When Luna opened her eyes, she was unsurprised to find herself in a place of bright, white light. There were no furniture or hangings where she was or any houses around that she would deem familiar. She wasn't in Hogwarts anymore of that she was certain as she would remember if there was a large white room in the castle that had nothing in it.
It was also very cold which caused her to shiver and rub her hands up and down her arms.
But she knew she had been in a place like this once before.
It had been after her mother's death.
She had lain awake at night praying for someone to watch over her mother as she went to the afterlife.
When she had finally fallen asleep, she had dreamed she was in a room much like this one.
A strange dark hooded figure had been there and after getting over her initial surprise, nine year old Luna realized that it was Death himself. She supposed she should have been more afraid but part of her was lucid enough to know that she was dreaming as well as to know she could wake herself up if she wanted.
She had had a long conversation with the spectre about where her mother was and that she was quite happy that she wasn't sick anymore.
The conversation had been oddly comforting to Luna, especially when Death, or Mestophiles as he asked her to call him had told her that when it came time for her to die as well that he would come and take her away.
And here she was so that could only mean one thing
Is the hour of my death upon me? She wondered to herself. I suppose I shouldn't be too surprised. The Nargles were strong in the castle and I was the only one that could see them. I guess it's time to go then. I wouldn't be here if I wasn't dead. Unless of course I'm dreaming and the Nargles are messing with my brain.
"I'm afraid your speculation is correct little one."
Luna whirled around and saw a familiar figure shrouded in black standing a few feet away from her. He was holding onto his familiar scythe and his hood was pushed back much to her surprise.
She had never seen it off when she had talked to him before but now that she saw him, she understood why.
He would have been very frightening to a young child.
He was tall, at least seven feet and if that wasn't imposing enough he was also rail thin. She supposed that that sort of made sense though. He was the embodiment of what death looked like. And people who died usually weren't in the best shape when it happened. So it made sense he was as thin as he was. Death wasn't supposed to be hearty and full of vitality. It was supposed to be thin and old and tired.
His skin was deathly white and almost leathery. His hands which were clenched tightly on the hands of his long scythe were more like claws or talons than fingers. His hair was stark white like the rest of his skin and seemed to shine eerily like a halo of snow upon his head.
But his eyes were what made her own widen the most.
They were as black and as shiny as obsidian and onyx pearls with not a drop of white in them.
All of this would have been very frightening to a young child and Luna was somewhat glad that he had kept the hood up when they had spoken earlier.
Nevertheless he was here now and that could only mean one thing.
"Hello Phil," she said somewhat sadly. "Have you come to take me away then?"
The expression of Mestophiles didn't change but Luna thought he looked slightly amused for a half second. It was gone in an instant however and she wondered if she had imagined it.
"Not quite yet child," he said in his rough gravelly voice that sounded as if it were coming right out of the grave. "It's true that you are dead in the world you know but you were robbed of the life you should have had. Riddle seems intent on bringing as many souls as possible to me as he can. Foolish mortal. Does he think that by giving me souls I will allow him to keep his?"
Luna didn't have an answer for that so she kept quiet for a moment.
"So if you're not here to take me away," the small blonde asked curiously. "Then why am I here Phil?"
This time she was sure she hadn't imagined his amusement as his black eyes seemed to grow even shinier.
"It's quite simple little one. Your life was taken from you too soon and I am not allowed to take souls who die before their time. I am simply a slave to its whims myself. The souls that are unfortunate enough to have that fate I meet with here and offer them a choice. Where we are in a neutral plain between life and death."
"What choice am I being offered?" Luna asked curiously.
"Riddle has succeeded in ending your life along with many of your companions," Mestophiles explained. "And because you have died in the world you know I cannot send you back. But I can give you a new life."
Of all the things she expected Phil to say to her that certainly wasn't one of them.
"You want to give me a new life?" Luna asked. "But why?"
Mestophiles didn't smile but it almost looked like he wanted to. "It's not a matter of what I want child. I am merely a slave to time. And time demands that you not die yet for it has not yet run out for you. If you choose to decline than I will carry your soul to the afterlife."
Luna was silent for a long time thinking.
On the one hand, she was very angry that she hadn't gotten to live the life she was supposed to have and would dearly love the chance to do it again. She hadn't even found the Crumple Horned Snorkack for Merlin's sake!
On the other hand the afterlife seemed like a time of rest and that was something that was appealing as well.
"What sort of life would I be given?" she asked curiously.
"That I cannot tell you," Mestophiles said. "I do not normally give lives. But it will be one far different from the one you know."
All her life she had longed for adventure and to see the world outside the walls of Hogwarts. Before she had died her mother had told her to seek adventure like she would seek water or air. Luna had a serious wanderlust in her and she would never be satisfied until she had done it all and seen it all.
Everyone she knew was gone and she was being offered a chance she would never have again. If she didn't take it she had a feeling deep in her heart that she would regret it.
