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Chapter 13 : Stairway to Heaven
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Rolf sat in his room, contemplating the infinite sea stretching before his window, and waiting for Luna to finish the assignments that his grandfather had trusted her with. He wished now that she did not have to work every morning in the office, for they could use that time much more efficiently.
But what really troubled him was the fact that she had to work with Gustav, out of all the people in the world. He hated seeing her off to the ground floor and watching his childhood rival entering the tiny chic office along with his girlfriend. And every time their gazes met, Rolf could swear that Gustav was enjoying a bit too much this situation.
Nevertheless, he smiled as he glanced at his watch only to realize that the afternoon was at its ending and soon enough Luna would put an end to her work and then would head off to see him. The past week with Luna had been perhaps the best in Rolf’s life, although he seldom admitted it, even to himself. He liked her even more than he would let show.
He liked her because she was a free spirit - the kind he longed to be - and because she had a certain gift to calm him when all he felt was anger boiling in his veins. She set him free and regardless of his degree of awareness towards this matter, it made him feel good about himself. He certainly found himself somewhat different when they were together for he had never said the things he said to Luna to anyone and definitely he had never done the gestures he’d do whenever she was around.
He had never been tender towards a woman, had never kissed with such passion and ever since their lips had sealed that day he knew that he could never be like that with another one. Yet, he could hardly understand why he felt that way or why was it that when she called his name, his heart would skip a beat. There were so many enigmas about her, about the way she made him feel that it was difficult not to enjoy the time they spent together. Indeed, she was the long awaited mystery…everything about her intrigued him in such manner that he would often spend his nights contemplating and trying to reveal the mysteries concealed by those mesmerizing blue eyes or to get to the bottom of the secrecy of her delicate hand gestures.
He could sniff the perfume of her hair as he sat by the window, though he knew that she wasn’t in the room. She was somewhere downstairs, probably completing her work and hopefully thinking of him. He looked at his hands-the ones that had held hers, that had caressed the soft skin on her back- and suddenly yearned to watch them snaking around her frail body or moving up and down on her arms.
Rolf abandoned the relaxing sight of the sea and headed towards the corner where all his yet unfinished works rested, covered by rags, so as to not allow Luna to even get a glimpse of them. He sat on his chair and unravelled one of the paintings, hoping to get some inspiration and finish it by nightfall. He picked up his brushes, dipped one of them into the muddy liquid of blue and started dyeing Luna’s dress from the picture.
The scene portrayed a young lady sitting by a big window, with curtains fluttering, wearing a vaporous short dress and glancing pensively at the landscape of the seaside. She was deepened in thoughts and her protuberant wide-opened eyes seemed to be lost somewhere in the distance. He allowed his brush to slide on the canvas, creating different effects on the dress. He smiled as he noticed the fallen-from-the-Moon face expression that Luna so often had when glancing outside the window of his room.
He heard a knock on the door and with a quick movement he covered the painting and allowed whom he knew to be Luna, inside.
“Hey,” he said upon noticing her entering. She leaned over to his side and kissed him while arduously clutching some files.
“What are you painting this time?” Luna asked as she sat on the bed, her bare feet dangling.
“The new one…with you, standing by the window,” he replied and then lifted to join her. “How was work?”
“Very much interesting,” she admitted and then placed the folders on a night stand. “Your grandfather talked to us about Abraxans and Fire-Slugs from Brazil.”
“Abraxans, they’re my favourite. I still remembered the first time I saw one. I was five, I guess, and grandfather took me to Italy where he had a friend who owned a herd. I had shown an interest in them in quite a while and he granted me this joy,” Rolf explained, while stretching on the bed with Luna lounging beside him. “What’s your favourite animal, Luna?”
“Hmmm… I’ll have to say Thestrals.”
“Thestrals, you say?” Rolf asked rather surprised. “Why do you like them?”
“Because they are different and people are afraid of them. You see, back then, when my mother died I was feeling rather down because of it. And one day I took a walk in the forest, near my house and it was then, that I saw them for the first time,” expounded Luna. “When I look at them, knowing the reason why I see them, I feel relieved because even though my mother is dead I still have something to tie me to her. It’s like…”
“Like a bridge between you and her,” Rolf continued.
“Quite true…I see Thestrals because someone I deeply loved is gone. I see them because I remember,” she spoke. “I’m not sure if you understand.”
“I think I do,” he replied pensively, while caressing her pale face. “Even though I’ve never had anyone close to me dying… I presume that Thestrals can make one feel better.”
