“I suspect you’re going to be very unhappy with me,” Luna's voice tells him.
“Okay,” Neville says. He doesn’t know what time it, but it’s dark outside. “C-can I be uh-unhappy in the morning?”
“Yes,” she answers.
She slips under the covers and presses her face into his neck.
He puts a hand on her stomach and promptly falls back into a deep sleep.
The next morning, he wakes up and realises Luna’s head is resting on his stomach while her legs are sticking off the bed. Carefully removing his hands from her hair, he remembers the blue mist invading his eyes and her warm weight appearing on the bed.
Yawning, he extracts himself from bed and goes to make tea.
His relationship with Luna is somewhat hard to define, but he reckons it works for both of them. Whenever she’s not exploring the world for The Quibbler, she usually stops at his flat. Sometimes, they end up in bed together.
Neville knows this is probably for the best. Luna isn’t sure if she personally believes in monogamy, and he isn’t sure he could be a good boyfriend to anyone. He knows he couldn’t be one to her due to the fact he thinks most of the stuff she and her dad write about is absolute rubbish, and he suspects she finds him somewhat dull.
He’s almost done with breakfast when she appears.
“Hey,” he mumbles. Swallowing, he asks, “Are you okay, Luna? Only, it’s rare for you to show up so late.”
Nodding vaguely, she sits down and takes a bite of jam-covered toast. “I’m pregnant.”
He sets his cup down. “Er.”
Desperately, he tries to remember the last time they- Didn’t he get a vasectomy, though? Yes, he definitely remembers this. The healer assured him it was permanent and highly effective.
“You aren’t the father."
“Oh, thank Merlin,” he breathes out. “Um- Is this good or bad? Do you need anything? You know I’m always here for you.”
She smiles at him. “I consider it very good. I wasn’t sure how you’d take it, though.”
“As long as you’re happy, I’m happy,” he says. “So, the father-”
“Has no desire to be a part of the baby’s life.”
“Is that good or bad? Because, if you want him to- Harry and Ron can find him, and they’ll straighten him out.”
She summons some milk from the icebox. “No. I told him I wanted a baby, and he agreed to help me so long as he didn’t have to acknowledge paternity.”
Realising it’s probably not a good idea to voice his thoughts on that, Neville simply nods. “Alright. Well, do you need anything?”
“I was hoping you’d help me raise the baby.”
Sighing, Neville feels guilty and a bit irritated. “Luna- You’re one of my best mates, and I do mean it- I’ll do almost anything to help you. But you know how I feel about being a father. If you want someone to help you, to be a real dad to your baby, I hope you find that person. It just won’t be me.”
Some part of Neville has always wanted to be a father. When he was younger, he dreamed of having one of each. The girl would have the name Nadine, his mum’s middle name, somewhere in her name, and the boy’s middle name would be Frank.
He got older, though, and realised he could barely take care of himself. Children need emotional support, patience, and someone who won’t lose them in the middle of Diagon Alley. He can be patient, and he’s gotten better about remembering and not losing things, but some days, he’s still a complete emotional wreck himself. His only first-hand examples of parenting had been his gran and Hogwarts professors, and as much as he loved Gran, he’d never want a child of his living with her, and some of the professors were wonderful, but they were outweighed by the Snapes and McGonagalls.
“I understand,” she says. “Will you help me go pram shopping?”
“Sure, Luna. Uh, how far along are you?”
“Six weeks,” she answers.
He groans when he spots a Daily Prophet worker following him and the Lovegods.
“Oi!” Grabbing the man, he motions for them to go inside. “If I catch a picture of any of us in the paper, it’ll be your job.”
After the war, reporters were taking pictures of him, Harry, and some of the others right and left. When someone made the mistake of snapping a picture of Andromeda and Teddy Tonks at Bellatrix Lestrange’s tombstone, however, she took the magazine to the courts, and with Harry behind her, it was quickly ruled no photos of war heroes and the people they were in contact with could be published without express permission.
“Is Luna Lovegood pregnant?”
“That’s her business,” Neville answers.
Going inside, he finds them talking to a puzzled-looking saleswitch. “Er,” she says, “I don’t think we sell anything like that.”
“Thank you for your help,” Neville says. “We’ll find you if we need anything.” To the Lovegoods, he asks, “Why don’t we focus on a crib, first?”
