For Cory

Christmas Moonbeam

Footsteps approached in the corridor. The wandmaker heard them outside the door, a metallic echoing of hobnailed boots clicking on the stone floor. He hoped that whoever it was would pass, or stop before they got to the door, or turn around and go back. He didn't want to see them again, he didn't want their insistent, angry questions. Above all he didn't want him, with the chilling, high–pitched voice that made his throat constrict and his heart freeze with fear. He didn't want the icy grip, those cold fingers that left marks wherever they squeezed his arm or his neck. And especially, he didn't want to see those eyes, the red slits that glowed with malice and hatred.

The old man had no idea how long he had been in this cold, pitch–dark cellar prison. He had no idea of the passage of time, if it was day or night. The room was completely dark except when they opened the door, and he had no way to make a light. Twice a day a bowl of food appeared next to the door; he could just make it out because the bowl would glow dimly for a few minutes. He also had a pitcher of water that replenished whenever he emptied it. They gave him no cup or utensils, so he had to drink from the pitcher and scoop the cold, tasteless pasty sludge from the bowl with his fingers.

Sometimes the door opened and the witch or one of the other Death Eaters came in and asked questions about the Wand or about Harry Potter's wand. They became angry when he couldn't tell them anything, and did things to him with their wands, and sometimes with their boots and their fists. When he came, the others fell silent and drew back, even the witch, who was the worst except for him; they obviously also feared him. At those times the old man wished for his own death, which never came.

Although he didn't know how long it had been, he knew that many months had passed since they had burst into his shop in Diagon Alley, Stunned the customers standing at the counter, and Cursed him. He had tried to fight, but there were too many of them, and the witch had cast Confringos wantonly, delighting in the destruction of his precious wand stock; some of them were hundreds of years old, still waiting to choose their wizard or their witch. Now they would never choose, they were blasted to bits, reduced to splinters and shreds of feathers, heart–strings, beautiful unicorn hair. Even if he survived this imprisonment and went back and took up his craft again, it would take years, decades, before it could all be replaced.

The heavy footsteps in the corridor were unmistakably those of the guard, and there were also other lighter ones, but different from his tread. That was a gliding, slithering movement; these were the uneven footsteps of a smaller person who was stumbling, as if being pushed or dragged.

The footsteps stopped outside the door and he cringed back into a corner. He drew up his knees and curled into a ball, making himself as small as he could. He knew he couldn't hide, but maybe they were just coming to look at him. Maybe they would ask a question that he could answer and they wouldn't hurt him.

He heard a tap on the door; the locks clicked and the door opened. He put up his hand to block the light from the corridor; dim as it was, it almost blinded him.

"Where is he?" someone growled. The old man recognized the voice of the one with the foul breath, sharp teeth, and fingernails like claws. "Oh, I see him. Hey! Old man! Idiot! Wake up, you have company!"

A white spark shot from the man's wand and hit the hand that was shielding his eyes. His hand jerked and he whimpered at the sharp shock on his palm.

The man at the door laughed; it was almost like a howl and it caused the old man to draw back even farther into the corner. Another large Death Eater moved into the room, roughly shoving someone in front of him. The first one stepped aside, and more light came in through the open doorway. The wandmaker slowly lowered his hand; his eyes were becoming used to the light and he could see the small figure standing in the middle of the room.

At first he didn't think he was seeing right. It was a girl. She had long blonde hair and a pretty face, but what was most remarkable were her eyes. They bulged and seemed to stare in a way that made the old man think she was looking right into his head. He had seen them before, but he couldn't remember exactly when. Of course she must have been in his shop at least once, when she bought her wand, but judging from how old she looked now, she would have been four or five years younger then.

The man with the wolf's laugh also stared at the girl and made a noise in his throat that sent a chill down the old man's spine. The wolf–man's teeth were bared, but she looked back with unblinking eyes, almost serenely.

