Disclaimer: Unfortunately, I own nothing. :'(
(A/N- In this world, Neville never married Hannah Abbott, and Luna never had kids.)
Neville Longbottom was sitting in the greenhouse at Hogwarts, his earmuffs on, as he transplanted young Mandrakes.
"Ouch," he shouted as one of them bit him. He lifted it up to look it in the face. "Why do you have to be like that? I'm just giving you a nice, new pot. Why can't you just behave?"
"It was probably that Blibbering Humdinger I saw outside the greenhouse. I think it ripped a leaf off one of the Mandrakes."
But Neville's earmuffs kept him from hearing the serene voice of the woman standing behind him. She did not mind; she just waited patiently. Finally, he finished filling the Mandrake's pot and slid his earmuffs down to hang around his neck.
"He would behave better if you kept the Blibbering Humdingers away," she said as soon as she realized he could hear her.
He jumped at the unexpected voice, accidentally knocking the Mandrake's pot over. It shattered on the earthen floor of the greenhouse, sending shards all over and releasing one very unhappy young Mandrake.
Immediately, he reached for his earmuffs, but he was not quick enough; he passed out almost immediately.
"Neville? Are you okay?"
He heard the voice, so familiar, yet so different. It had been just the previous year that he had last seen her, yet her voice had lost some of the dreamy, happy quality that had made it so distinctly different from everyone else's. It sounded almost… sad. She was never sad. Why now?
"Luna," he said, opening his eyes and forcing himself to sit up. She was wearing a pair of fluffy, neon-blue earmuffs and a sweater that was the same blue. Underneath was a knee-length maroon skirt, but her usual butterbeer-cork necklace was gone, as were all of her other odd accoutrements.
He got to his feet and smiled. "Good to see you again. How're things going?"
"Okay," she replied.
"Okay? That's it?" he asked. No, she's not okay. Why is she lying? For most people, he would not have pressed the issue, but this was Luna Lov—Luna Scamander. The woman he had been in love with since his fifth year at Hogwarts. "Well, what's wrong?"
"I don't want to talk about it." That was when he knew it was bad. Luna seldom shut people out, no matter what personal problems they were prying into, and she had never closed a topic so firmly with him before. But, before he could say anything more, she changed the subject.
"Do you think Professor McGonagall would mind if I stayed here for a while?"
He wanted answers but decided to just let it go. For now. "Of course not. She'll probably have you as a guest speaker for Care of Magical Creatures or something, but she'll let you stay."
She smiled, but it was… wrong. Forced. Very un-Luna-like. As they walked back to the castle together, he could not help but wonder what had happened to his Luna.
Neville was concerned. Luna had been acting strangely, he thought. Or rather, she had been acting almost normal. It had been over a week since she had shown up, and he had heard only one mention of the creatures she usually spoke of constantly. She had seemed almost depressed about something, although she brushed off all of his questions. Something definitely was not right.
This was what was going through Neville's mind as he rushed from the greenhouses back to the castle in the pouring rain. But suddenly, he saw a slim figure standing out in the middle of the grass, and stopped. It was a woman, wearing only a drenched, Ravenclaw-blue sundress. She was shivering, but appeared not to notice. Neville was about to call out when he suddenly recognized her.
"Luna?" he said, walking up to her and putting a hand on her shoulder.
"Hello, Neville." She turned to him and smiled, but it was that fake smile again. The one that made him willing to do anything to make her happy. He suppressed his unease at her sudden personality change and tried to think of something to say.
"You should put on a coat or something," he finally said. "You're going to catch a cold."
She looked up at the sky, as if just realizing it was raining. "Oh. I didn't think about it."
"Are you okay?" He was used to finding her out in the rain when she visited—she loved dancing in it—but she seemed upset. He did not notice at first because of the rain, but there were tears rolling down her cheeks. "Luna, you're crying."
"I'm fine," she insisted, but the tremble in her voice said otherwise.
"What's wrong?" he demanded.
She sighed and looked down at the ground, trying to avoid eye contact, but he just waited; he knew she would speak eventually. For once, she felt the awkwardness of the silence and was unable to take it any longer.
"I left Rolf."
She left—What? But…. I thought she loved him, Neville thought. His shock at this information only allowed him to say one word. "Why?"
"I—I don't know. I just did." She suddenly seemed weak, small, fragile. This was not the Luna he was used to. She sat down, and despite the wet grass, he sat next to her. "He was changing me, Neville. I started to doubt Crumple Horned Snorkacks and Nargles and the Quibbler. Everything that made me who I was…. I don't even know who I am anymore."
The pain and sadness in her voice was so uncharacteristic of her. He hated Rolf for making her feel so torn, torn between staying with her husband and remaining true to herself. But he knew that was not what she needed to hear at that moment.
"Well, that's easy," he said instead, patting her reassuringly on the back. "You're Luna."
She suddenly let out a stressed, nervous laugh, but it was a joyless sound. "That's exactly the type of thing I would have said before." Then she was sad again.
"Hey, the old Luna's still in there somewhere," he said as he stood up, taking her hand and pulling her to her feet. "And the new Luna is just as good."
"Maybe to you." She sighed and stared off in the direction of the Forbidden Forest. "I miss the old Luna."
"We'll get her back," he promised. "Don't worry. It'll take some time, but I promise you she won't be lost forever."
Finally, she smiled again—a genuine, happy, Loony-Lovegood smile—and hugged him. "Thank you, Neville. You've always been such a good friend."
"Come on," he said, turning back to the castle, when she released him. "Let's get inside before you get sick."
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