Giving him a grateful look, the woman almost flees in removing herself.
Luna links her fingers through his. “It’s best to get one with netting,” she informs him. “The properties are very beneficial. Mum and Dad wanted to buy me a sixteenth century bassinet with netting, but it was much too expensive.”
“Yes,” Xenophilius agrees. “We ended up making it ourselves. Of course, it was a bit difficult finding enough hair from a centaur’s tail, but we managed.”
“There won’t be any need for that,” Neville declares. “Whatever this baby needs, we’ll find a way to pay for it.”
An hour later, Luna’s decided on a brown-and-green portable bassinet with thin, white netting and a hooded pushchair.
They take a break, get lunch, and he suggests looking for a broomseat next. “It’s not recommended to apparate with babies,” he reminds them. “You’ll need to start flying more.”
One of his favourite plants died, Luna had flooed over last night and kept him up all night, and now, Ron and Andromeda are helping with the nursery.
Normally, he’d be grateful, but putting Ron and Andromeda in a room together has never gone well in the past.
“D’ya know if it’s a boy or girl, yet,” Ron inquires.
“No,” Luna answers. “I want it to be a surprise.”
Giving her a concerned look, Andromeda asks, “But you are getting regular antenatal care, aren’t you?"
“Yes,” Luna answers. “Neville usually goes with me.”
“And I always get a lecture about something,” he grumbles. “I know that bloody healer thinks I’m shirking my responsibilities. I’m about ready to tell her to just do a bloody test.”
Andromeda gives him a mildly disapproving look. “That’s Luna’s decision."
“Not really,” Ron says. “If a bloke wants to clear his name, I reckon he has the right to-”
“We’re both still in the room,” Neville cuts in. “I’m not trying to force Luna into anything. It’s just insulting that I’m trying to be a good friend, and she makes it seem like I’m a prat who’d force a girl he got pregnant to go at it alone. If I never came in, never dropped Luna off and picked her up, she wouldn’t suspect me of being the dad.”
“She might,” Luna says. “I talk about you often.”
They’re interrupted by a flurry of Cornish pixies flooding the room.
As he’s put in a familiar position of hanging from the ceiling fan, he wonders, “Why is it always me?”
A few months later, he’s standing in his kitchen looking down at a recipe he’s found.
“What’d you reckon a good substitute for dragon’s egg is?”
Standing on her tiptoes, Luna says, “Quail eggs are usually good with tapioca pudding.”
“Do they sell quail eggs around here?”
“No, but I know a place we can get some.”
“A place that’s safe for a pregnant witch?”
“I think so,” she answers.
They get dressed properly and fly out.
While they’re making their way through the forest, he tells her, “Hooch is retiring in a month. She’s moving in with her grandson. Er, her cottage’s going to be empty. I was thinking of applying for it.”
“That would rather sensible. Is there a downside?”
“It’ll be hard for you,” he answers. “Minerva will modify the wards so that you can come by whenever you want, but it’s a long way from your dad’s. Since flooing is making sick lately and you can’t apparate or use a portkey right now, it’d be flying or taking the Knight Bus.”
She blinks. “Neville, I meant what I said about accepting your decision. I’m not trying to get you to assume fatherhood of my baby. If you want the cottage, I want you to have it. If I can’t visit as often, that’ll be alright. Besides, I’ll be able to fly a carpet soon enough; Hermione’s keeping a close eye on my request.” She motions to the sleeping bird. “Here’s our chance.”
Quietly, they sneak up to the nest, and Luna puts a purple bubble spell around the bird and lifts it up. Neville sprinkles the potion to detect non-fertilisation on the eggs. Two of them turn green. Pocketing them, he nods to Luna, and they head back. When they’re a safe distance away, she lowers the bird and removes the spell.
The recipe turns out to be a complete disaster, but aside from giving him a vague headache and tasting horrible, there’s nothing special about it.
Camping out on the couch with her, memories hit him.
One recipe they did in the past turned their skin neon-green and forced them to stay glued to his bathroom for five hours. Seeing as how there’s only one toilet and a small bathtub in it, this had been a nightmare. Another recipe had turned out to be mildly addictive, and they’d had to spend three nights at St. Mungo’s.
She nuzzles his neck. “Perhaps, we should try Robin’s raspberry yoghurt.”
He groans. “You couldn’t have thought of that two hours ago?”
