Almost Gone

Luna sat at the very edge of her house's table, watching the other Ravenclaws laugh and joke with each other. The groups huddled over textbooks, parchments, and letters from home. The girls talking about going on a picnic together, next time a Hogsmeade day rolled around. The boys laughing at stupid jokes, and the couples huddled together, somehow creating their own little spaces in the huddled crowd. Amongst all this, all these people who were meant to be her friends, meant to be her peers, she was all alone. She glanced about the other house tables, her eyes hovering longingly above the sight of the trio, Neville, Ginny, and the Weasley twins. She watched as they laughed together, wishing with all her heart she was with them. Neville glanced up, and the blonde Ravenclaw averted her grayish lavender eyes.

She took one last bite of her toffee pudding before pushing back from the table and making for the door.

"Hey Loony! Off to read your dead father's useless 'newspaper'?" a voice sneered at her. Luna turned away from the leering face of Josh Rykers, one of the stupidest members of Ravenclaw. She walked as fast as she could, without it being painfully obvious she was running away. As she half ran through the door she fought back tears. None of them could see the way they got to her, or she would never be able to look at them again. Malfoy strode past her on his way to the dungeons.

"Why hello Loony! Why aren't you with your posse of Mudbloods and blood traitors today? Or have you been ditched by even them? The lowest of the low? How pathetic. And what? No letters from your crazed father? Oh that's right, he's dead!"

"Shove off Malfoy!" she shouted, her voice shaking with the effort of not sobbing.

"Oh! The little Ravenclaw can speak! But unfortunately doesn't know how to address her superiors! How very sad."

"Shut. Up. Malfoy." Luna said through gritted teeth.

"Why don't you make me, you cowardly little piece of shit?" Malfoy raised an eyebrow at her, mocking her, asking her to make him stop. And what did she do? Spun on the heel of one bare foot and bolted down the hall to stairs to the Ravenclaw common room.

She reached the raven statue ourside the common room and knocked the brass knocker to await her riddle.

"What do the poor have, that is needed by the rich?" the even tone asked Luna

"Nothing. The rich need nothing, and the poor have nothing." Luna answered after a moment's thought.

"Correct." The door slid open, and Luna hurled herself through the door and up to the dormitories, where she knew she could be alone, it being so early in the day, on a Hogsmeade day no less. She flung herself down onto her bed and loosed the torrent of sobs she's been holding back into her pillow. She didn't get how people could be so cruel. They didn't know what it was like, having absolutely no one. She had so few friends, her father had been killed by Voldemort at the end of the war, and the majority of her house hated her, because they thought she was utterly mad.

Luna glanced at her trunk, where she knew that at the bottom there was a silver letter opener, sharp as can be, with an intricately embossed handle. No. She told her father she wouldn't. She promised him as he lay dying in St. Mungo's that she would never ever do that again. But the temptation was there. She felt, she heard, the pain within her blood singing in her veins, wanting so desperately to be released. She buried her head of blonde waves further into her pillow, urging herself to resist. She told herself over and over that she could do it. She could resist. Looony…Loony Luna Lovegood…you'll never be strong enough Loooooony. You'll give in… and if you can't resist me, however will you resist…them? Luna shook her head in an attempt to clear her thoughts. The blade wasn't really speaking to her. She imagined it. She was strong enough. She was! But the voice kept returning. Every few minutes, wearing her down, making her closer and closer to that line she wanted so badly to cross, yet at the same time wanted to keep herself from crossing just as badly. She stared at the underneath of her right arm. The scars were barely visible, paler than her skin and faded by time and magic. Come now Luna… you NEED me. You know that you do. The blade was no longer angry or mocking. It was persuasive, comforting.

"I don't need you!" Luna shrieked out loud, hurling one of her pillows towards the trunk where the silver letter opener lay.

