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A Little Bit Helpless

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At Hogwarts, he learned early on Luna was a little bit helpless.

She wasn't his sort of helpless. She didn't lose things (though people did steal her things), forget things, or trip over her own feet, and no one could accuse her of not being able to easily pass all her classes.

No, her sort of helplessness was the type of her running around outside in the dead of winter with nothing but her regular robes on. It was her automatically scooping up poisonous berries and popping them into her mouth. Sometimes, she'd get distracted by something and miss a meal.

When they became friends, he often found himself telling her, 'Luna, go put on a pair of trousers, your stockings aren't enough,' or asking, 'Luna, it's dinner, d'ya fancy sitting with me and Ginny?' There were times he took off his own gloves and scarf and put them on her, and there were times when he swatted her hand when she was about to pop something dangerous in her mouth.

The latter got him yelled at by Ginny.

He supposes this is just who he is. Trevor tried to run away all the time because he tried to coddle and protect him to the point of stifling him, and the one thing he had problems with in Herbology was a tendency to try to do too much. He'd give a plant too much water, keep it out of what he deemed to be the hot sun, touch it to make sure it wasn't getting soft, and so on.

Ginny made it clear early on, evil possession by Voldemort aside, she wasn't helpless. She'd play gobstones with him, and sometimes, sit with at meal times, provided he didn't try to help her with her coat or give her the last piece of his pie. Hermione- for some reason, she always struck him as someone who didn't actually need anyone. She could be reduced to tears, be put in dangerous situations, and even be petrified, but she'd still come out okay, somehow.

As for other girls, he didn't really spend much non-classroom time around them. On the boy’s side of things, there was Seamus; he was almost as clumsy as Neville and had a tendency to make things explode or catch on fire, but he had Dean to help him most of the time.

Therefore, when Luna appears about six months pregnant to answer his ad for a flatmate, he doesn't ask who the father is, why she isn't going to her own father, or anything personal. “Luna, if you need to save up money for the baby, that's fine. I don't mind sharing with you.”

“Babies,” she corrects. She grabs his hand and places it on her stomach. “Both boys.”

He feels them kick and is beyond scared.

“I can pay,” she adds. “Rolf is insistent on supporting us financially.”

“Rolf?

“My husband." When she lies down on the couch with a wince, he gets pillows from his room and helps put them under her neck, small of her back, and ankles. “I didn't know I wasn't supposed to add raspberry syrup to the contraceptive potion, and he forgot the charm once. He doesn't have much of a paternal instinct.”

“Of course,” he says.

0

A week later, it's three a.m., and he's finally found a store with red vines.

He promptly realises he hadn't thought to exchange his money for muggle and is helplessly staring at the candy (he will murder Ron. What sort of idiot gives a pregnant woman any sort of novelty food? Even he would have known better) when a voice inquires, “Pregnant wife or girlfriend, dear?”

“Friend. Her husband is in some foreign country. If I give my name and contact information, could I please take this and pay tomorrow?”

He can give them Hermione's number. 

The woman is brown-skinned, older, and she gives him a knowing smile. “Here, dear, take several. I know all too well how horrible pregnancy craving can be, both for the mum-to-be and her family.”

After thanking her profusely and making sure he had the name of the store, he arrives home to find Luna has stopped hitting the coffee table and is now glaring at it.

He's seen her angry, scared, and confused, but he’s never seen a glare cross her features.

Giving her one of the packages, he insists she drink some tea.

0

The next day he comes back with muggle money.

“Er, hullo. I came here at around three last night, and one of the people who works here let me take four packages of red vines. You see, my friend's pregnant, and she's staying with me while her husband's away, and I didn't get the right money when I left the flat.”

The bored-looking teenage boy accepts the money and gives him a receipt. “My mum was mad for liver when she was pregnant with my sister. Be glad your friend didn't want something with a strong smell.”

She redecorates the flat, takes a job at The Quibbler, and shows him her drawings for the babies' rooms. They'll sleep with her until they're past babyhood, and then, they'll each have their own room.

