Chapter 4 : Curiosity killed the cat
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"The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity."
The first week in the Scamander house had gone by particularly well for Luna, since she had spent all day long working and due to the lack of breaks – a routine she had draconically imposed herself, much to Mrs. Scamander’s surprise – she had hardly had time to think of just how much she missed her friends and family. She had spent every single minute in the office, making all sorts of annotations concerning the possible locations of the creatures that Mr. Scamander had talked about without even realizing the hours that had dripped, until common sense had banished her from the space confined by the four walls.
Her colleague, Gustav, would spend about the same amount of time working, but everyone could guess by now that he wasn’t actually suffering from homesick. Something else or better said someone, attracted and incited him to spend extra time in the office – even long after his work schedule had ended – a time he might as well have used in an utterly different manner. He could have ventured in the nearby forest to observe the wildlife or simply just go out in town, enjoy a nice meal in a restaurant, take a stroll around the clustered streets of Dorset. But no, Gustav had stayed inside, buckling down between those long tables filled with the tiniest of details and random sketches of magical creatures.
If one didn’t know him, one would have believed that he was merely trying to compete with Luna, but Mr. Scamander was no stranger to the eighteen year-old boy. In fact Gaspard Shingleton, Gustav’s father, and Newt were friends, and even if they hadn’t physically seen each other in years, due to their busy jobs, the old comrades still kept a vivid correspondence in which they would comment about the latest developments in the Wizarding World. Though their political views were in someway different, such contrasts had never deterred them from enjoying some rather acid comments that in the end could only bring laughter.
Gustav had often talked to Luna about his family and how “bonded” they were with the Scamanders and she had listened quietly, not making any de trop comments and would never talk unless it was strictly required. Newt Scamander appreciated her for her opportune silence and had often expressed his wish for his wife to have possessed such quality of the spirit. She was making some great improvements within the field she was studying and even if she hardly expressed it openly, she was feeling satisfied with her choice.
She had finally found a place where she could truly be herself… She would talk to Mr. Scamander about Crumpled-Horned Snorkaks and he would nod approvingly, instructing her on the steps that needed to be taken in order to establish an authentic campaign of research and discovery. She would write on her notepad every word that escaped his mouth and at night she would devour the annotations she had made all throughout the day, making plans and dreaming with her eyes wide open about those times when she and a trained team of researchers would set to Sweden and other Baltic lands, looking for the magical creature.
She would discover it one day, and she would become famous for it. Not that she needed or wanted to be in the spotlight – Merlin knew, she had always hated exaggerated attention – but such finding could hardly be deprived of the media frenzy.
She woke up that Saturday with those very thoughts in mind and as she proceeded to the lavatory to take a bath, she realized that it was weekend. What was she to do today? Mr. Scamander had strictly forbidden them to work in those days and had asked them to relax, instead of succumbing themselves between the uncountable files and sheets of paper that needed to be read and taken care of.
She grabbed some clean towels from an upper cabinet and let the water running, while she sat on the edge of the tub, silently contemplating the blossoming apples, hanging from the tree branches, which she could clearly see through the open windows. It was a hot day, that day, probably the hottest of that summer, but Luna didn’t seem to have taken notice of this fact. She removed her clothing and submersed her frail body beneath the water. She leaned her head onto the soft board and let her long hair fall onto her shoulders, slightly moistening the tips.
Only as she stayed in her bathroom, in the deafening silence of the morning, did she realize just how much she missed her friends. She had written a letter to both Ginny and Hermione a day before, asking the latter to set a date to go shopping for dresses. How she yearned to be there with them now, even if her work with Scamander was very much comforting and suiting to her taste.
And then, abruptly, without any prior knowledge as to why it had happened, she thought of Rolf. The grandson of the famous naturalist was commonly thought as being a wild child, extremely gifted with animals and possessing a rather sharp mind, but lazy as a slug and utterly rebellious. He could have worked alongside Luna and Gustav, but he strongly refused to do it, despite his grandfather’s persistent reprimands. Luna couldn’t quite conceive why Rolf completely dismissed any involvement with his family, particularly since she had heard her teacher complaining so many times on how he was wasting his talent with trifles. If he indeed had a flair for animals, then why was he so abrupt about it?
