Chapter 7 : Jealousy
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“Jealousy in romance is like salt in food. A little can enhance the savour, but too much can spoil the pleasure and, under certain circumstances, can be life-threatening.”
Luna had woken the following morning with such confusion nesting in her heart as she had never felt before because even for her taste, the previous night had been rather peculiar. She had always been the type that did not look for answers in the obvious, but rather enjoyed speculating in what was not easily revealed. As she opened her eyes and her thoughts started pressuring her mind, she suddenly wished she could know all immediately. She thought and thought about the events of that night, but today nothing felt easy; she couldn’t possibly understand Rolf’s sudden interest in her for she had not looked for his attention in the first place.
She didn’t mind being the object of someone’s questioning reason, but she knew that Rolf Scamander was surely not the type of person to fall for a girl like her. He was handsome, famous and could be quite the heart-breaker, so Rolf gaining a liking for her was rather strange, even for Luna, who, despite what people had said about her along the years, still thought of herself as being a regular human being. She did not see a true beauty in herself, but certainly didn’t believe that she was ugly either.
She thought of herself as being rather plain in appearance, quite the usual for an eighteen year old girl, and this mere knowledge made her feel good, for she would have rather stood out due to her wits than to her physical features. If she barely bothered about such trivial matters such as a nice face, or a goddess’s body, then Rolf was probably the one person who first took notice of these, completely ignoring the brains issue; and Luna knew perfectly well that such flimsiness was hardly to her liking.
But there was something about that dark haired young man with deep green eyes and flirty attitude that made her heart skip a beat, despite the fact that her mind constantly alerted her that such thoughts of him should be cast aside immediately. She had not come here to fall in love with a man whom she would have never fallen in love in the first place; of course she liked him, it was only appropriate of her to feel such thing, as Rolf was Mr. Scamander’s grandson, and developing an outright dislike for him would prove to be a wrong move for they were bound to live in the same house for quite some time, but was it really a matter of courtesy?
She indulged her mind into believing that indeed her interest in Rolf was provided by common sense and education, but one could easily tell by merely looking at her facial expressions when their eyes met that her feelings were grounded on affection, rather than the casualness of their situation.
Luna had never been the one to alleviate her mind in denials, but then again she had never been at all attracted by a boy, nor been the object of one’s attention. She was as oblivious to these matters of the heart as Muggles were about the Wizarding World. For them, ignorance was blissful, but the Ravenclaw in Luna did not even conceive such fault of the mind.
She had been brought up believing that ‘wit without measure is man’s greatest treasure’, so taking delight in this situation and allowing things to happen without any intervention on her behalf was unacceptable. She could think, and Merlin knew that she had been more than gifted on this regard, but when Rolf looked at her in that so peculiar manner, she suddenly felt like reason had no right to interfere with her mind, or her heart or whatever it was supposed to black out with its persistent questioning.
She rose from her bed and glanced at the clock residing on the desk, only to notice that she had hardly slept. It was six in the morning. She gazed around, looking for her wand, and as she realised that she was still in her tent, she sighed. A part of her wished she had come back to the Scamander house where she could bury herself in contumelious amounts of paperwork, without even seeing Rolf for a whole day because he would spend his time in the company of his popular friends. And then, she would feel more like herself again, she would cease her queries about whether she had changed so little in just one night, while the memory of his hand printed on hers would no longer make her feel so weak and ignorant.
She silently recalled the events of that night while washing her face in front of the hanging mirror. Rolf had taken her to see unicorns; she remembered the look upon his face as she illuminated the tent to see who had awoken her, his hand reaching out for hers while asking her to trust him, the chillness of the night, the dirty path that they had faithfully pursued through the depth of the forest and the little pond where she had seen the unicorn’s reflection.
She had touched them, had ran her long fingers through the white strands of hair that reminded her so much of her mother’s. And then she had spoken to him of things that she would talk about in any given circumstance, regardless of the audience, but he sure was no regular conversation partner.