“Did you ask what the sexes were or do you just know?”

“Crystal drowsing." Looking up from her self-typing typewriter, she continues, “It was confirmed by a midwizard in Spain, however. I plan to go to St. Mungo's this weekend. Would you like to go with me?”

“Sure, Luna.”

0

Luna's healer, an older bloke with a foreign surname, reminds Neville of Dumbledore.

“You and your sons are doing fine, Miss Lovegood. When they're born, are you going to want them vaccinated?”

“After the umbilical cords detach, yes."

“Aren't those cut?”

“Usually,” the healer answers. “However, some parents prefer a lotus birth. They wait until the cord falls off on its own. There's no solid evidence that one way is better than another. And all your normal vaccinations are up-to-date?”

“Yes. I've been travelling for the last few years.”

“Good. Have you had an anti-flu potion? Flu season is approaching, and we like to encourage pregnant witches to have one, if at all possible.”

“No, I haven't, but if it's recommended, I will. Is it possible to do a no-taste spell on me before I take it?”

“Yes, that is possible, but if you're not opposed to the idea of intramuscular injection, we have a healer on-staff who attended muggle medical school. Today's her day off, but she'll be back tomorrow and works the other six days of the week.”

“I'd prefer that,” Luna informs him.

Nodding, he makes a note. “Mister Longbottom, if I may ask, are you up-to-date on yours?”

“Yes. Until a year ago, I was an auror. Now, I'm a professor.”

In both professions, he never had to worry about remembering his vaccination schedule due to it being kept on his file. Someone always ordered to go get his boosters and any new vaccinations when it was time.

“Have you had an anti-flu potion, Professor Longbottom?”

“No." He never got them due to his gran disbelieving in them for healthy people and him not really having an opinion one way or another. He got the flu for the first time when he was sixteen and hasn't gotten it since.

“Neville and I are flatmates. Would it be better for the babies if he had it, too?”

“It's recommended that spouses, close family, and others who are in close contact with pregnant witches do have it, if possible, yes. I presume you know of the concept of herd immunity, Miss Lovegood?”

“Yes." To Neville, she says, “The theory is that the more people who are vaccinated, the safer the people who can't be vaccinated are.”

“That makes sense." Some plant sicknesses are treated by putting the sick plant with plants that have already recovered from the sicknesses and keeping plants who haven't gotten it away. It's not exactly the same thing, he knows, but he likes to fall back on what he knows about plants when human medicine is discussed. “I'll take the potion. I'll do it the regular way, though.”

The healer retrieves a cup. “You might experience slight flu-like symptoms for up to seven days. Miss Lovegood, when would be a good time for you to come in for yours?”

“Tomorrow."

Neville swallows down the potion. “What about your dad, Luna? Has he had his?”

“He can't. Certain medical conditions. Would you mind getting me a bubble tea?”

He digs around his pockets. “Do they have that here?”

“In the cafeteria,” the healer says. After Luna summons her purse and hands him some money, he adds, “If you'd like, you can floo there.”

When he comes back, Luna is redressed.

“As I said, everything seems to be going well,” the healer says. “I'll see you tomorrow.”

0

Eating ice-cream out of a carton, Luna says, “You disapprove.”

“I don't like nutty-chocolate and green mint,” he points out. “Besides, I still forget and sometimes drink straight out of the pumpkin juice carton, and we both drink out of that.”

“You disapprove of my having the babies alone, and you disapprove of Rolf,” she clarifies. “I don't hold any ill-will towards him, and for most of our lives, you and I were raised by one person.”

“And you turned out fine." He's aware what most people think of her, but what person doesn't have some unproven beliefs? Most people are either more quiet about theirs or it’s the type a majority of people share. Luna's a kind person who literally saved his life. “I didn't. And even I know what causes babies. People shouldn't take the risk if they aren't willing to be a parent.”

