A/N: Okay, so I'm not sure how I feel about this. Feedback much appreciated! I tried not to have this as an infidelity fic, though some could argue that emotionally cheating is worse than physically cheating, but we won't get into that here. 'Tis a debate for another day.
Written for Round 1 of Fire the Canon's Fanfic Tournaments Comp and Lady's Writing School as an audition for pairings.
The first time he sees her, Bill Weasley is ten years old and Luna is just a baby.
He remembers it so clearly.
He remembers the rickety house and the bright colours, and Mr. Lovegood dressed white robes with fluttering blue birds and, my, weren't they strange clothes for a man to wear. He remembers that Xenophilius' hair was long. Long hair on a man! How odd!
He remembers Mrs. Lovegood, curled up on a sunshine yellow armchair with a bundle of blankets in her arms. Her bright hair was pulled back and her dark eyes were tired and drained, but she was beautiful. Bill remembers blushing when she smiled at him, and hiding behind his father's arm when she asked him his name.
He remembers, more than anything else, the baby, wrapped up in a dark blue blanket and gazing at the Weasleys with a smile. Her eyes were bright and blue and big and she had these short, fluffy curls on the top of her head. She was all wrinkled, like Ginny used to be when she was first born, but she was paler than Ginny. She was so very white, so pale, and so fair and Bill thought she looked like the angels from his storybooks, the cherups that Mum told him about.
Mrs. Lovegood tells him that little Luna likes him and Bill turns as red as his hair and runs behind Arthur's legs once again.
The next time he sees her, he feels suddenly very old. He knew, somewhere in the back of his mind, that she and Ginny were the same age, but he had never thought of her actually growing up.
That is, until she turns up at his wedding.
She wears robes of sunshine yellow that remind Bill of that time, what, sixteen years ago? Merlin, I'm old. Her eyes are just as huge and blue, but there is a calmness there, a serenity that draws Bill towards her. Her smile is distant and dreamy and Bill finds himself desperate to talk to this odd little girl, to find out how she works.
And, somehow, amidst their conversation and perhaps a little too much wine, Bill finds himself telling Luna about his worries, about his fears.
"I'm not perfect enough for her," he says.
And she says, "You're perfect anyway."
Later, when everything falls apart and the end of everything begins, between darting curses and screaming figures, Bills eyes search for that flash of blonde and sunshine, and he hopes that she gets out okay.
Months later, he is holed up at home like a caged bird. His home is a safehouse, for the goblin and the wandmaker and the boy and her.
She looks exhausted and her face is gaunt, but she's still got skin so pale it gives off an ethereal glow and she's still as pretty as an angel.
He watches her speak at Dobby's grave and feels a lump in his throat.
Fleur winds her fingers through his and whispers in his ear, but Bill isn't listening to her.
Because Luna is still talking, still honouring the elf that saved her life, and Bill is going to listen to every single word that falls from her mouth because she's lucky to be alive, and he's never really understood the gravity of war more than in this moment, with this fragile wisp of girl thanking a dead elf for the chance to (maybe) survive.
It's Luna that teaches him to respect war.
Because war is bigger than him, bigger than her, bigger than the both of them.
War is a bigger problem right now than Bill maybe, possibly, probably falling in love with a girl ten years his junior with a hundred times his strength.
The first night after the others leave, Luna has nightmares. But this time, Hermione is not there to save her.
It is Bill who wakes first, sweating through the thin cotton of his t-shirt, to the sound of her screams.
"Bill," Fleur mutters sleepily, "She needs you. You are familiar to 'er. Go."
So he stumbles from the bed, his knees weary and stiff, and runs to her room. He wonders how familiar he really is to Luna, but he runs as fast as he can nonetheless. The thick carpet cushions his footfalls and he can't help but resent that as he runs. If she could hear him coming, she might feel safe. If she knew he was here, she could stop, stop screaming, stop, stop, stop –
She jolts awake, eyes wide, limbs jerking, and Bill rushes to her. He pulls her into his arms without hesitation and, for just a moment, Luna is not Luna.
She is no longer starry-eyed and honest and content; she is broken and scared and this, this, Bill reminds himself, is what war does. As Luna sobs into his chest, he finds himself muttering nonsensical comforts and half-hearted promises of never again.
She whispers, between ragged breaths, that he doesn't need to do this.
"I can't leave you," he says, and he means it.
