Sometimes waking up is almost like dying. Sometimes waking up is like coming alive.
In her dreams Luna is trapped in a basement, and a woman with cold eyes stares at her. Stares, and doesn’t say anything. Doesn’t show anything. She’s like a blank canvas, like something not real, except Luna knows that she’s real, because this isn’t just a nightmare. This is remembering. And she’s never sure, when the woman raises her wand for a final Avada Kedavra, if she’s going to die this time, if this time it’s actually real, if this time she’s not going to wake up sweating and gasping for air in her bed as she has before, even though she knows that she will, because that woman is dead.
Sometimes waking up is a relief.
Luna keeps a thestral in her garden. It’s a mare named Sunshine. Her friends have all looked at her funny when she’s introduced them to Sunshine, and sometimes she wonders if anyone will ever laugh at any of her jokes. Not that it matters much.
Sunshine isn’t there much, preferring to fly around and roam in the woods nearby. She always comes when there is food to be had, though, and she’s always there when Luna has had a nightmare. Luna doesn’t know if this is down to some sixth sense, or if she just smells in a different way after a nightmare, but if she goes into the garden Sunshine will be there to offer sympathy and hugs. She’s not the most comfortable of creatures to hug, but knowing that she’s there brings comfort to Luna.
Sometimes she just opens the window, and Sunshine will fly up to nuzzle her, make sure she’s alright, before taking off again.
After the war Luna spent a year in the muggle world. This resulted in many things, some of which are the facts that she knows owns a tv, a computer and a cell phone, and that she has many muggle friends. For some reason it was easy doing in the muggle world what she never managed to do well in the wizard world, talking to people and making friends. She’s not sure if this is due to the muggle world being more diverse or to being an adult. She suspects it’s both, because even if the muggle world is diverse and she had found people similar to her she had also found people who were completely unlike herself, and they still thought she was interesting and funny and wanted to be friends with her.
She thinks that some of her muggle friends might think Sunshine was funny, but she’s aware of the law, and, well, she’s aware of how much people can take. The first time she had some muggle friends over she didn’t even think to remove the magical artefacts placed around the house and that had resulted in having to call for help from ministerial obliviators and a sharply worded letter from the Wizengamot.
Luna keeps most of her artifacts in a closet nowadays, and those she doesn’t can easily be hidden with a quick spell.
The situation is this: Luna hasn't slept a whole night through for a month, nightmares she thought she had left behind coming back with a vengeance. She's not had sex or even touched herself for longer than that, and on top of everything she has her period. She's not in the mood for spending time with people, but Harry and Ginny are having a party and she promised a long time ago. Luna is not the kind of person who goes back on her promises.
She tries some meditation, but all she can think of is sex. Not even just getting off, but connecting, the smell and feel of the other person, the way they sound. She decides to just grind her teeth together and hope for the best. And also hope that Mrs Weasley hasn't been invited so there is some decent alcohol to be found.
Mrs Weasley is indeed invited, and so is almost everyone else, so the house is crowded. Luna still isn't sure what they're celebrating, but after an hour or so of being social she manages to get outside, into the garden. It's almost empty, despite the fact that it's a nice autumn evening. Two people Luna vaguely recognize are standing near some rose bushes, either talking about something very secret, or else on their way to kiss. On one of the plastic garden chairs that are still outside despite every other available part of furniture being inside to accommodate the guests is Cho Chang. Luna waves her wand absently to clean off a chair before sitting down in it.
"Hi," she says.
"Too many people for you too?" Cho asks with a smile. Luna nods.
"Do you know what they're celebrating?" Luna asks, because it's been nagging at her.
"I think it's because Ginny is pregnant," Cho says. "Strange thing to celebrate."
"Mmm," Luna says, because she's just realized something. Cho is rather pretty, and Luna tries to imagine her naked on white sheets. It doesn't work very well, but still.
"Listen, I've got a bottle of wine or two at home if you'd like to come over. This many people just gives me the creeps," Cho says, and Luna blinks. She was just about to start thinking of a plan to seduce Cho, but it looks like she won't need it.
"Yes, I'd like that," Luna says, and smiles.
She says goodbye to Harry and Ginny, makes an excuse about needing an early night, and then she's free. She doubts they will really miss her, because while she likes to think of herself as a fun person to be with she's not the kind of person who 'gets the party started', as her muggle friends say, and with that many people around she just feels uncomfortable.
Cho meets her outside on the street. She takes out a piece of cloth from somewhere inside her robes and holds it out to Luna.
"Portkey. I don't like apparating," she says, and Luna grabs onto it. Cho taps it with her wand and then they're standing in Cho's living room.
Luna's been here before; while she and Cho aren't, and have never been close, exactly, fighting a war together creates a certain bond, and Luna gets invited to various dinners and parties. She never been here alone though. She looks around while Cho goes to get some wine. It's sparsely decorated, not at all like Luna's house, and the walls are lined with bookshelves full of books on various subjects. Luna can't see a single fiction book, and she's not surprised. Cho is working on a research project into magical history. Hermione says she'll probably rewrite and revolutionize the field of magical history, and Luna believes her.
Cho comes out with the wine and two glasses. It's a very nice red muggle wine, kept at the exact right temperature, and Luna raises her eyebrows.
"I prefer muggle wines. There's just something that goes missing when you mix in magic," Cho says.
She's taken the hair tie out of her hair and it falls haphazardly all around her shoulders. Luna wants to grab, wants to hold Cho still by her hair and kiss her. She takes a sip of wine instead.
"It's good," Luna says. Cho smiles.
They drink their glasses of wine in silence, before Cho clears her throat.
"I think you know why I brought you here," she says, and gives Luna an appraising look.
"Yes," Luna says. She really hopes she hasn't read the situation wrong as she scoots closer and tangles a hand in Cho's hair. Cho leans in and kisses her.
It's wet, and tastes of wine, and Luna wants more. She uses her hold on Cho's hair to tilt her head a bit so she can get closer, use more tongue, and Cho follows her lead, pliant. Kissing Cho is like breathing after holding your breath for a long time, life affirming and necessary.
This is exactly what Luna wants, nothing else, so when Cho suggest they go to bed she hesitates.
"We can just sleep," Cho says, and Luna nods gratefully.
Cho's bed is big, but not so big you don't notice that someone else is sleeping next to you. Luna isn't sure she'll fall asleep, but she does.
Luna wakes up, and for once it's not because of a nightmare, but because of a sound. She lies still for a while, trying to remember where she is before it comes to her. She turns to Cho who is twisting and turning, looking scared and determined at once.
She puts a hand on Cho's shoulder, and Cho slaps at her with a growl before waking up. When she sees where she is she starts crying, and Luna holds her through the shakes and the sobs until all the tears have stopped. Cho doesn't apologize for waking Luna, and Luna doesn't expect her to.
Sometimes waking up is like being reborn.
Luna wakes every morning now to the steady sound of Cho's breath. She always lies in bed and listens to her, listens to make sure she's alive before waking her up.
They have another thestral now, another mare, and she's called White Magic. Cho named her, after laughing at Luna's suggestions of Starlight, Flower and Snow Drop.
Sometimes people look at them as if they're crazy, two witches living together, sharing a home, laughing at strange things, but Luna doesn't care. None of their friends seem to find it strange. They have all seen stranger things, after all, and Luna can't really understand how you can care so much about things that are insignificant in the long run when you should celebrate being alive instead.
Sometimes in the night Luna still wakes up from nightmares, women with cold eyes, and Cho is there, holding her, making sure she doesn't fall apart, and it gets easier. It does.
Sometimes waking is up is like falling in love.