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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5. Without No Cage

 

Luna Lovegood was never one to apparate needlessly, despite the popular opinion that a journey as long as this one would certainly call for it. It was still a beautiful day, with the sun prickling in its Autumn glare, and the breeze tickled cooly at her skin like the garnering fingers of an Asrai.

 

She never kept a steady speed whilst on her broom, instead choosing to weave with the winds and interlace herself amongst the clouds. Quidditch would have never been the sport for her, despite her love of watching it. She involved herself in the experience far too much to even think of rules. The blonde loved to roll around, sometimes flying upside down with her hair webbing messily across her face, and other times dipping so low so that she could run her hand through any waters that she flew by. She had almost lost her hair flower at one point in a more daring dive, but the freedom was always too good not to sample.

When the humble black-coloured cylindrical house teetered into view, on a hill just past the village of Ottery St. Catchpole, she was reminded of how it had looked just a few short years before. Tears had stung her eyes at the ruin of it, but, with the help of her father and some new friends, they had managed to reconstruct it back to its former unsettling beauty. Luna and her father had made their life there, and although their roots were firmly entrenched in southern Ireland, they had made this their tree home. The move, back when she had been eleven, had been quite catastrophic, and neither saw a point in unsettling themselves further with something so trivial once more. The world was always at their feet, and they could travel to wherever they fancied and on whatever vagary. Strong foundations were important, her father had told her many times, and with her head always in the clouds; she was constantly in much need of something to keep her grounded.

Bellatrix Lestrange was in St. Mungo's, and she had not known it. The Quibbler often caught wind of such things easily, and, if Bonham was correct, a lot of people seemed to already know about it. She wondered if Harry and Ron, now that they were both Aurors-in-training, might have had a clue. The Ravenclaw had seen it happen; she had seen Molly Weasley throw an unnamed curse which had hit the eldest Black sister squarely in the chest, just above her heart. She remembered the exhillerated laugh which had fallen from her blood red lips moments before the ink had dispelled itself from her eyes. A laugh that had made Luna's nerves wrap themselves around her entire spine and sting as though they were the electrifying tentacles of a Jellyfish. It was the same laugh Sirius had given before he toppled backwards, and lifeless, through to the Veil of Ancestors. The same one her mother had savagely squawked when standing on that crooked cherry chair, with her arms outstretched, and her ice blue eyes glowering straight foward into nothingness; as though her young daughter had been imperceptible.

With a thud, Luna crashed to the ground with her broom on top of her. She had never been too great at landings. Dirt now sullied her uniform robes among other things that she had picked up on that short day. The young witch hoped that her personal House Elf, Kiwano - whom she had named after the bizarre horned melon fruit, due to the unusual Elf genetics of having tiny bump-like horns atop her head - wasn't too busy to wash and ready it for tomorrow's first full shift at the hospital.

The blonde threw her broom to the ground immediately after entering the front garden through a rickety wooden gate, and paced herself along the zigzagged path. Some friendly Sprites greeted her from within the old crab apple trees that stood either side of her front door, which was thick and black, studded with iron nails, and with a knocker shaped like an eagle. Knowing that it would be open, and hearing her father clinking about in the kitchen, she pushed on through.

Xenophilius Lovegood was just taking a seat beside the wrought-iron spiral staircase in the center of the circular kitchen when his daughter's presence became apparant. He immediately began to smile and signalled her to give him a hug. The young witch dropped her bag where she stood and hurried over to him.

"How was your day?" He asked heartily, as Luna threw her arms around his neck to tighten their embrace.

"It was more than just a little cramped with just about everything." She said, breathing in the thick smells of patchouli that the wizard's homely egg-yolk yellow robes seemed to be invariably soaked in. "On first impressions, the Healers I managed to meet today, who work on my ward, all seem nice enough."

"Did you make any new friends?" Xenophilius continued to beam at his daughter, she slid back a little so that she was in his lap more comfortably rather than crushing him, more so than he would ever admit to his daughter, beneath her adult weight.

"I think that the overall busyness of everyone means that making friends might take some time." She said, although unconcerned. "Two of the Healers I met today, Breena and Augustus I think were their names, mentioned that they might like to see me outside of work at somepoint this week. That might be nice, as then I'd be able to get a better feel for everybody."

