Disclaimer: Harry Potter is the property of JK Rowling
Please review...please, please, please! I feel so sad that this isn't getting much for reviews!
Luna stared calmly at the scans, her face peaceful as always. Not for the first time George Weasley wondered if there was anything in the world that could phase Luna Lovegood. If anything could…this should have been it.
"I understand." She nodded slightly. "Will it be very painful?"
George cringed, how could she be so damned calm about it?
"I'm afraid it will be, at first." Healer Thomason nodded sadly. "Even after we heal the bone and joint, the tissue will be inflamed. It will take a week or so for the inflammation to calm."
"How long before she will be able to walk again?" George gripped Luna's hand tightly. The turmoil inside him was like a raging storm, once again…the guilt was screaming at him…
'My fault…all my fault.'
"The day after the procedure, she can start physical therapy again, she should be up and around in a matter of days."
"And the limp?"
The healer looked down at his desk; he had his own guilt to deal with. "I'm afraid the limp will never go away totally. But you will eventually be able to walk without the cane, and with time, it will be much less noticeable."
"So…" Luna smiled. "Monday then."
Healer Thomason looked at her, his eyes deeply apologetic. "I can't begin to say how very sorry I am. We…I…was nothing short of negligent. The day of your accident we ran a full scan, but in my concern over your head injury, I missed the injury to your hip."
"You're only human." Luna smiled. "Humans make mistakes."
George wanted to yell, to make threats and rage at the man. But the truth was, he was partly to blame. He had been in the healers face multiple times that day…every time he came out of the trauma room, yelling at him, demanding information, demanding to know when Luna would wake.
And so, he couldn't help agreeing with Luna.
"You of course have a right to take legal action."
"You're wasting your breath." George grinned a little. "That's not how she operates. In fact, she will probably be bringing you cookies on Monday to make you feel better."
Healer Thomason smiled sadly while Luna rolled her eyes. She considered arguing…then she realized, she really didn't have the grounds. George was exactly right…she probably would bring cookies. In fact, she already knew what kind.
"Luna," George banged on the bathroom door. "Are you okay in there?"
"Of course I am." He could almost see her rolling her eyes. "Go away George."
"Don't try to get out of the tub alone." He cautioned.
"George," Luna's voice sounded annoyed. "I'm not a child, stop talking to me like one."
He sighed and leaned back against the door. He knew she wasn't a child, knew it only too well. She certainly yelled at him enough to dispel any notions. He couldn't help this need of his to take care of her, to be there for her …even though he occasionally stepped over the line and did things for her rather than helping her do them on her own. Sometimes…it was a good thing that he hovered…like the night before, when she had gone to get out of the tub…and fell to the floor.
That was how they found out about her hip, the hip fracture that Healer Thomason had missed. Because it hadn't been set properly, while she slept the bones had healed wrong. Now, the bones needed to be re-broken and healed the right way.
Luna would be in pain…and it was all because of him.
Over the past couple weeks George had finally started to get past the guilt some. But hearing her fall, hearing her scream…seeing her frail and in pain on the bathroom floor had brought it all back with a vengeance. The sound of his voice as he yelled at her, her scream, the silence.
As she fell she split her lip on the side of the tub. A single tiny drop of blood had landed on the floor…but that wasn't what he'd seen...
He'd seen a blood splattered rock.
"George?" Luna called from the other side of the door. "I'm done."
He shook himself, then turned around and pushed the door open, a smile pasted on his face. Luna got angry with him when he thought about that day…he'd learned to be careful to hide it.
"I feel so much better." She smiled up at him from the bathtub where she sat combing through her hair, her nightgown already in place, her good humor restored. Luna never stayed angry with him long and that didn't go far in helping to ease his guilt. "There is nothing in the world better than a hot bath, is there?"
