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First Star to the Right by WitnesstoitAll
Format: Short story
Chapter 1: Happy Marriage, Neville
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The night sky smiles down at me from the heavens. Each star hums its own twinkling pitch of approval into the warm summer air. I pump my legs, gently urging the large wooden swing into a slow and rhythmic motion and look down at the two small babes sleeping on either side of my lap. Wishes for peaceful sleep filled with fanciful dreams are pressed into the kiss I lay upon both of their dirty blond heads. Lysander shifts and clamps his thumb more firmly between his lips. Lorcan gurgles contentedly, and I pull a roll of parchment and a quill from my bag. My quill hangs poised, waiting only for the words to write.
Glancing up into the dark expanse, I smile at my muses. Their influence and the past eight years had taught me one thing. Every lost soul turns to the night sky for answers to unasked questions. Every lost soul traverses the stars seeking something they were never sure was missing. Trouble only arises if one mistakes the wrong star for their guiding light. I feel the pressure of warm tears gathering beneath my eyelids; finding the right star from the millions in the sky is like coming home.
I lower my quill to the parchment. I guess I have finally come home.
Luna Lovegood stepped out from the confines of the dank office, humming lightly under her breath. The cool night air brushed light kisses over her cheeks and sent a shiver down her back. She twirled around, soaking in the simplistic beauty of the deep indigo blanket that had settled over the small town whilst she had been locked away at work. Several white-bright stars dotted the night sky. Each one twinkled out an announcement for anyone who’d take notice that the day was over at long last. Luna smiled, for she had taken notice.
She pulled her tan satchel up her arm, turned around, and pulled the large wooden door shut for the night. The click of the dead bolt sliding definitively into place compelled her attention. Her mind vaguely wondered what it might feel like to lock the office door for the final time, to float away from the Quibbler and its incessant deadlines and through the stars to the start of some grand adventure. It was strange, she mused, that something as final as a closed door rarely signified the end. Rather, the closed office door was merely a pause until the morning sun was ready to peek up over the horizon and announce the birth of a new day.
A new day, Luna smiled and resumed her humming as she floated down the lane. Each new day was a new beginning. There was something about the fragrance of the world’s potential that made all of the morning colours brighter. She knew quite well that the secret scent of the world’s potential could only be noticed in the moment when the sun first peeked up over the horizon. Sunrise had always been her favourite time of the day.
As she meandered down the stone lane she did not see the small town around her, but rather the frosted peaks of the Himalayans covered with herds of graphorn grazing amongst the rocks and the steamy jungles of Peru concealing lone lethifold stalking its prey. A bright yellow blossom waved up at her from the lush green earth. Blinking, her dreams faded into the quaint shops and homes that lined the lane. She let a disenchanted breath escape through her chapped lips and clamped her eyes shut. To her surprise, the yellow flower was still there when she opened them, attached to a thin stem that grew through a fault in the road. She bent, plucking the flower from the cracked pavement, and tucked it behind her ear.
At the end of the lane, she turned on the spot.
Shutting the door to her flat, she flicked her wand at the lamp. A soft glow flooded the sparse kitchen. Several piles of parchment lay on the small table, the home of unfinished articles and photographs that hadn’t yet made their way to publication. The cabinets were mostly empty save for several pudding mixes, a box of biscuits, and a tin of tea. The sink was tidy. A single teacup and plate were stacked on the drying rack. Though the space was her functional residence, it certainly was not home.
Luna hung her satchel over the lone chair at the table; the work within it could wait to be unpacked. She made her way through the sitting room. The name of the room always brought a sad smile to her face. One would think that a sitting room would have places to sit, but hers was merely a storage space. Large cardboard boxes were pushed against the colourful walls. It had been over a year since her father had passed away, and over six months since she had finished packing his belongings. One day, she mused, she would have the inspiration to sort through the twenty-five years of memories, but not tonight.
Her bedroom called out to her. A long day of monotonous work coaxed her through the doorway and onto her narrow bed. Tomorrow was going to be a good day; the wedding of a friend wasn’t the sort of thing that happened everyday. Feet tucked neatly under her pillows and head lying flat at the foot of the bed, her eyes grew heavy before she remembered to change out of her robes. The darkness from behind her eyelids surrounded her body like a glove and slowly, bright specks of light appeared across the expanse. Before succumbing to the seductive comfort of sleep, she wondered what it would be like to float alongside the stars.
