That was the first thing that he noticed about her. The second thing was that he was drooling. The third thing was that she was way out of his league.
Quickly wiping the saliva off his stubbly chin (laziness and a broken razor were to blame) he focused on what his boss said before. But unfortunately, he couldn't.
He was a smart man. Fifteen years ago, he was sorted into Ravenclaw as a young lad, and took a quick interest in animals, not caring if they were magical (dragons) or common (butterflies). He also enjoyed plants, but he often mixed up the Watering Nettle with Poison Ivy, which caused some problems at work.
He was also quite awkward. As a student at the prestigious Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, he knew about Harry, Ron, and Hermione. He also was four years younger than them, which meant that not only was he completely out of their social circle, he was not as cool as they were. He did, however,
work alongside them.
He was a naturalist. More specifically, he was a naturalist who was about to be fired if he didn't bring back a sample of yet another
Watering Nettle (frequently misdiagnosed as Poison Ivy).
That was the precise reason why he was stuck in his office instead of out of a field mission with his new coworker. She also was a Ravenclaw, and she was three years older than him. Normally, that wouldn't be such a big deal, but unfortunately (or maybe fortunately?) for him, she was pretty.
At first, she was annoying. She babbled on and on about creatures, either real or possibly made up. She spoke uncomfortable truths and made strange observations that made him sigh and roll his grey-brown eyes.
But little by little, he started to tolerate her, then enjoy her company. She was elusive, curious, a misty-eyed butterfly who could not be caught in a passerby's net. She was aloof and inquisitive, a mystery that could not be solved, a bird chirping into the wind, and a tree falling in an isolated forest. She was fascinating.
She was also so different than every girl he had ever met. She was very beautiful, but she seemed to not know it at all. She wore no makeup, didn't dress in tight clothes (only odd-coloured robes), didn't gossip, or seem to care what anyone thought. She only wore a braided bracelet around her left wrist.
He started to dig into her past. She was alone and disliked. They stole her shoes, they called her names. She found comfort in animals, ghosts, creatures, classes, and spells. Later, she found true friends, fought in the Battle of Hogwarts, was imprisoned in a rich family's basement, and had a secret boyfriend.
She had a very small family. Just her and her dad, she'd say, and change the subject. From what he could piece together, her mum either left, or maybe died.
Compared to her, he felt uninteresting.
Boring, to say the least.
She didn't think so.
He was messily adorable.
She was observant. She noticed the way his ears twitched when he was nervous, the deep colour of his grey-brown eyes, the messiness of his hair, and the way he looked so smart when he put his glasses on and a pencil behind his ear, ready to take notes upon whatever he needed to take notes on.
She also observed the way he fumbled his words around her and blushed an adorable shade of watermelon-pink and became increasingly awkward. The more awkward he became, the more embarrassed he was about his behaviour, so he seemed to always be a tad twitchy or nervous.
She thought it was cute. To tell the truth, she had never quite fancied anyone. She preferred to be alone in the wild, discovering and exploring, free at last, and she preferred to be barefoot (just another one of her many quirks).
She just couldn't wrap her brain around why he just couldn't talk to her. Day after day, they worked in silence, occasionally making small talk about the plants they worked with, until that one day came. She would remember that day forever (because it was pretty important).
One day, on a sunny April day, when they were watching Mandrakes try to get into each other's pots, he thought he saw her smile at him. Whether he was imagining it or not, he suddenly remembered to finally talk to her. If she turned him down, then he could take the first flight out to Mexico and become a bartender making a few Pesos an hour. He tried to convert that pay into Pounds, and then Pounds into Galleons, but then he remembered the point: ask her to lunch.
That's all, just lunch, no pressure, he told himself, but he was extremely nervous (he didn't know Spanish, only some Klingon and a bit of Gaelic, however he could do a very good Michael Jackson impression, and to top it off, he wasn't sure he could Apparate all the way to Mexico)
"Um, er, hello." he stammered, looking away from her intelligent, owl-like eyes.
"Good day," she said, sounding a bit confused (possibly because it was eleven o'clock in the morning and they had greeted each other at seven when work started).
"Hello." he said abruptly again, and then mentally slapped himself because he was being stupid. "I was wondering--"
"Are you going to ask me to lunch?" she demanded, a bit rudely, but he could tell that she was blushing a bit and her silver eyes were sparkling, which made up for the embarrassing stutter.
"Well, um, yes." he admitted, looking down in shame. Was he that easy to read, or was she just freakishly observant? He told the annoying little voice to shut up. "Does the Leaky Cauldron work? I mean, it's only a bit away from here, and I mean it's a good place, like the have nice cheeses and fresh fruits.." he rambled, practically word-vomiting his guts all over her. He tried to look at other things besides her platinum eyes, so he observed her blonde curls and the fact that they were about the same height, except he was a teeny bit taller. That made him feel better.
"No, not the Leaky Cauldron." she stated, turning her back on him and started stroking the disgusting Mandrake's leaves.
He started freaking out inside his head (Oh no! Time to learn Spanish! Time to trade in two Sickles for every Pound which equals ten Pesos which is one American dollar!). He ran a hand through his brown hair, and his rather big ears started twitching again.
"I wasn't done, there's no need to freak out," she said softly, mud coating her hands and a bit was in her hair and on her face. "What about a picnic?"
He smiled and said something extremely intelligent like, "Okay", but that was fine for him because she smiled and laughed. He did a mental fist pump and they resumed tending the Mandrakes in silence, each nervous about the impending "date".
They spread out a blanket on a hill overlooking London (she said she knew the perfect spot and he agreed that it was amazing) and they began to eat (bangers & mash and a Pepsi for him, packed in a Green Lantern lunchpail, and pudding and a veggie dog for her). They began to make small talk.
He asked if she was a vegetarian. (she was).
She asked if he had heard of a creature called a Nargle. (he hadn't).
She sighed and grabbed his wrist, pulling him into the forest, residue of sausage on his lips and some potatoes were smeared on his hands.
In all of his twenty-something years, he had never seen a place like this. Everything was green. Birds chirped as insects flew past. A cerulean waterfall rumbled in the distance and the light smell of morning dew combined with pine and raspberries tickled his nose in a delightful way. The high noon sun peeked through the moss, illuminating a beautiful and untouched forest spread in front of him. The sun and the shadows combined splashed on her face, making her look like an ethereal sort-of forest faerie. (He wondered if the light of the woods made him look a bit hotter. He is, after all, male.)
"Are you a Nargle?" he asked, crinkling his thick eyebrows.
She laughed a sound of tinkling bells. "Don't be silly, they like plants."
She pointed to a funny little weed hanging on a grand oak.
"Is that a Nargle?" he asked stupidly.
"No!" she said as she laughed, inspecting the little plant. "It's mistletoe."
"Mistletoe in December?" He asked, a bit flattered and slightly surprised.
"Nargles grow in it, they're tiny little creatures, you know." she said, nodding her head at the mistletoe that was hanging over them.
"I didn't know." He replied, inspecting the mistletoe further. "I don't see anythi--" he was cut off by her lips on his.
"Sorry, I've kind of been wanting to do that." she said after they kissed for ten seconds.
"That's cool." he said dorkily, fidgeting with his reading glasses and temporarily forgetting his name. "This is what I've wanted to do."
So they kissed some more, breathing in the fresh mountain air, the sun reflecting off the creek and lighting up the trees. Lunch break was over at least a half-hour ago, but hey, in the land of the wild things, anything can happen. Also, on the bright side, neither of them had to learn Spanish.
A note by the author;
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