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A Matter of Worth

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She caught his eye instantly out of the line up of captured witches.

Damon would have to be blind to miss her. She was wearing turnips for earrings and her 'robes' were too long and they weren't any color namable. Her hair--there was no descriptive adjective for her hair. She wore her wand behind her ear.

But the thing that caught his attention most was her attitude.

That Zen-like untouchable attitude. She stared straight ahead at nothing and everything, and her expression had something both familiar and foreign about it. He smirked at having found the one he'd have fun with.

As she went by in the chains, he plucked the wand out from behind her ear.

She almost kept moving, oblivious. The other vampires got what he wanted and slowed the line.

"Look what I found," he said softly but with enough force and edge to be heard, twirling the wand between his fingers. She looked over at him, taking everything in.

"I see," she said, smiling slightly. "Have you been looking for it long?"

Damon stared at her, for the first time in a long time feeling uncertain.

"Most things turn up eventually," she said calmly. "I'm glad you found it."

Damon held the wand up an inch from her nose. "It's your...stick," he said, suddenly feeling as if the point was lost. She looked as if she didn't believe him. Frustrated, he put the wand behind her ear and then pulled it out dramatically.

"Oh," she said. "I've been missing that."

"...What? I just took it from you."

"For a second. That counts. But if you want it, you are welcome to it."

Damon felt his eyes starting to turn dark as he wondered if she'd be so serene with his fangs in her neck. He imagined the sound she'd make, and he smiled.

"You know what," he said, and in front of her eyes, broke the wand in two. "You can keep them," he said and stuck both pieces--sharp part first--behind her ears again. He smelt the blood from the cuts. "It's pretty broken and useless."

He was about to go on and finish the message. 'Like you'll be'.

"That was my mother's," she said, and he paused, shocked. Not at what he had done (he didn't care). At how ...what the fuck was this? "But she'd be happy that the wand core can feed the Niflter's now. Thank you..."

"Damon," he said, getting close to her again, and showing her his fangs, his eyes. Her future. "Remember that."

"Do you need me to remember it for you?"

"Who are you?" he demanded.

"I'm Luna," she said. "Luna Lovegood."

He clenched his fists, using all his willpower available. He hadn't used his self-control in years.

"I'll be seeing you again." He glared at the younger vampires around him. "What are you waiting for, move them!"

He wouldn't admit it, but he hurried the line along because he didn't want to see her reaction.

Oh, he'd be seeing her again.

&&&

Damon had no dog in this war.

He wanted to get that out in the open from the beginning. About wars, he didn't care: they were a dime a dozen. There would always be a war, fighting over things that no one in their right mind would believe in. He wasn't in this war to kill. It wasn't his kind of killing (slow and fun).

But these were witches, and witches meant they could cast pretty powerful spells.

He was approached and agreed to be a pawn in order to free Katherine. They could always use more vampires for the cause. Well--in that case--Damon would make sure they needed more vampires by getting them killed. For Katherine, he'd go to any lengths, any trial of fire. In those moments of quiet, he thought of her dreaming of him.

He knew he was sick. His thoughts were sick, dreaming of her beautiful face in blood, of their kisses after she killed. He didn't care a thing for these vampires around him, and he didn't give a damn about witches and Muggles (what the hell kind of name was that?).

He just wanted her in whatever form she was left in.

The others were promised the ability to walk in the day.

"Have you ever heard of a thing like that?" one young vampire had asked him, eyes all sparkly and gullible.

"If you ask me, seems a little too sci-fi," Damon said, winking at her. He kept the details of his own ability to walk in the sun to himself. Just in case.

It had been boring, terrorizing prisoners--and yeah, killing them. There were magical seals everywhere to keep them powerless and at their captor's mercy (ironic word choice there). It was like the old days with him and Stefan, taking their pick of victims and having a good time with them. Only--no Stefan. Apparently his brother's presence made a difference.

Now, though...now he was interested:

"Hello, Damon," Luna said, looking up at him unguardedly. He couldn't detect fear. No speeding up of the heart. He knelt in front of her, willing to play. Something was missing in her eyes, some emotion that he couldn't place.

"Luna." He smiled. "How have you been doing today?"

Hungry, he wanted to ask but didn't push.

"Not very well. It is rather cold down here," she said. She gave him a look. "You're a vampire, aren't you?"

Damon almost fell over in shock.

"Duh," he said, his eyes wide.

"Duh?"

"Duh," he confirmed. "I showed you my fangs. What did you think I was?" He shouldn't have asked.

"I've heard tooth fairies can have elongated teeth."

"...You thought I was a tooth fairy. You thought everyone here was a tooth fairy. That's great."

"There are tooth fairies."

She dressed this statement up with such finality that Damon didn't want to contest it mentally. How was he to know? There was a lot out there, for all he knew--sure. Why not? He didn't care.

"Well, Luna, I am a vampire. I can prove it," he said, so...hungry for her. She was so pale and so fucking weird that he couldn't wait to hear that sound she made, see the expression writ up large in her eyes. His eyes darkened, and he was ready to taste her.

She touched his face. Out of the blue, she touched the side of his face where the darkness there ran thick. It reminded him of...almost himself: but his gesture had been passionate and direct. Hers was distant, child-like. She kept staring at him. Unblinking eyes, he realized. This girl didn't blink.

"I see death in your eyes. It's kind of like stars, very bright."

As a result of the challenge, he got closer, grabbing her hair, making her face move to give him a better place to bite her.

"Do you like being a vampire, Damon?"

Still missing the fear, the meaning, the important part.

"Love it," he said.

"You don't act like you like it. So you must not."

He paused, teeth grazing her neck, and then something in her tone--that remoteness--made him snap. He hadn't been planning on biting her. There was this lame-ass rule that you had to ask permission to attack a human, to own them, whatever. Damon moved and he had his teeth in her neck, going to make her hurt to get a real reaction out of her. Her body shook in his hands, as she was falling into pieces.

But no sound of pain. Of surprise, yes, but not...damn it. He kind of lost it, lost himself in the sensation of warm blood in his mouth. Then he remembered the fun part. He pulled away, smiling at her with her blood on his lips, waiting for the hate to hit.

Luna smiled back at him, fading fast from the blood loss, and the glow in her eyes made even him want to look away. This religious, mental, bright...effulgent look.

"Wow, you are a real vampire-I felt death. Serennn...."

That was her last word and a half, plus a couple of ellipses. Not literally her last words.

She passed out in his arms. He had that happen a lot. He left her there, not bothering to explain or clean up the mess.

The next night, he decided to pay her a visit again.

"Hello, Damon," she said pleasantly, her pale neck that only mark she had, and his blood turned to poison.

Yeah. She was going to be his. However, claiming this lunatic was alot more trouble than he had expected.

He had to explain himself. Explain what he wanted with her to other vampires. Damon could do this in less than ten words. 'I want to break her into pieces'. Even a simple 'I just want to have some fun'. But he had to be careful.

