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The Nargle That Winds the Spring

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Luna’s mother died and Luna saw it. Everyone knew that. Wherever they went in Britain they would hear the quiet murmur of people’s sympathy , their gossip. Yes, it was very sad. They missed mummy very much. No, daddy had never been the same since. Luna knew the answers to the questions they would never ask her, to the whispers they meant her to hear.

 

Behind their backs people gossiped. They said it wasn’t right for Xenophilus to be raising a young girl alone. They called him mad. Said he’d always been eccentric but that he was really wrong now. They didn’t mean for them to hear but they heard. It made Luna sad, that people didn’t believe her father. She never knew the answers to those questions and was glad she wasn’t supposed to hear.

 

But the worst rumours, the ones that made her mad were the ones that said her mother’s death was her fault. Not some tragic illness like dragonpox or spattergroit but an avoidable accident. Eccentricity, experimentation. Those were the worse. Because they were true.

 

Mummy didn’t need to die. Her injuries were survivable. If Daddy had been a little better at healing spells. If Luna had run faster. Got Mrs Weasley quicker. If the Medi-witch had been willing to come out. If they could have afforded to go to St Mungo’s. If- If- If- So many ways that mummy could have survived.

 

Mummy was experimenting with a spell, she had invented. Mummy was always experimenting and inventing; the spells she created were wonderful. Precise, delicate things for cataract repair or safe ingredient preparation. Safer spells to common dangerous spells or simple spells to make complex tasks accessible - although those were never published while mummy was alive. They keep her alive by publishing them in the Quibbler. Something went wrong. Mummy screamed, there was blood on the kitchen table, on Luna's arithmetic.

 

“Go get daddy.” Mummy said in a very calm voice while blood dripped onto Luna’s finished work.

 

She ran up the spiral staircase faster than she ever had before or since. Daddy was busy at his typewriter and it took too long to get him to come downstairs, to believe that she wasn’t hurt. By the time they were back in the kitchen, Mummy was pale and she stuttered her instructions to Daddy. The only thing she was firm on was that they couldn’t afford to go to hospital.

 

Daddy sent her to get Mrs Weasley. It normally took her fifteen minutes to get from the Rookery to the Burrow. She ran so fast her lungs burnt and her legs felt like jelly but kept on running, pulling herself up without stopping as she tripped and not heading the tearing pain as she caught on barbed wire the muggle farmer had put up to stop them using the shortcut through his land. Mrs Weasley was easier to get to come than Daddy, she took one look at Luna and said, “Charlie, you’re in charge.” before side-long apparating them to the front door of the Rookery.

 

Luna followed her upstairs to Mummy and Daddy’s room where Mummy’s voice was reedy and thin as she told Daddy what to do. Luna tucked herself into the corner and watched as Mrs Weasley worked desperately, listen to Daddy’s voice as he explained to the Medi-witch that they needed her. Heard her refuse to come, heard Daddy call St Mungo’s and them require a fifty galleon call out fee in advance.

 

She’d been doing arthimacy, before. Ten knuts for a loaf of bread or five for a bag of flour that would make five loaves. One sickle for every copy of the Quibbler sold but twenty knuts to produce it, giving a profit of nine knuts. One hundred galleons for a specialist spell but months or years to create and test it. Fifty galleons for an emergency call out, twenty-five galleons an hour for the healer, one hundred galleons for a twenty-four hour stay.

 

No, mummy wouldn’t have died if Luna had run faster or daddy had been better at healing spells but most importantly mummy wouldn’t have died if they had been able to afford a healer and mummy should not have had to stop something she was good at and loved because it cost more than they earned in a month to go to hospital.

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It’s late, or rather very early, the first time anyone says anything about Luna to Ginny. “Luna isn’t coping.” whispered into her shoulder and hot tears on her nightdress. The safe silent darkness of her bedroom at the Burrow invites confidences, she can smell surgical spirit in Hermione’s hair that presses against her cheek and tries to work its way up her nose and hear Lavender’s snuffly regular breaths in the trundle bed across the room. She has to be up in two hours and the other two have barely got to bed.