“I think the baby’s a girl."
Sitting up, he looks down and brings his hands to her stomach. “Yeah? Reckon she’ll have your eyes and hair?”
As much as he loves Luna’s hair, the real shame would be if the baby didn’t have her eyes. He’s seen pictures of Luna’s mum, and she was a pretty witch with a hint of the unusual about her, but he’d have never pegged her as a Lovegood. Silver eyes alternating between dark and light, always searching, and full of power are the first things he thinks of when he hears the surname.
“I think she’ll have brown hair,” she answers. “I know you’ll worry, but I’m going to Australia next week.”
Sighing, he shrugs and lies back down. “Just be careful.”
Luna’s been discovering more and more creatures than ever, and Neville’s been worrying more and more when she goes off to foreign countries. She has to fly through sometimes dangerous airs, can’t take certain highly recommended vaccines, and if something were to happen, it could be more than a week before anyone even began to suspect they needed to try to contact her.
Since The Quibbler’s started publishing more about the creatures found and less about conspiracy theories and bizarre so-called facts, its readership has gone up, and similar to when it was reporting the truth about Harry, it’s starting to get a reputation for legitimacy.
Neville is happy for the Lovegoods. He just can’t help but wish there was a safer way their success to happen.
“If we don’t finish the nursery before you’re gone, I’ll do it,” he offers.
They had had it finished months ago, but one of the creatures Luna had found was at-risk of dying. The planets she’d painted on the walls had calmed it down, and she and her dad had stored it in there. Unfortunately, it being calmer hadn’t stopped it from tearing the netting on the bassinet, utterly soaking the carpet with black-gray slime, and leaving scratches on all the furniture.
This isn’t his baby, and he has no right to tell Luna how to live her life, he knows. But after all the work he and the others have put into it, he thinks they have the right to insist no more wild, sickly creatures are put in the nursery until after the baby’s moved out of it.
“Thank you.” She turns to kiss him. “I’ll bring you some yellow raspberries.”
Neville can only look on in horror.
“Yes, you see,” Xenophilius says, and at least, he has the decency to sound ashamed and upset, “I didn’t realise octopuses could squeeze that well.”
“Oh, Merlin’s saggy left- Neville, Luna is bloody moving in with you until the baby is grown,” Ron declares. “No offence- Actually, no, you know what? Xenophilius, you bloody old coot, you can’t do things like this when there’s a baby around! Bloody hell, even the twins, when they were little, weren’t this bad! I- I’m flooing my wife. Hermione is amazing, and if anyone can make this right..”
He wanders off.
Earlier, Neville received permission to move into the cottage. He’s starting to wonder if he should tell Minerva to approve it for someone else and start making up his guestroom. It’s small, but it’s big enough for a nursery. If Luna doesn’t want to share the bed with him, he can sleep on the couch.
Luna comes back dreadfully sick, and from her bed, she slurs, “I feel like hurting myself."
“You need to go to St. Mungo’s,” he insists.
“No.” She pats the side of his stomach when he puts the back of his palm on her forehead. “Do you know this is what you do? Right now, you’re supposed to be moving into your cottage, but instead, you’re here, worrying about me and fighting with Theodore.”
“He tried to choke me,” he points out.
And if he’s honest, Neville still hasn’t forgiven the octopus for destroying the nursery.
“Why do you? When we first met, you thought rather unkindly of me. That didn’t really change for several years.”
He carefully lies down next to her, and his hand goes to her stomach. “I grew up,” he suggests. “With the war going on, I had to open my eyes, I guess you could say. And well, the best way I can describe it is: You terrified me, but then, I realised you were a person. Then, before I knew it, that person had become one of my best mates.”
Kissing her hair, he says, “I know you’ve dealt with life better than I have, but I also know there are times you can’t help being unhappy. I just want you to be happy, and I want to make sure your baby never has to feel like we did.”
“Neville? Did you leave purple paint open? The nargles must have gotten into some.”
Shaking his head, he stands up. “Right.” He withdraws his wand. “I’m sorry, Luna, but you’re going to St. Mungo’s.”
There is no purple paint, and whether nargles are in the room or not, he knows they’re a pale white-gray colour.
Neville wishes he could count this as a victory.
For once, Healer Santos’s look of fury isn’t directed at him. Instead, she’s glaring intently at the curtains Xenophilius has yet to come through.
