Chapter 29 : Chapter 29: The Darkest
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Luna sat against the deceptively pleasant crème colored wall, her knees pulled up against her chest, her eyes beginning to droop as she stared ahead. Her cell wasn’t really a cell, far from it. It was actually a rather posh spare room in an equally expensive manor from what she could tell. She sat on soft, immaculately clean carpet and simply stared ahead at the door on the other side of the room. She was not handcuffed, chained, or restrained in any way. Instead, she could feel some kind of spell had been placed on this room to render her weak and lethargic, unable to muster any fight or resistance. It was similar to the way a Dementor drained all the happiness from a person, except in this case it was her energy that was being sapped. Luna couldn’t remember the last time she moved…or ate…she only told time by how often Voldemort or Lucius Malfoy or Owen Stetnas entered the room.
She couldn’t fight back. She had no wand, and even if she did, she had no strength left to use it. Michael was dead. She was captured. Her powers had left her.
It had been two days since her life had been taken from her.
Hope was a meaningless idea, foreign to her now.
The doorknob she had been watching so dully began to turn, and what little energy Luna had left caused her to tense and try to push herself a little closer to the wall. Who would it be this time? Voldemort, to taunt her? Owen, to torture her? Or Malfoy, to make more ominous remarks about what he would do to her once Voldemort permitted it…?
Luna found she didn’t care much.
The door open and the person stepped quickly inside, shutting it quietly behind them, trying not to make too much noise as the door clicked shut. As worn as Luna was, she still managed to look surprised at the person who had entered. It was indeed Malfoy, but not Lucius, nor Draco.
Narcissa looked down at Luna, her hands held behind her back, standing straight and tall. Luna met the woman’s eyes – blue stared into blue. Luna’s formerly bright ones had been dulled by the horrors she had experienced at the hands of the Death Eaters, she had seen it when she caught a glimpse of herself in a bathroom mirror. But what shocked her was that Narcissa’s eyes had the same quality.
“Hello,” Luna said quietly, not breaking eye contact. “You're Draco’s mother, aren’t you?”
Narcissa studied her for a moment before nodding slightly.
“I am. He spoke of you occasionally at school, Miss Lovegood. He said you were an oddity that spouted off about made up creatures and places, and who spent time in Harry Potter’s entourage.”
“Harry is my friend,” Luna replied softly, not bothering to correct any of the other descriptions of her. But then she shook her head and looked away from Narcissa. “And I'm sorry, but my name is Luna Jacobs. I was married earlier this month,” she whispered, suddenly unable to breathe.
“Lucius says your husband was killed in the fighting, is that correct?” Narcissa asked coolly. Luna forced her head into the up and down motion that indicated correctness. “He also tells me that you were the one who killed my sister, Bellatrix, several months ago.”
Luna looked back up at the woman. Narcissa’s face remained a mask, the epitome of total composure.
“I did,” Luna answered plainly. “She was about to kill Michael, and I stopped her. I suppose that makes you hate me as much as your husband does. You must be here to hurt me, as well.”
Narcissa’s eyes widened at that, her façade finally slipping just a little, but not enough for Luna to divine any real emotions within her. Her hands were still clasped behind her.
“I have one more question for you,” Narcissa said, moving closer to Luna, who couldn’t help but flinch, sure she was about to be cursed for killing the woman’s sister. “You and your…group are friendly with an Auror named Nymphadora Tonks, are you not?”
“She’s one of my favorite people,” Luna said, her mouth almost moving into a smile. “She makes her face change all throughout meals…it makes it hard to eat sometimes, but it’s always very funny.”
Narcissa seemed disinterested in this rambling reminiscence of Luna’s. “Then do you know her mother?” she asked, suddenly crouching down next to the girl with dirty blonde hair.
“I don't,” Luna said, a little curiosity in her voice now. She could now look at Narcissa evenly, rather than having to gaze up at her. The older woman’s lip momentarily trembled. “She would be your sister, isn’t that right?”
“Andromeda has not been my sister in years,” Narcissa said fiercely. But as she glared at Luna, she could tell the malice in her voice was false. No, it was purposely planted there to lead others astray from her real feelings.