"I just want an afternoon snack," Damon said. "The raids are getting tougher, and I need my strength to pull my weight."

Alexander raised an eyebrow of judgment at him.

"To pull my weight better," he said. Eyebrow of judgment. "To start pulling my weight? Look, what's so important about this girl? I won't kill her."

Just maim and traumatize past the point of endurance.

"Don't kill her." Alex even went do to the basement with him to collect her. Like that was necessary.

"Hello-."

"Luna," Damon said, beating her to the punch. He didn't want to draw attention to the fact that the girl wasn't afraid of him. He had to encourage a little fear here, so he put an arm around her neck, getting close to her hair. "You smell...alive. Don't get too used to that."

Then the pop-eyed lunatic tried to smell him back.

He wasn't kidding. He turned her away at the last minute to avoid having to save face.

"No use begging," he told her, pulling her up the steps and away from any watchful eyes. Halfway down the hall, dodging other vampires, he wondered what he had gotten himself into.

&&&

The first thing Luna did was grab an old antique gun off the wall.

"Go ahead, get it out of your system. Shoot me," Damon told her, casually, and to make his point, lounged on the bed to watch her.

"Why would I do that?" she asked, airily.

"Because I could drain you dry," he said, smiling.

"Hmm," Luna offered back, looking at the gun in her hands. "How old is this?"

He shrugged, though he knew exactly how old it was. "Come here," he ordered her. She walked over readily, sitting on the edge of the bed, watching him.

"I've thought up questions for you, if you'd like to hear them."

"Yeah, no."

She blinked for once, tilted her head. She opened her mouth.

"You're going to ask anyway, aren't you?" Hole in one. She stretched out besides him, careful.

"Do you have a heart?" she asked.

"Literally or metaphorically speaking?" he mocked.

"Literally, of course," she sniffed.

He nodded, and paid for that answer. She leaned on his chest to hear the heartbeat. He pushed her off, disconcerted. "Just take my word for it," he snapped, narrowing his eyes. He decided to ask. "What is wrong with you, exactly?"

"I am a prisoner," she pointed out. Damon had to admit this was true. "And I'm not personally surprised by any of this. Our minister of magic is a vampire," she informed him.

Damon blinked in surprise. "Well. That's--." He searched for the word. "Progressive."

"Not particularly. He keeps it a secret."

"He doesn't do a very good job of it, if you know about him."

"It's not hard to keep a secret from people. They believe what they want to believe. I try to keep an open mind, however, and know he feeds on cabbages nightly."

"...There are blood cabbages in your world?" Damon asked.

"No," Luna said bewildered.

Damon stared at her. He might as well just bite her, but he was curious. He had to crack her open, he had to figure this out. He could compel her, but this was a challenge. He liked challenges.

"I bet you'd like to play a game," he told her, taking her hand oh-so-gently. "Do you like games?"

"It passes the time well," Luna said. He pushed her to the small table in the corner (made out of an old coffin--yeah, there were weirdoes in this place).

"Have you ever played strip poker?"

"OOhh, no, I haven't. What are we stripping?"

"Each other but since I'm a vampire, I can make this game more interesting. If I start to get better hands than you, I get to bite whatever part of you I want."

Luna's face fell. Finally. Fucking finally. She-

"You're going to bite my nose, aren't you?"

Hello, long forgotten gag reflex.

"If I chose to," he said to be an asshole.

"Oh dear," she said and started to flip through the cards. "What do I have to bite of yours?"

"Okkaay, let's get this game started," Damon hurried on, trying to maintain ...his control of the room. "What do you know about vampires, Luna?" Maintain control. Of the room.

"They drink blood, can't go out in sunlight. Though those two things aren't limited to vampires."

Damon hesitated in his cards. "Huh."

"Also, they are sex gods."

Damon choked on his drink.

"Did Padma mislead me? Are you not a sex god?"

"I can neither confirm nor deny," Damon said, smirking. "You'd have to see for yourself."

She gave him a look, and his anger towards her...broke. It didn't disappear, not for a second. There was still that need to shake her up, push too far. But his perspective shifted at her look. They were a witch and a vampire playing cards.

He'd hold off for tonight. She wasn't any--fun, that was it.

"Let's just play the game. Since you're new at it, you don't have to play for keeps."

She smiled at him. "All right. I shall try my best."

She wasn't bad. Wasn't good, wasn't bad. "Damon, why are vampires on this side of the war?"

"They believe that the 'dark'," he air-quoted the word, "witches will give them the ability to walk in the day with a big magic spell."

"That's not how I heard the legend," Luna said, brow furrowed. Damon wasn't interested in hearing her version of anything.

"Why are you on this side of the war?" she asked after awhile.

"I have no dog in this war. I'm on the same side each time. My own," he informed her, imparting some wisdom. He was much older and more experienced with how fake life can be.

"Oh."

"'oh'. Why are you on your side?"

"I'm not close minded. I try to live my life that way. I don't mind other people's opinions. I don't hate people for the Dark Lord. However, these people don't want other opinions. They want to destroy any spark of individuality left and hurt those different from them."

"Hmm," Damon said, not interested. "That so sounds completely unlike any war ever."

"Well, they are rather like Nazis in a way."

"...Wait. Wait. Just. Wait," he said, holding up a hand. "Did you say Nazis?"

"You heard that I did," Luna said, slightly confused. Damon shook his head, continued holding up his hand.

"Nazis. As in...the Nazis."

"Why yes," she said. "My father--as well as many others who care to look at the comparisons--found that there is a similarity between the ideals of the Nazi party and the Death Eaters. Actually, more than a similarity. My father suspected that the roots for the idea came from the party, directly, as the Dark Lord would have most likely been born around that time. Grindelwald, the former Dark Lord-."

"How many Dark Lords are there?"

"Just one this time. They usually-."

"Don't tell me. There are never more than two at a time," he muttered.

"How did you know? My, you are good at deduction!" He rolled his eyes.

"This one's supposed to be the worst," Luna said, and he saw, for once, a hint of irritation. She wanted to finish her story. Fine, Damon wanted some answers here. Nazis. Supporting Nazis. He was a vampire, sure, but he was an American vampire. This was like a stake in his back. But for Katherine, he'd go through any hell.

"I thought for a moment you were supporting vampire rights. Which would be odd."

"Yeah, I see how that wouldn't make any sense," he jabbed.

"It wouldn't. Have they shown mercy to any vampire or witch or werewolf? Usually those that discuss plans of death with you are the ones that will make plans of your death as well."

Damon stopped. Froze. That meant they wouldn't help him get Katherine out. They might even kill him after they were done with him. "Shit," he hissed.

"Did a Golump get you?"

"Something like that," Damon said, under his breath. He threw down his cards and grabbed her arm, throwing her into the bed. He turned off the lights and was on top of her in a minute.

