Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter, I'm just playing with the characters.

Alive

"It's a rather nice house, I think."

Harry jumped up and leveled his wand at the front door of number four, Privet Drive. The figure standing there was at least a head shorter than him. The light at her back cast her face in shadow and turned her pale blonde hair into a glowing halo.

"Luna," he sighed. "Don't do that." He tucked his wand back into his pocket, his hand shaking slightly.

It was a week since the Battle of Hogwarts and he hadn't yet been able to relieve himself of certain habits. If anyone apparated within a hundred yards he dove behind the nearest building or bit of furniture. He couldn't sleep at the Burrow, people were constantly coming and going at all hours, and even when he removed to Grimmauld Place he found himself disturbed by the knowledge of people he couldn't see or hear moving about on the street outside. So he had come back here, to the last place in the world he'd ever wanted to be.

"Sorry," Luna said, stepping inside the house and sounding anything but apologetic. Harry closed the cupboard door, not wanting to explain to Luna why he was looking forlornly in a storage cupboard.

"How did you even know I was here?" Harry asked. As often happened with Luna, her very presence was enough to shock all normal emotion out of him, leaving nothing but confusion. "Or where here was?"

She was moving up the stairs, looking at photographs on the wall. The Dursleys hadn't had time to take everything, the house was actually much as Harry had always known it, if much, much dustier.

Unlike most wizards or witches Harry knew, Luna didn't seem concerned that the people in the photographs weren't moving. Instead she looked at each in turn, studying the faces within.

"I asked George," she said. "He told me where you used to live."

Harry winced at the mention of the only remaining Weasley twin. "How's he doing?"

"Badly," Luna said simply. For a moment Harry thought she would stop there but then she carried on. "He's alive though. Right now that may be the crux of his problem but that's what'll help him recover."

"You think he can recover from this?" Harry asked harshly. The confusion had worn off and he was free to feel more natural emotions, anger chief among them. "He's been through hell, lost his innocence and his friends, he's killed people and now he doesn't even have his closest friend - his brother - to comfort him! And you think he's just gonna be okay?"

Luna turned around on the stairs to look down at him. The longer she remained silent, the more awkward he felt. Everything he'd said was true but she just kept staring, her typically vacant eyes oddly sharp. It felt like she was looking right through him, every second of the last year laid out before her.

Finally, she said, "I didn't say he would be okay. He'll probably never be okay. But he's alive and he's surviving and one day, a very long time from now, he will look at his life. If he is lucky he will be strong enough to realize that it's a good one and that surviving was not a punishment, but a gift."

"You really think so?" Harry asked, his voice shaky.

She nodded with a small smile and turned back to the photographs. "Did you accidentally put an engorgement charm on your cousin when you were little? Or is he naturally this large?"

Harry smiled and climbed the stairs so he could tell her about his family.


Mrs. Figg brought them dinner. She'd seen Luna arrive - "Hard to miss, wasn't she? Riding in on a thestral, not a care in the world." - and even brought a raw fish she'd originally intended for her cats as a meal for the winged horse.

She seemed reluctant to leave them and kept reminding Harry that the house hadn't been properly lived in in nearly a year. He knew she was hoping he'd ask to stay the night with her and was honestly feeling a bit guilty for not asking by the time she did leave.

"She feels responsible for you," Luna said, unpacking the basket Mrs. Figg had brought.

"She shouldn't," Harry said. "I can take care of myself."

"That only makes it harder. She's watched over you your whole life. She probably thinks of you as a son or grandson."

"How did you know she'd been watching me?" Harry asked, deciding to ignore the rest of Luna's statement.

She held out a sandwich half to him. "You introduced her as 'the woman the Dursleys always dropped you with when they went out,' and she said she'd known you since you first came to Privet Drive, that it hadn't been the same without you."

Harry took the sandwich and took a large bite to avoid answering. Luna pulled a small tupperware of beets out of the basket and set it and a plastic fork in front of Harry. Another, identical container came out for her, as did the other sandwich half. There was also a single bowl of salad, which they shared, and two slices of chocolate cake.

They ate standing up on either side of the kitchen counter. Harry waited until the cake to speak again. "You should go over to Mrs. Figg's. I'm sure she wouldn't mind you staying the night."