Finally, she tells him, “You’re listed as her emergency contact. If he’s not here soon, you’ll need to make the decision.”
“No,” he says. “Hermione, you decide.”
Theoretically, Luna’s baby can live if its delivered right now, but babies delivered this early tend not to, and the few who do always have life-long health problems. On the other hand, if the baby isn’t delivered now, there’s a good chance Luna’s vital organs will start to shut down.
He and Luna have never talked about this.
They’ve talked about her the possibility of her dying or going into a coma, but those conversations always assumed she and the baby had had a safe delivery. He knows Xenophilius will gain custody. Ginny’s the godmother and will occasionally drop in. He’s under oath to give the baby a package of sweets, a plant of some sort, and book every year and to look after the Lovegood’s garden.
Ginny should be making this decision, he realises.
Unfortunately, no owls or patronuses can find Xenophilius, and Ginny’s currently helping in the search for the bloody old coot. Harry and Ron are certainly in no position to make such a decision. “Maybe,” he says, “Andromeda-”
Before he can continue, Xenophilius bursts through.
He looks up from his place by Luna’s bed and nods at Ginny.
“Come on.” She tilts his head back. “Open your mouth.”
He does, and he feels a thick liquid hitting his tongue and going down his throat.
“No change,” she mutters. “You need to get some sleep.”
He can’t bring himself to say: I’ll sleep when she dies.
The baby doesn’t seem to be in danger, but Luna still isn’t out of it. She’s still unconscious, her organs are still damaged, and nothing can be done to help without delivering the baby first.
Surgery tomorrow, and then what? Does one of them die? Do they both?
“She told me it was a girl,” he informs her.
It’s a girl, she was right, is mostly all he can think about.
“Kept thinking about this doll my mum had. Gran found it for me. Also found Dad’s first broom, still in perfect condition. Remember when I made that crown of roses for Rosie? I thought, if she was- I could make her and Luna matching crowns. Wildflowers, tiger lilies, snapdragons, maybe some-” He trails off and realises tears are falling.
“Sleep,” Ginny commands.
He blinks and finds himself dreaming.
When he wakes up, he’s on a cot in Luna’s room.
There’s still no change.
He goes to work and waves off Minerva’s attempts to get him to take time off and Flitwick’s sympathy teacakes.
At lunch, he flooes back to St. Mungo’s.
Before Neville can even take off his coat or say anything, Xenophilius declares, “There’s an experimental treatment. Healer Santos doesn’t agree- but she can’t block the treatment.”
“Sit down, Neville,” Andromeda orders.
Complying, he listens while they explain and shove parchments into his hands.
He recognises the treatment. One of his friends who’s living in New Zealand had sent him some research on the herb a few months ago. He knows it’s carefully being tested in Ireland for treating kidney and liver damage. Now, there’s been some slight evidence it could counteract other organ damage.
“There’s nothing in here about its effect on foetuses,” he points out.
“It’ll likely kill her,” Healer Santos interjects. “Aside from that, there hasn’t been enough time to see if side effects will occur.”
“It’ll give my Luna and her little one a chance,” Xenophilius says. “We can worry about side effects after she’s away from death’s door.”
“There’s no guarantee it will-”
Sighing, Neville looks over. “Tell me honestly, Xenophilius, out of all of the options: Is this the one you think is the best? The one you want to put your faith in?”
“Yes,” is the simple answer.
“Do it, then."
“And what is your basis for this decision,” Healer Santos demands. “I’m not the bad doctor. More than anything, I want Luna and her child to live. They’re my patients. Unfortunately, the cold, hard fact is-”
“Healer Santos, I know you have their best interests at heart. To tell the truth, I know this is probably a bad idea, but more than that, I know Luna. She’s always trusted Xenophilius, and if she could talk, she’d want this.”
“This isn’t about-”
“What? What she’d want? She’s the one dying! And it isn’t about what I want or what Xenophilius wants, either. Three week ago, my girlfriend and I were cooking together, and she was excited and awake. Before she left, I promised her I’d take her to the cinema when she got back. She loves detective stories, and we always split a packet of skittles. Now, she’s dying, our baby might die, and the only thing I can do right now is make sure she gets the care she’d want for her and our baby.”
