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First Star to the Right by WitnesstoitAll
Format: Short story
Chapter 3: So, This Adventure Thing
Though the deep, velvety timbre of the night sky pressed against the frosted window pane of room four and the colourful promise of the dream world beckoned to her with a seductive finger, Luna did not sleep. Rather, she sat perched on the arm of the spindly wooden chair situated next to the window. Her index finger traced the crystalline veins of the frost that clung to the outside of the glass, seeking refuge from the blizzard raging just beyond her field of vision. The warm path of her finger left a clear path twisting and twirling through the veneer of condensation that had formed on the insideof the pane. She vaguely wondered if life’s trail could be paralleled in such a simple action, if a pathway, clear as the crisp mountain air, could become visible with only the slightest of motions.
A spark of curiosity ignited the wisps of thought that floated in her mind. Inquisitively, she wiggled her one of her bare feet that were hanging over the arm of the chair above the floor and then the other. Her pink toenail polish danced to an inaudible melody against the backdrop of night that had long-since settled over the room. Luna felt her cheeks pull up into a smile and stilled her feet.
If a parallel did exist between the frosted glass and her life, she was not ready to know about it. Lifting her head towards the rest of the room, she quickly pressed her eyes shut. Patches of violets and greens swam in the void of where the Inn’s room was just visible. If a path had been made clear to her, she was not ready to see it. The unknown was the essence of wonder, and spontaneity was the root of awe.
Sliding off of the chair, she floated to the centre of the room. The Inn’s dark wooden floorboards creaked beneath the rug. Its elaborate pattern, woven from once bold coloured threads, spread out beneath her feet. Though time had not touched the pristine mountain caps that spread out from the tiny Tibetan inn, the rug's now-faded threads were a reminder of the inevitable passage of time. Luna vaguely wondered how long ago nimble fingers had sat weaving it in front of a loom, how long ago, tanned faces had braved the cold to hoist the stones of the walls into place. She inhaled deeply, absorbing what was surely, ancient history, and opened her arms wide.
A delicate melody filled her. The harmony wove in and out of the carpet, shone from the ice that had re-formed on the window pane, and tingled in her finger tips. It sounded like uninhibited possibility. It felt like freedom. She gave herself over to the sensation, and twirled in time to the slow moving music. Her only audience was cool night air which pressed upon the room with its smooth blackness. Luna extended her right arm skywards, if only she were outside, she was certain that she could have touched a star. Her shadow, the perfect partner, spun across the floor as she did, skimming the base of the stars as she reached. Like a tender lover, its every motion complimented hers in perfect synchrony. She wondered what it would be like to have such harmony with another person, to compliment and be complimented.
The night pressed its lips together, pushing a gust of cool air through them. The dark breath wrapped itself around Luna’s twirling form. She gave herself over to it and floated out from her room and into the corridor. A peaceful blanket rested over its length. The walls pulsated with the gentle rhythm of the Inn’s sleeping breath. Behind each of the large wooden doors, she imagined serene faces tucked away beneath thick quilts, patiently awaiting the return of conscious minds from their far away dreams. What would the dreams of another look like? Behind one door she knew the stern Professor Davin slept. She imagined that his long moustache fluttered in time with his dreams – the troupe of young naturalists who marched, collecting the rarest of specimens, according to his infinitely wise instruction. Behind another door, the kind eyed Rolf Scamander surely rested. She couldn’t imagine what sorts of fanciful things filled his dreams – perhaps something warm and earthy. Her mind flitted through the possibilities.
The jingle of metal brought Luna from her thoughts. Urged by the night breeze, her wandering feet had brought her far from room number four. A cold wind whipped in from the door at the end of the second floor corridor, which stood ajar; a light smattering of snowflakes trailed in from the opening. A second jingle was followed by the sound of something large shifting its weight. The corners of her mouth pulled up into a smile. Whatever was jingling inside the door in the snow had captured her curiosity and she stepped slowly towards the door. For the first time since apparating from her London flat, Luna moved with intention. It was as though the stars meant for her to open the door and discover what was behind it.
Her hand reached out to the door, as pale against the darkness of the wood as the snow was against the night outside of her window. Another jingle sent a tremble of curiosity through her body, perhaps it was a rare Tibetan yeti shifting itself to its feet; lumbering about the room.
“Barney, where are going? Come over here, boy.” A quiet male voice danced through the cold breeze blowing in from the doorway.
Luna paused; she hadn’t expected anyone else to be awake at this time of the night. A broad, white snout pushed itself through the crack in the door followed by a wide, canid face. Smiling, Luna pushed the door open. A large black dog accented with tan and white stood staring up at her.
“Why hello. You must be Barney.” Kneeling, Luna offered him her hand. His eyes smiled, and his tail wagged enthusiastically. He leant his weight into her, demanding a scratch. “You’re a very nice Barney, aren’t you?” She ran her hands through his thick fur.
“Barney, what in Merlin’s – Luna?”
The kind-eyed Rolf had rounded the corner of the large room. Barney lumbered over to his master, and sat by his leg looking up at him expectantly. Out of what was surely habit, he dropped his hand to the dog’s head affectionately.
“May I ask what exactly you are doing awake and outside my room at this time of the night?” An incredulous grin played with across his face.
“You’re smoking a pipe with Barney at this time of the night.” It was an observation.
Luna rose to her feet and sank onto the arm of a large chair in the corner. She tilted her head and studied him. Of all the magical creatures that may have been behind the door, a kind eyed naturalist and a large dog with jingling tags was not what she expected. Rolf looked far too young for his peculiar ensemble. He wore a flannel dressing gown over a white tshirt. A thick scarf was wrapped around his neck, and a short pipe was clenched in his mouth. His scruffy hair stuck up at odd angles.