 

This isn’t the immediate aftermath, the scars that remain in Diagon Alley, Hogsmead and Hogwarts are there because people chose to leave them. Lavender’s done with medi-witch training, Harry with Auror training, Ron’s done and dropped out to help George at the shop, Hermione’s only got a year left to be a newly qualified healer, and Ginny’s done her NEWTs and is playing professionally. It isn’t normal for people to still freeze, stare off into the distance or see things that aren’t there regularly anymore.

 

That doesn’t mean the effects of the war have disappeared, the pile of books on the end of Ginny’s bed attest to how long and how hard it is to get over Tom but people are coping, except as it turns out Luna.

 

She doesn’t see that much of Luna now they are both graduated, Luna’s father does the Quibbler’s quidditch reporting and he is no more odd than he ever was. It takes a month of concerted effort and eventually commandeering Ron, the kitchen at Grimmauld Place and sending invites in Harry’s name to a dinner party to get everyone together. Hermione and Lavender are both late, the post-war still has fewer healers and medi-witches than needed especially with the massive increase in routine curse treatment needed, but Neville is later. Luna is on time, out of character for her and worrying.

 

No she isn’t coping, dreamy and prone to seeing strange creatures that no one else can is normal for Luna. Jumpy and almost aggressive is not. They all find excuses to stay after she has left, even Neville who had drooped into his starter. When they stop and talk it isn’t surprising. Luna’s life when they look back at it is a litany to the failures of their world. She watched her mother die and was raised by her grief maddened father without any more help than what Molly could do while raising her own seven. She was bullied mercilessly at Hogwarts and the teachers turned a blind eye, too busy trying to prevent outright war from breaking out in the corridors to deal with anyone who could be quiet about their problems. Neville cursed Dumbledore savagely as he discussed the state of Hogwarts and how hard they had and still were working to correct his tacit approval of bullying. She was tortured by the Carrows like everyone else at Hogwarts that year and then captured and used as a tool to ensure her father’s compliance. What happened to her while Voldemort’s prisoner she had never spoken of but they knew enough of what happened to others to know it wasn’t good.

 

It would be good for her to get away, they say. Unspoken, something has to work. In the muggle world there are people for this, Ginny thinks, feels eyes on her back. Wakes to a new pile of books at the end of her bed, these talk of psychosis. Catches Lavender reading her first books at the kitchen table as she brews.

 

Better and worse, Neville comes back from the summer collecting plants to restock the Hogwarts greenhouses. “She was better” he says, cradled in a large arm chair at Grimmauld Place, “but she was seeing things all the time.”

 

Silence, awkward. Ginny’s captain now of her own team and on the England side. Hermione’s qualified, she knows what doesn’t exist. “Maybe.” Lavender is hesitant, she leans into Ron and spins her wedding ring. “Those books you have.”

 

“I’m not trained!” Ginny bites out. “Self-help is different!”

 

“Could a trained muggle help?” Lavender asks.

 

They have to explain to everyone else about muggle healers who specialise in minds. It’s not like Luna could go to a muggle, they’d think that she was mad to believe in magic which obviously she wasn’t.

 

“A psychiatrist?” Neville queries, his face long with tiredness. “One of the first year’s mum is one.” He yawns so hard he nearly falls out of his chair and the conversation is done.

 

“We need someone to help with the manufacture.” Ron says. “I’ll ask Luna.” Maybe being busy will help they don’t say.

 


 

Her room at the Burrow is hers alone now, not that she spends much time there. Ron and Lavender have their own place and she suspects soon their first child. Harry seems to have won the argument and has a flat with Hermione and a kitchen of his own that isn’t used to treat patients or shared with a house elf. She’s busy, travelling with the team and she spends more nights than she wants to admit with Katie.

 

She feels guilty at how little she’s thought about Luna since Ron took her on. It’s not until a rare week off when mum asks her to drop off some baking supplies at the shop that she sees her again. Ron is busy with customers when she arrives and indicates she should go through to the back room.

 

Luna’s focused on a cauldron in the corner, her wand tucked behind her ear. She’s thinner than before and so pale she’s blue. She spins when the door opens and holds her wand at the ready like she’s being attacked.

