It’s Luna who finds him this time, crouched at the foot of a tree, still shaking from the violence of the flashback which had ripped through him moments before. The dratted things always seemed to get to him at the most inopportune moments. The evening had been going quite well until he’d been reminded of how so many things were not well at all; how so many things had gone horribly wrong. Someone had started on some firecrackers – the plain old Muggle variety – and then came the Wildfire Whiz-bangs…and Harry knew what else was coming. There was no way he was going to let it happen in front of so many people. So he ran, and carried on running even when he couldn’t see what was around him anymore.
Shivering now, Harry leans against cool bark and waits for his breathing to return to normal. He feels Luna’s eyes on him, but she asks no questions nor attempts to talk to him, for which he is more than grateful. He hears the leaves on the ground rustling as she comes closer, and then she sits down on the patchy grass next to him and slips one of her hands into his. It’s warm; a wonderful contrast to his own freezing limbs. He holds on.
Gradually, he becomes aware of a strange fragrance permeating the air around them. He wipes his cheeks with his free hand and adjusts his glasses before looking up. Luna smiles at him when he meets her eyes. She’s holding out a teacup - one of Mrs Weasley’s, he recognises. There is steam curling out of it prettily into the cool air, and with it an interesting floral aroma that he isn’t sure he knows.
“Passionflower tea.” says Luna as he takes it from her, blessed warmth seeping into his skin. “I like to keep some on me at all times. In case of emergencies.”
Cautiously, Harry brings the cup up and takes a sip, not sure what to expect. But he finds that it tastes quite nice (although it is very slightly spicy) and almost immediately begins to make him feel both warm and relaxed.
For a while, the pair of them sit in silence; Harry drinking his tea and trying not to think of anything, and Luna looking up at the dark sky with its bright moon nestled among the clouds.
“I get them too, sometimes.” says Luna after some time has passed. “I’m sorry, Harry. They’re really not fun, are they?”
There is no judgement or expectation or pity colouring her voice, real or imagined, as perhaps Harry had heard when some of the others had tried to talk to him about it. It may simply have been the effect of the tea now running through his system, but Harry finds it easy to speak for once.
“No.” he sighs, gazing into the half-empty teacup. “I thought it would be over, y’know? But in my head, it’s still going on. Constantly...”
Luna does not answer, but when he glances up, he sees understanding. He feels her squeeze his hand tightly.
“I’m seeing someone to help me with my bad dreams.” she tells him, turning back to face the sky. “She’s lovely. A Muggle, of course, but still ever so helpful. There aren’t many wizards in England who specialise in those fields, you see.”
Harry is surprised. He’d thought, for some reason, that Luna had remained as unaffected and as transcendent as he had always known her to be– but of course that was a ridiculous assumption to have made. The war had stained her heart just as it had tainted everyone else’s. He shudders at the thought that she will never be exactly as she was before. None of them will be.
“Perhaps it would help you to talk to someone, too.” Luna gazes at him, her face unexpectedly serious.
Harry turns his eyes away. “Maybe.” But he can’t imagine ever speaking out loud the pictures that haunt him; can’t imagine how he would ever put into words the jumble of horrors that join forces each day to try and choke him – no matter whether he’s sleeping or not. Sometimes he will blink and find himself back in some hellish landscape that crumbled away long ago, but which is preserved forever in his memories – and even the most innocent or mundane moments of his life will be spoiled.
He knows he would like it to end, though. Harry looks back at Luna, who is still facing him.
“Have things gotten a bit better for you, then? Since you started seeing her?”
She smiles at him sweetly, “Oh – yes. But you know, you could even talk to someone you already know, if you wanted.”
Harry is about to answer when he suddenly registers something odd about her appearance. “Luna – your eyes. They’re…changing colour.”
The coloured portion of both of her eyes – her irises - are slowly taking on a deep violet colour. Harry stares in fascination and wonders if he should be concerned. Luna doesn’t seem worried, though.
“Are they? Usually it takes a bit longer – I only drank the tea a little while ago.” His puzzlement must be reflected on his face, for she continues. “It’s the starlily essence – I like to add it to some of the sachets. It makes for a nice surprise…Your eyes should turn the same colour too, in a bit – if you have enough of the tea.” Then she sees the change in his expression and giggles. “Don’t worry, it doesn’t last very long. I think it’s a shame, personally, that it fades away so quickly.”
Harry considers spilling the rest of the tea out onto the grass beneath him but decides against wasting it. It really has been making him feel better, and he’s had worse things happen to him after all than purple eyes.
He looks at Luna fondly as she digs out a small mirror from one of the many pockets adorning her gown and peers into it. She beams at her reflection; her cheer is so infectious that he can’t help but smile too. “Oh!” she exclaims. “It’s just as pretty as I remember. I think it would suit you very well, Harry!”
She tucks the mirror away, still smiling. Harry stands and pulls her up with him. “They’re probably wondering where I am.” he says, sheepishly. He fidgets with the teacup in his hand as Luna studies him, wide and purply eyes roaming across his face.
“I’m fine now.” mumbles Harry, in answer to her unspoken question. He clears his throat. “Really. Thank you, Luna. I never say this enough but I’m very glad I have you as a friend.”
Luna looks so pleased at this that Harry flushes slightly. As they weave their way back out of the forestry, Harry silently promises to himself to show his appreciation for Luna a little more often.