The music swelled gently around the small group of people gathered on the pier. In the centre, the bride and groom swayed to a rhythm that was all their own. He placed a series of small kisses on her pink lips, oblivious to the audience of their friends and family. A contagious sort of happiness radiated off of the couple and filled Luna’s chest; she could feel a wide grin spread across her face.
“Ladies and Gentlemen,” the voice of an old schoolmate, Lee Jordan, broke through the enchanting aura that had settled over the pier, “Mr. and Mrs. Neville Longbottom.” Applause overwhelmed the music as it faded away and was followed by an upbeat dance tune. “Now let’s get this party started, we have a marriage to celebrate.”
Luna watched as the witches and wizards gathered at the reception began to move in time to the rhythm pulsing out of the wireless. Every surface of her body itched to join them.
“Please remember,” Lee’s voice bounced lightly over the crowd in his most professional MC voice possible, “that all drinks served at the bar are compliments of Mr. Longbottom’s best man, Mr. Harry Potter. Any and all donations given will benefit the Phoenix Memorial Fund for orphaned children.”
Luna caught Harry’s eye through the crowd and gave him an enthusiastic thumbs-up. The fund had been Ginny’s idea; it was the only cause that had persuaded her husband to use his societal prominence to promote. Of all the billions of people in the world, Luna thanked Circe that Neville, Ginny and Harry were among the few that she could consider friends.
The melody shifted to yet another dance beat. She felt it soak in through her pores and into her very bones; resisting it became useless. She threw her arms up above her head and twirled in place. The music carried her to the bar, and she danced along the way. Catching her breath, she greeted the bartender and ordered a pumpkin juice.
“You know that you could have ordered more than a pumpkin juice, Luna. Drinks are on the house.”
She turned towards the sound of the familiar voice, throwing her arms around the source. “Harry.” She tightened her arms around his shoulders. “You’re right, where are my manners?” She dropped her arms and turned towards the bartender. “Can I have another one, please?” Luna handed Harry the second juice. “There you are. Drink up. It’s a marvellous night for a pumpkin juice.” Luna returned his smile as he sipped at the juice. “So how are things?”
The two friends talked. Harry regaled stories of the Auror office and of the excitement of renovating a ‘fixer-upper home.’ As he spoke, the smile on Luna’s face grew wider. It was good to hear talk of the world outside of the Quibbler office.
“So how have you been, Luna? You’re awfully quiet this evening.” Harry eyed her with concern.
She inhaled deeply, having nothing of much interest to contribute to the conversation. “Oh, you know, I’ve just been –”
“I’m sorry, hold that thought, Luna.” Harry’s attention was trained across the dance floor to a where a small, red-headed boy was hastily crawling. “The little tyke is far too adventurous for his own good. Dammit. I’ll be right back.”
Luna shook her head. James had grown quite a bit since she had last seen him; Harry and Ginny certainly would have their hands full for a long time to come. She sighed, took a sip from her drink, and emptied her pockets into the donation tin.
“Alright ladies and gentlemen,” Lee’s amplified voice piped up over the music, “the time has come to for you all to dance with the bride and groom.”
Luna fell into Neville’s line. It was so odd to think of him as the groom. In her mind, he was just Neville – the kind, sweet, brave wizard who had stood by her side time and time again. When her turn came, she placed her hands on his shoulders. Looking up into his face, she could see that he was still that wizard. He just was decorated in dress robes, an elated smile and lipstick smudges.
“Happy Marriage, Neville.” Luna leaned up onto her tiptoes and planted a loving kiss onto his cheek. “I’m so happy for you. You look radiant.” They swayed around the dance floor.
“Erm, thanks Luna.” Neville said after a moment. “I am really happy. Everything is finally right, you know? Gran’s doing well, Mum’s safely tucked away, I have a job I love, my best friends are all here and I just got married. It’s unbelievable.”
Luna studied his face as he struggled to find the rest of his words.
“It’s an amazing thing.” He finally said.
“What is, Neville?”
“Finding where you fit into the puzzle, you know, your place in it all.”
