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Luna is born in a small hut on the coast, next to a flickering flame. Her father stands at the window, his face drawn, staring at the storm raging outside. It is dawn when Luna finally sees the light of day, and when Pandora clutches Luna to her chest gratefully, she whispers, in another world they would have called you the prince that was promised.

 

Xenophilius Lovegood beams down at his infant daughter and names her Luna after the moon because the moon is gentler than the sun and greater than the stars.

Pandora smiles at her daughter regretfully and thinks, Lunaerys.

 

This is a truth: When Pandora first sees a dragon – a Welsh Green – she cries. She has left her home for this brave new world, and the dragons will always be her greatest regret. How can they not be, when this is all that remains of them?

Pandora closes her eyes and turns away, closing her grief inside her heart.

 

Pandora has run away, and sometimes she regrets it. Sometimes there is a deep longing – not in her heart, but somewhere around her stomach, like it’s tied to the Red Keep, to what she called her home once.

But Pandora would have been in Ravenclaw, and so she knows that she has no place in King’s Landing anymore. The Blackfyre Rebellion changed everything.

She keeps in her heart her memories of her half-brother who died and her half-sister who begged her not to leave, and thinks, this is my penance.

 

Luna loves her mother very much. She’s interesting and different and smiles sometimes, but not nearly enough.

“Are the Nargles bothering you, Mama?” She asks once, in that beautiful strange language her mother has taught her, which Luna can’t quite wrap her tongue around.

Her mother smiles sadly and strokes her hair. “You’re too much like your grandfather, Lunaerys, sweetling,” she says, but Luna has never met her grandfather, so how can that be?

“It’s in your blood,” her mother answers when Luna asks her. “It’s in your blood like it never was in mine.”

 

She does not tell Luna any more that day.

 

When her daughter is eight, Pandora sees Luna hold her hands into the flame.

She rushes over immediately, though part of her already knows that Luna’s hands will be unmarked. Luna does not seem to be in pain, and the blood of their line runs strong in her daughter.

Luna’s hands are only slightly red, and when she looks up at Pandora wonderingly, Pandora almost cries.

“Am I a creature, Mama? But I thought we were Purebloods,” she asks, and her accent butchers the High Valyrian Pandora has attempted to teach her.

Pandora shakes her head fiercely but tenderly. “Your blood is the purest of them all,” she tells her daughter, because that is what she herself has always been taught, what she has always prided herself on.

It is the truth, after all. They have intermarried since the time of Aegon the Conqueror to keep their blood pure, and intermarrying often brings insanity.

 

There is an old saying about the gods tossing a coin between greatness and insanity, and Luna’s blood is not quite diluted enough.

 

That day, she tells Luna almost everything. She does not say that she misses her home, misses it more with every day.

She does not say that sometimes, the longing nearly tears her apart.

 

When Pandora dies, a mere year later, Luna clutches her mother’s wand in her hand and thinks princess and dragon and Mama and Lunaerys and why did you go?

Maybe her mother and her grandfather whom she never met and all of the others she will never meet are the reason why Luna will stay like this, with both feet planted in one world but trying to look into a different one.

 

Her mother died trying to make a portal, and as much as Luna loves her mother who called her Lunaerys and sweetling, she will never forgive her for loving the world she came from so much that she left her daughter behind.

 

When Luna comes to Hogwarts, she is a Ravenclaw like her father and different like her mother and doesn’t make many friends.

Her shoes disappear, one by one, and she thinks of her grandfather, who was a king, and ignores them with queenly grace, chasing after Nargles, who must surely have a hand in their cruelty, anyway.

 

She does make a friend in second year, Ginny, who almost died.

 

In their free periods, they go out and feed the thestrals.

Luna can see them because her mother loved another world too much; Ginny can see them because she stared death in the face and got away – and maybe this is why Ginny can laugh at death and be reckless, because she knows she has no reason to be afraid, because she has looked at her choices and decided, I will be brave.

Luna is jealous, sometimes, of her friend’s bravery, jealous of the decision Ginny made to shape her own life, to chase after her own goals, not the goals of others.

 

Once, Ginny asks her about her favourite animals.

“Dragons,” she replies, automatically, but then she stops and thinks, looking at the small thestral foal stumbling to his mother a few feet away. She’s never actually seen a dragon.

“Dragons,” she repeats, “and thestrals, too.”

 

This is a truth: In fourth year, during the first task, Luna sees the dragons and they are awe-inspiring and they take her breath away and she loves them.

This is a truth: Pandora cried when she saw the dragons of this world, and the brutes they were; but Luna has never known any others, never ridden on dragonback with her own father, and so she rejoices at the sight.

 

If Luna had been the Hogwarts champion, she would have walked to the dragon dreamily and taken its egg without any problems. The dragon would not have harmed her because it would have smelled her blood and let her through, because some things are too deeply ingrained to be whiled away through time.

And even if it hadn’t, if it had spit fire, Luna would have walked through without a worry, and come out unharmed on the other side, her hair a bit singed in parts.

 

But then, Luna would have been hopelessly lost in the lake, would maybe have drowned, and so it is probably for the best that she was too young to be the Hogwarts champion.

 

In fourth year, and then later in fifth and in sixth, Luna seethes – quietly, in her own special way – at the invaders, at Umbridge and at the Death Eaters, who dare claim Hogwarts as theirs.

This is my home, she thinks, you will not take it from me, and though she does not fight as ferociously as others, when Dumbledore dies, she is just as determined, and just as effective.

 

In fourth year, there is also a little girl who is blind but not really, and who watches her from a corner when she practices the language her mother taught her.

 

“Who taught you?” she asks, once.

“My mother,” Luna answers, though that is not what the girl – Arya – wants to hear.

“Who’s she?” Arya asks again.

“Her name was Pandora,” Luna replies blithely, and Arya remains silent.

 

In sixth year, she watches Arya writhe under a Cruciatus curse, silent like no one has ever been, and clenches her fists. When Amycus Carrow is done and leaving, Arya spits out valar morghulis and Luna offers up a quiet valar dohaeris.

Arya smiles for the first time.

 

She brings Arya to the Room of Requirement afterwards, and Arya asks her why the room is so different from what it was like before.

“It turns into whatever you need,” Luna explains, and Arya’s eyes turn calculating, wistful, afraid.

 

“It can’t change while someone is inside,” Luna adds, and Arya turns away.

 

After the war, Luna finishes her schooling. Arya is gone, as are Lavender Brown and Terry Boot and Fred Weasley and Professor Lupin and so many others, and when she walks in the corridors, no one scoffs at her anymore.

They are all so much easier to startle than before, but also so much harder, sharper, and Luna looks around with sad eyes and mourns the childhoods lost.

 

She gets an apartment in London and enrols in a magical university. She looks at the courses offered and sees Magizoology: Study of Magical Creatures but also Magical Theory: Portals and Dimensional Possibility.

Luna looks around, at the grey, rainy sky. She feels the DA coin heavy in her pocket and remembers her four o’clock appointment with Ginny for tea, where Ginny will tell her all about her try-out for the Holyhead Harpies.

She thinks about dragons, but also about thestrals, who are beautiful as well.

Luna exhales and makes her decision. She is not her mother, who cried at the sight of dragons and spoke another language in her dreams and always missed her home.

Luna will stay where her mother tried to leave. She has found her place, here, where she has lived her life, has fought for it and bled for it, and she will not relinquish it for a possibility.

 

Luna has made her home in this world. Pandora could not, and maybe it is time to forgive her for that, she decides.