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What Means Most by Owlpost68
Chapter 5: Mad Thoughts
A/N: It's a really long chapter, but I thought it came together well. It was amazing, when I first wrote this, I hadn't dealt with grief on such an intense level. Now that I have, I thought I'd have to edit a lot, but really, it was very minimal. Please tell me what you think. Even if it's short, it's greatly appreciated :) Edited 8/2/16
Disclaimer: I own nothing you recognize, but I do own the plot
I had eaten lunch, but barely. Most of the food Angelina put in front of me was left there when I said I wanted to go back outside. As it happened, so was most of the family. We saw mum and dad ahead of us, looking exhausted… ‘and puzzled?’ I thought, confused. ‘What could possibly be going on?’
A small voice I didn’t recognize said, “I'm Sirius James, who are you? And where did you come from?”
Ron started cracking up...
‘Um, What??’ I started to understand why they were so dumbfounded…
“George? Why'd you stop?” Whispered Angelina.
My eyebrow went up and I shook my head in bemusement, “Um, there's a kid, and um... his name is Sirius James... Soo, that can only really mean one thing...” I whispered back.
I only saw the back of my mum, but I could already imagine her face, “Wait, your name is Sirius James?” Asked mum.
I looked at Angelina and she looked just as shocked as I felt.
Hermione broke the awkward moment and said, “Oh, Ron stop laughing, why don't you take Sirius James inside for some lunch. I'll stay here and explain. I'll see you later buddy,” She ruffled the boys’ messy dark hair. Merlin, the kid looked so much like Sirius, it could have been him hit with a Shrinking Charm.
“Ok ‘Mione,” Ron kissed her cheek... My mouth dropped open, and thought, ‘Wait, wait, wait… When did they finally get together?’
He picked the kid up and put him on his shoulders which made the boy giggle. They headed toward me.
The boy patted Ron on the head and stared straight at him, “Ron, why is that guy's mouth stuck open?”
Ron chuckled again, “Oh, that's what my brother does when he doesn't know what to say. He's had a big day. He'll get better soon.” Before they left, he stopped, leaned towards me, lowered his voice and asked, more soberly, “You will won't you? I know nothing's right, but we got each other to lean on you know.”
I gulped and nodded vacantly; and consciously closed my mouth in the process.
Ron patted my shoulder before he turned to the rest of them, “Listen to what Hermione's going to say, it's an interesting story, and we don’t even know the half of it yet,” he said before he left.
I shook my head, “So much for taking a walk.”
“George, the least we can do is listen to what's going on,” Angelina said with a shove towards the Hermione and the others. ‘Why couldn't things be simple enough so I could be by myself for a while?’
“George, you look like you just want to escape,” Hermione said, once I reluctantly moved towards a bench.
I shrugged, “That's pretty much it.”
She looked at him and smiled patiently, “Well, trust me, once I tell you who that little boy is, you won't mind waiting a bit.”
Angelina pushed me forward slightly, grabbed my hand and forced me to sit down next to her.
I stuttered, “But, listen, I really...”
“Well, who was it dear?” Mum asked eagerly, cutting me off.
Hermione took a deep breath, and looked pensive, like she wasn’t sure what to say. But then, she shrugged and said, “He’s Sirius Black's son.”
Dad, Mum, Angelina and I sat in stunned silence. Then, Hermione started telling us what she knew.
7PM George's Store
The door clicked behind me and I leaned against the door. I felt like I finally had a little time to myself, but I now that I did, I didn't want to be by myself.
A barrage of thoughts flooded my mind.
‘Fred should be next to me.
Why was I returning to the Burrow or the store without my brother?!
How was it possible to have all these wonderful things happen when Fred wasn't here to make them worth-while?’
I slid down the door and pulled my knees to my chest and tried to suppress tears that never abated completely.
I knew I wasn’t the only one feeling the confusion of happiness and sadness. That was certainly made clear during dinner at the Burrow. There would be these weird points where people talked happily, and then were really quiet. They'd talk about plans for the future, like Ron and Hermione finding her parents in Australia, then we'd miss everyone who died, reminiscing. Then they would try to guess if the loved ones we lost would be proud? Were they sad they weren't with us? Disappointed we couldn't save them?
