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Chapter 18 : A not so merry Christmas
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It was Christmas and Luna was decorating the tree with Mrs. Scamander, while Rolf was watching them from behind the table where he ate a big sandwich that one of the house elves had just made for him. She conjured some red garlands and with the help of her wand she lifted it up in the air, then snaked them around the tree neatly placing them on the green branches that seemed to be tearing apart any minute with the heaviness of the ornaments. She watched him enjoying the cosy meal and suddenly felt sad because she would not get to share presents with her friends like she always did at this time of the year.
She thought of them, they were most probably organizing a party at the Burrow just as she sat there; Mrs. Weasley must have spent all morning cooking and dusting the place up, Mr. Weasley must have already installed the Christmas tree which he would decorate with the help of Angelina and George. By that time, Harry and Ginny must have arrived from London as well, in the company of Ron and Hermione and her muggle family that Arthur Weasley would pester with all sorts of funny questions. Teddy Lupin would be thrilled with the presents that his godfather would bestow him with, while his grandmother would reprimand Harry for spoiling the boy too much. And surely, Bill and Fleur would bring Victoire along, whom as little and fragile as she was, must have shown by now her Veela heritage. They would have fun and they would laugh…without her.
But the thought of spending her holidays with Rolf was making her feel slightly more comfortable, although her father being alone in this time of the year made her lose even that shred of optimism. Of course, he had left for Portugal to do some research but deep inside Luna knew that he had merely looked for an excuse not to bother her and Rolf. Xenophilius Lovegood had always been a good father and seeing his only daughter happy was more than enough as to forget all about his yearnings. He loved her and even if he were to be all alone at Christmas, at least the thought of her being happy made up for his solitude. She felt a bit lonely now that she was not accompanied by her family. She knew and loved Rolf, the Scamanders had been wonderful but they could not match her friends.
Luna was so far away from them, even though she knew that they were thinking about her just like she thought of them. She knew that no matter what happened, her friends would be there for her like they had always been – like she had always been. She realized that there were things between them that distance could not erase; there were memories, deaths of people whom they all had loved and still did, secrets they shared, and moments that had defined their friendship. Nobody could take those away from them and that mere thought managed to cheer Luna up, once more. She smiled as she finished putting the garland and as Porpentina handed her a crystal ball to hang, she started humming a Christmas carol that her mother used to sang to her when she was alive.
Rolf waved at her from across the table and smirked at the hearing of her humming but did not lift to aid the women. Instead, he leaned back on his chair and silently contemplated the sight before him. He too missed his friends, even though most of them were closer than Luna’s were. He knew that he and his friends had never shared the things that she and hers had. They did not have any secrets, any events to tie them and certainly no grief to split, as friends should. They were just a wild group of people who found similarities between each other and hung onto these until one would change – like he had. Surely, his friendship with Zabini was as strong as regular friendship between two young men should be, though one could guess that envy and jealousy often sprouted between them. At this time, it was Zabini who did not agree of the changes going on in Rolf’s life and it was he who looked reasons for quarrelling, although Rolf did not fuel those.
He knew Zabini, he knew Luna and at that point it seemed that neither was reluctant to settle for peace. Luna did not like Blaise’s behaviour and his cruelty in particular – not to mention his lack of maturity – although she seldom expressed those views, while Zabini found her ideas odd and ludicrous and would not calm down unless his relationship would come to an end. He felt at ease with Luna, but so did with his friends. He found himself on the horns of a dilemma, though at this point he was hardly forced to take any action.
He was not sorry for having left that night… Zabini had overdone it this time, even for Rolf – who had always approved of his friend’s conduct. Rolf knew – perhaps better than anyone – that such things were characteristic of his friend, but never had he believed that he would be able to show that side of him. He did not blame him, though. Blaise Zabini had been raised in that manner – his own mother had killed her husbands and perhaps even his father. Imperiusing a spider could hardly be considered outrageous while sharing a house with Cassandra Zabini – she often did that herself with her many exotic pets – but Luna did not see eye to eye with this sort of treatment and Rolf thought it wisely to agree with her.
He finally lifted from his place, brushed Luna’s forehead with a kiss and then pulled his wand out to give a hand. She thanked him and together they started hanging all sorts of ornaments on the green branches. Mrs. Scamander watched them working together, completing each other’s gestures and for the first time in years, felt like her grandson was heading to the right future – a future she had never envisioned for him before Luna’s coming.
The Christmas dinner was all set and Igor let the family know that it was time they came into the dinning room to enjoy the many delicious meals that the house elves had been cooking ceaseless since morning. Gustav descended the stairs and joined them this time, for he hardly did that lately. Rolf took a seat next to Luna, where Gustav had once sat, and upon receiving a glare from the former male habitant of the house he began talking to Luna, completely ignoring the rude gesture.
She was laughing and he felt like her cracks could make up for all the questions swarming around his head like a vortex that drew him closer and closer to the abyss. There was something in her eyes that let him know that there was an escape from all the doubts and the worries. She was the hand to grab in order to make his way back to the surface, between the dark waters of an existence he subconsciously wished he could leave behind.
But sometimes, not even the blue of her iris, not even the tender feeling of her lips or the brushing or her hair on his skin could remove the sensation that he was missing something, something vital. There was that something choking his heart, imprinting that certain claustrophobia that made him want to scream… he could not tell what it was or what it all meant for that matter. He was Rolf Scamander, he kept telling himself as some sort of mantra to help ease the agony of feeling himself somewhat irreversibly changed.
