Growing up

Luna and her father reunite after the war. Characters belong to Rowling.

I have grown big in foreign land and now I can't grow small again.
- Michael Ende -

She walked down the old garden path, almost ethereal in the cold light from the stars, Her naked toes treaded softly over the grass. This was home. Luna knew every smell and pebble and softly whispering leaf, knew every path and shrub and spirit. But when she saw the house, it had changed. Their old tower had partly been broken open, an ugly scar tearing the old, mossy stones. The bushes and trees were covered in sooth. Her favorite berry-bushy, the one that her mother once had crafted her earrings from, was broken by debris from the house. Familiar things were scattered over the lawn.

She found her father by the small pool.

He looked up slowly, just partly. His face was furrowed, and his eyes were tired as she had never seen them before. He had cried a lot. Luna sat down by his side.

"Hello father," she said softly.

"Hello daughter," he mumbled in reply without any sign of standing up to welcome his long lost child. A bat flew by, on it's way to it's own, nightly business. Luna followed it with her gaze while she waited.

"I miss you, you know," her father mumbled after awhile, his face in his hands. "The told me that they had taken you, but I thought that perhaps they were mistaken, perhaps you were just down the river, soon to be home."

"There are so very fine plimpies down the river," Luna mused thoughtfully. "If I were to catch some of those we could have them for dinner."

"But you were not down the river," Xenophilius said with flat voice. Luna nodded.

"It was all rather interesting," she said after awhile. Her father didn't answer so she went on.

"I met a goblin and shared room with Hermione. Harry saved me, first from Draco's father - you know, I think Draco was rather sad about locking us up - and then he saved us all. He says he talked to Dumbledore, and Dean promised to paint me a picture even if he hasn't come around to it yet. I talked to Dobby, oh, and I had a rather interesting discussion about flowers."

Xenophilius still didn't answer. He sat with his face in the hands, looking down into the ground. His yellow hat lied beside him on the ground, damp and dirty. It looked like it had fallen of quite some time ago.

"I was a bit worried about you, actually," Luna confessed, glancing at her father under the fringe of her hair. "Hermione said that you were taken away and locked up... there are no dementors at Azkaban any longer, but still I suppose it would be a bit unpleasant, and I know how your leg can act up when it is a bit damp, and I couldn't go to you or send an owl to you or anything so I was a bit... worried."

For the first time since she had arrived Xenophilius turned his head to look at his daughter properly. Luna couldn't help take a sharp intake of breath when she saw her father's face fully - it was furrowed and heavy as she had never seen it before. The eyes were dull and there were tears running along his chins. He moved his hand, as if to touch his daughter's face, but he stopped himself.

"You know why I went to Azkaban, don't you Luna?"

"You kept publishing the Quibbler, and when you said the true things instead of their lies they went angry with you. I think it was really brave, actually." He sadly shook his head.

"I tried to buy you back. I offered all I had. I offered them the secret of the Hallows, the hidden Blimger, Rowena's diadem... I even offered them the Horn of the Snorkack."

"You didn't," she gasped, clearly shocked.

"I did," he said. "But they wouldn't accept it, they wouldn't give you back to me, no matter what I did, and there was nothing I could do... and then young Potter showed up at my doorstep."

"Yes, Hermione told me about it," Luna said silently, her unblinking eyes watching her father's face intently. "She told me that you had found the horn and how you told them about the Three Brothers, and how they had to run away from here and... um..."

"I tried to sell your friends, Luna," Xenophilius sat flatly. She shook her head.

"No. No, you didn't do that. You talked to them, and told them things they needed to know, and then the bad people just showed up. And Harry and the others got away, didn't they?"

"It was I who sent for the ministry, Luna," he said silently. "I tried to sell your friends to get you back."

"You couldn't have done," she said with trembling voice. "You just couldn't. They are my friends."

"I knew that, Luna. Your friends that you love and was willing to give everything to protect. I have wronged you terribly. I have sold out things that were not mine to sell. I was weak when you was strong, and I betrayed you. Can you ever forgive me, my child?"

"But you wouldn't have got me back, father," she pleaded. "The girl that would have been brought to you wouldn't have been me. You must know that." He nodded and bowed his head.

"But still, I had to try." Luna opened her mouth to speak, but after a moment's hesitation, she closed it again. She shivered in the nightly breeze.

"So I lost you, my daughter," Xenophilius went on. "I lost you just like I lost your mother and I will never get you back again."

"Father, I'm here. This is really me," Luna said with a tiny voice with tears running. "I'm really back. We won. Can't everything be like it was before?"

Xenophilius stared at her, nonplussed for a moment. Then a spark of realization was lit in his tired eyes. He jumped to his feet.

"Luna! It's really you! You are not yet another whisper from my mind. Please, forgive me my daughter, forgive me," he cried.

Her large eyes reflected the moonlight as she looked around in the rubbles of her childhood home. She looked at her father who stood before her, hunched and humiliated and terrified as she had never seen him before.

"I'm afraid of loosing you too, dad," Luna said, her eyes blank. "I was so very afraid for you when we were separated. Really. But I know I will, one day. And you will loose me, sooner or later. Don't you know that? I have know that since I was nine."

"So have I," he whispered. "But I just can't allow myself to realize it. If I did I would have nothing left."

In the photo lying in the dead grass, Luna's mother smiled happily at them. Luna and her father turned their gaze to it at the same time.

"But not forever," she said and blinked away a tear. "We'll never loose each other forever."

"Never forever," he answered and held out his arms. "Forgive me, my child," he begged again. Luna hesitated, then she reached out and touched his hand.

"This feels a bit like growing up, you know," she said with small voice. "I don't think I like it very much. Xenophilius sighed.

"You and me have seen too much change already, Luna love, and there is more to come. And the biggest change is always the one within. But however much you grow up you will always be my daughter."

"And you my father," she cried with muffled voice.

And they hugged at last.

The night was turning to early morning before there eyes, a new morning with new promises. The world had changed for worse but maybe just a tiny bit more for better, and it was not until this night that the Lovegoods allowed themselves to be part of that change, to embrace whatever the future had in store for them. Together Luna and her father went in to the ruined kitchen to make toast.