Luna took in his words. They filled her with happiness for the once awkward schoolmate, but left a hollow feeling within her chest. A tap on her shoulder alerted her to the fact that her time with Neville was finished. She gave him one last smile and relinquished him to the smiling face of Hermione.
Neville’s words turned over in her mind long after she had left the reception. They mulled under the bright light of the moon and simmered as the first hints of the morning sky rose above the horizon. She inhaled the air of the new day deeply. The world’s potential was without boundaries. Why then was she a puzzle piece without a spot that complimented her passions and whims perfectly? As the bright dome of the sun peeked up into the skyline, Luna knew what she had to do.
A/N: So I would firstly like to thank you for chosing to read this story. Luna has always been one of my favourite characters in the HP series, but I am terrified of writing her. Nothing quite like facing your fears, eh? Secondly, I would like to thank TGS for their endless support especially Rachel (PenguinsWillReignSupreme) for allowing me to bounce this idea off of her months ago and Gubby (GubraithianFire) and Annie (Ellerina) for reading over this.
Edited 11/13/2011. An additional thank you to everyone who has read and supported Luna on her grand adventure. A special thank you to a special group of friends. Rave on.
Chapter 2: Nice to meet you, Mr. Rolf
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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.
Chapter 3: So, This Adventure Thing
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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!
Chapter 4: Unless We’re Dreaming
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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!!
Chapter 5: The Character of a Man
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The rocky cove spread out ahead of the small exploration party for what had to be kilometres. The fierce wind that had accompanied them on their hike through the mountains now purred around their bodies, domesticated in the peaceful expanse. Patches of shimmering iridescence rolled out around them in obscure waves that only nature could have designed. Somewhere, hidden within the waves lived a population of Demiguises – Mother Nature’s most cryptic of creatures. Luna felt her breath catch in her chest. Her feet moved forward of their own accord, and her hand slipped out of Rolf’s grasp. “There must be hundreds of them.” Awe danced on the tip of her tongue.
“At least.” Rolf strode forward, eyes wide and slowly sat down on a large stone. Not far away Professor Davin had assumed a similar position.
“Once they acclimate to us, will they show themselves?” Luna stepped softly towards Rolf and slid down to the ground, leaning back against the stone where he sat. Her voice was barely a whisper and her movements were slow as though anything too loud or sudden would shatter the snow globe world she had found herself a part of.
He dipped his chin in response. “Well, that’s the theory at least. “ The light of discovery still radiated form his eyes and played at his lips. It was a good look for him. “You must have read about them before? My grandfather had published his theories about them decades ago, but nobody has every studied them in their natural habitat, much less a herd this size. We’re literally in uncharted territory for this field of study. This is, it’s just so –”
Luna studied his face as he basked in the simple truth of her answer. The passion that burned there accented the soft palette of his face, adding another dimension to the warmth of the earthy tones. It was a colour that could exist only for finger painting, and hers itched with a desire to glide across his broad cheek bones and to see the colour of passion spread out against her skin’s pallor. A blush crept across her cheeks as the thoughts of finger painting pulsed in her mind, and she retrained her attention to the natural wonder thriving just beyond their vision. To her surprise, Rolf’s eyes were not on the Demiguises, but on her face, and heat washed across her chilled cheeks as she struggled to find her voice. “I suppose you actually got a real adventure out of today, then.”
A short distance from Luna’s feet, a sheet of iridescence shimmered and was replaced by a shaggy, blue-grey creature. Its back arched forward and its front knuckles drug on the ground. Its eyes looked like two shiny black beetles. Three small bundles hung from the creature’s chest one a pale purple, the other two a deep charcoal grey colour. Barney rose from his position beside Rolf on the stone, his ears cocked and his head tilted in curiosity. A soft whine emanated from his muzzle.
“Down boy.” Rolf turned and placed his hand on the great dog’s back. Nudging Luna’s shoulder with his knee to capture her attention from the spectacle standing in front of them, he whispered, “If this is a real adventure, I’ll take it over my proper adventures any day.”
Turning their attention back towards the mother Demiguises, they watched. The wind floated slowly though the cove, gently coaxing the clouds forwards across the sky. Whether or not time actually passed was difficult to discern. Tucked away from the outside world, the rocky plain seemed to exist on its own axis turning lazily about beneath a sun and sky all its own. Life persisted in the simplistic beauty of it all, soft colours and shimmering iridescence, sparse blades of grass and rich clumps of moss. It was one of the most beautiful things she had ever seen. Then, almost as if the exploration party was as much a part of the rocky plain as the stones themselves, the herd of Demiguises slowly began to take visible form, inviting the onlookers into their private world.
