"Oh my God,"
Hermione struggled for a breath as the severity of the scene kneeling before her sunk in
She'd been against him leaving from the start, but of course that didn't stop him. Little Miss Know It All would always know best, and now look what happened.
He was hunched over, one hand painfully clutching his lower abdomen as his other arm attempted to prop his weight against the door frame. His eyewear, just like the first time they met, were broken down the middle, taped together with a piece of tape.
He was always so careless with his glasses, but that was just Harry.
He was always deemed the Gryffindor golden boy, morally upright with a strong sense of honor and justice, forever willing to put his life down for what he believed in. His celebrity status paired with his prophesized destiny did him no favors in attracting true companionship; he was still the best friend she could have ever asked for.
"What happened to you?" she felt the words slip from her lips as she rushed forward and slung his limp arm around her shoulder. She didn't know why she asked, she knew the answer anyway.
It was winter in Bulgaria, heavy, wet snow coming down in heaps. The frigid air bit her skin as she picked the dark haired man out of the white ice. Harry seemed barely conscious of his surroundings, groggily murmuring something as she led him inside.
He was heavier than her, but she managed to drag him into the small cottage. It was amazing he had located their headquarters in such conditions, she had conjured a masking spell to keep the unwanted hunters out. After all, Harry Potter was Undesirable No. 1.
Ron had left earlier that week to check in with the rest of his family, the Weasleys had broken down after their youngest daughter had gone missing. Harry's blatant lack of concern for Ginny's disappearance infuriated his redheaded best friend, creating a rift in their relationship. The tear only deepened as Harry went out to search for a certain eccentric blonde instead.
It wasn't really a secret anymore, Harry's affections for Luna Lovegood. But the way Harry never broke it off with his girlfriend and the way Ginny sort of just passed his longing for another woman off as nothing, endlessly puzzled those around them. Hermione analyzed the intricate web of crossed and twisted lovelines, and wished she could have stayed out of it all. She sympathized with Ginny, who loved someone who would never return her feelings wholeheartedly. If only brilliance could have saved Hermione from the same fate, from longing after the same man.
He saw her as a friend, he never would have considered her anything else.
"Hermione," he grunted through shut eyes, he was laying on the couch near the modest fireplace in the living room. The crackle of the flames was the only solace to the unbearable silence.
The brunette sat on the edge of the sofa, a towel soaked in warm water in hand. She wrung the cloth over a small pail and folded it into a small rectangle before placing it gingerly over his forehead. Her wild, childhood mane of bushy hair had been pulled back into a hasty low bun. She looked sick with worry, but nothing at all like Harry did. He was stirring in his light slumber, his eyebrows knit together, his hands shaking as he continued to mutter incoherent phrases under his breath.
Neville had left only yesterday, he'd insisted on searching for Harry. Hermione would have gone with him, but with Ron away, someone needed to man the cottage in case Harry came back on his own. Seeing now, it had been a good decision on her behalf.
Hermione gently brushed his dark bangs off his forehead, soothing the warm towel over his forehead. She'd healed the wound to his side the best she could. She shook her head disapprovingly, he'd been shot with a multitude of curses. He'd already sustained serious injuries from his battle with Voldemort, it was miracle he was still alive after all of this.
His hand suddenly shot up from the blankets she'd wrapped him in, he grabbed her wrist. She gasped sharply, but relaxed as she saw his eyes were still closed.
"I couldn't save her, Hermione," he croaked, "I couldn't save her," he repeated miserably.
She would've only guessed it so.
She was the brightest witch of her generation, it wasn't like she hadn't seen it coming. Luna, as sweet a girl as she was, had been helplessly in love with a dark man.
Love, it seemed, could dictate anything regardless of where one's loyalties were tied. Love, it seemed, was stronger than any other force in existence.
Hermione loved Ron, she did. But there was only so strain that could push a relationship, she didn't doubt that Ronald had felt the same. She wouldn't have been surprised if he had noticed her fleeting glances at their scarred friend.
Love, it seemed, was more complicated than anyone would have liked it to be.
She pressed her lips together tightly as she took his hand, hushing him asleep. His pain was her pain, his angst and suffering was her own. She hated seeing him like this, because she couldn't do anything to make it go away.
Love, it seemed, was the most unrelenting of curses.
