Chapter 1 : Life Itself
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A/N: Written for KatieRoo's love quote challenge on the forums!
My quote is: “We fell in love, despite our differences, and once we did, something rare and beautiful was created. For me, love like that has only happened once, and that's why every minute we spent together has been seared in my memory. I'll never forget a single moment of it.” ― Nicholas Sparks. The quote is italicized when it is used in the story.
ALSO I consulted Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them for any information about magical creatures.
LASTLY, If the writing seems a little choppy/ formal/ awkward, that's because Rolf is all those things. Embrace him :)
I did not know why father was so angry. I had not meant to make the books fall off the shelf. I did not try and make our grass turn blue. I did not know how I had broken the lamp without touching it. Each time something inexplicable happened my father would look angry and scared. I understood; I was scared too.
I thought maybe I could grow out of “it”… whatever “it” was. But as I grew older, “it” only got worse.
My grandfather, Newt, would pop in from time to time and before each visit father would tell me not to tell grandfather what I could do. He did not want him to be scared. So I kept quiet, and grandfather would try and get me alone to talk to me, but father would never leave the two of us together.
One day, an owl flew into our window. How curious. Father had been bathing, so I went outside to check on the animal. I had always loved animals. The beautiful bird had a letter clutched in its beak.
The letter was addressed to me. My breath quickened and I gently clasped the letter. The bird hopped to life, seemed to look me in the eye and then take to the sky.
I ripped open the envelope. I felt guilty, as if I had done something wrong, but how could I have? The letter had been addressed to me. I unfurled the parchment.
My eyes flew across the text. Everything started to make sense. I was invited to study at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
I was a wizard. I was not crazy; I was magical.
“Father!” I screamed, rushing into the house.
Father rushed down the stairs in only his towel, still clutching a razor for his face. “Father! It all makes sense, I’m a wizard!”
His face paled. He looked at the letter in my hands. “Don’t say that word,” he said quietly.
“Why, father? Aren’t you glad? We know why all these strange things happen now, we do not have to be afraid!” I was delighted, the realization of my true identity swallowed me whole; there was no room for anything else.
He slowly walked toward me and sat me down. He explained that there was a wizarding world. Grandfather was a wizard; he had become famous in that world. When my father had been born, he was born normal; he did not have any magical powers. When grandfather realized this, he left father alone with his mother and traveled the world alone.
I felt sad for my father because I could see how sad he was. He spoke highly of his mother, who had died before I was born. She cared for father, enrolled him in school and helped him succeed in the normal world. Grandfather did not go to any of father’s sporting games or graduation.
“I was trying to protect you,” father sighed. “If you go to this school, everyone will know you. Everyone will expect very high things from you. If you do not live up to your grandfather, you could feel incredibly disappointed; I know because I’ve felt it. If you stay in this world, you don’t have to prove anything to anyone.”
I had decided to pretend I never had gotten the letter. I was happy knowing what I was, but I was happier staying with father. I had begun to understand if I had left father, he would not be able to come with me. I would be something different. I wanted to stay.
Three years later, I was enrolled in school and doing poorly. People called me a freak, and then I would accidentally make something happen to them. I tried so hard to control it.
“Rolf!” he yelled, as I slammed a door shut to our small house. “Do not walk away from me!”
“You need to learn to control it!” he continued to yell.
“I CAN’T!” I screamed. He ran his hands through his hair. “Tell me father, tell me how to control it,” I sneered.
He was silent.
“You can’t. Because you’re not like me.” I said and realized how true it was. For years I had been trying to make myself fit in with father’s world but I failed over and over again. He tried to keep me from Hogwarts to protect me from disappointment, but in this world I was unsuccessful at every turn. I felt like an outcast.
“Me and grandfather are like each other,” I continued. “And you’re NOT.” I declared as plates flew off the wall behind me, crashing to the ground. A laborious silence filled the room.
We were interrupted by a knock at the front door.
