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the heat that drives the light

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It’s not the dark that bothers her. Luna’s used it after all, as many rare creatures are nocturnal and so, by now, is she. On alternate weeks at least. There are lamps here too, simple oil ones and a couple of sputtering torches, although they reveal little except the mouldy walls and the pallor on Mr. Ollivander’s face. She almost wishes – silently, guiltily – that they’d been left without any light at all, that she could wrap the darkness around her like a blanket and hide.

Not that it would be any use against the cold, which is a worse enemy by far. It’s the kind of pervasive, damp chill that settles deep in the bones, her whole body aching with the constant effort to suppress the shivers. It feels like a swarm of nargles has set up shop in her chest, gnawing and scratching and whispering.

Besides, Luna knows that wishing is all well and good, but it alone won’t change things. She learned that young, watching her father plant a tree on his wife’s grave, Luna’s mother’s name winding itself around the trunk as it grew.

Luna also knows a lot of people think she imagines things, makes things up in her head and then believes in them hard enough to make them true, if only for herself. A lot of people are wrong, and that’s a truth that requires no belief on her part at all. It’s not that Luna sees things that aren’t there, it’s that she sees not just what is but also what has been and might be in infinite possibilities.

Some are like stars, distant and so slow as to seem stationary, others like fireflies buzzing and weaving around her, all of them impossibly bright, even the ones that bring sorrow.

Right now, she sees how they are going to die, how they are going to live, and how the two are equally painful but not mutually exclusive. She sees it and she acts like she’s going to live because she wants to hug her father again, wants to count the flowers on her mother’s apple tree.

She acts like they’re both going to live because Mr Ollivander doesn’t see that possibility anymore, and so Luna has to believe in it, for him.

“You look like my Greta,” he says one evening. Or what Luna assumes is evening. His hands are shaking around the cup of water and she has hers wrapped around his in support. The water still sloshes over the rim, droplets darkening their dirty clothes.

She hums in acknowledgement and coaxes him into taking a few more careful sips. He’s only been back in the room for a little while and his whole body is still trembling with the pain, the ghost of agony slower to fade after each round of ‘questioning’.

“Or no, not look like,” he amends after a while. “Just… you remind me of her.” He’s watching Luna from the corner of his eye now, little fluttering glances like he’s having trouble focusing.

“Who’s Greta?” Luna finally asks. She’s rearranging the scarce bedding they’ve been provided, sneaking her pillow into Mr Ollivander’s pallet when his gaze wanders off to the side.

“My daughter,” he replies after a delay long enough that she thought he’d fallen asleep sitting up again.

“I didn’t know you have a daughter. What’s she like?” Luna pours some of the water for herself, wishing for it to be hot and steeped with tea and honey, but grateful for it all the same.

“She…” Mr Ollivander’s hands clench on the fabric of his stained shirt, then release, then tense again, for almost a full minute. “Kind,” he says finally, “always saw the best in people, always helped, always accepted help, always…” He trails off and after a while wipes his hands down his front, as if trying to smooth out the many wrinkles. His knuckles are swollen and painful looking from the cold. “She’s dead,” he adds, unnecessarily as Luna has caught the past tense and guessed as much already.

“I’m sorry,” she says anyway, because she is.

Mr Ollivander looks at her for a long moment before nodding once. “I’m not,” he says. “I’m glad she’s gone, that she doesn’t have to see…”

He doesn’t finish the sentence, but he doesn’t have to.

“It’s alright,” Luna says, because it might be. “Greta sounds lovely. We would’ve been great friends.” She knows it with some certainty, the star of that ‘might have been’ solid and beautiful.

Mr Ollivander smiles at her then, a slow, soft expression that pours over his lined face like sunshine and stays there long after he’s fallen asleep.

Luna curls up on the blankets, basking in the warmth of it. Around her, in the cellar of Malfoy Manor, a Milky Way of futures shimmers in the darkness. Nothing is certain. Everything is possible.

Even hope.