“Yes and no,” she responded rather melancholically. “But in the end, what’s happiness without bitterness? I’ve learned to value each moment that I’m being granted because they never come back, one can not relive one’s life again…and one never knows; today may as well be the last day of our lives…”
“If today were your final day on earth what would you do?” Rolf asked and she smiled.
“Loads of things…I’d wake up and feel the fresh salty smell of the sea, then I would take a broomstick and fly over the golden fields…I’d go to my friends and hug them, and thank them for everything they’ve done for me,” Luna explained. “And as the night would set in I’d come back to this room to spend my last hours with you…”
“That’s a rather romantic view,” Rolf joked. “Some would do something more interesting than staying with me here.”
“There is no other place I’d rather be right now…” she said and Rolf found himself broad grinning, though at no point had he intended such gesture.
“I’ve got an idea…” he spoke while lifting from the bed quite abruptly. “You said that if today were the last day of your life you’d fly, right?”
“Yes, on a broomstick…but I don’t see what you mean,” Luna replied thoughtfully.
“Well, I thought that maybe we could do it, together,” he said. “But I’ve got something special…more exciting than a broomstick and quite faster.”
“Faster than a Firebolt?” she asked, obviously excited about the prospect.
“Yes, much faster than a Firebolt, though I must admit that my broomstick is the best! However I believe you will enjoy this ride. Come with me…”
He grabbed her hand, gestured her to leave the folders on the bed and then dragged her over to the door. They descended the stairs giggling and then he guided her to another set of steps, most probably leading to the basement. Luna had never been in that part of the house… in fact, she had never assumed that the long corridor on which she now strutted even existed.
Apparently, only the close members of the family knew about it and as Rolf unravelled this little secret, she felt pleased that she was worthy of such revelation. He lightened the tip of his wand, for the dim light provided by the burning candles did not provide enough for them even to step forward properly. They had reached the portrait of Rolf’s great-great-great-great grandfather, a rather chunky man with a long beard and wearing a nice set of green robes.
The black rimmed glasses flaunting on his aquiline nose were elegantly emphasized by a white sparkle dashed on both of the lenses. He seemed to be asleep.
“Good afternoon, Sylvanus,” said Rolf in a high pitched voice hoping that its use would manage to wake his ancestor, who obviously did not enjoy doing anything else but sleep.
“Is this your great-great-great-great grandfather? Mr. Scamander has mentioned him once…” Luna spoke, while glancing at Rolf.
“Yes, that’s him. He discovered the Occamy in one of his trips to India. He had a rather tragic death,” Rolf explained and Luna gaped. “He came across a Nundu in Africa and you know… instantly died. Sylvanus, come on, we don’t have the whole day ahead…”
The chunky man opened one eye and then, at the sight of Rolf, he broad grinned.
“Oh, my dear beloved heir…it’s been a while since we’ve last seen each other. What brings you here? Oh and I see you’ve brought along a nice little lady. Sylvanus Angus Tiberius Scamander, great-great-great-great grandfather of this young man,” he recommended himself in rather pompous manner that managed to make Luna giggle.
“Luna Lovegood, Sir,” she introduced herself, barely controlling an imminent laughter attack.
“I’ve got business that you need not know,” Rolf spoke politely and Sylvanus seemed rather pleased with his inheritor’s response.
“So as custom I must ask you a question in order to grant you access to the vault. I presume you are aware of that, aren’t you?” asked Sylvanus in the same elegant manner that Luna found truly amusing.
“Yes, go ahead… ask me whatever you please,” he replied.
“What animal resembles an overgrown ferret, can talk unlike many other beasts but his vocabulary consists mainly of insults and rude phrases?”
“That’s easy Sylvanus…It’s the Jarvey,” Rolf responded and she smiled. The portrait moved aside revealing a narrow corridor and as Rolf helped Luna mount through the hole exposed, he smirked. “You’re getting rusty…Maybe we should replace your portrait with Great-great Aunt Rhea’s…”
Luna laughed as the chunky man let out a sigh that did not seem to convey offence but a rather a deep sense of comprehension towards what Rolf had just said. He sure thought of himself as rather old too.
“Ingenious,” Luna spoke as the portrait moved on its rightful place again. “It slightly reminds me of Hogwarts… that’s how the Common Rooms and the dormitories are protected. The houses, except for the Ravenclaws, have to give passwords in order to enter their rooms. We had to answer questions but much more profound than the ones that he asked.”