Her eyes were very wide. Her heartbeat did speed up a little, there. He put his lips to her neck, giving a very good show.

"Would you say your side are a bunch of bleeding hearts? Would they free a vampire that's been locked up for over a century?"

"I don't know about the bleeding hearts," she whispered, "but I know my new friend would want to help. She's very aware of the rights of magical people."

"Is that a yes?" he demanded, pushing her hands down forcefully, letting her feel the scrap of his teeth.

"I won't speak for someone else. But I'd say so," she said calmly.

He'd have to take that as it is. "All right. I'll free you, you get me to your friend, and we'll part ways. You can go home, fight in this meaningless war all you want until you die. What do you say?"

"Won't you get into trouble?"

He sighed. "I'm already in trouble. Just-."

"Yes," she said, quietly. "I'll keep my word to you."

"All right then."

He rolled over and wiped his mouth. Tired and worn out. He hoped he was making the right decision. He closed his eyes. He'd wait a week to get his plan together and then make his move during daylight.

"Damon," she whispered.

"Luna."

"Why would you have a dog in any war?"

He put his hand on her forehead and pushed her down. "Sleep. Now."

...Damon really, really hoped he was making the right decision.

&&&

"I knew I'd have to bite something on you," Luna said.

When she wanted to, she could remember anything, Damon figured out. Her memory was selective.

"To get past the magical filters..." He sighed at the name, " you'd have to be dead, or close to it. I'm going to have to drain you, get you very close to death, and when we are out, you have to drink my blood through my wrist."

"I'll take that option, please," she said, her eyes watchful.

Like she had an option. Real cute.

"What about the others?" she asked. In the hallways, all the men and women roamed like ghost, perfectly compelled toys.

"You know the answer to that."

He could see that she didn't, and so--for some reason--he didn't wait to pull her forward and sink his teeth in. He drank his fill, and she tasted much better this time. Bleeding hearts usually did, though the bad ones had a certain spark to them. Can't have it all. Not bad at all, if he could keep the mental associations about noses out of his mind.

...Which he failed at.

He walked out into the daylight with her, laid her out in the backseat, and drove away.

Just like that.

If only the rest of the trip was that simple.

&&&

First, Luna said she tried to communicate with him Damon-style.

With her eyes and eyebrows. Native language thing. (He gently....corrected her). Then she put emphasis on random words in her sentences. Damon insisted there was no failure of communication, therefore no need to improvise.

Luna was also a radio hound.

She listened intently to each voice, spellbound. He'd also point out that she'd a bloodhound. She took more than she needed from him. And told him that she tasted him in her veins.

"Keep talking like that, and I'm going to crash the car. There's enough of my blood in you to make you just like me."

"I wonder what kind of vampire I'd make," she said, eyes thoughtful.

Damon decided not to crash the car. Even he could not do a thing like that to the world. That was when he turned on the radio. And then this started.

"Do they not have radios where you're from?'

"I do," she said, and listened. Like it was all new, even if it wasn't. Damon felt a kernel of bitterness about her fascination that seemed endless. Why did it have to be Celine Dion? But she kept herself busy as he wove in and out of traffic. He wanted to get some real distance between him and the swarm behind them.

The drive would be long for where he was heading.

"Muggles need a lot of medicine for certain things."

"Do not. Lump me in that category," he snapped, and she stared at him, dismissed the idea, and then went back to humming.

It was a long drive. Long, long...long drive. He got a room with one bed. Sue him. He wasn't going to try anything. He was tired, and already fed up. He had just turned off the TV (she liked the Christmas specials, with Rudolph and the nose), when she started to hit at something above their heads.

"There's something in this room. A billion Bumlers, ready to sting us! Careful, do not insult them."

"Yeah right," he scoffed, watching her bat at the air. He rolled over, tense. He didn't believe it. He didn't.

He didn't.

"I hope the Bumlers die a slow painful Bumler-y death,"he said, tired. Because he was.

"And now, they will swarm," Luna said sadly. He opened one eye and thought he heard something. He got out of the bed quickly.

"If you're going to talk all night, forget you. Hope you aren't kidnapped without me," he said, walking to the car in a hurry to sleep in the backseat.

Nothing was going to swarm on him.

Nothing.

&&&

"Not a blackout," Luna muttered out of the blue as they drove.

"I agree. I think you mean burnout, and yeah, it's true," he said. "You sniffed one too many Bumlers." She looked peacefully over at him.

"You are being unkind."

"Newsflash: I am unkind," he mocked.

She looked at him. "I don't think so."

His hands clenched the steering wheel tightly. He couldn't do anything at the moment.

"On the radio, the announcer mentioned blackouts in several …counties," she continued. " It isn't a blackout. Or rather, it's not caused by Muggles. Same with the earthquakes, storms, and tidal waves."

"Then why not an earthquake?" he asked, realizing what she was getting at. "Why some stupid blackout?"

"I suspect to either feed them to the werewolves or vampires," she said, shrugging. "To turn them."

Damon was quiet. He didn't care about people being turned. He preferred the taunting and the play, but like he said--he didn't care about it. But he didn't like being used. That bit at him. He didn't get to kill those who lied to him. A thing he so hated.

"Mind if I take a detour?" he asked, not going to take her words into consideration at all.

"You're not taking a detour; you are planning on driving there," she said.

"Kill the mood more," he said, but now his focus was on the town ahead and what he'll do to them when he gets there.

&&&

The witch had been right.

They were turning people. It was a party, and he felt out of the loop. He walked right in with Luna next to him, grinning around at the witches ordering families to invite the vampires in. The screams were all sorts of pitches and pathetic. Some were toying with the (oh hell, he'd say it, Muggles). Don't hurt my wife, etcetera. Dot dot, ominous silence.

It was a real party. He had his arm around Luna, dragging her through.

"We are missing out."

She looked straight ahead, her eyes vacant. It disturbed him and he shook her. Hard. He was a vampire, and she was the equivalent of a lamb.

"What can you do about it? Nothing. Keep being Zen and be glad you're alive."

"This matters. This..."

"Nothing matters," he spat at her.

"Apparently it does, Damon. Nothing matters quite a bit to you."

"Don't push me

because despite all this accepting peace-love-Buddhist crap, I bet your life matters quite a bit to you," he said, glaring at her. She didn't look down, and she stared up at him.

He'd threaten to rip her eyes out if she kept staring around, but she'd probably say more time to reflect within. For now, he'd focus on those he could terrify. He looked away, trying to find a vampire he could talk to. Finally, he found a house where an older vampire stood in the threshold, watching the action inside.

"Stay right here," Damon said. "Act like a trauma victim."

Luna sat cross-legged on the ground and drew pictures in the dirt.

"You're a natural," he commented.

"It'd be nice if you could get me a wand, you know."

"I'm sure it would be." He turned to this vampire dude, not wanting to talk to the trauma victim any longer. "What's with the panic? I thought we were taking our time," he asked the nearest witch.