But even as she said it, she felt herself moving towards the trunk. Deep down she had always known she would return to the blade's stinging liberation. She dug down to the bottom of her trunk and removed the blue leather box with the silver embossment of a raven on it. Gently, almost reverently, she slid the lid off, revealing the shimmering, dagger-like letter opener. She pulled the letter opener out of its bed of soft velvet and held its edge to the velvet softness of her skin. As she drug the sharp point across her delicate wrist, she swore it sighed, a sigh of coming home after a long trip. The neat red line bubbled crimson, blood on the snow white field that was her moon pale skin. Luna heard a sigh, her own this time, as she gently cleaned her blood from the opener's blade, then replaced it in the box. She placed a bandage on the cut, and slipped on her uniform cardigan.

Luna lay in her bed for an hour or so, before people began trickling in from the great hall, to get ready to leave for Hogsmeade. She gathered herself together as best she could and headed for the common room. She closed her ears and eyes as much as possible to the snickers, stares and pointing. I won't let them hurt me, she told herself. They aren't worth it. The feeling of the neat slice in her arm reminded her that they did hurt her. But she tried to ignore that. Guilt slowly overcame her. She'd broken her last promise to her now dead father. How could she have done that? Was she really that awful of a person?

"Hey Luna!" a first year shouted from the entrance.

"Yes?" Luna responded, her voice both weary and wary.

"Harry, Hermione, Ron and a few other Gryffindors are lookin' for you. They wanna know if you're going to Hogsmeade, and if so, if you want to meet them in the Hogshead for a Butterbeer or 2?"

"I'll be there. Are they at the carriages?"

"Yeah."

"Thank you, Garrett? Right?"

"Yep." He then walked out again, probably to the great hall for more breakfast. Luna walked quickly to her room, pulled a woolen hat over her hair and mittens on her hands. She briefly surveyed herself in the mirror. The pom pom and her rainbow colored beanie was slightly askew, and her mittens were slightly worn. Her cardigan was looser than it used to be, and her tights were as well. Her skirt hung at a strange angle, probably because of the way it draped her now bony hips. She sighed and leaned down to tighten the laces on her plaid Converse. Ready as she'd ever get, she headed out to the carriages.

After the trek through the snow, Luna saw her small group of friends. Hermione saw her coming over and smiled, nudging the others and pointing at Luna.

"Hey Luna!" Neville called out. "You're the last in our carriage, come on!" Luna sped up slightly, a smile tugging her lips for the first time in awhile. She arrived at the group of Gryffindors and jumped in the carriage.

"Hey guys!" she said in her usual dreamy voice. There was a general chorus of friendly greetings and smiles. The carriage jerked down the path, but now there was a difference now. Everyone in that carriage could see the thestrals pulling them to the small town just outside of campus. They had all seen so much pain and death in the past year. The beautiful but sinister looking horse like creatures reminded Luna of herself. Misunderstood, strange, beautiful, but kind and intelligent. She dared a glance at Neville, as he stared out at the snow as they approached Hogsmeade.

Luna spent the entire day in Hogsmeade. She was the happiest she'd been in months. There had been snowball fights, Pumpkin Pasty eating contests, Butterbeer guzzling competitions, joking wrestling matches, and games of tag. The groups of Gryffindors and Luna headed back to the carriages just past sundown, all tired, soaked from the snow, hungry and happy. They pushed each other about jokingly on the way back to the castle, and they all headed to the great hall as a tight knit cluster. Here is where the happy glow that had surrounded Luna most of the day began to fade. When all her friends walked towards the Gryffindor tables, she headed the other way, to the Ravenclaw tables. She took her customary seat at the very end of the far back table, and picked up a plate of baked honey ham. She nibbled at it, the mocking stares that had begun the moment she sat down all but destroying her appetite. Eventually she abandoned the ham for a dish of pudding. Her favorite comfort food. Even as she took small bites of pudding, she couldn't help but have her cloud of happiness continually dimmed, as the mocking worsened.

