Once Upon a Time...
That's the way fairytales always start, isn't it? With a quiet little “Once Upon a Time.” As though someone out there lived through this, as though they were real. That person probably had fantastical journeys, and did amazing things. They were probably some Princess, one who didn't let herself be a Damsel in Distress, one who instead choose to be the hero of the story.
In that “Once Upon a Time,” that Princess probably had beautiful golden hair, and bright eyes, the same colour as the sky. She probably rode out of her kingdom, head held high, off to slay a dragon. She'll probably succeed, in some form or fashion, and she'll ride back, the heroine of her people.
In that same “Once Upon a Time,” that Princess won't marry. She'll become Queen, and she'll be fair, and just, and wonderful. The People will love her, and all will mourn her death. That is how fairytales go, isn't it? They begin with “Once Upon a Time,” and they end “Happily Ever After.” That's the way of things, isn't it?
Of course it is. But this is no fairytale, and Luna Lovegood is no Princess, come to slay the dragon.
Luna Lovegood's life has never been a fairytale. Luna knows this well. If Luna's life is a story, then it is one where, in the end, nobody really gets their happy ending, and everyone is left with more scars than on their skin. No, Luna doesn't live in a fairytale. She's mostly okay with this.
It starts in her first year. She meets a muggleborn girl on the train. The girl is sweet, innocent, and deceptively cheerful. With hair cut short, curled against her jawline, the girl smiles happily, excited. She introduces herself as Tatiana, and Luna calls her Ana.
Their conversation, the first one they've ever had together, leads to talk of the four houses. “I think any of them would be good,” Ana tells her thoughtfully. “Even Slytherin, or Hufflepuff. The Badgers are always overlooked, underestimated. And being ambitious isn't a bad thing you know.”
Luna knows. She thinks maybe she'll be a Hufflepuff. She's pretty sure Ana's a Ravenclaw.
(When Ana's last name turns out to be Lokison, Luna feels like she shouldn't be as surprised as she is. When Ana is sorted into Slytherin, she knows that surprise should not be her reaction.)
Luna is sorted into Ravenclaw, and from there on out, she really shouldn't have seen too much of Ana ever again. Ana keeps finding ways to come back to her though. She partners with Luna every chance she gets. She manages to have study sessions with Luna. One memorable morning leads to Ana plopping down at the Ravenclaw table, and declaring that her entire house is full of bigots. Luna begins to protest, but is silenced by the raised eyebrow Ana shoots her. Ana speaks the truth, even if it's rather broad.
Ana then pointedly asks if anyone in Ravenclaw knows who the Heir of Slytherin is. This is the first of many of Ana's challenges. She sends the entire house into a tizzy for the rest of the year. They won't be happy until seven years later, when they get a name.
At one point Ginny Weasley is upset that Luna is friends with a Slytherin. But Ginny stops hanging out with her as much, stops talking to her. Luna wishes that she cared more.
At the end of the year, there's an entire fiasco with the Chamber of Secrets. Ana's spent most of her time with the Ravenclaws. She feels safer in their common room than she does her own, and it's a testimony of how calm one of the Seventh Years is that he doesn't go and yell they Slytherins into submission. That Seventh Year is the only friend Luna's made within her house thus far.
When they later find out that Ginny Weasley had nearly died in the Chamber, they're not overly upset. Ginny had been demeaning to Luna for some time now. When they hear that Harry Potter's the one that saved her, Luna and Ana exchange looks. They had, of course, heard about last years adventure. They are not impressed with Potter yet.
In their Second Year, Luna boards the train, and goes to find Ana. Ana smiles up at her when she opens the compartment door, and goes back to her book. They spend the ride in silence. Luna wouldn't give it up for the world.
Their second year is also the year of the Dementors. Luna has bad dreams, dreams about her Mother dying. Ana has nightmares too, but she won't tell Luna about them. She spends most of that year in her own dorm.
Ana still joins the Ravenclaws for meals though. “What do you know about Sirius Black,” she asks one morning. When nobody actually knows much of anything, just that he killed 14 people, she laughs, and dutifully informs them that there should have been more than just a finger. Ravenclaw figures half of the plot out before Potter understands that there's more to this story.
Luna smiles brightly, and feels butterflies in her stomach.
Black eventually escapes. One of the Seventh Years announces that evening that he never got a trial. Luna points out that if Hagrid's Hippogriff got one, even if it was a farce of one, than Black deserves one as well. She doesn't know that this will lead to some of the Seventh Years working to get him one, behind the scenes, even after his death. All Luna knows is that she likes the brilliant smile Ana sends her way.
When one of the Slytherin Prefects calls out, “Lokison, get back over here!” Luna is forcefully reminded that Tricksters oft deal out their own brand of justice. She wonders what Ana will do when she grows up.