Damon watched the new vampire being compelled by the older one. Built in armies. He wondered how this system would work, why there wouldn't be uprising after uprising from an upstart vampire thinking they could rule the world.

"There's been a problem. Harry Potter got captured, but...his friend just got free in the States. Everyone's all paranoid."

"Harry Potter," Damon repeated in an accent. "Golly, that name sounds threatening."

"It does," the idiot told him. "Think about it. The Dark Lord has found out that an ally of Pottter with information escaped a few days ago. During broad daylight!"

No.No no no...no. HELL NO. But yes.

"Perfect," he said more to himself than anyone present. "Are we to expect a visit from a Dark Lord now?"

"What do you think I've been trying to avoid, idiot?!"

Death, Damon thought. Too bad you decided to speak to me like that. Talk about staking yourself in the heart.

Damon nodded, walked away. Knelt by his trauma victim and grabbed her up.

"If I get you a wand, can you cast a spell that'd make everyone hear this asshole? They spell their voices where you can't hear them," he said, annoyed all over again.

"Oh that's a simple one, one of Daddy's favorites."

"And--mimic me some more," he said, hoping she'd sound American as she could. Getting a wand for her was easy. He led one witch into a dark alley and knocked them out. Stole said wand. Bingo.

"This wand is a little wonky," Luna told him.

"Make it work," he threatened. "Now, for the big reveal..."

She cast the spell with an absentminded look on her face. "Just speak these words and his voice will be magnified to all vampires in the area."

Damon walked out, his game face on, heading right to that witch that talked back to him. "So, about the daylight thing--did you guys give the ability to one of the vampires there?"

"Surrreee," the witch said. "That's an option."

"I saw one walk out of the place I was in, so I was wondering if this was finally happening."

"Don't lie to me," the witch said.

"Because I said you'd let us walk in light? What if someone did it without you knowing? Is that not a possibility?"

"No," the witch said through gritted teeth. "There is no way a spell could make that happen."

"Could you speak up?"

"I said there is no spell for daylight walking. Now...."

Damon could hear what he said. So could everyone with fangs. "That’s what I thought you said," Damon commented and then threw the man in the middle of the road. "It's time for a witch burning," he announced.

He left with the girl with the massacre in full swing behind him. He could still hear it. He looked over at the pale neck besides him, her strange wildness.

"I wonder if snow is secretly ash." Out of the blue, high above the violence of what had happened. He found he was hungry for her in more ways than one. Her fingers played out a tune on her knee, limber. He'd imagine it was to the tune of that smartass being ripped apart.

He pushed the thought out of his head because clearly, she was nothing but trouble.

"I can make you see black snow," he said. "Give me your wrists." Willingly, happily, she did.

This time, she hissed as he pierced her skin, keeping her eyes wide--her smile wide, as he drank. Even when he was sated, he was left wanting more.

&&&

"Damon," Luna hissed in his ear.

He jerked up and had her pinned. "Luna," he hissed. "I've bitten you enough."

"I heard someone Apparate outside," she said. "We are about to be killed."

"Bull-." And then he heard someone outside. Then the windows turned into flames. He jumped up, cursing, and tucking Luna underneath his arm. "You need to tell me when you're serious!"

He kicked the adjourning door down and blurred through the room, tearing through wildly.

"We'll be quite trapped. They would have put up a magical barrier."

"Stop being so calm," he growled, thinking he'd have to kill her before anyone else could. She was right. They were letting him run: he was an old hat to the cat and mouse game.

"Why not, when we can easily escape?"

Damon stopped, ducking into the trees. "I'm translating from lunatic into English. You have a plan?"

Luna's lopsided smile looped lower. "Please get me some bad meat," she said.

"Try using your brain," he mocked. "But no, seriously, what-."

"Rotten meat," she said. "Now."

"Is this for some preferably fatal witchcraft?"

"It's for summoning," Luna offered. He sighed and ran in a blur to the nearest...dumpster. He watched her throw the offerings on the ground, waiting. He waited, hearing the ring around them growing smaller.

"There you are," she said--talking to absolutely NOTHING. Damon's mouth dropped open as she petted the pocket of thin air. "I knew you'd be there for me."

"...WHAT. YOU." His face was turning red, his eyes dark. He was going to kill her. That was it. He couldn't-

"You can't see them if you haven't seen death."

"I've have seen death," he said, hissing. "I'm about to see it right now!"

"You've been looking at death, not seeing. As is a vampire's nature. This is a Thestral. He'll fly us to safety. They are rarely ever guarded against due to their appearance." She was serious.

"Sooo, I think this is Bumler territory, right next door to the Easter Bunny and Santa. None of those things will get us out of here."

"Damon, trust me," Luna said, her eyes focused. Lucid. "Put your hand next to mine."

He stepped up, put his hand next to hers, planning to knocking her out if ...there was something there. Something he couldn't see.

"Well...this is new."

The girl climbed on the back of nothing. Of nothing. Nothing that mattered. God, this is...

"Climb on," she said, offering him her hand. Did it not occur to her that she could leave him now? You know--he was beginning to think she didn't miss all that much. (If anything.)

He took her hand to figure out where this thing's back was. There was a thing. An invisible...pony for all he knew.

"Go," he ordered, cool and in control. And they went, up in the air, through the trees and into the night sky. Huh. "What is this thing made of?"

"Bones and rotting muscle," Luna told him happily. He put his hands on her shoulders instead of the thing's back.

Because she was going to fall off if he didn't.

&&&

"So, there was a Thing,” Damon said, admitting that he hadn’t believed her before.

Luna didn't demand an apology. She didn't even want the credit. Odd.

"A Thestral, technically. They are really quite sweet and loyal despite their appearances."

"Whose death did you see?" Damon asked, curious.

They were hiding in these godforsaken woods, and he didn't want to listen to the silence around them. It was a promise of death and despair, that kind of thing. Usually he was the one behind it. Therein lies the difference. He knew his question was edged, dangerous. He simply didn't care.

"You said you didn't see anyone die during the war yet. So, who was it?"

He thought she'd clam up, get all sensitive.

"My mother," she answered, starting the blue fire with the wand.

His malicious smile faded.

"...In front of you?"

"Hmm-hmm," Luna said. "I saw the whole thing. She didn't want me to worry."

He looked at his hands, thoughtfully. He should say something, because hey, he didn't want her to act all pathetic.

"It happens."

It did. His mother died young. He just didn't want to put it in words. She looked over, nodding.

"Often. But we are still here," she said.

"In a manner of speaking," Damon said before he could stop himself. "How'd your dad take it?"

"Oh. He didn't," she said. "Not very well, not for a very long time. He still hasn't. He wanted her ghost to come back."

Damon winced. "...Wait, don't tell me..."

"Ghosts are real too. You'll see a few. More than a few," Luna said, twirling the fire. He saw shapes there, and thought he wouldn't want to meet ghosts. "He didn't understand why she didn't want to stay as long as she could until he died."

