The breeze of summer was flowing gently through her blonde locks, chunks of gold brushing past her eyes. She ran, hard and fast, toward him, her arms outstretched with a grin plastered on her face, revealing her faintly crooked teeth. As the gusts of wind picked up, the flower tiara she had built was blown off. But her mind could not be strayed. He was home...It seemed like so many months! She missed him terribly.
"Luna!" He shouted happily, whisking her up into his arms and planting a dozen kisses on her cheek. "How has my little girl been?"
"Oh daddy, it was brilliant!" She indulged back, her voice squeaky and filled with excitement. "The Wallypurtans are having their babies! And I think one of them likes me!"
She was beaming at her father, looking down at him while he held her up toward the sun, taking in the face he hadn't seen in weeks. There was a bond between them, something they had shared since her mother, his loving wife, had passed away. Luna was his life... and she knew it. Every second of the day, she knew it.
"That's amazing luck, darling!" He was always encouraging her to follow her heart and dream the impossible. Even if everyone else saw them as delusional, she would always have something to believe in.
"Oh, daddy!" Luna flung her arms around his neck and squeezed as hard as her young body would allow. "I missed you! Don't leave again, okay?"
Xenophelius chuckled and set Luna down on the ground. "Alright, love."
"I have good news," Xeno announced as he walked in the front door, slipping off his Wellington boots and placing his umbrella hat on the coat rack. "Luna! You'll never guess-"
Luna peered out of the kitchen, her eyes studying her soaking wet father. She laughed and ran to him, wrapping his midsection in a hug. "You're home!"
"Yes, but darling. The most wonderful thing has happened!" He patted her on the head before bending down and gripping her underarms, bringing her face level to his. "You've been accepted to Hogwarts School! Did you know they have-"
"I don't want to go," she protested, biting her lip and glancing down pleadingly into her father's eyes.
"But, Luna, you have to go. All magical children have to be educated." Xenophelius set his little girl down on the ground and squatted down, making himself her own height. He tousled her hair gently and took her shoulders in his hands. "You can meet Harry Potter!"
Luna stomped her foot and crossed her arms. "I want to stay here with you, daddy. Please?"
"I have a big favor to ask you, daddy," Luna started determinedly, her fingers fidgeting with one another under the table. "It's about Harry Potter and-"
Xenophelius' head perked up at the mention of the boy-who-lived. There were far too few supporters out there, backing up the child who had saved them from Voldemort on more than one occasion.
"Anything for my baby girl." He smiled fondly at her, urging her to continue.
"Hermione Granger thinks that we should interview Harry. Hear his side of the story." Luna bit her lip and dropped her eyes from her father. Sure, they had both claimed to believe in Harry. However, if what he said was true, they were in for dark times when the papers were printed. "She said that if people read it, they're more likely to believe in Harry. And... The Quibbler."
Her father nodded, serenity gracing his face. "The Quibbler isn't meant to persuade the world, love. It's meant to encourage those who already have the willpower to believe that the truth is out there."
"You shouldn't have tried to get Harry captured, daddy!" Luna's angry voice echoed through their house. "I wasn't being tortured and kept captive for nothing! I can't believe you would do that to Harry!"
Xenophelius was on his feet, the usual smile faded from his face. "I wasn't going to lose you, Luna! You couldn't have asked me to wait on the Wallypurtans to save you! I need my little girl!"
"I'm a big girl, daddy." Her tones had dropped, as well as her eyes. "I can take care of myself. I don't need luck or... or... these ridiculous stories!"
After a sharp intake of breath, her father crossed his arms, tapping his fingers anxiously. "Ridiculous? Luna Lovegood, what has that school done to you? What has Harry Potter and his gang of miscreants done to you? Where is your spirit?"
"I was tortured for information! Where's my spirit?" Luna held up her hands to reveal scars tracing her palms, down her wrists and arms. "Where were the Wallypurtans, daddy? Where were our Wrackspurts and Snorkacks and montraipsies and densoliers? Where were they?"
She watched her father's horrified eyes travel the length of her marks. His eyes were glazed, looking at the broken girl before him. "You know they were there, Luna. But you got through it - all on your own! You didn't need them!"
She nodded, raising her chin high, a small smile on her face. "But I needed you."
Luna entered her father's home ten years after the war. He was growing older, but his mind was getting younger, it seemed. As she walked in, he had fixed her favorite tea and added biscuits to the tray he had set down in front of her.
"I'm glad you accepted my invitation, darling," he said excitedly, pulling a chair straight in front of his daughter. "I've been on a quest to prove the existence of the montraipsies. Newt Scamander's grandson accompanied me."
