The Duality of Darkness

Pairing: Bellatrix Lestrange/Luna Lovegood............Luna Lovegood is a new Trainee Healer on the fourth floor of St. Mungo's Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries. She finds that her mind might also be in need of some healing when she is introduced to one particular long-term patient, Bellatrix Lestrange; who was mistakenly presumed dead at the Battle of Hogwarts, only one year before......................Warnings (current, and in the future): AU, FEMSLASH, background OCs, destructive personalities, self-injury, conspiracy, subject matter on a close-relative's death, neglect, forms of child abuse (although, nothing descriptive, and it is very much in context and relevant), mental disturbances......................I originally posted this story up on FF.net, so, if you're on there, search for me and leave me a nice little message (or some harsh critique) if you like via PM or review! My writer name on there is 'ShelleyRusalki' also.

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3. Blackberry Entrails

 

With a whip of her robes, Miriam Strout was already walking through the door and out of her office. Luna guessed that she should follow, and her feet did move, but her thoughts were stolen by the sudden itching of the palms of her hands. She thought that perhaps the gas from the Crystal Ball had been unkind to her skin, and so held them out in front of her for a better look. The blonde saw no abrasion, nor any fast-healing burns as she had half-expected. Only the same pale palms with the same slender fingers, each with one or two silver rings fixed onto.

Her attention then turned to one of them in particular, a silver hare surrounded with tiny delicate blades of chrysocolla grass curling upwards and around her middle finger. A ring that her father had given to her after the death of Tom Riddle, and one that had belonged to her mother. She regretted that her initial thoughts of receiving such a gift were not as pure of heart as her father's had been. She could almost feel the love he had for both her and her mother searing through the silver, and that sentimental power alone is what helped her to see it as one of her treasures. The Ravenclaw then receeded further into wonder, to a place where she often played, that her Patronus Charm would take the form of a hare years before her father would gift her such a thing that fit her as if it were made for her; it was curious indeed. She had no recollection of ever seeing her mother wear it. It was beautiful in it's own right though, and she found small comforts in thinking that perhaps her mother had sensed what sort of person her child might become, as small as she had been back then, and to have bought something to symbolise her foreboding with.

The itching spiked at her palms again and she rubbed them against her robes to create a warming friction that might help to extinguish the irritation. The blonde witch then suddenly realised that they had been walking down a rather long and winding corridor, one which was not at all befitting for the layout of an old abandoned muggle department store.

Miriam Strout then stopped abruptly at a door infront of them both, and turned to smile at Luna.

"Give it a try." She said.

Luna placed her hand into the middle of the sun, and she felt it pulse as the rays creaked loudly and pulled back, one after another.

"Good, it seems that the building remembers you already." The senior Healer watched as the younger witch began to rub her hands against her robes again. "Ah, the itching is natural, it will go away after a few days. Try not to let it bother you too much, or distract you from your new studies."

"I don't much like it. It reminds me that I have a body." The Ravenclaw said. A constant cage that only falters in death, hmm.. not the time to remember such things.

The remark made Strout ponder for a moment. "Your thoughts interest me, as I knew they would. You really are quite the perceptive young witch. Having a body is a curse that we all face, and share with muggles and all other non-human creatures. We all share a timeless effort to fly and break free from the limits of the body," her eyes glistened. "But, without a body, how do we know whether we are real or not?"

"Having a body is not nearly enough proof for me." Luna admitted, already looking at what was behind the door as the senior Healer began to push it open.

"Nor me," Strout grinned. "But it makes sense. Our minds need to be able to make sense of things, to see structure and patterns, and having a body is how. See it as you would a gift."

The door opened and much light filtered through to where they stood, and Luna had to squint to help her eyes adjust a little better. Everything had been rather dark and dimly lit on this floor up till now.

Luna gasped as she was welcomed with a large meadow, and she wondered if the door had been a portkey. The meadow was populated by many different wild grasses and flowers. On further inspection, she saw the tiny bulbs of bee behinds poking intermittently out of Foxglove flowers, and many white butterflies decorated the air like tinsel. She could hear a sound of running water trickling into her ears from an unknown distance, and she guessed that there was perhaps a river or a lake near by. She could see a lush thick woodland in the distance, with small wooden cabins located beside it. There was also a children's playground in the centre atop a small hill, which was next to a smaller cabin with smoke churning from the chimney. The young witch could smell the food being cooked from inside it, even from as far as they both stood, and it made her stomach rumble a little.

"I'm a little hungry too, let's go and meet your collegues and see what they have for us to eat today." The brunette said.

"There are no House Elves?"

"Not here, I'm afraid."

As they walked towards the place where the delicious smell was coming from, which caused Luna's stomach to ache in reply, she noticed that there were mushroom rings aplenty across the shorter grasses but the young witch was a little disappointed that she could see no faeries playing within them.

"This is all an enchantment, isn't it?" She asked.

"Yes, it is." Strout said, as they both began to climb the hill. "What gave it away?"

"The mushroom rings," She said. "We have plenty of them back home, and you can almost guarantee that, at least, one faery will be close by to guard it."

"Ah. Well, insects we can have here because they are predictable and so are generally taken for granted. Magical creatures on the other hand, not so." The older witch stopped for a moment to draw her wand and temporarily part the thick grasses and nettles in the area that they were approaching. "We call this the recreation room. Each bit has been inspired by the good and always non-offensive childhood memories our patients over the years have had, and they all conclude to similar settings. We have had some add-ons over the years, but generally speaking, it's always the same."

"In nature is where we are most at peace." Luna pondered, feeling very peaceful herself now. "This is a very clever comforting technique."

