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Chapter 5 : The trials of an untested heart
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“You can depend
Count it out and weigh it up again
You can be sure
You’ve reached the end
And still you don’t feel
Do you know you’re beautiful?”
The weekend had gone by quite fast for Luna, despite her initial assumptions that if she was bound to keep away from work, the hours would drip slower than on a regular basis. Saturday had been a normal day for her, but it would have seemed rather peculiar for the rest of people who neither thought nor saw the world like she did. The odd exchange of replies between she and Rolf hadn’t brought uncertainties to her, like it would to another person, but rather the security that he wasn’t as shallow as one would be inclined to believe on a first look.
He hadn’t mocked about expressing her views openly and such action, or better said lack of action, was a major plus for her. She didn’t like narrow-minded people and if she remembered well, she had long criticized Hermione for her lack of faith in her words, though admittedly not sustained by any kind of evidence. But Rolf had neither dismissed her convictions, nor shared them openly, which in a way intrigued Luna far more than she would have expected. Never, but really never, had anyone split his cogitation between faith and disavowal concerning her beliefs and it was of even more of a surprise that someone like Rolf could have ever done that.
He appeared, most of the time, as the cerebral type of person, who always analyzed the world on account of the facts and proofs that he received, so even contemplating and giving some second thoughts to this matter seemed utterly unimaginable. Yet Rolf, in his stubbornness and indulgence, could at least consider the idea and at one point even begin to believe in it, as implausible as it appeared on a first glance.
She had given some serious thinking to his words, to the way he had looked, to the way he had stared at her that day… everything about him had been utterly confusing in the hot Saturday afternoon when they had sat together on the edge of the fountain talking, but it was in this complete mystery that Luna found comfort. As the true Ravenclaw that she was, she had always found that beauty is reflected in what does not meet the eye, in what it is concealed for a rude observer and whenever she would come across such a situation, she would thrive because once more, her intellect was being subjected to the unpredictable. She hated having to settle to what others commanded and follow a designated path that one couldn’t possibly stray from…
That’s why she had never attended Divination, in spite of her colleagues’ jokes that had often bet that she and Professor Trelawney would make a match made in heaven. She had a deep respect for the teacher and for the art of guessing the future as well, believed in faith, but she did not wish to submit herself to its will.
It was because of her unrelenting desire to beat the odds (and her firm belief in good) that she had joined Dumbledore’s Army, instead of assuring a rather secure environment as one of Umbridge’s people, why she had fought in the Department of Mysteries at the end of her school year, why she had defied Snape and the Death Eaters all throughout her sixth year… why she had chosen to come and work for Newt Scamander instead of settling herself to a rather plain existence in Ottery St. Catchpole, where she could have helped her father run The Quibbler.
Luna and Rolf had seldom meet on Sunday, given that he had been away all day long and hadn’t even attended dinner, much to his grandmother’s contempt who barely got to see him, in spite of living in the same house as he did. He had gone to a party that night, accompanied by his childhood friends, as Mr. Scamander had commented upon his departure, and a pretty witch, as Gustav had joked later. And indeed he had spent all night partying with his friends, occasionally indulging his mouth with a stolen kiss from that young witch whose name he had mistaken the same night, when he had left her stylish flat. What a life he had…
The very Monday morning, following his reckless partying, he had woken up with a terrible headache, that seemed to extend its area with every passing minute or every sudden move. He went downstairs to ask his grandmother to fix him with one of her famous potions that would unmistakably amend his condition. As he descended the twelve steps sequence, he recalled the events of last night that evolved before his eyes with a dazzling speed. That girl…she had thrown him out of her flat after having mistaken her name. She had shouted and jinxed him…
“Rolf,” he heard a familiar name calling out for him. It was his grandfather who was stepping out of his office. “How are you?”
“Fine…” he mumbled while glancing through the open door, only to see Luna staring back at him. “I was just heading over to Grandma’s. Is there something you wish to tell me?”
“Yes, in fact. I’ve decided to do a little excursion to Scotland with my two assistants… to study wildlife, nothing really important. It will only take a week…” he spoke conversantly. “I was wondering if you’d like to come with us…”
Rolf glanced at Luna who was waiting patiently in the office and as their eyes met she smiled. She looked pretty, her hair hanging loosely on her shoulders, her face no longer flanked by the two radishes, but awkwardly emphasized by a peculiar choice of a necklace that at that point it appeared as if it had been made out of butterbeer corks.
