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27 January 2008 @ 06:48 pm
Conversations in Asda and Creatures  
inksplotched recently gave me a mental image of Bellatrix in Asda, which made me wonder if people could choose one character from the Potter verse to have a casual conversation with in a shopping centre, who would it be?

 

I think I’d choose Luna, because she comes out with some of the best lines in the books and I’m sure she’d find something interesting to say, maybe about a food conspiracy.  Or Florean Fortescue so he could tell me the best ice cream to buy.

 

And storytime:
(Edit: with the story not being about Luna in Asda)

 

Rating: PG

Length: 2,570 words

A/N: With thanks to raisinous_fiend for beta-ing, any remaing mistakes are mine.

Summary: Luna nods and smiles, because Mum always understands these things.

 

Keeping Childhood’s Creatures

 

Luna Lovegood is a precocious child who talks about everything and an imaginative child who talks to everything.  At first people are amazed at such a large vocabulary coming from such a small person, then when she turns and talks to a tree they think she’s strange.

 

“With a father like that, though, it’s hardly surprising,” they mutter amongst themselves, which excuses her odd behaviour so they can dismiss her offhand.

 

They’re muttering again at the family party in Aunt Lycinda’s back garden.  Two of her older cousins are chasing the younger ones with Self-Replenishing Water Pistols, apart from one of the girls who is sat next to her mum with a large piece of cake.

 

The cake looks nice, but Luna is busy watching the butterflies and they look even nicer.  She tries talking to them, but the air that blows out of her mouth scares some of them away.  She needs to form the words with the sound but without the air then, which is hard and she thinks she’ll need to practise.  Of course it will only work at all if the butterflies speak English.

 

She thinks they do, though, since they live in an English garden and they seem fascinated with the roses.

 

“Talking to flowers,” one of the older women mutters.  She might be a Great Aunt, but Mum has a large family and Luna doesn’t know all of them.  “I suppose her father encourages behaviour like that.”

 

People always mention Luna’s dad when they’re talking about her, which Luna thinks is interesting because she looks more like Mum.   

 

Mum has long blond hair that she wears in plaits or braids around the house to keep it out of the way, curled up on top of her head for fancy parties and, once, loose to her waist with flowers woven into it.  Luna has blond hair too, only hers looks dirtier, even when she’s had a bath, and she hasn’t grown it long to her waist yet, but she wants to.

 

Mum has it loose for the party, but after it’s gone dark and they’ve gone home she wears it in one plait like a rope down her back when she comes to kiss Luna goodnight.

 

“Sleep tight,” she says, pausing at the door to wave her wand at the wall lights.  “Don’t let the bed bugs bite.”

 

“There are bugs in my bed?”  Luna sticks her head back out from under the covers, her eyes wide.  “I’m not very big, so I suppose there’s lots of room to share, but I haven’t talked to a Bed Bug before.  How do you ask them not to bite?”

 

Mum looks at her for a moment, then spells the Lumos Lamps back on and comes to sit on the edge of her bed.

 

“Well, I suppose you ask them nicely.”

 

Luna tilts her head to one side whilst she thinks about this and her hair moves around on the pillow beneath her head. 

 

“I think they speak English because this is an English bed.”

 

“Well then,” Mum says, smiling, “if you’ll excuse me…”

 

She gets under the covers with Luna, then crawls down inside them until her head is at the bottom and her feet, in red sparkly socks, are next to Luna’s pillow.

 

“Hello Bed Bugs!  I would greatly appreciate it if you would refrain from biting my daughter during your stay in her lovely warm bed.”  Mum’s voice is muffled and Luna sticks her head under the covers too so she can hear her better, turning her head to one side so she isn’t smothered.  “Yes…Yes…Wonderful.  Thank you very much.”

 

Mum comes out and brings Luna with her.  Now both of them have fuzzy hair.

 

“They say they’re only staying here for this week and they had a big meal in the last bed they were in, so they aren’t very hungry at the moment.  You’re safe.”

 

“I didn’t hear them.”

 

“They have very little voices.  To match their very little bodies.”

 

Luna nods, because this makes perfect sense, and Mum kisses her again before she goes, a happy damp mark on her forehead.

 

The next day is a normal day.  Dad works in the Press Room upstairs, making sure the big machine that makes his magazines is working properly and writing articles in loopy handwriting that Luna can’t read.

 

Mum and Luna spend the day in the kitchen.  Luna does her lessons at one side of the large table listening to the soft whirrs and clanks filtering down through the ceiling, whilst on the other side of the table Mum learns things with books and parchment and a proper ink quill.  Sometimes after doing lots of work Mum will go down into the cellar to try a new charm that she’s made up.  Luna isn’t allowed to follow, so if Mum hasn’t come back by the time she’s finished her lesson she sits at the top of the stairs to wait for her, chin resting on knees pulled up to her chest.

 

Most of her lessons are about reading and writing, numbers and basic arithmancy, history, geography and Latin, but sometimes she’s allowed to do art.