"I can see that," Damon said. "It...would make me wonder too, you know, if that's an option for them."

Luna stared at him in such a way...Then he remembered what she had said. 'Didn't want me to worry'.

"You told her not to," he said, very sure of himself. Something in his chest twisted up in anger or something else. Or something else.

Luna nodded. "I told her to move on, to be at peace," she said. "We'd see each other again, all of us."

"How'd your father take that?" Damon asked, raising an eyebrow, not catching the change from 'dad' to father in his questioning.

"Not very well," Luna repeated, with a smile. "For a very long time. I was very young. He didn't think my mother should have listened to me, didn't think I should have spoken to her. On my eleven birthday, on that anniversary..." His eyes widened. "He asked me if I'd make the same choice again since I was older. I told him I would beyond a doubt," she finished, a hint of passion there.

So, all her ideas were hers. He thought she was a parrot, of her father's beliefs. Her world's beliefs. He could never respect that kind of thinking in a million years. But here--he might have misjudged her. And he knew that he could have never let anyone go to death. He didn't think he could--no, he knew he couldn't. He stared at her, interested in what kind of...strength/weakness, insanity/brilliance...he could respect her.

Luna stared back at him.

"Nice trick," he said, nodding at the fire. "I have a few of my own."

He showed her vampire techniques that he shouldn't have. Insider kind of deal. How he summoned fog, could control ravens, and a few other juicy details.

When she clapped in delight, he could tell she wasn't faking it.

&&&

On the boat, their odds were better.

Vampires were notoriously afraid of ships and for a good damn reason. Sunlight, sunlight, and being trapped. He wasn't thrilled about the trapped part, but he did have a witch on his side. Still, didn't hurt to make sure to be hidden.

"I'm not going to stab you with it," Damon said, holding out the lipstick. "I'm trying to disguise you. I had to shop for you. Shop. The least you can do is sit still."

Luna's hair was shining and perfect, if he did say so himself. Took him a good two hours fighting with the tangles of whoknowswhat, but he had beaten it. She was dressed normally, and had--surprise, surprise--sex appeal. He had sunglasses for her so she wouldn't get them thrown overboard with her staring.

No one would believe if she told on him so he didn't care if he had to do this himself.

"What is it made of?" Luna asked, brow furrowed.

"Bat...never mind. Just sit still. What doesn't kill you makes you more attractive, that's the rules."

Or so he was told. They looked like just another couple. They made it through the week with him doing most of the heavy lifting. They made an appearance at the ballroom: (yes, there was always a haughty ball anywhere).

"I don't like dancing very much."

"Me either," he lied, alot, "but for appearance's sake, let's try." Then she started to dance. The dancing thing at first almost gave him a heart attack-even him, a heart attack. But he had gotten the measure of her better.

"That's dancing alone," he said, ignoring the stares. He didn't care about the mundanes, except for blowing their cover. "I ask you to dance with me."

"This is the only way I've danced. I must not have danced with someone before."

"Then take my hands. We'll do this old school."

She still tried to add little zigs but he would zag and fix it. He thought she even liked it, or her eyes were more present than they had been before. He walked her outside where she looked at everything. The water, the sky, the people.

"You have those stars memorized," he told her.

"But each night, I have to say hi to them all over again," Luna said, gleeful. He smiled, looking up at the sky himself.

He was about to make fun of stars in general when he smelt the blood from the man on the side of the ship. Another vampire. Figured. He moved Luna quickly into a corner.

Normally, he would have kissed a girl without thinking because that was what he did. But her eyes were staring up at him---her head might spin on her shoulders. She might speak in tongues. He didn't know.

"Can I kiss you?" he hissed under his breath. "For our cover?"

"Oh, of course," she said, and he went for it, pushing her against the wall and kissing her, letting the vampire pass them by. It wasn't bad. Actually, not that bad at all.

He pulled away after he heard the footsteps fade. Her eyes looked different. Somehow regretful.

"Sorry," he said, and couldn't believe he said it. "Cover."

"Oh no, it wasn't you. I'm sorry if you didn't want to kiss me. No one has before."

So this was what bothered her. If it did bother her. Normally, weakness and vulnerability repulsed him, but this wasn't...weak or vulnerable. Not in the way he was accustomed to. She said it like it was as natural as the sun rising and setting each day.

"Hey. I could have held you instead," Damon said. "I went for the kiss, and no one makes me do anything I don't want to do."

Luna smiled up at him, her eyes reflecting the moonlight.

She wasn't that unattractive. It wasn't even the make-up. Huh.

"Let's go to our love nest before we attract too much attention."

The game was getting pretty intense at this stage. He ordered some food for her, prepared to have to feed either off her or the people in the room over. He'd go for the room over.

"Tell me something. What does it take to get you angry?" he asked. “Not that I want a witch angry at me on a boat."

Luna considered his question thoughtfully. "Hurting my father. I get a bit upset when people insult him."

"Noted." She looked over at him. "Not that I would," he said, added again. "Unless he attacked me, that is."

"My father doesn't attack people except through the journalistic medium."

He laughed. It was funny. She could be funny.

"You should get angry about more things," he said. "That's life, living: fighting for every scrap you can, every moment. Take no prisoners, or they'll just take from you until there's nothing left."

"Angry about more things. Things are external. Aren't they?"

"Better than then being internal," he said.

"Things can go without even being taken. Fighting for the sake of fighting is another thing entirely."

"Sure. Sure, I admit I like the fight."

Luna tilted her head at him.

"This person you're fighting for...is the feeling external or internal? It's not wrong to do something for yourself rather than another."

This was definitely first. The key word of the day with him was selfish from all those who had known him before. He knew he was selfish. But he didn't think she was talking about selfish motivations.

"You'd have some arguments against that idea." He raised an eyebrow. "I'm not arguing the concept."

"When you get to her, what will happen next?"

He laughed again, only it wasn't as funny.

"I don't know. Don't have a clue."

He waited for the lecture.

"No one admits that anymore," she said, smiling softly. "I don't have a clue about things myself. That's hard for anyone, but it's a true gift to know about it."

"Well. Here's to Things," he said, toasting the air, and she met him halfway. She offered him her neck.

As if he'd really say no.

&&&

There really were ghosts.

Real ghosts. In the non-flesh. He saw them wandering the battlefield. It wasn't a sight he wanted in his memory bank. They kept a lower profile among the Muggle world for the most part, avoiding dark clouds and weird storms.

On their way to her father's house. It was a long exhausting trip. He'd give Luna one thing: she wasn't a whiner.

"I'm not going to kill him," Damon promised her outside.

"Or maim?" she asked.

"This is a no maiming zone," he said. Hoped he could keep that promise. This guy could snap, curse him into a toad. How he'd maim the guy as a toad, he didn't know, but he'd improvise. He caught sight of the house, and he knew it had to be hers.

Oh, and her father was a nut.