The Death Eater stepped between them. "You'll leave 'er alone, Greyback!" he said sharply. "That's the order, and I'm not gonna take the fall if you disobey. She's bait, but not for you." He gave a short laugh. "Don't worry, my friend, there's plenty more where this came from. You'll get your meat."

"Ahh!" The wolf–man spat, turned on his heel, and strode out the door. The Death Eater looked briefly at the old man and followed. The door shut, the locks clicked, and darkness and silence fell.

For a long time neither of them moved; he couldn't even hear her breathing. Finally, slowly and painfully with his old bones and creaky joints, he uncurled himself into a sitting position. The girl must have heard him, because he could tell that she was moving away from him.

"Don't be frightened," he whispered. "I won't hurt you."

Her voice came back, surprisingly steady. "I won't hurt you, either."

Despite everything, he smiled. "Who are you? Why are you here?" he said.

"I'm Luna Lovegood. They brought me here. Who are you?"

"Luna? No! I know your father! Is he all right? Why have they done this to you?"

She didn't answer, so after a long moment, he repeated, "Why have they brought you here?"

"I don't know," she said matter–of–factly. "Is there a reason why you didn't say who you are? Is it a secret? Are you trying to keep it from them?"

"Oh..." He smiled again; now he was starting to recall the girl who had come into his shop over four years ago to buy her wand. It had been a very strange sale, different from what usually happened with new Hogwarts students. She hadn't touched any of the first six wands he brought out for her, but simply looked at them and shook her head. Xenophilius stood next to her, smiling and nodding until, finally, she picked up the seventh wand. It was a very unusual one, rowan with a core made of braided kneazle hair. She had turned and given her father a smile that lit up the shop.

He gave a sigh and struggled to stand; he wished he could see that smile now. "Luna," he said, "I'm Mr. Ollivander, the wandmaker. I saw you in my shop when you bought your rowan wand. Do you know where it is now?"

"Yes."

She said nothing, so the old man said, "Where?"

There was a shorter pause. "Actually," she said, "I don't know where it is, but that's irrelevant because they broke it. They did it on the train."

"I'm sorry. When we get out of here I'll make you a new one."

"That's very kind of you. When will we get out?"

"Child," he sighed in the darkness, "I don't know."

She said nothing. He stood motionless until his legs began to tremble; standing was such an effort. But he wanted to go to her and put his arm around her because he knew that she must be frightened and he wanted to comfort her. But he also wanted to comfort himself. He had not touched another human being since the day he had been kidnapped; the only touches in his life now were fists to his face and his stomach, and his inhumanly cold fingers.

He pushed those thoughts away; they frightened him. He moved slowly and shakily toward the place he had last heard her, off in the corner away from where he had been huddled. "Luna," he said, stopping when he thought he was only a few feet from her, "what day is it?"

"Friday, unless it's already Saturday."

"Yes, but what month and date?"

"December twentieth, unless it's already Saturday in which case it's December twenty–first. But I don't think it could be Sunday yet, it doesn't feel like it's been that long."

"So . . . so I've been here for five months?" he asked the darkness. "Can that be? It seems so much longer."

He heard her take a step toward him, and suddenly a hand was touching his chest and then grasping his arm. She took his other arm, too.

"Mr. Ollivander," she said; her voice was calm, and he imagined those serene eyes gazing at him in the perfect darkness. "I . . . I think you've been in here a lot longer than that. Your store closed last year. You have been here for seventeen months. Can you tell me what day they attacked you?"

But Ollivander didn't hear her question. His legs gave out and, with a short cry, he collapsed to the floor. He lay there in a heap, quivering, moaning, crying. Luna knelt next to him and gathered him in her arms. He leaned his head against her and she patted his cheek.

"It's okay, Mr. Ollivander," she said. "Seventeen months isn't so bad. It could have been a lot worse. If they had snatched you a year before that, it would be twenty–nine months, and if they had snatched you —"

He gave a louder cry and Luna stopped. "I didn't hurt you, did I?" she said, concern in her voice.