“I think you turned out fine,” she says. “Though, I disagree with you. I've known women who've induced miscarriages, and I've known women who've given their children up for adoption. In both cases-”

“That's different. The first has to do with what's happening inside their bodies, and seeing as how my parents couldn't raise me- but it's different. If possible, children need support.”

“If a person doesn't want to have a relationship with a child, it seems rather unfair to me for them to be required to help contribute to the child's life,” she replies.

He sighs. There's no way either will win this argument, he knows. He has trouble with words, and Luna puts out an air of confidence. Even when something doesn't sound right, she still manages to make it hard to see why it doesn't and form a response.

“I don't disapprove of you having the babies on your own. But I don't think very highly of your husband. Or understand why you're still married. What if you find someone else that you love and that loves you and your sons?”

“Then, Rolf and I will get divorced. We mostly got married so that it would be easier to travel together. There's a lot of paperwork involved in entering some countries, you know.”

Neville doesn't answer. He views marriage as something not to be entered into lightly. He knows they sometimes don't work and privately thinks his gran and dad would have been happier if she and his granddad had gotten divorced, but the thought of getting married with the thought of, 'If it doesn't work, I can just get divorced,' doesn't sit well with him.

“You really did turn out wonderfully,” she says. “You and Harry and Ron.”

“I think you're only saying that because Ron gave you candy, Harry and Ginny were nice to you at Hogwarts, and because I just went out at two in the morning to buy you ice-cream and give you masseuses,” he jokes.

“The masseuses are wonderful, but no, I'm not. You've always been one of the kindest people I've ever met.”

The answer, in his head, is she'll meet loads of other people. This is just what Luna does. She talks to animals, ghosts, paintings, and people.

“Thanks, Luna."

She's a pregnant witch with a back pains and cravings for weird ice-cream and novelty candy ( Ron will die; Neville's even mulled around the idea of contacting Malfoy and asking for tips on how to plot an assassination), and he reckons the last thing she needs is him pointing out all the way's he's not fine.

0

“What if they think The Quibbler's loony,” she cries.

More than anything, Neville wishes Hermione or Ginny were here. Even Ron might be preferable. “Show them the issues about Harry being right,” he suggests. “The ones where your dad went against Voldemort.”

“What if someone kidnaps them,” she gasps. “I thought working at The Quibbler would be safer than taking them with me around the world!”

Sighing, Neville keeps rubbing her arms. He'd come to wake her up for her six p.m. walk and found her sobbing. Now, he's in bed with his arms wrapped around her as he tries (and fails) at helping. “Luna, The Quibbler's brilliant, and you know that Harry would never let anyone hurt your sons like they did you.”

“They could turn out not-like-me,” she wails. “What if they like sports and other things, things I don't understand? Rolf isn't what most people consider normal, either, and he doesn't want to be a father, and I don't like his parents! His mother called me a whore, and his father implied I was only interested in getting my name published.”

“You had your name published when you were six. Those sketches your dad published? And then, when you were eleven you did that article on Hogwarts? And you did a few articles before you left. Plus, the ones you've done since you came back, those too.”

He has no idea how to respond to the 'whore' part since finding out where Mrs Scamander lives and hexing her blind isn't exactly a sane, feasible option.

In his time as an auror, he met some people in said profession, and most of them were perfectly decent, but at Hogwarts, some people would call Hermione a bookworm in certain tone, and he'd get angry on her behalf, and then, someone else would call her the same thing in a different tone, and he'd share her happiness. 

She shifts. He lets go and forces his rambling thoughts to go back to her. Turning, she presses her face against his shoulder, and he tentatively puts his arms back around her. “What about the other things,” she sniffles.

“Well- you like Quidditch, don't you? I'm sure Harry and Ginny would love to teach the boys if they wanted to learn. And if they turn out not to believe in the stuff The Quibbler- My mum hated Herbology, my dad thought it was a soft option, and Gran and I have never been very close. I still love them more than anyone, and I know Gran feels the same. My parents- them not isn't about anything I've done. If you need help, there's five people who'll always be there.”