I had really tried tuning myself out of these conversations.
‘The difference between them and me was,’ I thought, ‘Fred is my twin! He isn't anyone else’s twin damn it!’
I couldn’t take it anymore, the lump in my throat felt way too big. A sob came out. And another.
This was why I had to be alone. If I were to do this at home, everyone would smother me with, 'it'll be alright's' and 'it's ok's.'
‘Can't anyone see that without my other half, I'm not going to feel like that right away!!’
More sobs worked their way out of me... I lost track of time and had no clue how long they kept coming.
Then, I heard a soft, knock, knock, knock...
It startled me. Though it wasn’t loud, I jumped near a foot away from the door, but stayed silent. I really didn't want to talk to or see anyone. Maybe whoever it was will go away.
A light, airy voice filtered through the door, “George, it's Luna. I know you're in there, this place is infested with Wrackspurts. You should really let me take a look at this place sometime. My dad taught me exactly how to get rid of them.”
‘Luna? What in the world? No, even if she caught me by surprise, I wasn’t letting her in. I don't have the brain power to try and figure out what the bloody hell she was saying. Maybe she'll think I'm sleeping.’
Like always, she continued even when many people didn’t care if she did or not, “George, I know you're hurting right now. No one can understand this kind of pain you must be going through but, I talked to Professor McGonagall and she thought it was a great idea to go around to visit people.”
I heard a soft thump and heard her slide down the door to sit on the floor as I had been. I resumed my position on the other side.
Her light voice went on, eerily comforting, “I don't even want to offer help with anything you know. People who are grieving don't usually want it anyway. So, what I really wanted to ask was, if I could share a hug?” Luna’s voice got softer and sadder, “After all I went through at the Mansion and what’s happening with my dad… I feel like I would like a little human contact. That's why I asked Professor McGonagall about my idea.”
She was quiet and I could hear my heart beat loudly in my chest, like it was running out of strength. I wanted to break down.
After a minute Luna’s voice flowed back into the room, “I don’t expect anything from you and I don't feel like I have anything to give right now. But maybe sharing our hurt might work out better than trying to give good feelings that aren't quite there.”
I let that sink in for a minute. I blinked a little when I realized silent tears ran down my face. She had a point. I didn't want anyone feeling sorry for me, but I didn't like the idea of giving up all contact either. Isn't that what was hurting the most right now anyway?
I pushed myself off the floor and put my hand on doorknob. It was so quiet behind it that I thought she'd left. I opened the door quickly, not wanting to miss her offer, but there she was.
She tumbled backward and landed on my feet, and yelped in surprise.
She looked up at me and gave me a dreamy smile that was tired, and hurt.
This was why I hadn't wanted to open the door, whatever she says or does usually confused the pants off me. I couldn’t understand how this smile of hers cheered me up but, maybe because it was the true smile that everyone felt. Happy that the fighting was over, but worn out, and knowing we still had so many more obstacles to come.
It occurred to me that she still hadn't hugged me. She had gotten off the floor, but she was probably waiting for me. I still hadn't said I wanted the hug.
I shrugged at her. What was the worst that could happen?
We both moved forward at the same time and her arms went lightly around my waist. She was so short, mine draped over her shoulders and my chin rested on her head. I'd never been hugged like this. It was completely neutral, and my mind seemed to have blanked from everything I had been thinking of.
She started humming slightly, but I felt my shirt get slightly damp. Was she crying? She must’ve been. Then, one by one, all the reasons to feel sad entered my head. One by one. Next thing I knew; I was crying too.
The only difference was that this was calmer. More natural. I felt more like myself this time instead of thinking, “I never cry,” or “I shouldn’t cry.”
‘Well,’ I thought, ‘this has never happened before so who says I shouldn’t?’
We stood there for a while, on the front step of the store. We shared our pain and felt better, but not because of giving each other good feelings. We were letting each other have natural feelings.
Finally, Luna stopped humming, and looked up at me. “Thanks for sharing that hug George. It doesn't make it all better, but maybe easier to handle. For me anyway.”
In a thick voice I said, “I think so too Luna, thank you for coming. If you ever want to share a hug again, you know where to find me,” I gave her a tired smile.
