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You Can't Win the Battle and the War - Chapter 9/12
Illyria, AtS
browneyedkat
Chapter 9 - Luna: Different


Harry stood away from the sink, watching his reflection calmly. He stared at the mirror, his own face peering back at him through glasses still smeared with dirt and mud and blood. His jet black hair stuck up as always, his deep green eyes, always so striking, were visible behind his glasses, and the familiar red scar rested atop his forehead. He didn’t look any different.

Absently, he lifted his hand to his scar, just as he had done so many times in the past. His fingers felt odd against his forehead, as if the space his scar had occupied were gone, merely a shadow. He shook himself mentally, still staring at the boy in the mirror. He looked so young.

***

Harry was not surprised to find himself sitting once again beside Luna.

Her leg pressed against his, the pressure all at once comfortable and too much for Harry, overwhelming him and swallowing him whole. His breath seemed to tug at his chest, trying to tear it open.

The words came easily from his lips, tumbling out this time without getting stuck.

They seared his throat as they flooded out.

“I don’t understand what to do now. I never realized before. Never realized what I was doing, what I was a part of. How does it all feel so much more real now that it’s over?” He felt Luna nod beside him, could almost feel the look on her face, the look that no one else could ever even approach. Her words flowed just as his, in her familiar placid voice.

"Nothing is ever real until after it ends,” she told him gently, and her words made sense the way nothing else quite did.

“It’s all crashing down on me now, just how real it was. It was all on me, all on my shoulders, and…I couldn’t save everyone.” The words came out before Harry thought about what he was saying, and they weighed down on him painfully as he knew they were true. Still, they forced their way out, building up in him until he couldn’t hold them any longer, as he had to admit they were true.

“I was doing all that I could, and I was running, and I was fighting, and I just wanted this war to end, and Voldemort kept killing people and so many people are dead and I – I killed one of them,” he croaked, his voice growing horrified. His eyes grew wide with shock, his face whitened, and he felt his chest swelling with realization and pain and terrible, terrible fear as his breath caught in his throat.

Luna’s hand came up to meet his arm, comforting and stable; she said nothing.

“It’s all different,” Harry continued, glad she hadn’t tried to dispute his revelation. “Who…who am I now?”

“You’re Harry,” Luna answered simply. His laugh came out ragged and terrible. It sounded wretched in his ears and felt wrong in his mouth. He bit down hard on it, trying to regain some control.

“Nothing’s the same. Hermione and Ron are different, and Malfoy’s different, and McGonagall’s different, and…I’m different,” he conceded.

“You’re Harry,” Luna repeated, certainty lacing her voice. Harry turned to meet her eyes and saw the spark behind them, sending warmth through his stomach.

The tangled mess in Harry’s mind seemed to loosen, at least a little bit.

“I hardly know anything anymore. It’s like the one thing that was driving me crazy was the only thing keeping me together,” he said.

“Don’t worry. You’re just as sane as I am,” she replied, the hint of something deeper in her voice, her words an echo that reached out to Harry, grounding him.

He couldn’t stop the smile that came over his face.

***

Harry lifted bricks with his wand, sending them flying through the air to their places in the castle. He was glad to have something to do, with Luna working on his right and Ron and Hermione on his left. Things felt a little closer to right like this; a little more real, even if the sun shining down on him upset his head and shined too brightly. Slowly, carefully, they were putting the castle back together.



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