She glanced at her reflection in the mirror and smiled at realising that she still looked like the Luna she knew, despite sharing the concern that maybe the inner side of her was different. How should she behave today? Deciding not to trouble herself with such difficult question, she headed towards her trunk to pick an outfit for that day, which was bound to alienate her for a brief time from the many questions that kept on forming in her head.
She settled for a pair of jeans, a white t-shirt and the flat shoes she had worn on her graduation day. She pulled her hair in a Chinese bun, using her wand to secure it, as per usual, and reckoning that it was still chilly outside, she grabbed a purple knitted cardigan and without bothering to check her appearance in the mirror, she emerged from her tent, only to notice Gustav and Mr. Scamander in front of the fire, enjoying breakfast.
Rolf was still in his room, even if he had long woken up - or better said, even if he hadn’t been able to put his eyes together all throughout the night. He lay in his bed, tucked beneath the blanket, where his grandfather’s eyes couldn’t possibly notice that he was wide awake and ready to head off to wherever he had planned to go that day. He had heard Gustav and his grandfather emerging from the tent only minutes before, so, content that he didn’t have to leave the cosiness and security provided by his favourite pillow yet, he dared to look up and reach for his trousers. He rummaged through the pockets, trying to find Luna’s earring, the one she had allegedly lost that day when he had discovered the mystery confined in her blue eyes as they had watched him across the fountain.
He analyzed it carefully, taking care not to break it and then fondly clutched it into his palm, in the exact place where her hand had rested the night before. He opened his fist, revealing the radish-like jewel. It was strange, albeit childish and playful. It was like Luna, frank and utterly unpredictable, yet forever charming and challenging. How could a human being encapsulate so many discrepancies and still preserve the balance that Luna never seemed to lose, no matter how the events unfolded, despite their unforeseeable character. She was the unknown quantity that threatened to blot out the entire mathematical equation in which his life had transformed.
He lived by certain rules, imposed by his own cogitation; rules that he could not abate from for fear that it might disrupt the natural order of his universe. He liked having a general outline that he had drawn himself, because it made him feel free, even though he knew that he was merely taking delight in a sweet obliviousness; by merely bearing the name Rolf Scamander he could never truly be liberated. He thought of her again, like he always seemed to be doing ever since that night when he had watched her from the intimacy of his room, thus invading her own, when he had silently seen the fluttering scarf estranging from her, bringing about both easiness and that melancholia that he had guessed at the sight of her gleeful eyes.
But as the mere memory of that night pierced his thoughts again, he wondered why she intrigued him in such manner as to allow himself to occupy his mind so often with the recollection of her face. He admitted that he liked her, more than just in a friendly way, but at the same time the acknowledgment of this issue troubled him. If one would have told him a month prior to their meeting that he would gain a peculiar and intoxicant interest in a girl like Luna, he would have laughed and mocked endlessly. He, Rolf Scamander, interested in her?
But now that he had met her, that he had dwelled on several enigmatic events in which she had played the leading role, he couldn’t even make a grimace to resemble a smile. He was hardly the man that he had seen reflecting in the mirror just yesterday; a week seemed like a fair amount time to allow drastic changes of behaviour and character, so the question lingering on the back of his mind was that if after the days and nights that had elapsed since their meeting, could he still be Rolf Scamander?
The radish earring still rested on his palm, and as he watched it glittering in the purple light of the morning, he wondered why he hadn’t returned it to her just yet. He could have done it the night before, when he had taken her to see the unicorns. He could have reached for his pocket, taken the earring out, given it back to her as she sat tucked in her blanket and she would have thanked him. She would have smiled, in that so delightful manner, and he would have cocked his eye brow fancifully, pretending that the action of preserving the piece of jewellery had been a mere trifle. But he hadn’t done any of those, and keeping the earring had most certainly been by far a challenging task.
Nevertheless, he reckoned that he shouldn’t bother his heart and mind with “what if”, and instead of pursuing the line of cogitation that Luna’s attitude would always manage to knit around his mind, like a spider’s web, he decided that it was far better to leave his bed and join Gustav and his grandfather outside. He placed the earring in the same pocket where it had resided ever since the finding, and as he rose from the bed he gazed up at the clock to see what time it was.
