A/N: Love to Reviewers
Next installment of the second series of 'A Delightful Diversion". Please see my profile for the complete series.
The ballroom is full. Luna Nott, nee Lovegood, crosses it smiling. She is fourteen again, wearing dress robes of cornflower blue that had once belonged to her mother. Her date this evening is Terry Boot, a fellow Ravenclaw with a sable cowlick that falls on his forehead in quite appealing fashion. He has asked her and she said yes. Daddy is very excited that she was asked; she wonders sometimes if he doesn't worry about his only child.
The music ceases to be ambient noise and turns into a waltz. Terry turns and takes her hand to lead her onto the dance floor when-
"Luna?" Theo crossed the ballroom and wrapped his wife in his arms. She was shivering in just her thin nightdress. He frowned and began to gently lead her away. "Come back to bed, sweetheart. We have to up early tomorrow. Draco and Hermione expect us at eleven."
She blinked as though she didn't know who he was. " Theodore? What's the matter?"
He swallows hard. He hates seeing her like this. When they were at school he'd always rather fancied Luna; she seemed smart and brave. He was a loner and so was she. He'd never had the courage to actually talk to her but when his father was given her guardianship he'd been well pleased.
He wasn't exactly shocked when his father called him to the study six months later.
"Theodore' Adelbert Nott said in his dry old man's voice ' I am old and not long for this earth. I do not mind so much, because then I shall join my beloved Alys again. I had assumed when we wed that I would die first. Instead it was she who went into the dark.
I have no fear of it. I have done my duty to our venerable line by siring a son. Now it is time for you to do the same. I wish to dandle a grandchild on my knee before I go to the Halls of our ancestors. The Dark Lord has decreed you shall marry my ward, the girl Luna Lovegood, and I have accepted a dowry of 6000 galleons. Is this amenable to you?"
Theo tried to stay calm. " I abide by whatever choice my elders feel best for me." The traditional response. He felt gladness bubble in his chest and suppressed a smile. His father noticed and smiled in return. "Good lad, Teddy. I knew you'd do your bit."
He had the elves call the girl. Theo saw her only at meals, of course; he couldn't seek her out or they'd both get terrible hidings. Her elf-chaperone led her in. She was wearing a robe of soft brown silk, hair shimmering down her back.
" Good evening, Miss Lovegood. I trust you are well."
She blinked slowly and then gave a nod. "Yes sir, very well."
"Miss Lovegood, I have asked for your hand on behalf of my son, Theodore Nott. The Dark Lord has given consent. Are you willing?"
She paused a fraction of an instant. "Yes, sir. I feel we should contact my father. Daddy might have something to say."
Both Notts grimaced. Surely she knew Xenophilius was dead? Her face was serene. Adelbert decided not to taint a happy moment with such dreadful news. He bowed gravely. "Of course. If you have no protests I shall bind you right now."
He pulled his wand and motioned them together. Theodore put his hand over Luna's and noticed how soft it was, how cold. His body stirred and a flush of red crept from his neck all the way to his hairline.
" I pledge this woman, Luna Lovegood, for the purpose of bearing legitimate children."
" I accept this woman, Luna Lovegood, for the purpose of bearing legitimate children." Their hands glowed and Theodore felt his soul catch and then release. His father had started the process, culminating at the marriage ceremony, that would bind them for life.
Theodore embraced his son and soon to be daughter in law. " You may call me Father Nott if you like."
A week later he called her into his study and explained in his gentlest voice that Xenophilius had been found dead, apparently of a heart attack. His death, he assured Luna, had been painless. He'd dropped off quietly in front of the fire, a glass of turnip juice at his side, a book about the mating habits of hinkypunks in his lap.
This was, of course, an errant lie. Her father had been killed by Greyback and his men at the fete where Luna herself had almost met her end. Of course, Nott did not tell the girl this; it would have been quite ungallant.
Her misty eyes sharpened a moment. Something was gnawing her mind and she felt her mental fist grab for it, flail…nothing. It got away. For now she thanked him with utmost gravity and asked to be allowed to go back to her room.
" Yes, dear child, of course you may." Adelbert felt deeply disconcerted and couldn't say why. She ought to have been more upset; she'd seemed quite devoted to her father and he to her, to listen to her speak about him.
Luna herself was not disturbed. She never grieved him because, of course, he was not dead. He was as vital and loving as ever in her head. She could talk to him whenever she wanted, just like Harry and Neville and the rest. The kind obscuring fog of her fugue state held true.
The wedding was very fine. The Malfoys came, along with the Lestranges. The newly christened Supreme Wizard made an appearance with his ward and his ward's fiancée. It was obvious Parkinson and Potter loathed one another; Adelbert foresaw an unhappy marriage for them.
He'd had Alys' bridal robes dug from their storage trunk and spelled to fit Luna. She seemed utterly indifferent, but Adelbert knew his son fancied the girl, which boded well for their life together, and he wanted Theo to be happy with how she looked.
The children came in due time, twins. Anselm and Emilene, skinny serious babies with big grey eyes. Adelbert Nott got his wish; he died eight months after the twins were born.
At breakfast Luna is humming, cheerful. The children notice their mother's happy mood; they feel lightened on this happy day. There is no school, of course. Most students still live at Hogwarts, but the children of important officials like Theo live at home and Floo in.
Emilene takes her mother's cold hand in hers. " Shall we wear our matching robes, Mother?" One of Luna's few emotional inheritances to her children is her love of color; Emilene thinks the kingfisher blue with black velvet bands would look smashing. She knows Aulus Malfoy will be there and she wants to look good for him; they're to marry in a few years time.
