The night before the final confrontation, Luna sneaks out to the Forbidden Forest to dance one last time with the fairies. Characters belong to Rowling.
From the low white walls and the church's steeple,
From our little fields under grass or grain,
I'm gone away to the fairy people
I shall not come to the town again.
You may see a girl with my face and tresses,
You may see one come to my mother's door
Who may speak my words and may wear my dresses.
She will not be I, for I come no more.
- Lord Dunsany -
Once upon a time, there was a little girl that was stolen away by the fairies. For seven long years she was gone, dancing and playing and not caring for the world outside the dusk and the mist, until she one day was found sleeping peacefully on the hillside. But even after she came back, people said that she was somewhat odd, and those who knew said that the mark of the Fair People was still on her.
One day, she went missing again.
This night, Luna Lovegood stands in her dormitory, regarding her visitor with a thoughtful expression. She is not surprised, really, because she has known for a long time that this visitor would come one day.
Only perhaps not just now.
But still, Luna is a polite girl, so she bends down before the Grim and pats it gently. The large, black dog growls contently and sits down by her feet, patiently waiting for her.
Outside the open window of the Ravenclaw tower, a cloud passes the moon, and mist is raising from the ground.
She had been humming to herself, as is her habit, but now she seems to have lost the tune. She stares through the window with her large, protuberant eyes and she sees the dark trees of the forbidden forest, moving slightly in the wind. An owl hoots, and the nightly air is fresh and full of smells.
She looks at her bed, overloaded with clothes, books, magazines, interesting rocks, small keepsakes that other perhaps would call junk and all other things that are Luna's belongings. She had been packing, had tried to make up her mind of what things are needed at a heroic mission such as the one she and her friends were to emerge on.
There is a photo, carefully put on top of a book, showing a happily waving black-and-white-Luna together with a smiling black-and-white Hermione and a laughing black-and-white Ginny (and that is a bit strange, to see Ginny without her hair burning red as it usually does), in Hogsmede one glorious day that wasn't very long ago. Next to it lies a badge which reads 'Luna Lovegood - Rescue Mission'. She is a bit proud of that badge, actually. And then there is that single, since long dried, daisy, that she will never, ever, ever throw away. She only has to close her eyes to remember what it smelled like, the day he gave it to her.
The Grim shifts its position slightly, and Luna rubs its ears.
There is a photo, carefully put between two of the pages of the book, showing a black-and-white woman with shoulder-long white-blond - almost glowing - hair, and a pale, somewhat pointed face. She wears a loose dress that leaves her legs and arms bare. It is plain, but she wears it with a composition a queen would murder to acquire. Her bare feet are barely visible in the thick grass. Behind her, large tree trunks can be seen. She smiles, a proud and happy smile, and her large, protuberant eyes seem to look straight at Luna as she takes the picture in her hand and silently watches it, her own eyes blank with a terrible longing.
Frogs and insects are serenading in ponds and meadows. While the day is forever young, the night is forever old, and it speaks with a voice that goes back to the night before day ever was, to those who are inclined to listen.
Luna listens, and she shivers where she stands.
She doesn't want to go away. She doesn't want to leave her father, lose her friends or forget what ice cream or gillywater or kisses tastes like. Or the smell of daises, for that matter.
But there are other smells, and other tastes, older and wilder, that one part of Luna, deep down, never has forgotten.
And the Grim waits for her.
And the night calls her.
And there isn't anything she needs to pack. Not anything at all.
Luna carefully puts the photos back in the book. She bends down and take off her shoes and her socks, carefully putting them under her bed. She stands up, and she takes of her Ravenclaw tie, her skirt, her blouse and her underwear. Then she has to tidy the bed a little to make space for her clothes, which she folds neatly.
Luna stands naked in the starlight - her skin pale in the cold light from the distant night sky. The Grim watches her in silence.
She takes the wand from its safe-keeping place behind her ear and she puts in on the book. Then, with some reluctance, she unhooks the radish earrings and puts them on her night table. She hesitates for a moment, but then she takes off the necklace her parents helped her craft when she was a little girl, the one made of butterbeer caps which she had always been so fond of. She puts it on the clothes pile.