I twitched my hand and the door flew open of its own accord. Father glared at me. Grandfather entered the room, his eyes locked onto me and the mess of dishes littering the floor.
“You kept this from me,” he said lowly to father. Father said nothing and grandfather rushed over to me.
“Rolf,” he said gently. He stroked my hair, looking deeper into my eyes. The motion would have annoyed me coming from father, but it strangely soothed me as grandfather repeated the motion. “Rolf, I know this must be terribly difficult for you. Trying to fit in here,” he took a moment to look around. Father made a guttural noise. “I can make you great,” I caught my breath.
“I can train you, and you can be great.” I pictured a world where I was not constant prey, but an untouchable wizard.
“He’s not going anywhere,” Father said loudly.
“Let him say so then,” grandfather said quietly.
Both men were looking at me closely. I had to choose between who I was born to be and who I had tried to be.
“I’m sorry, father.” I said. Grandfather’s eyes lit up. “I need to do this,” I said decidedly.
He looked at me, and I saw more pain than I thought was possible.
“Don’t come back,” he said before turning and going upstairs.
For four years I was Newt’s right-hand man. We trained intensely as he tried to catch me up to other witches and wizards my age. He arranged for me to take OWLs and NEWTs through the Ministry of Magic.
I passed every test I was given with flying colors. Father never attempted to contact me, from what I knew. I mourned the loss greatly at the beginning of my stay, but I eventually saw the split as a difference of circumstance. I could not help that I was a wizard. Just as father could not help he was a squib. I did not love him any less. If there was one thing observing had taught me, was facts matter more than emotions.
Newt took me out to foreign countries where I learned how to approach different magical creatures and how to accurately document different species.
One species I was utterly unsure of how to interact with was fellow wizards my own age. I spent my time with Newt and animals that (mostly) could not speak back to me leaving me awkward and unusual.
Newt passed away from old age a few weeks after my seventeenth birthday. He had left everything in his will to me.
I stood outside the abandoned looking building nervously. I had spent the better part of the last seven years or so living and traveling alone. My most frequent companions were one: creatures, and two: older colleagues who loved creatures.
Most people may have found the life I led lonely, but I was constantly amazed and surprised by nature too much for any type of melancholy or depression to take hold.
So why was I outside this building?
The Quibbler was sponsoring a Magical Creatures Convention, and while the subject matter was not out of my comfort zone, the interaction with other witches and wizards was.
I took a deep breath before pushing open the doors.
Witches and wizards were everywhere, with bright robes of every color. I heard sqwaks of different animals and was almost knocked over by someone running to catch an escaped pet. I had never seen so many people in one place. I registered and sat in the large lecture room keeping an empty seat on either side of me.
At last, a witch came to take the stage. She was breathtaking. My keen eye for detail kicked in.
Hair: Blonde, long
Skin: Fair, implying northern decent.
Eyes: Wide, able to see things others do not.
Stature: Delicate, but strong.
Her robes were a simmering material that changed color every direction you looked at them.
Her appearance overall reminded me of a fairy. The robes were her wings, translucent and eye catching. And while you may mistake a fairy for something docile, they had a nasty quarrelsome nature and were able to defend themselves against certain predators. I would not be surprised to find her in the woodlands, dancing among her miniatures.
She introduced herself as Luna Lovegood, and I was embarrassed that she helped run The Quibbler. She would never want anything to do with me.
But I had to try. Critics used to call Newt crazy. They said he was wasting his time and resources chasing down and learning about imaginary creatures. He went on to write the most popular Care for Magical Creatures textbook and serve as Headmaster of Hogwarts.
I could approach a beautiful human girl.
As she stepped off the stage and another speaker replaced her, I immediately got up and tried to follow her.
I caught the wisp of her robes disappearing around a corner and ran after her. “Luna!” I called. The name of a female sounded strange on my tongue. She stopped walking and turned around.
“Why hello,” she said.
“I’m, I’m…” What was my name?