“It was my grandmother’s idea, who actually attended Hogwarts and was a Ravenclaw,” he explained.
“Did she? I didn’t know…” she replied dumbfounded. “What is this?”
“You’ll see, hurry up!”
He rushed her to another door, which he opened by introducing his wand tip where the locket should have been. The door swung open with a creaking sound and as they emerged inside, Rolf ignited some of the old, odd-smelling candles that lay scattered all over the cramped shelves. As the room was bathed in light, Luna gazed around to see what precious possessions lay inside as to require such protection.
The room was very much impressive and apparently stuffed with all types of artefacts: some old, some new, but certainly each valuable in its own sort of way. There was a wizards’ chess set that must have been made quite a while ago and as Luna moved aside to take a closer look, Rolf followed her.
“This was given as a present to Sylvanus himself on his trip to India. It’s quite rare and I presume, expensive. My father is very fond of it. I, personally, like this goblin-made armour. Very valuable nowadays, I guess. It’s been in my family for a century now,” Rolf spoke as Luna listened to him attentively.
“Oh!” she exclaimed as she noticed a large pile of books sitting in a corner. “I guess they are rare, otherwise I don’t understand why they aren’t in the library.”
“True…There are some books here about creatures, some very old indeed. Old manuscripts of my ancestors but they are quite boring. What you should really be interested in are the forbidden ones… we have a couple about the Dark Arts, quite gruesome and disgusting I might say. My Great-great Uncle Desmond read them for his sheer amusement, but he was very much odd. I don’t think you’ll find them amusing… Now, I like this one; it’s about all the greatest families of wizards in history. We’re in there,” Rolf boasted. “It covers our entire blood-line since the very first member, but we weren’t Scamanders back then.”
“What were you called?”
“Haynsworth,” he replied and then moved aside towards a locked cabinet. “Now, inside this cabinet it’s the object of our interest and perhaps, one of the main reasons why this room is protected. Let’s see if I can remember how to open it,” he added dramatically, hoping to increase Luna’s tension. “You see, my grandfather is very fond of mysteries and likes to hide things in places he and only he would know, but he’s always had a soft-spot for me,” he added while scribbling an H on the door, making it swung open.
“Quite predictable…” said Luna, while approaching Rolf. “Everyone could have figured that out after spending some time in your grandfather’s company and seeing the Genealogy Tree of your family.”
“Hmm… you seem to have failed,” he replied playfully. “Luna, allow me to introduce you to the family’s most precious and illegal heirloom: the flying carpet!”
“Oh!” she exclaimed, her eyes opening wide as Rolf pulled out a roller that looked like a regular carpet. He spread it, revealing a luxurious flower pattern and a vivid-coloured margin.
“I’ve never seen one! This is just gorgeous…”
“Care to take a ride with me, young lady?” Rolf asked and she nodded happily.
“But won’t we get in trouble?” she asked suddenly remembering that such items were illegal to use in Britain.
“We’ll use a Dissilusionment Charm…I’m sure you know how to perform one, don’t you? As for my grandfather… what he neglects can’t hurt him,” Rolf assured her and she smiled, grabbing him by the hands and rushing to the door, eager to fly on a magic carpet.
Luna felt the familiar cold overtaking her body as Rolf performed the Dissilusionment Charm on her, after she had initially done it for him. She could not see him now, but before the chillness had reached her fingers, he had already clutched her hand. She smiled, still not realizing that Rolf could not see her face expression.
They mounted on what they both knew to be a flying carpet, now made invisible by means of the same spell and after Rolf patted the front side of the flying item, it took off with such speed that Luna barely managed to grab what appeared to be Rolf’s shirt and steady herself.
The moon had already risen on the first quarter of the sky, but this time it did not seem jealous as Rolf had imagined her to be that night when he had shown Luna the unicorns. That night, it seemed like their accomplice in this little mischief, the one that would discreetly lighten the path they should take and she would carry the secret along as she would fade away along with the dawn of a new day. He felt Luna’s fingers clutching his shirt so forcefully, afraid to let go of him. He could hear her breath accentuating every time the carpet flew higher and he could almost perceive the sound of her heart beating frantically in her chest.
“How do you feel?” he asked. “Should I fly slower?”
“No!” she responded excitedly. “It’s brilliant…Fly faster!”
“You’ve asked for it…hold on tight! Yuhuuu,” he shouted as he hastened the carpet.