That was true too.

"A vampyre," Xenophilius said, holding out some tea. There hadn't been any hesitation about inviting him in. Damon was suspicious and faked sipping the tea. "Thank you so much for returning my daughter. I owe you a blurb in the paper."

"I'm fine blurb-less," he said, his eyes taking in the place. That was when he saw something odd on the floor. Particles of dust with chips of wood that was way too much to be just poor house-keeping.

"Daddy, is there any word on Harry?" Luna asked, sipping her tea with abandon.

"He was here. He moved on, however. I gave him a hiding place for a little while. Now, Damon, you're from America, yes?"

It was obvious that he was lying. Damon didn't care. Let him lie.

"Would you like to see the brooms?" Luna asked, bouncing a little in her excitement. Damon had expressed his rigorous disbelief in the ability of a broom to fly. He followed her up to her room, and hello obsessive pictures on the ceiling. He could understand obsession.

"That's some serious attention to detail," he commented, looking at what must have been Harry Potter. He had heard about the scar a thousand times.

"They are my friends. I wanted to get the likeness correct. This broom a non-magical person can fly. It's a bit contraband."

"Least of our worries," Damon said, glad for the excuse to get out of the house. He had to plan his next move. "Is one of them the friend who could help me with Katherine?"

"Yes. Hermione. She's close-minded at times but has a good heart and a good mind. She knows spells much better than I."

"Hmm. Let me guess. She goes everywhere with that Harry Potter guy."

"Oh, she'd be with him right now."

Yeah, naturally.

"Hold out your arm and will it to come to you," Luna said, the light bright in her hair. He held out his hand. Oh. It ....came to him alright. Right in the gut. It occurred to him a broomstick could be a good replacement for a stake. "Are you well, Damon?"

"Uh-huh," he grunted. "Perfect. You go first, I'll follow you."

In a few minutes, he was on a broomstick. On a broomstick. Flying. He would kill anyone who really knew him if they saw this--but it was fun. It was NEW. He wobbled, and suddenly the ground was the sky.

"Halt, break, stop," he said, pulling up and missing the ground by a centimeter. He kicked off the ground and went back up, fast. Zooming fast. He heard a noise and realized it was himself ..being happy and thrilled. He cut that out as much as he could, but after years of jumping off the ground in a mockery of flying, this was the real deal.

"Don't go too far up to the sun," she said.

"Think the sun will melt the broom?" he joked.

"You'll get hit by a Muggle airplane, more likely."

He leveled out his altitude and surveyed the area. It was amazing. Luna flew by him, the back of her robes fluttering out in her wake. He led her on a chase here and there, letting her relax in her own element for once.

Soon, she was thoroughly distracted by clouds. This was his chance.

Damon managed to land and then walked back inside to find out the truth.

Compulsion by itself wasn't maiming. He even let the man feel like he had a spine.

&&&

"So your hero is being tortured up there," Damon observed from the ground.

Luna was quiet, looking at the three Death Eaters he had caught. They were functioning. Sorta.

"Are there spells on the place for vampires?"

"During the day, I'd imagine not," she said. "Magic is energy. My friend Hermione says it has to be conserved. That is why they'd take off a certain spell if it wasn't necessary for the daylight hours."

"And they don't expect a day-walking vampire," Damon confirmed. "Got you. This is cake."

She squinted at him.

"That's good," Damon explained. "I have to get invited in. The only way to do that is to pretend I'm on of them. I can slip on their stupid robes and-."

"You have to have the Dark Mark," Luna said. "It's only on Death Eaters and it's not replicable by magic."

"Not replicable, you say," Damon said. "I can get around that."

Somehow, she knew what he meant. The girl was full of surprises and twists. Her eyes lost her one shade of her innocence. And that was when he made his decision.

"Left arm or right?"

"Left," she said. "For the Mark."

"Good. Last question: can I trust you to stay where you are? Because trust--I don't buy it. But I'm willing to give you the benefit of the...of the doubt," he said.

"I should go with you. Because I should be there for my friends."

"I'll take care of it."

"You're my friend too," Luna said. He didn't know what to do with that--he moved past it.

"Then know it's important to me that you don't see any more death."

"I don't know if you could stop that."

"Someone needs to stay outside to tell them where Harry Potter is," Damon pointed out. "If we both get caught, it's more than the casual loss. You're the one who knows you're way around."

Luna glared at him. Glared. This was a first. She still had that wand of hers.

"Fine. Guard the gate. Do not come inside," he ordered, "unless I signal you."

Luna's eyes softened again. "I'm still coming inside, you know."

"Cover your ears," he told her, relenting. If she wanted to get herself killed, it wouldn't be on him. He stalked over to the Death Eater and rolled up his sleeve.

He really should knock the guy out for this kind of fun. Oh, if only he could do what he should. He'd remember one detail for later though.

The layer of skin on that part of the arm wasn't as paper-thin as it appeared.

&&&

Damon was good at playing a spoiled aristocrat.

"Are you the lord of this house?

The wizard at the door curled his lip at him, and he curled his own right back.

"I'm here on the Dark Lord's bidding. You should let me come in."

"An American," he scoffed. "Where's your mark?"

He rolled up his left sleeve, hiding the blood with the back of his hand. There was the Mark on the flesh. It just wasn't his. The lord of the manor looked shocked, falling for the trick. "I'm sorry. I didn't realize. You can't fault me for being cautious."

"Not at all," he said, bowing.

The wizard smiled, cold but more forgiving, and stepped inside.

"Not so fast. I'd like to be invited in. As a sign that we are equals now in the eyes of our Lord."

Damon thought he pushed too hard for a terrible moment.

"Very well," the wizard said. "Come in."

And that, as they say, was a wrap.

"I didn't realize how much that is like Imperio," Luna observed as the lord of the manor led them to the torture room, all dignified.

"Don't worry about it. I'm the one Imperio-ing," he said.

"It's one of the Unforgivables, you know."

A jolt of fear ran up his spine, after he had just...Imperio'd her dad. All right, good to know so late in the game.

"Good thing I'm not aiming for forgiveness," he threw out there, casual.

"The walls also have ears," she told him. He was about to laugh but saw the pictures move, figures duck in and out of the darkness. He let Luna go into the room to see her friends. He figured that'd be the best approach.

"Oh Harry," she said. "You don't look well."

Or not.

To say the kid was not doing well would be an understatement. The Boy Who Lived was only barely living up to that name. "It's okay," Damon said, turning her away.

"He..."

"It's okay. Go outside. I'll figure this out."

He held his palm away from the boy's mouth. He was breathing. Damon pulled at the straps holding him down and nearly screamed at the pain that raced through him. Those straps were cursed. He looked at the man, angered.

In control. But definitely losing the anger management part.

"I can't lift it," he said pleasantly. "Anyone who touches it will be poisoned, any spell cast will rebound."