“Of course,” he replied, still not fully aware of what he had just said.
His grandfather let out an exclamation of surprise and in a sudden uplifted mood, patted Rolf on the back in a very fatherly manner. Rolf felt his head pulsating in pain, but refrained himself from complaining as he usually did and instead smiled, not wanting to draw attention to the fact that he was suffering from a terrible condition, commonly known as a hang-over. He nodded sympathetically towards his grandfather’s surprised face and promised him that he would be done with the packing before two in the afternoon, which needless to say wasn’t a pertinent thing to ask, given that it was noon already.
Luna watched a very tired Rolf parting with Mr. Scamander and as the latter returned to the office, broad grinning, she turned her gaze towards the rough sketch of a Grindylow. The man approached his two students and sat between them, the same smile plastered to his lips as if he had just swallowed impressive amounts of Felix Felicis.
“Apparently we’re going to have another companion in our little field trip,” he spoke enthusiastically and Luna smiled.
“Who?” Gustav asked in his habitual chic manner that was so French-like.
“My grandson, Rolf” the man replied while erasing with the tip of his wand a thorn that Gustav had drawn on his Grindylow. “They are not triple-horned. Let me see yours, Luna.”
“I’m not sure about it,” she spoke shyly while handing him the paper.
“But it’s quite good in fact, Luna. Well done… I think you’re done for today; now go and pack your things for the trip. Don’t take anything unless it’s necessary,” he said as
Luna and Gustav lifted from the table, pushing the chairs aside and then picking up their extra material.
Luna had merely finished packing her clothes when she suddenly remembered that she was bound to leave her diaries behind. Of course, she would take her latest notebook, but bereaving herself of the other ones was simply unimaginable. She could slink them in her trunk, maybe even shrunk them and nobody would ever take notice of her peculiar habit. But then again, why would she need them?
She was going to be away for just one week and knowing Mr. Scamander, she doubted that she would even find some time to leaf through them as she usually did when she got bored or when missing her friends would take the invariable huge toll on her. She opened the big round and multicoloured box, where she had placed her confidants the day of her arrival, and suddenly felt odd in a way she had never felt like before. Maybe she was changing…maybe as the time would pass she wouldn’t be Luna anymore, the Luna who dragged her diaries along wherever she went to because it made her feel secure.
All of the sudden, she felt an acute anxiety taking over her heart, numbing her fingers, causing her heart to beat faster and her breath to accentuate, as though the air had suddenly become toxic. She pressed her left hand to her chest, trying to calm the racing pounding but at that point nothing seemed to help ease the panic attack. She couldn’t control her breathing, counting silently in her mind wasn’t in anyway aidful and instead would only amplify the exaggerated state of apprehension. Her big eyes stared blankly at the box.
Who was she? She was Luna Lovegood- strange, caring, friendly and clever. She was a Ravenclaw - no - she used to be a Ravenclaw.
By merely acknowledging that she was not a Ravenclaw anymore, she was actually certifying that indeed she had changed and that frightened her more than the moment when the Death Eaters had cornered the little group at the Ministry, in the Hall of Prophecies. She didn’t want to be like George Weasley - a young man who had only been left with a feeble memory of himself. He was not the prankster, she had once met, no longer the red-headed boy that played Quidditch and sold all sorts of magical items incognito. That boy was not George Weasley and people looked upon him in that manner. For all she knew, she didn’t want to walk on the street one day and see people, pointing at she-who-wasn’t-Luna Lovegood-anymore.
And then she thought of her friends, wondering if they felt the same anxiety like she did now. Were they just as frightened about changing as she was? Possibly not, she reasoned while noticing that her heart beat had in someway diminished and almost reached its normal rate. And then she realized that they were different, in fact, but that sure hadn’t prevented them from going on with their lives and it suddenly felt like it hadn’t made a difference in the way she looked at them either. Ginny was still Ginny, although slightly more mature and willing to bridle her instincts; Harry was still the boy she had met on the train ride, but certainly more confident about himself, his friend, Ron had done some growing up- no longer minding about being the Boy-Who-Lived’s best mate- but rather enjoying it yet still preserving some of the things that had characterized him in school while Hermione, as linear as she appeared sometimes, had indeed done some adjustments as well.