"That's grand. I really am proud of you. I half-expected you to venture off into Wizarding Naturalism - but no, something like this is far more suited to your many talents." His eyes welled a little with some tears, and he lifted her hand to kiss the space that bore his wife's silver hare ring. "Your mother would be so proud."

Luna fondly stroked her father's face with delicate fingers.

"Is there any ginger tea?" She asked, and, before the wizard had finished nodding, she padded over to the many curved cupboards. Even the sink and stove were unusually curved to fit the circular shape of their house.

The kitchen was brightly decorated in an entourage of multi-colour, and busied with many different birds, insects, and flowers which had all been painted by her hand.

"What on earth have you got all down the back of your robes?" Xenophilius enquired from across the room, and Luna realised that she had totally forgotten about it.

"I cleaned it with a spell earlier, so the worst of it is just staining now." She said, pouring both herself and her father a warmed glass of ginger tea. "Which reminds me, I need to ask Kiwano if she is free to help me clean them."

"I'm sure that she'll have some time later," The wizard began to check his own robes for signs of anything which may have rubbed off, and seemed more than pleased that only a little dirt from the garden had escaped onto him. "After she has finished galavanting in the fields with Oisin, of course."

Luna giggled. Oisin had been their House Elf for as long as she could remember, but he had fallen head over heels for their newest addition which she had bought from a rescue centre not too long ago. Deaths in the wizarding world continually lead to the homelessness of many a poor House Elf, as well as other pets.

Passing her father a glass of warmed ginger tea, she took a seat next to him.

"So, are you going to explain how you got so dirty on your first day?" Xenophilius sipped his drink and felt the comforting sharpness wash down his throat. "You didn't fly too low and skid across a swamp again, on your way home?"

"No, no, Dad." The blonde witch began to laugh, but then straightened herself up a little. "Actually, I happened to stumble upon Bellatrix Lestrange."

The wizard nearly spat out his tea. "Madame Lestrange?" He asked, and, more alert now, repositioned himself to sit up more directly.

"Hm. Yes. At least, I'm almost certain of it." She affirmed.

Luna envisioned the many cogwheels in her father's head mesh together, splutter to life, and begin to turn. She knew that she would never have to worry about divulging her father in anything. He was extremely proud of his newspaper, and would never print anything without, at least, more evidence than just the words spoken from one mouth. Even if the information did directly come from his daughter, and he had never once disbelieved anything she had ever disclosed to him. The young witch knew that revealing this to her father was a good thing, as he had plenty of resources to find out more information which could be beneficial to her. Plus, nothing confidential was broken, as, it seemed, a fair few people already knew about this - not to mention Bonham, who had several other paintings in which he could travel to, could tell whom he liked.

"I wanted to explore, some, before I left." The blonde witch started. "It was cut a little short, though, when I'd obviously wandered into where they keep the segregated patients. I'm guessing, for those who are difficult to handle, those that they somehow predict will be difficult to handle, and obviously higher profile criminals who've been deemed as mentally unhinged as well."

".. And had they not secured this place very well?" Xenophilius seemed to be very concerned now. "You must be careful where you wander, my dear child, we've been through so much... and if anything ever happened to you... again..."

Luna reached across to give her father's hand a squeeze. "Nothing happened, well, not really." She said. "All the doors along that corridor seem to be full of enchantments, and you can barely see them through all the locks that they are covered with. I was just exploring, and I happened across one in particular that seemed to unlock itself for me. I have no idea why. Each one seemed that it would only open for a goblin, as they reminded me so much of the ones at Gringott's. Perhaps it was faulty, I'm not sure... but it locked itself fully when I came back out."

"You went in?" The wizard had to take a few large gulps of the now-cooled ginger tea to steady his nerves. "Of course, I should have never expected anything less. I guess this is where you stumbled across Madame Lestrange?"

"Yes." The blonde witch asserted. "And - oh, Dad... it was rather horrible, actually."

"Did she touch you, again? I'm going to-"

"She is in such an awful condition, Dad. She had been so wretchedly sick, and was sitting in her own vomit when I came across her. There was nothing in there; nothing of her own." She said calmly. "I don't believe that she recognised me. It was so dark, cold, and the only comfort she had was this torn up blanket which looked to be a thousand years old. Her mattress looked like it was coated in Flesh-Flies, and I wouldn't be suprised if there was one big fat Giant Grub living inside of it."

