07 March 2023
"No! I want to be the Plotter!" nine-year-old Lysander Scamander chided furiously, crossing his arms and narrowing his eyes.
"That's not fair!" his twin brother, Lorcan, exclaimed with equal chagrin, flinging his hands ferociously up into the air. "You were the Plotter the last time we played! It's my turn!"
The two boys were standing together at the edge of a cluster of low hills, which appeared to be uninhabited apart from one small cottage at the very far end. Resplendent yellow sunflower plants garnished the endless field upon which the two boys were standing, and the smattering of apple trees surrounding the cottage swayed lightly in the breeze, it's sweet-smelling blossoms fluttering down, one by one.
It would have been a peaceful scene, almost like one portrayed in a painting, if not for the earsplitting shrieks from the two blonde boys at the foothills. Both fellows seemed to have abandoned all means of placid negotiation, for they were now an entanglement of limbs and fists, punctuated by the occasional outcry of pain.
Unbeknownst to the two scuffling boys, a willowy woman with waist-length, straggly, dirty-blonde hair, faint eyebrows and protuberant grey eyes—which gave her an aura of dreaminess—had exited the cottage at the other end of the summit, and was now making her way towards them, her long blonde hair dancing behind her. Around her neck, a necklace—made of what looked like a multitude of corks—rattled as she walked, and from her ears hung a pair of earrings, shaped distinctly like radishes.
She walked closer and closer towards the pair of twins—both of whom were still jostling vigorously—with a slightly exasperated half-smile on her face. Once she was standing right in front of them, she leaned against a nearby tree trunk, crossing her arms competently against her chest.
It was not an order, simply a declaration, barely audible above the boys' own vicious vociferating. But the impact that it had upon them was remarkable. They immediately stopped their fight, scrambling up to their feet and facing her with their eyes wide and mouths slightly open.
"M—Mum," Lorcan stuttered, face paling considerably. He took a very noticeable step away from his brother. "Er—we weren't fighting."
"What are you talking about?" Lysander burst out, plainspoken as always. He turned to his brother, looking genuinely perplexed. "We were fighting—she saw us—"
Lorcan quelled him with a glare.
"No more fighting, all right?" Luna ordered airily, surveying them intently. Both boys nodded fervently. Looking satisfied, she continued, "Now, what was the fight about, this time?"
Some light of the previous argument seemed to dawn upon the two boys, for looks of irritation crossed both of their faces. Lysander complained, "Lorcan won't let me be the Plotter, but I want to be!"
"But Mum," lamented Lorcan, "it's not fair! Lysander was the Plotter last time we played 'Plotters and Explorers.'"
Luna glanced from boy to boy, taking in their surly expressions calmly. Suddenly, her face brightened. "I have an idea. How about I plot the map? You two can both be explorers today."
Lorcan and Lysander exchanged a gleeful glance. It was always fun when their mother was the Plotter. They consented readily.
Both watched with wonder as their mother's slender hand meticulously worked its way across a piece of parchment, inking out a rather complicated map of their front yard and finishing with a flourish. Luna Scamander smiled dazedly at her handiwork, simultaneously pulling out a sterling spoon from her robes. She flicked her wand at the piece of cutlery, and, with a flash of blue, the spoon was gone.
Then, she conferred the parchment to her eager sons, patting them both animatedly on the back. "All right, boys. Go find it."
They had been searching for the spoon almost half-an-hour with no success, or even an inkling as to where their mother might have placed it. Their faces were smeared with vast quantities of grime and mire, but, nevertheless, both sported similar expressions of determination.
Lysander turned inquisitively to his brother. "What?"
Lorcan was scrutinizing a tree with squinted eyes, his hand gently roving the bark's ragged surface. "This tree looks familiar."
"Of course it does," Lysander frowned mildly, looking very much perplexed. "All the apple trees look the same—"
"No, no," Lorcan interrupted, advancing even closer and observing the tree so closely that his nose almost brushed against its trunk. "This one looks familiar. I…I think we've been here before."
"That can't be," Lysander assured his twin brother, shaking his head with pronounced certainty, as he brandished his mother's map in front of Lorcan's face. "Mum wouldn't lead us 'round in circles. The Nargles must be confusing you—"
Lorcan rolled his eyes. "Nargles aren't real," he said. "And this is the same tree we passed two minutes ago! Look—the markings are exactly the same!"
"Don't be silly—"
"I'm not being silly!"
"You are," Lysander glowered fiercely at his twin, sweeping his long, blonde hair out of his eyes in one fluid motion. "Do you think I led us in circles for all this time?"
"Yes," Lorcan seethed, eyebrows knitting. He made to snatch the map out his brother's right arm, but Lysander was too quick for him.
"Oy!" Lysander bellowed, taking several footsteps backwards and nearly colliding painfully with a particularly large sunflower plant. "What are you—?"
"Give me the map, Ly!" Lorcan ordered, swiping at the map again. "You've been doing it all wrong! Give it to me!"
"No!" Lysander's voice cut through the air like a whip, and a shell-shocked Lorcan staggered backwards, regarding his brother with an air of consternation.