But maybe, the one who had suffered the greatest development was Neville.
Luna had seen Neville several times before Dumbledore’s Army and she had always looked at him with some sort of pity- not the disgraceful type, but rather the sympathizing- and had felt related to him. Later on, as they had got more acquainted, she had discovered just how similar they were in fact. Both were regarded as outcasts; she was banished from every group in Hogwarts on account of her ‘ludicrous’ ideas while Neville was the misfit from Gryffindor. He was shy, introvert, slightly faint-hearted and deadly clumsy and, it seemed, that neither of those were concurrent with the noble house of Godric Gryffindor, a house that valued bravery and that certain daredevil-ness which one couldn’t find in Neville at quick glance.
It was only later that he had certified his abilities, during his seventh year, when along with Ginny and Luna had tried to revive Dumbledore’s Army. The Neville that Luna knew today, was very much different from the plump boy that she had met in her forth year. He was self assured, tough and his clumsiness seemed to have died away that night when he had defied Voldemort.
She smiled as she realized that the panic had disappeared as soon as she had thought of her friends. How much she missed them, yet despite being so far away, they still had a great influence in her life. When their laughter resounded in her ears, even if it was merely their memory, when their beaming eyes would form at the back of her mind at times she needed most, she knew that fear was merely a state of the body that could be vanquished with a sincere smile. And smiling always came easily when she thought of them.
She dared to glance again at the box that preserved her whole life in and, all of the sudden, estranging from the diaries no longer appeared like an event worth getting concerned for. She could make it through the week, she could do anything she wished to as long as she had someone out there, in Ottery St. Catchpole or London that trusted her and missed her dearly. She had friends and a handful of other people who loved her and counted on her to stand up.
With a quick movement she closed the lid and pushed the box inside the closet again, without even giving it another glance. She was not a bunch of dotted words on a piece of paper…
Luna steadily dragged along a smaller trunk that Mrs. Scamander had lent her for the trip, downstairs, all the way murmuring to herself and mentally checking if she had packed everything that was necessary. She placed it on the floor, as soon as she reached the main lobby, and as she gazed up she noticed Rolf, quickly followed by Gustav descending the stairs together without even making the smallest of gestures towards each other.
Rolf looked like a genuine naturalist on a hunt for a fantastical being. He wore nothing too extravagant, but as usual, there was something about the manner in which he walked or even looked at Luna that imprinted elegance and poise in a way not even Gustav’s smart and completely inappropriate for the occasion outfit, could convey. Everything about Rolf was classy and august, from the way he curled his lips into a smirk, to his cocky, at times acid comments, to his tall figure and to the way in which his black hair fell onto his forehead. He had it in his pure blood and not even Gustav’s wastefully taste for fashion, or his alleged good looks could even rival to that.
Of course, Shingleton had his charm that could have broken quite a few hearts, but in Luna’s case, it did not seem to work properly…at least not with someone as intriguing and handsome in such a casual, yet distinctive manner like Rolf Scamander, nearby.
Gustav was a bit too stiff and one could easily classify him as a snob by mere looking at the way he had dressed for an expedition to Scotland. He wore a spotless white shirt that would unmistakably be blemished by the naughty mosquitoes that wandered around the main lands, the same type of trousers that would have made quite an impression in a ballroom and shiny black shoes that most certainly were going to make his journey a ride through hell.
Luna was oblivious to the conspicuous discrepancy between the two young men, as she seldom bothered to compare them in any way. Her eyes fixed Rolf for a brief second and as she heard Mr. Scamander’s voice resounding from the narrow corridor leading to the kitchen she turned her gaze towards her own trunk.
Porpentina Scamander looked better than ever and at the sight of her grandson lying in the middle of the lobby, with his trunk packed and showing off that adventurous look upon his face, she suddenly felt like crying. It had been years, since she had last had the chance of seeing her boys off for an expedition. Ever since Rolf had abruptly lost his interest in magical creatures at the age of 13, her husband had refused to initiate any other voyage and instead had succumbed himself in paperwork and teaching youngsters the noble art of magical zoology.
