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It all started one night. No trace of moonlight shone into that stone cellar, but the collection of stars that dotted the inky sky served to light the dreary holding cell.
“And just what exactly are you are looking for, girl?”
A sharp, burning cough ripped through the old man’s chest. The damp chill that occupied the cellar alongside the captives had settled into his bones and tormented his lungs. He looked up from his seat against a stone wall. As he had predicted, the thin, nearly translucent girl sat in the same spot she had occupied for Merlin knows how long. Time, the days and hours, had a way of moulding and twisting all together into a single indiscernible moment. She was a strange silhouette of light against the darkness. Another cough rattled through the silence, and he shook his head. The girl was either a fool or she was too naïve to realize that hope was folly.
“I’m not entirely sure I know.” Luna Lovegood spun away from the window; a small smile played at her lips “There are so many things out there – but perhaps I’ll know when I see it. How about you? What is it you’re looking for, Mr Ollivander?”
“There is nothing outside that hole in the wall worth looking at, my dear.” The feel of her eyes on his sunken face made him feel that she wasn’t looking at him, but rather into him. “This is our world now, and it’ll serve you best to just acclimate yourself to that fact.”
It was a conversation the two shared from time to time. Luna perched beneath the cellar’s sole window like a bright-coloured song bird in a cage, longing to know what flight was. Mr Ollivander sat slumped against the wall refusing to look to the sky for fear the memory of flight would only bring pain. Their script always followed the same patterns, and the familiarity of it brought a sense of normalcy to a situation far from normal.
“You’re still looking, Miss Lovegood.”
He glanced up from the layers of dirt and grime that had coated his stiff, bent hands to the thin window ledge on the opposite wall. The girl had become a fixture, huddled there with her face pressed to the bars as though she’d miss something if she turned away for even a moment.
“Of course I am.” She said, not turning away from her minute glimpse of the outside world. “I haven’t seen anything worth finding yet.”
“That’s not all that surprising, given the view.” He retrained his eyes on his hands, unable to stomach the sight of such a faithful optimism he knew naught of. Balling a hand into a tight fist, his mind danced with a hypothetical future. He imagined what it would feel like to hold a wand once again.
The familiarity of the script brought a sense of understanding to the pair. It was an understanding that left a mark more permanent than the dirt marring their faces and hands.
“And yes, before you ask Mr Ollivander, I’m still looking.”
Though the old man couldn’t summon the energy to look up at the girl’s face, he was certain it was trained towards the world beyond their dank prison – a world beyond the gardens and courtyards surrounding their captor’s estate that she could see as clearly as the stone floor on which he sat.
“Of course you are, my dear.” He said, finding his breath. “I’d expect no less from you.” He paused, and a silence punctuated by only the prisoners' breathing filled the cellar. “You will let an old man know if you ever find anything, won’t you?”
Luna turned away from her post at the window. The corners of her mouth tugged upwards and her eyes were bright against the dreary backdrop. “Of course I will, but then again, you already knew that, I think.”
A sound somewhat like a grunt rolled up from his chest. This girl was not good for the complacency with which he regarded his future. “Just be sure you get some sleep.”
And their script, it grew. As time passed, the sound of their voices filled the cellar more often, driving away the loneliness bred in the silence. His tales of wand lore and the intricate science of his craft captured her attention. Luna made for an excellent audience – her attention bright and complete, she absorbed his words like a dried sponge in a small rain puddle. Her tales of dirigible plums and fanciful beasts painted bright images over the resident grey scale in his mind. Mr Ollivander enjoyed her stories – his rich chuckle and rare smile brought a flicker of warmth to the chill of the prison.
Eventually, as with all tangible things, their imprisonment came to an end. The darkness in the world was triumphed, and life crept back from out the shadows. In the years to come, the two shared numerous letters. The image of their handwriting slowly replaced the sound of each other’s voice in their memories.
They saw each other only twice after they had gone their own ways.
The first meeting was on an unseasonably warm autumn afternoon. The sun hung low in the sky, and garlands of flowers decorated the outdoor dance floor.
“You know, Mr Olivander?” The blonde woman led the elderly man gingerly across the dance floor. Her bright yellow gown gave her the appearance of a sun beam, and her wide smile only added to the image. “I think I finally know what I’ve been looking for all these years.”
He ignored the fatigue his old legs felt as he revelled in his turn to dance with the new bride. He felt a warm sensation burn behind his eyes as he was carried back to the ancient conversation that had carried him forward to the next day when giving up seemed to be the only rational choice. He remembered his response the first time she had asked him the question, and it played clearly in his mind despite his failing memory. The warmth of the sunlight stirred his thoughts and coaxed a long overdue explanation from his mouth.
“Luna, I – ”
“You’re a wise man,” Luna cut the beginning of his unrehearsed explanation short, “but you know you were wrong, all those years ago. The world is full of things worth looking at. The thing I love most about Rolf, is that he knows that the more you look, the more things you see. But he also knows that seeing is not finding.”
A wide smile split through his face, and he pulled the young girl into a tight hug. “Luna Lovegood, I hope you and that husband of yours have a lifetime of looking together.”
The second time they saw one another was a far less festive of an event. The hospital room was dreary, and the air in the room smelled sterile and felt impersonal.
“Oh Mr Ollivander,” Luna sat on the edge of the stiff bedding. The wavering of tears betrayed the normal pitch of her voice.
The ancient man inhaled, gasping at the pain associated with his every breath. It had been months since he had been strong enough to stand in front of a mirror, but he felt unrecognizable. His skin hung loosely around his skeletal frame and his eyes felt dim and listless. He had considered the implications of death ages ago, almost in another life, but had never really expected himself to be so at peace with it. He glanced up at the blonde woman sitting at his bedside. Though the years had taken her around the world and given her a good husband and two small boys. She was still every bit the bright eyed creature who sat in the window of that cellar.
“Don’t waste your tears on me, my dear.”
“Shhh.” She placed two of her fingers to his cool, dry lips. “You are not supposed to be talking. It’s just that, I don’t know if you’ve ever gotten the chance to look for anything, you haven’t gotten a chance to find anything.”
Turning his head away from her silencing fingers, he concentrated on forming the words before opening his mouth. “Luna, you’re a wise woman, but you’re wrong about one thing you said.” A long pause filled the hospital room as he struggled to catch his breath. “You are quite right that I never got a chance to look for anything, but that is because I found that what I needed had already been given to me. You my dear, you’re what I found. You gave an old, hopeless man hope and an elderly, lonely man a family.”
With great effort, Mr Ollivander lifted his hand and wiped the single tear that had run out from the young woman’s eye.
“And for that, my dear,” he whispered, “I am very grateful.”
It was the last time Luna Lovegood saw Mr Ollivander, but it was good. It was the perfect addition to the epic script that had begun so very many years ago. Because unlike so many tangible things, a true friendship never comes to an end.
Author's Note: I really enjoyed writing this little one shot, and am actually quite proud of it. I'd love to hear your thoughts on it! Thanks for reading!