Luna looks at her bed, cramped with things that once were her possessions. She looks at the Grim, and she looks down at herself. She glances at the piece of parchment that lies on the pillow. Perhaps she thinks of writing a note, a letter or a last goodbye - but what could she ever say, that would explain anything? What is there more to say, really? She leaves the parchment empty.
"Oh, all right," she whispers - and perhaps there is a tear in the corner of her eye. "I'm ready."
And she leaves the room with the Grim in trail. The Luna on the picture waves happily together with her smiling, laughing friends.
There are still a few students in the common room, huddled together by the fire, reading a newspaper and talking to each other with whispering voices about the dark tides it brings. No one looks up as Luna crosses the room and opens the door out to the dark corridors of Hogwarts.
Many things have changed after Dumbledore's death, but some things are unchangeable. Filch the caretaker and his cat prowls the corridors, in search after students breaking the curfew. They don't so much as blink as the naked Luna and the dark Grim passes, no more then two feet away from them. Luna gives Filch a look full of compassion, but she doesn't stop. They walk on, out into the night.
A veil of mist shrouds the moon.
The night is cold, but the pale girl does not appear to notice this. She walks slowly but steadily towards the forest, and she only looks back once or twice. Perhaps her eyes linger for a moment at the merrily lit windows of the Gryffindor tower - it is so hard to tell. And the dark tree trunks of the forest already looms around her. The Grim follows in silence without looking back.
There is a pond, sparkling with silvery moonlight, and that is where Luna is heading. A fine mist hangs over it. It swirls slightly in the wind, and with the moonlight pouring silver over it, the glittering water under, one might almost imagine shapes to form. Happily, smiling and laughing shapes that dance in the mist and the moonlight, as they have done every night as long as there have been stars and moon and mist for them to dance for.
Luna approaches them. The Grim waits a few paces away.
"It's Luna! It's Luna!" the girls laugh as they emerge from the mist and take her hands. "Have you come to play with us? To dance with us? To stay with us? For ever?"
"Yes," Luna whispers. "Yes, I have." And the girls clap their hands in delight and drags her into the twirling fairy dance.
Over branch and brook, they dance. Over log and stone. Skipping and flowing, flying and laughing. Hand in hand on the soft grass and over round boulders - in creeks and in streams and under the stars and the dark trees. Away and away, run away we will - seven long years under the hill...
"Breath the mist!" whispers the night, and Luna breathes the mist. "Drink the air," says a leaf, and Luna drinks the air. "Listen to the stars!" plays the crickets, and Luna listens to the stars, opening up her heart to the strange music they play, that she have put out of her mind for so long. "Dance!" The girls sing, and Luna dances and dances and dances, and her happy, laughing face is just another of the happy, laughing faces of the fairies.
The Grim is far away now, still waiting by the pond.
"Be the mist," they tell her. "Dance the air. Sing the stars. The world is your dance and your song and the light of your eyes. The night is your birthright and your responsibility. The moon is your mother. The stars are your father. The dance is you!"
The fluttering girl is dancing over a different, dew-soaked mound under different stars, and shapes are gathering in the glade.
There is a man with hair like thistledown. There is a woman, tall and proud like a queen, dressed in moonlight. There is a jest, with cloven hooves and mischief in his eyes. There is a river that plays the violin. There is a wind that plays the horn. There are nymphs and sprites and dancers. This is the court of the Fair People, and Luna curtsies for them, joy glittering in her large, unblinking eyes. A woman, shrouded in mist and stars, takes her slender hand, she turns Luna's pale, pointy face towards her own, and she smiles.
"Welcome home, my child," she says, and Luna hugs her tightly, all the longing and loss melting away like dew in the morning sun. What does a fairy know of such things, after all?
Around them, the small people dance and laugh. The moon that shines above them is the same moon that has shone on every night, for as far as anyone can remember. But Luna pulls back, with a regretful expression. Because behind her, the Grim waits, dark and silent.
"It won't follow me here," Luna sadly says.