“I was watching the snow," she continued, "and felt like dancing. Before I knew it, my feet had led me into the corridor. Adventures are like that you know.” Floating over to the open window, Luna leant on the snowy ledge. “Of course Barney was jingling and the door was cracked open.”
“And so you ended up here.” She felt Rolf’s eyes on her as she reached her hand out the window. A large snowflake landed on her palm. She watched as it slowly melted away into nothing. “You do know you don’t have any shoes on?” His voice flitted through the back of her mind.
“Well most people don’t leave their windows open during blizzards.” She wiped her palm off on her robe. “Or have a path of snow on their bedroom rug, but it’s a very nice touch.”
Rolf blinked at her. Luna was accustomed to the look – the look of processing. He removed the unlit pipe from his mouth and passed it to his other hand. The sort of behaviour that suggested he didn’t know what else to do with himself.
“I suppose I should ask what you’re doing awake at this hour?”
“Ahh. Guilty as charged.” His lips pulled up into a grin that matched his eyes. “I was watching the snow as well.”
“Deciding if Professor Davin will want to brave the aftermath in the morning? He must have very important adventures planned out.” Planned adventures – she couldn’t keep the twinkle of amusement from her voice.
“Ahh. You and your planned adventures.” A chuckled rumbled out of his chest. “For you information, I was just watching the snow because there’s something relaxing about it. It’s very refreshing, cathartic almost.” He walked over and joined Luna at the window, leaning forward on the ledge so that his face gazed out the window.
“It’s so fleeting, while it’s in the air. Free to float where it will, but just for a moment you know. And then it’s on the ground with the rest of the flakes, packed together in place until it melts.” She inhaled deeply. “Of course, it’s really just plain old water.”
“My wife and I used to sit up at night and watch the snow.”
“That’s lovely.” Luna smiled, trying to imagine the woman who sat up in the middle of the night with the naturalist. She wondered if she was painted from the same earthy palette as he, if her eyes shone with the same genuine kindness. She couldn’t imagine anything else being the case. “Where did you meet her?”
“Ahh. That’s ancient history.” The timber of his voice had changed, though Luna couldn’t point out exactly how. Rolf placed the tip of his pipe back into his mouth, and chewed for a moment. “I don’t remember a time before I knew her. Old family friend and such, but tell me about this grand adventure of yours. It’s not very often I have company besides Professor Davin that speaks English fluently.”
Luna heard Barney jingle across the room and felt his warm body lay down against her ankles. “He’s a fabulous dog. What sort is he?”
“Ah. He’s a Bernese Mountain Dog. I got him as a pup for my wife a few years ago from a street peddler in Switzerland. He’s the best.” Rolf nudged the dog with his foot. “Aren’t you, Barney?” The dog raised his ears at his name and thumped his tail against the wooden floor. “So, this adventure thing you’re on?”
“Well, it’s not much of a story. I just closed a door and went to Neville’s wedding and realized that I needed to find something. So I apparated to the very mountain ledge I had imagined behind my eyes and you know the rest.” Glancing over at Rolf, a strange sort of smile was plastered across his mouth. His pipe angled upwards from the pressure of his mouth.
“I see. This Neville bloke anyone special to you?”
“Oh, yes. He’s very special. One of the best friends I’ll ever have. Hannah’s special too. He loves her very much.” Luna smiled, wondering how they were settling into their flat in Diagon Alley.
“So where are you off to next? Any ideas?” A hint of amusement coloured the words that flowed from his mouth.
“Oh, I don’t know if my adventure here is over yet. When it is I’ll know, and I’ll go wherever feels right.” She could feel the hum of the night stars, hidden somewhere behind the thick white backdrop hiding the night sky.
“You are the strangest woman I’ve ever found on the side of a mountain.” He stood up, straightening his back, and pulled the window pane shut. “I should really try and sleep a bit, in case Davin decides to make us dig our way through the terrain tomorrow.” Rolf clicked his tongue and Barney followed him to the doorway. “You should join us sometime. Get a proper adventure through the mountains before you float off to Oden knows where. I’ll make the arrangements with Professor Davin, if you’d like?”
“Yes. I’d like that.” Luna walked towards the door. “Of course, it’ll be nice for you to get a proper adventure as well. Your professor doesn’t seem like he’s one for much spontaneity.” She gave Barney a fond pat on the head and offered Rolf a smile. “Thank you.”
In the corridor, the door clicked, tucking Rolf away behind it, and Luna vaguely wondered whether her feet remembered the way back to room number four.
In her room, she curled beneath her quilt. Her feet tucked snugly beneath her pillow, she stared up into the ceiling. At some point in time, the dark eves gave way to the soft and comforting darkness of sleep. Perfect contentment filled her being, buoying her up and into the delicate sky. Rocked to the lullaby of the stars, she slept, dreaming in the warm tones of the earth.
A/N: So, here is the third chapter. I know it's literally been eons since I posted chapter two, but through a series of unfortunate events, the original version of this chapter was lost. It took me a while to have the gumption or motivation to rewrite and then it took me a while to get back into Luna's mindset. Now, no more excuses, just know that I'm so glad you're here reading it! A huge thank you needs to be extended to Annie for reading this over and to the rest of the group for tolerating my whinging while writing this. I'd love to hear your thoughts on Rolf or anything else, really. Thank you!!
Edited 11/13/2011. A few minor typos and such. You know the drill. Thank you to everyone who has read this so far!