Her eyes darted to the ground. It was suppose to be her that had gone with him. She promised.
"We may have witnessed the birth of one, a purple one. You remember what I told you about the purple ones, love?" He kept moving, his hands to his face, his legs jumping up and down. All the while, his attention focused on his daughter. "Do you remember what I told you about them?"
With a fleeting look into her father's eyes, she shook her head. "I... I'm sorry. I don't... I've been working so hard at the hospital."
"Not to worry, dear girl, not to worry." Xenophelius pushed himself up from his chair with astounding agility and practically skipped over to his bookshelf, pulling an old Quibbler article from its dusty resting place. "We wrote the article several years after you were born, you see? Your mother, she penned it herself. The purple ones... they're supposed to bring life."
Luna rolled her eyes, but did not let her father's high-pitched voice go unnoticed. He seemed terribly... childish, simple and hopeful. Maybe she had never noticed that about him growing up because she had been taught the same way. And she was different now. Oh, so different.
"Nothing can bring life, father," she replied simply, eyeing the magazine article before her. "We've studied it a lot at Mungo’s, in the potion's lab. There's just no-"
"No, no, no, no," he corrected her, shaking his finger around in her face. "No, things can bring life. You're alive, Luna. Your mother and I, we gave life to you."
She felt ashamed. It was true. Something so routine, mundane... the course of life, the birds and the bees. Her father had given her life. But the life that she remembered having.... was sold short.
"You kept me believing in things that don't exist." She stood from the sofa and handed the clipping back to her father. "I was tormented in school. I was called Loony Lovegood. Father, you have to stop this ridiculousness!"
While walking to the door, she couldn't help but glance over her shoulder to see her father's face. He was sitting in his chair, facing out of the window, his foot bouncing up and down like a giddy child. Luna closed her eyes and sighed. He couldn't change his ways now... he was too far cemented in them.
"They told me that you're dying."
"I tried to capture the montraipsies," he confided, his eyes glistening, refusing to look at her. "I wanted to discover life."
Luna turned from her rooted spot and walked to her father, kneeling beside his armchair. "Daddy..."
Xenophelius looked on to his daughter, a tear slipping down his face. "I don't want to lose you. Not again."
Placing her hand on his, Luna's eyes took in his face, the heartbreaking frown forming on his lips, the wrinkles in his forehead. "You're not going to lose me, Daddy. I'll always be here." She put her hand to his heart and offered him a small smile. "Right with mum."
"Want help carrying the-” Xeno’s offer for help was cut off when he saw his daughter laying across the floor, her eyes closed and a shattered teacup beside her. "Luna!"
He shouted for her to wake up, shook her, tried everything he could to get her to move. But she was motionless. He scooped her into his arms and ran for the floo, tears pouring down his eyes, soot attaching too the wet lines on his face.
St. Mungo's was overcrowded, patients lining the halls, complaining of the latest hexes and curses, family ordeals and problem plants. Xenophelius ran from the floo to the front desk, his daughter limp in his arms. Luna was losing color, and steadily losing life.
"Help!" His strangled and straining voice echoed in the hall, gaining attention from the surrounding patients. "She's... please... help!"
"Get in line, sir-"
"My daughter is dying!" Xeno shouted back to the nurse behind the counter. "A healer. Now!"
"Daddy-" Her voice was soft, scratchy... but still melodious to his ears.
He sat up quickly and took her hand in his. "Luna, darling, don't strain yourself. You just had a little accident. Everything will be all right, you see? I..I've been searching around and I think I know how to find the purple montraipsies. Scamander is going to help. We're going to-"
"Daddy, I have to go." Her eyes focused on his face, the outline blurred by tears. "I have... They're waiting for me. I have to-"
"Don't, Luna. You don't have to go." He squeezed her hand and brought it up to his cheek, rubbing his stubbled face against it. "You can't leave me, Luna. I can't lose you like I lost your mum."
"She said hi, daddy... She loves you. But she's waiting for me." Luna coughed and closed her eyes, still conscious of his trembling hand and the voice in her ear.
"I love you, Luna. I love you. Please, my little girl. Don't leave me. Stay... We'll find the montraipsies. We'll get you healthy again." His voice shook as the hot tears poured down his face. "We'll get the montraipsies, darling, you'll see. You'll see that they're real. We'll get them and you'll live. You'll live. Luna. Please, don't..."
Her hand went limp in his, her face fell, peace taking over the muscles in her body. Her last breath had sounded so similar to "daddy". He put his head down on the white sheets of her bed and stroked her hand with his thumb, muttering to her, to himself, to God, to anyone that could listen.
Maybe heaven is a montraipsie in disguise.
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