"Oh, my child," he murmured. "No, you didn't hurt me. You mustn't mind me. Just . . . just let me lie still. I will be . . . fine." He was quiet for several moments, and took a breath. "It's so hard to know how much time has passed. They don't come every day, thank Merlin, and I have no way of counting the days, so I lost track many months ago. . . ."

Luna said nothing; she stroked his arm and began singing. It was soft and quiet, an old song, but Luna changed some of the words. "Green trees are all my joy, blue skies are my delight, bright sun is my heart of gold, and who but my lovely green trees."

"Those aren't the usual words," she said, "but I thought they would be better for in here."

"It was lovely, my dear," Ollivander said.

"Thank you."

She began humming it, and Ollivander felt a peaceful calmness, something he hadn't felt for all these . . . seventeen months. He sat up and took her hand. "Luna, why did they bring you here? How did it happen? The didn't harm you, did they?"

"Well, they're bad people, so it could be for lots of reasons. But I know that my daddy writes things about You–Know–Who that they don't like, and also nice things about Harry. So maybe they think he'll stop if I'm their prisoner. I think that's what the one who brought me here meant when he called me bait." She paused for a moment. "Yes, I think that's it, he didn't mean they were going to take me fishing."

"Oh, I'm sure they won't," he chuckled; he wasn't sure if she meant it as a joke. "And how did they capture you?"

"I was going home on the Hogwarts Express and they stopped it just after it left the station. Four of them came into the compartment and told me to come with them. Ginny told them to leave me alone, but they didn't listen to her."

"That must have been very frightening. These people are terrible, they'll do anything."

"I was frightened, but they didn't hurt me, not even Bellatrix. She's scary."

"Yes she is. But how do you know her?" Ollivander asked.

"We fought her in the Ministry of Magic. She killed Harry's godfather."

They sat quietly until Luna stood. "I haven't eaten since breakfast," she said. "How can I get something to eat?"

"Well . . . I think they won't send food for another few hours."

"Okay." She started humming her song again, and after a while Ollivander went and sat against the wall. He had been facing this endless night alone, somehow keeping his sanity — or at least he hoped he was. He didn't know how this young girl would manage if her captivity lasted more than a few days, but her calmness and serenity were certainly helping his own mind.

Time passed. They didn't speak at first, and eventually the old man heard her crawl back to the other corner. He started talking, asking about what had been happening on the outside, but she didn't know much. She told him about Hogwarts, and how they were resisting by scrawling slogans on the walls, but it didn't seem to him that things like that could help very much.

Finally, they heard several soft clinking noises, and, thankfully, there were two bowls next to the door, glowing softly.

"That's our food, isn't it?" Luna asked.

"Yes, my dear, if you want to call it food. But it's all they give us."

Luna got up and went over to the door, but before she could pick up a bowl, there was a tap on the door, and it burst open. She jumped back and fell onto the floor. Three people entered and light from the corridor spilled in. The witch was first, and she kicked the food dishes aside. She stepped over Luna and pointed her wand at Ollivander.

"What is Potter's wand doing?!" she screamed. "Why can't the Dark Lord break it? Answer me, you pathetic worm!" With a deafening bang! that filled the room with echoes, a blue–white flame shot from her wand and the old man was thrown backwards and slammed against the wall.

"No!" Luna screamed, and flung herself up at the witch. It took Bellatrix by surprise and they both sprawled on the floor. Bella jumped to her feet as one of the Death Eaters yanked Luna up by her hair. She yelped and he drew back his hand to strike her, but the witch stopped him.

"No," she snarled. "We have strict orders from the Dark Lord not to harm her." An evil smirk appeared on her face and she grabbed the front of Luna's school uniform blouse. She pushed her backwards until Luna slammed against the wall, and then shoved her roughly to the ground. "But he said nothing about how much food to give her. We'll see how she likes going hungry for a few days."