"Fine," Lorcan hissed after an immensely fraught moment. "Do it yourself. I'm leaving." And in a flash, he was off, and all that could be heard was the thumping of his heavy footfalls.
And Lysander was left alone, staring determinedly after his brother's retreating figure, his mother's map still clutched in his left hand.
Lysander Scamander's eyebrows furrowed in concentration as he surveyed the map in his hands. None of the bizarre markings upon it seemed to match the colossal thicket in which he currently stood. He glanced momentarily up at the numerous trees which encompassed him, and then back down at the map, which was now nothing but a blur of various different streaks and demarcations to him.
Slightly desperate, he craned his neck, trying to see around the myriad of trees encircling him. He squinted furiously for the sight of a sunflower or an apple blossom, but they was nowhere to be found. A ferret scurried across the tall grass, squeaking as it leaped behind a dark bush, its tail springing up behind him. Birds twittered and the wind blew heavily, whisking Lysander's hair repeatedly in front of his pale face. Lysander shivered.
Hastily swallowing the panic that was springing up his chest, Lysander broke into a jog, running past tree after tree, scouring the terrain for the sight of his familiar, little cottage. But every step he took brought more unfamiliarity into view, and soon, Lysander was careening to a halt, gasping for breath, his face surging with sweat, as he looked around. He had no idea where he was. There was not a single soul in sight.
The curious whistling in his ears was now louder than ever, and the panic which Lysander had been desperately resisting for the past fifteen minutes began swelling up in his constricting chest.
He was lost.
Swiveling around in a rather unhinged manner, Lysander gave a cry of distress, throwing himself down on the cold, grassy turf. His eyes burned with tears, and Lysander swiped impatiently at his cheeks, stopping the wetness from flowing further. Heaving a great, shuddering sigh, Lysander buried his face in his arms, shielding himself from the windstorm.
As if on cue, a drop of water hit Lysander squarely on the head.
"Mummy!" Lysander howled, his voice muffled by the sound of the thundering deluge. "Lorcan, I'm sorry—please, help me! Anyone! Mum! Mummy! Daddy!"
Lysander scooted further backwards into the shelter of the tree beneath which he was situated, pulling his knees up to his chest, and trying in vain to ward off the dousing rain, which was now disgorging down upon him in earnest. He didn't know how long exactly he'd been sitting under the tree, feeling his various body parts numb, one by one. The sky, which had been a pleasant shade of azure when he and his brother had started their little exploration, was now a dull, menacing gray. The faint imprint of stars could just barely behind the dark haze of enormous rain clouds.
"Please!" Tears of desperation were racing down Lysander's deathly pale cheeks, intermingling with the bitterly bleak raindrops splattered all about his face. "Please—I'm sorry—" he stopped short, eyes widening fearfully as a dark shadow was cast across his sanctuary under the tree.
Expecting the worst, Lysander sprang to his feet, leveling himself against the moist tree trunk, holding his breath and pressing his lips together. There was a sudden flash of light, as a woman materialized out of thin air. Her dirty-blonde hair was damp, sticking to her back. Her silver eyes blazed with anxiety.
But Luna Scamander barely had a moment to familiarize herself with her alien surroundings before Lysander had bolted out from behind the tree, wrapping his arms around his mother's lithe waist and catching her in an fervid embrace.
"Lysander," his mother murmured into his hair, rubbing circles upon his back in an attempt to soothe his racking sobs. She pulled away from him slightly, gazing sympathetically down at drenched face. "What happened? One minute, you and Lorcan are out with the map, and the next minute, he comes back alone, looking very sheepish. Daddy very nearly went hoarse…all that shouting…" Luna shook her head, looking mystified. "Lorcan came back out in the rain, looking for you with Daddy. They must be half-way across the hills by now—which reminds me—"
She pulled her wand out from its habitual position behind her ear, murmuring an incantation. Wisps of silvery-white erupted from the tip, eventually forming a translucent outline of a hare. "Found him. Go home. We'll be there soon," Luna told the hare, and it dissolved into thin air.
She turned back to her son. "Well?" she asked, voice calm, but undeniably beseeching. "What have you been doing all alone out here? Why did Lorcan leave?"
"It's all my fault," Lysander stared down at his sopping shoes, tears—this time of shame—once again prickling the corners of his eyes. "I wouldn't give him the map."
Luna sighed. "Oh, Lysander." She tightened her hold on her son, shaking her head. "I hope you've learned your lesson."
They set off across the field, their shoes squelching, as they trooped through the water-logged pasture. There was a moment's comfortable silence before—
"Next time…" Lysander hesitated. "Next time, can Lorcan be the Plotter? You're map was really hard!"
And as both mother and son strolled laughingly through the chaparral, a single spoon fell from the branch of the tree Lysander had been seated under, just moments ago, where it would lie, forgotten, for years to come.
For ash-luvgirl02's "Parent/Child" Competition. My pairing was Luna & Lysander, and my prompt was "Plotter." Hope you liked it!