So Luna says a mumbled thank you and tries to slow her breathing. Bill can feel her chest rise and fall against him, and it's almost as if just being this close to her is soothing her. He can feel her heartbeat slowing, thuds solid and sure against his skin, and his arms are tight around her thin frame. It's like comforting Ginny, but so very unlike comforting Ginny that Bill tries not to think about it and just hums his gentle reassurances.
He doesn't let go until she has fallen back to sleep in his arms.
And the next night, he is there before the screams even start.
The night before she's due to leave, Luna sits cross-legged on the floor with a strange, bright orange toadstool in her hands, poking and prodding it this way and that. Fleur sits on the chair behind her and braids tiny daisies into her hair, and Bill watches her fingers move deftly and wonders how it is that he can love them both so much.
"You 'ave such beautiful 'air," Fleur says, but Luna pays her no attention, still twisting the toadstool around and examining it in the light.
"What's that you've got there?" Bill asks with a nod towards it.
"This is a Dewringer's Deathstool, as far as I know. I've never seen one up close. It's supposed to emit a kind of mist that knocks predators out, but I can't quite get it to work," Luna muses with a frown.
"You want to be knocked out by a toadstool?"
"I'm not sure how I feel about having anything with the word "death" in it in my house," Bill says with a weak smile.
"There's only be one case of a fatal injury by Deathstool, in the seventeenth century when a witch named Guinevere decided to-"
"All done!" Fleur announces brightly, distracting Luna from her history lesson. "Well, 'ow does she look, Bill?"
Bill takes her in. Luna looks at him, all soft edges and quiet smiles, and her eyes are big and full of hope and promise and happiness, and he barely notices the tiny flowers that peep out from in between the braids of her hair.
"She looks absolutely beautiful," Bill says.
"Why thank you," says Luna, "You look rather beautiful yourself!"
"Men aren't beautiful," he says, "They're handsome and strong and brave."
"Is zat right?" says Fleur, brushing the last of the daises from the sofa into a tissue, "I seem to remember a certain someone running from ze spiders in ze attic last week, non?"
"Shhh, Fleur, you're supposed to be on my side!"
"Well, I think," states Luna, "that men are very beautiful indeed."
Bill feels the tips of his ears burn and keeps his eyes on Fleur as she leaves the room to throw the useless daisies in the bin.
"Your scars," Luna says. "They make you more beautiful than other men."
And it's simple and honest and she doesn't understand that it makes Bill's heart pound and his knees weak and he wants so much to kiss her.
"Thank you," he mutters, and Fleur returns once more.
The last time he sees her is her wedding.
She is radiant. Perfect. Her blonde hair has tiny, silver bells woven throughout and she wears a bright, rainbow patterned sari and a smile that splits her face.
She looks happier than he's ever seen her.
He sits in the back row with his arm linked through Fleur's as Luna says, "I do," and every last hope he has fades with the echo of her vows. Fleur turns to him and beams, muttering something about ze 'appy couple and he nods along with (what he hopes looks like) a smile on his lips.
He finds her afterwards, standing beside her husband, and offers them both his congratulations.
"Bill!" Luna says, her face lighting up. "Bill, this is Rolf. Rolf, this is Bill, one of Ron's brothers. The one I told you about, the one from before."
He finds it kind of funny that before is all they need to say now. That time before. When we went there before. I knew him before. It seems less harsh, a way to distance themselves from the reality of what before really was.
"Nice to meet you, Bill," Rolf says, taking Bill's hand in his and shaking roughly. "I'll just leave you two to catch up, shall I?"
And he's gone before either of them can reply.
There is a moment of silence between them. With anybody else, perhaps it would be awkward, but this is Luna. Silence with Luna feels more natural, more comfortable, like the ebb of the tie before the waves; inevitable and necessary. Silence with Luna makes him feel as if the stars have gone out and she is the only light in the night sky.
"You look beautiful," he says, and the illusion that they are alone shatters.
"Thank you," she says with a smile. "So do you."
"Men don't look beautiful," he argues, though his heart is not in it.
She stands on tiptoe to kiss his cheek. She reaches down for his hand, the hand that hangs limply by his side, and squeezes his fingers.
"I miss you," he says before he can stop himself.
Luna just smiles sadly. Their hands are still entwined.
"Thank you, Bill," she says quietly. "For everything."
And no sooner than she lets her lips linger on his cheek, for a few seconds longer than before, she is swallowed by the crowd of party goers.
Here to celebrate Luna's wedding, Bill reminds himself.
And with that, he wanders back into the crowd to try and find his wife.