Chapter 1 : I Saw Him Once
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The sun blazed beyond the trees and although their wide exotic leaves created a canopy high above the ground, its heat still penetrated causing the air around to be hot and sticky. Dense forest in every direction meant that anyone who dared venture that far into it could only see around ten yards from where they were standing.
Luna eyed her surroundings and decided there was a good a place as any to stop. She shrugged her backpack from her shoulders, sat down on the mossy forest floor and set her bag down in front of her. The sound of the zip on the khaki green bag being opened disturbed the birds that were perched in the tree behind her and they flew from the tree, some squawking though indignant at the disruption. Luna pulled out her water bottle and leant against the thick tree trunk behind her as she took a long drink. She returned the bottle and took out a white rag with which she wiped her sweating brow.
After a few moments of enjoying the sounds of the nature that encircled her; rustling leaves and the calls of the creatures that hid in them, Luna pushed herself up so that she was standing once more. She pulled a map out of the back pocket of her beige shorts and consulted it: her destination was further still. She folded the map and shoved it back into her pocket carelessly, then reached down into the side of her heavy brown boots and pulled out her wand.
“Point me,” she whispered, holding the thin stick in the palm of her hand. It spun around once before stopping and indicating that she should head forward and slightly to the right. She plodded on, her quest to find the Crumple-Horned Snorkack continuing.
Her expedition had begun in Sweden, going over the ground she and her father had covered once before but further research into the elusive beast had led her to Peru; to warmer climates and exotic forests.
Soon the sun had set, bringing with it a cooler atmosphere which Luna welcomed greatly. She stopped again, this time for a bite to eat as well as a drink. She admired the forest around her, which looked entirely new now that it was bathed in silvery moonlight. A grunting sound and disturbance to her left hand side startled Luna, she slowly and very carefully placed tub containing the Chinese chomping cabbage soup her father had made down on the ground. She stood silently and crept toward the source of the noise, was it the grunt of the Crumple-Horned Snorkack?
“Lumos,” she whispered, the tip of her wand lighting.
The grunting was getting closer, the rustling louder and Luna braced herself for what was coming. Something black and hairy burst through the bushes in front of Luna and raced past her, bounding on four legs. The unknown creature was disappointingly horn-less and Luna relaxed as it disappeared through the trees behind her. She was about to return to her seat on the ground when another figure came stumbling through the same shrubbery as the creature had, this figure was much bigger and almost definitely human. Having not noticed Luna, the figure ran straight into her, knocking her backwards.
“Oof! Who goes there?” the man, (for now he had stood still Luna could see him more clearly and knew he was a human male) shouted.
“Down here,” she responded, unperturbed by being knocked down.
“Ravenclaw’s robes!” he gasped, “I’m sorry! Let me help you up.” He put his wand, which Luna hadn’t noticed he was holding, behind his ear and held both hands out for her to pull herself up.
“Did you see where it went?” he asked as soon as Luna was standing, looking over her shoulder.
She turned and pointed. “It went that way. What-“ she began, but the man had already ran off in the direction she had indicated.
I saw him once, then he was gone.
We were like dreamers at night who meet as in a trance, then part again!
Luna returned to her soup, a bemused expression on her face.
“What an odd man,” she said to herself. “and not a wrackspurt in sight. I wonder what he was chasing…Can’t have been a Blibbering Humdinger, they’re-“
“More commonly found in deserts, preferring to burrow under sand rather than dirt,” the man was back and finishing Luna’s voiced thoughts.
“Exactly…” she mused, getting to her feet once again.
Now that the man was standing still, she was able to get a proper look at him. He wore attire similar to her own, light layers in khaki colours. He was tall and rather lanky, his knees were as knobbly as a school-boys, only the wiry hair covering his legs would set them apart. His hair was a firey shade of red and Luna was reminded fondly of her school friend Ginny Weasley. Dirt patches covered his face though they were streaked due to the sweat that was running down his face. He grinned at Luna and she was temporarily stunned, maybe there were wrackspurts in the forest afterall.
“I’m Ned, Ned Finkle,” he said, offering a muddy hand for her to shake.
“I’m-” she began but was interrupted once more.