Luna laughed as she felt the wind, her skirt and hair fluttering in midair. It felt wondrously to sit there, comfortably seated on the carpet, clutching Rolf, while her feet flanked his hips. They flew over the green flourishing hedges of the neighbours’, over the red roof-tiles of the Georgian houses of the town, over the little Muggle shop where Rolf had bought brushes and all those mesmerizing colours, in which he often painted their lives.
Together they surpassed a noisy flock of sea gulls that had lazily stretched their majestic wings, enabling them a cosy flight. As they emerged from the little town, Rolf handled the carpet towards the right where Luna could clearly see the sea extending in the infinite, somewhere meeting the full moon that seemed to have risen from within the waters. He slowed down as their eyes met the desolate sight of the endless sea and steadily allowed the carpet to lose altitude. Luna bent over and dipped her fingers in the dark water, feeling them slightly warmer.
She felt Rolf suddenly shifting position as they glided serenely over the calm surface of the sea and as she tried to make out his intentions, he took his wand out from the pocket and muttered something that Luna couldn’t understand. He then removed the Dissilusionment Charms of them and as his handsome traits were steadily revealed, Luna noticed that he was clutching something in his hands.
“Look,” he then said. “I’ve summoned it from the bottom of the sea. It’s yours,” he explained while giving her a hollow turquoise shelf. She took it with her shaking finger and analyzed it in the pale light of the moon. It felt soft, like silk, and the colour was nothing like Luna had ever seen. She pressed it to her chest as though feeling very much fond of it and then placed it into her little bag.
“Thank you,” she replied and then kissed him on the right cheek, like children did whenever they received a gift. “It’s beautiful…I’m going to make a necklace of it, or a bracelet. I’ve yet to decide.”
“You do your jewelleries all by yourself?”
“Sometimes,” she replied melancholically, suddenly remembering that she hadn’t done anything for quite a while now. “This bracelet was given to me by Hermione… But the necklace,” she said pointing at the butterbeer-cork jewel flaunting around her neck. “I did this one…it keeps the Nargles away. And the earrings are actually made of Dirigible Plumps, which enhance the capacity to perceive the extraordinary. Wearing them it’s like being bit by a gnome every day.”
“A gnome?” he laughed heartedly but she didn’t seem to be bothered by his sudden burst.
“Yes,” she replied. “Don’t you know that a gnome’s saliva possess a substance that allows us to become more aware of our inner magical abilities?”
“I didn’t know, actually,” he spoke kind of abashed by the situation. “It’s getting chilly…let’s go home.”
She nodded and as Rolf performed the Charm on her again, she reached out to him and hugged him. He smiled and then went on ensuring that she was perfectly confined from unwanted looks that would certainly bring them a lot of trouble.
Luna had just reached the kitchen when Igor, one of Mrs. Scamander’s favourite house-elves apparated. Luna flinched as she heard the familiar snap that accompanied the process and as she turned around she was greeted by the scrawny little creature that resembled so much to the one she had back home.
“Good evening, Miss Luna,” he said politely and bowing humbly. “What can Igor do for the young lady that Master Rolf is so fond of?”
Luna blushed at the hearing of his words but managed to control her urge to ask him how he had figured it out. “Master Rolf would like something to eat and asks if perhaps you would trust him one of the bottles that Mr. Scamander keeps locked in the cellars…”
“Oh, of course Miss Luna… Igor would be more than pleased to cater to Master Rolf’s wishes. Igor will send them to the bedroom in an instant,” the elf said and then prepared to disapparate.
“Igor,” Luna spoke loud.
“Yes, Miss Luna.”
“Did Mr. and Mrs. Scamander say anything about us missing dinner?”
“Igor is not allowed to speak of his Masters’ businesses but Igor can truthfully claim that it was all for the good,” the elf explained, much to Luna’s disappointment and then disapparated.
She returned to Rolf’s room with mixed feelings going round in her heart but at the sight of him, walking along the narrow dimly lit corridor in the same direction as she did, she felt all the contradictions fading away. He smiled and then invited her to enter the room where they had spent their time together for the past weeks. As he opened the door for her, she noticed a silver platter containing the things that Luna had asked Igor for, plus a little bowl full of strawberries.
“Compliments from the house-elves I guess,” Rolf joked while tasting a nice big crimson strawberry that looked delicious. “And let’s see what else we have got here…Caerphilly, flap-jacks, salmon grill and pudding…”
“Pudding…my favourite,” Luna exclaimed, clapping her hands. “I used to eat it until I’d burst out, when I was at Hogwarts. The house-elves were very good at it… Poor Dobby,” she said rather down.