“I don't think that's true,” Luna told her boldly. “I don't think someone can stop being your sister, for better or worse. Michael's – my – friend Jeff, he has a brother who he often claims to hate…but I don't think that's true either. Bellatrix might have hated your sister, but I don't think you do,” Luna said calmly. “You're not like Bellatrix.”
“You think you know me?” Narcissa sneered, standing back up.
“Bellatrix wouldn’t have brought me food,” Luna replied, painfully raising a hand to point at Narcissa.
Narcissa Malfoy sighed and pulled her hands from behind her, revealing a plain loaf of bread that smelled as if it had just been baked. Luna and Narcissa locked eyes one more time as Narcissa wavered, then she held out the bread for Luna to take.
She hurriedly took it and began tearing off large pieces with her teeth. Narcissa looked on with disdain.
“Good Lord girl,” she said, “when was the last time you ate?”
Luna finished chewing a hunk of bread and savored the feeling of it in her empty stomach before she answered.
“I think I had a few pieces of a very long sandwich at Sarah’s party before we went to sleep,” Luna said between bites. “I don't like to sleep on an empty stomach.”
At Luna’s admission, the disgust in Narcissa’s face became more pronounced.
“You have the right to a few miserable bites of bread to eat,” Narcissa said haughtily.
“That's what makes you different from them,” Luna said, a little of her usual dreamy tone returning with food. “They don't think that's true, they don't treat me like a human being. You do.” She coughed a little – she had after all eaten a large amount of bread with no drink. “You're not evil, Mrs. Malfoy.”
“I am a faithful servant of the Dark Lord!” Narcissa snapped, although she – without seeming to think about it – walked over to a desk on the other side of the room, picked up the single empty glass provided to Luna, and filled it with water from her wand. She thrust the glass at Luna without looking at her, spilling a little water on them both.
“But you don't have a Dark Mark,” Luna observed, sipping on the water to make it last, her once again wide eyes on Narcissa’s exposed forearm. She defensively crossed her arms. For the first time in three days, Luna smiled.
“It makes me happy to know there are still good people everywhere,” Luna said, setting the glass down carefully beside her. Slowly and agonizingly, she pushed her hands up against the wall behind her and stood up. “You may not look at life like I do, or want the same things I do, or even care about people the way I do…but you helped me,” Luna continued to smile at an increasingly horrified looking Narcissa. “I've been surrounded by monsters for so long…I had almost forgotten how much good there is in the world, even in the places we’d never expect to find it.”
“My giving you a loaf of bread has restored your faith in humanity?” Narcissa asked mockingly.
“Your act of humanity did,” Luna answered. “I don't think you want me to suffer, or anyone especially. I think you only care about your son…compassion is the most valuable trait humans have, I think,” Luna said firmly. “Wherever my life takes me from here, even if it’s about to come to an end soon, I hope you and your son can have a better life than what he brings.”
Luna choose not to use the Dark Lord’s name for fear of upsetting Narcissa further, as the woman already looked as though Luna had threatened to kill her.
“Do not expect this kindness again,” Narcissa said coldly, backing away from Luna, her wand drawn.
“I don't need to,” Luna said, still perfectly calm despite Narcissa’s patently obvious discomfort. Luna was used to that kind of reaction around her, and while she wasn’t especially fond of it, there was something strangely comforting in its familiarity. “You’ve given me enough to survive on for as long as I have to now.”
“I have no idea what you're talking about…” Narcissa said, nearly at the door now.
“I hope I've given you something in return,” Luna said earnestly. “Thank you, Mrs. Malfoy.”
Narcissa opened her mouth, shut it, moved her lips in a strange way that showed her teeth as if she was going to speak through them, but then merely gave Luna a final nod, turned on her heel, and exited the room. Luna heard the usual locking spells being placed on the door from the other side.
Luna shut her eyes, feeling everything around her…and with a small prayer, searching hopefully for the presence of her husband. Luna was strong again, thanks to nothing more than Narcissa Malfoy’s loaf of fresh bread. It wasn’t the food itself that saved her, although it helped. Her stomach still rumbled, her body still ached from torture, but her light…the light inside her was back. The light that in Ginny was called feistiness, in Jeff stubbornness, in Michael determination, and in Luna was simply called brightness. The light, the fire, inside that kept her moving, kept her alive, had been reignited by the act of basic decency.