She returned it, “Goodnight George.”
“Goodnight Luna,” I said. She turned around and skipped away in the dark of night. It wasn’t until I couldn’t see her anymore that I wondered what happened to her father…
I skipped away from George's shop to The Leaky Cauldron so I could use their Floo. I would have walked leisurely but knew I was running a little late to visit Dad at St Mungos. I still couldn't believe what happened to him. He's not the same at all. I knew there were bad things going on in the world, and I knew there was a chance I'd get in trouble. None of what actually happened ever crossed my mind though.
No one was around when I stepped through the arch into the pub, so I helped myself to some Floo powder.
“St Mungos!” I said clearly.
Momentarily, I lost myself in the green flames and the warmth that swirled around me. It was almost as if the fireplace shared a hug of its own. It somehow gave me more strength to go and see Dad.
Abruptly, I slid out, and spun like a Fizzing Whizbee on my bottom. This time though, I couldn't find it in me to giggle like I used to. Instead I settled for my new smile I've been showing people. It didn't feel like myself, but Dad wouldn't have me moping, so I fluttered my eyelids and kept more tears at bay.
As I got up from the floor, a flash of green fire lit up the room from behind me. I turned around and, next thing I knew, I was staring at the ceiling, my bottom ached.
Whoever crashed into me had almost as bad a mouth as Peeves. Wait, I’d recognize that voice anywhere.
I slowly sat up and looked at the other person splayed on the floor next to me, “Neville?”
He was holding his head like he had hit it against the floor, but he looked at me, shocked “Luna?! I'm sorry I knocked you down. What are you doing here?”
I got to my feet and held out a hand, “I'm here to visit my father. You must be here visiting your parents right? My father just might be joining them. I'll find out by the Healer soon.”
He looked sympathetic as he asked, “Do you want company? I don't really have an appointment, just visiting.”
I raised my eyebrows slightly, surprised that was his first question, not about the condition of my father, but if I wanted company. I thought it might be better doing it alone, but now that I got here, I was glad of Neville’s offer.
I smiled my strange new smile, “That would be really helpful Neville, thank you. What about you? Do you want any company visiting your parents? It’s the least I can do to return the favor. I might be going up there with dad anyway.”
He looked down at the floor shyly, “You know Luna, I think for once I would like some company up there. You know, that isn't Gran. She always seems to kind of take over when it comes to visiting, and acts like the people they were aren't inside them anymore. I think they are.”
We moved towards the receptionist and recognized us immediately. Neville I'm sure she recognized because he always visits his parents, and me, well... Dad and I sometimes came here a lot when we'd experiment. No major damage, but enough that we had to visit.
The receptionist checked her list quickly and said, “Ah, Ms. Lovegood, yes, your father is, of course, upstairs; and Mr. Longbottom, you know where to go. Here's your visitor badges,” she handed them to us with a small smile. I tried to return it like I normally do, but still couldn't quite manage it. I sighed, slightly frustrated.
We walked down the hall and Neville asked, “What was the sigh about?”
She wondered, at first, if she really wanted to talk about it and stared at the different colored tiles on the floor as they passed. After a while they seemed blurred, and not just because of their walking speed.
Finally, she decided he might understand and said, “Oh, I just can't smile the way I used to. I don't like it. I know it's normal to not be able to after going through a lot, but I somehow never thought about it, before I couldn't anymore.”
He sounded similarly tired and worn, “I know the feeling.”
Down the hall we heard a disturbance from one of the rooms. With dread, I realized it was coming from where my Dad was supposed to be staying.
I felt a weight at the pit of my stomach as we stopped outside of my Dad's room. I could hear him from out here.
His yell was desperate and painful, “MY DARLING WIFE! DEAD, SHE'LL NEVER COME BACK! AND MY LUNA! THEY TOOK HER, AND I'LL NEVER SEE HER AGAIN!”
I started to panic and tried opening the door so he knew I was there. It wouldn't help, but I wanted to try.
It was locked. I pulled harder, but it wouldn’t move.
“They must be giving him something to calm down,” Neville said. He grabbed my hand.