She had observed him all throughout the week and had made a fairly pertinent first impression about the young man. He was clever, given by the astuteness in which he would, sarcastically or not, respond to his grandfather whenever the latter would scorn him, but as spoiled as a six year old girl. He was used to boss people around – couldn’t stand being criticized – had a high opinion of himself – at least that was what he always let people believe – and a distorted judgment about what a young man like himself ought to do with his life.
Luna had wondered from the very day she had met him, why hadn’t Rolf attended Hogwarts like the rest of young wizards. The reason had been unveiled to her, a day prior to this morning’s events, and it seemed that as of his 11th birthday, Rolf had been home-schooled – a mistake that Mr. Scamander would never allow his son to commit again – as he had mentioned himself in one of their talks. And surely, if anyone of his family had known then, how very much spoiled he would become, they would have enrolled him immediately to Hogwarts.
Luna didn’t exactly know what to think of him, because they had seldom talked or even seen each other. The only moment of the day when they would get a better view of one another was at dinner when their gazes would unmistakably cross. She thought of him as being mysterious, in a way she had never considered a human being. Despite his flaunts and conceitedness, she felt that there was more to Rolf than what met the eye.
It wasn’t the first time that Luna had thought differently of a person than the rest of the world. If she remembered well, back in her forth year, she had seen more in Harry than the lunatic that everyone thought he was and with Rolf, things appeared to be the same. Nevertheless, she refrained herself from making any assumptions, but for those first impressions that could prove to be mistaken on a second glance. She would have more time to see if indeed there was more to Rolf Scamander than his last name.
She emerged from the tub after half an hour of reflections and as she headed towards the night stand to pick her wand she noticed an envelope on her bureau. She turned it around and recognized Ginny’s neat handwriting.
I was so very pleased to hear that you’re doing so well with your new job; I never doubted that you’ll make the right impression on Newt Scamander. I hope you’re not much of a homesick person, because I, myself, know just how difficult it is to stay away from your parents and family. Just so you know I’ve missed you every day since you’ve been gone and I can hardly wait for us to meet again, though I know that it will be a while until we get to do that.
As for myself, I have to say that I’m so very busy, planning the wedding and with my mother being as she is, well, it’s not the easy and fun job I though it would be. But Harry has been of great support and has spared me today of some gruesome three hours of stress, by accompanying my mother to Diagon Alley to make sure that the cake is going to be delivered at the exact day of our wedding and attend some other boring details that she seems to be so fond of lately.
There’s a constant ado around the Burrow these days, as we keep on having guests all day round, relatives, friends and people that Harry and I don’t even know. But it’s all good and fun, particularly since it’s been quite a while since I’ve seen my family so excited about something. Even George is looking forward to the wedding and has promised us a spectacular firework show, trademark Weasley & Weasley… Fleur and Bill stop by the house whenever Victoire allows them and let me tell you that they’ve done so much for Harry and I that, I believe, we will never be able to thank them enough.
Unfortunately, I have to put an end to my letter, as my mother and Harry have just come back and there are a million things that I’m supposed to do, like choosing the colour of the slip covers, making sure that the napkins match the invitations and foremost writing my vows – which is by far the most pressuring matter of all.
Harry and the rest of the family send you their best and are eager to see you at the wedding. I miss you!
Luna folded the paper smiling, and as she placed the piece of parchment into the envelope again, she looked outside the window. The sun was shining brighter than ever on the sky, the trees bended their branches to the ground, every once in a while leaning them onto the hot surface of the grey wall of the house, on account of the frail breeze coming from the sea. She decided that she was in much need of a walk and as she headed towards her closet, she took the envelope along, thinking that she should put it into the box along with her diaries.
Her clothes had never seemed more wearable than that day, all brightly coloured and gauzy, perfect for the hot sun that threatened to burn more intense than ever as the afternoon approached. She chose a short silky dress that covered little of her, yet not in an erotic sort of way. It appeared childish and playful in a way only Luna could make clothes look like as she wore them. She put the radish-like earrings on and on her way to the door she grabbed her wand, which, as usual, she tucked behind her ear.
She went downstairs, smiling to herself at noticing that the house was bathed in silence. Mr. and Mrs. Scamander were most probably enjoying that picnic in the forest like they had said they would, a night before, and Gustav most certainly had ventured outside, maybe in town, to taste some of the local dishes as he yearned to do ever since he had set foot in Dorset. She walked past the corridor that led to the office and, despite her habitual cravenness for work, she went on to the front door. She opened it with a determined movement and took a brief tour around the house.
