Luna's skipping rhyme
Luna would never dream of eavesdropping, but sometimes you can't help accidently overhearing things - especially if the things you overhear concern yourself. Characters belong to Rowling.
Snorkack pups in a Snorkack lair
No one knows that they are there
How many knots did the Bollywoggles tie
"Oh, bugger," Luna exclaimed, as she mis-skipped and landed on the rope. Six and a half knots then. Not very much divided on three pups, she concluded and decided that she could have another go before the Snorkacks would be annoyed. She stepped off the rope, and immediately it started to swing again. Luna waited a few moments to get the rhythm right, and then she jumped into the rope and skipped anew.
Snorkack pups in a Snorkack lair...
Rope skipping - a fun past time for little girls, muggles or witches alike - has the great disadvantage of requiring at least two people, one (or preferably two) that handles the rope, and one that does the actual skipping. A little muggle girl who finds herself without friends can therefor not enjoy the pleasures a skipping rope provides (except for solo skipping - and how fun is that?) and is forced to find other past times. A little witch girl, however, can invest in Zonko's Magical Rope For Hours And Hours Of Fun And Skipping. This rope is enchanted to move all by itself. It can adjust its speed, it can make a cradle or ordinary swings. It can do anything that real friends can, except perhaps - mused Luna, who indeed did lack friends and therefor went by her skipping affairs unaided by anyone except the magical rope - make it fun. But she was an obedient girl, and if Zonko had promised her Hours And Hours Of Fun while skipping, she was determined not to let it go without giving it a thorough try. And she enjoyed making up the skipping rhymes.
However, as she reached the last part of the rhyme, and started to count knots again, she was distracted by a man who opened the garden gate and approached her.
"Good day to you, young miss," the man said, smiling at her. "I'm sorry to interrupt your doings. But I happen to look for a certain Mrs Lovegood, and I would be much obliged if you could direct me to her present beings." Luna sternly put a foot on the rope to keep it still, and looked up at the man. He was old, long and skinny, and had a long, thin nose. His skin was wrinkled, but many of the wrinkles were of the fun kind you get from laughter rather than the sad kind you get from worrying. Also, he had eyes that Luna immediately found herself fascinated with. They were large and proturbant and almost silvery blue. Deep inside them seemed to be a hidden twinkle, as if from distant stars. Luna met his gaze.
"I still only got seven and a half knots," she announced matteroffactly. The man raised an eyebrow.
"Indeed. How many would have been required?" Luna paused to think on this.
"I'm not certain, really. I suppose the pups would be happy without any knots at all, because they can be rather tricky to untie. But they have so much hair, so there could be much more knots than that."
"If that is so," the man said, "I would say that a case can be made for these 'pups' being content with as a low a number of knots that could conveniently be arranged. However, I do confess my limited experience in the area. May I be so bold as to ask you a question?"
Luna nodded, still not taking her eyes of the man's face.
"Would I be correct in assuming your identity as Miss Lovegood, daughter of the lovely - if you allow me the pun - people inhabiting this very house?"
"I'm Luna," Luna confirmed, then her eyes narrowed. "Your eyes look like mum's. Are you her dad?" The man looked surprised for a moment, then he laughed.
"Oh no, indeed not, even if I realize that I might be of such an age to make the connection plausible. I'm an old acquaintance of your mother, and I am seeking her today to discuss an upcoming event of interest for both of us. You don't happen to know where..."
"I do not know you," Luna stated and put her other foot on the rope, which had started to become restless from the lack of skipping. The man smiled and made a short bow.
"Ah, my apologizes, miss Lovegood. My name is Ollivander, and I am in the wand crafting trade..." he made a short pause and eyed the little girl thoughtfully. "I really look forward to the challenge of appointing you a wand, if you allow me to say so."
"What wand will I have?" Luna asked, intrigued. The man thoughtfully pulled his nose.
"I have learned of experience not to make any certain predictions for people of your age, young miss Lovegood. You are still in a state of your life where upcoming things will leave a lasting impression of you, which might affect your preferred wand material... but if I should hazard a guess, I would say a slender wand... holly perhaps. And as for the core, there is always something to be said about dragon heartstring." Suddenly Luna got a concerned look in her face.
"Wouldn't the dragon miss its heartstring?" she asked, looking up at Ollivander with big eyes. He smiled at her.
"I can assure you that Ollivander's wand manufactory take great pride in not utilizing core material the previous owner still has use for." Luna considered this.
