She starts doing it because nobody else will.
A bowtruckle arm needs splinting. A unicorn needs grooming. A mooncalf needs guiding back to its mother.
She uses an oak stick and living twine she charms out of rushes to splint the bowtruckle, and thanks it for the sharp scratches that draw her blood to the surface and make her remember she’s alive.
She brushes down the unicorn, and keeps the spare silvery threads hanging in her kitchen, waiting to be needed.
She lets the mooncalf suckle her fingers as she walks the difficult path to its home, and bows in a solemn goodbye.
After that, it only seems fitting that she makes the forest her home too.
She doesn’t make her cottage by magic alone. She talks to some of the muggles in a village about three miles away, skirting the edge of the forest. She learns that many of them are as estranged from their society as she is from her own. She helps them as they help her, building her little house from the foundations up. Each night, she sleeps under the stars, or the rain. If she needs it, the canvas stretched above her protects her from the harshest rain, and magic does the rest. Sometimes she whispers to the stones, to the plumbing and the wood. She teaches the stones to be sturdy as the earth they were born in, coaxes the water in the pipes to flow swift and sure. She befriends the wood and asks it to only grow in ways that strengthen rather than disrupt.
She thinks the skill and time her new friends put into this project, how it gradually takes shape around them through hard work and forged friendship, is a magic all of its own.
The stone-worker is called Evan; the carpenter is Lillian; the one who fits the bare bones of the cottage with lights and water and gas is named Genevieve.
She learns that Evan was born in the house he now lives in, he has three children, and that he likes to show off his tiny, still pictures of them. His stories bring their images to life.
Lillian has one brother, and her parents live in Amsterdam. She fell in love with wood and art, and she is silent about how she ended up in a place so remote and peculiar.
When Genevieve smiles, her eyes are shadowed with a pain Luna wishes she didn’t know so intimately. Genevieve used to be a soldier; she fought in muggle wars that still ended in blood and hauntings for all they were mundane. She chose to become someone who used her hands to fix and not to kill, after her third tour. There is a spark between them, one kindred spirit calling out silently to another. She likes honey in her tea.
Once her cottage is ready, she paints the outside by hand. The white is stark and the thatch roof (Evan’s husband Ryan installed it over the course of an entire week) she charms to hold firm against storms and hail.
The garden comes easily. Genevieve takes her to a muggle shop in her truck, and they load it up with foxglove and lavender and ivy, roses and herbs and dozens of packets of seedlings. They work in the rays of sun that filter onto the patch of land she owns, and sometimes Ginny joins them, when she is on a break from her Quidditch tours. Soon a large part of her garden is planted, and she is content to let it rest. Genevieve is curious as to what she is waiting for, and Luna smiles, and tells her an old friend promised her some plants from far away.
Luna plants the sunflower seeds in freshly turned earth, and uses the phone in her cottage to consult with Lillian about making bee hives in the furthest reach of her garden.
Neville arrives with a suitcase holding so many cuttings that Luna wants to kiss him. She does, the skin of his cheek scratchy with stubble, and he hugs her with all the softness that Ginny’s hugs are not. They spend a week settling in the magical plants, and Neville leaves her with her address, and a beautiful greenhouse that he charmed up from sand of the lake. It’s a little helping of memory, and every time she sees it she thinks of her school and the years of quiet joy and quieter sorrow.
Gradually, she gets to know the landscape. She talks to the bees, hums with them sometimes. In return they tell her the words on the wind and their impression of the world, bright with flowers.
There is a shimmering lake, not unlike the one she knew, but unique in its personality. There are no squid, but it teems with fish and wildfowl, perfect prey for all creatures, magical or mundane. Kelpies lurk in the smaller ponds. They prey mostly on rabbits and unfortunate lake-life, but they are drawn out only occasionally by a lost pet. They seem perpetually intrigued by their land-dwelling cousins, who live in a livery stables, a few miles down the dirt path that passes for a road. Grindylows keep a lower profile; they are no threat to the kelpies, and coexist relatively peacefully.
Will’o’the’wisps like to flicker out over the rushes near the larger lake, and occasionally stray into the patches of heathered moorland. Though, usually, it’s pixies and tiny fairies that form the tiny lights that flit over the purple haze. The small flying creatures often conflict with the local songbirds. She loses track of the number of times she has to administer to a broken wing or an arm snapped in a beak. The tumbledown remains of a small heath outpost are home to a redcap. She arranges to take the blood the local butchers throw out, and leave it in a pail on one of the mossy stones, as a tribute and peace offering.
When she walks alongside the streams feeding in and out of the lake, shelleycoats and nymphs wave to her. In return, she makes sure to protect the fish that are their food source from over-zealous muggles and magicians alike.
She’s sure there is a lindworm hiding somewhere in the forested hills, holed up in the networks of tunnels. She sometimes finds a glimmering scale, embedded in the packed earth walls of badger sets and hobs. The hobs and badgers rub along, and she lets them be. Intervening when the hobs become too similar to nifflers in their perpetual love for shiny things becomes a habit. She tells them that if magpies can show restraint, so can they. Occasionally, they even listen to her. They like the glass shards she can charm out of sand and stone, because they shine. She makes them small mobiles to hang from tree branches and roots. The spinning, glittering array of objects she uses help to keep them mostly out of mischief.