She bent over, preparing to have him help her stand. But George was frozen…his eyes unable to move away from the back of Luna's head. Her wet hair hung over her shoulders and had pulled apart in back, divided along the jagged line of the scar that ran from just above her neck, zigzagged slightly across the back of her head, to just below the crown. The scar in between was thick and white, an unnatural part that would last forever.
"George?" Luna twisted to look at him "George, what's wrong?"
"Nothing." He tore his eyes away and forced his thoughts from his mind. He smiled at her and moved to stand in front of her. "So, do you feel better now; all clean?"
Luna looked at him with worried eyes. "George, is something wrong?"
"Of course not." He lied and bent over, then lifted her from the tub and set her on her feet. "I was just woolgathering."
"If you must know," George rolled his eyes and handed her her cane. "It's my night to cook…and I'm feeling lazy. I was trying to think of some way to get out of it."
Luna looked at him skeptically, but the look…the haunted look was gone now. He smirked down at her, wearing the naughty look that was now so familiar. Suddenly, it wasn't so hard to imagine at all that he had been trying to get out of cooking.
"You cheat." She grinned.
"I know." He brushed past her, wiggling out of her way as she threatened him with her cane. "I'm bad aren't I?"
"Bad." She nodded. "Mmhmm."
"But Luna," He leaned over to kiss her forehead. "Bad is good."
"Go cook lazy butt." She grinned and followed him out into the kitchen. "I'm hungry."
"Your wish is my command." He gave her an exaggerated bow, then turned for the refrigerator and began pulling things out. Luna pulled her stack of books onto the table to study. This was one of her favorite times of the day…when it was almost like they were a family going about the average everyday business of living.
Technically, they weren't living together, though George had yet to spend a night elsewhere since she had moved into the house. There was no flack from his parents, they were well aware that he slept in the spare bedroom, and she in hers. They took turns with the chores like cooking and doing the dishes, George did all the heavy chores and she the light. He would have gladly done them all…if she would have allowed it. Often times, Fred would come over and they would spend a lovely evening together filled with laughter. Sometimes, he and George would make plans for the shop. Luna had forbid them from working on new merchandise in the house after she had gone through three sets of kitchen curtains in a week thanks to them. It was warm and homey and Luna couldn't have been happier…if not for the sadness and guilt she still picked up from George. He was careful to hide it, but not careful enough.
George stood by the sink, cleaning a stack of carrots…Luna was very fond of carrots. It was busy hand work, but not much for the mind. His eyes wandered as he washed, trying to get the image of Luna's scar out of his mind while he looked out the window, through the downpour of rain to the thing that he hated most in all the world.
That damned fucking tree.
George had lost count of the times he had begged her to let him cut it down, fifty…a hundred…a thousand? It didn't matter; she always refused. She'd allowed him to remove the rock; it was gone long before she was out of the hospital. He'd removed it from the ground himself, and then obliterated it until it was nothing but dust. The temptation to keep going…to take the tree as well…had been overwhelming. To this day he wasn't sure what had stopped him.
Staring at it now, with memories assaulting him from every direction, he wished like all hell that he had removed it, even thought it was against her wishes. Luna's yelling at him had to be better than this…
Anything would be better than this…this flood of horror every time he looked at the thing.
'Luna Lovegood…you have some fucking explaining to do!'
'Luna are you…'
Blood…so much blood.
'Sir...sir you'll have to move so we can treat her…'
Fog…voices…more fog…more voices.
People in white robes, so many people running around…and not one of them saying anything.
'George! George…what happened?'
'She'll be okay George, Luna's tough.'
"When will she wake….'
…all my fault
'There's no way to know…'
'…no way to know if she will ever be the same…'
'It's not your fault George.'
'…no way to know…'
'…no way to know…'
…all my fault.
'Wake up Luna…please…please wake up.'
'may never be the same again'
'…what have I done…'
The carrot snapped between George's tightly clenched fists and he dropped it in the sink. He slapped the handle on the faucet down to shut off the water, his eyes still fixed on the tree.