 

A panic attack, a flashback maybe. Ginny’s mind analyses even as she’s changing her stance, see I’m not threatening. Burbling nonsense, what she says mattering so much less than the tone and her voice that cannot be in whatever senario Luna is seeing.

 

They end up curled on the floor; Luna’s face cushioned in her breasts, harsh rapid breaths rustling her shirt and Luna’s wand loosely held to the side. It took too long to get here and she still isn’t really here, doesn’t notice when Ron slips inside. He looks grim but unsurprised when he sees.

 

Hours later, Ginny is still there but Luna is back to what for her passes for normal. Her eyes dart at every sudden noise and she flinches but she’s working on her potion and frantically talking about one of her strange creatures.

 

They separate when the shop closes, Luna hurries back to her father’s house even as Ron tries to convince her to come to dinner.

 

Ginny sits at the Ron’s kitchen island as he cooks and worries, the door opens to Harry, Hermione and Lavender simultaneously. “Nev says he can’t come until after dinner.” Harry says.

 

Lavender shows a small metal bracelet, “Wedding present from Hermione. It’s like the DA coins but big enough for a sentence, really useful.”

 

“George is making them for the shop.” Hermione stretches with a pop. “Said he’d give a free set out for testing this Christmas coming.”

 

Dinner is, as usual for something Ron cooked especially for something Ron cooked while stressed, brilliant, moreish and massive. They talk around why they’re there until Neville arrives.

 


 

The house Dr Sharpe lived in with her husband and their son was very different from any magical house Ginny had seen but not as uniform as the Dursley’s had been nor as adapted and lived in as the Granger’s terrace. It was a similar size to the Dursley’s and if you looked close there were hints at a magical resident, those were fanged-geraniums poking out of the flower bed, feverfew growing in the corner that Neville looked unimpressed by and that cat had been crossed with a kneazel at least once. Dr Sharpe recognised Neville on sight and her expression closed down from the open smile when she opened the door when they introduced themselves as from Hogwarts. “We were wondering if it would be possible to speak to you in your professional capacity?” Ginny asks before Dr Sharpe can ask about her son.

 

“You can ask for a referral to your local psychiatric team with your GP.” She started to say. “You aren’t hooked up with the NHS, it’s the same stupid thing about not being able to take Zack to the doctor.”

 

“Muggle treatments don’t work right on magicals especially not the drugs, Lavender says the first aid all works the same but you can’t give a muggle pepper-up any more than the standard dose of paracetamol will work on a witch.” Ginny babbles nonsense but Dr Sharpe steps aside indicating that they should come through to a warm study.

 

She sits behind a clean desk and draws out a pad of lined paper from one drawer and a pen that looks like a cross between a quill and the biros Ron steals off of Lavender and leaves everywhere he goes from another.

 

“You know we had a war, before your son was old enough to go to Hogwarts?” Neville lets Ginny speak, “We don’t have psychologists or anything like that in the Wizarding world. People cope or they don’t. We can tell if your mind is being influenced by magic and fix that but we don’t do anything else. We used to remove traumatic memories but that caused issues particularly in children.”

 

“And you know someone who isn’t coping?” Dr Sharpe asks.

 

“A friend of ours, she was always a little touched.” Neville answers, “but she was at the frontlines and then a captive in the war and she hasn’t been right since. Everyone else they’ve moved on got over it but Luna just seems to be getting worse.”

 

“I’m not a trauma specialist and I don’t take private clients.”

 

“We don’t pay in to the NHS.” Ginny explains, “It’s on Hermione’s list of long term goals but our health system isn’t linked up and you’re the only psychiatrist we know of who knows. She can’t talk to someone who doesn’t know.”

 

“So why isn’t she coping?”

 

“She had a flashback at the shop, when I opened the door.” Ginny starts at the most recent incident Dr Sharpe leads her back through the years and the incidents, from petty theft she couldn’t escape to Luna watching her mother die, back further to her father always believing in things that didn’t exist. When it is laid out like that it feels like failure, so obviously wrong and yet so obviously ignored and discarded. Dr Sharpe takes notes throughout. Her pen gliding over the paper but her writing a worse scrawl than Ron’s.

