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Chapter 8: Kiss me...
“Kiss me out of the bearded barley
nightly, beside the green, green grass
Swing, swing, swing the spinning step
you wear those shoes and I will wear that dress.”
Sixpence None the Richer- Kiss me When Luna stepped into the other tent the following morning, she instantly realised that Gustav’s state was far from improving; on the contrary, with every passing minute it seemed that it was worsening. Luna did not have to be a Healer to know that young Gustav was bound to spend at least another couple of days in bed, all this time drinking that horrible tasting potion that Mr. Scamander had fixed for him once they had reached base camp. It wasn’t that bad after all, apart from the constant nausea and the aching, which, as Gustav had pointed out, ‘was sucking the life out of him'; he hardly had any reasons to complain.
He was sitting comfortably in the grand bed that Mr. Scamander had offered to him upon seeing his deplorable state. He could ask for whatever his heart desired, as all others were to oblige to his every need and he was entitled to complain as much he wanted. But surely this arrangement was not in the least satisfactory for Gustav.
Luna sat by him, silently averting her gaze towards Rolf, who was sitting all by himself in a corner, reading from a book whose title she couldn’t see. Gustav smiled upon seeing her and excitedly began talking. What was to be a dialogue had suddenly transformed into a monologue, for Luna could hardly make a sentence to sound at least plausible. She had spent another sleepless night, thinking about Rolf and debating on the many reasons that could have pushed him into ignoring her all throughout the day prior to that morning. She now realised that at that point in her life, Rolf was the greatest mystery she had come across and unraveling the riddle would indeed take quite some time.
She had thought that she knew him, that day by the fountain, but now that he was showing another facet of his character she could hardly cease to believe that she was looking at a stranger. He was calm, serene, yet forever wild and choleric. He was clever and witty, albeit possessing such cunningness that would have easily sorted him into Slytherin. He was a man of contrasts, such strong contrasts that merely attempting to seek understanding of his behaviour would surely prove to be confusing. It seemed that she had allowed herself to delve too much into his cogitation and gradually, but certainly determinedly, she was beginning to lose track of her own mind.
She hardly knew what drew her to him, what made her want to seek his gaze in the morning mist as they ate breakfast. For all she knew, she could have easily gained the same interest in Gustav, but the fact remained that she hadn’t. Otherwise, there was no explanation as to why she was sitting next to Gustav while her eyes and mind contemplated the dark haired boy with tiny emeralds sparkling in the pit, whose body could be distinguished in the pale light of the morning. She could have turned around, facing Gustav, and listened to him talking. She could nod and agree to what he was saying, every once in a while contest his words and then return to her tent without any afterthoughts or countless worries to trouble her heart. Gustav could be the balance and peace of mind that she had sought for so long, yet there was something inside of her, almost screaming that Rolf is the one that she should discover.
There were no mysteries related to Gustav. He was sharp-minded, quite handsome, of a noble family and of pure-blood. He had studied at Beauxbatons, which explained his taste for couture and his high manners, had graduated with top marks and his residency in the Scamander house was temporary, granted as a favour to his father who had insisted on him working with Newt for a while. He had agreed and there he was today, lying in a bed, in a tent, accusing nausea and a sharp pain in the stomach. He could hardly be called challenging as a human being, whereas with Rolf things couldn’t have been more different.
All she knew about him was that, just like his rival, he was of pure-blood lineage and that he had been home-schooled. Everything else was pure speculation, or in Luna’s case, imagination. He hardly did anything to resemble his previous actions; his life did not follow any pattern and she often wondered if his vacillation between the different phases of his behaviour was a good or a bad thing. He was fluctuant, but never did he show any sign of hesitancy in his actions on account of the obscurity which his life seemed to dwell on most of the time.
Luna tried to make up some scenarios that could have happened to Rolf as a child. She vividly emblazoned a lanky boy of about six, with hair as dark as the plumage of a raven, with a pair of striking eyes whose green iris resembled the jade rock of her mother’s ring and a shenanigan’s smile fluttering on his thin lips. He would lose his countenance on account of his desire to explore the world – to feel it, to see it, to smell it, to take a bite from it, chew it and sense the flavour that discovery preserved for a six year old. She pictured him sitting on a chair, in front of a window, watching the rain falling relentlessly from the sky, wringing his fingers and dangling his feet nervously.
The six year old Rolf would want to go out despite his grandmother’s advice. He would want to venture in the forest, or submerge underneath the freezing water of the sea, or heave above the clouds. He would crave for adventure, for excitement, for the feeling of adrenaline rushing through his veins.