“Infested with nargles,” she said.
I laughed in an awkwardly high pitch. “Probably. I am Rolf. Rolf Scamander, grandson of Newt Scamander.” I said, saying anything to make her stay.
She made no notion of impression. “I’m Luna Lovegood, daughter of Xenophilius Lovegood.”
“Right,” I said weakly. I felt utterly stupid. I had no idea what to say to her next. “Do you like adventures?” I blurted out.
“Usually. I like traveling with my father. I disliked the adventure that led me to being trapped in a basement for months. But I did make a wonderful friend.” She reminisced.
I paused awkwardly, not knowing how to respond. “Would you go on an adventure with me?” is what forcefully came out. Luna knew nothing about me. What in Merlin’s name was I doing? I felt like normal wizards asked witches to dinner or a Quidditch match instead of an exploration of foreign lands for a first date.
“Why are you asking me?” Luna asked. Her lack of visceral rejection surprised me.
“I-“ I was not lonely. But for the first time, I felt like I needed a companion if it was Luna. I could not explain why. “I’m not sure,” I said honestly. “I felt like I had to.”
She nodded and looked toward the ceiling. “Father wants me to meet more people my age,” she said solemnly. “And I feel like I have to say yes.” She concluded. “See you soon, Rolf,” she said airily before leaving me alone in the hallway to contemplate what had just happened.
Creatures have different ways of defeating their prey.
For example, the Fwooper, found in Africa has a beautiful plumage. Anyone would want to approach the brilliantly colored bird and listen to their beautiful song. But eventually, the song drives the person or other animal to insanity, allowing for the bird to attack easily.
And then let us examine the Fire Crab. The Fire Crab, when sensing any threat, immediately shoots destructive flames out of its rear to singe and destroy instantaneously.
Somehow, falling in love with Luna Lovegood was like a Fwooper and a Fire Crab. When I first saw her at the Quibbler convention, her beauty and an overwhelming sense of need for her company struck me like the flames of a Fire Crab.
But, as we took off through the forests of South America, I pushed my initial impulsive feelings aside and found genuine pleasure in her company as my first friend.
Of course, as a Magizoologist, I was constantly obsessively categorizing her traits and qualities.
Perceived Temperament: Aloof, kind, and intelligent
Actual Temperament: Inquisitive, optimistic, visionary
I made lists about her like I did about the creatures we studied.
Long hair, blonde
Seven freckles on face
Blue eyes, between shade #3-5
Bodily strengths: light of foot, good for approaching creatures/ agility, capable of climbing trees to view potential water sources
I thought this was the most accurate and easy way to get to know a creature or a human.
“What’s this?” Luna asked one day from the common space of our tent. She held up my notebook opened to the page where my most recent list (“Luna’s Most Desirable Qualities”—my lists had been becoming more subjective and less based on fact).
“Why, I dare say it is a list about you,” I said back easily, not understanding why she was curious.
“Are there others?” she asked, moving next to me on the couch.
“Yes, I always make lists.” I said, frowning.
“Show me,” she said. While to others she may sound demanding, I could recognize the difference between a request for knowledge and a desire for it. Luna wanted to know more to increase her understanding of my character not just for the sake of gaining the information.
So I complied. I flipped through the pages, pointing to the title of each list that had to do to her. She would look in wonder for several minutes at each one before nodding and allowing me to move on.
It was not until Luna had finished looking through all my lists and looked into my eyes with a gaze that made my head pound that I realized how she was like a Fwooper.
Each day, each new thing I learned about her, I carefully documented because I was terrified of forgetting anything about her. And through time, they had complied themselves in my brain to make the portrait of a human I was entirely in love with. She had slowly lured me in with her tantalizing song.
So, I engaged in the typically observed practice of in love humans. I kissed her, and luckily, she kissed me back.
Yellow brought good luck on a wedding day. I had quickly agreed, because the sight of Luna in bright yellow made her look like the sun.
