A/N: This bunny nibbled when I was thinking about JKR’s much-discussed “Who’s going to die” comments, and considered the fact that Luna seems very knowledgeable about such things.
Thanks to my beta, Sherylyn, and my pre-beta, aberforths_rug!
“GO!” Luna snarled at Ron, Hermione and Ginny. “Help Harry and Neville!”
With a blink and a nod, Ginny dragged her reluctant brother and the equally reluctant looking girl with the curly hair to where Harry was at last facing his destiny.
The troll bellowed, shaking dust from the stone ceiling as it thudded its way up the corridor toward Luna’s position.
Yes, just a step more, she thought, gauging the moment when the huge creature would be immediately below the enormous Gothic arch.
“YOU SHALL NOT PASS!” roared Luna, raising her wand; it pleased her a great deal to have had an opportunity to utter the favorite phrase at last. When the troll stopped short, she cast the strongest Reductor Curse that she had ever managed at the keystone above its head. The arch gave way, crushing the troll beneath a cataract of stone.
Of course, that triggered the collapse of half of the ceiling just as Luna had thought it likely would.
She found herself sitting up on the precarious edge of what was left of the ceiling—well, the floor of the level above – the Potions dungeon, she surmised. “Oh, my,” she murmured, kicking her feet and gazing down at her own form below.
She had not been entirely crushed, which was rather nice, but even so, her wand arm seemed to have gained several new elbows and her body was absolutely motionless as bits of stone, dust and plaster rained down upon it. “I suppose that it is a good thing that I am up here.”
“That’s the whole idea,” said a warm voice, startling Luna as she was almost never startled. Luna whipped around, but was disappointed to find a pretty woman in her twenties with familiar-looking green eyes and dark red hair.
“You’re not my mother,” Luna said.
“I’m sorry,” said the woman, though she smiled.
“I had hoped that I would see her here,” sighed Luna.
“Oh. She felt…” The woman’s smile dimmed. “She felt that if she met you, it would influence your decision.”
“You’ve got a choice to make—” the woman began, her green eyes flashing.
“Oh!” Luna gaped up at the redhead. “You’re Harry’s mother!”
“Yes,” Lily Potter answered, a slightly bemused expression on her face that Luna was all too used to seeing on the faces of those with whom she spoke.
“Are you a ghost?”
“Not strictly speaking. Ghosts, of course, are sort of the shadows of the souls of dead witches and wizards that can’t or won’t leave the physical plane.” Raising an elegant eyebrow, she continued, “We aren’t exactly on the physical plane just now.”
“Ah,” Luna said, pondering. “Are you a projection of my deep unconscious?”
“Oh, no,” Luna responded. “One of the older Ravenclaw girls, Marietta Edgecombe, was always talking about…. Oh, some Muggle with a very lovely name. ‘Happy’ or ‘Giddy’ or…”
“Freud,” Lily supplied.
“Oh, yes. She liked to talk about him quite a lot. She used to talk about Harry’s obvious… What was the word? Pleurosis?”
“Neurosis,” Lily said, very still.
“Oh, thank you again! Yes, that was just the word. She was talking to Cho and…” Luna looked up at the silken reddish-auburn hair, at the almond green eyes and unblemished, unfreckled complexion. “You know, Ginny doesn’t look anything like you. Marietta really was quite wrong about that blue roses thing, I think.”
“Yes,” Lily answered quietly, “I think she was.”
Luna considered this. “Do you know Ginny?”
The smile came back to Lily’s face. “I know what Harry feels.”
“Oh, how nice.” Luna looked down at her own body on the floor below. “Well. I’m ready to go.”
Luna’s eyes flashed back up to Lily’s once-again-bemused face. “Isn’t there someplace to go? A tunnel of light? A ladder into the sky? That sort of thing?”
“Oh!” Lily said, perplexion clearing. “Yes, of course. There’s the Dark Door, just there.” She pointed across the space where once Professor Slughorn’s floor had been. An archway opened into the wall where the blackboard should have stood. It was covered only by a frayed wisp of shroud that swayed to a breeze that Luna could not feel, even on whatever plane she currently resided.
Luna knew that door. She did not fear it—her mother was just on the other side, she was certain.
“But Luna,” Lily said, “you’re not dead yet.”
“I’m… I’m not?”
“Look,” the older woman said, pointing down. Some twenty feet below, Luna could see her own eyelids flutter. “That’s the choice that I mentioned to you, Luna.”
Luna understood, now. It was like one of those tests in the lovely old stories that her mother had read to her. “I see. What are my options?”
“You may pass through the Dark Door, of course.” Lily’s eyes, which had glistened with contained humor, were solemn now, and Luna could not help but match that solemnity.