“Luna Lovegood, I know exactly who you are.” He pulled a rolled-up magazine out of a side pocket in his own backpack, flicked through the pages and then thrust the open publication at Luna.
She took it and, to her surprise, found herself waving up at her. He had given her a copy of the latest edition of The Quibbler, the page she was looking at was her own monthly contribution; an insight into the world of magical creatures.
“I read your article every month,” Ned gushed. “It’s my lifetime ambition to tick off all the creatures on your ‘Fifteen Fantastic Fiends to Find’ list. Right now I’m trying to catch a Niffler, that’s what I was chasing before. I keep finding them, what with them being the most common ‘fiend’ on your list, but I can’t catch one and keep it still long enough to get a picture. I’ve tried leaving metal objects out for them and waiting to cast a freezing charm on them but they’re just too quick for me. That one you saw before ran off with my last sickle.”
“It’s your wand,” Luna explained, “they’re frightened of them. Put it away.”
He looked at her curiously before putting his wand in his sock; Luna smiled before mimicking his actions. She thought quickly about what she had with her that was shiny when something silver caught her eye: Ned’s belt buckle. She reached forward and, without asking, unfastened it and removed the belt from his shorts. Ned did not question her actions; he nodded to indicate he understood.
"You'll need your camera," she told him as she walked forward and placed the belt down on the ground.
She walked back over to him and sat cross-legged at his feet, he quickly sat down next to her, camera in hand. They sat in comfortable silence for just a few minutes when the grunting sound returned and the black furry niffler shuffled out of the undergrowth in the distance, approaching the belt with caution. Luna watched Ned with interest, he slowly moved so that he was on his knees, camera raised to his face and leaning forward in excitement. Luna had never seen anyone behave with this much enthusiasm for magical creatures outside of her family and Professor Hagrid, it was refreshing; exciting. Ned was exciting.
Two phantoms in the shadows of the moon. Can people really fall in love so soon?
He walked alone. He seemed alone like me.
The niffler paused as it inspected the belt buckle, allowing Ned the time he needed to take his picture before it took the belt in its jaws and retreated into the forest once again.
"Brilliant!" Ned exclaimed. "That's number six done. Thank you, Luna."
"Quite alright," she replied. "I'm glad I could help."
Ned returned his camera to his backpack and pulled out a flask. "Dirigible plum tea?" he offered.
"Yum! Yes please."
Ned poured two cups full and took his wand out to warm them both. Luna accepted the plastic cup full of the deep red liquid and took a sip; it tasted like home.
"I make it myself," Ned told her. "I pick the plums at midnight when there's a full moon just like your father's recipe said to."
"It's the only way, the lunar rays are what make it taste so sweet," Luna replied, smiling.
They finished their drinks in silence, both smacking their lips after each sip. Luna handed her cup back to Ned and looked at him before giggling. A deep purple line ran across his top lip, the remains of his tea making it look as though he had a red moustache. She reached her hand out to wipe it away for him but as her fingers brushed his skin, a loud galloping noise made her stop and whip her head around. Something huge and horned raced past them a little way away.
"Could it be..." Luna mumbled before making a quick decision.
She grabbed her backpack and began running as she slung it on her back.
"Luna, where are you going?!" Ned yelled.
"No time to explain, thanks for the tea!" Luna shouted over her shoulder as she jumped over a low swinging vine in pursuit of the horned beast.
Could he have known that moment was my destiny?
I had to run away, and it was like a dream.
It was now a little over a year later. Despite spending another three days in the rainforest, Luna never did catch up with the unknown creature, but to this day she was convinced that it had been her first look at a Crumple-Horned Snorkack. She smiled fondly at the memory as she gazed out of the window of her childhood bedroom. Below she could see rows upon rows of whitewash wooden chairs, each occupied by someone she loved. They appeared to be chatting animatedly amongst themselves.
"Are you ready sweetheart?" Luna's father appeared in the doorway, pulling her out of her thoughts.
"Ready Daddy," she replied.
She took one last look in the full length mirror and smoothed down her yellow gown. Yellow brought good luck on wedding days, though Luna knew she would not need it, for today was her wedding day and she was marrying Ned; the man who had followed her in pursuit of a Crumple-Horned Snorkack.
I saw him once, the dream was true
I saw him once, and once will do!