Concerning hedgehogs

Luna always says such strange things - no wonder people don't always understand her... Characters belongs to Rowling

Claire gave the still sniffing girl a hug and a reassuring smile. She had stopped crying, at least, but here eyes were red, and the bite-mark on her hand had looked rather nasty. Claire had put on some iodine and a plaster, but it was still bleeding. Can hedgehogs give you rabies? she wondered, and made a mental note to ask the girl's parents if she was vaccinated.

She looked around the small grove where the Brownie pack used to meet. The other girls were playing in twos or threes. Some of them were comforting Joan, a group of the more adventurous girls were poking around in the bushes to where the hedgehog had retreated, and then there was...

She couldn't help sighing silently for herself. Of course, after five year as a Brownie guide, she was rather used to the imagination young girls possessed, but this one was something special. She turned to the pale girl, who anxiously trailed after her.

"Yes, Luna?" she said. The girl, who had obviously been bursting to say whatever she was about to say took a deep breath, put her hands on her back and looked Claire in the eyes with a serious expression.

"Miss Claire, Joan shouldn't have offered the knarl milk," she stated. "They get so very annoyed when you do."

"It was a hedgehog, Luna," Claire mildly corrected. Luna shook her head.

"It WAS a knarl, Miss Claire. You can tell, because they are awfully suspicious about being poisoned. So, if you give them something, you always have to eat a bit of it yourself, otherwise they will attack you... Joan will get better, won't she?" The last question was asked with genuine concern, and Claire patted her head.

"Of course she will," she assured. "Hedgehogs have sharp teeth, but now she has got a nice plaster, so she will be fine." Luna nodded, contently, but she still seemed to have more to say.

"Did you know that the knarls were human once?" she eagerly asked. "Only, there was this wizard who only got squibs as children, and who was so annoyed that he gave them all some nasty drink that turned them into hedgehogs? And then, when they got their own little hedgehog children, they were really, really suspicious about anything trying to poison them again, so they were the knarls." She took a deep breath. "So it's not really their fault that they are a bit rude and bite people, and I'm sure he would apologize to Joan if we asked him to, so you're not really angry with the knarl, are you, Miss Claire?"

The slightly bewildered Brownie leader smiled reassuringly at the anxious girl. Luna had such an imagination - always going on about her strange creatures and witches and wizards and God knows what. But she was a good girl at heart, and Claire could see that she actually did care about whether or not her Brownie guide was angry with hedgehogs.

"Of course I'm not angry with the hedgeh... with the knarl, Luna. Now, run along and play with the other girls."

Contently, Luna nodded and turned back towards the bush, presumably to look for the 'knarl' again. Claire shook her head slightly and turned her attention back to Joan.

Authors note: Luna's theory, about knarls originating from the seventeenth century wizard Thaddeus Thurkell's seven squib sons-turned-to-hedgehogs, was originally proposed by Nigella Mistybush at fictionalley dot org.