i.

Luna watches Matt sometimes, when he's practicing Charms homework. She likes the way he waves his wand, pronounces words with the slight Irish accent Wammy's had never quite cured.

She ducks behind the pillar when he turns, frowning.

"Do you like him? Matt, I meant," the blond, Mello, asks her once. "If you do, I can put in a good word or two."

"No," she says quietly, and buries herself in another edition of The Quibbler.

(Pretty little mermaid, under the sea, doesn't dare speak to the mortal Prince. The wicked sea witch laughs and laughs and "Sign here, and you can be with him if you please. All you'll lose is your voice." Such a petty price to pay, but she knows better than to trust the witch and she declines.)

ii.

She talks to Near about the 'Snuffleumpus' and Near lets her, more interested in his figurines than in Luna's madness. He has the fleeting thought that there's a fifty percent chance she's insane, but dismisses it. ("I'm mad, you know," says the Hatter before he dumps his tea over Alice's dress. "So very mad. It's the fault of the Snuffleumpus. Did you know the Queen is one?") Luna is Luna, that's all.

"They make their owners mad, you know. They send out brain waves through their antennae and pretty soon you're doing the Hokey Pokey in your underwear in the street."

She doesn't stop talking when Matt wanders by, but Near watches the flicker of her eyes and muses that maybe the 'Snuffleumpus' could exist somewhere. It would explain a lot of things, he thinks, before he goes back to his action figures and Luna prattles on.

Maybe L was a Snuffleumpus and that's why Wammy's went mad.

iii.

She follows him down the hall to the Potions classroom, and when he asks her to be his partner, she smiles and agrees.

Luna has a habit of rambling about the most bizarre creatures she knows of when she's nervous, and when combined with her natural flightyness it's a formidable combination.

Matt listens and smiles and tries not to roll his eyes when she keeps going on.

When it's over and he heads off to his next class, she breathes and wonders if she could charm herself to stop talking. She decides instead to take Mello up on his previous offer.

(The sea witch laughs all the harder when the mermaid returns to take her offer after all. Pretty little mermaid pricks her finger and signs in blood and the ink runs and runs and the sharks circle closer.)

iv.

Matt seeks her out one day and asks if she'd like to hang out for awhile.

She stares from behind her Quibbler before she realizes he means her and it takes all her willpower not to jump up and run away embarrassed. Potions is still painfully fresh in her mind. But he's offered and she can't say no to ginger hair and green grass eyes and his lips curve in a smile when she takes his offered hand and lets him pull her out of the chair.

(No voice but she has legs and the Prince is smiling as he pulls her to dance. Oh but each step is so painful, like thousands of glass shards and her feet are bleeding, but she's still dancing.

Such a foolish mermaid.)

v.

Hermione's a bit worried for Luna, she says sometime later when Luna sails into the Common Room.

She doesn't listen and Near watches from the corner, lips curved ever so slightly.

(The Cheshire Cat, he smiles and he knows that there's something Not-Quite-Right with the Red Queen. He chuckles and vanishes and his mouth opens wide wide wide and swallows Alice whole. She screams and when she opens her eyes, she's still under the bedsheets.)

vi.

She sees Matt with Lavender Brown later in the day. They're snogging in an alcove and she feels her heart breaking.

She runs to the Common Room and the comfort of Hermione, who urges her to forget about Matt, because really he's not worth it.

(The mermaid's sisters begged and pleaded for her to take their dagger and plunge it into the Prince's heart, because what mortal man is worth the pain she's endured? Why should she walk on two legs upon an endless bed of broken glass, only to die at the next dawn because this man, this selfish unloving Prince, does not love her? Please Sister, drive this through his heart and free yourself!

She can not.)

vii.

When Luna is found in the Forest, Dumbledore cancels classes for two weeks and reminds them all that the Forest is unsafe for students of all Years.

Hermione blames Matt who simply shrugs and pets Lavender's hair while Mello paces. He didn't send Luna into the Forest, so it's not his fault. Near snaps the head off Optimus Prime but ignores the questioning looks as he gathers his robots and carries them out of the Common Room.

He doesn't mention the Threstrals screaming outside the window.

(The mermaid fades into foam atop the waves at dawn's first light and her sisters scream and cry for the loss of their sister, as the wicked sea witch smiles and charms the Prince. He doesn't care that the mermaid has vanished.

The Cheshire Cat still smiles, but without Alice there it's more a grimace than a grin. He goes madder than mad one day and slaughters the Red Queen and all of Wonderland hails their new King, as Alice looks through the looking glass and wonders why the Cheshire Cat is still smiling at her when she can't smile back.)