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Chapter 9 : Love is a catching disease
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“How did it happen that their lips came together? How does it happen that birds sing, that snow melts, that the rose unfolds, that the dawn whitens behind the stark shapes of trees on the quivering summit of the hill? A kiss and all was said.”
His lips were still rubbing against hers but she could barely make a movement out of sheer surprise. She felt them…they were soft, thin and moistened by the heavy rain that had soaked them through their bones. His tongue looked for hers and instinctively she lost herself into his games, repeating his gestures, adjusting her head position according to his, closing her eyes and silently enjoying the sweetness of his mouth. His left hand arduously grabbed her frail waist and pulled her closer to him. Rolf felt her shivering under his tight clutch and cupped her face, running his long fingers through her wet hair.
Luna did not know what pushed her into doing it, but she lifted her arms, curling them around his shoulders while her fingers looked for the dampness of his black hair. She felt drips of rain running down on her face – the same ones that had soaked his forehead. They slid down on her cheeks, cold and perfectly shaped, then reached the crevasse between her nose and the flesh stretching above her lips and as she tilted her head to the left, they slipped between their intertwined lips. He welcomed the cold drip on his upper lip, for the fire burning their mouths could use a faint of chill. Her fingers awkwardly fondled his hair, clumsily even at some point, but it felt wondrously to Rolf, in a way he had never experienced it before. Their breaths accentuated, but the obvious failure of their lungs did not seem to be reason good enough to cease with the kissing.
For the first time in years, Rolf didn’t know what to do with his hands as there were so many things he would have liked to feel… like the dampness of her blonde hair, the softness of her cheek, the shivering of her body as he would run his fingers through her back, outlining the spine. But somehow his fingers did not see to want to leave the arch formed by her naked shoulder and the tilted head. The flesh covering it was soft like satin, intriguing in a way he had never thought human skin could be; it nurtured his appetite for discovery, for thrills and adventure. He had kissed before, many times even and many women, but not even once had a mouth bestowed him with such feelings. No lips seemed to have tasted so good, no touch had ever matched hers and most certainly never had his heart pounded so fast, as her hands had slid down on his broad shoulders.
He slowed down the pace of their kiss while she performed the same movements with less fierceness, feeling that she should adjust herself to his needs and wishes. Silently, without any verbal or gesticulatory agreement between them, they eased down their breathing until their lips unclasped from their perfect intertwining. He bore his nose on her cheek, upon slightly lifting his head, and her hands glided on his shoulders, then on his arms until she had restored them to their rightful place, next to her own body. She could feel his breath warming up the white flesh stretching across her face. Their lips were slightly close to one another, but they weren’t rubbing against each other anymore; instead they just shivered as the big drops that fell from their hair, slid along their spines.
Luna opened her big blue eyes, but they did not seem to perceive any real image, except for the blurry green surrounding a black pupil: his wide open eye. He blinked and the mere fluttering of his eye lashes caressed her cheek in a fondly manner that let Luna know that their kiss would not be regarded as an accident later. His fingers outlined the shape of her shoulders, lightly pressing on the clavicle and then caressing the soft skin stretching on her arms. His hands grabbed hers, and as their fingers intertwined in a perfect clasp he lifted his head with his eyes still fixing hers.
They looked at each other for a couple of minutes, not knowing what to say. He didn’t know what to believe, she could hardly refrain herself from stating her feelings. His mouth did not seem to want to speak, while hers was barely controlling from uttering the nonsense going on in her head. He hoped she said something first…anything that would eventually engage him in a conversation without having to explain, even to himself, what the kiss implied. She wished he muttered something that would clarify their situation…even a barely perceptible humming would do at that moment, just not this blatting silence that threatened to take the magic away from them.
“I’m hungry,” he said, partly ashamed that such a simple statement would start their very first conversation.
“Me too,” Luna replied.
Rolf leaned over and picked his rucksack from the ground, where he had dumped it upon reaching the shelter provided by the thick bushy branches of the tree. He had not cast a waterproof spell on it and everything inside seemed to have lost their habitual properties. The blank notebook was not in any way good for writing, the quills were of no use now and the packages that had once contained food were stuffed with a rotten matter that did not appear eatable. He showed her the inside of his rucksack and Luna smiled while picking up the items that could no longer be useful, putting them on the ground. She would set them on fire later.
“What are we going to eat?” she asked while glancing again at the neat pile of uneatable food.
“Have you ever been on a hunt?” Rolf replied, and she shook her head. “Well, what do you fancy?”
“Fish,” she spoke and then approached him again. “Fish with lemon and rice and pumpkin pie…you?”
“Hmmm… duck with vichyssoise and red Bourgogne wine,” he replied and then smiled. “But since we’re in the middle of nowhere and the closest variant to a real meal is the one proposed by you… I guess you’ll get your wish, except for the lemon thing, rice and pumpkin pie.”