"It's also a good get away from the bleakness of the ward itself; a little respite. Some of our long-term patients who can communicate effectively have stated how much they appreciate the opportunity for escapism when they know they can't in reality, and some are set projects to help create add-ons to this setting for everybody."

"It's all so beautifully crafted. I would never have known if it wasn't for the absence of the magical creatures." The blonde was in total awe. "I have seen enchantments such as this before, but only on far smaller scales."

"Some of our patient's have been able to craft much more beautiful scenes than most of my Healer's can. I was so happy when I was given permission to allow a select few of them to help create this small reflection of their outside worlds." Strout eyes glistened once again, and Luna instinctively grabbed at her hand and squeezed it for a moment.

The sun set a warming glow to the young witch's skin, and the wind weaved through the lengths of her hair and carried many leaves from the trees. "Does it ever rain?" She asked.

"Sometimes. I do love a good thunder storm from time to time, don't you?"

The two witches ascended the hill further, chatting happily, as the wooden cabin came further into view. From what she could see, there were only wearers of the lime green robes sitting on the benches outside.

"This is Luna Lovegood, our newest trainee Healer." The senior Healer said, upon arrival.

"Hello, everyone." The Ravenclaw smiled.

There were three wizards, and just the one other witch sat on the benches, with plates of food piled high infront of them.

One of the wizards spoke first, who was the tallest, and he was beardless and with long straight blonde hair and colourless eyes that were almost like shards of glass. "Hello, Luna! Do sit down, my name is Oberon Greengrass." He reminded her very much of one of the Malfoy's, with their dominant trademark features. "Of course, we aren't all here, there are another ten of us officially. It seems that you will be with us the most, however, as we all work on a rotation which will take you a little while to get used to. You might even see much less of us once you are settled and have your itineraries."

Greengrass then proceeded to introduce the rest of the Healers. "This is Phelan Ogden, to my left..." He pointed to a rather chubby looking wizard, who had short brown hair, brown eyes, and with lots of freckles, who already had a mouth full of his smoking stew and dumplings, but grinned widely at Luna with crumbs clinging to his lips. "This is Dewei Chang, to my right..." He pointed to a much older wizard with shaggy shoulder-length black hair and very staring dark eyes. Luna assumed this wizard to be a relative of Cho Chang, whom she had met numerous times due to them both being in Ravenclaw house, as well as both being members of Dumbledore's Army at Hogwarts.

".. And I'm Breena Smith." said the last Healer to be named, before Ogden could introduce her himself. She seemed to be even older than Strout, but was very striking in appearance in that she had very elven features and sported particularly short purple hair. She clasped her hand onto Luna's and shook them, and then retook her place at the table. "We haven't had a Trainee up here before, oh how cute!"

"I think I've seen you somewhere before, in a newspaper or something?" Ogden had finished his mouthful of food, his tone was very inquisitive.

"My dad is the publisher and editor of The Quibbler." The young witch said quickly.

There was a short pause and an unusually loud gulp from one of the throats around her. She rubbed her palms on her robes again as the itching made itself known once more.

"Oh, please. It's been far more accurate than the trash that you all probably read." Smith said haughtily to the rest of the Healers, and then turned to Luna. "I've actually always been a reader, and I'm glad that the newspaper has gained a lot of respect in recent years."

"Thankyou, but I'm not sure if that is entirely true." Luna replied. "We have never really minded all that much, although it does make us sad that so many people in our world are so quick to disregard the true magic in things. Muggles, who have next to no magic in their lives, desperately try to seek it and even find themselves believing in things that even I would consider strange. And, to speak from a more neutral perspective; it's good that we are hearing all sort of ideas from across the media too.. if we only heard one set of opinions then we would all probably think the same way, which would make our world weaker."

"This is very true." Smith agreed.

Miriam Strout, who's presence the young Ravenclaw had almost forgotten, then spoke up. "That all being the case, you probably don't recognise our newest member for that specific reason. Miss Lovegood, and I sincerely hope that you don't mind me saying this.." The older witch looked at the blonde for a sign of her comfortability, but Luna gave her nothing. "Miss Lovegood was a good friend of Harry Potter, Hermione Granger, and Ron Weasley last year, and she assisted them, at her own peril, in the destruction of Tom Riddle."

Perhaps the statement had been meant as a favour to the young witch, so that she would start with everybody on a clear wavelength, but there was a sudden change in the first impression that the blonde witch had assumed of Strout: and it caused her insides to twist. There were a few gasps, and then Chang spoke up. "Forgive me, senior Healer, but that might have been something which Luna, herself, would have preferred to say..."

"Is there any pudding?" Luna decided to try and change the subject, now that her stomach had officially began the process of eating itself. She hoped that no-one would see that she was at all bothered by the sudden exposure. She was not completely sure if she was actually bothered by it all in the slightest, anyway.

Strout laughed aloud, and didn't seem to have registered what Chang had previously said to her. "Of course, let's grab you something from the kitchen... It seems we have blackberry pastries and custard on the menu today." She clicked her fingers and with a sharp crack; a large warm dish, caked in so much custard that she could barely see the pastries, appeared at the bench. Luna immediately took a free seat next to Chang and began to tuck in.

During her devouring, a crushed blackberry fell from her mouth, and skittered it's way down the front of her robes to leave a trail of tiny blood-like stamps. Frenzied bloody foot prints; all trying desperately to inch themselves away from her. Her eyes found the source sitting just atop her knee, a berry the colour of a bruise, and she crushed it with her silver hare and brought it up to her mouth for a taste.

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