 

“I’ll see her and assess her.” Dr Sharpe agrees. “I’ll owl you when I’ve arranged an appointment and fee.” It’s a relief to have spoken to someone to have a plan even if that plan involves finding the money for a healer and convincing Luna to go to the appointment.

 


 

Ginny takes a bludger to the back and wakes up two weeks later without a job. Her spine aches in the cold and her shoulders will never take her weight again, she’ll never play professional quidditch again. Taking the coaching role at Hogwarts isn’t cowardice, like Ron angrily implies, or running away, like Katie accuses her of, it’s trying to hold on. It gives her space to breathe in a way the professional quidditch didn’t, time and quiet peaceful company. It makes her want to know more than what she’s taught herself and space to learn, sees her taking five GCSEs and three A-Levels so she can take a OU course in psychology.

 

GCSE maths and english are surprisingly easy, as is A-Level psychology but GCSE science and A-Level biology are an exercise in frustration and wrong. Hermione somehow convinces her that A-Level chemistry could be useful, or Ginny thinks cynically that Hermione wants the notes but doesn’t have the time to take the class herself. As punishment she makes her sit the exams with her, all of them. They have a big celebratory meal after results come out at Ron and Lavender’s new place that begins family friendly and continues long into the night after their children have been put to bed.

 

It’s the first time Ginny’s seen Luna since they introduced her to Dr Sharpe, the muggle psychiatrist with a Ravenclaw son. That’s two nearly three years ago, she realises with surprise. No, she saw her at the game before she was injured. Then nothing, everyone else had come to see her at least once when she was convalescing at home or in St Mungo’s if they couldn’t face mum’s smothering. Or she’d managed to meet up with them for a drink at the Three Broomsticks, even while juggling a full course load and her own teaching responsibilities. Luna hadn’t and she was sure she’d invited her at least once. It’s not like their jobs bring them into contact. Luna’s still reporting for the Quibbler part-time and doing product creation for George neither of which overlaps with a quidditch coach and flying instructor’s role.

 

She looks better, less blue and thin, but still jumpy and cold. Ginny walks back to Hermione and Harry’s flat with her, leaving Harry to help Ron clean up and Lavender to fall into bed before her shift at far too late an hour. The moon is bright above them. “Did it work?” She asks with drunken desperation.

 

“Yes, no, maybe” It’s not like Hermione to be uncertain. “Some.” She nods hard. “Talking worked or worked as much as it’s going to on it’s own but witches don’t respond right to muggle medicines and Luna needs medicine for her brain.” She drops her keys once unlocking the door. “It’s why I wanted chemistry. For both of us.”

 

It takes a bit of finangling and persuading, but she has two months off before she starts her degree and no summer responsibilities at Hogwarts for a month, to get Luna to meet up. They go on a trek with Charlie’s Dragon Reserve, looking for wild dragons. It makes Luna happy. Neville takes advantage of the area to collect interesting plants and suddenly Ginny is surrounded by peaceful happy naturalists.

 

“When I go to Hogwarts all I see is the war.” Luna tells her out of the blue one night. “I didn’t want to see you hurt.”

 

“It’s okay.” Ginny smiles. “I let you down, I’ve been letting you down since we were young.”

 

Luna swallows and they sit in silence watching Rolf and Neville cook. Rolf looks over at Luna and smiles, she blushes a pink so faint it’s barely visible. She’s better here than she was. Neville apologises as they lie in their tent, it didn’t work last time. Luna was too damaged, too not coping but she’s better, not fixed - maybe not fixable - but better, and this is helping and letting her be her.

 


 

Luna and Rolf don’t come back with Neville and Ginny. They take off on another expedition and then another. Luna writes regularly to them all, her letters full of strange creatures and different places, and she does come back to England to see Dr Sharpe but her flying visits rarely coincide with their schedules enough to meet.