"She would. And I'm quite comfortable here with you."

"Luna," Harry began, "I-"

"I'm not leaving, Harry."

And that was that.


Vernon and Petunia's bed was still in their room. Harry would have preferred splitting up but Dudley's bed was gone with the Dursleys and his had been home to a rat and its babies since last he slept in it. Luna scourgified the bare mattress, saying the authorities had more to worry about than a little underage magic these days. Harry found a top sheet and quilt in the back of a cupboard near the bathroom and laid them both over the bed. He took off his shoes and transfigured them both into pillows. They were small but better than nothing. Luna took hers with a smile and a "thanks" and kicked off her own shoes before climbing under the quilt.

Harry kept his glasses on when he laid down atop the quilt and stared at the dark ceiling. If Luna found his choice of sleeping position odd she didn't say so. There were no curtains on the windows. The light from the streetlamps outside streamed freely in. Luna's breathing settled into a steady rhythm so that Harry could tune it out and hear the night sounds. The animals that had moved into the house since the Dursleys moved out came out of hiding now that Harry and Luna had settled. They scurried in the walls and over the floor. Outside a car drove slowly down the next street over, pulling into its driveway. A dog barked at something and was shushed. Harry kept his eyes on the crack in the ceiling he was sure hadn't been there when the Dursleys left.


There was nothing, no dream, no nightmare, only the dark nothingness of sleep. It was broken by a crack through the night and Harry was instantly up, wand drawn, eyes wide, searching for danger. Something moved to his left - a person! He rolled over atop them so they wouldn't be able to attack, pressed them down into the bed, and put his wand to their throat.

"How did you find me?" he yelled.

"Harry."

"Tell me!"

"Harry."

He knew that voice. He blinked. The cloudiness of sleep ebbed slowly as his eyes adjusted and he fought to see clearly in the dim light.

"L-Luna?" he asked. His wand slipped from his fingers and clattered on the floor as he realized what he'd done and, worse, what he'd almost done.

He rolled off of her, face buried in his hands, pushing his glasses painfully up into his hair. He wasn't crying, there wasn't any crying left in him after the battle, but he wished he was. He wanted to be something as simple as sad. These days he felt grief and remorse and guilt and, worst of all, joy and hope, which seemed wrong when so many had lost so much.

Luna's small hand rested upon his raised shoulder. She didn't say a word, only pulled herself across the mattress, closer to him. She wrapped her arm around his back and rested her forehead against his fingers where his own forehead was. He fell asleep with her body pressed against his through the quilt.


When he woke up again the sun was shining painfully through the window. Luna's back was to him and he'd pulled her into his arms while they slept. It was the first time since the battle he'd woken up without reaching for his wand.

He waited until she woke to rise, worried he'd disturb her if he pulled his arm out from under her. She didn't say anything, only folded up the quilt and sheet while he transfigured the pillows back into shoes and tied them on his feet. The bedroom back as they'd found it, the two headed downstairs.

"Mrs. Figg said we could come to her for breakfast," Harry said lamely. Luna had been right next to him when she offered but he could think of nothing else to say.

"I'd like that," Luna said, not seeming to notice his awkwardness. "And I know Happy's hoping to get another fish."

"Happy?" Harry asked.

In answer Luna looked out the window at the thestral sleeping on the front lawn.

"Ah."

He watched Happy flick his tail at some flies in his sleep, making odd patters in the dew that had settled on his back during the night.

"Listen, Luna, I-" Harry faltered and found himself twisting his wand between his hands. He didn't want to bring up last night and how she must have felt when he attacked her, but he had to know. "How are you?" he finally asked, instantly feeling like an idiot.

"I'm fine, Harry," she said sincerely. She tilted her head to the side, studying him much the way Hedwig used to. "And how are you?" It was perhaps the most serious he had ever heard Luna.

Harry looked at Luna, at the snoozing symbol of death outside, and then around at the house he'd once sworn never to return to. That was before though, before he'd spent a year on the run, before he'd died, before he'd watched his friends die. Now he was certain he was going to leave again and this time it really would be the last time.

"Alive," he said finally. "I'm alive."

Luna smiled and took his hand in hers. "That's all any of us can ask," she said and tugged him toward the door.


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