"I'm sure those things are luxuries in Azkaban, and she was there for fourteen years, sweetheart." Xenophilius' face softened. "As much as the Black family is to be respected in most of the old wizarding families.. Don't forget what she, and all the others, especially any other dark wizards and witches that you may come across in the future, did to us. Did to our world. Such a powerful bloodline, but such power is usually followed by corruption. Our world became a little darker, and a little more lost, at the death of Sirius Black."

"I know." She replied. "In my understanding, everybody in there has been deemed as mentally unfit. Perhaps higher security is needed, sometimes... but I really don't think much to Madame Lestrange having to live like that, nor anybody else, in a place where they should be receiving help. Being a previous inmate of the abhorrence that is Azkaban does not mean anybody should have to live like that, ever. Madame Lestrange... despite all that she has done, she is nobility, Dad. You raised me to be as open-minded as a human could ever possibly be, and I did all I could with my friends to erase The Cause from these times of such great insanity; but to also respect our bloodlines.. Our ancestors.. it is the most important thing for us all. So that no-one that treads with heavy-footing shall ever be forgotten, good, or bad."

"I know, sweet daughter." His demeanour was much more calm now, and matching to that of the blonde witch, and then he fell into a sudden trail of thought. "You know how much I despise Azkaban and all it stands for. What, do you suppose, is her reason for hospitalisation? How did she seem, to you?"

"Extremely subdued. I know that whenever she had been seen publicly before, or by any of us, she was always frenzied, psychotic even... and I guess that she can't possibly be like that all the time." Luna pondered. "It was different this time and I can only guess something has gone wrong with her memory... but what of mine? Of my friends? We all saw her die, Dad. I'm sure of it."

They both sat in silence for a few minutes. Her father was twiddling the chain of his golden Deathly Hallows pendant.

"You don't suppose..." She started.

"Horcruxes? No." Xenophilius held a strong tone of certainty. "Madame Lestrange has a suprisingly small known count of murders, of people from the wizarding world, to her name. Much less than even the lowest ranking Death Eaters. She is well-known for her methods of torture and maiming, and her natural talents for duelling, because it gave her a buzz. However, I can bet my last Knut that she left the majority of the killing to others. I can imagine that she would have found the practice of swift murder fairly boring, if she was not already bored long before it got to that stage.. for the most part, anyway. I'm pretty sure that, before the Battle of Hogwarts, she only went out of her way to kill people who had disrespected her on a much more personal level. Although, there are still many victims who have never been found, bodies marred unidentifiable, and many more where only pieces have been found. I'm not ruling out that they could be her handywork, giving that it would be much more stimulating to her frame of mind than a fleeting killing curse."

The blonde witch considered this for a moment. In some ways, this woman was somewhat worse than a murderer either-way; her knowledge of Neville's parents cemented that fact.

She was reminded again of how quick the dark witch had grown bored with her, and left her in the eager clutches of Greyback. Luna then realised how suprising it was that Bellatrix had not gone further with her torture, to get the reactions she always so desperately sought. If you had any buttons that could be pressed, she was right there ready to warm the blood and watch it boil over with her childish glee. Fortunately, Luna didn't have too many visible buttons, whereas Bellatrix, as cunning as she may have been, always presented far too many - at least in the young Ravenclaw's eyes. Ambivalence hides weakness, and the eldest Black sister had far too often displayed many discernible passions. Bellatrix had left her with Greyback, who had touched her, but he had never bitten her and gotten her infected, as she had expected him to on countless occasions, being that he was an opportunist like that. He had threatened her with it on numerous occasions, as he was never usually one to resist the smell of any young girl, but he never acted on his threats. She had not even been overly bothered. The young Ravenclaw had found amusement, in her head, that she might have been destined to become a werewolf and also happened to be named 'Luna'. Perhaps Harry, Ron, Hermione, and Dobby had just all arrived in time before things started to get truly heated. Perhaps, they had wanted her intact as they saw her as a future suitress for Draco Malfoy, then again, maybe not. The idea almost made her giggle aloud.

"It's pure guesswork... but Mrs Weasley's curse must have been reflected, somehow." Xenophilius spoke up once more. "Although, against popular opinion, and I do not mean any disrespect to your friends... Madame Lestrange, as terrible as she may be, is probably one of the greatest female duellists of our time. I had always found it rather suprising that she had been able to silence such a great dark witch."

