Chapter 11 : Playing Pretend
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And then she remembered: She was Loony Loopy Lovegood, the maddest of them all.
She was the girl who sang to herself, the one who skipped down the halls alone, the one who's father owned a wonky newspaper, the one who made up creatures to explain stupid things.
She was the dreamer, the believer, the one who was nice to everyone.
No one really ever bothered to get to know the strange girl who lived in her own world.
"Hey, Loopy, where're you shoes?" They would ask, already knowing the answer –someone had taken them and hid them all over the castle.
"Hey, Loony, got some snorkwrats?" They would mock, not even caring that they might hurt her.
"Hey, Lovegood, why are you so insane?" They would question, and she would not respond, and they would laugh.
No one ever bothered to listen to her answers of these questions.
"You do know that wrackspurts don't exist, right?" They would ask, genuinely unsure if she was just being different for kicks and giggles.
Well of course I know that, Luna wanted to snap, I made them up.
Do you ever wonder why someone would go through so much trouble inventing a whole new world? she wanted to ask.
She could see their faces clear in her mind –surprised that her voice had lost its dreamy quality, shocked that she admitted that her fantasies were just that, bewildered by the question she'd asked of them.
Luna had never had any real friends; people were mildly scared of her.
That was why she'd covered her face with her magazine so suddenly when Harry and Neville and Ginny had entered her compartment, glad that there was a mildly logical reason as to why the magazine was upside-down. Luna had overheard them talking about her, smiling slightly at Neville's shyness and Ginny's blunt use of her cruel nickname that somehow didn't seem quite as mean when the red-head said it.
But then Ginny Weasley had uttered six more words in efforts to convince Neville and Harry that it would be alright if they sat with her. Six words meant to assure the boys.
"Don't be silly," said Ginny, laughing, "She's all right." *
No one had ever defended Luna before.
No one had ever bothered to assure someone else that Luna Lovegood was anything other than bizarre.
No one had openly declared their association with Loony Loopy Lovegood in not so many words.
Her magazine had been hiding her face; the mixture of expressions she could feel twisting it.
Because of those harmless six words, Luna finally found herself a group of friends who, while may have questioned her strangeness a little, protected her and loved her like their own.
They were her friends –and they meant so much to her. People who cared about her –other than her father –after her mother died were rare. People who would make sure that she wouldn't be hurt, physically or otherwise.
People who would keep the pain she usually felt at all hours of the day gone and away. People who finally made her healed.
Do you ever wonder why someone would go through so much trouble inventing a whole new world?
Because sometimes it's just easier playing pretend than facing reality.
* Taken directly from Chapter 10 [Luna Lovegood] of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, page 185, U.S. edition.
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