“Sounds wonderful,” said Luna, as he clutched her hand. “But how are we going to do this?”
“Not the wizard way, anyway… Besides, the map that Grandpa gave us had a nice little river drawn all over it…”
She smiled and as he picked up his empty rucksack they proceeded together towards the core of the forest where Rolf remembered that a river must be.
They had been walking along the narrow path, streamed by all sorts of bushes and tall trees that sheltered them from the rain. His hand had never brought so much confidence and warmth; his fingers were clasping hers so forcefully that at some point she felt them numb, but under no circumstances did Luna feel the need to make him cease that action. It felt good and refreshing in a way a man’s clutch had never appeared to her – not that any of the moments when she had grabbed someone by the hand had had a romantic connotation.
He walked determined towards a place he had never seen with the naked eye and as she followed him along, he felt like he was in charge of everything; he was the only one who knew all there was to know, he would guide her to the food source, he would show her things that she had never seen, he would introduce her to a marvelous new life and Luna would listen to him. Some sort of a manly, egoistic pride invaded his being and he smiled to himself as this mere thought crossed his mind. He had never been the type to brag about his abilities and knowledge, but somehow nothing seemed to be the same when he was with Luna. And from that moment on he would be with Luna…
She paced up her walking, thus managing to reach his side and as their gazes met they smirked at each other in a childish manner that could only be attributed to the fervent kiss they had shared only a couple of minutes prior to those events. He stopped and she did the same. He tilted his head to the right and so did she, though she had no idea as to why he was performing the action. They stayed in silence for a while and as Luna focused on the irritable hush, she made out the sound of water splashing on rocks somewhere farther in the distance. Rolf smiled and then dragged her along towards the source of the mesmerising noise.
The river ran sinuously between the grey rocks, marking the abrupt passing from water to the sandy bank that seemed to stretch endlessly, meeting somewhere in the infinite with the horizon line that Luna so often contemplated. He beheld the hypnotic carousel ride that the water seemed to make between the heavy rocks and abandoned his hearing sense to the rippling produced by the miniature waterfall artfully designed by the landscape. He now remembered why he had enjoyed the trips with his grandfather as a child.
It was all about being in the wild, tasting and living nature…about discoveries and acquiring knowledge that could not be picked up from a book. It was about the peaceful chime of birds singing in the trees, about the sight of a serpentine river watering the grounds, the smell of rain and the strange flavour that relished his tasting sense.
“This place is wonderful,” she said as her hand left his. She stepped forward, carefully marching towards the bank where the trees could not protect her from the rain.
“You’re going to catch a cold Luna,” he replied and she turned around.
“It stopped raining. Look!” she murmured while pointing at the sky, to show him that the grey clouds had evanesced and instead had left behind a sparkling sun. “Come on up here.”
He nodded and followed her, attentively prancing between the rocks until they had reached a plain surface where they could fish silently and in peace. They sat on the hard surface that was bound to give them back aches later and as they took their wands out at the same time, they burst into laughter.
“You’re mimicking me,” Rolf joked, while examining his wand to see if the rain had in any way degraded its aspect.
“No, I’m not,” she replied, while performing the exact movements as he did. “You’re just reading my mind…”
“It’s called Legilimency, but I’m afraid I don’t possess this gift, talent, aptitude… you can call it as you want,” Rolf admitted.
“How are we going to this? Accio?” Luna asked and he shook his head.
“No, definitely not using magic… Wizards are a bit lazy don’t you think? They don’t even bother to go by themselves to fetch some coffee, because they can use accio!” he complained, while gesticulating in a manner that made Luna laugh. “We’re going to do it the muggle way…It’s so much funnier and relaxing.”
“Teach me how,” she said.
“May I?” he asked, while pointing at her wand.
She nodded and then trusted it to him, without even realizing that it was the first time that she bereaved herself of the wand. It had been her faithful companion over the years, it had proven to her that she possessed abilities that others didn’t, it had helped her fight for her life in the final battle and in the end it was that wand that had brought her to the Scamander house. She watched him wrapping a thin shred on the tip of her wand, took a look at the knot and then smiled satisfied. She grinned and as he went on, performing the same sequence of actions on his own, she turned around supporting her body weight on her arms and pointing her gaze towards the glittering sun that had recently emerged from between the grey clouds. She closed her eyes and allowed the hot rays to dry her clothes and hair, while her bare arms seemed to have been blazed by the same ravishing heat provided by the diurnal celestial entity.
“You always seem to lose your gaze into the distance…” he spoke. “What do you think about?”
“Many things… sometimes I think about my life, sometimes about my friends and sometimes I remember,” she answered.
“About your life, you say?” he went on with his questioning while handing her the wand that he had so artfully transformed into a line with a little worm acting as bait at the end of the thin thread hanging from the tip.
“Yes, I think about my family, the paths that I once took and those that I am about to pursue…about my goals and the decisions that allegedly can change my life,” she replied. “Anything… sometimes I even think about the future.”
