The Second Tribute
How Luna Cresta Really Found the Mocking Jay
On the flag of District 2 is a Raven, but Luna is a child of water.
Sirius-buff, tan, wonderful, Sirus O'Dair who all the girls want-thinks Luna is whimsical like the sea, salty, too. Salty and savory.
For a long time Luna just laughed when Sirius O'Dair said things like that. It was a laugh that started low and ended high. Her upside-down laugh. Much is backwards about Luna Cresta. Inside-out and reversed.
Luna gets the best grades in her class and is easily not just pretty, but beautiful-with all her blond fly-away hairs haloing her face and her big, blue eyes (just another thing like the mother-sea says Sirius).
For all that, Luna has no friends except Sirius. She's got too many words in her head that don't have definitions. It's not that she sees things that aren't real, but that reality is different for her.
The kelp tell her stories of sand-monsters that dance in under-water volcanoes, and she knows that jelly-fish have an affinity for puns, and that most lobsters are very very sad.
Her favorite mythical creature to search for is the mockingjay. She swears it sings to her the same songs that her dead mother used too. She doesn't remember how the song goes, but the mockingjay does.
"Luna, Luna, Luna," Sirius chides. He uses her name three time because it sounds like a spell, also he likes the flow of syllables, the way they tide and crest over each other like waves. "There's no such thing as a mockingjay." But he gives his sunshine laugh all the same.
She splashes him with salt water with her little toe, all her teeth sparkling white. "You don't know that."
He grins. "Yeah, I know a lot more than you do." Scooting across her to the dock, his eyes darken slightly, making clear what exactly it is that he knows. The moment ends as he remembers her childishness, how like a child she still is, he spits, "and mockingjay's don't exist."
She bites her lip, blushing. "You can't know that something doesn't exist until you have proof that it doesn't." Only he grounds her enough to make her feel these earthy feelings.
He groans. Sometimes she frustrates him, but he sings her sea-shanties about white birds looking for land all the same.
When they call her name at the Reaping she gives a little wave and says, "Present," with all the constancy of sea-foam.
But no one laughs when they take Loony-Luna to the Capitol to die, and no one sings either. The people of Ravenclaw didn't know it, but Luna was their moon, their unreal crescent to aspire too, their subtle gravity.
People know Luna was important when Sirius doesn't sing anymore. The girls finally believe what had been only the subtext of whispers. The boy of the sun loves the girl of the moon.
The keels are hauled in a little slower, and the creaking of the schooners sound like groans and the tides come at uneven times.
Even when Luna tames the muttations, skeletal horses, which she gives a names. Perriwinkle, Thestral, Madge, the people of District 2 are sure that Luna still has no chance. She's not a career, she's the exact opposite of a career; she's an artist.
But she's also a girl of the water, and when the tides come in she knows how to swim.
The other two tributes left Alice and Frank Longbottom from District Three are eaten alive by jelly-fish. And Sirius hates himself, that he cheers their deaths, but he has to have her back.
She has to come home no matter the price.
He would pay anything, do anything.
Unfortunately, it doesn't work like that.
Because when Luna wins she's the one that has to the pay the price for staying alive.
Sirius feels like he's fucking drowning as he watches Lucius Malfoy pry her unto her lap, on TV. Yeah, Sirius admits he's lusted after her, too, but in an innocent way, and even though he loves her he would never ask more of her than what she gives.
Luna may be sixteen and look like she's twenty, but she's still just a kid.
"What a cute couple, two perfect blonds," titters Reeta. "So good for Luna to have a stable older man in her life."
When the reaping comes, Sirius volunteers in place of little Peter Pettigrew. People that don't know Sirius well aren't surprised. He was Career from the first day of elementary school when he bit little Cinna Lupin after he tried to steal his crayons. The people that do know Sirius, little Cinna Lupin and Mags McGonnagle, aren't surprised either.
Sirius is the kind of boy who would do anything to protect the people he loves, and there's only one train to get on the capitol. There's only one ticket that will let you board and it's the kind picked from the bottom of a glass bowl.
Sirius didn't know it but the odds weren't just not in his favor-they were impossible.
Lucius Malfoy makes sure of it. He can't think of a reason other than Sirius O'Dair that Luna wouldn't want to fuck him. He's wealthy (he paid through the nose for her) and he does care for her. (She reminds him of his wife.) So he tucks her in to his cavernous black bed and kisses her on the forehead, thinking how much better it will be for the both of them if Sirius O'Dair dies in the arena. Then he goes to Sponsorship Alley and wagers half his fortune to support a tribute from his home District, Slytherin.
The next morning he watches the opening ceremony with Luna, and his guilt is all encompassing when she kisses him lightly on the cheek for the first time, whispering idly, "Thank you for supporting Sirius, Lucy."
He always hated when she called him that, but when her little hand played with his blond stubble, he finds it endearing. If it were anyone else he would be sure that they were manipulating him with that comment, but his heart sinks as he realizes that she really thinks the gifts the boy is lavished with are from him.
He goes to Sponsorship alley that night to try to take back his gift for Bellatrix, but as that years game-master, Umbridge, informs him. "What's done is done, and it's really better that the right sort of people win this year. None of that pirate riff-raff from the 'Claw. The Lestranges are a good family."
On the third day, all of America gasps Bellatrix Lestrange opens the silver parachute at her feet and pulls out a long silver object-a gun. No sponsor has ever had enough money to give someone a gun. Many of the districts aren't even sure it's legal. (What is legal anyway, except for what Voldemort wants?)
Never has a tribute been more loved than Sirius O'Dair. All of America whispers and gossips, and rouses from their slumber into indignation, that maybe their golden boy won't win the games this year, because how unfair things are has suddenly become very clear.
All except Luna.
She just cries tears as salty as the sea that she hasn't seen in so long. She cries and buries herself into Lucius's chest, until she is plastered across him like a wound.
As Bellatrix pulls out the gun on little Colin Creevy from Gryffindor and Cedric Diggory from Hufflepuff, Luna carves herself into Lucius's embrace, because she needs someone, anyone to hold her.
That's where she is as Sirius O'Dair is shot.
She doesn't see him die, just hears him.
She knows it's him because he's whispering her name, like it's his own, like there is nothing he else he could have said.
This is when Luna stops believing in mockingjays.
But as Luna cries and cries, trying to drown the world with his tears, pouring fourth hurricanes of grief- this is when Lucius starts. He starts believing in mockingjays and morals and revolution.
So Lucius pats her head and soothes her, but at the end of the night he gives a call to Albus Dumbledore.
In the morning he gives Luna the mockingjay music box, and opens up her gilded cage.
Setting her free.