 

Luna’s paintbrush is her favourite thing.  She holds the fat wooden handle, closes her eyes tight and thinks of a colour, then when she carefully places the tip onto a piece of thick parchment the colour spills out of the end.

 

She paints a picture of a Bed Bug, only what one would look like if it was a lot bigger or she was a lot smaller.  It has a suitcase, because Mum says they move around from bed to bed.  She studies the result, then adds another Bed Bug and makes this one darker, because when she’s looked in books about creatures there were usually pictures for a male and a female of every animal and the females aren’t as bright.  It’s something to do with the males attracting the females, which is why male robins have red breasts.

 

Luna likes painting creatures.  Mum helped her to paint birds on her ceiling last summer and Dad made them fly.  She’s heard that some witches and wizards can fly too, on brooms and carpets, but that doesn’t sound logical.  If people want to fly they should grow wings.

 

She wants to paint a picture of Rupert next, but he’s invisible.  It doesn’t feel right that the Bed Bugs get a picture and Rupert doesn’t, so she saves him her bread roll from tea to make it up to him.  She puts it right underneath her bed near the wall, in case he’s shy, but the bread doesn’t disappear until after it’s gone off and started to smell.  That means he must like out of date food better, so she asks Mum if they have any.

 

“It’s for Rupert,” she explains.  “He lives under my bed.”

 

Mum opens her mouth, then closes it before opening it again to say, “Is he invisible?”

 

Luna nods and smiles, because Mum always understands these things.

 

“I can give you a slice of bread,” she says, taking a loaf out of the bread box and a plate out of a cupboard, “but monsters that live under beds, even invisible ones, are wild creatures, you know.  They’re not pets, so don’t expect Rupert to stay forever.”

 

He doesn’t.  The bread she leaves for him stops disappearing after a while and Luna solemnly informs Mum that he’s left.  They talk then about how people give pets names, but when people find new creatures out in the wild they give them academic, book-type names that apply to the whole species, like the difference between one kneazle being called Merlin, but all kneazles being called kneazles.

 

Luna looks up creatures in the Encyclopaedia during lessons, but Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them is better, even if she can’t quite understand all the words yet.  She talks to Mum about how creatures are put together and learns about habitats, the food chain and the uses of dragon’s blood.

 

Between them they design a new creature called the Crumple-Horned Snorkack, named for the large curled up horn on top of its head and the noise it makes snuffling through the grass with its long snout for food.  Luna paints a picture of one.  She decides that they’re shy, because they’re worried about what the other creatures will mutter about their different-looking horn, so she gives it lots of trees and bushes to hide behind.  Mum shrinks the painting, they write on the back all about the Snorkack’s habitat and habits and then Mum uses her wand to stick the new page into Fantastic Beasts under ‘C’.

 

Luna looks up Sweden in the Atlas and then in the Encyclopaedia, because that’s where the Snorkacks live.  Mum taps her wand in the blue ‘speech box’ in the corner so she can hear what Swedish sounds like.  She memorizes ja (yes), nej (no) and hej hej (which is both ‘hello’ and ‘goodbye’ and makes her laugh).

 

“One day,” Mum says at dinner, “the three of us could go to Sweden and look for a Crumple-Horned Snorkack.  Would you like that?”

 

Luna looks at Dad and he smiles a ‘yes’, so she nods and smiles herself, over and over until her hair gets in the way and thin strands stick to her lips.

 

In late November Luna sits at the top of the cellar stairs with her paintbrush held tight in her hand.  She’s waiting for Mum to finish her new spell so she can show her a new painting of Nargles, but Mum’s taking a long time and, apart from the rumble of the Press upstairs, it’s very quiet. 

 

Mum was very excited about this spell and earlier there were lots of lights dancing their way up the stairs, almost like the Northern Lights Luna had seen in photographs.  She’d inched her way down the steps, feet first then bottom then hands, to have a better look and she’d seen something…she shouldn’t have seen and it wasn’t true and she’s sitting at the top of the stairs now like she’s supposed to.

 

Luna tells herself that she isn’t worried, because Mum is very clever – she knows lots of things and she reads lots of things and Dad is always saying that she’s the cleverest witch he knows.

 

When it’s time for dinner and Mum still hasn’t come to see her painting, Luna goes upstairs to tell Dad, because Luna isn’t allowed to go down into the cellar (and she doesn’t really want to).

 

Dad goes down instead, and it’s quiet and then it isn’t and she thinks he’s crying, hard, noises like the Press is trying to spit out a piece of jammed parchment and it can’t.

 

Luna goes to her room and crawls into bed and tries to whisper to the Bed Bugs, but she doesn’t think any of them are visiting.

 

People don’t talk about her dad when they mutter about her now.  There are lots of people in their house and their garden and doing things in the cellar.  They all mutter.  A lot of them mutter about her and Mum and “it’s a pity, it’s a shame.”

 

Luna doesn’t talk at all unless someone talks to her first and they call her ‘sad’ instead of ‘strange’.

 

She tries to keep learning things, because Mum doesn’t– didn’t like people who don’t learn things.  She reads about ghosts and magic portraits, but there aren’t many books in their house about either of those.  There are other books though; books that say it’s okay for some things to have no explanation, that if you love someone they never really leave, that After you can see them again. 