A soft hand on his shoulder startles him, and Andromeda says,“Healer Santos, please, just do it. They’ve made up their mind. Neville, Xenophilius, you don’t need to be here. We’re leaving, now. They’ll contact you if anything changes.”
He sits down next to Luna. “Hey.” Taking her hand, he tells her, “If you could wake up, that’d be really nice. Your baby’s doing okay. Someone sent your dad a miniature horse, and they seem to be bonding quite well.”
Leaning back, he squeezes her hand. “Luna, please, wake up. Be okay. I’ve already lost my parents, and all my life, I’ve been scared of losing more people. I thought you were safe, because, I don’t understand half the things you believe in, and you do things like making life changing decisions without putting much care how I feel. The truth is, though, I’m not sure if I could survive losing you, not like this, and this baby hasn’t even been born yet, but I still love it. I’d rather it go than you, though. You can always have another one, but me, your dad, and all the others, we can never have another you. So, please, I’m begging you, wake up.”
He wakes up to feel a kick against his stomach.
Breath catching, he realises Luna is on his cot and pressed against him.
Carefully, he sits up and gives her shoulder a gentle shake. “Lu-Luna?”
Her eyes flutter opened, and she gives him an unfocused smile. “You were having pleasant dreams, and I didn’t want to wake you. Healer Santos said that the baby doesn’t seem to be suffering any negative effects.”
Ignoring the tears, he does the only thing he can and kisses her.
“She’s beautiful, mate,” Ron says. He makes a face at Alice Lamb.
The baby crinkles her beautiful brown eyes and sucks on her tongue.
“Well, that’s an interesting reaction,” Neville comments.
“Okay,” Healer Santos says. “Everything looks good. Give her back to Mummy.”
“Not really,” Ron tells him.
Neville hands Lamb back to Luna.
“Rosie used to cross her eyes and try to stick her pinkies in her ears whenever I did that. As long as they don’t scream or cry, it’s a safe bet to say that they find you amusing.”
“She might be reacting to the huzelbops,” Luna opines. “They have a tendency to sprinkle a sweet-tasting nectar on newborn babies tongues, you see. May we go, now?”
Nodding, Healer Santos says, “Be sure to come back immediately if you start to feel sick or if Lamb does something you find worrying. Better safe than sorry. And remember not to leave any of the animals with her without supervision.”
Finding Lamb’s tiny knit cap, Neville carefully puts it on her. “Luna, is it alright if we stop by the cottage, first? I need to get something before we go to Xenophilius’s.”
She nods and hands Lamb to him.
When they get to the cottage, he leads her to the guestroom. Ever since she regained consciousness, he’s been careful to keep her out of it by telling her he was working on a special project. “I have something to show you.”
“Does Lamb need to-”
“No, it’s safe for her,” he promises.
“Is it also safe for your plant?"
He opens the door, leads her in, and watches her face as she takes in the room.
One of his students, Shelly, volunteered to paint the ceiling for extra-credit. Due to her love of astronomy, and the ceiling now resembles the night sky. Another student, Jack, had bargained his way out of a detention in the Forbidden Forest by agreeing to make a changing table. Another student, a first year named Caddie, had been indignant about not being a part of helping, and Neville had let her pick out a rug from a catalogue and tasked her with being unofficial secret-keeper.
“I know you said that I didn’t need to worry about making up a nursery for when you visited, that babies could sleep just about anywhere, but- when you first told me you were pregnant, you asked me if I’d help you raise the baby. I said no. If it’s not too late, I’d like to change my mind.”
Setting Lamb down in the playpen he got from Ron and Hermione, Luna looks at him with a blank face. “As much as I want that, I don’t want you to do it for the wrong reasons.”
Shaking his head, he reaches over and takes his hand. “When you got sick, I was terrified. Andromeda told me I’d said ‘our’ baby, and when I stopped to think about it, I realised that I’ve been imagining life with you and Lamb for a long time. Even when I was helping at your dad’s, I was thinking about the three of us together. I only just met Lamb last night, and I love her like I love my mum and dad and Gran and you. So, that’s my reason, right there. I’ve been wanting to help you raise her for a long time, it’s just that, until I got a horrible wakeup call, I didn’t acknowledge it.”
Smiling, she kisses him. “I’ll have Dad send Lamb’s bassinet and her toys.”
“Thank you.” He wraps his arm around her, and they look down at their sleeping daughter.