“Who is Dobby?”
“A house elf that Harry freed from the Malfoys and who was later hired at Hogwarts. He died, rescuing me from the Manor, along with the rest of the prisoners. We buried him in Shell Cottage, Bill’s and Fleur’s place…”
Rolf found it somewhat strange that Luna and her friends had cared and mourned for a house-elf. He had never felt close towards any of the elves that his family had used for household during the years. He liked them, thought they were quite smart and reliable but certainly never had he sought in them a companion, like Luna and her friends had done. This was yet another thing that he was learning from her.
“Let’s eat,” he said, trying not to debate much on the elves subject. “This salmon grill looks tempting and the wine is a perfect match for it. Conjure some glasses darling…”
Luna grabbed her wand from behind her ear and instantly made two wine glasses appear out of thin air. She handed him one, while she took the other and as he poured the golden liquid she realized just how good Rolf made her feel. He was kind and quite assiduous as he always seemed to have an ace up his sleeve to amaze her with. He did not resemble any of the guys she had met before and it was in his uniqueness that she found relief. There she was living something extraordinary with someone extraordinary.
She sipped the liquid from her glass, all throughout it gazing at him relentlessly, not knowing what was about Rolf Scamander that made her heart beat so intensely. There was something about those deep green eyes that managed to put a spell on her in such manner, that whenever she would look into them she would forget all about herself. For a split second she would feel like a girl with no past and no future, but with the most exciting present one could ever achieve.
He approached her as she placed her glass on the desk, next to the plates. He cupped her face and suddenly felt a rush of deeply-rooted affection for her. She was beautiful in a natural sort of way – so pure and genuine. He realized then that there was no other person with whom he could share all these moments. She understood him in a way no one had ever done it, and such achievement was essential for Rolf.
He leaned over and kissed her with such passion that for a second Luna thought that he was going to crush her lips. She felt his right arm clutching her tighter and tighter, but at no time did she feel bruised by his forcefulness; it felt good and warm and heavenly in a way she had never experienced an embrace before. His right hand slid down on her neck, caressing the soft skin that felt so tempting every time he would touch it, and then allowed it to glide on her shoulder, slightly discarding the thin strap of her flowery patterned dress.
She opened her eyes and he instantly ceased kissing her rosy lips. She stared at him with such innocence emitting from her big blue eyes that Rolf could not help a dazzled grin to appear on his face. Her hands curled around his shoulders, she closed her eyes again and allowed him to kiss her again, this time inviting him to do it more passionately and recklessly. She unbuttoned his shirt with a sequence of lazy movements and as she removed it from his shoulders, carelessly throwing it on the floor, he pulled her closer, wanting to feel her body glued to his own.
And then, as her fingers twined with the dark strands of his hair, he lifted her with his strong arms, inviting her to wind her legs around his hips. She was astounded by her own daring but despite it, she went on kissing him with the same passion as if it were the last time. He carried her over to the bed without any objection on her behalf and then carefully laid her on the fluffy blanket. He leaned on top of her, supporting his weight on one hand while the other removed the other strap of her dress. She arched her back and he managed to unzip it with such facility, which indicated that he had done the very gesture so many times.
“Luna…” he heard himself whispering.
“Yes,” she replied with the same dreaminess playing in the tone of her voice. “Is it something wrong?”
“No…I mean…” he hesitated. “Are you sure?”
“Sure about what, darling?”
“About this…I mean, there’s no rush, really. You don’t have to…” he replied, quite abashed by his blabbing and lack of proper words that could have diminished the awkwardness of the moment. She noticed his embarrassment and determinedly placed her index finger on his mouth as though pledging him to cease talking.
“Shhh… I am here, aren’t I? It must be because I want to…” she spoke confidently.
He smiled and as she replied with the same gesture, he leaned over kissing her neck and steadily pulling the dress off her. She shivered between his arms and Rolf could not tell at that point if it was on account of the chilly breeze coming through the open window or because she was scared. She could hardly tell that herself.
“It’s going to be alright,” he said, trying to assure himself rather than her.
AN Thank you all for voting this story for the Dobbys! Without your kindest support I would have never enjoyed the honour and joy of having a winner story in the awards. A special and humble thanks goes out to Jacqueline_Noir(my dearest), my May or rozenmaiden, to shadowycorner and silver_and_gold, to bron(who's always reviewing something I've written), to Craig and jkrowlingfan and to so many other people who've been following this story since it's very beginning. This chapter is dedicated to you! Thank you! Roe
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