"Well, if it isn't Loony Lovegood!" Lavender Brown sneered as she walked to the Gryffindor tables. "How have you been holding up, you know, since you have no friends, or parents, or anyone really. You're just a poor miserable excuse for a witch. Are you even smart enough to be in Ravenclaw? I don't think you are. If you were, you'd have at least as many friends as that frumpy bookworm Granger." Lavender scoffed. Luna stared straight ahead, trying to ignore Lavender. Finally the girl stalked away, heading directly for Michael Corner and herself on his lap. Josh Rykers sat down right next to Luna and stared her in the face.

"Hello again Loony." He said with a twisted grin on his face. "how are you today, Loony?"

"Fine, Josh. Perfectly fine Josh." Luna spit through gritted teeth.

"That's good. Just thought I'd ask. Because I care about your well being Loony. Really I do!' he said as he discreetly pulled out his wand and pointed it at Luna from behind his back.

"Whatever you say Josh" she responded flatly.

"Well, then I say, FURNUNCULUS!" and with that dozens of boils bloomed on Luna's neck and face. She sprinted full speed out of the hall and into the girl's bathroom on the second floor, where Moaning Myrtle was, in order to avoid people. She pointed her own wand at her face and muttered 'deleterious' under her breath and watched the boils vanish. She laid her head on the edge of the sink. The shine in the metal faucet made her think of the blade of her letter opener. She thought of the blade's mocking tone, as it told her all the things she wasn't. Everything she could never be. Everything she had ever lost, and everything she could never have. The blade made her promises they both knew it couldn't keep. Promises that the pain, the guilt, and the loneliness would stop. But it never did. Yet she kept believing the blade. It got to the point where there was nothing to believe in but that blade, which is where she found herself now. And if she lost faith in the blade, what was the use? What was the use of living anymore when she had nothing to believe in, not even her own pain? She started wandering towards the common room entrance, mindlessly answered the riddle, and went straight for her letter opener. She pulled open the box, her speed more fervent than reverent this time. She paused for a moment, watching the moonlight glint off the razor sharp cutting edge of the letter opener and sparkle on her skin. She giggled manically, as she sliced the skin of her wrist open, the river of liquid ruby flowing down her alabaster complexion and onto her fingers. She made another cut, the blood continued welling out of her arm, flowing in a way her tears refused to, releasing the pain that was pent up in the quixotic girl's body. She laughed again as she sliced her other arm, the line crossing over one of her old scars, dripping down like a crimson vine, laden with macabre fruits. Her giggling grew increasingly manic as she stood, her blade falling to the floor, and then she ran. Spinning madly, like a whirling dervish, as she ran to the Astronomy tower. She reached the top of the tower, occasionally on the spiraling stairs leading up there was a splattering of her scarlet blood, flowing from her wrists. The loss of blood and the spinning made her dizzy, and her body slammed into the window sill violently. Her blood smeared against the dark stones of the tower wall. All the years of mockery, all the pain and grief from the war, any and everything that Luna had repressed was bubbling up the surface, flowing out of her mind just like the blood flowed from her veins, quickly, erratically, and messily. She heaved herself up into the window ledge and kicked her feet out so she was seated there, and stared down at the ground.

"ARE YOU ALL HAPPY NOW? OLD LOONY LOVEGOOD'S FINALLY LOST IT! ARE YOU ALL HAPPY YOU'VE COMPLETELY DESTROYED ME?" she shouted down at the sleeping grounds. She giggled madly again, leaning forward ever so slightly, her bloody wrists smudged her white tights with streaks of pink. Her head was spinning, making the tower and the ground below spin wildly around, and Luna began to scoot herself forward along the ledge, intending to drop herself over, and send her scarred, emaciated body hurtling to the snowy castle grounds. A voice interrupted her deed though.

"Luna! What the bloody hell are you doing?!?!" Luna turned her head slightly at the shocked sound of Neville Longbottom's voice. He could now stare directly into the crazed blonde's eyes, as they glittered with tears and hysteria.