She smiled larger than I had ever seen as she walked down the aisle to me. I went over the list of points to say during our vows over and over again until I felt confident nothing else in the world mattered than Luna.
After the ceremonies had concluded, we entered the threshold of my, now our, house. I carried her to the bedroom and lay down next to her.
I felt ridiculous, being so nervous. My hands were shaking as I undid the big yellow buttons down her back. She rolled over and cupped my quivering palms to her chin.
“You’re nervous,” she pointed out. I stared dumbly into her eyes. “It’s me,” she soothed. And with one gentle kiss to each of my fingers I stopped shaking.
And all the reading and biological diagrams fluttered into my mind briefly before their was no room for anything other than this moment, and Luna and feeling.
I clutched her as we intertwined to be united in every sense of the word. And I knew that other than giving her all of myself, my soul was transferred somewhere in the act.
She had made me feel, made me forget my facts and figures. She had made me live.
“It’s strange, isn’t it?” Luna asked, as we waved good-bye to the Hogwarts express. We had just sent our two children to school for the first time.
“What is,” I asked steadily, wrapping my arm around her waist.
“The most creatures either separate from their children directly after birth or stay with the family unit for life. We fall somewhere in the middle,” she said softly. I chuckled.
“We do. Raise them for part of their life then send them off to grow on their own,” I finished.
“Exactly,” Luna commented. We walked off of the platform and I noticed in amazement how beautiful Luna was.
I had crumpled so many pages, crossed out so many elements, trying to write the perfect list to sum up her beauty, but it was impossible. It was only as I accepted the strange, inexplicable parenting behavior I had to accept another impossibility: I would never be able to reduce Luna to a piece of paper, a list, or an entry.
Now, as I sit on the edge of our bed, looking at the piece of paper in my hands, I realize I am attempting to do just that.
The words on the page look like a formal report of observation about a human female. How would I explain the sound of her laugh? How would I demonstrate her smooth, weightless gait? How could I possibly explain the fascinating inner working of her mind that made her beautiful inside and out when after decades, I never fully understood it myself?
I crumpled the written words and threw them on the floor.
“Dad,” I heard Lorcan open the door and enter quietly. “It’s time,” he came to my side and linked arms with me. Out of the twins, he reminded me the most of her. His shining blonde hair and more empathetic disposition fell in line with his mother.
I met the rows of people and Lorcan made to stand next to me. I waved him off. He respectfully took a seat in the front row.
I tried to find the words to begin. “If you never had the chance to know Luna, I mean really know Luna, these words will be useless to you.” I dispelled the fear that I wouldn’t touch the audience like Luna could have.
“I grew up learning from my grandfather Newt. I studied magical creatures. His experience was invaluable. I owe my professional success to him.
“But something he couldn’t teach me was how to intermingle with humans.” I paused for some scattered laughter. “He could not teach me how to feel. And then I met Luna. Luna,” I paused. “She was life itself. And she taught me not only how to relate with others, but to understand and love them.
“We fell in love, despite our differences, and once we did, something rare and beautiful was created. For me, love like that has only happened once, and that's why every minute we spent together has been seared in my memory. I'll never forget a single moment of it.
“I know, for so many of you here today, Luna has changed your life irrevocably like she has changed mine. I know that without her here to remind me, I will forget sometimes all she has taught me. But I also know this; Luna would want to be remembered. She would want us to look on her fondly, continue to learn from her, continue her legacy.
“While I can not promise that your life, or mine, will ever be the same, I can promise something else. When you see any plant, any creature, any friend, you will know Luna. The more you learn about the world around you the more you will learn about her. Learn, and live. I plan to do the same.” I lit off the tip of my wand and let a small spark go into the sky and explode.
Luna left me abruptly, leaving me as mysteriously as she entered. It was only suiting that I had no warning, because she had left suddenly for the next great adventure. I couldn’t wait for her to teach me all about it when I met her.
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