What was that expression that Professor Dumbledore had told her not long before he died?
You must go on to the next great adventure.
She took a deep breath and looked Phil in the eye. "Alright since there aren't any Nargles around to influence my decision, yes I will take this new life. I'm not ready to die yet."
Finally Phil smiled and it was a downright creepy one. "Excellent."
"But one more thing," Luna said as Phil gripped his scythe tighter. "In this new life will I still be….well…me?"
Phil bared his razor sharp fish like teeth in what might have been a snarl or a smile. "That is for you to learn. I cannot say what comes next."
"Right then," Luna muttered realizing she wasn't going to be getting anything more out of him. She knew she was taking a big gamble but she wasn't ready to die yet. She had barely begun to live. "Let's get on with it."
Phil nodded and came towards her. He seemed to grow even taller as he neared the small blonde and Luna literally had to tip her head all the way back just so she could take him in.
He towered over her and Luna was sure that he was more than seven feet. The cold seemed to become even more acute and Luna was hard pressed to stop her teeth from chattering.
"I won't see you after this will I Phil?" she asked.
The spectre shook his bone white head. "No child. The next time that you will ever see me is when I come to take you away for good. And when that time comes…..you will not have a choice."
The small blonde opened her mouth to ask more questions but never got the chance for Phil reached one hand down and placed a long bony finger to her temple.
The sensation that filled her was one of acid searing in her veins and Luna gasped. She imagined that this was what basilisk poison felt like after the snake had bitten you. She felt hot and cold all at once as well as a sort of paralysis that rendered her unable to move as the horrible sensations continued.
"Phil," she forced out from between clenched teeth. "What….are….you…..doing?"
Finally the spirit took his finger away and Luna swayed before she managed to catch herself before falling.
She looked up at the spectre, confused and panting for breath. "Phil….what did you do?"
"A parting gift," the spirit said calmly. "You may have need of it in the world I am sending you to. Until we meet again….farewell Luna Lovegood."
"But – "
She was cut off when all of a sudden, faster than she could follow, Phil swung his scythe through the air towards her.
The moment the cold metal touched her, a searing pain filled her even worse than when Phil had touched her head.
She let out a scream and her final sensation before utter blackness was the spirit's unrelenting face.
"Oh your grace, they are so beautiful….you have been blessed by the gods twice. Twins….a son and a daughter. An heir to the throne and a beautiful girl."
When Luna opened her eyes again it was to another bright light. But this light was very different from the one she had experienced with Phil earlier. This light was warm and soft as if it were coming from a candle.
Where am I? She wondered. Where did Phil send me?
When her eyes finally focused, she realized she was staring up into the face of a beautiful woman with pale silvery blonde hair just like her own. She had violet eyes and a clear unlined face that was slightly sweaty as if she had just gone through a rigorous physical activity.
She was the most stunning woman Luna had ever seen and she wondered for a moment if Phil had instead sent her to the afterlife where her mother Pandora was for this woman surely looked like her.
But then she blinked, that couldn't right. The strange voice she had heard had mentioned something about twins….and she certainly wasn't a twin.
What in Merlin's name was that all about?
"King Aerys must be told Queen Rhaella," the other voice said again and Luna knew it hadn't come from the woman with the silver hair that was looking down at her with eyes full of live. "The Targaryen family is expanding. A son and a daughter. This will surely please him."
"Yes by all means tell the king," the woman named Rhaella said. "The gods have indeed blessed me."
Luna heard the sound of a door shutting and suddenly she felt herself being picked up and turned slightly so the woman who she took to be her caretaker was only partially in her view.
She could see another child from this vantage point, slightly red and with their eyes closed with small tufts of pale blonde hair like her own.
"Meet your brother my love," the woman whispered. "Odd isn't it that the gods would bless me with two children on the first try, a son and a daughter. And in the midst of this great tragedy it is a welcome thing. I wonder what I shall call you."
It all began to click then. Phil had sent her to be reborn into a different life, it hadn't all been a dream and now she was in another strange world as a baby with all of her memories intact from her old life with a new mother and a new family.
I hope I still have my magic here, Luna thought anxiously. It would be very difficult to live without it.
She felt an odd tingling in her veins and then remembered Phil pressing his finger to her forehead and the horrible sensations that had followed after.
A parting gift, he had said it was.
She was distracted again when Rhaella pressed a hand to the head of the baby that Luna now knew to be her twin.
"Rhaegar," she said gently as she looked at the other child before she turned her violet eyes on Luna herself. "And you shall be called Laena. The daughter shall have a name after mine own name. Rhaella and Laena. I suppose it's fitting."
She bent down to the two babies who were resting on her lap. "Welcome to Westeros my loves….and to the Targaryen family. And rest assured, I will not allow you to follow that horrible tradition that your father and I were forced into. You are the light of my life, and I will see you safe and happy, and not mistreated as I have been."
What have the Nargles gotten me into? Luna wondered.