Suddenly, Luna was certain again. Even if she could not guarantee she would survive this ordeal, she was certain she now had a reason to care and the strength to try.
Over the next few days, Harry, Jeff, Sarah, and Ron confined themselves to Michael and Luna's house, trying to devise a feasible plan to rescue Luna. They first attempted to divine where she might be.
The most likely places were Azkaban, which had not exactly fallen to Voldemort but was quietly suspected of hiding certain prisoners for him, and Malfoy Manor, the home of the only two notable surviving Death Eaters, Draco and Lucius Malfoy. They had agreed that they would accept help from Remus and Tonks, who already knew about Luna, and would aid them in saving her.
Harry and Ron made daily trips to Grimmuald Place, where they could meet and plot with members of the Order. So far they had heard nothing of Luna's whereabouts, or Sirius' either. Harry and Ron had just returned to their safe haven around midday and they found Jeff and Sarah in the living room.
Sarah was holding a newspaper. Both were talking quietly and looked grim. They looked up as Harry and Ron entered the room.
“Any word about Luna?” Jeff asked immediately.
“Nothing,” Harry replied. “What's in the paper? You two don't look happy.”
They hesitated. “It's Hermione,” Sarah said eventually. “She's in the news.”
“Is she all right?” Ron asked quickly. He had said nothing about Hermione since she had left, but obviously felt responsible. “What's happened?”
“Physically, she's fine,” Jeff said darkly, “But mentally, I don't know…here, you should probably see this for yourself.”
He held out the paper to Ron, who took it warily. He didn't have to flip pages to find the mention of Hermione, he didn't even have to open the paper. His yell of shook mingled with Harry's. They looked down at the headline together.
Youngest Member of Malfoy Family to Marry
Below the caption was a picture of Draco Malfoy, sneering at the camera, looking arrogant as ever. A picture of a nervous Hermione was next to it.
“Draco Malfoy, 17, has just announced his engagement to Hermione Granger, also 17, a pretty Muggleborn girl who attends Mr. Malfoy's school. Mr. Malfoy has recently been unable to attend Hogwarts School, as he has been ill with a serious disease. He seemed to be completely over his ailment, however, when he made his statement to the press.
'I was really in a bad position,' he says, 'I couldn't go to school for a very long time, due to some unfortunate circumstances. But I think I'll be okay now, things should be much better.'
Indeed they should. Bolstered not only by his recovery, but also by his impending marriage to Miss Granger, Mr. Malfoy has a very bright future ahead of him. His choice to marry a Muggleborn girl surely reflects well on the Malfoy family, placing them above suspicion of blood based prejudice. We at the Daily Prophet wish him only the best.”
“What the hell is going on?” Ron said loudly. “What is Hermione doing? Is this to spite me, is that what this is?”
“What if Malfoy's forcing her?” Harry said, sounding worried. “What if she tried something, got caught, and now he's making her do this?”
“I'll kill the bastard,” Ron growled angrily, “I'll fucking kill him!”
“That's bullshit and you know it,” Jeff said, unusually poor tempered. “Hermione's far too intelligent and magically powerful for Draco Malfoy to force her to do anything. And anyway, why would he want to?”
“What does that mean?” Ron asked furiously. “Hermione's not good enough for him? Is that it, cause she's Muggleborn?”
“I'm Muggleborn, idiot,” Jeff snapped. “And I meant how they despise each other as much as…as Michael and Owen Stetnas hated each other. As much as Harry and Voldemort. She must have some kind of plan, maybe she’s hoping she can get close to Luna this way.”
“But Voldemort would never be stupid enough to allow that,” Harry muttered. Jeff nodded.
“Unless he has his own designs. From what it looks like, Hermione’s put herself in the belly of the beast to try and outwit the Dark Lord himself. Noble, if that is what she’s trying, but….”
“Well, how do we stop this?” Ron asked. “How can we stop this wedding?”