She waved her wand and the two bowls and the food, which had spilled across the floor, disappeared. She laughed, a maniacal screech, and stalked out. The two Death Eaters also laughed and followed her, their hobnailed boots clicking on the floor. The door shut and the two prisoners were again in darkness.

The old man crawled to where Luna had been thrown to the floor, but before he got there he heard her moving. "Are you all right, my child?" he whispered.

Her voice came from the door, and its calmness completely surprised him. "Oh, yes, I'm quite well, thank you," she said. "And you?"

"I — I'm — what are you doing?" he asked.

"I was looking for . . . ah! I found it!"

She came toward him, and her outstretched hand touched his arm. "When that man grabbed me, I heard something drop on the floor. I think it's one of those nails from his boot. As long as he doesn't notice it, I don't think they'll come back looking for it. I don't know what we can do with it, but at least it's something."

She patted his arm and sat down against the wall. "I'm sorry, Mr. Ollivander," she sighed. "It looks like they'll be starving both of us for a while."

He gave a soft chuckle. "They've done it before, my dear, but they always start feeding me again. Don't be concerned for me, I'm afraid I'm used to it."

He returned to his corner and sat. After a few minutes he heard her humming again, but he didn't say anything; he just leaned his head against the cold stone wall behind him, closed his eyes and listened. She was humming something he didn't recognize. It was a pleasant enough tune, and when she stopped he asked her what it was.

"It's another very old song from before I was born, maybe even before you were born, Mr. Ollivander. My mum used to sing it to me when I was little. I think she liked it because a lot of people thought my daddy was weird and they always made fun of him and tried to cause problems for him. So she wanted to teach me not to let it bother me. I used to get really angry and cry when people made fun of Daddy, but I don't any more. He's so smart and interesting and special."

"Yes, he is," the old man said. "He and I are very old friends, you know. He wrote many articles in his magazine about my shop. He loves wandlore. . . ."

Luna started humming the song again, but after a few bars she stopped and giggled. "I just realized that the words to this song are about us," she said. Then she began singing.

"When you walk through a storm hold your head up high, and don't be afraid of the dark. At the end of the storm is a golden sky, and the sweet silver song of a lark. Walk on, walk on, with hope in your heart, and you'll never walk alone, you'll never walk alone. . . ."

The old man bowed his head and, for the first time since he had been a captive in this forsaken place, he did somehow feel hope and even a bit of joy in his heart. Tears came to his eyes and spilled down his cheeks.

Time passed very slowly. There was no food, as Bellatrix had promised, but at least they had water. There were now two pitchers, one for each of them. Their food bowls reappeared at last after what seemed to Ollivander like weeks, but Luna said was only two days. He asked how she knew, but she just said that it felt like forty–eight hours. Nevertheless, as soon as the bowls materialized next to the door, she scrambled across the floor on her hands and knees and started frantically scooping the tasteless, paste into her mouth with her hand. When she was done, she crawled silently back to her corner and took a drink from her pitcher. She sat against the wall, clutching her stomach; as the glow from the food bowls faded and complete darkness engulfed the dungeon, the last thing the old man saw was Luna with one hand on her middle and the other over her mouth. He could hear her taking deep breaths, but finally she sighed and was quiet.

"Are you well, Luna?" the old man asked. "You should eat more carefully. If you become ill, I don't think they'll give you any potions to make you feel better."

Luna burped. "Oh, excuse me!" she giggled. "Yes, I'm fine. I really couldn't help myself. I can't recall ever being so hungry. Once when I was little, before my mum died, I got lost in the woods near the house. I got lost in the morning and they didn't find me until after dark. I was pretty hungry, but not as hungry as this time." She paused for several moments, and finally said, "I think I was looking for Snidgets. Daddy had told me about them the day before because he thought he had seen one outside. But you know, Mr. Ollivander, I was such a silly little girl then! They're extinct outside the reserve, you know, Modesty Rabnot. But that's nowhere near my house, so it was completely futile for me to look for one."