The eastern part was most interestingly confined by an alcove embellished with abundant ivy strands and some little purple flowers that Luna had never seen. She walked through the bower, carefully stepping with her bare foot on the hot asphalt and headed forward guided by the melodious sound of water splashing onto rocks. She gaped as she noticed somewhere farther from where she stayed, a beautiful fountain, cast in marble stone and adorned with some tasteful figurines portraying little angels that poured water from their sparkling vessels.
On the marble edge of the fountain there laid a body which Luna immediately recognized as belonging to Rolf. He sat on his back, his face turned towards the hot sun, with his eyes closed and his chest barely moving with every intake of the irrespirable air. He wore a yellowy shirt, slightly opened at the neck and some kaki pants that he had ruffled up to his knee on account of the terribly arising temperatures.
Luna watched him, though he made no gesture, and as his saccadic chest movements repeated she suddenly thought that he was beautiful. She had no idea if she had really thought it, or if that mere impression had crossed her mind on account of the hotness. Regardless of what common sense would require in such times, she proceeded towards the fountain, indulging her mind with the excuse that she needed to refresh herself with some water. She walked slowly to where he was, tip-toeing, afraid to wake him in case he was indeed sleeping. She bent over him and stared at his flawless face, carved out of porcelain – or so it seemed at that moment.
He opened his eyes and let out a shout while she held back calmly.
“Luna…” he said, partly relieved that it was her. “You scared me!”
“Oh, I’m sorry,” she replied slightly blushing. “I didn’t mean to…I just wanted to check if you were asleep or not.”
“Why?” he asked still staring bemused at her.
She appeared genuinely out of this world to him, like she had just fallen from the sky and was completely oblivious to what her surroundings implied. She didn’t fit in that garden, no more than he did, yet she had that certain wistful gaze that set her apart from any other human being that he had ever been in contact with. There was something about those precious blue eyes, staring back at him with the same amazement reflected in the iris, like in his, which made people want to know more about the secrets concealed behind their magic.
“If you were sleeping you would have got a nasty sunburn, eventually,” she responded, quite self-assured. “It would have been terrible, indeed.”
He lifted and then supported his back against one of the little figurines that fortunately still preserved the chillness of the water that they poured from their tiny vessels. She sat on the edge, sinking her thumbs in the cold water while his eyes watched her every move with such curiosity that Luna found it at some point annoying.
“So, how’s work?” he finally spoke, rather conversantly than out of mere inquisitiveness, for he would have rather spent the whole day watching her in silence. “I hope my grandfather is not giving you a rough time…”
“Oh no…I find him quite agreeable,” she replied, dreamily gazing at the sparkling sickles sitting beneath the water while her feet fidgeted producing tiny circles at the surface. “There are so many things that need to be done and so little time. But it’s very much challenging and fun…”
Rolf smirked and she turned her face around, their eyes suddenly meeting. “Why are there sickles on the bottom of the fountain?” she asked.
“Sickles and galleons” he replied while leaning forward to get a glimpse of the glittering coins. “Have you ever been to Italy?”
A rude observer would have simply declared their exchange of replies as an utter nonsense but in the midst of their apparently unrelated questions, both Rolf and Luna seemed to find their little discussion very much pleasing.
“No” she answered while making a mental note, thus adding Italy in her itinerary.
“It’s a beautiful country…I went there once with my grandfather to study more closely Abraxans” he said and Luna nodded. “He’s always wanted me to see what was worth seeing from the muggle world so he took me to Rome – that’s the capital. The main square of Rome has got this amazing fountain called Fontana di Trevi. People throw coins there for every wish they have, hoping it will come true and I was so astonished about that habit that I decided that every time I’d need something I’d come here, throw a sickle and…”
“And let it happen,” she continued his speech.
“Sort of…” he replied while staring again at those gleaming coins that had once represented his most fervent desires. “But none of those ever happened…they couldn’t have.”
“I wouldn’t be so sure,” she sighed and he stared at her inquiringly, “maybe they have come true, just that you didn’t notice…”
“Believe me, I would have taken notice if any of them had turned into reality,” he added mockingly in a way, but Luna didn’t seem to be bothered by that. “There are no proofs to sustain that they have…”
“I can’t seem to convey the need for proofs” she said. “There are things in life that don’t need evidence to acknowledge their existence like love, like friendship... like Crumpled-Horned Snorkaks. Here you have the best example!”