“Stop this wedding?” Sarah repeated incredulously, her voice low and dangerous. “Stop this wedding? Luna's been kidnapped by Lord Voldemort and Owen Stetnas and you're worried about Hermione's personal choices?”
“I'm worried about what Malfoy's doing to her!” Ron snarled.
“She made her choice,” Jeff said calmly. “She left and now she's with Malfoy. She might have a plan, I don't know. She didn't want us in on it, whatever it is. Forget her. We need to save Luna, and get the Seven, not crash a wedding.”
“I'm not letting Hermione do this!” Ron shouted, drawing his wand. “She can't, she won't!”
“Fuck you,” Jeff said with all the disdain he could muster, standing up and taking a step towards Ron, their faces inches apart. Ron didn't back down. “Luna's having God knows what done to her and you're thinking about your… what is she anyway? Definitely not your girlfriend!”
“Of course I care about Luna; I wanted to get help from STRIKE!” Ron shouted, his face red. “You're the one who wanted to wait! I want to act now! I want to do something!”
“I was wrong about you Ron,” Jeff spat. Sarah had now stood up behind him, Harry behind Ron. “When I first met you, I thought you were a good Gryffindor who whined too much and had no experience in the world outside of school.” Ron looked slightly taken aback, but took it as a compliment. At first.
“But I thought you had changed,” Jeff continued, “I was wrong. How does someone with six siblings end up acting like such a spoiled child? 'I want to act now!' Do you know what happen if the four of us ran blindly into Voldemort or Stetnas? We'd be joining Michael before you know it, and Luna would be in the same position she is now! I would love to slaughter the pair of them, and a month ago I probably would have tried! But I'm not going to be the one to fuck up what little hope Luna has left by acting like a complete idiot!”
Ron made to punch Jeff just like Michael had so long ago, on St. Lucia. Regardless of a similar scar, unfortunately, Ron was not as quick. Jeff ducked Ron's blow and Ron slipped to the floor as Jeff sidestepped him.
“Screw you two!” Ron yelled at Jeff and Sarah. His face was contorted by pain, though it was not physical. “Hermione was right to leave! I'm gone!”
“Let's go then,” Harry said, finally speaking. He didn't sound angry like Ron, only sad and hurt and confused. “We're going to do what we think is best. You two will – like always – do as you please,” he added to Jeff and Sarah. He helped Ron up and together they Disapparated from the Jacobs' home, materializing instead at the steps of Grimmuald Place.
Harry knocked a few times, then they waited, Ron breathing heavily, until Remus answered the door. He admitted them without a word. He led them into the kitchen, where Harry was surprised to find Tonks seated at the table.
“Your food's getting – Harry?” she asked in surprise, looking up from her plate. Harry looked sideways at Lupin, whose expression communicated to Tonks he had no more idea than she did why they were here. Harry realized what he had walked into and would have felt slightly guilty, were he not still fuming from the fight with Jeff and Sarah.
“What brings you back so soon?” Lupin asked, concern obvious on his lined and scarred face, “What happened?”
“How can we help?” Tonks asked, her eyes narrowed.
Harry explained the argument they had had with the other two, as Ron was too angry to form a coherent sentence. Lupin looked surprised at hearing Hermione's actions, but did not at Harry and Ron's reaction.
“And it's not like we don't care about Luna,” Harry finished, “we just think we should at least try to find Hermione and talk to her about this.”
Lupin nodded and stood up, waving his wand. Three cups appeared, and he rummaged through a cabinet, pulling out a bottle of Firewhiskey. He poured them each a glass. Harry took a small drink, but Ron downed his entire glass in one gulp.
“I can appreciate your concern, Harry, and believe me, I'm worried about Hermione as well,” Lupin said seriously. “But even if you did decide to try and talk to her – when she's no doubt surrounded by Death Eaters – no one knows where she is, or any of the Malfoys for that matter. They abandoned their home yesterday.”
Ron swore. “You think she's doing this to try and find Luna, don't you?” Harry asked Lupin, glancing discretely at his best friend. Remus nodded.