They appeared one by one in a ripple of pastel coloured fur. Luna felt a sharp intake of air fill her lungs. The scene spread out before her eyes was something of which she had never even dreamed. Young Demiguises ran, chasing and ducking amongst the rocks and their elders. Infants hung from their mother’s chests, not yet sure enough on their feet to frolic with the others. Wary-eyed adults dotted the periphery of the group, occasionally paying glances towards the exploration party at the mouth of the cove. None of the creatures functioned on their own, Luna observed, but rather each was an integral part of a finely tuned whole. A great bubble of awe filled her chest at the master design of the earth, every creature from great to small fit together in perfect symphony with the energies of the sky and rock and grass. This moment splayed out in front of her grasped her hand and in its infinite perfection, and whispered approval into her ear. Its message was clear, she too had a place somewhere in the scheme of it all.
Luna reached her hand behind her and grasped the broad, gloved hand. Squeezing it, she hoped to pass along the secret whispered in her ear. The gloved hand returned her gesture, enveloping her slim hand within its broad frame.
“I still cannot believe this is actually happening.” Rolf said, his voice breaking the delicate membrane of silence that had settled over the cove. His hand slipped away from Luna’s as he continued staring at the field. Slowly he unfolded himself from the rock, rising to his feet as though some puppeteer had gently tugged at the appropriate strings. Cautiously, he took a step forward, and gaging no response from the herd of creatures, he took another and another. Each step was as careful as the first and carried him within arm’s length of the bluish grey mother Demiguise.
“You know,” he said quietly over his shoulder towards the rock where Luna and Barney had remained seated, “their fur is said to have been used to weave all the invisibility cloaks fashioned before the turn of the twentieth century. Charms Masters have always wanted to study the properties of their fur. They’re smart creatures though, the more demand there was for them, the harder they became to find in the wilderness.”
Luna listened as he spoke. Rolf’s voice was smooth as glass, a gentle lullaby that curled through and around the herd. It was difficult not to feel perfectly at ease listening to the baritone in his element, and so she stayed seated next to the rock, rhythmically scratching Barney behind his ears, absorbed in the simple melody.
“Are we just going to stand there with our chins slack to our chests, or are we going to take some notes.” A jarring dissonant laugh, like metal gears grinding against stone followed the interruption. Professor Davin had risen from his rock seat and stood leaning jauntily on his walking stick. “I know we’ve got company with us, but I have waited too many years for this chapter of my book to be written. I’ll expect your notes from today included in that draft. I want the whole thing on my before this week is out. In the meantime, I’ll be back at the inn. I have to contact my publicist, a find like this will warrant a change in marketing strategies. Don’t let that girl delay you any.” The old naturalist nodded at Rolf and turned on the spot, Disapparating into the thin mountain air.
If Rolf had heard his employer’s words, he gave no notice. Rather, he had dropped to his knees near where the mother Demiguise lay, watching her three young scamper through the rocks and mosses. Luna watched as the pale purple one tottered towards him. Lifting an arm, it prodded his knee gently as though the bearded man was an apparition than may vanish into the air before it clambered up into his lap. A sad smile slid across her face as she wondered if Rolf realized how different he and his advisor were beyond their mutual interest in the natural world. She once read that the character of a man is always evident in his treatment of creatures that can offer him nothing in return. Rolf rose to his feet, cradling the infant in his arms and stroking its head. There was a softness in his face, a look of wonderment and awe. Professor Davin too had had an awestruck look when they had first stumbled upon the rocky cove and the herd of Demiguises, but there was nothing gentle or loving about his offhand mannerism just now. Perhaps it had been a field full of grazing Galleons and book sale numbers that had prompted his initial awe.
Luna quickly shoved this thought back into her mind. Rolf had worked under Professor Davin for years, and revered him. Who was she to judge? Pulling her attention away from the kind eyed naturalist and the young demiguise, she extracted a neatly rolled scrap of parchment and a bit of pastel from the small bag she had brought along on their expedition. Next to her, Barney shifted his weight and rolled onto his side.