Their Third Year is the year of the Triwizard Tournament. Luna learns an odd mixture of French and Bulgarian from their foreign visitors. Ana sets out to masters the languages completely. Not for the first time, Luna wonders why Ana wasn't a Ravenclaw. But it doesn't matter. Ana does fit in with the Snakes. They've left her alone ever since she hexed one of the sixth year's eyebrows off. Luna doesn't know it happened because Ana was defending her. Ana doesn't intend to let her find out.
The other Ravenclaws do. They consider Ana's challenge for the year to be making sure that Luna and Ana get together at some point. They sadly fail at their task.
Unsurprisingly, Potter is once again in the middle of all of the chaos. Luna is too busy, making amends with Ginny to really notice most of the tasks. She figures nothing will come out of it. She's shocked and upset when Cedric dies. She had liked him. He had been polite and kind. He didn't deserve to die.
She does wish that the Headmaster had used the tenant of the House of Hufflepuff to describe him. He may have been brave, yes, but above all he was loyal and hardworking.
On the train, during her fourth year, she finally meets Harry Potter. Ana is nowhere to be found, so when Ginny comes in with Harry and one of his year mates, she lets them sit down. Harry turns out to be very nice, and a sweet boy. Luna decides she likes him there and then, though she is saddened when he can see the Thersterals. Both of them are to young to have experienced death, she knows. She doesn't say anything though.
Hermione Granger had turned out to be rather rude and thoughtless. Luna had hoped for a more open minded person when people talked about the Brightest Witch of Her Age. Ronald Weasley had just been plain rude.
Ana came to school a week into term. She hugged Luna so tightly, Luna was afraid she might burst. But Ana didn't want to talk about what had happened over the break. Luna didn't push.
Their Fourth Year was also the year that Umbridge was the Defence professor. Umbridge insulted both Luna and Ana whenever she got the chance. Luna presents the Ravenclaws with the challenge of kicking Umbridge out of the school. They all grimly accept, despite the fact that none of them like her, that she's Loony Lovegood. They all hate Umbridge more.
When Harry started the DA, Luna took Ana with her, to that first meeting. She had seen the bruises behind the glamours. And she knew there was war on the winds. Ana signed her name on that piece of parchment, and came to every meeting in a tie and sweater she borrowed from Luna.
Ginny Weasley, who had become friends with Luna again, never once recognised her.
When Luna gets back from the Ministry that year, Ana holds her tight, and whispers that she can't lose anybody else. That's how Luna finds out Ana's parents died over the summer. She holds Ana tight that night, and whispers promises that she know she can't keep. It'll take two years for her to break them. At that point it won't matter.
During their Fifth Year, Harry spends a lot of time in the Headmaster's office. Ana is suspicious, but doesn't speak out like she once would have. Luna finds she misses her friends vocal outbursts. That year, the Ravenclaws are challenged only by themselves.
At the end of the year, the Headmaster dies. One of the Ravenclaw Prefects takes Ana aside, and warns her that she shouldn't come back next year. But Luna can tell by the hard glint in Ana's eyes that she will be coming back. What else can she do? Ana is not one to walk away. She suffers. She fights. She survives.
Luna is almost upset when she see's Ana on the first day of her Seventh Year. But she knew that Ana would be there. She always was.
Luna, Neville, and Ginny launch a revolt in secret in the halls of Hogwarts. Ana becomes their Spy Mistress. Luna watches nervously every time Ana heads back to her Common Room. She knows that she might not see Ana again if she sends her back.
But Ana keeps going because they need information. And Ana takes Crucio's meant for children younger than she. Because they are all still children. But they are also soldiers. So Luna is silent. And when Ana is the only other person in the room, Luna kisses her forehead, and wishes she could make it better.
One night, before Ana leaves for her Common Room, she kisses Luna square on the mouth. Luna kisses back, and Ana gives her a fleeting smile, before leaving. It's also the night Harry, Ron, and Hermione come back to the Castle. And Luna gets a sinking feeling in her chest.
It isn't until after the Battle, when Voldemort is dead, and she's sent Harry on his way that she finds out. Parents come streaming in, wanting to thank the girl to got their children out, the woman who protected them. When the children in question describe the girl as a Sixth year with brown hair pulled into a ponytail, and a fierce look of determination written across her features that Luna realises. She hasn't seen Ana at all.
It's another Slytherin, this one tired and missing both sweater and tie that shows her Ana's body. Luna once told Harry that closing the eyes of the dead made them look as though they were sleeping. Now all she wants is for those eyes to open.
It never does happen.
Luna doesn't cry in front of anybody. Not even Ginny, who's taken to ignoring her again, because Harry's back. She does cry herself to sleep every night. She cries because she missed the person she loved. She cries because she'll never wake up to the sound of mad cackles, because that was how Ana laughed. She cries because her best friend is gone, and she's not coming back.