Soon she reasoned that she was actually making up an accurate portrait of the eighteen year-old Luna, who fidgeted in her chair, looking at the object of her yearnings – Rolf. He was the depth that she needed to protrude with her mind, the abyss in which she wanted to delve, and the peaks that she craved to achieve.
She admitted that maybe she was rushing into things, for surely, nobody would prove such inquisitiveness about someone after having only met him two weeks prior to that morning. She had heard the girls in her year talking about love at first sight, as most of them had translated the butterflies they would feel when Draco Malfoy walked past them. She did not see any resemblance between the emotions that the Slytherin boy aroused in Julie Parker and her own. She didn’t feel like fainting when they would meet, she didn’t go to the bathroom to vomit after Rolf would look at her and most certainly she didn’t intend to write an anonymous love letter.
This was not love at first sight, she reckoned, albeit not having a clue about what it meant or implied. She was rather intrigued by his manner of behaving, as it offered her a perpetual subject of debates and speculations. Luna saw Rolf as the epitome of all the wild-goose chases; it nurtured her appetite for adventure and flow of adrenaline, it stimulated her mind and it gave her the opportunity to solve an enigma in times in which the everyday threatened to stain her existence. He was just another jigsaw whose pieces she had to put back together in order to understand what he represented…or was he more than that?
“Luna,” Mr. Scamander spoke fondly while entering the tent. “How kind of you to stop by and greet Gustav…!”
She blushed but didn’t avert her gaze from Rolf, who seemed to have abandoned himself in the sweet obliviousness that was so characteristic of her.
“I was just telling her the bad news,” Gustav commented.
“What bad news?” she snapped while breaking eye contact with Rolf. “Did something happen?”
“Oh, no need to worry dear,” Mr. Scamander said. “It’s just that Gustav here won’t be able to leave this bed for a couple of days. You see his situation is still rather delicate and I wish not to worsen it.”
“I see…” she replied dreamily.
“That is why, I’m afraid, that you and Rolf are to continue the trip without us for a while,” Mr. Scamander spoke making Rolf lift his gaze from the book he was reading. “It’s just for a couple of days, until Gustav is back on his feet. You’ll collect data about what you encounter and later, when you come back, we can talk about it. What do you think? Rolf?”
The dark haired young man rose from the floor and placed the book on the desk, after marking the page that he had last read. He approached the two people flanking Gustav’s bed and as he leaned against Luna’s chair, he brushed the hair of his face in a very masculine manner.
“I think it is fine,” he responded. “Luna and I can manage on our own for a while. Don’t you agree Luna?”
“Yes…” she said. “We shall be safe, at least if we don’t come across an Ungubular Slashkilter.”
Gustav frowned, Mr. Scamander sighed in very content manner and Rolf smiled, thinking that Luna was probably the oddest, yet most adorable human being he had met. How could she have preserved her dreaminess and playfulness after all that she had been through? She had seen her mother dying at such a fragile age, had fought against Death Eaters even though she had not come of age yet and she had learned to move on after having to say goodbye to so many of her friends. She had been fierce in times when others, and even he, would have given up any attempt at bravery.
“So having settled that…” Mr. Scamander spoke after a brief moment of silence. “I think you should leave now; the sooner, the better.”
Luna rose from her bed, shot a transitory glance to Gustav who was not at all pleased with how the events were unfolding and then proceeded outside to fetch her backpack. She went to her tent, collected all that was necessary for their trip and as she emerged outside again, she noticed Rolf waiting for her before the fire.
He wore the same clothes that she had seen him wearing in the tent, but in the morning light they seemed to have gained a certain elegance that the darkness of the room had so unfairly bedighted. She approached him and as he lifted from the ground, he dragged his rucksack along. They waved goodbye to Mr. Scamander, assuring him that they would be alright, and started marching towards the east as they had previously been instructed.
They had lost themselves into the farness only a couple of minutes after they had left the site, for they walked fast and hadn’t even opened their mouths to speak. What could they possibly say now? Words had suddenly lost their value for they no longer managed to convey their need to understand what was so peculiar of one another, what drew them closer each time they were alone. Possibly, their silence spoke more about their feelings than a bunch of words said out of mere boredom could ever do it, but it was in the blatting silence that Rolf found even more questions that he didn’t have enough courage to ask.
It was still a matter of deep concernment why he hadn’t dared to talk to her just yet, following their midnight incursion through the forest, but surely at that point he could hardly find something proper to ask her. He felt relieved when she decided to break the awkward silence.
“Do you reckon we’ll see dragons today?”
“Dragons, you say…” he replied pensively, while clutching his backpack. “Are you sure you want to see one? There is just two of us, it would be quite difficult to handle one, if we came across it.”
