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seven cities ago.

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The thing about ends is that ends are rarely ends, and not just the cheap cliché that an end is a beginning because a beginning can be an end of something else or that in itself can be another beginning or another end or another alteration masquerading as an ending that’s false even as you look twice at it, lacking the true finality that a real, honest end that they’ve been taught to believe could exist because things rarely actually end; the only truth is that things change and, sometimes, are killed, but that doesn’t mean anything’s actually over.

Luna’s words are split and stumbled, and people wear a certain expression when she’s explaining things; one that’s more patient nowadays than it used to be, but there’s a stillness behind the eyes that still whispers no, but hurry up. There’s a time for straight to the point, of course, but these days there is nothing but time, stilted bitterness, things that can be rebuilt and things that can’t. People don’t always know the difference, of course.

The fact of the matter is that if they were ever children they certainly aren’t now, haven’t been for a long time, and there’s blood on their hands and between their teeth and in half of their dreams, and they could wait for things to get better but they won’t. Their adulthood is hard-won and brand-new and brittle at the edges, in a world that isn’t the one they thought that they would inherit.

There are plans and there are plans and there’s the shape of despair in Ginny’s mouth, adolescence ruined with the kind boy with pretty eyes raped me in every way possible, carrying a dead brother and future with a living icon, a childhood wish come true, made flesh, and sometimes Luna is simply relieved that nobody listens to a word she says.

Perhaps, when victory arrived, they all thought that once the battle was won and the bodies buried and the rubble cleared, they could stop. But if any of them stop then they will not start again, cannot start again, too much to look back at and an uncertain view ahead. It’ll never end, now, these things never do, and that’s something Luna will never tell anybody, in case they haven’t realised for themselves yet.

It will get better, and it will never get better, and Luna’s life has always felt a little fragile, a little to the left of perhaps everyone’s, and now theirs have swung a little more into line with hers she doesn’t feel relief like she used to think she might; now, she largely just feels pity, and the sense of something more being added to her shoulders, something she cannot see but does not need to.

Once, there might have been tears. Or words, real words. Or shouting. But they have grown beyond these things, they have all grown beyond those things, and one day there will be children who are children, who do not know what it is to kill before they’ve even had their first kiss, who don’t find the corridors of their school as terrifying as they are reassuring, and they’ll be the ones who get to enjoy the spoils of this fight. There’s nothing for the rest of them now; nothing solid, not anymore.

Well. There’s Ginny’s wrists in Luna’s hands, her hair catching on her eyelashes, there’s music and sunlight that belong to someone else, there’s an afternoon they earned in a dozen unthinkable acts, there’s the way Luna doesn’t hesitate when she kisses her, and the way Ginny doesn’t freeze before kissing back.