Moira is crying on her bed again. Luke can only watch in equal parts sorrow and wonder. She's so beautiful when she cries, like the tears are magnifying her natural elven luminescence. They stream down her cheeks. Such fine soft cheeks, they might be made of velvet. He wishes he could gaze into those lavender eyes. They remind him of the flowers his godfather brought him from Allothoria once. They'd stayed fresh for weeks under a glass dome with no water, levitating, and sparkling.
Moira is more beautiful than any flower.
"You'll be beautiful forever," Luke says. He's helpless to say anything else. Moira cries harder, her sobs wracking her shoulders and her exhalations making the sheer bed drapes flutter slightly.
"You'll die before I can ever marry you." The words come out in thick, sorrowful chunks.
"I'll love you my whole life," says Luke. "I'll never stray."
"We can never be together. Don't you see that? You have to go," Moira says. "It's the kindest thing. Mama is right about that. You should find a Short-Li-- I mean... a h-human girl."
Luke clenches his teeth. Even here, even now, after all the special times they've shared, Moira can't get past her elven prejudice. She goes for the slur first, thinks of him as less than a person, as a bug, as a Short-Lifer. It's that more than anything that makes him turn and leave.
"You're wrong," he whispers. And he hates her a little, even as he loves her.
At home, Captain Allonius is waiting. Luke hasn't seen him in three years, and this isn't the time he'd planned on having for a reunion. The Ranger claps him on the back. "My boy, you've grown. You'll be a man soon!"
"I wish I wouldn't," says Luke.
"What's this now?" Captain Allonius is troubled. If his brow could furrow, Luke thinks it would. But it can't.
"There's just this girl," Luke mutters.
'Tell me," says the Captain.
Hogwarts is not what Luke expected. How could Luke expect anything like this? Even the richest folk back home, even the immortals, don't live in such lavishness. The beds! My god, the beds! The one he's been assigned is three times as large as Moira's, and it has velvet hangings. Velvet! Made from silk! Not synth fabric. It's enough to make Luke want to cry, even though his tear ducts are normal sized. Already he feels more like an elf.
The classes are hard. He's best in Arithmancy and Defense Against the Dark Arts, abominable in most other things. Can't for the life of him figure out this broom thing. How is one meant to fly on a weird cleaning tool? But Allonius said he had to try hard at everything, that only by applying himself could he achieve his dreams. Allonius, who was his only link with home, who sent him letters somehow, by owl. As if Owls could fly through space and time...
Luke doesn't question it. He sets his will to the work in front of him. He has twelve inches to write on the care and feeding of dragons. He hasn't time to be dreaming of home.
Dumbledore is older than he looks. It doesn't take much to work that one out. He calls Luke into his office one day. It's the first time Luke has seen him up close since they met at home. Since Allonius set up this foreign exchange study plan. Luke feels nervous. He hides the vial of Moira's tears in his palm, as if it might give him courage.
"Ah, Mr. Jackson," Dumbledore says. "Do come in. I'd like to discuss something with you."
Inside the office there are many things, wondrous things. Luke doesn't know where to look. He only half hears the proposal. He agrees before he knows what he's done.
When he gets back to his room in the tower, to the bed with the velvet hangings, he stares at his empty palm, wondering if he has just made the worst mistake of his life.
"Dear Moira," he writes. "This quill is scratchy, and I don't know why I am even writing to you in the first place. There's no chance you'll ever see this. I had to, though. I had to say that I sold your tears today. I'm sorry."
He crumples the parchment into a ball and then carefully uncrumples it again. He stows it in his trunk, in the false bottom, under the intergalactic papers of diplomatic travel allowance.
In the next two years, there are enough unsent letters to fill one of the Elven Tomes of Magular. Luke doesn't know why he saves them all.
Nicholas Flamel comes when Luke is a Seventh Year. It's the last Hogwarts year, though it's actually only Luke's third. He's head of the class in Arithmancy, not big in anything else.
Flamel doesn't look old. He doesn't look elven youthful, but he seems like a vigorous middle aged man.
"I have the formula for you," he says.
"It will work?" Luke asks.
"It will. If you do it right. But not on this planet. Do you understand. Earth is too small for more immortals. There's a balance here. We must maintain it."
"And the price?" Luke asks.
"The tears are a start," says Flamel. "As for the future, let us just say you owe me a boon."
Luke leaves Hogwarts on a space ship, but it's magicked to look like a flying car. Somehow wizards find that easier to buy than real space travel. Luke doesn't understand them. Never has. It doesn't matter. He has the formula. He needs the ingredients, and a place to brew them. A place no one will bother them. He sets his course for Meloran. The desert will keep his secrets.
When he's done with the formula, when he's properly ageless, then he'll learn to fight. He pats the sheaf of parchment in the seat next to him. When he's ready to show these to Moira, to show her himself again, she'll have no choice but to be impressed.