The wind ruffled the leaves on the trees, fresh and raw against the weathered, raging scar of the battlefield. The battlefield itself was marked, scorched and torn up. No one ever really came by. No one wanted to bury the memories, painful as they were. The blacked grass beneath my feet tickled my soles and I envisioned how I must be smiling, full of unshed tears and bitter, broken hope. Years later and not even the most powerful force in the world, one that defies every law and creates matter out of naught but the sheer force of will, could erase the scars of war.
My father — blessed soul, cursed soul — told me once, a long time ago, that he would never leave me hurting, that if he could take on the pain himself, he would. I find myself, now, in a position to do the same, to take on the pain of others, to lead a world of chaos.
Becoming a warrior cost me a family. Becoming a healer, my chosen career after Hogwarts, seemed to have cost me my happiness. The dreamy girl I once was, lost in visions of beautiful paradise and strange, exotic creatures was lost in the war, a fatality of misunderstanding and fear and miscommunication. The only strange exotic thing I encountered today was compassion and common sense.
My heart ached, a deep, gnawing feeling at the base of my stomach and I wanted so so badly to stumble home and fall into my lover’s arms that for a moment it consumed me; it was all I could think about. The shrill scream of a thestral in the distance reminded me: I had no home, I had no lover.
Thestrals... thestrals and wild hippogriff rides, screaming mandrakes... and a washed up bride. Or a to-be bride, I mused, because Rolf Scamander had lived up to his name: he was nothing but a scam. A Hufflepuff, he told me, he was a Hufflepuff. A loyal, honest, kind, hardworking Hufflepuff. Only, one who never seemed to work, and could be rather cruel to anyone he thought unworthy of his attention... and a liar and a cheat. It turns out he was from Durmstrang, which explains why no one could remember Rolf Scamander at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
Rather than the recluse he claimed to be, Rolf Scamander was rather popular, most particularly with the ladies, a regular Gilbert Blythe, a flirt and a tease. He was quite the catch, what with his silken locks and smoldering eyes and, oh, one mustn’t forget his illustrious family tree and premier Gringotts account. I myself had been absolutely flattered. He was a perfect match, as far as I was concerned. As far as anyone was concerned, for that matter.
Hermione, who had kept up friendly relations with Viktor Krum, had had him over when I floo’d to tell her about the engagement. Having no idea he would be there, my shriek of “Rolf proposed!” was followed not only by Hermione’s sweet feminine “Oh how positively wonderful!” but also a slower, deeper rumble of a very confused Viktor: “Rolf... Scamander?” The following conversation went as such:
“Oh! You know him?”
“Well, of course. Why would I not?” Viktor’s heavy accent had thinned in recent times but had reappeared through the haze of confusion; he had never, however, begun using contractions or vernacular.
“He never mentioned you both met.” I was still cheerfully oblivious.
“I would imagine he did not find it particularly important.”
“But... you’re a Quidditch star! I’m certain he would’ve mentioned...”
Viktor looked immediately uncomfortable and while I might have normally assumed it was due to his humility, he had set me on edge. Rolf was a wonderful man, and he may be so but he certainly had flaws. He would never pass up an opportunity to brag about his connections with the Viktor Krum.
“Luna... many of the people who went to school with me did not think it important to mention. I ah... would imagine that the erm... glory wore off too quickly...” He cringed following his statement, as though he sensed the coming storm. If he did, he was much quicker on the uptake than I was.
“Rolf went to Hogwarts. He... he told me he went to Hogwarts... err...” Rolf Scamander was two years my elder and, therefore, I had never thought to ask if anyone had seen his sorting. Most of my friends were my age or a year older, and it never occurred to me to ask Ginny’s brothers, who would certainly have seen it. Viktor reached over and grabbed my hands with his, grip gentle but palm rough.
“Rolf Scamander — that is the one who proposed, yes?” Here he paused, waiting for my nod of confirmation before continuing.
“Rolf went to school at Durmstrang with me. He was a year younger than me, but we often flew together. He was very ah... famous with the women at our school. I am very surprised that he proposed. I would think that he would want to continue his life being free for many relationships but I can see why he proposed: If I were not already in love, I would not allow anyone to take a beautiful lady like you away from me. I too would want to marry you.” Here he winked and I would have blushed if not for the red flush of anger already staining my cheeks.
“I — you’re sure? But he... he couldn’t have... but he said...” I stuttered for a bit, a complete fool in the face of Viktor’s eloquent explanation. If I had spoken like that at school it wouldn’t have been any surprise that people called me loony. What Viktor said shook me, though, and more than just because I hadn’t known what school my fiancé went to (or more accurately, because he had lied about what school he went to). A moment more, and something clicked.
“Viktor. What do you mean ‘free for many relationships’.” I bit off each word, cutting my question into a statement.
“As I told you. Rolf was famous with the women at school.”
I must have looked confused because Hermione chose then to cut in with some tea and a clarification: “He means that Rolf was popular with the ladies.” She threw in a saucy wink then settled herself in a nearby armchair as Viktor, still gripping my hands, led me to the couch and sat us down. Hermione, ever the voice of genius, cleared it up.