“Of course she is. No one – including the Malfoys – would believes she would actually want to marry Draco. No, I'm sure Hermione has a plan, but Voldemort will as well. She's playing a very dangerous game, trying to outsmart him while sharing a home with his top lieutenant.”
“What if he uses her as a hostage?” Harry asked bluntly. “What if he threatens to kill her to get to me?”
“Hermione must have convinced him she is more valuable to him as something other than a bargaining chip,” Tonks said, scratching her chin.
Lupin paused and helped himself to a little of his drink. “Dora has half the Auror department looking for Luna.”
Tonks smiled encouragingly at the two boys, though her expression faltered quickly.
“They won't find her,” Ron said harshly. “Not with You-Know-Who and Stetnas holding her, they'll have her locked up tight.”
“And you still are against getting help from Michael's organization – STRIKE?” Lupin asked delicately.
“It was the last thing he wanted,” Ron said determinedly. “If they find her she'll go from one form of prison to another.”
“Sirius…” Harry muttered sadly, shaking his head. Remus stared down into his glass. Ron stood up. “I need time to think,” he said gruffly, turning and striding out of the kitchen, taking his glass with him. Tonks stood up as well, placed her hand gently on Remus' shoulder, and then followed Ron, giving the grieving men their privacy. Lupin looked up and met Harry's eyes.
“What happened to Sirius, Harry?”
“I don't know,” Harry replied. “I really don't know. He seemed happy enough, he didn't seem to mind working with STRIKE. Things were looking up, for him and Michael and now…who knows where he is.” Harry took a sip and realized Lupin was giving him a very strange look. “What?”
“We both saw it Harry – we both know he was the one who killed your friend.”
“It was an accident!” Harry began furiously, but Lupin silenced him with a raised hand.
“I know that, of course it was,” he said quietly. “Do you think Sirius cares? He won't forgive himself easily for this, Harry, I knew him a long time…Sirius may not handle this reasonably….”
“What are you saying?” Harry asked desperately, angrily. “You think he's gone off and killed himself?”
“Sirius…has had a very hard life Harry,” Remus said simply. He raised his glass to take a drink, but stopped with it touching his lips. He set it down without another word.
“He's not a coward,” Harry said, his hands shaking. “Sirius would never take that way out.”
There was a pause.
“What about your friend, Michael?” Remus asked finally. “Have you…had a service for him?”
“Saving his wife will be our service to him,” Harry said firmly, his voice hiding the sadness that shook him at this statement. “All he wanted was a good life for him and Luna,” Harry said, tears shaming his eyes as he said it. Remus watched him with a similar look on his face. “That's all he ever wanted. He wanted to fight and win this war for her. She was the reason he came to Hogwarts in the first place. He was supposedly there to protect me and the school, but he had really come for Luna. They were friends as children and he had decided to come to find her.
“He betrayed his entire organization for her and put himself at risk to keep her a secret…that's why Ron and I are so against asking them for help. They had just got a house together – that's where we were living. Remus, they had so much planned for their future…and now neither of them might have a future at all. He didn't even get the chance to die for her…” he muttered dejectedly. Lupin’s eyes widened in shock at that statement. Harry shook his head. “Michael didn't want to die, but if he had to, I know he would've wanted to do it protecting Luna. Instead he was killed by a friend, and Luna got taken to Voldemort less than a minute later. That's not what was supposed to happen, Remus….”
“None of this was supposed to happen,” Remus said sympathetically, leaning in towards Harry. “You're not a child Harry, but you're not a grown man either. Yet…here you sit, having faced horrors worse than most could imagine. Too much has been asked of you.”
“I'm still alive,” Harry said quietly. “I have more to give.”
Lupin opened his mouth to say something, but Harry cut him off with a yell, his scar suddenly burning more painfully than it had since his vision of Sirius at the Ministry, thrusting him into Voldemort's thoughts.
His point of view had reverted back to Voldemort's eyes, and he was striding down a hallway, possessed of a sense of level joy and pleasure. As he walked, horrible screams filled his ears. His smile widened slightly as he turned the crystal knob of the door at the end.