"Oh... That's all right then," she said. She met the gaze of the old man again. She really liked his eyes, glowing in the grey light from the clouded sky. His wrinkles around the mouth looked funny when he smiled, so she smiled back.
"Mum is in her writing room. I'll get her," she said. Ollivander shook his head.
"It won't be necessary. I find my way quite fine, thank you. I won't take up any more of your time. Your mother and me have our own business to tend to, after all." And with a polite nod he walked over to the open door and walked inside.
Luna watched him go, thinking about things a good girl is supposed to do, about protuberant eyes, so very much like her mothers, about old acquaintances and interesting upcoming event, and things a good girl is not supposed to do even if she is very, very curious. Eavesdropping is among them.
The skipping rope was moving in a restless fashion in the grass. Luna regarded it for a few moments, thoughtfully. To tell the truth, she was quite disappointed with it, but then again; it might be disappointed with her as well. After all, she was not having the promised Hours And Hours Of Fun, which probably meant she was doing her skipping wrong in some way. She decided she would better try something else, for example changing the surface she was skipping on. Grass had not worked, but stone might be better. The best skipping stone was the small veranda on the back of the house, so she walked over there, keeping the rope in strict control. She didn't feel she was doing anything wrong. After all, she was only experimenting with her new toy, which was perfectly in order with what a good girl is supposed to do. It wasn't as if it was her doing that the veranda was just below the window of her mother's working room (a window that, by pure chance, her mother used to keep open to let the fresh air in), and if she should happen to overhear something when she was keeping busy on the veranda by skipping... No, not skipping, since it might cause too much noise to allow accidentical overhearing. Better make that making up new skipping rhymes. Well, if she happened to overhear something, it would be pure chance and not at all eavesdropping. Luna was quite confident that she had never dropped an eave in her entire life, and if she was, she would probably be able to find it again anyway. She was good at finding lost things.
That settled, she sat down on the veranda (after have tied the skipping rope around a garden chair to keep it still), just below the window, and began thinking up skipping rhymes. She happened to do quite a lot of accidental overhearing.
"...very pleasant surprise, Ollivander," her mother said with happy voice. "If I had known you were to be expected..."
"Not at all," the man answered. "This is just a short call. I had some time to spare, and thought I would drop by. I trust you have your health?"
"Oh, absolutely. I'm feeling better than ever. Married life suits me, you know."
"I'm very glad to hear it. Is perchance your husband available. It was some time since I had the pleasure of talking to him. He is an extraordinary brave man, I must say. Much to my liking. And obviously, he has proved clever enough to find a way to ensnare this wonderful person I see before me." Her mother laughed shortly.
"There was an ensnaring involved, I will grant you that, but do not assume it was of my husband's weaving. Anyway, I'm afraid he's not here. He's following up a Snorkack sighting in Surrey, and will probably be away all day."
"Alas, it can't be helped. I will have to do with your charming company."
"Is that usually a problem?" There was something in her mother's voice Luna wasn't certain what to make of. It almost sounded like... teasing?
"Ah, not at all, my dear. You know I can never get enough of your charming self."
"Ollivander! You old flirt. Did you have an errand, or did you only come by to exchange pleasantries?"
"Does there really have to be a difference between those things?"
"As much as I would like to believe there isn't..."
"I've come to direct your attention towards an upcoming Dance."
Then there was silence for a while. Luna, reminding herself that she was not eavesdropping at all, forced her mind back to the new skipping rhyme. Three birds took off from the ground... sang with a joyful... sound? But her thoughts were distracted once again by her mother's voice.
"Indeed. Surely, you have seen the messages just as I have."
"Oh, well, yes I could hardly have missed them, written all over the place as they are, but..."
"I take it you have not been to the Dance lately, then."
"As a matter of fact, no. Not since some time after Luna was born."
"Ah, Luna. I had the great pleasure of exchanging a few words with your daughter upon my arrival to your house. A clever girl."
"She is a wonderful child," her mother said. Luna moved a bit closer to the window. It's a well known fact that accidental overhearing is even more frequent than usual if the conversation happens to be about yourself.
"She seemed to find my eyes a source of interest," Ollivander said casually, and the he chuckled. Luna could hear her mother draw her breath sharply, but she didn't say anything.
"Might I be right to suppose that you have yet to talk to Luna about her mother's side of the family."
"It's not like we have been keeping it secret, but..."
"I suppose you want to save her young mind from that strange experience yet some time?"