“Yes! That is the word I was looking for! Rolf was very popular! All the ladies were wanting to be his special lady friend.”
“Do you mean his girlfriend, Viktor?” I suppose I was hoping his vocabulary had failed him again. Unlike Hermione, my correction was met not with a good natured ‘aha!’ and a thank you but rather a gentle, nostalgic smirk.
“No, no. Rolf had no emotional.. attachments to his lady friends. I played with balls; he played with hearts. After the first few girls had been bedded and broken-hearted, most of the girls at the school go the hint. Rolf was not one for relationships. A quick fix in bed, though, and he was your man. I suppose he had some favorites, some girls he particularly liked, but never a girl like you.”
“I... I had no idea.”
Viktor laughed again. “I don’t suppose he would tell you. What man would want his favorite lady to think he was a playboy? He would have no hope to convince you to marry him.” Viktor paused. “Rolf is very lucky, he must know. I know he did not think he would find a girl like me, who understands him so well. He is very lucky to have found a woman to indulge his preference, considering what they are.”
My hands were still held captive by Viktor’s grip. My own grip tightened around his wrist. “What. Preferences.”
“He was telling me how glad he is that you can love him without needing to have him all to yourself. How happy it makes him that you are able to share.” As Viktor spoke, I became vaguely aware that it would be rather rude to cut off the blood circulation to his arms. I pulled my hands away and sank my nails into a pillow.
That was how I found out Rolf Scamander, my fiancé, was cheating on me. It was also how I found out that apparently I was okay with it. I left the house some hours later, having changed the conversation soon after and staying for tea and just to catch up. I went home, disabled the wards on Rolf’s office (I should’ve known, what magizoologist needs an office?!) and found a room of trophies. The women’s underwear variety, each one dated, one as recent as the night he proposed. I was beginning to realize why Rolf had warded it and asked me to leave it alone: It was not for any necessity of organization, nor was it in danger of being robbed. He was keeping me out.
My satisfaction for the night was the reminder that I had always been better at wards than he was.
My satisfaction had been lost by morning, which is how I found myself mourning the loss of a relationship at the site of Battle of Hogwarts, watch thestrals take flight.
I suppose I sound very much like a moping teenage girl. However, being in the midst of war and on the verge of battle at any given moment rather takes away time to mope, so I lost that opportunity as a teen. It’s only fair I make up for lost time now.
I missed Rolf, but sitting at the site of loss and pain and despair and a very shallow victory, I missed most of all my father. My father, and my mother. I missed the people who stood up for me when my things went lost, stolen by jealous insecure housemates. I missed the people who kept my back safe when I faced the monsters of my childhood; the people who trusted me to keep them safe because they trusted that little loony Luna Lovegood had it in her to fight the good fight, to battle with the best of them. I missed the people who made me feel just as much of a lion as the lion’s head I wore once for a Quidditch game, the ones who watched me roar and howled at the world with me. The ones who took a step to do the right thing, the hard thing, to protect the people they loved. The ones who believed that I would do the right thing, that I was capable of love and pain and real human emotion.
Maybe I was little loony Luna Lovegood, but I was also fierce strong brave glorious Luna Lovegood, who true to her name could love and loved damn well.
Rolf could accuse me all he wanted of not loving him, not trusting him to love me back even in light of his dalliances with other women. I was fierce and strong and astounding but I was insecure and needy. I craved human affection, I needed it. I needed someone to be just mine. Someone there for me, devoted to me, selfish though I may be.
I unfurled from my crouched position on the ground, stretching upwards, turning slowly around, taking in the destruction wrought around me. Finishing my 360, I took a step forward. Then another, then a wild frantic turn and began walking briskly over to the nearest tree. I busied myself in climbing up into its branches and perched myself on a sturdy bough.
“Sunsets must be colored in the most alive golden there is to be found. It’s only too bad they exist just to end the day.” I mused aloud, not expecting a response.
“I always thought they served to remind you that behind the burning ball of fire we call the sun are millions of glowing stars, just waiting for their chance to be.”
The voice had matured, no longer squeaky but deeper now. The speaker, too, was familiar. He may not tumble over his words anymore, but he would never stop being the shy boy who cared for a lost little girl with the missing possessions. Neville Longbottom, Professor of Herbology at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, swung down from a higher branch and settled himself next to me.
Voice soft, I replied. “Perhaps they can only be so beautiful because it ends one beautiful thing only to make way for another.”
“Yes, as I understand it, Rolf Scamander is a big headed idiot who will regret what he gave up.” There was a pause, and then: “Hannah and I didn’t particularly suit, either.” He turned to look at me.
“Will you watch the stars with me, Neville? I hear they’re beautiful.”
“Not quite as beautiful as the girl in front of me.” And then he leaned in, and the sun slipped away into the night. The stars came out, and in front of me was the boy who started my sunrise.
What a picture we must have made. Neville and Luna, sitting in a tree.