“Keen on Divination?” he asked while cocking his left eye brow in disbelief.
“Not really…” she spoke while imitating the manner in which he had maneuvered the line. “I appreciate it as a form of art, I believe that there are people who possess the gift but I don’t want to think of my life as being already decided for me. I’ve been through enough as to realize that the unpredictable is what makes it all worth.”
He smiled for he quite agreed to her explanation. It was the inscrutable that had drawn him to her in the first place, that look in her eyes that did not reveal anything of herself, that fluttering red scarf that had flown away bringing along even more confusion to him… she was so much more than a couple of tea leaves spread in a cup, or some thin fog glowing in a crystal orb or the alignment of the stars at the time of her birth.
She was unique in her own sort of way, and such particularity of the mind could be bedighted by mere trying to guess what the future held for her. It appeared to Rolf, that Luna was the type of person who always knew exactly what she wanted, but certainly would not refuse to stray from her choices if the situation required it. She knew exactly who she was and she was not afraid to show it, whereas he only knew what he did not want to become. He had no goals to pursue and had only outlined those that he would never seek. There were so many discrepancies between them but it was in this simple contradiction of characters that Rolf found peace and comfort. He was someone because Luna was his reverse…
“And your friends, do you miss them?” he asked again.
“Quite a lot I must say…but I know that if I remember them, they’ll never leave my side. Such thoughts bring people closer. Back in my sixth year I was kidnapped on the train back home by some Death Eaters, because my father had written some articles that supported Harry and his cause against Voldemort,” she explained and he leaned on his left arm, all this time maintaining eye contact. “I spent six months in a dungeon beneath Malfoy Manor…and I thought of them, I worried about them and one day, when all hope seemed to have died away, they came and rescued me.”
“I wish I had friends like that,” he said. “Tell me something about them.”
“Well,” she began. “There’s Ginny, she’s Harry’s fiancée… she was in my year, but in Gryffindor. She’s very funny and beautiful…and plays Quidditch. Harry, well everyone knows him, but not the way I do. He’s shy and kind-hearted, brave and has that certain disregard for rules that got him into trouble quite often. He and Ginny are getting married this year.”
“Do they? I didn’t know that he was engaged. When is the wedding?”
“In September, on the first…They’re also celebrating the first time they met, some eight years ago,” she said and he smiled. “And then there’s Ron, Ginny’s brother and Harry’s best friend. He’s quite a nice fellow but lacks self esteem sometimes though since the final battle he’s changed for the good. Hermione is his girlfriend… we didn’t get along that well during school, because she’s a bit close-minded,” she spoke while lowering the pitch of her voice as though confessing a big secret.
“Aren’t we all at times?” he replied pensively.
“True…but she doesn’t believe that Nargles exist!” Luna exclaimed.
He laughed at the sight of her face expression, betraying some sort of bewilderment combined with the disappointment of finding out that sometimes people can be so ignorant.
“But she’s more tolerant these days,” she concluded. “And Neville, he’s a wonderful person…Ginny and him helped me to sabotage the Death Eaters that had taken over the school after Dumbledore’s death…He was so brave in the final battle, he defied Voldemort in the flesh. People would have never though that someone like Neville could be so courageous.”
She smiled as she remembered those days when one could call Neville Longbottom everything bar brave, as a Gryffindor should have been like. He would have made a great Hufflepuff but somehow the Sorting Hat had decided to place him in the house of Godric Gryffindor, dazzling some people with its choice. But now, after the final battle, no one really dared to contest the aptitudes that had granted him the pride to wear the gold and scarlet emblem on his school robes. He was Neville Longbottom and no longer the clumsy son of two great Aurors.
“I think we should use the Accio in the end,” Luna spoke while glancing at her immobile wand, whose thread had not even flinched since she had thrown it in the water.
She analyzed her wand with such curiosity that simply astounded Rolf. She had obviously seen it and felt its surface for so many years, yet it still preserved the uniqueness, the novelty that seemed to be characteristic of her as well. She could speak to him of everything, on and on without ever stopping and by the end of her retelling there would still be so many things that her mind and heart would still hold. Luna appeared like an everlasting source of knowledge and mystery; when the enigma of life would be long revealed by the humanity, her heart would still conceal the secrecy of her nature, for Rolf knew that something as pure and nonesuch as she was could never run out of puzzles that needed to be solved.
She turned around looking for a nod on his behalf that would allow her to use the Summoning Charm that everyone loved, and fetch their much needed source of food. Instead, he kissed her again.
AN. Sorry for having kept you waiting for so long:( but I've been really busy lately with my exams starting this Monday. This chapter is not beta-ed unfortunately because she is just as busy as I am, but I really wanted to post this because I couldn't keep you guys waiting for too long. Anyway, this is one of three filler chapters that will follow. I hope you like it:P
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