The girl mumbled something, turned a couple of pages in her magazine, or maybe it was a scientific paper, and put her hand in a pocket to retrieve an old napkin which she put between the magazine before she closed it and turned slowly towards Rolf. Her eyes were still a bit unfocused as if her thoughts were still at what she had been reading, but she replied anyhow.
“Luna Lovegood?” she said absentmindedly. “Yes. Yes that’s me.” Her voice was soft and musical and she smiled vaguely in a way, which Rolf found oddly charming.
She was already turning back when Rolf extended his hand towards her.
“Rolf Scamander,” he introduced himself, trying to force a friendly smile on his face, instead of the probably open mouthed expression he had been wearing.
She took his hand and he noted that hers was much smaller and feeling more fragile than he would have expected from a hand of a war veteran like her.
“Luna Lovegood,” she said vaguely, as if they had not already established that that was her name.
“You’re here for the dragon lecture?” he asked stupidly. Of course she was here for that. Why else would she be sitting on one of the chairs especially put out for that at Flourish & Blotts? He wanted to talk to her however, so he had to come up with something to talk about. He was curious about the girl. She had been in the war against You-Know-Who, and as far as he had heard she had been quite in the middle of it all, and on top of that she was a close friend to Harry Potter. He had also heard about her father Xenophilius Lovegood and read some of his, often very controversial, writings in The Quibbler.
Rolf had of course seen Luna at school, being in the same house with her too, but at that time he had not paid much attention to a younger student like her. He was not even sure if he would have known her name if he had not later seen her picture and name in the papers on several occasions. He was amazed at how small and fragile she looked now. And so young still, even though a few years had passed since the war. She looked nothing like a fighter, and he reminded himself that she had been even younger when she had fought in The Battle of Hogwarts. Had she even been seventeen then?
Luna only nodded softly to his question, before she asked her own, “You are related to Newt Scamander.”
It didn’t sound like a question, but he had a feeling that it was one. A lot of people asked him that question. It was his turn to nod.
“He’s my grandfather. I guess he was the one who made me interested in nature and all kinds of creatures. Of course he’s done some research on dragons too and I’ve heard about all of that, but I want to hear about the new developments too.” He made a sweeping motion around the room to show that this was why he was here.
“That must be interesting. Hearing your grandfather’s stories,” she replied, and there was a bright spark of interest in her eyes. “My father always told me things too. He’s close to a breakthrough in his research about Crumple-Horned Snorkacks right now.” She smiled straight at him now, clearly expecting Rolf to be impressed.
“Crumple... Oh yeah? That’s great. I – I hope he succeeds,” Rolf stuttered. He didn’t want her to realise that he had no idea about what those creatures she had mentioned were. He did not even remember hearing about them. He should read all those books better, or he would never become a good naturalist like his grandfather. Rolf had a bad habit of skimming through the boring chapters in books and thinking about other things when a lecture became boring. He must have missed the Crumpled part of some book.
“Do you know him? You know the Weasleys, right?” he asked, trying to change subject, when he saw the evening’s lecturer, Charlie Weasley, walk towards the front of the room. The Weasley’s were close to Harry Potter and if Luna was too, she might know him. If he remembered correctly, Harry Potter was even engaged or married to a Weasley.
“Oh him,” she replied, following his gaze. “Not so well. I know Ginny and Ron better. They’re my friends.” She smiled as if she was thinking of some happy memory.
Ron Weasley was Harry Potter’s best friend of course and Ginny might be the girlfriend or wife. He did not really remember all of the names connected to Potter that well. He wasn’t that interested in celebrity gossip and he wasn’t that good at names, so things like that often slipped his mind. He was however curious about her Potter and Weasley connections as well as her war experiences, so after nodding, he opened his mouth to ask more about it, but that was the moment Charlie Weasley started to speak and they both turned their attention to him.
Rolf stayed a couple of moments after the lecture to ask some questions from Charlie Weasley, and he noticed Luna Lovegood talking to him too when he was leaving. He had been intrigued by her and was disappointed that he hadn’t had time to talk to her more. But a couple of days later he had already forgotten about the encounter.
That was before he saw her again at next week’s lecture on fairies. Soon he noticed that they were the only two who kept coming to every one of the talks of the lecture series about recent research on magical creatures. Two weeks from their first meeting they talked again and then they started to sit together and talk every week. Slowly he felt like he started to know her, while she still remained a mystery at the same time.
The last lecture in the series had ended, when Rolf walked out of Flourish & Blotts wondering if he would meet Luna Lovegood again. Rolf had been disappointed to notice that she wasn’t there for this last lecture. She was different, but he was intrigued, and somehow he knew that he wanted to see her again. But he could see no reason why they would meet again. If he had an owl, maybe he could write to her, but on the other hand he didn’t know what he would write.
Rolf looked at the owls he could get a glimpse of from Eeylops Owl Emporium for a moment, wondering when he could bring himself to go inside. It was almost two months since his old owl has died and he really needed a new one. In his heart he was however not ready to replace his old friend. His thoughts were interrupted as he bumped into someone and almost lost his balance as the other person tumbled down to the street. It was Luna.
Rolf offered his hand to Luna to help her up, his face cracking into a happier smile than he could quite understand himself.
“Let me help you up, Luna.”
She took his hand and rose up with his help. He bent down to pick up a bag and some alarm clocks she had dropped. One of them was ringing shrilly, and he hit it to quieten it down as he handed it over to her.
“Rolf,” she said.
They looked at each other for a moment quietly; Luna as if it was the most natural thing in the world to do, and Rolf simply lost for words.
“You – you didn’t come today,” he said at last.
She smiled at him. “No. I had work to do.”
There was another long silence and Rolf stepped closer to her, every thought in his head becoming some sort of candy floss-like substance, making it difficult for him to remember where he was coming from, where he was going to and what he wanted to do now. She looked him deep in his eyes before she spoke again and he had a feeling that she could see everything. Everything - which was candy floss right now.
“I’m not busy now,” she said.
Was it an invitation?
“Would you?” he asked her.
“Would I what?” she asked in return. For once Luna Lovegood looked bewildered, and Rolf realised that he had only asked half a question. He could have banged his head against the wall, if that wouldn’t have made him look even more stupid.
“Yeah, sorry. I don’t think I said everything I meant to say.”
“It happens to me too,” Luna interrupted before he had time to continue.
“Would you like to go for a butterbeer or a coffee or something with me?” he finally managed to say.
Her smile was lovely when she nodded. “Do you mean now or later?”
He stepped closer again when he told her, “Now.”
When he pressed his lips to hers, oblivious to his surroundings, the alarm clocks fell to the ground again after a soft gasp from her. There was a moment of only him and Luna; the two of them, this moment, and other moments in the future. Then an alarm clock went off. Rolf had always hated alarm clocks.
“I think you pressed the snooze button before,” Luna laughed.