"But it will follow you back to the world of your father," the woman answers, and Luna lowers her eyes for a moment.
"Yes, it will," she whispers.
The woman nods, and the fairies flutter off, their shrill voices crying in excitement for the task that they are to undertake this night. What they are to sent to find.
There were nights when the stars shone cold, and those who knew about such things said that the fairies danced in the mists. Those were the nights when mothers locked the door and put iron in their children's cradles, for fear of waking up and finding a piece of wood in the place of their baby. A log, cold and dead, clumsily crafted to the resemblance of a human child. The Stock.
Bone of rock
Marrow of sap
Flesh of soil
Skin of bark...
They search under the moon and under the stars. They follow the roots of the trees to their finest tips, they dance in the streams to wherever it takes them. They run, hand in hand, on the soft moss that covers the forest floor. They sing their inquiry in the wind, and they are answered.
Arms of branches
Hands of sticks
Fingers of twigs
Nails of leaves...
Under joyous cries, they gather on the moor, pixies and nixies and things that go bump in the night, and they dig into the turf with silver spades and silver picks, until they hit the black piece of wood they were looking for. Luna and the woman and the court of the Fair People gather around them.
Heart of wood
Hair of grass
Eye of stars
Breath of wind...
They carve it with silver knives and silver axes, singing as they work. Soon, the shape takes form on the dew-soaked ground, the girl they sculpt. She's pale and rather short, with shoulder-long, dirty-blond hair and large eyes. Luna looks at her and tilts her head to the side in an almost pixious manner.
"I'm rather pretty, you know," she says, and the fairies laugh and clap their hands. But the girl on the grass does not stir nor breath. There is one thing missing.
...breath of life.
Luna kneels by the side of the girl, and she puts a hand on her pale chin. For a moment she sits silent, watching her face, then she bends down and kisses her.
The girl opens her large, protuberant eyes and curiously looks around. She eyes Luna with interest.
"I'm rather pretty, you know," she says, and smiles as the fairies help her to her feet. Luna takes her hand.
"Do you know what your name is?" she says. The girl nods.
"I'm Luna," she answers in a sing-song voice.
"Do you know what you are going to do tomorrow?" she presses on. She tilts her head to the side in an almost pixious manner.
"I'm going with Harry and Ginny and my other friends to help them fight a bad wizard and save the world," she answers with wide eyes. The girl bits her lip.
"Do you know him?" she asks, and points with a slender finger. Luna turns to look.
"He is my death," she answers solemnly as she sees the Grim waiting by the pond. She sighs.
"I suppose I will have to go with him."
"I put your clothes and your wand on the bed," the girl says - quickly, as if she is afraid that the words will escape her if they are not rushed. "The socks are in your shoes - it's those funny socks with toes, you know. You have to be a bit careful with the earrings, because they are a bit wobbly. I have almost finished packing the trunk for you..." she wants to say more, but her voice trail off. Luna nods serenely.
"Thanks," she says, and her eyes are full of compassion. They are silent for a moment, regarding one another. They hold out their hands, touching tenderly.
"I will be all right, you know," Luna says. "Really."
And she turns and goes, slowly walking back to the dark Hogwarts castle, with the Grim in trail. The girl watched her go, for a little while, and perhaps there was a hint of regret in her expression. But she soon forgot about her as the dance began anew. There are so many things to do and experience and feel, after all. And the night is eternal.
The next day, Luna Lovegood died, throwing herself in the way of lord Voldemort's killing curse, thereby giving her friend Harry time enough to fulfill his destiny and put an end to the bad wizard. As the light in her eyes went out, as her body grew cold and stiff and her breath were no more, she smiled faintly, because her life had been wonderful indeed, and she was glad for it.
They mourned her, they cried for her and they remembered her. It was quite nice, actually.
But in the forest, in the mist and in the stars, a girl with shoulder-long, dirty-blond hair, large, protuberant eyes and a happy laughter like the trickling water of a summer creak, dances as she happily skips from turf to turf, as she plays in the branches and the roots and as she sings for the moon - just as she always has. Just as she always will.