“Crumpled-Horned Snorkaks?” he asked, slightly taken aback by her instance. “Never heard of them…”
She stared at him incredulous but the shake of his head didn’t seem to imply that he was joking or pretending. “What are they? Some creatures, I suppose…”
“Right…People don’t believe they exist because no one has really seen one, but it’s just like with the Blibbering Humdinger…” Luna replied enthusiastically.
Rolf smirked as he had no idea of what she was talking about, but in a way he found that charming about her. Often, she chose to speak about the unlikeliest things in the world and – by the end of what would be the most chimerical conversation of one’s life – people would suddenly find themselves either charmed by her passion and deep-rotted convictions or completely averse towards her openness. Luckily, Rolf was one of those chat partners who found her notional theories quite worth listening to and at some point even plausible, even if the many names she would provide sounded in their etymology, phantasmagoric.
He watched her silently for a couple of minutes as she mumbled something about her unrelenting chase for those beats, whose name Rolf couldn’t quite remember now, and it seemed to him that there was something worth discovering in Luna. He suddenly remembered that night when after an annoying exchange of replies between him and his grandfather, he had gone to his room with the same fears invading his troubled heart.
And then as the moon had climbed onto the first quarter of the sky, he had stayed behind his window and had watched a scarf flying in the wind without any reaction on Luna’s part. That night’s event still haunted his days and at times even the nights, and moreover it determined him to look for her gaze at dinner and sometimes transitorily around the house – whenever she would please to get out of the office.
He hardly noticed when she ceased the talk and instead abandoned herself to the picturesque view reeling off before them. She stared blankly at the horizon line, hills blending with the rocky surface that bordered the sea side, letting her ears thrive with the barely audible sound of waves splashing onto the shore and her nostrils indulge with the salty smell of sea weed and oysters. A frisky breeze caressed her soft face and as it meddled with the blonde strands, causing her hair to vaguely flutter, he sighed. She was beautiful, not in a common way, but still enough as to take his breath away for a split second.
She shook her legs as she removed them from the fountain and then with a completely unexpected movement she stood astir, silently contemplating the little angel figurine on which Rolf leaned on. And then as his eyes met the dazzling blue in hers, she parted without even muttering a goodbye. He watched the wet print that her feet left on the hot asphalt as she walked over to the alcove, still completely astounded by her spontaneity that didn’t seem to follow any pattern, much to his inquisitiveness.
Everything about Luna was strange – in the good sense of the word – from the childish hopping that she performed right as he sat on the edge of the fountain, to her far-fetched convictions that she expressed too openly sometimes, to the peculiar gaze that could be attributed to the fact that she didn’t blink as much as any other human being…
His mind wanted him to get up and run after her, maybe even continue their talk or just stay in silence, but somehow his feet wouldn’t listen to what his thoughts commanded them to do. He stayed there until her slim figure disappeared behind the alcove, leaving footprints on the asphalt that were steadily beginning to dry in the hot sun, but most importantly, leaving a rather peculiar curiosity nesting inside his heart that motivated him once more to feel the need to know her, whoever she was for that matter.
He finally lifted and as he walked over to very place where she had disappeared from sight, he found one of her radish-like earrings that she had worn just a couple of minutes before. He picked it up, analyzing it inquiringly and then stuffed into his pocket.
He headed to the house hoping to get a glimpse of her to return the piece of jewelry that she had lost.
“Luna” he called as he entered through the main door, but there was no sound except for his own echo. “Luna” he shouted again, hoping that by increasing the volume she would take notice of it.
Again, no sound…just a blatting silence that wouldn’t have disturbed him on a regular basis. He headed straight to his bedroom thinking to himself that he would give it to her back at dinner. He opened the door of his room and deciding that there was a stiff atmosphere circling between the four walls, he pushed the windows aside to let some fresh air protrude inside. She saw her somewhere in the distance, near the forest, but still close enough for him to guess that indeed it was Luna.
She was talking to Gustav.
A/N A special thanks to jacqueline_noir, jkrowling_fan, xXLuna LovegoodXx, Jaime, Siriuslyinspired, CD Johnson(Craig), Padfoot36, crazy4fred2, chillychick95 and so many others who have written such wonderful reviews and have virtually made my day:D For more info on this story check my Meet the Author page because it's so lonely in there...:)) Hugs:X
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