Luna tries.

She tries so hard-sometimes, it feels like that's all her life is.

Trying to be enough for her father. To be the woman with the honey-gold hair and the scorched-sky-blue eyes and the wild zest for life that ran under her skin and around her skin. That love that shone so brilliantly that it made magic itself get carried away, caught up in that burning desire and bending itself willingly to match it. Trying to bring back the easy smile and the zany laughter that overflowed from her father so easily when her mother was there.

Even though sometimes that smile slips towards manic and the glow in his eyes is that of fever and Luna has to learn how to fend for herself and mend the things he breaks in his fury because when he fades and sees what he's done, the sobbing is worse than the screaming.

Even though sometimes she feels as if all she is is the too-pale reflection of her mother...washed-out eyes and dishwater hair and magic thin and pale and weak.

Trying to not be frightened, to not want to leave, because he loves her, she knows he does-every time, when he comes back, he grabs her arms and there are tears in his eyes, and he whispers to her to tell him that he hasn't hurt her, does she know he'll never hurt her, he loves her, he loves her. And she loves him. Loves his ideas, beautiful and ugly and so intense that it's impossible not to believe in them. Loves the gleam in his eyes as he explains them. While making dinner (Luna perched on the counter, summoning pieces of whatever he's slicing-because he's never stopped her from using magic during the summers-and giggling as he notices and quirks an eyebrow before continuing). While hanging laundry from the tower window. While frantically assembling magazines for the printing press.

Loves his smell-ink and paper and musty robes and the faint ozone scent of his magic.

Loves the games that they played-that they still play, sometimes, scrambling across the furniture and shrieking with laughter as they fire artworks of spells at each other, illusions that spatter and leave them covered in colors.

Loves his willingness to spend days teaching her how to work the printing press, and the weekends they still spend together, folding the manuscripts into each other, chatting about small nothings and leaving their fingers stained with ink.

Loves the way he taught her to dance, the stories he told at night, the way he still tucks her in and presses a kiss to her forehead on the nights when his eyes are clear...

Even though sometimes their tower feels like as much of a prison as Rapunzel's, and Hogwarts feels like an escape, and sometimes she just wants to be taken care of-to have someone else clean the house and cook the meals and mend the rips in her clothes.

Even though sometimes it becomes ten times harder to smile whenever she walks through the door, and sometimes the love hurts so much that she wonders if she'd be better off not loving at all-and she loves so much that she knows the only way to do that would be to stop living.

Trying, for as long as she can remember being aware of it, to shove back the part of her that draws sneers and crooked fingers and mocking laughs like moths to flame. To silence the music perpetually humming in her mind—a tune that no one else ever seems to have heard. To bite back the stories that earn her at best sideways glances and at worst downright pain. To rein in the worst of her desire to wear whatever the hell she wants, to let her hair tangle and her face go unwashed and to walk barefoot through all their pretentious hallways because it doesn't matter what they think. Because it does matter what they think. Because she hears every whispered "Loony," sees how uncomfortable she makes everyone when she walks into a room, cries just as much at night as they want her to.

Even though sometimes she smiles during the day, and hums along to the music as loudly as she dares, and says whatever she wants, no matter how much it hurts, because trying is so much harder, and she can always wash away the pain of the taunts with the satisfaction of seeing the looks on their faces when their words never seem to reach her. (Even though they do.)

Even though sometimes, now that she's no longer in that awful in-between, too old to have the easy unselfconsciousness that earned her all the ridicule in the first place, too young to fight for self-confidence, hiding herself in the silence feels worse than the ridicule did in the first place.

And this.

Trying, so impossibly hard, to make this work.

To hold back the jealousy that roars whenever she sees the other girl walking hand-in-hand through the hallways with a boy she doesn't love. Whenever she hears the stories about kisses walked in on in alcoves throughout the school. Whenever she walks in on one of the kisses, watches how hungrily they press against each other, how desperate and fiery and real the kisses seem.

To understand. To understand that words hurt the other girl far more than her. That she wasn't raised crying herself to sleep, that she isn't used to keeping her head up regardless. That she has never felt the taunts about this particular thing, so she doesn't know exactly how much or how little they can hurt. To understand that she would rather be labeled a slut, to be hissed at because she's easy and trashy and desperate, than to be branded with that fatal label queer.

To grasp that people's parents may be broken in different ways. That her father may hurt to love sometimes, that his love for her may scar in a million places, but that at least she knows she will always have it. That, impossible as it may seem, there are some people for whom love has limits. That a smiling mother may cluck judgmentally as she stirs a cooking pot, never realizing that her bigotry hurts someone sitting at the table next to her. That a quiet-voiced father with gentle eyes and a legacy for appreciating exactly the wrong people may have other prejudices, buried deep enough that they only emerge in a single ugly moment.

Trying—

Telling herself that the kisses are worth the pain of the moments when she can't have them. That it's worth it, all of it—

The perfect fit of the other girl against her, the way they curve into each other, the victorious glance that she saves just for her as she tumbles from the sky, the taste of campfire smoke and gingerbread, the feel of red curls, playing across her fingers like fire, the look in the other girl's eyes when she holds her, as though she'd take on the entire world if it could make Luna's pain stop—

That this isn't just another love she holds on to far too tight.

No matter how wrong it is.

No matter how much it hurts.