The forest brownies are almost always friendly, and they leave her baskets of mushrooms, nuts, and berries. She gives them milk and honey from her bees. She considers leaving them fine breads and cheeses, though they tend to remain untouched save by the foxes. Brownies are overly fond of sweetness, particularly in the summer.
She’s invited to all kinds of events as the year passes and the trees change. Their leaves bleach from lush green to edges of fading yellow like parchment, tiny sunspots crinkling their edges as the sun takes the rain hostage. She makes flower-crowns for the village fair, and takes the first batches of honey and jams; if she includes just the slightest little charms for protection or luck or health, it harms none.
As the leaves blush rich and red, harvest means her muggle friends are busy, so she visits them, bringing freshly made juice and homemade wine refreshments. She learns that she loves to bake, and that a simple, lightly sweetened lemon cake is resplendent when spread thinly with honey. She thinks there is a sort of elegance in baking without magic. It becomes a different kind of skill, and allows other kinds of power to be twined into the things she makes. Sometimes she remembers how love is the magic that saved them all, and it seems to fit her way of life like a glove.
It’s Halloween by the time Ron and Hermione visit. They come shrouded in mist and rain; the sound of their apparition comes like a thunderstorm. She lets them in and gives them a mug each of tea sweetened with the peace that collects and pools like water in her home. They seem awkward as they hug her goodbye. She wishes she could tell them that lack of similarity bears no significance to their friendship; that their lives, so intensely interwoven with magic and muggle society, and the city, is far from incompatible with her own carefully cultivated isolation. In another time, she would have spoken aloud. She has learned to choose her truths more carefully since then. She gives them pumpkin jam to take with them before they go.
She watches frost slowly creep over the leaves of her plants, hears the restless howls of the spirits stirring at the biting of the cold. If she wanders deep enough into the hills, she thinks she might come across a frost giant. She’d like to learn how they charm their crystal-ice jewels to last through summer.
Her breath hangs in the air, swirls with the tiny air currents over the lake as she lets her feet and intuition guide her path. The sun is bright and distant, opalescent behind the clouds; the sky is mother-of-pearl beauty, soft and welcoming, and she hopes there will be snow. The air tastes of forest-spice and ozone. She knows Harry is waiting for her almost before she sees him, standing hesitantly by the turning that leads from the lake to her home.
She moves to stand beside him, and she lets her eyes follow his gaze out over the thin ice, the spirals of cold and the tangled brush trapped in the frost.
“The world is quite beautiful,” She says, and she touches the back of his bare hand gently. “All are welcome, here.”
He doesn’t speak, but his tentative smile tells her all she needs to know.
Their fingers lace together against the cold, and she guides him away from the achingly desolate lake.
He looks older, as he sits on the stained wooden chair in her kitchen. He’s thinner than before, some strands of his hair prematurely grey. He’s wearing a suit that doesn’t fit, and she thinks sometimes people who are made to give of themselves don’t know how to stop letting others take until they’ve faded and gone.
They sit quietly, and he shrinks in on himself, placing his limbs delicately so as not to touch, not to interfere with her space. He’s so carefully managing his impact, as if making even the smallest change will cause a ripple of probability of such magnitude that it will destroy her. She nods, and tells him that the nargles are clustering around him, because she’s certain they are even without her glasses.
She hums as she finishes up a batch of jam, and starts to pack some boxes that she’s started to make, to send out to those she knows are struggling for food in the winter months. After a few minutes, Harry edges near, and she pushes the parchment with the list of contents over to him, along with an empty box. She doesn’t speak and neither does he. Together they make sixteen boxes up, and by the last one he’s comfortable enough to refresh his tea from the kettle without flinching.
She doesn’t charm the boxes to be lighter; there is a comfort in the physical sensation of carrying an item, and it keeps her warmer. Harry seems to be content with this, and when Genevieve joins them on their short delivery trek, he doesn’t even ask Luna if she’s a muggle or a witch. Luna’s always liked that part of him; the part that knows beyond a doubt that people are people, and that everyone has their own magic to them.
Harry visits a lot after that. Luna measures the times between in creatures saved and people fed or sheltered. As spring turns the corner, she feels the sunshine and the earth she sows seeds in, settle into her skin and soul. She gathers the first flowers and weaves them together, cross-legged in the fresh green grass. Her nails are dirty, her hair is tumbling long and loose down her back. She wears muggle dungarees and is barefoot, and she can’t remember ever feeling quite so deeply joyful.
And so her story goes.
Her friends flit in and out of her little home, muggle and magic alike, and all of them become part of it’s framework, lining the walls and flagstone and thatch with love. She eases them as best she can, shares the fragments of solace and solitude she has gathered, and lets them sit with her, because she likes being alone, but loneliness itself stalks her like a dementor. She is grateful for their visits and for the small guest bedroom; she knits a blanket for the bed herself, and Molly sends her others until she’s stocked for anyone who needs her.
Eventually, she even gains a small workshop, near the bee hives in her garden. There, she keeps all she needs to look after her creatures freely.
She takes in strays, because nobody else will.
Because she sees parts of herself she has never outgrown, in them.
It’s nothing like how she imagined her future; and everything she ever dared to dream.
She’s found her well of friendship, love and healing, and it’s so golden it’s almost impossible to bear the sweetness.
This peace is precious, and it is hers to have. Hers to give.
That’s all she’s ever wanted.