Lucky he was already dead. But he couldn't move the straps. He looked at the man, a slow smile gracing his lips. He was glad he sent Luna outside. Her eyes might have stopped him. Or maybe she would have just looked away. He'd choose option A, as that was the image he wanted of her.

He took the man's hand and put them on the straps, curling his fingers around them--putting his hands over them. "Don't scream," he said. "We're going to pull together."

His strength did break her hands, and he was crying by the end, but them's the breaks. Don't torture national heroes in basements. He picked the boy up, wondering if he should chance making him drink. He didn't want to accidently turn him into a vampire and get blamed for it. No, these witches can heal him.

"Where's his friend?" Damon demanded as he stepped out into the hallway of the dungeon.

"I've found them. But they are in the cell that's charmed. Where's..."

"I forgot. Let me get him."

He knew what to do now. He let Harry lean against Luna while he ducked back into the room. He forced him to drink the blood, getting her to her feet. In a second, those friends of Luna's (and the girl Damon wanted) were out, gathered in the hall. Silent and alert.

"You've been so gracious. How should I repay you for what you've done?" he asked near the door, having the lord of the manor get them all the way out without detection. He let them go ahead, and they were too distracted to notice him lag behind.

All of them except for Luna who glanced behind her. He waved at her, and she finally turned away.

"Don't. Kill me. I have a son."

"Why would I kill you when I can do this?" Damon asked and broke the man's neck. Considering what he had heard of their prejudice, this was the best punishment he could think of.

&&&

There was much rejoicing at their underground hide-out.

Their savior was being healed, slowly and surely. Damon was heralded as a hero. He toasted them right back, waiting for the chance to question that supposedly-brilliant witch. He talked to a werewolf (oh good), who bemoaned the fact that there were some vampires and werewolves that took human lives and set back their rights.

"A few bad apples," Damon said, and got a look. He decided not to push his luck. This Light side wouldn't be for him, he could tell. They were going to have to roll their savior out there, half broken.

Luna was quiet, studying him. Damon decided to get the inevitable over with.

"Penny for your thoughts?" he asked.

"How many thoughts would that be?" she asked, sounding tired. He motioned for her to go outside with him. She didn't hesitate.

"So?" Damon prompted. "Let me have it. You're scandalized. Surprised," he jabbed, with a lift of his brows and eyes.

"No," she said softly. "Not surprised at all. It is your nature. I'm sad anyway. Isn't that strange?" He paused, drink in hand. He could tell in her eyes that she was hurt.

Damn it.

"It's not strange," he confirmed.

She looked at him kindly. "It's in the past now. Won't be for long though. Word will travel."

"I'll be gone by then," he told her, and she nodded, knowingly. "I'm too bad for your side," he mocked.

"Bad?" she asked. "Why would you use the word if you believe it to be your nature?"

He looked away, not wanting to think about it. She made him think far too much.

"You're hungry. There is a place that serves vampires nearby."

She took his free hand and pulled him along, determined to go to the right place. Damon let her.

For now.

&&&

The Light Side warmed up to him when he gave them names.

And Damon had names. Oh did he. He riddled out names, dates, addresses. Favorite haunts. All of it.

"You must have been high in the ranks," the brilliant witch said. The air changed. He was aware he was surrounded by witches and a few human werewolves that apparently could bite and have it hit you hard. All just a room and heartbeat away.

"Lucky for you," Damon informed him, narrowing his eyes.

"Change of heart."

"Damon's always had the same heart," Luna said. Damon looked over at her, couldn't help noticing that she spoke up about him.

"That's very nice, Luna," Hermione said, the witch that was supposed to be Katherine's salvation. He didn't like the condescending tone she had for the girl. "But-."

"It's true," Damon said. "I was laboring under grievous misinformation. No one is more regretful about that than me."

Take that as you will.

"Than I," Hermione corrected and then shook her head. "This information is very helpful. Not for free, I imagine."

"His reasons are from the heart," Luna told her, then looked at Damon, nodding at him. He began his story, making sure to play up the grave social issues of the time. Uh-huh.

"That is...horrible," Hermione said, folding her hands on the table. "I'm sorry for your loss."

"My loss. No," Damon said. "I don't think you understand what I'm asking."

"What kind of vampire was she? What kind of vampires were they?"

"Humane treatment," Luna pointed out. "You often use those words."

"Yes, but there's the issue of time," Hermione said. "I'd set them free because it is cruel and very unusual, but we don't have time to monitor dangerous vampires during a war."

"Do you have time to monitor a dangerous vampire right now?" he asked, threatening. He shouldn't have--but he was angry. He had just seen his chance slip away from him.

"There seems to be a matter of exchange," Luna said. "What does he have to do to earn it?"

Hermione's face looked caught.

"...I could use a dangerous vampire to speak to other dangerous vampires about their loyalties," Hermione said simply, in a 'take it or leave it' tone.

"It's a deal," Damon said, smiling darkly.

Luna ruined the moment by offering him a blood lollipop.

...Okay, he was starving, so he took it. So what?

&&&

Dangerous vampires, huh?

How about deprived, complete monsters? His kind of vampires. He had Luna and Hermione on his arms as they went in, presenting themselves as his. He heard the bells in the corner of the darkened, blood scented room. He knew what it meant, but he heard Hermione let out this loud obnoxious gasp.

The bells were for the collar of the pet man this vampire girl had. It was common place. Wasn't his kind of gaudy show but he'd been around enough vampires who did like that sort of thing.

"Don't do. Anything," Damon told the witch who wanted to go for her wand. "How do you know that's not even his choice?"

"It couldn't possibly be," Hermione sniffed. Close-minded.

"I don't know, that vamp is hot as hell," Damon pointed out. She made this expression of distaste. He wasn't going to go further into this fight.

"And it may be easier for him to walk on all fours," Luna mused.

That zapped him back to attention. He didn't want her to be around any of this. A sentiment that was belated but true.

"Spell me up, and I'll talk to them."

"I think I'll give it a go first," Hermione said, bossily, and before he could do a thing: "Excuse me, may I have your attention?"

His heart sunk.

"Is she usually so eager to die?"

"I think the point is, that we are not," Luna said. "But in this case, I'm rather nervous myself."

Hermione opened her mouth, went on a spiel about politics. Vampires began to nudge each other, work each other up--Damon bumped her aside.

"Hey," he said. "This isn't about politics, it's about survival. Any group in power is against us. We know this."

"That isn't correct," Hermione butted in. "We have extensively revised-."

"The rules," Damon said. "We don't care about rules. Do we?"

They laughed, sneered, and more importantly, agreed. "Dark magic doesn't work for anyone's benefit, seriously. And they wouldn't give it to us without a fight. We can't let one side just take it all."

And in the darkness, he could see the progress.

"I can't believe you took that approach," Hermione said, after she had...Apparated them away. Apparating wasn't Damon's favorite thing especially since Luna informed him of the joys of splicing. Splicing others was worth it--his own person was a different story. "Play people off one another is not way to-."

