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First Star to the Right by WitnesstoitAll
Format: Short story
Chapter 2: Nice to meet you, Mr. Rolf
Luna felt her feet contact solid ground. Slowly, she cracked one eye open and blinked rapidly. The scenery surrounding her glittered brightly. In all directions, a white expanse stretched out unmarred. The vast perfection whispered promises of potentiality into her ear. It was as though she stood in the centre of a pristine gem strung on a delicate thread, which way her world swayed depended only on the direction she chose. She inhaled deeply. The air filled her lungs with exhilarating guarantees for exploration, and a small smile played at the corners of her mouth.
She was standing on a snow-covered hillside of a low-lying mountain peak. A shiver ran down her body as a crisp breeze danced across the snowy scenery, picking up the frozen powder in its wake. The glittering specks twirled around Luna’s figure. Her feet had sunk into the coating of powder beneath them. She lifted a foot and shook the snow from her bright yellow boot. A small footprint remained in its place. Questions diffused from the indentation and filled her mind. How many other footprints had been pressed upon this slope? How many other souls had traipsed across this patch of earth in search of their place in it all?
Her eyes followed the surrounding scenery upwards from the snowy ground. All around her, steep crags jutted majestically into the clouds. The book of maps she had cherished as a child opened behind her eyes; delicate green ink spelled out The Himalayans on the rough brown page. This range of mountains had been born some seventy million years ago, the progeny of an ancient tectonic romance. How high their summits were, she could only guess, but their indefinite grandeur tickled her skin and reminded her how delightfully small she really was.
Near the edge one hillside, a small cluster of purple graphorn huddled together, munching on the delicate frozen mosses they had unearthed from beneath the snow. Their warm breath condensed into a wispy cloud above their heads. Luna wondered if they ever stole a moment from their digestive duties to marvel the splendour surrounding their daily lives.
This very slope was the same breathtaking scenery that had called to her every evening as she locked the Quibbler office and had seduced her mind as she set it free in the dream world each night. Everything here looked exactly as she had imagined when she had closed her eyes and Disapparated from her flat only moments ago. The moments following her impulsive decision floated in front of her. She had thrown a few belongings into her threadbare suitcase. She was sparing with her choices – her diary and several quills, a yellowed book of maps with the yellow flower she had found pressed between the pages, a thick cloak and mittens, a few of her most comfortable robes, several bangles, some brightly coloured scarves and a pallet of water colour paints. She had penned a quick note and tacked it to the office door of the Quibbler, knowing that Dennis Creevey would surely find it when he arrived to work. He was a good kid, though he was hardly a kid anymore, and a hard worker. She imagined the look on his face when he read the letter and wondered if maybe she should have written a bit more than she had. “I am taking leave for a personal sojourn. I’d like to be able to tell you when you may expect my return, but the truth is I’m not fully sure. The only thing I am sure of is that you will be in my heart and I shall remember you fondly and hope to see you again soon.” Those words were the only truth that she knew and so they would have to be enough.
The freedom to which she was now privy tingled in her finger tips. She threw her head back and laughed. She was standing on a snow-covered slope in the middle of a range of mountains very far away from her colourful London flat. She was completely alone, did not know precisely where she was, and had no plans of where she was going. Yet nothing in her life had ever felt so wholly perfect. The twinkling sound of her laughter echoed off of each surrounding peak and the bright symphony of the mountains lifted her heart.
Luna pulled her wand out of her pocket and lit a small fire on top of the snow, best to stay warm until she knew where she was going. She had flung herself into the arms of fate and was not about to allow reason to guide her way. When it was time for her to move, she would know it and ere she would go. She pulled her arms into the sleeves of her cloak and looked into the flames, humming a tune to their flickering rhythm.
Sitting in the crook of a star’s arm, Luna was surprised at how cold the night sky really was. A fierce wind whipped across the black expanse and time flew by her; the arm teetered threatening to dump her off and cast her from the world of the celestial spirits. She was only human. Not worthy to soar amongst antiquity. Her body slid from the star's arm and into indigo space. She was falling.
So this is what happens to those whose dreams are bigger than the earth. The thought slid languidly through her mind, and she opened her eyes. One star in particular filled her vision. It spoke to her in a warm voice as though from a great distance. He body slowed its descent.
“There’s something on that slope, if I didn’t know any better, I’d say it was a person.”
Its words made no sense, but who was she to interpret its wise ways. She shut her eyes and felt herself slip away from conscious thought. She was no longer falling, but floating.
“Professor Davin, you won’t believe this. It is a person.”
The rich voice became one with her. Tranquillity wrapped her mind and washed over her body.
“Sweet Odin, it’s a young woman.”
Reverie ended abruptly and her eyes flew open. A man’s hands were on both of her shoulders, gently shaking her. His face was mostly obscured behind the hood of his cloak and a thick knit scarf, but the bit that was exposed was covered in scruff. A delicate frost clung to the facial hair. She would have been startled if it wasn’t for his eyes. They were strikingly blue, a kind and reassuring hue.
Still in a bit of shock, she tore her eyes from this strange intruder. Around her, she realized that it was not night. She was not floating amongst the stars, but sitting on the hillside somewhere in the Himalayans. The dream had all but dissipated. The magical blue flames of her small fire still flickered next to her where she had lit it.