Today was indeed a day worth of celebrations, but not wanting to delay their departure any longer, she had indulged her heart with the thought that they would do it when the trip would reach its ending. For now, she just had to wait and hope that by the time they would come back to Dorset, her grandson would have regained his liking towards magical creatures and would want, once more, to aid his grandfather and why not, step into his shoes later on in life.
She hugged her husband and grandson then went on to Gustav and as she reached Luna, she pulled her in a tight clutch.
“You take good care of this young lady,” she spoke up and Mr. Scamander nodded. "She’s just a girl so don’t drag her into those reckless and most dangerous expeditions,” she went on and pointed her index finger towards every man, in turns, specifically lingering on Rolf, thus making Luna snigger.
“Yes Ma’am,” Mr. Scamander said.
The group of four emerged outside, silently accompanied by Mrs. Scamander and the three kneazles that seemed to have taken notice that there was some major event happening. Rolf offered to help Luna with her trunk but she politely refused, assuring him that it wasn’t at all heavy. He blushed vividly as he noticed that his grandmother was smiling at the sudden display of courtesy and instead of insisting on the matter, like a regular gentleman would have done, he proceeded forward still feeling slightly embarrassed for being caught off-guard.
Luna smiled to herself at the sight of his cheeks gaining a scarlet complexion but as soon as she felt the same heat reaching her face, she decided that it would be better if she just didn’t look at Mrs. Scamander at all and just focus on dragging her incredibly heavy trunk along. She sure should have accepted Rolf’s proposal.
The means through which the group was supposed to reach Scotland was Portkey, which in this case was represented by a nice little pot that Porpentina had so kindly lent to her husband. Luna found herself gazing at the golden sparkling brim of the pot and remembered that night at the Ministry when they had been transported back to Hogwarts. Dumbledore had then cast a portus spell on the head of a statue and along with an aggrieved Harry and the rest of their wounded friends she had left the Atrium and later had woken up in the Hospital Wing under the careful eye of Madam Pomfrey.
“At the count of three” Mr. Scamander said and then grabbed his wand. “One, two… three”
She landed on a rocky surface and for a split second she felt like she had been wounded by the sudden fall, but as she lifted her blouse to check if indeed there were any gashes on her back, she surprisingly noticed that she bore not even a tiny bruise. Rolf was stretched across the flossy green grass, followed by Gustav who was struggling to get to his senses and Mr. Scamander who appeared to have enjoyed the trip far more than his trainees. Luna lifted from the ground and as she looked around she sighed.
Scotland was beautiful indeed, just like she remembered it. It seemed that they had landed into some sort of valley protected by some high mountains that stretched everywhere you’d lay your eyes on. She noticed a forest somewhere near them and a lake before them, maybe a mile’s walking distance from where they stood. She bent forward and picked up a little white flower which she instantly recognized as being a dahlia. She loved them- perfect for their significance yet utterly faulty in their littleness. She put it behind her ear, where she would normally place her wand and turned around to face the still confused male members of her campaign.
Rolf had already picked his trunk and slowly had started to gain awareness of the surroundings, while Gustav was barely beginning to steady himself in order to lift from the ground. Mr. Scamander helped him get up and as he stood astir, Luna noticed a big blemish stretching all over his expensive trousers and neat coat. She sniggered and Rolf gestured sympathetically while eagerly rushing to point to Gustav that he had better trade the clothes he was wearing for something less fancy.
She shivered as the rather chilly wind that always seemed to bate around Scotland, pierced through the thin layers of clothing that she was wearing. She rummaged through her trunk and took out a long knitted cardigan to keep her warm, despite the fact that it didn’t cover her long thin legs that she showed off in a flirty manner beneath the middle length vaporous dress.
Mr. Scamander opened his own trunk and took out a folded rag, or at least that was what it appeared to be. Rolf picked it by one corner and Luna rushed to help them, since Gustav was not yet capable of providing anything but annoyance. Together they put up two tents, one in which the men were to sleep and another one for Luna to enjoy on her own, despite her persistent pleas that they shouldn’t have bothered to grant her so much comfort.
Nevertheless, she accepted it thankfully and as the afternoon suddenly seemed to be fading away she entered her tent, eager to unpack and settle to the place that was to be her home for the next week.
