The fairies in the wood

When the teasing of her peers become too much for Luna, she finds herself different company. Characters belong to Rowling.

My mother said i never should
play with the fairies in the wood...

She crossed the lawn, walking away from the darkening Hogwarts castle, towards the darker still Forbidden Forest; a small, lonely figure against the magnificently setting sun. If we were to imagine ourselves seated at a vantage point among the chimneys and turrets of the castle roof, we would have had a good view of the girl. She walked steadily, and didn't seem to be in a rush. She was dressed in the customary school uniform, and we might perhaps have caught a glimpse of the neat bronze and blue Ravenclaw tie. Her hair was let down and went all the way down to her waist. She had a necklace that seemed to be made of caps. In her ears hung something red - even if we would have needed a remarkable eyesight indeed to be able to make that out from our high vantage point. In all, we would see nothing that would make us think any special about this girl's nocturnal wandering - except for perhaps allowing us a little smile for the high spirits of youth, defying curfews and boundaries.

But if we were to take a closer look - close enough to make out butterbeer caps and radish earrings - we would sense that something was amiss. The young girl did not walk with her usual air of detached curiosity or happy excitement. Her steps were short and fast, as if she was making an effort not to start to run. The hands that hung by her sides were clenched. The large, protuberant eyes, in which the red and gold of the setting sun was reflected, were blank, as if tears threatened to emerge any second.

In the Ravenclaw tower, a bed stood empty. The girls avoided to look at it, avoided each other's eyes. Surely, 'Loonie' was only out for one of her usual evening strolls. Surely, she hadn't taken it to heart that much. Surely, they hadn't been THAT bad.

Dark branches emerged from dark tree trunks. Invisible insects made nocturnal noises. The inhabitants of the forest went by their own, secret business and didn't take much notice of the pale girl who walked down the path. Luna did not stop until she reached a small pond, some distance away from the path normally stridden by the many legged inhabitants of the forest. The muddy water was as smooth as a mirror, and a thin mist hung over it. A shiver went through Luna's body as she sent unclenched her hands and breathed out. She sat down by the pond, and a tear trickled from her eyes and down into the water.

"That wasn't very nice," she whispered.

She took a deep breath and swallowed. Then she bent down and touched the surface of the water with a slender finger. She watched the ripples spread over the pond.

"I enjoyed the sunset, though," she went on in a somewhat more steady voice, idly playing with the mist with her hand. "The little violet specs were very beautiful, you know."

"I loved the violet specs," the girl in the mist happily said. She took Luna's hand and dragged her to her feet. "And I loved the smell of gold. Don't you think it looks pretty in my hair?" She twirled, her long, white hair flowing like a gold specked comet tail. Luna examined it curiously.

"It looks nice," she agreed, and the girl clapped her hands in delight.

"You really think so?" Look everybody!" she cried. "Luna thinks my hair is pretty!" And from the mist, more girls emerged. All dressed in long, white dresses, all with long, flowing hair, and all with young and beautiful faces.

"It's Luna. It's Luna!!!" they cried as they flocked around her. "Have you come to play with us?" they asked. "Have you come to dance with us? To stay with us?" Luna shook her head.

"I just wanted to see you," she explained. "And I have to be back before the other girls in my dormitory wake up. They get a bit distressed otherwise."

"Awwww," the girls whined. "Can't you just stay for a few years or so? We can sing for you," they tempted.

"I like your singing," Luna said sincerely, making the girls laugh and clap their hands again. One of them tugged her sleeve.

"Luna, do you think MY hair is pretty?" she asked with something of a challenge in her voice, and immediately, the other girls started to tug her sleeves and ask her to judge their hair as well. Luna obliged, and soon the girls were happily milling around, complimenting each other's hair. Luna sat down on a stump with two of the girls brushing her golden strands, mumbling jealously. Another girl stroke her face with a pale, cold hand and looked in amazement at the glittering tear on her fingers.

"Luna makes dew with her eyes!" she exclaimed, and the other huddled closer to look.

"Some of the others took my book today," Luna said as explanation. "The one that mum and dad used to read to me from, the one with all those stories in it." The girls looked at her with surprised expressions.

"But your mum and dad aren't a book," one of them said, "so what does that matter?"

"Yes, you are right," Luna sighed. "But I rather enjoyed that book. And then they... were a little bit rude to me. So I went here instead," she said with a small sigh.

One of the girls suddenly made a little jump.

"Ooooh, I know!!!" she exclaimed. "If they are rude to Luna, then we can be rude to them." The girls all jumped to their feet, cheering at the novelty of the idea.

"We can hide their books."

"We can tie their shoelaces."

"We can lead them lost so they never, ever, ever find their way back, or we can lure them to the spidery, creepingly thingies!"

"No," Luna stated. "That wouldn't be very nice."

"Awwww," the girls pouted. Then one of them looked up and pointed towards the sky with a long, white finger.

"Look, the moon is here. Let's greet it!"

Twirling and fluttering they danced away from the pond, through the wood, to the glade where the moon was shining like a well of silvery water. Luna, laughing and smiling, holding hands with two of the fairies, followed them, twirled and fluttered and danced, just like them.

In the mist and the moonlight, on the soft grass, under the stars and the night sky, the fairy dance was performed. Frogs and grasshoppers played the orchestra and bats sang with squeaky voices. In the edge of the glade, dark shapes stood. Centaurs, trolls and other, even stranger inhabitants of the wood watched the dancing girls in silence. The fairies spun and danced and flowed and flew, each beautiful face radiating of joy and excitement. They danced for the mist and the moonlight, for the grass, for the stars, for the night sky and for the pure joy of everything that is. Luna danced in their midst, singing in tune with the bats, her tears dried and her eyes sparkling once again - sparkling of delight and happiness, sparkling with moon and stars and the light of the fairies. Her face was flustered from excitement and exercise, but the other girls didn't seem to be affected at all.

The dance lasted all night, over branch and brook, log and stone. When the first rays of sunlight pierced the canopies, Luna stepped back, still somewhat dizzy. She smiled and bowed.

"Thank you ever so much," she said, waving. "It was most enjoyable, but now I really must go back."

And she returned over the lawn to the still sleeping Hogwarts castle, and we, from our gargoyle perspective, would see a new spring in her steps, a smile on her face and a gleam in her eyes. But if we were to look closer at the forest, curious, perhaps, about what had caused the change, we would see nothing but the thin morning mist, idly lingering over the forest floor.

In the Ravenclaw tower, when the girls woke up, they were secretly relieved to see 'Loonie' jump up from her bed and do her little morning dance just as she always did. They had put that stupid old book on her pillow so she would find it when she returned, and she carried it with her all that day long, reading it during the breaks as eagerly as if she had never seen it before. And she chatted as happily with her teachers and peers as she always did, not minding the least if she didn't get any answers. All was fine again.

But in the forest the fairies danced and laughed and sang with their beautiful voices, and one part of Luna, deep, deep down in her soul, longed to join them.