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First Star to the Right by WitnesstoitAll
Format: Short story
Chapter 4: Unless We’re Dreaming
A bright, semi-translucent oblivion swirled around her in shades of saffron, cerulean, and dusty pink. She wasn’t exactly sure where she was, but it was everywhere and nowhere at the same time. The clouds were warm beneath her bare feet despite the perfectly formed flakes of white that danced around her head. Without glancing around her, Luna knew she was not alone in this watercolour world. Blinking her eyes, the world swirled and blended together as though a celestial paint brush had spun across the paper. From out of the freshly mixed colours, familiar forms began to take shape. Neville’s round face smiled at her from behind a dense green fern. Not far away, though distance seemed to be a fictional concept, Harry’s jet black hair was bold against bright backdrop. Ginny stood at his side, her arms wrapped around his waist and her hair blending into the sky. They both nodded their heads. Ron and Hermione’s figures materialized as well. The blue of his eyes perfectly matched that of the cloud behind him and his arm draped casually over his Fiance's shoulders.
Her mind drifted back to her childhood home, and she was reminded of the soft portrait that she had painted above her bed. Her friends never failed to fill her chest with warmth and a pride in both them and herself. She had not been in that room in years, and she was eons away from them in England, but here they all were, as close to her as a dream is to the surface of sleep. A stream of stars danced down from the orange sky and twinkled around them. She knew that she herself must be dreaming, but nevertheless encouragement seeped into her fingertips and filled her chest.
She made to move towards them – a longing to be in their company, to laugh and to simply be tugged at her heart – but she found that she could not. The artist responsible for this world had not given her a form, only essence. She wished for the paint brush to grant her a body, legs to move with, hands to feel with, but It did not appease her. The forms of her friends continued to smile and nod at her, and a thought flickered somewhere within her head. She could not be with them, for it was not yet time to end her journey, and yet in this moment they could not be closer to her. That was friendship.
As though a grand chord had sounded through the dream scape, the forms of her friends turned to one another. Hannah had appeared from a blend of colour. She and Neville began a slow, simple dance step, swaying to a music Luna could not hear. Harry and Ginny and Ron and Hermione joined in, each couple moving to their own inaudible tune. The colours swirled, blending, and separating out into novel shades and patterns. Luna found herself wishing she too could hear the cosmic tune.
A firm knock reverberated from outside the scene, and a gentle accented voice spoke. “Miss Lovegood, ma’am. Breakfast ready.”
Then intrusion seemed to be unnoticed by anyone besides Luna. The clouds and stars had joined in alongside the couples, dancing as only they could. Luna sighed watching the beauty of it all and leaned forward into a pair of warm arms.
Another knock. “Pardons, miss. Professor Davin say that if you’re to explore with them today, you must eat something.”
The arms swept her to a broad chest that smelt of cedar wood, parchment, and fresh air and twirled her into the dance. At last, she had been given form. An indescribable music filled her as she floated through the clouds. She glanced up to see her partner, who had brought her to life from the colours.
The door handle clicked and soft footsteps made their way across the wooden floor. “Mister Rolf agrees, Miss ma’am. Says weather good for adventures.”
Slowly, she opened her eyes and inhaled deeply.
A wrinkled brown face stood over her wearing a motherly smile. Blinking sleep from her eyes, Luna recognized the Tibetan woman who had made the soup she had eaten the first evening she had been brought to the inn.
“You awake. Good.” The woman opened the heavy drapery that hung over the window.
The morning light that streamed in the window was a bright white, a hint of the winter wonderland that the blizzard had crafted outside the inn’s stone walls. Luna sat up from her bed and stretched. A melody, possibly remnant from her dream, tinkled in her head. The motherly woman was straightening the decorative figurines that lined the top of the room’s dresser drawers. Trace amounts of dust floated off of each one and into the sunshine as she brushed over them with the tip of her wand. Luna watched each particle hover in the air before floating down to the rug.
“I clean room, you have breakfast in the kitchen.” The woman turned towards Luna, shooing her from the bed.
“You really don’t have to tidy my room for me.” Luna slipped from her covers and began collecting items from her luggage. “The dust is rather pretty, especially in the morning.”
The woman seemed to pay her no mind and continued in seemed to be a long practiced ritual.
Smiling at the woman’s diligence, Luna made her way down the hall to the wash room.
The kitchen was warm, and a delicious smell slinked up from the dishes on the wooden table top and beckoned her towards an empty place setting. Rolf and Professor Davin were seated at the table, their plates nearly cleared of their breakfasts.
“Good of you to show up.” Professor Davin’s voice was deep and each word carried an air of pretension. “We are usually on the slopes by this time of the morning. Rolf and I thought perhaps you had begun another of your ill-advised adventures.” His laughter filled the tiny kitchen.
“Luna,” Rolf spoke up over the professor’s self-induced laughter. “I’m glad you’ve decided to come with us. His smile was infectious and Luna felt her own lips curl up into her own grin. “But, eat something first. We can’t have you hiking through the snow on an empty stomach.” He passed her the serving spoon from the dish. “If you thought the soup was good last evening, just wait until you taste this.”
“Yes, yes. Eat up quickly.” Professor Davin rose from his seat at the table. “It’s late and progress will be slow with a guest in our party. Rolf knows how quickly our deadline is approaching.” He shot Rolf a stern look and strode towards the door. “I’ll gather up the gear, Rolf. Meet outside once you’re ready?”