“Shall my mother be upon the other side?”
Nodding, Lily said, “Yes, she will. She’ll be there whether you pass through the arch now, or a hundred years from now. But Luna…” Lily’s solemn look deepened.
“The other side, Luna, it’s not like life. It is not even like this in-between place. It…” Two bronze brows bowed together.
“What is it like, through that archway?”
“I can’t tell you.”
“Oh,” Luna said. Again, it was like one of those stories.
“It isn’t that I’m prohibited from telling you, Luna. It’s just that…” Again, Lily seemed to struggle for the word, but this time Luna decided not to try to help. After all, if Lily was from the other side, she was far more qualified to describe the place than Luna. And if she was simply a projection of Luna’s unconscious, it seemed rude to interrupt herself. Finally, Lily sat next to Luna. “It’s simply that words can’t describe it. Truly. It’s a realm of experience beyond all the categories of thought or perception that pertain to the living. It’s not just that there aren’t words for it, there aren’t even… I’m not even me, do you understand?”
Luna frowned. “When I go through the Dark Door, will I recognize my mother? Will she recognize me?”
“Oh, yes,” Lily said urgently. “But the barriers that divide one soul from another are altogether more fluid… I can’t… But do you understand?”
“It sounds rather lovely,” Luna mused.
“It has its moments,” answered Lily.
Frowning again, Luna asked on, “And are you aware of what is happening on the plane of the living?”
“As I said, we are aware of the feelings of those we loved, of those who love us. I’m mostly aware of Harry, of his anger, of his pleasure.” Lily cocked her head. “He’s quite fond of you, you know.”
For some reason, this made Luna uncomfortable. She felt herself blush, and then wondered how it was possible to blush without a circulatory system. She stared down at her body and watched a finger on the mangled arm twitch minutely. “He’s my friend.”
“Yes. He doesn’t have many of those, you know.”
“Yes.” Luna looked into the familiar green eyes, set in the unfamiliar face. “If you know what Harry is feeling,” she said, “what is happening right now? Are he and Ginny all right?”
Lily smiled. “They’re both in great danger.”
“Aren’t you worried?”
“Oh. I suppose I’m not really. I can’t imagine them not succeeding. And if they do, then, from what you’ve told me, it will be all right if that’s the end of their story.”
“Perhaps. But I have to say that I’d be quite happy not to see Harry for quite a while. I know he’ll get here eventually. But there are things that he can do, experiences he can have down there”—she pointed down at Luna’s dust-covered form—“that he can never have beyond that veil.”
“Hmmm. Yes.” Luna contemplated this for a time. It made sense. “What are my other choices?”
“The second, of course, is to become a ghost. You would stay on this side of the door, but you couldn’t ever really partake in the joys of living, nor could you enjoy the, um, indescribable experiences beyond the Dark Door.”
“That sounds rather dreary. And the other choice is to ret—”
Lily’s expression of placid good humor suddenly shifted to shock. “Oh, my!”
“I… I can’t tell you, Luna. I’m sorry. But it is time. You need to make your choice. Your mother and eternity await through that gateway. Or you may walk the intermediate path as a specter. Or you may return to the physical—”
Luna reached out and touched Lily’s hand, which rested on her own knee. “I choose to return,” she said. “After all, I want to see how the story turns out!”
Chewing her lip, Lily nodded. “I understand. Good.” She glanced up. “Luna. May I… May I ask a favor?”
“Of course,” Luna said, peering down at her twisted, battered body. It drew a tiny, shuddering breath.
“Could you tell Harry…” Lily frowned, dark red brows pinching together, and spoke low and quickly. “Could you tell him to find happiness where he can? James and I, we died young, but we lived. Through him, we live still. Do you think…?”
Luna patted her hand and smiled. “Of course I will tell him. He will understand.” She leaned toward the other woman—by all appearances, only a few years older than herself, really. “Could you tell my mother that I very, very much look forward to seeing her again?”
Now it was Lily’s turn to smile. “She already knows. That’s why she didn’t come; she didn’t want to sway your choice, knowing you’ll see her either way—when your time comes.”
A tremor passed through the dungeons, unleashing another stream of detritus onto Luna’s inert form; a howl of twisting metal ripped through the air. Lily gasped again. “Oh! Luna. It is time.”
Luna nodded, preparing to dive down, back into herself.
“Luna,” Lily said.
“You are very welcome, Lily. Thank you.”
“Any time,” laughed Lily. As Luna turned back, preparing to jump, she said, “Now, this is going to hurt.”
“Yes,” Luna said, pushing off. “Isn’t it wonderful?”