"So, how about that spell?" Damon announced, walking over to Hermione. Her face fell, and she watched him. He had technically fulfilled his end of the bargain.

"For now, I'm a busy with the Dementor attacks in-."

He stepped into her personal space. A dart of anger and hate flew into her eyes.

"So. How about that spell, hmm?"

"I haven't been to a decent library to research."

"Then get thee to a library," he spat. "Don't-."

"The best would be where the Dementors are," Hermione said darkly. He straightened up.

"Do you know the titles of any books that'd help you?"

"I have some footnotes, yes, but-."

"I'll go there and get the books myself. Then you can research, and the Boy who-."

"Damon," Luna warned. "We should go if we want to beat the giants there."

He raised an eyebrow. Course.

"Luna, maybe you should stay here and I'll go with to deal with the Dementors.

Oh here we go. Martyrdom.

"She'll be going with me," Damon said. Hermione opened her mouth to protest. "I don't trust you," he said. It wasn't as if there was any mystery as to why this Potter guy didn't thank him in person. This girl was keeping them apart.

"I've seen the marks on her neck! If anything happens to her--."

"I'd stake myself first," he said, and was surprised that he meant it. "Shall we?" he asked Luna, offering her his arm.

Luna took his arm, again, without hesitation.

If looks could kill, he thought Hermione would have killed him...deader. He made sure to draw Luna close on his way out.

&&&

Luna told Damon about the Dementors more than a few times from over his shoulder.

"If you see one, I suggest we go the other way," she said, looking around at the trees.

"It's not as if I have a soul," he pointed out. The only awkward factor of tonight was having the girl on his back. He had to be able to defend himself and that meant having his arms free.

"Then what animates your body?" Luna asked, the tone of complete curiosity undisguised. "Ohh is it---."

"I've just eaten," he said, and he had. Pit-stops along the way of the (Muggle) variety. "I don't even want to know if it's mystical unicorns or gremlins as long as I'm moving."

She sighed against his neck, and he thought she might go to sleep on him. Damon moved through the trees, untouchable. He saw the lights of the city ahead. He was set for finding the book, and then getting out of this circus.

There was some distant part of him that was ...unsettled by the thought of leaving Luna unwatched. He had to, for Katherine. Distant part was a universe way. It was a tough world but--

Then the coldness hit him hard. He remembered being left--again and again. He was in two places--a memory in his life (and there were so many bad ones: his mother disappearing behind a closed door to never come out again--Katherine disappearing behind stone) and then Stefan leaving him in his un-life and...

He had killed Stefan. Suddenly, this was the truth. He had killed his brother, ripping out his heart, and Damon sank into the cold, his world tearing apart. If his brother was dead, what was the point? He felt a tug, a pull, and he was about to walk again as a human. He was sure of it. He felt his hunger being divided, his strength and darkness gathering on one side of his (soul)-

"-Patronum," he heard a weak voice say, and pain flooded in through the cold. He fell backwards, gasping, and just caught sight of the dark (dead) thing disappearing into the shadows. His heart hurt, and he retreated further into hunger. He heard a footstep, and he attacked, all vampire.

He came to his senses when he heard the cries of pain. She didn't push him away, though.

"It's okay--if this is...as it should. be."

and he knew who it was. He drew back, horrified, and saw the girl fall.

He had killed her.

He had...Damon knelt by her, picking her up, so angry at her. She could have cursed him. Should have. He bit his wrists and pressed it against her mouth.

"Come on, fight for it!"

For a moment, he thought he was too late--

Then she sucked on his skin, biting and making herself live. He caught a break that time.

"I could have killed you," he said, that old anger at not being able to make a dent in her shell returning. He grabbed her face, held her neck still--"I could have killed you."

"You didn't," Luna said simply, eyes purple underneath. "But your soul was worth my death."

"My..."

"You apparently do have a soul," Luna said. "It would have wandered the earth in the most...terrible state imaginable."

"And it was worth it?" he spat, pulling her up. "I should, now, after that, end it for you..."

Because for the first time in years, he had felt a burning shame.

"It was worth it," Luna said. He was torn, close to kissing her, or the alternative side of that phrase. He was so torn it was mixing together. His fangs were out and he was hungry to make that emptiness go away. So, he stepped back and looked away, getting himself back under control.

He needed a drink.

"The library," Damon said. "Now."

They moved the rest of the way in silence. The library almost went well...he was gathering up book after book until:

"Ow!"

Luna peeked around the corner.

"Nothing unusual here. Just a blue fairy biting my ear," Damon said and knocked it viciously into the floor.

"And now, they'll swarm."

And guess what? They did. Damon was lucky enough to get any books at all. He wanted to get out of this place as soon as possible.

With the feeling of Luna's heartbeat against his back--as soon as possible.

&&&

"I'm sorry," Hermione said. "But from my research, there's no standard spell to lift the curse."

Damon's mind went white....then red. "Don't tell me that," he said pleasantly, leaning back in his chair. He listened. It was just Luna and Hermione around.

Hermione's mouth thinned. "I'm sorry," she repeated. "But the curse-."

Damon moved, and the so-called brilliant witch was against the wall. "Don't. Tell me that. Make a spell up then!"

"Damon," Luna said.

"Is my soul worth it now?"

"Yes," Luna said, without a hint of a lie. Except that was a lie in itself. He couldn't...He closed his eyes--took deep breaths--and lowered the girl to the ground.

"I'm bored with your war anyway," he said, making sure to knock Hermione's wand away from her. He figured she could do spells without speaking but not as strong as what she had been doing.

"Luna!" Hermione yelled. For good reason. Luna was following him.

He made her have to hurry. "Damon," she said, softly.

"Don't try and stop me." He turned on her.

"I'm not. You can go where you want, you know, and they will chase you out now. I wanted to give you something. Because we're friends."

"You're something," he said. He looked over her shoulder, cautious. She was digging through her bag. "You're going to drive someone crazy someday...in a good way," he corrected when she looked worried. "I mean--in that epic love kind of way. You're worth it."

"You were my first kiss, you know."

"Sorry," he said.

"I'm not. It was quite good."

His mouth twitched.

"She said standard spell. Every spell has another spell to undo it except that One. If it's not standard, it's unique to the family, to the witch. I do believe that's called a grimoire."

"...And where do I find that?"

"At the beginning," she said simply. "Here." She held out a compass to him. "For finding family. Your loved ones. You can never lose them if you follow the compass"

He hesitated, knowing she must have heard his screams. It was only in the way she looked that...it was okay. He took the compass. Didn't know what to say.

"You should go," Luna said. He heard them on their way.

"Hey, we might run into each other again."

"Oh we will," Luna said, smiling brightly, and he focused on that look (she'll be all right) before he fled.

Miles away, he began to smile wolfishly, looking at the needle spinning under the glass.

Oh, the fun he'll have with Stefan with this thing.