Summary: While in the Forbidden Forest on detention with Luna, Neville learns something about fairies—and hope.
An Unusually Bold Coruscation (PG; Neville, Luna; 940 words): The prompt was coruscation.
The unusually bold coruscation of the Hylocomium splendens was so intriguing that Neville stopped in mid-rant to examine the bryophyte, which appeared to shimmer as if with the pulse of a magical object. Reaching down with the intention of drawing his finger through the fine, almost glass-like particles that he could perceive covering its fronds, Luna stopped him with her voice.
"Fairy sign is powerful, particularly during mating season. I wouldn't touch that if I were you."
"How could you possibly know what this is?" Neville snapped, turning to look up at Luna and shielding his eyes from the light of the lantern that she held. "We've never even been in this part of the forest before."
"The same way that I suppose you know the precise scientific name of that moss. I read."
Luna snuffed the lantern's wick as Neville stood up to see that the forest had become alive with the colours of the Glittering Wood-Moss, or at least, with the "fairy sign" covering it, and his misdirected irritation eased.
"I know, beautiful, and so much dust means that there will be a great many new fairylings next spring!"
"Fairylings"—this wasn't a term with which Neville was familiar, but even though he suspected that Luna had made up the word to suit her quirky change of mood, he didn't say anything against it. The Forbidden Forest didn't look quite so forbidding anymore, after all.
"What do fairylings have to do with the dust?"
"It rubs off when their wings become entangled, which is how they mark territory and mates. The fairies will be nesting soon. Life will continue for them as it always has, which is good."
Neville turned back to Luna and saw in the glow that her chin was set, and her free hand, clenched. "Hey, it could've been worse. He might've sent us to Filch."
"I know. I'm glad that he didn't, and I'm glad that Hagrid took Ginny back to his home to Heal her wounds. . . . This is something that I've missed seeing."
Neville tried not to think of how Carrow had stopped them on their way to Hagrid and singled out Ginny as the target of his malice; he was proud of her for not cowering before the bastard, but he wished that she hadn't been quite so defiant. "Fairy sign?"
Luna nodded. "We have fairies at home in the back garden, but I've never seen evidence of such a vigorous Glittering before."
Neville thought about how Luna's tone had changed from cautious to irritated to excited to pensive to wistful so quickly, and decided that this was "Luna sign" for her being worried. The idea that she was worried made him feel guilty about his earlier rant, and he wished that he knew better how to comfort her. It wasn't that he fancied Luna or thought that it was his job to protect her; he knew first-hand that she was better able to handle what was happening at the school than he was, but it was rare to see her behaving with anything less than complete equanimity. Neville suddenly understood the depth of Luna's trust in him, of her friendship, and he further wished that he could take back having snapped at her about the fairy sign.
He wasn't sure why he was thinking about Luna in this way, but he put it down to his being worried about her being worried, and their both being worried about Ginny. "It's going to be all right, Luna."
"I know that, Neville. I truly do, especially when you say it."
Neville felt a swell of pride at Luna's declaration; it was good to know that his friend relied on him as he relied on her. "I believe you about the fairy sign," he said abruptly, not willing to express his feelings more clearly than that.
Luna's eyes widened. "You should. Two of them are copulating behind your head."
Neville caught a streak of falling reds and yellows as he turned around to look; the line of colour zigged and zagged, raining particles on the forest floor before coming to rest upon the moss at the base of a far tree. Fairies. And definitely mating.
"It's as if they can't sense the danger."
"Oh, they'll be all right," said Luna, passing Neville the lantern. "They haven't left their home. By leaving territorial sign, they're defending it. That's the most any of us can do, I think."
And that was as close to discussing what had sent them into the Forbidden Forest for detention as they'd come. It was usually Ginny who was the most explicit of the three of them, but then, Ginny was always imagining what Harry was going through and angry on his behalf; nothing would prevent her from fighting however she could. Neville respected her attitude; he expected that it was her thoughts of her future that kept Ginny so determined. For himself, well, he couldn't see that far ahead, but he knew that keeping his friends safe was worth going on, worth keeping his emotions in check—and in the beauty of the forest, with Luna to explain things to him, it was easy to remember what hope felt like. He needed her to know that.
"For turning off the lantern and helping me to see all this more clearly," he said, feeling the tips of his ears warm in embarrassment.
Luna smiled and took his hand, giving it a reassuringly strong squeeze. "Hope always shines more brightly in the darkness, Neville."
And because it was Luna, and because her words held such conviction, Neville believed her.