Ollivander smiled in the dark. He wasn't sure what she was talking about — although he did know what a Snidget was because he had used their feathers on occasion to make a core — but he enjoyed her voice, and it was very good to have someone else to talk to.

"Are there any magical creatures in your woods?" he asked.

"Oh, yes! Snorkacks and Nifflers and Crups."

"Oh, my. And you have actually seen them?"

"Well . . . not Snorkacks. But my daddy says there are, and I've never known him to be wrong."

"Of course not." Ollivander smiled again, knowing that she couldn't see him. He leaned back against the wall and closed his eyes. Things could be worse, he thought to himself; he could still be alone, facing eternal night by himself with nothing to break the emptiness except painful visits from his captors. This child had brought a beam of light into his life. Somehow she didn't believe in the hopelessness of their situation, somehow she didn't believe in her own captivity.

He heard her crawling across the floor toward the door. "What are you doing?" he whispered. "Are they coming?"

"No, I don't think so. Why are we whispering?" she whispered back as she continued across the floor.

"Um, I'm not sure," he said aloud.

"It's okay," she said in whisper. "I'm going to use this nail to make a crack in the door, so we can have a bit of light."

"Oh." He was too astonished to say anything else; he couldn't imagine what she was planning to do.

In a moment he heard scraping from the door. It continued, and after a few minutes he also heard Luna humming. He didn't recognize this tune, either; it was a happy, lilting melody, and after another minute or two she began to whistle it. Meanwhile, the scraping continued.

Ollivander sat in his corner. It was impossible, he thought, to make a hole in the door with a nail. It was wooden, granted, but he wouldn't be surprised if it had a metal plate on the outside. And what would happen if the guards came while she was working there, or worse, what if the witch or even he came? They would certainly punish her with something worse than hunger.

The thought of that frightened him even more than the thought of being tortured himself. He knew that if they tried to hurt her, he would try to stop them, and who could tell what they would do to him then? He couldn't let it happen.

He rose and walked slowly to the door; he kept his hand in front of him, but his foot bumped into her before he reached the wall. Her whistling stopped.

"Oh, Mr. Ollivander!" she exclaimed. "I didn't hear you coming."

"My dear," he said as he squatted next to her, "what are you doing? If they catch you, they will hurt you."

"No, I'll hear them in the corridor. They're all wearing nails in their shoes, so —"

"He doesn't. He doesn't walk like a normal person, he's like a snake. You can't hear him coming. Please," he begged, "stop. I don't want them to hurt you."

He reached out and found her shoulder and put his hand on it. She put her hand on his and gave it a pat.

"I don't think they'll hurt me," she said. "Don't you want to have a bit of light? They'll never know unless they stay in here after they close the door, and if they do that they'll light their wands or bring in a torch, and they won't notice the bit of light coming under the door."

"My dear, it would be wonderful to have a bit of light, but it won't make much difference. We'll still be trapped in here, with no way out."

She was silent for a long moment. Finally she said, "Have you tried to get out?"

"There is no way out," he answered. He sighed and stood up. "You give me hope, child, but I really don't think there is a way out."

He walked slowly back to his corner and sat. Luna was quiet until he had settled down, and then she resumed her scraping.

"I think it will make a difference," she said firmly. "And after I make some light for us, I'll check the place and see if there's a way out."

Many hours passed. Luna spent as much time as she could chipping slowly away at the base of the door. She always hummed to herself or sang, and sometimes whistled that same lilting melody. No one came to the door, but the food kept appearing and their water pitchers kept refilling. Ollivander asked her if he could help, and he began scraping and gouging at the door when Luna needed to rest her hands. It was very tedious work, but he could feel with his fingers that they were, indeed, making a small gouge in the wood, right along the bottom. He was weak, though, and couldn't work for more than a few minutes at a time. When he tired, Luna would gently rub his bony hands, working out the soreness.