 

One book has twinkling stars all over the cover and an inscription in neat, round letters: To my Xenophilius, without words and with love.  It looks like Mum’s writing and Luna remembers that her family is a lot bigger than Dad’s.  It might be that some of Dad’s family died to make it that small, which means he’s lost more people than her.  He must hurt more.

 

Because, she admits, it does hurt.

 

It hurts less when she thinks of Mum in the After, or Mum watching and looking at her Nargle painting after all. 

 

She holds Dad’s hand during the funeral (and it’s definitely her holding his hand and not the other way around).  People start calling her ‘strange’ again, which might be because of the sunny bright sunflower pinned to her black dress, but she thinks they’re the strange ones because Mum liked bright colours and bright paintings and bright flowers in her hair.  They made her happy.

 

The people and their muttering go away after that.  Dad stops using the Press and the house is quieter than usual.  At first Luna thinks he might be ‘depressed’ like it said in one of the books, but he cooks and he kisses her goodnight and Luna thinks he’s just trying to get used to a new kind of normal day.

 

Luna hates to think so, but Dad is not as good as Mum at some things.  His cooking is all right, but he doesn’t plan lessons and she still can’t read his handwriting.

 

On Christmas Eve he comes to check on her three times, but Luna is wide awake.  He yawns as he tells her that Santa can’t come until she’s asleep. 

 

The next time she hears his footsteps on the stairs Luna screws her eyes shut.  She doesn’t really care about Santa this year, but Dad needs to sleep and he won’t go to bed until he thinks she’s asleep.  Through the cracks in her eyelids she sees him put presents into the stocking at the end of the bed.  He kisses her before he leaves, dry lips and soft hair brushing her cheek, and Luna learns that Father Christmas isn’t real.

 

With Mum everything was real.

 

Dad tells her that it’s all right to keep talking about Blibbering Humdingers and Jennyteeth and Nargles and all the other creatures, because Mum would like that and, even if it makes him sad sometimes, he likes it too, because then it’s a little like Mum is still with them.

 

Luna doesn’t know how to tell him that in her mind Blibbering Humdingers and all the rest have gone the way of Father Christmas, but she understands that he feels lonely so she makes herself talk more, even if what comes out of her mouth doesn’t always make perfect sense.

 

She does her lessons upstairs now, sitting at an old desk in the Press Room.  Dad shows her old issues of The Quibbler that have pictures of the Yeti in them and finds her a book on dragons.  They talk about all kinds of creatures until Luna can’t remember which ones are real, which ones they’ve made up, and which ones she’s read about that other people might have made up.

 

She finds she doesn’t mind.

 

Dad lies flat on his back underneath the Press, pointing his wand at parts to spell them fixed, his free hand holding Luna’s little one tightly-tight as she lies next to him, her long hair mixed in with the dust, and they talk about Crumple-Horned Snorkacks and Sweden.

 

“One day,” Luna says decisively, “the two of us will go to Sweden and look for one."

 
 
feeling: curiouscurious
 
 
 
sugar_fey: pic#lunasugar_fey on January 30th, 2008 09:05 pm (UTC)
A great and unusual look at Luna, and perfectly in character, too! I loved the way you used the present tense, with such a deceptively simple tone. It suited a child Luna and the story very well. Keep writing!
inkvoicesinkvoices on January 30th, 2008 09:30 pm (UTC)
Thank you!
I haven't really used the present tense much before, but lately I've had the urge to play around with it. I'm glad it works here :o)
lee: Fleursnegurochka_lee on February 1st, 2008 08:29 pm (UTC)
Oh, wow. That was beautiful!
inkvoicesinkvoices on February 2nd, 2008 06:58 pm (UTC)
Thank you!

(Heh, and which Harry Potter character would you want to talk to in Asda?)
lee: Fleursnegurochka_lee on February 4th, 2008 05:09 pm (UTC)
LOL. Oh! Um, Remus? :)
inkvoicesinkvoices on February 4th, 2008 07:01 pm (UTC)
Hmm, I bet he'd know all the bargins. And which were the best steaks ;o)
shiikishiiki on February 1st, 2008 11:49 pm (UTC)
Here via quibbler_report.

I thought this was just beautiful! The present tense worked very well for Luna, and I loved the glimpse at her childhood.
inkvoicesinkvoices on February 2nd, 2008 06:59 pm (UTC)
I'm very glad you liked it :o)
elsaneelsane on February 2nd, 2008 12:23 am (UTC)
Oh, lovely. I really liked your Luna's mother, and oh, the Snorkacks... very nicely done!
inkvoicesinkvoices on February 2nd, 2008 07:02 pm (UTC)
Thank you!

I've always wondered why the Snorkacks came from. I was thinking about the things we make up when we're kids and how we don't always want to let them go. (I always believed in Father Christmas regardless of hints people dropped that he wasn't real until someone spelled it out for me and I couldn't hang on to it any more.) This fic was kind of exploring why Luna might believe in things other don't, and why she doesn't care.