That damned fucking tree.
Its limbs waved in the gentle wind, its leaves dripping, barely phased by the downpour.
How dare it still be standing while she was still so broken!
A hundred years from now, the tree would still be standing. It would stand for decades, maybe even centuries, always knowing what it had done to Luna Lovegood…always reminding him of what he had done…even after he was no longer here to remind.
Unless he did something about it.
George turned from the sink, his vision down to a narrow tunnel that lead him to the door. He picked up his wand as he passed the table, and then wrenched the door open…ignoring Luna's voice as she called out to him.
He was on a mission and nothing…no one was going to stop him…not even her. He walked swiftly, knowing she was coming, wanting to make sure he had done enough damage so it couldn't be saved once she was able to stop him.
A limb splintered
"What are you doing?"
And yet another
Luna screamed and the sound shot through him as if someone had plunged a sword into his head; it didn't stop until the point touched the ground. On the way through, the blade pierced his heart, his lungs and somehow…his soul.
He turned to find her on the ground several yards behind him. Sanity returned in a mad rush and his guilt…the guilt that had drove him to a fit of momentary madness... tripled.
Luna had fallen…and it was because of him.
My fault…all my fault.
"Luna…" He ran to her side, and then knelt down.
She looked up at him and the face she wore was like none he had ever seen before; it was the face that he had expected to see in the hospital room the day she woke. Her eyes were narrowed and angry, her lips thin and tight. She looked very much like she hated him…like she hated him very, very much.
"What the hell is wrong with you?" She growled, her voice low and acerbic. "Just what the bloody fuck did you think you were doing?"
He recoiled from her, falling back on his hands and behind in the wet grass.
"You bastard! How dare you!" She dug her hand deep into the grass, coming up with a mound of grass and mud, and then threw it at him as hard as she could, hitting him in the face.
"How fucking dare you!"
"I'm sorry." He said lamely, reaching a hand out to touch her. She jerked away and scooted backwards on the ground.
"Don't touch me." Her lip trembled. The anger was edging away and the tears were blending with the rain on her face. "Don't you know what you've done?"
She pulled her legs up under her, her arms crossed over her knees, and then she buried her face against them…her body shaking while she sobbed. George moved closer and put his hand on her shoulder…relieved when she didn't shake it off.
"You don't understand…" Her voice was muffled and George scooted closer, lifting her face so she had to look at him. It broke his heart, seeing her like this. Luna had been so strong…since the moment she had woken; she had been the strong one, the one with all the courage and strength while he was the one who was always falling apart.
"Please Luna, tell me."
"As long as I could face the tree, knowing what had happened there…I knew I could face everything else! My fear that I would never get my arm back, that I would never walk normally again or be able to remember things…I was able to face my guilt."
"Guilt?" George was taken aback…what could Luna possibly have to feel guilty for? "Guilt for what?"
"Because you're in so much pain, and it's all because of me!"
He didn't know what to say. George had never once considered how his guilt was affecting her, that she might be suffering because of it. Now that she had said the words, he couldn't help but see it. Luna was an extraordinarily selfless person, kind and giving to a fault. Knowing that she was the reason someone else was suffering, even if it wasn't her fault, would tear her up inside.
"I'm sorry," He leaned closer and pulled her into his arms. "I'm so sorry…I never realized…I never even considered how it was effecting you."
"I can't stand it anymore George. It's bed enough that I am so afraid about everything else; being afraid that you will never get past this…it's too much on top of everything else."
He buried his face in her dripping hair, the rain still pounding down around them. They were both soaked and muddy, but the true discomfort came from within…from the uncertainty of feelings neither could control. How do you recover from something so horrible? How do you go on when the scars run so very, very deep?
"I can't help how I feel. Every day we're together I care about you more and more, and the more I care about you, the more horrible it makes me feel. I see that tree and it all comes back, every horrible memory. I see you in that bed again, with all those bandages and tubes and machines…not knowing if you will ever wake and knowing that it's my fault."