She was scraping away — it was Christmas eve, according to her; she seemed to have the ability to know how much time had passed — when the witch and two guards paid them another visit. When they heard the clicking of boots in the corridor Luna brushed away the little pile of splinters that she had made, jumped up, shoved the nail inside her shoe, and stood next to the door. It opened and Bellatrix entered; she saw Luna standing only a few feet away from her and drew her wand.

"What're you doing there?" she barked. "Get back where you belong!" She gestured with her wand to the corner where Luna always sat.

"Okay," Luna said brightly and stepped toward the witch. Bella raised her wand but Luna skipped around her and started to walk out the door.

"Get back!" Bella screamed. A red flame started to spurt from her wand, but she made an animal sound in her throat and it died. Luna stopped when one of the Death Eaters put himself in front of her.

"Where do you think you're going?" he growled.

Luna gazed at him placidly until he blinked. "Back where I belong," she said. "Since it's only December twenty–fourth, I belong at my daddy's house because school doesn't start for another two weeks. If you'll kindly move aside, I'll be leaving, just as Mrs. Lestrange told me to."

The man just stared at her, clearly befuddled. Luna put her hand on the edge of the door and pushed it so it was wide open. Bellatrix grabbed her arm and threw her toward the back of the room.

"You belong in here!" she shouted, her words echoing in the room. "And if your father doesn't stop printing lies, it'll be the worse for you!"

Luna smiled. "So you still haven't caught Harry. Thanks for letting me know, Mrs. Lestrange. It makes me feel a lot better."

Bella pointed her wand at Luna. "Silencio!" she snarled. She turned, shoved the Death Eater out — the second one had stayed in the corridor — and slammed the door shut behind her. When the reverberations died down, Luna giggled.

"That was easy," she said.

"You can speak?" the old man exclaimed.

"I think this room is charmed to keep magic out, so as soon as the door closed her hex was gone. I'm glad they decided to leave us alone, but I think they're doing it only because I surprised them. I'm sure they'll be back."

"But — but why did you do that? Child, you must be careful. These are dangerous people."

"I needed to know how thick the door is. Now I know."

"So . . . so you weren't trying to get out?"

Luna shrugged in the dark. "That would be impossible. I just wanted to get close to the door so I could have a good look at it."

Ollivander smiled and settled into his corner; every time this young girl said or did something, she surprised and amazed him. "My dear," he said, "I have never met anyone quite like you." He fell silent when he heard her move toward the door once more, and then the scraping noise as she started working with her nail. After a moment she began humming the same tune she had been humming before.

"You never told me where you learned that tune, child," he said.

The scraping noise continued. "Well, I'm not really sure because I was so little, but we used to go over to Ginny's house and her daddy had all these Muggle contraptions, and some of them showed movies. Do you know what movies are, Mr. Ollivander?"

"Yes," he chuckled. "I was young once, too, you know, hard as that may be to believe. They were called talkies because the people in them, the actors, had just started talking."

"Hmm. That's very interesting. Did they just talk, or did they sing, too? I like singies. The tune I was whistling was from a singy about a beautiful princess and a witch and some dwarves. It wasn't a nice witch, though. I think she must have been a Death Eater because she gave the princess a poisoned apple. The dwarves were her friends, you see, and they had to go to work, so she was alone when the witch poisoned her. When the dwarves went to work, they whistled the same tune I was whistling." She started whistling it again, but stopped. "Now that I think about it," she said, "those might have been house–elves, not dwarves. No matter."

She hummed quietly for a few more minutes while the nail scraped. Suddenly she stopped. "Drat. I got a splinter."

"A splinter? Come here, child," Ollivander said. "I've been taking splinters out of my fingers for a long time. Wandmakers get lots of splinters, working with all that wood. I can even take them out without magic."

Luna walked toward him in the dark with her hand outstretched. She felt his hand reaching for her, and she sat in front of him.

