It was over now. The moon had gone, back into the shadows where it hid.
The girl walked down from the top of the hill. She had been dancing all night with the hares and the ravens and all who came.
The low stone walls were dusty silver as she threaded her way along the lane and back to the silence of her cottage. She lit a candle and watched the thin line of its smoke rise slowly up the chimney and away to join the darkening clouds which rolled along the valley. They would bring rain soon enough and the rain would bring tears for the girl who had not cried since the last moon came.
She climbed the stairs to her bed and there she dreamed. She dreamed of the dancers out on the hill – how she’d seen them all coming, slipping out of their houses – and how they’d joined hands in a ring as the moon rose above them and seemed to shine, brighter than sorrow, out through their eyes.
But one boy did not come. He never came. He stayed in his cottage, locked behind the door, while thistles choked his garden and dull grey pigeons pecked at the thatch of his roof.
The girl set off down the lane to find him. Owls swooped low through the trees and dark water ran in the ditch.
She knocked on his door. She could see him sitting there in his room, the moonlight spilling through the window. He was weaving shadows between his fingers as if he was a spider.
She called out to him. She rapped on the glass with her knuckles. But he did not hear. He did not stir, just kept on weaving, twisting the shadows.
She climbed down the chimney. He did not turn his head.
“What are you making?” she said.
He looked up then and tried to smile, but his lips could not move. He had stared so long at his weaving, his face it seemed to be frozen.
A sea of shadows flowed from his fingers. The girl reached out to touch, but he waved her away. His lips moved slowly then and a sound came out, like the voice of a raven.
“The moon is full,” she explained. “You should come with us. Come to the top of the hill.”
The boy stood up. He let go of the shadows and the cloak he had woven slipped to the floor. The girl picked it up. This time he let her. She smiled and admired his handiwork. As the boy turned away, she gathered up the cloak and draped it around his shoulders.
He opened his mouth again and let out a great cry. Then he flung the cloak to cover them both, so that they were folded together.
And then they rose. Out of the cottage and along the lanes. Along the lanes and up to the hill. Up the hill till they stood at the top with all the dancers gathered around.
The dancers fell silent as the girl and the boy stepped from the cloak which slipped to the ground and blew away on the wind which parted the clouds – and there was the moon, staring down at them all.
And then it was gone. It was over now. The boy went back down the lanes to the darkness where he hid.
The girl walked back to her cottage and lit a candle. As she watched the thin line of smoke rise slowly up the chimney, she smiled – for she knew that next time the full moon shone, the boy would come again.