"Oh hello Neville!" her normally dreamy and serene voice had taken a frightening, deranged edge. "I'm just giving the students of Hogwarts what they desperately want. Silly Looney Lovegood gone! No more will I be the big blemish on their oh so perfect lives!"

"Luna, please come off the ledge. You're bleeding, and you need to go to the hospital wing."

"Oh I know I'm bleeding, silly boy! But I'm fine. And in a few seconds, you won't have to worry about me ever again!" She gave a dark, hoarse laugh and scooted forward again, leaving more bloody streaks on her tights and on the window sill. Neville began to move slowly forward, each step quiet and measured. Luna's mad giggling continues, growing louder, more crazed, as she inched closer and closer to the edge. Just as she was about to send herself flying down to the ground, to leave her small frame lying crumpled and bleeding in the snow, Neville made it to the edge, grabbed at her waist and pulled her back. She was too weak from the blood loss to fight back, so she had no choice but to let him pull her off the ledge. As Neville laid her to the ground, he pulled his wand out and placed it above her right wrist.

"Ferula" he said, flicking his wand decisively, and bandages shot out and wrapped the sliced skin. He repeated this on her other wrist, then gathered the now nearly unconscious Ravenclaw into his arms and headed for the hospital wing, hoping for the best.

Luna's eyes fluttered open. Her body felt heavy, her eyelids like lead weights. Her wrists were throbbing, and her head felt too light for the rest of her body. She groaned, and as things around her shifted into focus, she began to realize where she was. She was lying on a cot in the hospital wing, her wrists were heavily bandaged, and there were faces around her. She blinked several times to clear the fuzziness of her vision. Neville sat directly to her right, then Harry was right behind him, Hermione was over on the left, flanked by Ron and Ginny. The twins were just striding through the door. She suddenly remembered being carried half unconscious from the brink of suicide into the hospital wing by Neville.

"What day is it?" she asked, her voice groggy and hoarse.

"Thursday." Neville answered, his voice soft and concerned.

"I've been unconscious since Saturday, and now it's Thursday?"

"Yes. Do you remember what you did Luna?"

"I do. I'm sorry… I sort of… lost it. I couldn't take the mocking. I can't believe I broke the promise I made my dad on his deathbed." Her voice broke and she tried to keep talking but words became sobs and speech was impossible. Neville wrapped his arms about her shaking shoulders, carefully avoiding her wrists.

"Is Miss Lovegood awake?" Madame Pomfrey asked as she came behind the curtain.

"Yes, she just woke up."

"Miss Lovegood? It's Madame Pomfrey. Are you hungry or thirsty? You've lost a lot of blood."

"I could use some water, if you don't mind." She sniffled.

"Of course. I'll be right back."

As the group sat in the hospital wing with Luna, she explained her story. All the pain she'd been feeling, the loneliness, the teasing. How it all built up, and she couldn't help herself, and then the guilt of breaking her promise had began to eat away at her, for those few hours. Eventually, after the boil incident at dinner, she just broke. Something inside her snapped, and she didn't see the use in living. Madame Pomfrey came in later, saying she was free to leave the hospital wing.

'I got you permission to bring your friends with you to your dorm Miss. Headmistress McGonagall wants you to get rid of that letter opener." Madame Pomfrey said, as she handed Luna her clothes, freshly cleaned with no blood stains in sight.

After changing, and clutching Neville for support, she went to her room, her friends in tow. She removed the blade from its box and stared it down. No longer did she hear its call. No mocking words, no encouragement, just silence. For the first time in 3 years, the blade was silent. She pointed her wand at it, took a deep breath and shouted.

"DIFFINDO!" the blade shattered into dozens of shimmery pieces on the bedroom floor. Luna took another deep breath, and Neville squeezed her arm. It was over. She looked into the smiling faces of those she called her friends and he knew. She could tell that for the first time in years, she could be happy. It wasn't going to be an easy road, but she could do it. She had help and she had strength and she had wits. She was, after all, a Ravenclaw.