“Where is he now?” Owen's taunt was followed by another drawn out scream from Luna, who was on her hands and knees, shaking with the effort of staying up. She looked up at Owen defiantly. Her face was bruised black and purple and there was dried blood on her pale arms and legs. Her sweater was missing a sleeve and her pants had holes in both knees. “Where's Michael? Is he going to jump out of a closet and kill me and save you?” Owen looked around in mock desperation, then laughed again. “No...I don't have to worry about Michael because I'm not afraid of ghosts!” Owen was leering at Luna, breathing heavily, when he finally seemed to notice – or at least acknowledge – Voldemort.
“Mr. Stetnas,” Voldemort said, disturbingly businesslike, disregarding the pitiful sight of the girl in front of him. “I trust you are enjoying your reward?”
“Very much,” he said, casually hitting Luna with another curse. She bit back a scream, but was thrown to the ground and rolled over onto her face. “This place isn't bad either, Malfoy's done very well for himself, hasn't he Voldemort?”
His eyes narrowed at the use of his name, but he said nothing of it. “I have managed to locate another of the Slytherin Seven,” he said, smirking at the little gasp Luna made, “and am leaving to retrieve it shortly.”
“Which one?” Owen asked, only half interested and aiming a hard kick at Luna. She grunted but did not cry out. “And where is it?”
“It is the Mask of Three,” Voldemort told him. “I will be leaving soon, and I need you to continue to…guard Miss Lovegood.”
“Jacobs…” Luna's voice was weak, but firm.
“What did you just say?” Owen growled. He grabbed Luna's dirty, hair and pulled her to her feet. He placed his wand under her chin.
“My. Name. Is. Luna Jacobs,” she said clearly. Her voice was cracked and weak, but at the same time had an undeniable defiance behind it. “You monster,” she added to Owen, apparently as an afterthought.
She hit the wall hard and fell to the ground, unconscious.
“My, my, she's feisty,” Voldemort said softly. “You'll have a hard time breaking one like her.”
“Whatever,” Owen said carelessly. “Where are we going?”
“There is no 'we', Owen, as I have already told you. You will stay here with her while I go to retrieve the Mask.”
“Because,” Voldemort said unpleasantly, “I believe Harry Potter is currently invading my mind and now knows what my plans are, as well as what has become of Mrs. Jacobs. He and his friends will try to reach the Mask before me, I'm sure.”
He directed his eyes upward, apparently addressing Harry, unaware of the horrible vantage point Harry was being forced to watch from.
“Are you enjoying the show, Harry? Let me make this clear: If you or any of your group attempts to steal the Mask of Three from me, Luna Jacobs will die. Painfully. I say again: Try to take the Mask, and I will make sure you witness her,” he drew his wand in a swift movement and aimed it at Luna's body, “death. You have already lost Jacobs to me and Miss Granger will join him soon enough.
“But please, do try to come to the Malfoys' vacation home here in Scotland, to try and save your friend, Potter. I would love nothing better than to return here and find your corpse awaiting me. Maybe Luna might even be able to stay conscious long enough to –”
His monologue was cut short as a white-blonde wolf launched itself on top of him, taking him to the ground. Luna gave a howl of fury, and Voldemort's face showed, for the first time in years, possibly in his adult life, true fear. Before she could strike however, she was blasted off Voldemort by Owen's curse.
She hit the wall, and then fell to the ground, back into her pale human form, her dirty blonde hair obscuring her face. Owen said nothing as Voldemort picked himself up, looking at the same time terribly furious and unnaturally shaken.
His red eyes found Luna slumped on the floor and he pointed his wand at her without a word. Owen watched him closely, apparently hoping Voldemort wouldn't rid him of his prize yet. Stetnas crossed his arms and waited to see what would happen; what had just happened was unprecedented.
“Why,” Voldemort said very quietly, “do I always have such trouble with Animagi?” Owen seemed to be considering answering, but in the end merely shrugged.
He pulled a small dagger from his robes and aimed his wand at Luna.
Luna slowly began raise herself up. She stayed on her knees, but looked up at Voldemort with large, vacant eyes, her hair framing her blank face, lips slightly parted. Voldemort held out the knife to her.
“Take it,” he said quietly, coldly, dangerously.