Luna watched as Rolf’s eyes followed the older naturalist from the room.
“Well, he seemed – ”
“Sorry about him.” Rolf turned towards her. “He really does mean well. I sort of sprung the idea of having you tag along this morning on him, and well, our deadline is approaching – ”
“ – eager.”
“Eager?” He chuckled. “That’s a new one. I haven’t heard eager as a first impression description of Professor Davin before now. First impressions aren’t amongst his strengths.”
“Eager and efficient, if I had to choose two.” Grinning, she met his eyes from across the table. “You know, I had a dream that was that same colour as your eyes. It made me think, it’d make a very nice shade for a water colour.”
His eyebrows rose on his forehead. Whatever words he was searching for seemed to escape him, and he shifted uncomfortably in his seat. The sound of a jingling collar and a rolling gait excused Rolf’s turn in the conversation. “Barney, boy.”
“Hi boy.” Luna set her plate onto the floor for the large dog. His tail wagged in approval and he trotted over to her side. “Does Barney go out on your adventures?”
“He is today.” Rolf patted the dog’s back. “He’s supposed to be a working dog, but he’s getting soft lately. Lying in, sleeping all day. Great old louse”
She watched Rolf’s fingers run through the dog’s thick coat and studied them. His hands were broad and his nails were trimmed short. Flecks of dirt accented the corners of his nail beds. She imagined that his palms were calloused from years of working with them. They were strong, hard-working hands, she could tell, but their strength did not exclude their capacity for tenderness. As if evidence, Barney shameless leaned into his master’s touch.
“So then, shall we get ready to meet Professor Davin?” Rolf nudged the dog away from him and rose to his feet.
Luna also rose to her feet. “Let’s. I can’t wait for this proper adventure of yours.”
The reflection of the sun off of the snow gave an illusion of warmth in the cold mountain air.
Professor Davin and his gnarled walking stick led the small party expertly as though he could see a trail through crunchy white crust from the storm. Luna followed near behind Rolf and Barney, stopping occasionally to run her fingers over the delicate formations of ice on the rock faces. A face stared back at her from the glassy sheen, but it was not the same face she was accustomed to seeing. Its eyes were brighter and keener. The eagerness of discovery radiated from its complexion. It had only been several days since she had left Neville’s wedding – tired, lost and curious, and here she was teetering on what was surely the precipice of skimming her finger tips across the heat of the sun. A warm tingle filled her chest, and she bent down to scoop a handful of snow into her hand and watched as the water was slowly freed from the icy crystal prisms.
“Luna,” Rolf’s voice pulled her attention back to the mountain path, “Do you need us to pause for a minute? We’ve been hiking for over an hour now.”
Luna allowed the last bit of snow to drip from her hand and hurried to catch up with him and Barney.
“You know we could have sat down for a bit?” His cheeks were red from the wind under his scruffy facial hair. “Professor Davin wouldn’t have minded, and Barney would have appreciated it.” Rolf glanced downward and chuckled. The large dog’s tongue lolled out his smiling mouth.
“Barney better toughen up,” Luna skipped ahead of the pair, “This is an adventure after all,” her voice twinkled into the air.
The next hour or so passed in a comfortable silence, save for the sounds of nature around them. Her feet moved out of habit; her mind lost in the scenery around her. Gradually, the steep rock faces diminished until they reached a flat, rocky cove that extended out towards the horizon. Professor Davin came to a sudden stop, dropped his pack and leaned on his walking stick. Rolf mimicked his mentor, followed closely by Barney. The men gazed out at the rocky plain as though it were the most beautiful thing they had ever seen. Curious to share in their fascination, Luna came to stand by the professor’s shoulder.
“Would you look at that?” He clapped his hand against her shoulder. “This, my dear, is what a bestselling beastiary guide is made of.” He turned towards Rolf “Make sure you record everything, a herd this size is worth more than you can afford to imagine, we’ll have to get this to my publishers pronto.”
He swung his pack up over his back and began to quietly make his way down into the cove. Rolf remained still, staring out over the plain. Luna followed his gaze, straining to see what it was they had seen. To her left, something moved changing the air around it to a rippling puddle of iridescence. In its wake, visible only for the blink of an eye was a large, greyish-lilac, ape-like creature. Its fur was long and thick, and its eyes were large black orbs.
“Aren’t they beautiful?” Rolf eyes were still fixated on the herd. “I honestly can’t believe I’m here right now. Ten years in the field, their just so rarely sighted – I feel like I’m dreaming.” A sense of wonder and awe was tangible on his words.
“Demiguises,” she whispered, afraid to shatter such an important moment for the kind eyed naturalist.
Rolf turned to face her – a wide grin plastered to his face, his blue eyes bright. “You know of them?”
Returning his smile, she tucked her hair behind her ear. “Unless we’re in each other’s dreams,” she said in a matter of fact tone, “I’m fairly sure this is as real as anything.” She took a step down into the cove and paused, turning towards Rolf, extended her hand. “This is your adventure, sir. After you.”
He picked up his pack, clucked to Barney, and grasping her hand, stepped down into the cove.
A/N: I'd like to thank you for reading along with Luna up until this point, and ask your forgiveness for the eons it has been since my last update. Your support for this little project of mine in the Dobby's has been mind boggling and I am honoured. I'd like to extend a special thank you to Annie for reading over this along the way. I'd love to hear what you think of this chapter! And as always, rave on puffins.
Edited 11/13/2011. Chapter image coming soon!!