 

Ginny’s done her Counselling Masters and Hermione’s managed to recruit Dr Sharpe to the Marauder’s Charity Hospital before they manage to meet up. She’s begun to work at the Hospital two days a week as well as her teaching responsibilities at Hogwarts. They meet at the Grimmauld place, Rolf’s sitting in the hall watching Mrs Black silently scream when Ginny gets there.

 

“She’s in with Dr Sharpe and Healer Granger.” He says when she looks around. “Yet another modification to her potion.”

 

Kreacher pops up with an unasked for cup of tea and a more useful pile of notes about her only in-patient, a young werewolf who is still recovering from his physical injuries post-attack. “Thank you.” She says politely, she didn’t think this would work but Kreacher doesn’t seem to care who he’s serving provided they need him and are grateful to him and the patients very much are. “How long are they normally?”

 

“This isn’t a counselling session.” Ginny remains standing, the visitors chairs are alright but her back is never going to be right again and sometimes it’s better to stand. The people who know them, see her regularly, know that but she guesses Luna wouldn’t know either. “Just a change to one of her potions to reduce some of the side effects she’s been having. Should be -” He doesn’t finish the sentence before Hermione and Luna leave Dr Sharpe’s office.

 

“Remember, stay in Europe the first month and contact me if there are any unexpected side effects.” Hermione is saying as they leave. “You to, Rolf.”

 

Even with all the planning it isn’t all of them that manage to meet up. Lavender has the night shift at Marauders and Ron prefers not to go out or have anyone other than family over when Lavender is on nights so they end up at Harry and Hermione’s. There’s the debris of two busy people who work busy shifts and engage in politics outside work strewn over their living room and the hints at their partners in the kitchen. Neville doesn’t want to leave the kids or his Gryffindors for the night when she’s abandoning them too it’s just the five of them.

 

Harry isn’t an epic cook like Ron, he doesn’t enjoy it or take pride in it the same way. The food is edible in a way it wouldn’t be if Hermione or Ginny had cooked but it doesn’t engage and this meeting is awkward and stiff in a way that would be helped by good food. Luna doesn’t drink, Ginny and Hermione are both on call so Harry and Rolf end up polishing off a bottle of not particularly good wine between them. She stays to help Hermione clean up once Rolf and Luna have left and Hermione poured Harry into his bed.

 

“It was good to see her.” She says, not sure it was good or if it was good to see she was well and sad to see how far apart they’d grown.

 

“This the first time since your trip?” Hermione asks and sees the answer on her face. “I’ve saw her every few months once Linda joined Marauders but now only when there are problems with the potion but that’s in a professional capacity. Linda came on board for magical medicine for Luna mostly and stayed when she realised how many others there are.”

 

“Should we have done more?” Ginny asks.

 

“When?” Hermione dries of her hands on a tea towel and scrubs at her eyes. “When we were teenagers fighting in a war while the adults around us ignored it? When you were a child? After the war? We did all we could after and we shouldn’t have been the ones fixing the problem before. So says Linda.”

 

Ginny sits silent and unconvinced so Hermione continues. “After the war, when it was clear Luna wasn’t coping we tried to help in the way that the Wizarding world has always coped with mental illness which is more than anyone else did. We could have done what everyone else did and just said Lovegoods have always been touched. When she hit crisis you could have just used a cheering charm and dealt with the immediate aftermath not found Linda not paid for Linda out of your own money.” Hermione pauses for a bit. “We weren’t perfect and I don’t blame her for pulling away from us, especially not when I provide her medicines and you’re one of her only two options when she needs counselling but we tried our best when we were adults. When we were teenagers, we never bullied her. Harry and Neville tried to stop it, Lavender broke friendships over it, and you provided replacements you couldn't afford. When you were a child, you were a child. Molly guilts herself over not doing enough but what could she do when Xenophilius didn’t want her to do anything and wasn’t harming his child enough for the Aurors to get involved.”

 

Luna was better, not fixed but she smiled and dreamed and wrote of strange creatures she and Rolf had found, photographs included. Didn’t flinch or dart about even if England wasn’t somewhere she could comfortably remain. An acquaintance rather than a friend now, which at least made it easier when Linda transferred her irregular counselling sessions to Ginny’s case load after she passed her healers certificate.