Author's Notes: Written for Saturday Special 4.0 on hh_sugarquill on LiveJournal with the prompt "the start of fall".


Luna sat beneath a tree with her knees drawn up to her chest and stared up into the sky. Her eyes were half-closed and misted over with a light gloss of tears.

Leaves were starting to go golden on the trees and that – far more than the dates on the calendar – told Luna that summer was over and autumn was about to start.

The thought distressed her more than she would ever let anyone else know. She was used to pretending that she liked school – telling her father in her letters that she was enjoying her classes and making nice friends – but she dreaded the end of summer. In summer, she was able to convince herself that she was really a very well liked girl who her friends just couldn't see during the holidays.

In summer, she could pretend that she had friends.

It was pathetic, really, how easily she could convince herself that people liked her when she should have known that no one really did.

But when summer ended and fall began and she had to go back to school, it became painfully obvious that everyone simply hated her.

At first, she had at least been able to convince herself that they didn't really hate her, but whatever definition she tried to use, no, they most certainly hated her. They sneered at her and turned away when she tried to talk to them, mocked her and told her that she was mad when she ignored them, stole her things and didn't give them back – she could pretend that it was all in good fun and this was what friends did to each other, a sort of good-natured teasing, but she wasn't stupid, no matter what they thought. She knew better than to really believe that they were being friendly when they took her books and hid them for months at a time.

And no matter how certainly she knew that they hated her, she had to keep smiling.

The start of fall meant that Luna had to put on her bright, cheery face and smile at people who made her life a misery because she was Luna Lovegood and nothing – but nothing – was allowed to hurt her.

If the other students saw how much they upset her, it might hurt them, because they would see that they were tearing her apart.

And she didn't want to hurt them.