Luna was uncharacteristically somber as they returned to Spinner’s End that afternoon.
“Is something wrong, Luna?” He asked as he watched her remove her shoulder bag and drop it to the floor beside the sofa.
“Hmm?” She looked up at him, her eyes wide, but dimmed. “Oh, not wrong really.”
She sighed. “Hermione gave me a revision schedule for exams today.”
“And the thought of studying has you distraught?” He raised a brow. Some Ravenclaw.
“No. I quite enjoy studying.” She flopped into the cushion.
“What then?” He sat in the nearby armchair and tented his fingers near his chest.
“It’s just that I don’t really see how it will be practical for me to return to Hogwarts in the fall, even if only for exams.”
“Don’t be ridiculous. Of course you can return. It is only a week.”
She pulled out some parchment from her bag and unrolled it. “But there is just no way I can keep up with the Quibbler and study a whole year’s worth of material in the next two months.” She sighed as she stared down at the notes scrawled in Ms Granger’s hand.
Severus closed his eyes as he struggled to find an appropriate response, and moreso, a way to actually be of assistance to her. The twisting in his gut that he had been experiencing far too often recently, tightened. Just when she needed something he could actually provide her, he would be sending her away instead. It seems fate had not yet bored of harassing him.
He grit his teeth, running through his conversation with Molly from earlier today. Moving to the opposite end of the sofa, he sat and looked over at her. “You are living with a professor. Perhaps I might be of service?”
“A former professor you mean.” She gave him a weak smile.
“Not as of yesterday. I have agreed to teach Potions next year.”
Her eyes brightened. “That is wonderful. It would be a shame not to have you back there.”
He snorted. “I doubt most would feel the same.”
“Do you even like teaching, Severus?” She tilted her head.
“On occasion. To those that actually care. Mostly, I need my lab back.” He sighed. “The money is a necessary evil as well.”
Luna stretched her legs out over the sofa’s arm and laid her head down next to his thighs. She looked up at him. “I see.” She chewed her plump lower lip as her grey eyes grew distant. “Must I call you Professor again, Sir?”
He gazed down at the witch, finding her smiling brightly, revealing that lovely dimple. “No. I think not.” He shook his head.
“Oh good. I don’t think I could. And do you really think you can teach me all I need to pass my exams?”
“I believe you already know more than you need, but I would be happy to assist in a refresher.”
“Does this mean you will allow me to stay, then?” Her smile faded as her features tightened with question.
His face tightened as he shook his head. “Are you sure you are not in my head, Luna?”
She sat up. “I would never! But you have been so protective and cautious since the intrusion, I just knew you doubted my safety. I guess I assumed that meant you would ask me to find a new safe place since this place was no longer.”
He nodded. “I had every intention of doing so.”
“Had?” She leaned closer, her eyes widening.
“I am finding it difficult to do so.” He looked away.
Her fingers snaked into his where his hand sat between them. “Harry said I can stay at his Uncle’s old place. He says it is unplottable and highly protected because the Order used it. He spends all his time at the Burrow anyway so he won’t be there much. Feels it’s his duty to be there for them. He blames himself for Fred’s death. And all the others too.”
“Yes.” He stared into the darkness of the empty fireplace.
She sighed, drawing his attention to her.
“What is it?” He raised a brow.
“I don’t want to have this baby in hiding.” She rubbed her abdomen with her free hand. “What kind of life is that?”
Severus gave her hand a tight squeeze, and she leaned into his shoulder.
“It will only be temporary,” he nearly whispered. It had to be. She could not very well raise his child alone in another man’s house, especially that house.
“Come with me,” she whispered back. “Wherever I am to go, come with me?”
He rested his chin against the top of her head as he considered the offer. He did not deserve to accept it for his own desires, but for her needs, it could be justified. “It would be rather difficult to tutor you from afar.”
She burrowed closer to him. “Thank you.”
He suppressed a sigh. This would be another terrible choice in hindsight, but for the moment, it felt right.
They stood at the hearth in the sitting room of 12 Grimmauld Place, bags at their feet.
Harry Potter stood from his chair. “There you are. Welcome.” He approached Luna and gave her a hug before looking sideways up at him. “I was worried maybe you changed your minds.”
Luna smiled. “No, just needed some time. My things are so unruly sometimes.”
“Nargles?” Harry teased.
“Oh no. Severus’s home has none.” She giggled and glanced up at Severus.
“Oh, yeah. Of course not.” Harry cleared his throat. “Anyway. Professor, Sir, I know you have been here before, but Luna, let me show you around.”
“Wonderful.” Luna clapped her hands together.
“This is the main sitting room. This fireplace is the only one connected to the Floo system. Now that you have arrived, it will only take you to The Burrow. All other access has been closed for safety. And all the house wards have been reassessed. Minister Shacklebolt and Professor McGonagall double checked them just this morning.
“Oh, that reminds me, Professor. There is a letter for you on the mantle.” Harry motioned toward the fireplace.
“You may call me Severus, Potter.”
“When you start calling me Harry, I will consider it.” Harry smirked.
“Anyway, let me show you to your bedroom Luna. Then we can see the rest of the house.” Harry bent and picked up her shoulder bag from the floor as he pulled his wand from his back pocket. As he levitated Luna’s school trunk, they moved out of the sitting room and into the hallway.
With a hiss, Severus turned and picked up the envelope. He unsealed the wax seal with the Hogwarts’ crest stamped into it and pulled open the letter.
Your fears have been confirmed. Rodolphus Lestrange was found with a wand in his possession at Azkaban. The last spell cast was Apparition. It is unknown how he managed to use this to get free from the securities of Azkaban nor how he obtained it to begin with, but the wand has been confiscated and additional guards have been placed. Hopefully, this can provide some added confidence in yours and Luna’s safety.
He crumpled the parchment and suppressed an angry howl. Rodolphus would regret his actions, Severus would ensure it. Unfortunately, knowing Rodolphus had managed to escape at least once already, no amount of added security was going to give him reassurance that it would not happen again, at least not until it was understood just how he had managed it.
Luna walked back into the room, her bright face sunk when she saw him. “What is it, Severus?”
He shook his head. “It is nothing to worry about at this moment, Luna, I promise.”
She gave him a skeptical glare. “If you say so. Anyway, Harry’s left. It’s just us. Mrs Weasley left dinner in the dining room, and the pantry is stocked well enough for the whole Order.”
When they had finished their dinner, compliments of Molly, Luna caught his eye from across the table. “Will you tell me now what has you so tense?”
He sighed. “It was Rodolphus as you suspected. A wand was taken from him, but they do not yet know how he managed to leave and return to Azkaban undetected.”
Luna nodded. “Thank you for telling me. We are here now. It seems unlikely that anyone looking for either of us, will find us easily now.”
He nodded. “For now, I think that is correct. But we really must understand how he found you in the first place.”
“Well, I suppose it was a process of elimination really, don’t you think? I mean, I’m not at Hogwarts. My home is destroyed. He learned you survived and might have assumed you still held some claim on me?” She shrugged.
How she could be so insouciant about this, he could not understand.
“Or perhaps he was looking for you.”
“A possibility.” He considered that Lestrange had no idea Luna had been at Spinner’s End. His home was not exactly a secret, especially among former Death Eaters.
He raised a brow. “What is?”
“You. Did you not feel that tension leave you?” She tilted her head. “I could see it from here.”
He huffed. “You apparently have that effect on me.”
She smiled. “Oh good.”