Draco decided to stay home that day, it only seemed right. Besides, the Dark Lord seemed satisfied on his own without his company.
Something was off with Luna, he could sense it.
"Is everything all right, Luna?" Narcissa called over to her daughter in law across the long breakfast table. An extravagant assortment of pastries and meal choices were spread across its length, house elves scampering in the background to make accommodations for their masters.
Round, glazed over blue eyes blinked blankly for a moment, as if caught off guard. She'd heard Narcissa, but didn't answer.
"Luna," Draco addressed seriously, his eyes directed at his fiancé. She sat to his side, no more than a couple of feet away. "Luna," he said again, this time with a hint of concern.
A pregnant tension swallowed the room, only the footsteps of elves echoing through toward the large ceiling.
"Luna, dear," Narcissa leaned in, laughing nervously. "Are you alright?"
"Luna," Draco had risen from his seat now, he took tentative steps toward the girl. He put his hand over her smaller one that rested on the table next to her untouched plate. "Luna, can you hear me?"
The petite woman gave no indication of response, she just sat there staring aimlessly at the air in front of her, her lips slightly parted, her head tilted at a short angle.
A loud clatter of silverware and shattering dishes sounded. A house elf had clumsily tripped over its own feet, falling face first onto the marble floor, the contents it held in its arms following shortly. The creature screeched an ungodly noise, jumping up and snapping its fingers to clean the mess it had made. The elf was shouting apologies, shielding its face with waving arms as if trying to defend from an incoming blow.
Draco's jaw clenched in annoyance, he turned his back to reprimand the idiotic servant before a soft arm came to his forearm and held him back.
"Draco?" she said quietly.
He turned instinctively to face her, realizing that the cacophony of noise had brought her back into consciousness. A small smile graced her tired features, "Are you okay?"
Only he and his mother could feel the irony of her words.
Draco nodded stoically, as he brushed a stray wave of golden hair and placed it behind her ear. He bent down, placing a kiss on her temple.
"I'm fine," he answered, "But I think it best if we make another appointment with Aillun, yeah?"
"Of course," Luna agreed airily. It was the same light, whimsy tone she always carried, but for some reason, it felt ominously dead.
She wasn't built for this kind of life.
She was pure, childlike, trusting, naïve.
His blood was the only thing pure about him, he'd been forced to grow up abruptly and instantaneously, he didn't even trust his own parents, and he'd not only witnessed the darker sides of life, but paved the way to allow them to happen.
She wasn't built for him. He knew that, but he wouldn't let her go.
He waited with his arms crossed as Aillun preformed another routine appointment, he could tell that the older man was becoming irritated with the numerous house calls. Had Luna actually been visibly ill, Aillun wouldn't have minded. It was simply the fact that there was nothing identifiably wrong with her that irked him.
She was his, and he could do anything to make sure she stayed his.
"Stress and exhaustion,"
"And?" Draco pressed.
"That's it," Aillun stated simply, packing his materials and snapping the clasps to his briefcase. "I'm telling you children now that you worry too much, in my day doctor's were only called in dire situation when someone was withering away on their death bed,"
The tall, lean man pinched the straight bridge of his nose, hoping to relieve the inevitable headache he was coming to heads with. Serving Lord Voldemort was never this difficult.
"But I would like to speak to you privately, for a moment," Aillun requested in a low voice, he turned to see Luna who was lounging in bed again, her eyes closed, her breathing steady. "We should probably leave her to rest,"
Silvery eyes narrowed in suspicion, but agreed nonetheless as he followed the shorter man out of the room and down the hallway. The pair made their way down the stairs and into the foyer. They stopped in front of the main entrance.
Aillun cleared his throat as Draco waited impatiently.
"I didn't want to mention this in front of your wife, with all of the emotional stress she's going through I don't think it best to mention news like to her until she becomes more stable,"
"What is it? Is it something with her eating habits?" Her lack of consumption had been a concern, but nothing too far for him to be extremely upset over.
"No, though that's something we should work on if you decided to keep it,"
"Congratulations, I'm sure the Dark Lord will welcome the news. Though I'm sure your mother will have to make the appropriate accommodations before the wedding, perhaps the date will need to be pushed forward,"
"What are you talking about?"
Now she would really would be his forever.
End Chapter 15