She held out a slightly shaking hand, and Voldemort placed the dagger in it. Her hand closed around the handle and she held it at eye level.
“Now,” Voldemort said clearly, “you are left handed, are you not Luna? Yes? Good. I want you to cut off your right hand, so that Potter can see. Do it now.” Owen sighed. He obviously didn't appreciate Luna being mangled this way.
“Cut off my hand?” Luna repeated. She said it vaguely, but sounded nothing like herself, her voice monotone and dull.
“Correct,” Voldemort said, his mouth twisted into a sick smile. “I could have Stetnas do it for you, but I wish there to be no doubt of my powers. Now get up, I'll let you have the dignity of standing on your own two feet.”
Luna obeyed and jerkily unbent her knees, rising up to Voldemort's height. They were feet from each other and Voldemort's red eyes burned into Luna's pale blue ones.
She stretched out her right arm and held the blade to her wrist, but stopped.
“You want me to maim myself?” Luna asked again slowly, as if another person was speaking for her. “Like Owen?” Behind Voldemort's back, Stetnas' face warped with comprehension. He opened his mouth and raised his wand, but then shut it and let his arm fall back to his side.
“Yes, that's exactly what I want,” Voldemort said, now impatient. “Do you think you can do that for me, Miss Jacobs?”
Luna stared at him, her face still blank, knife pressed against her arm. Her mouth barely moved as she gave her simple answer.
Before Voldemort could even process what Luna had said, her hand had pulled away from her wrist, instead swinging the blade towards Voldemort. His reaction was quick enough to stop Luna cutting his throat, but not fast enough to avoid the blade completely.
It cut through the skin on his face, leaving a long wound across his right eye, almost exactly the same as the one her husband had obtained from him over a year ago, trying to avenge the other man who had been torturing her for days.
Once again, though after a second's hesitation, Voldemort was saved by Owen's quick spell. The knife was blasted from Luna's hand before she could strike again, the spell shattering the bones in her hand as it did. Owen looked unhappy as he did so, or at least disappointed.
Voldemort cast two spells with his wand. The first Cruciatus Curse continued to act on Luna even as he cast a Healing Charm on his injury. Like Michael's Sectumsempra wound, the bleeding stopped as well as most of the pain, but there was no avoiding the scar that would follow.
Voldemort ran a long finger down the wound, opening and shutting his eye, keeping his wand pointed at Luna, barely aware of her screams, before turning to Owen.
“Do whatever you wish with the girl,” Voldemort said, his hiss voice somehow audible over Luna's horrible screams. “Because once I return, I am killing her. No arguments.”
“Whatever I want?” Owen said hungrily, adding in his own Crucio on top of Voldemort's. “I get to keep playing?”
“You really do remind me of Bellatrix,” Voldemort said thoughtfully. He then remembered who had killed her and sent another, more powerful jolt at Luna. “The only reason I let her live now is because I have yet to decide on a way painful enough for her to die. But no, not whatever you wish.”
Luna gave a last ear piercing scream, then rolled over on her face and made no more noise, her body twitching slightly. Voldemort returned its wand to its place inside his cloak.
“Hmm…you're no fun,” Owen said, looking disappointed, like a child who had had his favorite toy taken away, and walking over to examine Luna, “I think we may have broken her…”
“Oh, I doubt it,” Voldemort said softly, turning to leave. “You are a powerful Wizard, but there are so many things you do not understand…”
“Like what?” Owen demanded, rolling Luna over prodding her with his foot a few times, trying to wake her.
“For instance, why you could never hope to overpower Luna Lovegood… Jacobs…whichever, it doesn't matter now.”
“What are you talking about?” Owen said angrily, “I could have destroyed Michael Jacobs, and his wife, what is she compared to me? Michael was never near my power…well, okay, he was in close proximity to my person, but in terms of magical ability, he wasn't as strong as me.”
“Odd you played the role of his sidekick for so long then,” Voldemort said under his breath, amused.
“I never did thank you for the attempted murder, by the way,” Owen grinned at the Dark Lord. “Really opened my eyes to the fun of lawless living. But still, fuck Michael.”