“Seven,” he whispered to himself as his feet touched the floor. He looked around, hoping to find his trunk, though he could hardly remember where he had placed it upon his settling in.
He noticed Gustav’s bed was neatly arranged, the sheets covered by a red blanket and the elegant manner in which he had placed the pillows upon it made him smile in a mocking sort of way. Gustav and he had grown up together, but they had hardly got along well. Their relationship was rather odd at some points, for they could neither be called friends nor enemies.
There had always been some sort of a rivalry between the two, even from infancy, and apparently the competition was far from being over as they had reached adolescence, and now early adulthood. In fact, one could easily notice the degree of apathy between Rolf and Gustav by merely looking at them; they were aboveboard about their differences and any occasions for them to show just how skilled one was and how inapt the other appeared was more than welcomed.
Their grandfathers’ friendship had not managed to indemnify the two young men for their lack of joint views. They were different and were not prone to camouflage it; on the contrary, they made it obvious even in times where there was no need to rival.
Rolf headed towards the place where he remembered to have last seen his trunk, and upon finding it in a dark corner he dragged it along the floor with his wand and placed it near his bed. He opened it by swishing his hand over the locks and then rummaged through the many layers of clothes and purposeless items alike in order to find suitable attire for the upcoming day. He got dressed quite fast, and after pulling a sweatshirt over his shoulders he proceeded outside.
And there she was, as beautiful as she always appeared to be in his mind, with her eyes gazing dreamily at…Gustav. Rolf frowned. He had noticed lately that his childhood and lifelong rival had gained the same interest in the girl that he had laid eyes upon. He watched her with the same inquisitiveness and same desire to get to the bottom of her secrecy; he offered his help whenever she would seem in need of a hand and more than once had Rolf noticed him eyeing her at dinner, from across the table.
He didn’t know if he was merely doing it on purpose, because he had realised what an effect she had on him, but Gustav would not have the last word in this confrontation. Quite calm, and overly self-assured as he always was, he stepped forward and sat across from them, next to his grandfather who was indulging himself with a pipe.
“Good morning, Rolf…” Mr. Scamander said, and Luna gazed up from her plate to get a glimpse of him. “How did you sleep?”
“Quite well,” he replied while eyeing Luna, who turned her gaze around and instead of looking at him, she focused on whatever Gustav was saying.
“You went out last night,” Gustav added, smirking. “I woke up at midnight and noticed that your bed was empty.”
“I couldn’t sleep so I went out for a walk…” he blurted, never ceasing to look at a now blushing Luna. “I didn’t know that I had to report to you if I had insomnia, I shall remember to do so next time.”
Mr. Scamander shook his head as though disapproving of their behaviour, but at that point, even Luna, who as always was caught up in a state of utter obliviousness, could tell that it would take more than a gesture to end their acid exchange of replicas.
“Luna, dear…” Newt said, as he pushed his plate aside. “Could you please give me today’s schedule?”
“Of course,” she replied, before leaning over to take some papers from her bag. “Here you go.”
Mr. Scamander looked at the piece of parchment, every once in a while twisting his moustache in a pensive manner that amused Luna. He looked up through his monocle to see if the tension between Gustav and Rolf had dissolved, but the glances they’d still throw each other were no omens of peace. He sighed, defeated, and then focused on examining the parchment before him, without even bothering to show the least interest to what was happening around him. After some minutes of cogitation, he folded the parchment and then shoved it into one of the pockets.
“Shall we?” he asked, and then lifted rising from his place.
“Where to, Mr. Scamander?” Gustav inquired, while Rolf and Luna both abandoned their spots without further ado.
Mr. Scamander let out a chuckle and as he picked up his sack he spoke, “To find some extremely beautiful, yet dangerous magical creatures, Gustav. You didn’t think we were going on a holiday, did you?”
The young man, who this time had chosen a slightly more appropriate outfit, smiled and then rose from his chair as well. He grabbed his classy case and approached Luna, hoping to spend the journey in her company, much to Rolf’s dismay, as he preferred staying behind, rather than walking beside the group.