And then he realized…the truth that he had known for weeks, but had somehow not found words…not until now.
"I love you Luna, I love you so much…and knowing that I hurt you…it's unbearable."
Luna pulled back. "Do you mean it? Do you really love me?"
"Of course I do, I would never lie to you."
"Then let it go." Her face crumpled and she cupped his face in her trembling hands. "Please George, please, please let it go… I can't stand to watch you like this anymore because I love you, and it hurts me more and more everyday too."
His face broke as the pool in his eyes broke free, they washed away in the rain, but Luna knew they were there, mixing with her own when he pulled her lips to his. Their kisses before had been innocent, a mere brush of flesh against flesh, a friend to a friend. Now, there was heat, and passion and about a thousand other things.
George picked her up and carried her inside. Their hands were nervous and unsure as they shared their first intimate moments. Fingers brushed gently over cool rain dampened skin, sopping wet clothing was pulled away. He was afraid that he would hurt her; she calmed his fears. She worried over her inexperience; he reassured with his words…he was little more experienced than she was…he had only been with one other before.
Their lovemaking was slow and unhurried, tender, soothing touches…a joining of hearts, souls and minds…George and Luna were kindred spirits. Under other circumstances they might never have come together, yet it felt as though something had been pulling them to this moment their entire lives. Fate…destiny…perhaps an unknown prophecy sat dusty in the Hall of Mysteries with their names on it; it didn't matter why…all that mattered… was that it was.
After, they lay spooned together, both pondering this turn of events. Luna was glowing, yet somewhat bemused. From overheard discussions in the loo, she had always understood men to be a bit selfish…only caring about their own completion…yet George had made sure that she completed before him. It was all so new to her, just the idea that George Weasley had just made love to her was difficult to grasp, but that he loved her…honestly and truly loved her…it was nearly beyond the realm of understanding. It wasn't that she thought he was better than her, but they came from different worlds. He was the wildly popular one…she the outcast; Luna had been sure she would be in University before she found a man who could truly appreciate her brilliance.
She was quite pleased to find that she'd been wrong.
George lay behind her, his eyes on the scar at the back of her head. He had never been this close to it before and now he could see everything. The slight ridge, the line in the middle where the skin had been broken apart, even some tiny scars where they had removed bits of rock. The guilt welled up within him again. Knowing that his feelings hurt her; he wished more than anything that he could make it go away…but he couldn't. Perhaps though, instead of pushing it away when it came, it was time he face it…just as he was facing the scar.
He bent his head to her neck, to the place where the scar began. He kissed every inch of it, from the base of her head…up the zigzagging path… to the crown, and then he pulled her closer and whispered into her ear.
"I love you."
Luna smiled as her eyes flooded with tears. George had never touched her scar before, had never as much as looked at it up close. She wasn't naïve; she knew his guilt wasn't gone just because they had made love. It would be a process, a gradual chipping at layers. His facing the scar was a step though…the first step, a big step. His guilt may never be gone completely…but eventually, it would become something he could live with…
Something they could both live with.
"I love you too."
She shifted; turning so she could lie facing him.
"That's why I decided to forgive you for killing my tree."
He grinned, "You won't hit me with mud again, promise?"
"I sort of owe you." She grinned at him sheepishly. "Since I faked falling down to get your attention."
"You…" He pulled back, a slight anger rising within him. "Falling, the scream…it was all fake?"
"Yes, the fall, the scream, everything"
The anger was squashed quickly when he saw the sparkle in her eyes. It was a lowdown, dirty trick….but one Forge Weasley couldn't help appreciating. He grinned, and then, the grin turned into a laugh.
"I know." She smirked. "Maybe even better than the infamous Gred and Forge."
"I wouldn't go that far."