"Oh, well, not necessarily. After all, it'd hardly be more strange to her than her father's side of the family. Can you imagine the look of her face the first time she saw a muggle street and sat in a muggle automobile?"
"An experience I yet have to enjoy myself, but I believe I can understand the general feeling."
"We will tell her, sooner or later. But it will have to wait yet some time."
"I can understand your concern, but I still want to advice you not to wait too long. After all, your daughter possessess, apart from rather striking eyes herself, quite a large quantity of wit and - I'm confident - curiosity. She will start to see the clues and see the... others."
"I'm not bringing her to the Dance yet, Ollivander. She is still too young. She has seen too little of her own world."
"As differing from your own world?"
"That wasn't what I meant, and you know it."
"Yes, I do know. But you have been missed, I will have you knowing. Your absencse from the Dance has evoked... curiosity."
"I can't see why it should. I'm living in the day now. I have a husband, a daughter and a work at the ministry. This is the place I have chosen for myself."
"Of course, my dear, and I meant no insult or pressure. I simply mentioned it as a matter of etiquette."
"Etiquette, Ollivander? Really?"
The man did not answer. Luna caught herself with holding her breath, so she breathed out and waited for the conversation to continue. When it did, it was her mother who talked again."
"Oh, all right. I'll go to the Dance and greet my old friends. But I'm not staying more than a night."
"Naturally. No one could ask you for more."
"... and I don't want you to slip any more hints to Luna. She is bright enough to work it out for herself, and when she does I will tell her what she needs to know."
"Frankly, I am a bit at a loss for what the trouble might be."
"That is because you don't have any children, Ollivander. Raising a young person is scary business. There are so many things you can do wrong - so many decisions you have to make. As for this particular one, I simply don't want my daughter to be too interested in the other worlds before she had learned to appreciate this one."
"But surely she will have her own choice to make one day?"
"Naturally, but when she does, she'll have to face it as a woman and not as a little girl, and in order to be a woman she needs to grow up to one, a process that takes years of experience, mistakes and finding her way through the muddy waters of society and social contexts. Do you have any idea how long time it took me to grow up? You see each generation of new Hogwarts students passing through your shop, Ollivander. Do you honestly think that the daughter of a muggleborn researcher and... one of our kind, will smoothly find her place among people of her own age?"
"Ah, if that is what you are afraid of, I can assure you that there yet has to be born that young witch or wizard that has an easy time finding his or her place – or the parent that let their precious offspring go away on their own without worrying like crazy about them."
"I don't expect anyone to. But if I allow Luna to explore her heritage too extensively now, she will know, every time she feels lonely or strange or not fitting in, that there is another path open for her. I don't want her to be tempted to walk it and forsake the humans."
"That path is her birth right, after all."
"Well, so is this world, and the world of the muggles. She has to make her own decision, and to do that she needs to grow up, to change. How much do you think she would be allowed to change at the Dance?"
"Hmmm. I can see you have given the matter some thought."
"Of course I have. If you were a parent, you would have too."
"Agreed then. I will not interfere in your raising of your daughter, and you will humor an old man and accompain him to the forthcoming Dance."
"It's agreed, and I'm glad you looked by. I do appreciate your concern, Ollivander."
"Not at all. We are not that many, are we? We have too look after each other."
"Then I trust to meet you at the Dance."
"Please deliver my greetings to your husband."
A few more pleasantries were exchanged, but Luna did not stay to listen. She thoughtfully sneaked away with her skipping rope, which had by now entangled almost entirely in the chair and in itself in its fruitless attempts to swing. She had been given something to think about - something big, something that had to do with herself, and she was not entirely sure what to do with that knowledge.
She heard the front door open and close a little while after, and then the garden gate. She did not look up to see the man leave. When her mother came out to the garden too look for her, she found Luna just as she had left her a few hours earlier, happily playing with her new Zonko's skipping rope, singing a skipping rhyme of her own making.
Luna's mother couldn't but smile proudly as she watched her daughter, so engrossed in her own world. She knew that sooner or later she would have to tell Luna about her birth right, tell her about the other worlds and tell her about the choice she would sooner or later have to make. Sooner or later she would have to take her to the Dance. But not yet. Luna was still just a little girl, and there was still plenty of time.
Fairies took off from the ground
With the pretty girl they found
How many years has she to stay
Authors note: The Bollywoggles and the knots they tie were first reported by Michelle 31a.