"It's in the forefinger of my right hand," she said.

"Let me feel it. . . ." He took her finger, squeezed it, and picked at it with the nails of his other hand. In a few minutes the splinter popped out.

"Oh, thank you, Mr. Ollivander!" Luna patted his hand and gave it a squeeze. She crawled back to the door and started scraping again. "I think I'm almost through," she said cheerfully. "Maybe I can finish tomorrow."

She scraped for another hour. When the food bowls appeared she stopped to eat, but when she was finished she yawned.

"I think I'll close my eyes for a while, if you don't mind," she said to the old man. "There's only about a quarter of an inch to go."

"You go to sleep, my dear. Don't tire yourself out. I'm afraid we have plenty of time." Luna yawned again, and after a few minutes he heard her breathing evenly.

He marveled at the way she could fall asleep almost instantly, despite the hard stones with only the cloak she had arrived in to soften them, despite the dampness, and despite the fear that was always hanging in the air. He hoped that they would be left alone, and especially he hoped that he would not come back to torment him again, in front of her. He feared how it would be for her, for his little ray of sunshine that had come so unexpectedly into his life. He did not want her to feel the cold terror that filled the room whenever he appeared.

He slept fitfully, as he always did, and when the food bowls appeared he took one to her and gently prodded her until she sighed.

"Here is your food," he said to her. "How are you this morning, assuming it is morning? And how is your finger."

She stirred, and he could see in the glow from the bowl that she was sitting up. "Oh, Mr. Ollivander," she said in a voice that was still sleepy but also had an incongruously excited note. "Happy Christmas!"

"It's Christmas? Are you sure?"

"Oh, quite. We left Hogwarts on December twentieth, and now it's five days later. So it's Christmas."

She took the bowl from him and started scooping the tasteless paste into her mouth. "I'd rather be at home, of course," she said between swallows. "Daddy always puts up a big tree next to the press and it has the best fairy lights and magical decorations on it. We make wreaths out of holly and hemlock boughs. Then we make a Christmas pudding and he always tells me not to eat it before breakfast, but I always steal a bite." She giggled. "And then we give each other presents. If I finish digging the hole, that would be a present, wouldn't it?"

"Yes, my dear," he said in a husky voice. "That would indeed be a present."

He went back to his corner and started eating, but he had a lump in his throat that made it difficult to swallow. He put his bowl down, and, inexplicably, tears started falling from his eyes. He had never expected to be happy again, but now a little girl with her simple, unquestioning cheerfulness, had made him happy.

They both finished eating and the bowls vanished. Luna went back to the door and began scraping. Ollivander sat in silence, listening to the sound. It had a simple, quiet rhythm, almost like the chirping of a little insect; it was somehow very soothing. It occasionally stopped for a second or two as Luna blew the wood dust away, or rested. The hours passed, and still she scraped. Their evening food bowls appeared and she stopped for a few minutes to eat, but soon went on with her task.

She suddenly cried out. "Ah! It's through! I can see a little light! Come here, Mr. Ollivander! Look!"

He went toward her voice, and as he approached he could see the tiniest sliver of pallid light coming from one spot under the door. It was dim, barely visible, but it seemed like a burst of sunshine coming in and flooding their prison with brightness. He reached his hand and silently touched the hole that she had made.

"Isn't it beautiful, Mr. Ollivander?" Luna exclaimed. "It's truly Christmas!" She flung her arms around him and hugged him; as he patted her back he had a grin on his face, too.

"It is beautiful, my dear. You don't think they'll notice it, do you?"

"I doubt it. And I'll make it bigger. Here, let me . . ."

She bent down and started scraping again. Now that part of the door had been penetrated, it seemed to go faster, and soon a shaft of the pale light extended several inches into the cellar, and they could even see, although very dimly, the wall next to the door. They both bent down, almost as if they were bowing before it.