“LET ME OUT! LET ME OUT! I HAVE TO SAVE MY LUNA! OR LET ME DIE!”
I pushed his hand away and took out my wand, “Alohomora!”
The treacherous door still wouldn’t open.
Neville took both of my hands in his and made me put my wand back in my pocket without being forceful. He just held them. Maybe he noticed them shaking. I grabbed his hands tighter. My head fell forward and thumped lightly against his chest. I couldn't believe I wasn’t able to do anything. Anything.
“IF I CAN'T HAVE EITHER OF THEM, I DON'T WANT TO LIVE ANYMORE! PLEA--” and it was silent.
I was trembling worse than ever. I love my Dad; how can he not know that I’m fine? He can't be this way! I hated the Ministry for giving him to the Dementors! After the house crashed they should have taken him straight to St. Mungo’s, not prison!
The shaking turned to sobbing. I just couldn't take it. I had no strength left anymore.
He stroked my hair lightly, “Luna, I'm here. I'm here for you. You go ahead and cry,” Neville said. I felt his arms wrap around me and I thought of George, and the hug I offered to share. Neville was doing the same for me. I felt tears on my head as well as down my cheeks.
The door next to us clicked open.
The Healer looked uncomfortable as he found us both with tears on our faces, “Oh, Ms. Lovegood. You're here. I'm sorry you had to hear that. I was trying to administer a high dose of Calming Drought before you got here. He proved a little troublesome.”
I turned around to face the Healer and tried to remember his name. Smethy-something. Tears still dripped down my face, but I managed a nod to let him know I was listening. Neville still held my hand.
Smethy continued, “I do think it is best to move Mr. Lovegood from here on the first floor, to the 4th floor, the closed ward, for long term patients. Now, since you are considered one of the Hero's from the recent downfall of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, the Minister insisted on covering your father's stay here. So financially, you have nothing to worry about.”
I nodded again, numbly. What a shallow thing to say. I'd rather him not be here at all. I wanted my Dad back.
Smethy cleared his throat, clearly uncomfortable, “Right, well, we'll get to moving him there then. I just wanted to confirm with you that your father is well looked after.”
I frowned, it sounded like he still wasn’t going to let me in, “I still want to see him” I said firmly, “Whether he's well or not, I want to see him,”
I pushed past the Healer, and his objections, Neville right behind me.
When I saw him, I stopped dead in my tracks. My throat closed up and felt as though I could barely breathe. I'll never get used to seeing him like this. He was like this last week, but in the time in between then and now, I must have gone into denial.
He was still white haired, but it had started to stick up from his earlier struggling. They had even put a purple wrist band on him. It had a spell that, though it allowed him to move freely, for him, it would be within the confines of his bed. The only way he could get out was if a Healer held his hand. It wasn’t as bad as being arrested, but still, it pained me knowing, he no longer controlled his own freedom.
I sank to his bedside, my knees objected to the hard floor but I ignored them. I sobbed. Desparate questions flew through my mind, ‘Will he ever be the same again? I love my Dad the way he was. Why couldn't he stay the same?’ My heart was breaking in a way it never had before. At least with mum I knew for certain she wouldn't come back. I couldn't say the same about Dad... He's here, but he's really not.
People everywhere had said he was mad before... Now, it was official.
Neville came up behind me, and gently lifted me up to my feet and away from the bed. I had no idea how long we were there.
“Come on Luna...” he said, “Unfortunately if you stay here and cry longer, it's not going to make the hurt go away later.”
I stared up at him, a small part of me, from before the war, before Malfoy Manor, heard him. It’s something I would have said to someone else. I was surprised, I had never been on the receiving end of that before. It snapped me out of it though, and I took the tissue he handed me.
I was calmer, I wiped my face and said, “Yes, and we still need to visit your parents.” I bent over my Dad, and kiss his forehead. “Good night Dad. I love you, even if you don't know I'm here, I always will.”
We left the room, and the Healer stopped us in the corridor and told me they'd be moving Dad in about an hour. I nodded vaguely, I didn’t feel aware of anything besides Neville's hand in mine.