There were times when he welcomed the discovery of novelty in himself with happiness and joy, but there were also times when such thing infuriated him beyond measure or simply confused him. Ever since he could remember, he had tried to be himself and now that he was changing could he still be the one that had put so much effort into remaining unaltered? He now did things that he would have not imagined a year before, things like returning to his passion for magical creatures or sharing a nice cosy evening with a girl that would have never aroused his interest in the past.
He could paint such beautiful things that his own talent scared him to death. He could hug and kiss and touch much more intensely than before, which truly shocked him, despite having a raw knowledge of his capacities in that field. He had lost or better said, missed something – but he could not exactly tell what.
They ate; Mr. Scamander watched them from his seat, silently contemplating the shy glances that Luna would throw his grandson and the smiles which he replied with. Luna gazed up only to see the slicker grin on her mentor’s face as Rolf squeezed her hand yet again, beneath the table. And it was then that she realized that they had become some other sort of family over the past months. Maybe they had not shared with her the things that her friends had, but still they had all been there for her in times that now defined who she was.
Mr. Scamander lifted from his seat, steadying himself on the table.
“And now I’d like to say a few words…” he began speaking and Porpentina gazed at him, rather worried. He lifted his glass. “Christmas is always a time for families to get together, for friendships to be tied but most importantly, for love to be tightened. I bel…”
Mr. Scamander did not manage to finish his speech. He collapsed in front of everybody, Gustav nearly catching him before hitting the floor. Porpentina began crying.
“Quick!” Rolf mumbled while approaching his grandfather. “We must take him upstairs…Grandma, fetch the healer!”
Luna followed Porpentina to the kitchen, while Rolf and Gustav helped Mr. Scamander stand up and dragged him to the hallway. Mrs. Scamander could not even write properly at that time, for she was shaking violently and her crying didn’t seem to want to cease. Luna grabbed the quill that vibrated from the hands of the poor afflicted woman and as Quincy, one of the house elves, handed her a piece of parchment she began writing to someone she did not know. She scribbled something there about Mr. Scamander feeling very sick and as she folded the paper she felt her hands gaining the same shakiness.
“Mrs. Poppy,” Luna managed to whisper, while brushing the woman’s arm. “I need you to tell me where to send it… I don’t know who the Healer is, please…”
“It’s…” she muttered between her sobs. “ 15, Milton Avenue, his name is Patricius Calgary…”
Half an hour later, the healer came and examined Mr. Scamander carefully, only allowing Porpentina to stay by his side and sternly asking the other members of the family to leave immediately. Gustav proceeded downstairs to fetch himself some tea, while both Luna and Rolf retreated to their room to wait for the news. She entered the dormitory with her heart as tormented by fear as if it were her father who had collapsed and had required immediate assistance from a professional Healer. She did not understand what had just happened and hoped that Rolf knew more about the situation. Perhaps Mr. Scamander had felt quite often sick and had fainted many times before her arrival to Dorset.
“Rolf,” she suddenly spoke after noticing him sitting on the edge of the bed, backwards from her. He did not speak; he didn’t even flinch at the hearing of his name. He just stood there, with his eyes opened wide and his mouth contorted in a bitter expression.
“It’s going to be alright, I’m sure that everything will be just fine…He just needs to rest,” she tried to assure him.
Again, there was no reaction on his behalf. He just stared at an inexistent point on the wallpaper, not being able to make a proper sentence to alleviate the tension that was growing denser between them. Luna did not understand his silence and his lack of emotion. He did nothing and it slightly worried her. She felt her heart sinking in a type of sadness like she had felt that night when she had seen Fred Weasley’s dead body lying on the ground, beneath the enchanted ceiling of the Grand Hall with the ghost of his last smile still etched on his cold purple lips.
“Is he ill?” she asked.
“I don’t know!” he shouted angrily, his voice emanating such despair like Luna had never witnessed it. She started shaking, knowing that Rolf had never shouted at her. She did not understand his outburst.
“Why are you…?” she tried to speak but he cut her off.
“I don’t want to talk right now, Luna! I’m not in the mood to answer to your questions!” he retorted angrily. “I know nothing and even if I knew, I could hardly explain it to you now. So, leave me alone!”
She felt her cheeks being covered by the tears, but she did not prompt to have them erased. Her lips started shaking violently and at that point she knew that she could not stop the sobs from being heard by him. She collapsed on the bed as her feet could not support her anymore, and as she hit the fluffy surface of the cotton sheets she covered her eyes with her palms. She did not want to see, she did not want to hear him shouting ever again… His voice had sounded so cruel, so not like him. She huddled, her chin touching her knees and her legs slightly crossed. And she cried because she didn’t understand anything of what as happening around her, because Rolf was so upset that he had completely forgotten of who he was.
Then, as her sobs accentuated, she felt a pair of arms tucking her in a warm embrace. She glanced up only to see Rolf standing inches away from her, with his head resting on her knees.
“I’m sorry, Luna” he apologized. “I shouldn’t have shouted. You have done me no wrong… But the truth is that I know as little as you do.”
She just hugged him, pulling him tighter and tighter, afraid that if she let go of him he would start shouting again. She loved him…she didn’t want to see him hurt. Yet, he was. They stayed in their room, huddled in bed, listening to their hearts beat and not even mentioning a word, until Mrs. Scamander had knocked at the door. Newt Scamander was alright for now.
AN Hello dear readers:) As a special belated gift for Christmas I am uploading three chapter instead of just one so I hope you all enjoy them:) And just as a little something I've put up a little video depicting briefly what has happened so far in WLMR. You can all see it on youtube if you wish, if only you type when luna met rolf. It should be the first video:) Thank you all for your kindness and appreciation and have a lovely new year! Roe
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