He is an artist. He remembers the war in pictures.
Dean stares blankly at a wall for four hours after the battle is over, oblivious to the tears, the relief, the catharsis. He ignores the crumbling castle around him, the destroyed people, and creates in his mind, sketching new archways, sculpting new statues.
The hours past seem like a blur, but a few things exist in outstanding clarity.
A Death Eater pointing his wand at Seamus’ back, panic clutching at Dean’s heart like a child fists his mother’s shirt.
The way the words felt in his mouth, recalled from a class (a life) long ago.
A beautiful flash of vivid green.
The last rush of breath as it escapes the man’s lungs.
The sound a body makes when it collapses to the floor.
He struggles to remember the last gasp of air in his lungs before he uttered the curse, his last pure breath. What it felt like to be a good man, a man who would never steal the life of another. He drops his wand, and when it lands it sounds final.
Dean used to be a creator. He was an artist. He’ll remember the exact shade of green.
In the middle of the night, he has glimpses. An eternity spent at the foot of evil, each second wondering why they kept him alive, and sometimes wishing they hadn’t. But he can still see her luminescent skin; so pale she glowed in the dark. From time to time, she would smile.
It is expected. There are those who have gone through things in the war together, experiences that no one else can share. They cling to each other – Neville and Ginny, Harry and Ron and Hermione, he and Luna, George and Lee. It is expected.
She is the only one who has stayed the same. Maybe because she lost long ago what could be taken from her; but her voice is still light, her eyes wide, her skin so white against his. If he had stayed the same, he would have loved to draw them, the place where their bodies meet, black pressed to white. He doesn’t draw anymore, because every time he puts charcoal to parchment one face appears, the face of a man he didn’t know, a man who would have killed him in a heartbeat, a scar from brow to cheekbone.
She rationalizes it to him. She is a Ravenclaw. “He would have killed you, or Seamus -" But he is a Gryffindor, and Gryffindors see morality in black and white.
He killed a man. There is no grey.
They roll around in bed for days on end, eating strawberries that stain his sheets, smoking cigarettes. He rests his lips against her thigh while she sleeps, wrapping his hands around her legs, trying to feel her pulse behind her knee. It’s dark outside but her skin is shining and he thinks back to the cellar, the forest – the battle.
When she wakes up she asks him to draw her, to draw their legs entwined, to draw the strawberries, to paint something.
He asks her why she isn’t damaged like the rest of them; why she can sleep so peacefully, and why her smile is so bright in the dark. She stretches, naked, and for a second he wants to grant her wish; or find a piece of charcoal and follow her veins, visible underneath her translucent skin. “The world is a beautiful place, Dean,” Luna whispers, sliding towards him and kissing his chest. “Even a war couldn’t change that.”
She leaves in the morning, and he digs his charcoal out of a drawer.
He knew about Rolf, and Neville, and never felt any sort of jealousy. After all, he had his others as well.
Parvati, stunning against his white sheets, who would trace the lines in his palm and turn their teacups upside down and speak of clouds gathering on the horizon. Who would wake up in the dead of night while he was staring out a window, shaking in his arms, crying, there will be another war. I can see it.
Seamus, in the flat they could only afford together, when one would cry out from a nightmare. Up against a wall, red blood against his freckled lips when Dean bites too hard, harder than he should. And Seamus, always whispering thank you, thank you, thank you like a prayer. But Dean won’t forgive him, how can he, when a man is dead, a life disappeared, and he is the one who destroyed it.
(He used to create.)
She comes to see him one day and they sit in his kitchen as he makes tea. Sun streams through the window and sparkles off of the diamond on her finger. He wonders at her lightness, always. His mind is troubled after all of these years.
Why, he wants to know, his eyes out the window, surveying something that isn’t there. She smiles her serene smile. “He asked me first.” As though it’s as simple as that. Her eyes land on a sketch on the table.
Two dark eyes, and a scar from brow to cheekbone. She studies it, and smiles. “It’s lovely, Dean.”
So were we.
She kisses his cheek, and is gone. His invitation arrives two weeks later, and he wishes he had sketched the contrast of their skin when he had the chance.
He can’t remember how their fingers look interlaced anymore.
He wonders if the happy couple could ever be as beautiful as they were.
My first story at HPFF - I wrote this a few months ago for a ficathon on LJ, but I wasn't super happy with it, so I tinkered with it a little and decided to post it here. Let me know your thoughts!