He watched Gustav talking vividly to Luna, she smiled and nodded approvingly, every once in a while losing her gaze into the depth of the horizon towards which they were heading. She looked pretty in those jeans and the knitted cardigan that she would most certainly dispose of once the afternoon sun would shine on the sky. Gustav said something to which Luna laughed, and to better seal the degree of her amusement, at what appeared to Rolf as a joke, she affectionately brushed his arm.
At witnessing such a scene, that to Rolf appeared genuinely erotic, he felt compelled to do something to cut the evil from its root. He didn’t know what had determined him to want to take action, but the boiling in his veins told him that it was the right thing to do. He couldn’t allow Gustav, of all people, to take what he had rightfully claimed his own. Luna was his sudden interest; he was the only one entitled to reveal the secrets behind her lost gaze. Him, and no-one else.
He could outdo Gustav in any given field and he most certainly wouldn’t stand a chance in romance, or whatever this was. It would have to be subtle and thoroughly planned; he needn’t take any action now as it would have come as a rude thing. He reckoned that by having Luna as she was, he could not appeal to the tricks that worked for the vast majority of women. He would have to rely on his astuteness and intelligence, and mostly he would have to play his cards better than Gustav. He smiled evilly to himself and continued to watch Luna from a safe distance, all this time planning and making up all sorts of scenarios.
They had reached a glade when Mr. Scamander abruptly stopped and asked his students and grandson to keep silent for a while. Luna smiled and nodded approvingly, and together with Gustav and Rolf, who had kept a low profile so far, followed the man towards a blossoming bush that reminded her of the one she had seen in the forest, near the pond. She stepped forward with such a delicacy, afraid to make any sound but the natural ones.
Her mind was still stuffed with all sorts of random thoughts, most of them concerning Rolf, and for a brief second she feared that the rumbling going around her head could be heard by the others as well. Not wanting to dwell just yet on the various reasons why Rolf had not spoken to her all morning, she approached Mr. Scamander as he put aside some of the branches of the bush. He signalled her to look forward and as she leaned over, she noticed a scrawny looking bird, very much resembling a vulture, with greenish-black feathers and a large beak.
The group studied the awkward bird, making some brief annotations about it on their respective pieces of parchment, and after everyone declared satisfaction with their notes, Mr. Scamander led them to a remote place, where their voices could not scare the animal away.
“Now…can anyone tell me what that creature is?” he asked whilst leaning casually on a rock.
“That’s an Irish Phoenix,” Gustav spoke up confidently.
“Also known as an Augurey,” Rolf cut him off. “It’s native to Britain and Ireland .”
“It was once believed that his mournful cry was a death omen, but…” Gustav went on talking, ignoring what his rival had said.
“Recent developments suggest that it actually predicts rain, the only time when the Augurey flies…” Rolf cut him off, making both Mr. Scamander and Luna smirk.
“And what do they feed with, Luna?” Mr. Scamander asked, hoping to cease the little competition between his grandson and the son of his old friend.
“It eats insects and fairies…” she responded in her habitual dreamy voice.
“Would you qualify them as dangerous?”
“No more than a Wrackspurt, Sir…” she replied and Mr. Scamander smiled.
“A Wrackspurt, Luna? What are those?” Gustav inquired and Rolf grinned, thinking that being ignorant was not the best way to gain her interest.
“It’s quite an interesting creature, if you ask me… They’re invisible, so we wouldn’t be able to see them, but one can sense if they’ve been attacked by them. They float into the ear and make your brain go fuzzy…” she explained and Rolf jumped to the conclusion that indeed Gustav must have had one in his head ever since birth.
“Gustav,” Mr. Scamander said, hoping that by naming his students, no quarrels would arouse. “How many types of fairies do you know?”
“Four, Sir…” he spoke, while defiantly eyeing Rolf. “The Doxy, the Imp, the Leprechaun and the Pixie. They look like perfectly formed humans with wings that resemble those an insect may have.”
“They are extremely proud creature, sometimes to the point of being terribly conceited,” Rolf continued without any intervention from Mr. Scamander, who was just happy that his grandson still knew so much about magical creatures.