"Matter of opinion." She shrugged, and then her face turned serious. "George, I've decided to let you finish taking down the tree."
He looked at her in disbelief. "Really?"
"Yes," She nodded, and then nuzzled deeper against him. "I've been a bit selfish. It's hurting you, making your feelings of guilt and pain worse. The truth is, every time I look at it, I feel sick…and using that to make everything else feel better…it's the cowards way."
She pulled back and smiled, her eyes sad and her lips trembling.
"Daddy didn't raise me to be a coward."
He kissed her, long and sweet, with every bit of his love, and then, he made another promise.
"When spring comes, we'll plant a garden in its place."
Luna smiled…she loved flowers, much more than trees
"That would be lovely."
George woke and rolled over; brushing his hand over Luna's pillow…it was empty. He sat up, unzipped the side of the sleeping bag, and then rolled off the feather mattress that they had lay over the futon. It had been Luna's idea…camping like muggles. Had it been up to him, he would have borrowed the charmed tent that Bill and Fleur had bought for when they went to the beach. Theirs had real beds...comfortable beds, a kitchen, a real bathtub with a shower... and a hot tub. He could imagine him and Luna getting quite cozy in a hot tub.
But then, it was just like Luna. She loved the simple things, the little things that others took for granted. Flowers, and birds and rainstorms.
Luna had become particularly fond of rain over the past few weeks.
He slipped into a pair of boxers and jeans, and then went to the flap of the tent and pulled it open. He found her right away, standing by the edge of the water with her feet submerged up to her calves. Her hair was in a loose French braid, the end past her shoulder blades. It still had a ways to go before it would be back to the length it was before the accident, Luna was thinking maybe by the spring…in time to plant the garden where the tree had once stood.
She wore baby blue capri's and a matching thin strapped summer top that buttoned down the front and showed off her trim stomach. George had been uncomfortable with the ensemble the first time she wore it…you could see the scar from the feeding tube…but over the three weeks since the night of the incident with the tree, he was learning to face things head on. Besides, facing the small scar on her stomach was a piece of cake compared to how facing the not so small scar on the back of her head had been.
"Good morning!" Luna called out when she saw him standing in front of the tent, her voice faint over the crashing waves.
"Morning." He smiled as he approached, and then put his arms around her from behind. "You snuck out on me."
"Sorry." She leaned back for a kiss, and then sighed as he nuzzled her neck. "I wanted to watch the sunrise, but you were sleeping so soundly, I didn't want to disturb you."
George looked towards the beach where a large mesh bag lay; she had gathered a fair pile of seashells.
"You've been busy."
"I was thinking if we collect enough, they would make a nice border around the garden."
"I think that is a lovely idea."
"Is this the beach where you found the conch shell you gave me?"
George shifted nervously. "No, I found that in Majorca."
"Oh, I see." Luna nodded, understanding parting the fog. This wasn't a particularly pleasant sort of understanding. "You were with Katie when you found my shell; weren't you?"
George hated it when Katie came up. Despite his assurances, Luna still felt terrible about it. She thought she had robbed him of something, while more and more he had been starting to wonder if perhaps she hadn't saved him from something instead. Looking at how Katie had reacted to his crisis with Luna, he wondered how she would have handled problems in their married life. What if he had become sick…or if the shop went out of business and he didn't have the money to care for her the way she seemed to like…the expensive way she liked…would she have run out on him? He was fairly sure now she would have.
"Please George, just answer me. And don't lie; you know I'll know if you do."
"Yes, I was. But…"
"She must not have liked it much, your bringing back things for me."
"Luna, stop it." He took her arms in his, careful to be gentle, yet demanding she look into his eyes. "Your feeling guilty about Katie is no better than my feeling guilty about your getting hurt. It makes me feel like shit when you do it. I'm a big boy Luna; I made my own choices, so stop it…please, just let it go."