“I never said anything about Michael Jacobs. Even if he were still alive, I would concern myself far more with his wife than with him,” Voldemort said quietly. “Do you know who her mother was?” Voldemort added, his back still to them.
“No…not a clue. Am I supposed to guess this is where she got her looks from?”
“She was a Captain in STRIKE and one of the most powerful Witches of her era, possibly among the best to have ever lived,” Voldemort informed him. He began listing achievements as though writing a resume for Luna's dead mother. “Elysina Lovegood helped Dumbledore found his Order. She rallied her division of STRIKE to come very near implicating Death Eaters from trusted families like the Lestranges and Malfoys. Under her leadership STRIKE, the Auror department, and the Order of the Phoenix worked seamlessly together – without ever knowing it. She prevented my only direct attempt at assassinating the Minster of Magic in 1978 and in the process personally killed or captured six Death Eaters at once. To say she was the most talented woman in the first war would not be hyperbole. Her death was…overdue.”
“And what does this mean to me?” Owen asked, scratching his nose.
“Very little,” Voldemort sighed, “I suppose it matters very little now, but soon you will understand why she is so important, and as a result, why she must die or turn.
“I admit, I had considered having her die with Jacobs, but you have been faithful to me, so I allowed you to keep the girl. Perhaps you will understand how important she is, how powerful she could be, and how powerful she is…But it will not matter, I suppose,” he repeated, “she will die soon, and with Jacobs gone too, my way will be clear…after I finish business with that old fool and his Order.”
“Are you going to explain what the hell you're talking about?” Owen demanded. “I just saved your life twice!”
“Did you now?” Voldemort asked, smiling slightly, though Owen couldn't see. “You know better than that, Owen. Regardless, I offer that once I return, I will make everything clear to you. About Luna Jacobs, about the Seven, about all my plans concerning them….”
“Whatever hops your Hippogriff,” Owen said indifferently.
“You're speaking nonsense again, Stetnas,” Voldemort said disdainfully.
“Well, it must have rubbed off on me, given present company,” Owen said nonchalantly, pretending to inspect a spot on his shoe.
The Dark Lord's anger surged powerfully enough to remind Harry where and who he was. “What exactly do you mean by that?” he asked dangerously.
“Her,” Owen said with a small shrug, pointing down at Luna. “Even if we tortured her for days she couldn't get any madder than she already is.”
“A family tradition I do not think she is aware of, now that I think of it,” Voldemort said, smiling again as best he could.
“I once held her mother, Elysina, in a very similar situation,” Voldemort said coldly. “In the last war. She was not the same as dear Luna…but she was just as defiant.”
“So…what I take from this then,” Owen said slowly, “is that her mum escaped. Right?” Voldemort narrowed his eyes at Owen. “Obviously you didn't kill her there, and I know you wouldn't let her go…so…she escaped, didn't she?”
“In a way,” Voldemort said simply.
“What happened, did she make a break for it while Malfoy was trying to swoon her and tell her how beautiful she looked?”
“What are you talking about, Stetnas?” Voldemort asked sharply. Both his eyes – red and wounded – were locked onto Owen's.
“Didn't you know?” Owen asked delicately. “Why…I was sure Lucius had gotten your permission….”
“I do not have time for your games, Owen, tell me what you saw,” Voldemort said, anger slowly mutating his features into something even less human that usual.
“I assumed it was one of the perks of seniority,” Owen said unconcernedly. “You wouldn't let me have Luna because she was Malfoy's. She wasn't interested, though,” he added after a momentary pause. “She messed him up pretty good before he could act on his urges. Haven't you seen Lucius lately? He's not looking so good after the two of them had it out.”
Without a word, Voldemort swept out of the room, leaving the door open behind him. He strode quickly down the hallway, eyes suddenly afire. Voldemort grappled with his fury for a moment as he walked before finally coming to a stop near a receding nook in which a vase or other decoration might usually be placed.
The Dark Lord carefully extracted his wand from within his robes, examining it for a moment. He wondered briefly how much longer he would be forced to work with such a subpar weapon, but pushed the thought from his mind quickly. Lord Voldemort had much more pressing issues to deal with at the moment.
“Lucius,” Voldemort called clearly.
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