Remembering Xenophilius, he amends, “Actually, six.”

Nudging him, she sighs. “My feelings are running through my veins; they're so sharp, I can feel them.”

“It'll be okay,” he says.         

0

“Will you get upset if I ask why you never let the others set you up on dates?”

“No." Looking up from the lesson plans he's working on, he tries to explain, “It's just- I'm mostly happy with my life. I never thought I'd have actual friends, and if it weren't for Voldemort, I doubt I would have. I'd just bungle everything up in a relationship. I'd never believe it was real, I'd overreact, and-”

Suddenly, he remembers why, even after he stopped being terrified of her, he was often uneasy talking to Luna. She had this way- still does, apparently- of making him talk without truly thinking.

She simply looks at him for a long moment with her silver eyes piercing his. “What Rolf and I had didn't last, but I don't regret it. I worry you'll regret never feeling such closeness.”

Neville desperately wants to blame the pregnancy hormones, but he can picture her being non-pregnant and having this exact same conversation.

Even more than he was surprised Luna considered him a friend, he was gobsmacked to realise Luna was protective of her friends. She refused to stand quietly by when one of them was insulted, although, her tactic was usually to give a confusing lecture neither friends, bullies, or bystanders could grasp. She refused to leave during the Battle.

“I regret a lot of things,” he finally says. “I reckon one more isn't going to matter.” 

0

He's never called her 'Loony' to her face.

This might change soon.

“Luna, you're almost eight months pregnant! You can't just go flooing internationally.”

In all honesty, he gets worried when she floos to The Quibbler every day, but the smells on the Knight Bus have been making her sick lately and the healers have said it's perfectly safe for pregnant witches to floo. “You don't even speak Russia, and you don't have- whatever you need to be in other countries-” he's aware, with him being a former auror, he should probably know this- “and you can't just leave me here to worry about you.”

“Rolf can help me."

He refuses to move from in front of the fireplace. “Maybe if I knew what you suddenly need, I could help. And he has the address. Why doesn't he come here? He doesn't have two babies growing inside him.”

“I talked to Ginny, and she pointed out that you get very odd when sex is brought up. She said it-”

“Luna,” he wishes he didn't feel how red his face is getting, “tell him to come here. You have your own room. Just, please, remember the locking and silencing charms.”

Now, he wants to kill Ginny. This is something of a new feeling.

He truly hopes the next month or two won't be spent wanting to kill every overage redhead he comes across.

0

She brings home a half-crup, half-kneazle, and he doesn't ask any questions about who did the breeding or if it was legal (most likely no) or tell her she needs to turn it over to the ministry.

Honestly, it's ugly.

However, it likes to lick Luna’s toes and curl up against his neck during the night.

'It' is a girl, and she somehow ends up with the name Saturn. She gets along with the nearby muggles but absolutely hates the squirrels and alternates from hiding from them and trying to eat them.

He hardly ever touches Luna's stomach or takes her to St Mungo's anymore, and he tells himself not to get too attached to Saturn.

0

During his last year at Hogwarts, he found himself utterly mad for Luna Lovegood.

However, even though he could mouth off to the Carrows, teach Defense, and talk without stuttering, he couldn't not see all the ways trying anything would end up badly. There was a war going on, and one mistake could end up with more people dead.

After the war, he was still emotionally recovering from being a part of it and trying to reconcile his new personality traits with the ones he'd grown up with. He didn't think trying anything was a good idea.

Now, she's back and still beautiful in an undefinable, vaguely terrifying way, there's weird food in the fridge, strange symbols on the walls, and on their walks, she often tells him about the newest articles The Quibbler will be publishing. If her husband ever comes, he does it quietly and discreetly, and Neville's never heard anything from her room.

Once the boys are born, she and Saturn will probably move back in with her father. The symbols, weird food, and afternoon walks will be gone. The warmth and sometimes wetness on his neck from Saturn drooling in her sleep will be gone.

Sometimes, he wonders why he ever put out an ad for a flatmate in the first place.