"But…" She bit her lip to stop it shaking, trying desperately to stop herself from crying. "Your bringing me here, doing what you did with her…it makes me feel like you are trying to have that life back."
George looked at her for a moment…and then, he started to laugh. He laughed until he had to pull away from her, until he had to double over, his hands on his knees, until he had tears on his face. He laughed until Luna's hands were clenched into fists, until she was red in the face and closing in on being pissed off.
"Just what in the hell is so damned funny?"
"You." He smirked, standing upright and nearly laughing at the angry look on her face. "You have no idea what you're saying Luna Lovegood. It …it is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard in my life!
"If I were trying to relive my life with Katie…we wouldn't be camping in a muggle tent on a beach in Ibiza. We would be in Majorca, at an expensive resort where you were spending half the day sleeping and the other half getting massaged and your nails and hair done. You would be spending all afternoon by the pool, leaving me to walk on the beach alone.
"We would be spending every night fighting because all I could think about was where I really wanted to be… back in London watching the most beautiful woman in the world sleep and praying that she would wake. And you would only find out about the shell because you happened to see me packing it."
When he stopped, Luna had tears running down her face. "But…why bring me here at all then if it was so terrible? Surely it must remind you of that."
"Because," He wiped the tears away with his thumbs, then brushed his lips across hers. "When you were sleeping last August, all I was able to give you was a conch shell. It was all that I could give you. Now that you're awake, I want to give you more.
"I want to give you the ocean."
And then she understood. So many things that hadn't made sense before, things that had seemed like a coincidence…like why her birthday cake had looked exactly like her tiny plastic cake, why he had given her balloons on Harry's birthday. He was keeping promises; promises he had made to her while she slept.
"Oh George." She wept as she pulled him to her and buried her face against him. She had no idea what she had done to deserve him…all she had done was fallen out of a tree and slept for eight months. "You amazing, wondrous…dear, dear man. I know what you're doing and I love you…I love you so, so much for it."
"You deserve it." He spoke softly into her ear. "I can't give you back what you lost because of me, but I can make the days you have more special."
"You do, just by being here."
"You know." George grinned and pulled back. "We are getting dangerously close to overdosing on schmaltz."
Luna laughed and took his hand, then turned to continue down the beach. She needed a lot more shells of she was going to line her garden in them…she wanted a really big one.
"So, the next thing you gave me was a quill." She turned to him considering. "For the start of the term at Hogwarts."
George nodded. "Yes. "
"You haven't arranged to enroll me have you?"
He sighed regretfully. He had tried, but failed. "If only I could."
"It's okay. It would have been a bit hard for me to manage the stairs, even if I am managing without the cane now." She smiled. "And the memory loss and dizzy spells would make it difficult."
She stopped suddenly, turning to face him. "You haven't gotten me a stuffed Eagle have you?"
George grinned. "I would never kill an animal for the purposes of atonement, shame on you."
"Well, just so you know…a live one is out of the question." She grinned "Though I suppose we could put it up in the spare bedroom."
"Hardly." George laughed "Mum and dad still think I'm sleeping in there. They might get suspicious if they come in and see eagle shit all over the place."
Luna grinned and then bent down to pick up a handful of shells. "They never got suspicious when they saw your shit all over the place."
George laughed and pulled on the end of her braid. "Not exactly the same kind of shit I am talking about."
"I know." Luna straightened with a giggle
"You'll just have to wait and be patient."
"If I must." She reached down for his hand, the bag of shells swinging at her side. "Though it does seem a bit unfair, making me wait so long now that I know a surprise is coming."
George put an arm around her waist, and then pulled her around to face him. Their lips met and he felt a rush of warmth.
"I can think of a few good ways to pass the time."
Luna grinned up at him and put an arm around his neck. "What about my shells?"
"We have all week." George sighed and pulled the bag from her hand and dropped them in the sand before lifting her up into his arms to carry her back to the tent.
"The shells can wait."