“Oh, it should be interesting,” she added. “I haven’t seen one since my third year. You know, the Triwizard Tournament. Harry handled wonderfully the Hungarian Horntail, so as there are two of us, we’ll do an even better job.”
“We don’t have a Firebolt, Luna,” Rolf spoke and she flinched at the hearing of her name.
“True,” she admitted. “It might be potentially troublesome. How did you know about the Firebolt?”
“I read about it in the Prophet. I guess it was written everywhere.”
“We didn’t write an article about the Tournament. There were some other pressing matters that couldn’t be delayed. You see the Nargles had assembled an army and were planning to take over the Ministry during Christmas - you know, through the mistletoe,” she explained while her beaming eyes gazed at him.
Rolf nodded approvingly, though deep inside he had no idea why Nargles would desire to take over the Ministry - and what were Nargles anyway? It didn’t matter at that point, for if Luna had told him that he had them stuck in his pockets, he would have believed her without even bothering to check if his trousers had been infected by a battling herd of the witty creatures that she so often spoke about.
There was something tainting about her convictions and the manner in which she confided them that made Rolf certain that they were in fact credible and worth paying attention to. If his friends could take a look at his thoughts, they would think he had gone bonkers. But he hadn’t, at least that was what he thought of himself. Indeed, he had changed quite a bit since meeting Luna, but he didn’t attribute his sudden review of behaviour to a change of heart and feelings towards her, but rather to her novel manner of looking at the world that had made him realise that there was more to life than what he had previously believed.
She was clever and had a rather open mind that motivated him too seek the same virtues in him. He could try and at least bestow her convictions a degree of credibility and, following a profound research, he would be able to state if Nargles, Crumpled-Horned Snorkaks and, possibly, even the conspiracy theories had a glimpse of truth in them.
As they walked over the empty field, covered by little red flowers that seemed to stain the green strands of the grass, Rolf wondered if there was only a mere curiosity that pushed him into talking to her. And if there was only that to tie him of her, why had he done that to Gustav? She was free to choose whoever she wanted to talk to; she could do whatever she wanted, for there was nothing between them to make her dependent of his approval. Maybe he did like her; maybe he had truly wanted to kiss her that night by the pond, for he had repeated to himself over and over again that indeed he hadn’t even contemplated that thought. Maybe his heart had feebly, but determinedly started to pound for her…
He had never felt so utterly confused about a girl. Throughout his teenage years, and even his young adulthood, he had dated all sorts of women, none of whom had ever been able to retain his interest for more than a couple of days, not that they could have done that to another man, anyway. They were all shallow, albeit beautiful and charming even, some of them. But not even one had been capable of making Rolf Scamander fall in love, and Luna hardly appeared to be like the type of girl to make any man fall in love.
Yet, somewhere deep inside of his heart, something that he hadn’t identified so far was growing stronger with every passing minute. It couldn’t be love, he thought, but something else, something that no one had ever felt before.
Love…love is like… he had no idea how love felt, but it certainly didn’t happen like that. Love was supposed to be like in the books he had read; it would happen to the perfectly matched kind of people, those who saw a mirror of themselves in the other…
He looked at Luna, but he could hardly see himself in her. She was strange, yet in an adorable sort of way. She was brave and mysterious; she was basically everything he was not. Surely love could not tie them, for it was a feeling that implied so much more than just kisses and touches. It was about being able to make compromises; he had never been fond of those. To act in a completely corny way that he found below his range, and most certainly it referred to that certain openness towards one’s feelings that he was not prone to possess any time soon.
Surely love meant wanting to say those magic three words that had never left his lips, and that was problematic for Rolf indeed.
Nevertheless, admitting that maybe he liked Luna, he went on walking by her side, all throughout watching her elegant gestures, like the lock that kept falling on her forehead, disheveling from the bun, or the fluttering of her lashes when the torrid sun of that day pierced her sight, or the fidgeting of her fingers…
They had walked a fair distance without any breakthroughs, but Luna was reluctant in abandoning this trip just yet, and somehow she could guess in Rolf’s stare that he was feeling the same. There had been precisely three hours since they had left the tent and the base camp and had ventured on their own in the farness, looking for that something, whatever that meant.
But for Rolf and Luna, this little trip did not have any professional connotation. They had agreed to go because they had issues that both needed to see solved and some time on their own was bound to do just that. However, having passed some hours and having walked a fair distance, still neither of them had reached a conclusion, despite the conversation they had carried.
