflepuff student called Zacharias Smith. He's not a very nice person, though. He never did listen to me when I tried to warn him about Nargles in the mistletoes."