"Me too." The young Ravenclaw agreed, and she felt the squirm of guilt in knowing that she had always thought it. Only a fool would have not acknowledged how great the dark witch's talents were. She has been one of few to have deflected an attack from Dumbledore. It was a secret belief that she would never feel comfortable about putting forward to her friends, especially Ginny, Ron, and Harry - even if they already did know that her curse had been unsuccessful. It made her all the more happy that she was able to talk so openly with her father.

"Perhaps, by some fluke, it's also how she seems to have lost some memory.. and if that's her main reason for being at St, Mungo's, then it must have been a fairly sufficient amount of damage." The wizard suggested. "Then again, this could have something to do with the Ministry. Especially, as it seems that you, nor your friends, have any recollection other than her death. Or, perhaps, she didn't rouse until much later after her death had been mistakenly declared."

"I'm not sure of the Ministry's involvement," The blonde witch took the last sip from her cold ginger tea, and placed the glass on the small coffee table infront of them both. "I remember Miriam Strout, my Senior Healer, telling me that they have had a large influx of gold over the last year... from the Ministry, as well as private donators."

"I can bet that if she has had her memory wiped somehow, then the Ministry will be paying through the nose to see that treatments are sought so that she regains it quick - for some simple questioning, or to have her straight back in the walls of Azkaban." He pushed his mouth to the side and wrinkled his nose in disdain. "Perhaps that's why she is being kept in segregation... so that she doesn't get too comfortable. I doubt most would be happy to see her frollicking about on the rest of the ward, anyway."

A sudden noise made them both jump a little, as Kiwano and Oisin walked in casually through the large magical cat-flap on their front door, which only House Elves could pass through. They had some shopping bags straining on their tiny arms, and both clambered up onto the kitchen sides to empty them and distribute each item to their designated areas.

"Afternoon, Master and Mistress!" Oisin said cheerfully, and both Luna and her father grinned and greeted the two of them in return.

"We haven't bought much, we just realised that you'd been running out of certain things." Kiwano said in her high-pitched, and rather squeaky, voice. "We'd have been a little quicker if this one-" she shot Oisin a sharp look. "-didn't keep piling the baskets up with different flavours of toothpaste."

Oisin looked upset. "But... I like to brush each tooth of mine with a different flavour! I've seen Mistress do it, Mistress understands!"

"Child's play. Mistress was only teasing." Kiwano had obviously had enough of her accomplise for one day. She began to empty a large selection of fruit into the glass fruitbowl which Luna had painted herself many years before.

The young witch could watch the House Elves squabble and go about their daily activities for hours, but she decided that she probably very much needed a long bath to wind down a little for the evening, before starting to have a flick through her study books.

As she stood, her father turned to her. "I know it's not your nature, but don't let on that you know anything, or suspect anything: to anybody. A quiet and naieve-seeming disposition means that the answers will all unfold to you, without any effort on your part. People find it much easier to warm to something that doesn't give much away." He said, quietly, so that the Elves couldn't hear. "If you can, try not to mention that you have met with Madame Lestrange, at all. Although, I'm sure that won't take long to surface."

Luna smiled her sweetest smile to her father, which seemed to appease him, and then bent over to give him a kiss.

The bathroom had been filled with the smell of coconuts, from oils, soaps, creams - anything that she could find which even had a hint of the seed's wonderous odour. The water had steamed as she stepped into it, and her skin replied with an angry reddening. It had felt so good to be fully immersed in a water that smelt so delicious.

Wrapped in a towel in her bedroom, the study books were now all splayed out infront of her as she flicked through each. Suprisingly, everything she read seemed to be relatively easy, and although she may not have them finished in one night - at most, she could see it taking only a week.

The photo of her mother hugging her was perched upon her bedside table, and she grabbed at it. Instead of looking at the photo, she flipped the frame around, flicked the tiny bits of metal which held the back of the frame securely to the photo, and pulled it off to reveal a hidden shard of mirror.

Luna looked at it for a long while, catching glimpsing reflections of the candles in her room as she turned it to and fro. She then continued to read, much more focused on her work now, whilst pressing the shard deep beneath her fingernail.

 

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