The shaft of light suddenly vanished. Darkness fell in the little room, and the old man's throat constricted in fear as he felt a presence, his presence, just outside the door. He pulled Luna back and they both tumbled backwards as the door was flung open. Before them, framed in a rectangle of light, stood a thin figure. Long arms with bony fingers at the ends extended themselves. The face was in shadow but two slitted, snake–like eyes gleamed red.

The wandmaker tried to thrust Luna behind him, but Voldemort's hand flicked and the old man was thrown backward against the wall. Voldemort moved into the room; he glanced at Luna who was staring at him, her eyes bulging even more than they normally did. She slowly slid herself away from the menacing figure, until she was in her corner. She huddled there, watching fearfully.

The Dark Lord took two steps and stood over Ollivander; Bellatrix peered around him at the wandmaker, an expectant leer on her face.

"He escaped again," Voldemort said in a high, cold, and frighteningly quiet voice. "Harry Potter escaped again. Why is he able to do that? Where does his power come from? You must know, old man. Does his wand give it to him? Tell me!"

The last words came out in a furious scream that was drowned out by the scream from the wandmaker's gaping mouth. His head was thrown back, his body was rigid on the floor, and his face was contorted in agony. The scream filled the room, but stopped as suddenly as it started. Ollivander gasped uselessly for air; his hands clutched his throat.

Luna launched herself from the corner at Voldemort. He staggered back; the spell broke and Ollivander took a gulp of air. Voldemort recovered his balance, and a cry of rage came from Bellatrix. She raised her wand but Voldemort's was already up. Luna rose to the ceiling and hung there, upside down, her arms and her long, blond hair dangling in front of Voldemort's face.

"Who is this?" he hissed. His wand moved and Luna began to spin in the air.

"The daughter of that peddler of filthy lies, Lovegood," Bella answered; she licked her lips as she watched Luna turn.

"You're the liar!" Luna shouted. "Harry will destroy you!"

"Feisty," murmured Voldemort. "Lovegood, you say. She is a pureblood, then. If her father cooperates, she can join us."

"And if not?" Bella said as she peered at Luna.

"I leave that to you." He turned and, on silent feet, was gone.

Bella walked over to Ollivander and poked him in the side with her foot. She gazed down at him with a taunting grin. "Consider yourself lucky, old man," she said in a lowering whisper. "He just killed another prisoner. He was annoyed. You can blame it on Harry Potter. As for you . . ." She reached up and yanked on Luna's hair. With a cry she tumbled to the floor, twisting to keep from slamming her head on the stones. The witch bent down and leered at her. "You had better hope that your lunatic father decides to cooperate, because the Dark Lord has given you to me." She turned and followed Voldemort, slamming the door behind her.

Luna slowly sat up. Her wrists hurt from breaking her fall, and she had also banged her knee, but she didn't think that any of it was serious. In the stillness, she could hear the wandmaker's labored breathing. It gradually became quieter, and she crawled over to where he lay sprawled; she saw him quite clearly in the light that now came under the door. She sat next to him, lifted his head up, and put it in her lap. She put her hand on his gaunt cheek; she could feel the bones of his face. "How are you, Mr. Ollivander?" she asked, her voice steady and serene.

"What about you, my dearest Luna?" he whispered as he gasped, still trying to catch his breath. "Did they hurt you?"

"I'm fine, Mr. Ollivander."

"My child, I am so sorry this happened to you. But you mustn't be concerned about me. I'm a useless old man whose life is about to end. You must do whatever you can to stay alive so you can leave this place and go on with your life, be happy, love your father and your friends. You are a gift, my lovely child, you have brought sunshine into my life when I thought I would never know anything but darkness forever."

He turned his head toward the tiny shaft of light coming under the door. "There, do you see it? That's what you are, my lovely girl, a ray of sunshine."

"No, Mr. Ollivander," she said as her hand caressed his brow. "I'm Luna. It's a moonbeam, a Christmas moonbeam. Happy Christmas!"