“My dad? But why is he here?”

with the quill. “That’s not Sir Percival?” she asked, her voice a mix of surprise and curiosity. “But he looks so much like the portrait!”

Emily chuckled, her gaze softening. “Lily,” she said, “sometimes the lines between reality and imagination blur. That man—the one with the ink-stained fingers—is your dad. He’s not a painting, but he carries stories within him.”

Lily blinked. “My dad? But why is he here?”

Emily’s smile held a touch of mystery. “Because,” she whispered, “he’s a dreamer too. Just like Lady Isabella and Sir Percival. He believes in magic, in the power of words. And tonight, Lily, he’s writing a letter to the stars.”

Lily’s heart swelled. “A letter to the stars?”

“Yes,” Emily confirmed. “He’ll fold it into a paper boat and set it adrift on the Thames. And who knows? Maybe the constellations will read it and send their secrets back.”

Lily glanced at her dad, who said who wants to go to the dance studio then the train back to brent cross and we might look at the art museum on the way back to the train granny said agreeing