No wonder that they hadn’t since their talk had mainly concerned the little things that were not in any way related to the events that they had shared all throughout the two weeks that had elapsed since their first encounter. She had spoken about her school years; he had commented upon the differences between their childhoods, had laughed a bit about the pranks that the D.A. had done during her sixth form when the Death Eaters had taken over the school, but no allusion whatsoever had been made, regarding to what had happened that night when he had shown her the unicorns.
“Can we stop for a minute?” Luna said at some point and Rolf ceased walking.
“Are you tired?” he asked, while glancing at her feet to see if she had worn shoes this time. “Would you like to eat?”
“No,” she replied, while leaning over to sit on the ground
He threw his rucksack aside and then sat next to her, stretching his legs while relying on his hands to support his body weight. He gazed up to admire the grey clouds that had started forming on the once spotless sky. The sun still shone bright but its power would soon be bedighted by the darkness of the rain clouds that threatened to take over everything in just a couple of minutes.
“I bet it will rain,” he spoke up, thus breaking the silence that abashed them every time it settled between them.
“How much?” she asked while leaning her head on her palm, all this time losing her sight into the depth of the horizon.
“How much would you like to bet?” Luna said. Rolf smiled, thinking that he should cease making affirmations that would practically require an action to be made while in Luna’s presence.
“A galleon,” he finally spoke, while extending his right hand.
“You’ve got a deal,” she replied, as her hand met his.
She looked at him, daring to lose herself in the swirling green shade in a way the horizon line could never make her do. He smiled as their hands clasped in what should have been a firm shake, and as their gazes met he felt a peculiar heat taking over his whole body. He felt a cold drip hitting his right cheek and as they both glanced up, the sky was instantly alighted by the flash of lightning.
He smirked, “Looks like you’re losing the bet.”
In a matter of seconds, a heavy rain started pouring on them, soaking them to the bones, making her hair stick onto her cheeks and his clothes glue to his chest. He grabbed the rucksack and then pulled her by the hand in the direction of a nearby forest, hoping to avoid catching a nasty cold that would keep them in bed for quite a while. They ran through the field, hand in hand, Rolf virtually dragging her along while she pranced around, smiling and feeling rather please to run in the rain.
They reached the entrance to the forest and as the drips of rain decreased their cadency through the tree branches, they eased down their walk. He guided her beneath a tall oak tree that provided good shelter from the rain and as they stopped beneath its heavy branches, they found themselves caught in a peculiar silence that seemed to be screaming in their ears. He watched her with the same avidness like he had done that hot day by the fountain, analyzing every single imperfection of her face that made her perfect in his mind: her eyes, her pointed nose, the pink lips and the way she often curled them in a smile...
His gaze slid down onto her cheeks, and as she put a damp strand over her ear, he noticed the radish-like earring hanging from her ear lobe. The other ear was not adorned and at that point it seemed obvious why she had chosen to wear the unpaired jewel: they meant something to her and merely losing one was regarded as such a catastrophe that its brother would have to be worn, to remind her of the loss. He reached for his jeans pocket and took the earring out much to her surprise.
“I found it that day, when we met at the fountains,” he whispered, while taking another glance at the tiny ornament.
“Oh, I though it was lost forever,” she said, but did not reach to get hold of it as Rolf would have expected.
Her hair hung now loosely on her shoulders for the heaviness of the wet strands had managed to tear apart the little band that she had used to tie it in a bun. Rolf contemplated her dreamy eyes as she looked at the tiny red blot nesting in his palm and, for a brief second, he thought he had never seen such a beauty.
“Would you like me to…?” he inquired while stepping forward.
She nodded and he picked the earring by the tab, steadily leaning over to get a better view of her right ear. She smelled like rain and parchment and something else, barely perceptible, yet enough as to stir his senses. Her skin felt soft as it rubbed against his hand and it was at the mere touching of their flesh that he felt like his heart had gone mad inside his chest. A million thoughts crossed his mind as he straightened up again, silently averting his gaze towards her.
She looked him in the eyes, flaunting inside her own the same curiosity to admit the craftiness in which his face had been carved by nature, and as she noticed the degree of closeness between them she blushed.
He leaned forward again and kissed her.
AN Thank you to all of you for your wonderful reviews, particularly my dear Jacqueline, jkrowling_fan(whom I didn't mention the first time because I'm such a bad person!) Mahalia, obviously394, shadowycorner, Craig, evie_doherty, crazy4fred2, Pixie, ButterflyRogue,bring_back_sirius, Quidditch Kisses and many many others. Another thank you goes to my wonderful beta xXLuna_LovegoodXx - she's doing an excellent job, don't you think? So now, how was that kiss?:D