" Hmmm? Oh, yes, dear, that would be wonderful." Luna gives her children a misty smile and then resumes her humming.
Anselm takes his mother's other hand. When the children turned ten, Theo took them aside and explained that while Mummy loved them both very, very much, she had been hurt so badly by the war that she never really got better.
" Did she get hit by a spell, like Uncle Harry?" Anselm asked worridly. Uncle Harry could be great fun and fly like a bird, but he was often grumpy and sad. He never smiled. Anselm was a little scared of Uncle Harry, with his lightning bolt curse scar and his faint smell of firewhiskey.
" No, little one. Mummy saw some things that…hurt her mind. They made her so sad that she's never really felt safe paying attention to anything that's happening ever again."
The twins had both begun to cry, partly from grief but also from an indefinable sense of relief. They had never understood why Mummy wasn't like other mothers they knew, like Aunt Hermione. Now they realized that Mummy didn't ignore them because they were naughty; she couldn't help it. The bad people the Supreme Wizard saved England from had hurt her and made her so sad she was afraid to come out and be with them.
After that, Theo was heartbroken to notice that the children's behavior towards their mother changed. They still loved their mother, but now they strove to protect her as well. They no longer told her about the little hurts of their days, preferring to keep them to themselves rather than risk adding to Luna's burdens.
Only once had Theo tried to fix things. He'd gone to see Severus Snape and explained the situation. Snape had set his assistants to work and come up with an experimental potion that he felt might help Luna break through the fugue.
It did. She swallowed it and ten minutes later asked perplexed where she was. Theo explained the situation as gently as possible, cradling her hands. He'd locked and silenced the doors just in case ( in case of what? His mind murmured nastily).
She sat absolutely still, listening. Then, without warning her chin began to quiver.
"Then my father…Neville…all my friends…" She put her head in the crook of her arm and burst into tears. Theo, horror struck, tried to pull her into an embrace, only to have her fight him. Still sobbing, she crawled into bed and curled up in a ball, sobbing.
She'd stayed like that for hours. He'd had hopes he could let her meet the children but he knew they couldn't see her like this. He lay down beside her and weathered the storm, scared to touch her.
After her grief spent itself he stroked her arm. " Luna, I'm sorry. I had no idea—I never thought it would hurt you."
She opened her eyes. " It's all right, Theo.I know you didn't mean any harm."
" I was wondering if we could…if you would permit me to…" He blushed.
She agreed but tensed when he approached her. " What's the matter, sweet?"
" I've never--"
He suddenly had a thought. " How old are you?"
He rolled off. "I'm sorry, darling. I--"
"No. Please. Please do. While I'll remember it."
He made love to her with all the tenderness and love and longing he'd had or ever would have for her. She relaxed and even helped him and he wept into her hair.
"Why are you crying, Theodore?"
"I love you, Luna. We all love you."
Then they'd slept and when they'd woken she was back to the way she was before. Snape offered to make more of the potion, perhaps even find a way to keep her with them for days or weeks, but Snape said she'd never really get better. Each dose would be a fresh start. Every time she found out what had happened would be like the first time, the pain as fresh and new as a raw wound.
He couldn't do that to her. He threw it away and held that few moments in his heart, the short time when she'd inhabited her mortal shell. He wished more than anything the children could have seen her and she them, but perhaps this way was better. They were not tormented, as he was, by the specter of what might have been.
The Malfoys fete was amazing, of course. Theodore had been in the Battle ( it had acquired proper noun status before even a year had passed) and attended the subsequent celebration. Every year on that day the Death Eaters celebrated, but the really big fetes were only for milestones. Fifteen years—who would have thought?
Aulus and Emilene seemed to like one another, he noted. He watched Anselm and his intended, Iris Potter. The girl seemed nice enough, nothing like that idiot bitch Pansy.
Hermione approached him. " Is everything all right, Theo?"
He nodded. The years had treated her well. He imagined being married to Draco Malfoy (whom Theo thought a pompous, strutting bastard) was a hard go, but she managed to look graceful and even content. She had proven spectacularly fertile, six children, five of them girls. The Malfoy strain would be part of every important blood line. Draco must have wet himself with excitement over the abundant proof of his potency.
She smiled at him and he saw for a moment the bossy, brilliant little girl she had been. He'd never loved Hermione, wouldn't trade his Luna for anyone, but he thought an intellect as rare as Hermione's deserved better than that obnoxious little fop.
" I'm fine, Hermione." He pressed her hand for a second and she went off to give orders to the elves.
That night he helped Luna undress, as he always did. She'd perked up at the party, been semi-alert all night. The children had been thrilled. She'd even hugged them. He felt pleasure mixed with trepidation; it was that much the harder when she inevitably drifted away again. He'd heard Anselm telling Aulus that he intended to join the Aurors as soon as he was of age and ask to be assigned to a division where he'd get to help capture traitors. "After what they did to my Mum, I'd as soon kill them all as look at them."
Luna got into bed and he climbed in after he. They could have had separate rooms but he wanted to feel her warm skin against his as they slept.
" Thank you. You've always been very decent to me." She kissed his brow and rolled on her side. He felt the sting of tears and rose so his weeping wouldn't disturb his wife's sleep. He cried a long time; that was the closest she'd ever come to saying she loved him.
Luna and Terry spin weightless around the room. She laughs and he laughs as well. Later that night he'll steal a kiss, her very first. She feels as though she'll always be young, be pretty and happy and safe. She feels as though the night will last forever, and for Luna, it does.