“Miss, can you hear me? Are you alright?” Luna realised that the voice she had heard in her dream belonged to the kind-eyed man.
“I believe I am.”
Both men eyed her. A poorly disguised look of scepticism flitted across the face.
“Shouldn’t I be?”
It was an honest question, the naivety of which caused kind-eyed man to take pause.
“We were just surprised to find you here,” his voice was a bright baritone. “We’re several hours outside of the nearest village and, you don’t seem like you’ve enough equipment to last long in this weather. Even with your ever-burning fire here, it’s nearly twenty below. There’s a blizzard on the way.”
“I’m rather surprised to see you as well. It was just the snow and I here for the longest time. It is beautiful up here.”
Her words were as unexpected as her presence on the mountain and kind-eyed man considered her with an academic curiosity.
“Now we can’t very well tell you what to do – ”
Luna realised that this new, gruff voice belonged to a second man, older, heavy-set and bearded who stood several metres behind kind-eyed man. This had to be the Professor Davin that had been mentioned.
“ – but we aren’t going to waste any time on you either. I recommend that you let us escort you back to town before the weather gets any worse.”
Luna looked skyward, and though the sun shone in the sky, she could feel the approval of the stars. Her grand adventure was beginning to take on a shape of its own.
“Now, we need to be heading back to town. What you do is your own business, miss. Shall we, son? I don’t fancy being caught in this.”
Luna watched as kind-eyed man glanced between her and the Professor Davin character. He gave a slight nod to the older man and turned to her, extending his hand. She grasped his gloved hand and allowed him to pull her onto her feet. Reaching for her suitcase, she realized that he had already picked it up from the snow.
“Thank you,” she called to his back as he began to follow the professor down the slope.
“We’ve got a long walk ahead of us, miss. You can thank us once we’re safely in town.”
Luna nodded in gratitude at the tiny, wrinkled Tibetan woman who had placed a second bowl of steaming soup in front of her. She was not sure what was in the soup, but it tasted wonderful and warmed her stomach. Kind-eyed man took a sip from his bowl and said something to the woman in her native language. A wide smile spread across her face and she bowed at the waist before leaving the table.
“So, who are you, exactly?”
Her voice was light and clear and stood out from the small, dark interior of the inn. Her question was so honest and full of curiosity that kind-eyed man paused and set down his bowl of soup.
“Professor Davin and I found you in the mountains in the onset of this blizzard, lead you through the slopes for four hours and brought you to this inn and you’re only now asking who I am?” He shook is head in amusement.
“Truthfully, I hadn’t really wondered before just a few moments ago.” She took a sip from her bowl. “I was busy looking at the scenery. It’s much more beautiful than I’d imagined. And where did Professor Davin go?”
“Ah. He never eats supper with me – thinks it to be too unprofessional. He’s an irritable man, but a hell of a good naturalist. I’m lucky to work under him.”
Now that his face wasn’t obscured by his winter gear, Luna took an opportunity to study it. It was a gentle face, the sort she’d paint with a round, soft brush and gentle strokes. His hair was a dark brown colour, but the scruff on his face had a ginger hue to it. His dark peach lips were thin and accentuated his face well. Only his eyes stood out from the earthy pallet of his face.
“Not to be rude, but you don’t really strike me as a mountaineer. What exactly were you doing up there?” He hadn’t noticed her attention to his face.
“Oh. I’m not a mountaineer in the least. I just decided to go on a grand adventure of sorts and ended up here.”
Kind-eyed man stared incredulously at her and chuckled. “Started big, didn’t you?”
“Well, all grand adventures are big. Otherwise, they’d just be adventures.” She twirled her chopsticks through her soup, watching as a leafy cabbage of some sort immerged from the broth. “Haven’t you ever gone on a grand adventure?”
“I’m a naturalist. I go on adventures for a living.”
“You poor naturalist. Planned adventures can’t be nearly as fun. A real adventure has no plans, no expectations. Just you, your heart and your mind.” She could feel kind-eyed man’s eyes on her as though he was deciding how to respond to her.
“As long as your heart and mind don’t land you in the Himalayans in the middle of a blizzard, I suppose you’ll be alright.” He stood up from the table and stretched. “Now, I am turning in for the night. The innkeeper unlocked room four for you if your adventure permits it.” A playful grin spread across his face. Luna found that complimented his kind, blue eyes well.
Luna watched him as he strode away from the table. He had reached the doorway before she realized that he hadn’t introduced himself.
“Wait. You never did tell me who you are.”
Kind-eyed man paused in the doorway and turned around. “I suppose we got a little off topic, didn’t we?” He strode back to the table and extended his hand. “I’m Rolf Scamander.”
Luna smiled and shook his hand. “It’s very nice to meet you Mr. Rolf.”
A/N: So the second chapter is finally posted. Sorry for the long wait, hopefully it was worth it. Thank you so much for reading. I'd love to hear any thoughts you may have.
Edited 11/13/2011. Seeing as I should be revising for Anatomy, I decided to start editing this. Again, a huge thank you to everyone who has followed/is following Luna on her grand adventure. I'd like to extend a large thank you to research boy for being an important part of my life when I wrote this chapter and an equally large thank you to a special group of friends. Rave on.