Prompt 12 – Dying
I always loved Neville and Luna together, whether as friends or as a couple.:)
Neville sat in the old drawing room and studied the photograph in his hands. It showed him and his grandmother in front of the very house he was sitting in – which was a miracle to him right now, because he felt as detached from that memory as if it had taken place a thousand years ago.
The picture had been taken after his first year at Hogwarts. It had been the first time that his grandmother had told him how proud she was of him, for being sorted into Gryffindor and even more for gaining points for his house at the end of the year and thus reclaiming the House Cup from Slytherin. She had made him put on his school uniform so she could place the photo right next to that of his parents in their Gryffindor clothes, which hung on the kitchen wall.
He was smiling and waving happily out of the picture at himself, only he remembered too well how quickly that smile had faded afterwards.
If only grandma hadn't said those dreadful words, he thought.
"Well done, my boy. And don't forget how much will be expected from you now. Wearing the red and gold is a responsibility, so don't rest on your laurels for too long."
Honestly, who said something like that to an eleven-year-old? However, it didn't matter any more now. His grandmother had passed away this morning and he didn't know how to feel or what to do.
"Should I come back later?"
Looking up, he saw Luna´s long, wavy hair and her big wonderland-eyes peeking around the door frame.
"No, please come in! I owled you after all, didn't I?"
He couldn't think of anyone else to whom he would be able to talk to right now. Sure, there were his other friends Ginny, Harry, Ron, and Hermione, but he could still recall the awkwardness that had surrounded them at St Mungo's after meeting his Mum and Dad there. Strangely enough, he never felt awkward around Luna. Maybe because she was so very different from everyone else, that he didn't feel so odd himself. And he didn't feel like he had to prove his Gryffindor-ness to her either.
"I brought you some milk and cookies. My Daddy brought me the same when Mother died."
Good, old Luna.
Neville had to smile while she sat down next to him, despite the occasion. She never bothered for etiquette or empty words but came straight to heart of every matter.
They sat there quietly for a while, with only the sound of a summer evening accompanying them. A blackbird's song entered through the open window and the wind played loosely with the white curtains. Neville considered the tray before him, but even though he hadn't eaten all day he didn't feel hungry. Luna's silence started to surprise him, usually it was her to start a conversation.
"So, err...thank you for coming. How are you?
A gaze of mild surprise was directed at him.
"Oh, I'm not very well. My best friend's grandmother just died and he is very sad."
Whether planned or not, this brought tears to his eyes. He hadn't let go enough before, to cry, but those simple words made him realise the truth of what had happened.
After he had calmed down a bit, he told Luna everything that he had been holding inside the whole time – how his grandmother hadn't told him about her illness until she was certain that she wouldn't recover, how she had insisted on sitting outside and even working in the garden and how her last words to him had been that she regretted not being able to witness his marriage. But he had to promise to call one of his children after her.
"You're lucky, Augusta is a very nice name. My grandmother's name was Gargantula. I'm glad she didn't ask me to pass it on."
He had to smile in spite of himself. Luna's eccentric remarks never seemed tactless, just sincere.
"You'll learn to live with it someday," she continued, this time putting her finger right into his wound.
He hadn't meant to sound so childish, but right now he felt like the time he had gotten lost in the woods as a five-year-old.
"I don't know," was her only reply.
Neville blinked at her several times in confusion.
"Everyone has to find out for themselves," she clarified, although still with a very vague smile.
Considering this for a while, he wondered whether this was very wise or whether she simply couldn't think of a better answer. But then he remembered that this was Luna after all, one of the smartest persons he knew (the other one being Hermione, who was just as smart, only in a completely different way).
"And how did you find a way?" He eventually asked.
"My father told me that my mother was happiest when she was experimenting and that, had she stopped to do so, she would have died too, only in a much more painful and slower way. It never meant anything to me right after her death, because the pain was just too big. But some years afterwards we went shopping in Diagon Alley and spotted an old parrot in a cage at the Magical Menagerie. It was a blue macaw and he looked very old and lonely. I persuaded Daddy to buy him and then we travelled to Brazil to set him free. It was such a wonderful sight to see him fly over the trees and to the cliffs were his companions lived. I think that was when I truly let go. Of course I'm still very sad that I didn't get to spend more time with my mother and sometimes it makes me really angry. But I know that she was free and did what she loved best, so that is a comfort."
She had spoken slowly and in her usual dream-voice, but some of the great emotions she had spoken of showed in her eyes. They were a bit watery but at the same time carried an unmistakably joyous twinkle in them.
"That sounds...beautiful. But I doubt something like that will happen to me."
Neville could not even picture himself in the jungle. The mosquitos would kill him.
"No, of course not, that's why I said everyone has to find their own way."
Luna's reply was almost a laugh, as if she had read his mind and seen the ludicrous picture inside his head.
"But something else will happen to you."
He exhaled deeply and covered his face in his palms. It all seemed so easy and natural when she talked about it, but he could only feel heaviness and an illogical sense of guilt.
"Don't worry, it will come. But it takes time, a long time. You have to take small steps in the beginning," she assured while rubbing his back.
Neville listened a while longer to the birds outside and tried to think of nothing, before reascending from the refuge of his hands.
"I'm glad you're here, Luna." He told her honestly before taking a bite of a chocolate cookie.