“You know something Barney,” she said quietly to the large dog, “your master is a good man.”
The warmth of the inn enveloped her body, and she could feel the cold melt away into the air. Her adventure today had been better than she’d ever imagined a planned adventure could be. Her mind danced with the notion of spending her every day immersed in this ancient and icy world, floating lost in the beauty of stone and crystalline water. Here, nestled in the peaks of the great mountain range, time had a way of hovering just beyond the sphere of tangibility. Forever young and uninhibited, she could twirl under the stars each night and the snowflakes every day.
Humming a bright tune to a song she did not recognize, she began her ascent up the narrow staircase leading to room four. The muscles in her legs were heavy and sore from her adventure through the mountains, but she spun and swayed as she climbed nevertheless.
Just past the second floor landing, a stair gave a loud groan, pulling her from her dreams of dancing at the top of the mountains, just below the stars. It was as the the stair was reminding her that the Himalayas were but the first step in her journey. No matter where she was or where she went, there’d be a night sky whispering out the secrets of life, approval and encouragement. She knew the song of the stars, and listened for it often. When it was time for her to gather her things and move on, she would know it.
Several loud foot falls on the landing below crashed tthrough her contemplations.
“I saw the draft and the notes from today that you left on my desk.”
Luna listened, curiosity tingling beneath her skin. The notes Rolf had taken in the rocky cove were amazing. His words were magic, nearly replicating the impossible grandeur of the scene.
“I wanted to be sure you had them.” Rolf voice answered Professor Davin’s. “Today was just -- I can’t even put it into words. It’s going to be a great chapter and book.”
She could almost see the wide smile on his voice.
“Oh, will it?” Professor Davin’s voice sounded incredulous. “I am publishing a scientific text, Rolf. Not some child’s book about fantastic creatures. That’s already been done, I shouldn’t have to remind you of all people. It appears that’s all you Scamanders have going for your claim to expertise.”
“This is my book son, not yours. That draft will need to be redone. And you will write me a new set of notes on the Demiguises, or you’ll be finding a new Naturalist to fund your little adventures. Your name means nothing in this profession anymore and will get you nowhere without me. You have three days.”
The sound of one set of feet descended from the landing, probably down to the kitchen of the inn while the sound of the second set approached where Luna stood, hovering on the squeaky stair. A wave of gratitude washed over her as Rolf appeared on the staircase behind her.
“I can pretend that I didn’t hear that, if it’d be better.”
Rolf froze, mid-step. Luna felt far too visible as his kind, water colour eyes looked at her. They did not shine with the same enthusiasm that they normally did. She felt badly that she had over-heard the private conversation. His round mouth was pulled into a tight line. He made no attempt to speak and just stood there as though he had forgotten where he was walking.
“Though I did think your notes were lovely.” She took a step down towards him on the staircase. “And more people should read with the eyes of a child, they’d see a far nicer world.”
“Luna, it’s alright. Don’t worry about – ”
“So you’re writing his book for him?” Luna cocked her head, watching his face. “My dad always used to tell me that to write or create something was to waltz with the spring. You shouldn’t let somebody else dance your dance.”
The corner of his mouth pulled upwards, whether from comprehension or amusement she couldn’t be sure. The rest of his face still looked drawn and used.
“Really, it’s not a problem.” He said at last. “Just the way business works.” His voice trailed off and he dropped his gaze to the ground. She watched him, and was still studying him when his eyes flicked back up towards her face. They still looked dreary, but a hint of their normal light seemed to flicker beneath the surface. “Would you maybe want to go to dinner with me tomorrow? I was going to go into town, and well, I would love some company.”
Luna felt her face split into a wide smile and her head nod.
Author's Note: It's been a while since I updated, so thank you if you're here reading this now! Luna is a delicate character and is sometimes difficult to write. I'd like to extend my gratitude to Sarah, Gina and Helena who's reviews for past chapters helped to place me in the right frame of mind to write this, and to the rest of the puffins who are just awesome. I must take a moment to give credit to Immanuel Kant for the chapter title and the corresponding quote "the character of a man is always evident in his treatment of creatures that can offer him nothing in return." And finally, I'd love to hear what you thought of this! Please leave a review if you have the time.