0

“Professor,” a little boy with wide eyes says, “one of the plants is trying to eat a pregnant lady!”

Rushing in, he finds the devil's snare holding Luna by the stomach above the ground.

“Hello, Neville. I'm in labour. I need you to go to St Mungo's with me.”

0

Thirty minutes later, he's still ranting, “You could have sent an owl or a patronus or made someone come get me. Even a-”

“Are you the father?”

He's mostly been ignoring the look the healer keeps giving Luna. If anyone wants him thrown out, he won’t resist, but he's nowhere near done going completely mental over the too-clear memory of her with devil snare wrapped around her pregnant belly. “No, I'm the professor whose devil snare attacked her and her flatmate because she-”

“He's the flatmate in question,” Luna says.

“Will the father-”

“If he does, someone had better body-bind me! She wouldn't have gotten the completely loony idea to come to an active greenhouse if he-”

She squeezes his hand. “Neville, I'm having severe doubts about my impending motherhood.”

He supposes this is his cue to shut up about the deadly plant and the fact it could have killed her or caused a miscarriage and try to be a supportive friend.

Moving the hair out of her face, he assures her, “Luna, you're going to be a brilliant mum. I can't explain why, but I know you, alright? Harry's sent Trackers to bring your dad back from Alaska. Never mind what some people think, you consider your mum and dad to be good parents. Your dad is a lot like you, and from what I've heard of your mum, she was too. They raised one of the best people I've ever met.”

“Will the father be present?”

“No.” Luna takes a sharp breath. “I'll send Rolf an owl once the babies come.”

Appearing, Xenophilius takes her other hand. “Hello, my little moon. Harry told me your sons are about ready to make their first appearance. Glancing over, he adds, “Hello, Neville. It's very kind of you to be here.”

“Hello, sir.”

He briefly considers bringing up the greenhouse incident but decides Xenophilius might attribute it to some marvellous creature and praise his daughter.

0

Babies cry a lot.

Sighing, Neville rolls out of bed, plods to Luna's room, and finds her breastfeeding Lysander.

Hearing happy cooing sounds but not seeing the other baby, he asks, “Where's Lorcan?”

Luna looks up, and following her eyes, he sees Lorcan is floating around the room.

Neville checks the windows in her room, and then, goes to check the rest.

When he comes back, Lysander is sound asleep in his bassinet. Lorcan floats above his brother, curls up, and falls asleep. Carefully, Luna reaches out and sets him down in the playpen. “Saturn might sing tomorrow. Dad wrote an article about crups sometimes singing during a baby's fourteenth day of life.”

“That'd be interesting.” Yawning, he covers her back up and makes sure Lorcan has on his bonnet and booties and Lysander is covered properly.   

Back in his room, he sighs and scratches Saturn's ears.   

0

Picking Lysander up when Lorcan begins wrestling with Saturn, he observes, “They're crawling. Is he ever going to show up to see his sons?”

She looks up from the pictures she’s labelling from her trip to Moscow. “They aren't suffering from a lack of his presence. I'm thinking of getting a divorce.”

“If you want my opinion, do it. I'll help you in any way I can.” He bounces a laughing Lysander on his knee. “I was thinking, maybe you and the boys could come to the Herbology conference with me this weekend. Filius has already said that it wouldn't be any trouble to cover an extra room at the hotel. And since there's going to be edible dragonsnaps, they could try some. It's best to eat them fresh.”

“That'd be lovely. I'll see if Ginny's able to keep Saturn or if Dad needs to."

0

“Dada!”

Neville looks up from the papers he's grading.

Giving him a toothy smile, Lysander holds his hands out, and looking straight at Neville, repeats, “Dada!”

Reminding himself not to curse in front of the baby, Neville picks Lysander up, finds Lorcan, and takes them both over to Quibbler headquarters.

“Hello, Neville.” Taking the babies, Luna kisses them. “Are you here on a whim, or-”

“Luna, there's a problem.”

With a wave at Neville, Lorcan says, “Dada.”