“The same could apply to you,” Gustav joked, hoping that it would spurt some giggles, but it failed to do so.
Luna did not dare to look at Rolf, knowing that he would most certainly be extremely upset, and if there was one thing she could not stand at that moment, was seeing his cold stare which reflected a side of him that she neither wanted nor wished to experience, for she knew that it would only increase the distress in her heart. She knew that Gustav’s joke had its fair share of truth but with the many doubts troubling her, she did not wish to add another one to an already endless list that noted his flaws and virtues.
Yes, he was spoiled and conceited, but he also possessed a kind and sensitive heart that allowed him to see the world in a delightful manner. ‘There are too many contradictions blending and repelling each other in Rolf,’ she thought, as she finally looked up from her piece of parchment.
Rolf turned around and glared at Gustav whilst stepping forward, trying to approach him.
“At least I don’t take my ballroom shoes along on a field trip,” he replied mockingly, and as the words left his mouth, he walked past Gustav without even bothering to glance at him.
Rolf drifted away from the glade where the group stood and then proceeded forward to seek some peace. He sat on the edge of a big rock, keeping the gathering in his sight, specifically Luna, who seemed to have disregarded the little discussion and as always had confined herself to analyzing some of the papers. He glanced down and noticed a little iris flower, blossoming at the bottom of the rock. He picked it up and smiled to himself, in an evil manner.
“Gustav,” he whispered to himself. “If I’m not enjoying this trip, then neither shall you…”
The group was silently eating in the glade, enjoying lunch on a fluffy blanket that Luna had brought along. After several inquiries, Rolf had been finally convinced to join them, and as he sat next to Luna, he noticed that Gustav’s case was open. Gustav still had his strange routines, like he had had as a child. He would never drink anything that had not been made by his own hands, or at least under his careful eye… so just like the usual, he had brought along a handful of tea leaves and herbs to make the habitual five o’clock tea. Rolf smiled in the same evil manner, and as Gustav turned around to talk to Mr. Scamander, he slipped between the leaves one belonging to the iris flower that he had picked up only hours before.
He knew that iris leaves were poisonous, but certainly not lethal in any way. The only thing they could cause was a sudden digestive discomfort, which was only natural every once in a while.
After having successfully achieved his goal, Rolf gladly continued to enjoy the sandwich that Luna had so carefully prepared for him. His eyes fixed Gustav, waiting any minute for him to pick his case and start fixing some tea for himself. His assumptions proved to be correct, and as Gustav blended the brew, he could hardly contain laughter.
It had only taken a few minutes for the poison to have an effect on him… his face had become yellowish all of a sudden, he accused some horrible stomach aches and nausea. Rolf sniggered to himself without anyone noticing, and after helping Gustav to sit down, he confined himself with some of the sketches that Luna had done of the Augurey, completely ignoring the situation around him.
“How are you feeling, Gustav?” Luna asked worriedly.
“Not so good,” he managed to mumble.
“I think this trip is over for us,” Mr. Scamander said, and then gestured to Luna to fetch him a tea cup.
Together, they took a Portkey to base camp without any further ado, except maybe from Gustav’s occasional mumbling and complaints, and perhaps Rolf’s sniggers, that at that point could hardly be controlled. Luna seemed to have not taken notice of who had been the responsible for Gustav’s situation and, in her habitual ignorance regarding the obvious, she headed back to her tent, explaining that she was rather tired and was in most need of some rest.
In fact, she could hardly bear to stand in Rolf’s presence without at least exchanging a few glances. She did not understand his behaviour, his sudden decision not to talk, or even look at her for that matter, but she hoped that after some well-deserved rest, the answers would start coming easily. Little did she know, that from that moment on, nothing related to Rolf would come easily…
A/N As I promised I posted this chapter faster… Anyway, again lots of thanks to my Beta xXLuna_LovegoodXx for doing all the necessary corrections in this chapter and to my great reviewers who are the best in the world. I hope you like this as well, as it has that little Gustav/Rolf showdown that I’ve been talking to you about for ages now. Let’s see what you think of this:D
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