Luna could have become an Auror, if she wanted too. She becomes an international correspondent for the Quibbler. It's then that she meets Rolf, somewhere deep in South America, in ruins of an ancient civilisation that Ana would have wanted to see. Rolf isn't Ana, but he makes her laugh and smile for the first time in years. And when she finds out that his mother's maiden name was Heremeson, she wonders, not for the first time, if she has a type.
She does marry Rolf. They have twin sons, Lorcan and Lysander. Luna tells Rolf about Ana, and he holds her tight. He understands in ways that the other's simply don't. Luna isn't certain it's love like the love she had for Ana, but she love Rolf. She informs him of this. He smiles and understands. She loves him for it.
When they finally build a way memorial, when the twins are three, Luna goes to pay her respects. When a reporter and his photographer shoves her out of the way, she doesn't react like should once would have. Instead, she takes a deep breath, and channels Ana.
“Excuse me, but what do you think you're doing?” Her demand rings out, making some look up in surprise. Surprise to hear such a demand coming from her, she supposes.
The reporter sneers at her. “I'm here to report on those who came to respect girlie. Those who actually fought in the war.”
He's an old man, Luna can see. One who doesn't realise that this is a war that was fought by children, not soldiers. Not really. “I'm here to pay my respects,” she informs him sharply. “I fought in this war. And you are being disrespectful to those who died in it.”
The man sneers at her some more. “Of course you fought, sweetheart.” his voice is patronising, and Luna can see the Patil twins getting angrier by the minute. “And I suppose you lost someone as well.” The twins start to move in, but Luna stops them, and faces the man.
“I did,” she says simply. And then she tells the story of a young girl who meet a blonde on the train September 1st, and everything those two did together. She talks at length about the bonds of friendship, how that girl was sorted into Slytherin, and the blonde into Ravenclaw. She tells the reporter how house boundaries meant nothing.
She tells him about the challenges that the Slytherin placed before Ravenclaw, and about the smiles she had for the younger years. She talks about how that Slytherin lost her parents to the Death Eaters because she was a muggleborn. She talks about the prejudice one can face, about how the Slytherin would stand up when no one else would. She talks about the DA, how that snake masqueraded as a eagle in order to learn. She talks about the silent moments, about the dangers of coming back as a muggleborn.
She talks about how that Slytherin came back anyway. How she spoke out with a sharp tongue so that the younger years wouldn't get Crucio'd, simply because she was worse than they were. Because she could be used as an example in obedience.
She speaks of a Spy Mistress, The Spy Mistress of Slytherin House. The one who knew all the secrets, the one who gave away information, simply because it was important. Because it was a war.
She talks about how that Slytherin ripped off her tie, and pulled off her sweater, because she knew that she couldn't walk out onto the battlefield as a Slytherin, because that would brand her as an enemy.
She talks about how that Slytherin, that Hogwarts student in her white button down and grey skirt, with black flats came to the battlefield, not because she wanted to fight, but because it was a necessity. She talked about how that same girl, that woman saw the younger years, and acted as an escort, helping them get out of the building, saving their lives in the process.
She talks about how that woman fought Death Eater after Death Eater, some of them classmates, until she finally died at the hands of Bellatrix LeStrange.
By the end, Luna's voice is sore, and a crowd has gathered. She doesn't care. She is here to pay her respects to Tatiana Lokison. So she looks at the reporter, and his photographer, both of whom are glaring at her, probably for telling them that a Slytherin had helped win the war, or perhaps because they knew that she was right when she had told them they were not welcome here. And she sighs. “Leave,” she says tiredly. “You have no business to report on your child soldiers, and who has come to pay their respects to their dead friends and family.”
They leave. Luna kneels at the memorial, where she finds Ana's signature, scribbled across the memorial, taken from the DA's list. She cries herself to sleep that night. Rolf holds her the whole time.
Luna's life is not a fairytale. But neither was Ana's. Their story never did start with “Once Upon a Time.” It would not end with “They Lived Happily Ever After.” Luna's life is a mix of blood, tears, sweat, broken bones, and the fear that you might not live to see tomorrow.
She spent months in a dungeon. She fought a war. She lost her best friend, the one who always knew what to say.
Somewhere, on the Hogwarts Express, she knows. Knows that there are two girls. One with brown hair curling against her jaw line, the other with dirty blonde locks falling down her back.
“I think any of them would be good,” the brunette will say. “Even Slytherin, or Hufflepuff. The Badgers are always overlooked, underestimated. And being ambitious isn't a bad thing you know.”
The blonde will nod, and smile. And a friendship will have begun. Maybe the brunette won't be a Slytherin this time, and maybe the blonde won't be a Ravenclaw. But they will still be friends. Their story will start with “Once Upon a Time.” it will end with “They Live Happily Ever After.”
Luna is sure of it.