I'd never seen Luna like this before. Sure she's been worried but she always had the little skip in her step, and spacy look in her eyes. Now, there was no skipping, and although she had a spacy look, it was the saddest, most hurt look I'd ever seen. There was nothing I could do about it either, so I held her hand and walked in silence with her. I winced slightly, we were going to visit my parents next; how much more was there that I could do? Somehow though, with everything she was going through, she still eased the dull pain in my heart as I walked to the room to visit my parents. I thought ‘this time would be especially hard. I know it’s near impossible, but I want them to recognize me, and have proud looks on their faces. I've gotten that from everyone, except them.’
We both dimly registered the Healer in charge and made our way over to my parents. They were both sleeping. It made it a little easier for me to talk to them this way without them asking for more Droobles Best Blowing Gum.
Luna looked up at me questioningly, like, what do you want to do now? I gestured to some chairs. She pulled some over and sat right next to me, and still held my hand. I saw the change in her, now she held my hand more for me than for her. I gave her a little smile. It wasn’t much, but it was as much as I could.
In a low, tired voice I said, “Hey Mum, Dad. I just wanted to tell you that so much has happened since I've seen you. Voldemort's gone. And so is Bellatrix LeStrange.” It was still so surreal to me that these two statements were the truth. Neither of these people could hurt anyone ever again.
I felt stronger and continued, “According to Harry, he said I helped defeat him, but all I did was cut off the head of his snake. Maybe it was just really protective of him. I don't know. The thing is there are so many other people just… gone… It's all been so different. All I feel like doing is absolutely nothing. This whole year has been mental.”
Luna squeezed my hand slightly and it snapped me out of it enough for me to realize I had tears on my face. Frustrated, I impatiently wiped them away. It happened too often and they've never helped me recover who I lost before. Why should they now?
My throat was raspy, but I pushed forward, “You know though, as crazy as the year has been, I've never felt more useful before. So, now I know, I'm too useful to just do nothing. I'll have to figure it out. When I figured out what to do this year, I went ahead and led Dumbledore's Army while Harry was away. I think if I hadn't the whole school would have been a nightmare. I mean, it was, but it would have been much worse if I hadn't…” I paused, trying to figure out what I wanted to say. “I finally feel like I'm living up to your name... No, that isn't right.” I scrunched my forehead and thought hard, “I feel like I've finally made a name for myself.”
I tried to let that sink in, but it still felt strange. True, but strange, “I'm not sure what I think of that yet. Maybe I'll be able to figure it out next time I visit. I love you guys, and I know you love me. I'll come back soon.”
I got up, kissed their foreheads gently and we quietly left.
Once we were in the corridor, Luna turned, gave me a hug and said, “You know, I never really thought about what I'd do after it was all over. I wasn't even sure I'd be able to leave the Malfoy's alive let alone think of the future. Now, I'll have to think about it. The only things I can plan on in the future now are the Sunday dinners at the Weasley's.”
I chuckled, “Me too…” I paused, my arms still around her shoulders as I hugged her, I thought, “Luna, it just occurred to me, since you haven't been planning much. Where are you staying?”
She shrugged, her voice was slightly muffled against my chest, “Well, most of my stuff is all back at Hogwarts. I heard nothing's left over at my house. Just a pile of rubble...”
Even as I felt a knot in my stomach at the state of her home, a short term solution came to me. I couldn’t help but blush a little, I asked, “Why don't you stay with me and Gram? Tonight at least. You don't want to travel all the way back to Hogwarts tonight right?”
She stepped back and looked at me gratefully, “I am really tired. I don't want to fall asleep with all the nightmares I've been having, but I don't think I really have a choice.”
I shook my head, “You could always ask Madam Pomfrey for some but, Gram always has a stock of Calming Drought too. Especially nowadays.”
Luna’s smile was a little more like herself as she said, “Well then, thanks Neville. That'd be wonderful. She wouldn't mind me over?”
I grinned at her, “Of course not. What are friends for?”
AN: I know I did 3 POV's instead of my regular 2, but I had to, I really tried to cut it back, but it didn't work. This is probably the most I've gone into characters yet, and I'd absolutely love feedback on this. Neville, Luna, and George are some of my favorite characters other than the trio. Don't worry, the next one is a bit more fun. Please feel free to review, Thanks.