Later that night, Mr. Scamander put up a fire and they all sat for dinner, engaging one another into vivid conversations regarding the wildlife in Scotland, while Luna would casually meddle something about Heliopaths and how Fudge had almost managed to rule the wizarding world by commanding such an army, which needless to say produced cracks of laughter from Gustav and aroused Rolf’s interest in her more than that awkward scene by the fountain had already done it.
She found her a truly delightful woman, quite attractive and possessing something more than just a knack for beautifying charms and spells, like did the witches he had often dated. She was clever, in a strange sort of way, but that didn’t diminish her capacities as a witch - on the contrary it only amplified them, because she could see the world differently than others.
Luna was calm, dreamy in her own sort of way and rather taciturn, which could only increase the mystery that surrounded those bulging blue eyes whose black pupil seemed to emphasize the depth of her secrecy nature. She was not prone to reveal anything but the obvious, yet there was something about her gaze that let Rolf know that she yearned to tell so much more than what her own conscience allowed.
He looked at her from across the scarlet flames of the fire, as she tried to pierce with her eyes the depth of the dark forest that lay ahead of them. She appeared to be lost in thoughts, which was not peculiar of her, but on that precise moment she genuinely seemed to have ceased any contact with her surroundings and instead had traveled in mind somewhere far away, where Gustav’s little chat with his grandfather was not audible, where she could no longer seize his eyes contemplating her in the yellow light provided by the fire.
He was thankful that she could so easily detach herself from the environment and let her thoughts carry her wherever they pleased, thus allowing him to indulge his eyes with the pleasant sight of her lips pouting pensively, of her dirty blonde hair whose fluttering in the calm breeze made his heart pound faster.
He was curious, in a way he had never been before about anything or anyone, which both confused and assured him. This blend of contradictory feelings was as troubling for Rolf, as the sight of the fluttering scarf that she had never gained back, or the brusque manner in which she had left him alone by the fountain that day, or the radish earring that still rested into his pocket, or the enjoyable talk that he had witnessed from the intimacy of his room between Luna and Gustav, were. What was it to this woman that attracted him so much?
He guessed that it had to do with the aura of secrecy that always seemed to convey her. He had always been the type of man who made even the toughest of women open up and by any means that would imply losing his interest as soon as it had hit him. He never bothered to settle for the hard-ones. He lacked the attention span for doing such thing and instead he took delight in mesmerizing the many opportunists that crossed his way- women whom he would dump later without any remorse, because they certainly deserved it.
But Luna was different and as he silently watched her, he thought that maybe it was time he tried a hard-one.
Luna had been sleeping for quite some time when she all of the sudden felt some fingers pushing her shoulders. She opened her eyes, turned around but in the darkness of the night she could barely see three inches before her. She picked her wand from the night stand and mumbled “Lumos”.
The tip of the wand ignited producing a rather impertinent source of lighting and as she pointed in the direction of the swish sound she noticed Rolf kneeled in front of her bed. She sighed at the sight of his beaming eyes vividly contrasting with the opacity of the night.
“Rolf,” she said, half sleeping half awoken. “Did something happen?”
“I’m sorry for having woken you up,” he replied as she stood up, supporting her back on the fluffy pillow. “Nothing happened…I just wanted to show you something.”
“What?” she asked still confused about the reason why she was receiving such a late visit.
“It’s a surprise,” he responded charmingly and then extended his arm, inviting her to take it. “Do you trust me?”
She stared at him for a couple of seconds not knowing what to say or more like it what to do. A part of her was utterly dismissive about accompanying him while the other one begged her to accept his hand and let Rolf take her wherever he pleased. But was he truly reliable? Could she trust his shimmering eyes and that yet to be named feeling that she had every time their gazes met?
“Luna…” he echoed. “Do you trust me?”
“Yes,” she replied and as he clutched her hand she lifted from the bed, dragging the blanket along.
A/N Thank you all for your wonderful reviews and the support you've showed so far. I adore you guys! This is a little filler with a nice little cliffhanger at the end, but I promise you that the next chapter will have a long Rolf-Luna interaction scene:D Oh and you get cookies if you guess what name Rolf called that girl!!!
Thank you again!
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