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Chapter 22 : Always on my mind
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“Are you coming Luna?” said Charlie, as he was finishing up the breakfast that the sisters had cooked for their guests. Luna gazed up from the book she was reading and smiled at the red-headed, freckled young man who stood astir, just a couple of feet away from her.
“Sure,” she replied and then closed the book and placed it on the table. Sister Ana glanced at her and smiled. She murmured something to Charlie which Luna could not understand because she did not speak Romanian, but as far as she could tell by the look on Charlie’s face, it was something good.
The convent where all the members of Charlie’s research team were hosted was very beautiful indeed, quite old some might say, but very much charming with its medieval architecture, beautiful windows made of stained glass and majestic lancets marking the entrances to every room. The door that separated the kitchens from the inner yard was impressive and preserved the same old aspect as did all the rooms and particularly the main building of the convent. The sisters, as Charlie had informed Luna upon her arrival at the station, had absolutely no idea what the team did and that they were all wizards.
Their cover – a group of students from England who had come to Romania to study the local fauna – had proven to be quite good up to that point, as neither of the sisters had discovered that the wildlife they were doing researches on was far from being regular. They were very nice women who offered them good food and a nice cosy bed to sleep in and did not ask much, which needless to say was essential to people like Charlie and the many young men and women who had joined him over the years.
Luna had left England for a week and despite the excitement that the many excursions throughout Transylvania brought along, she couldn’t help feeling home-sick. Surely, Romania was wonderful with the endless expansion of green and the lazy braes of the hills, but it did not make up for the land where she had been born. She missed the whimsical weather, the green fields of her home town, the soft breeze coming from the ocean… but what she missed most was perhaps, Rolf. She hadn’t seen him in a whole week, which was so odd for her since she used to spend every minute of every day in his company. She needed his voice, his soothing words to wake her up in the morning, the green eyes that sparkled like emeralds in the silver light of a jealous moon and the sensation of wetness in his hair after a carefree walk in the rain.
She missed him more than she ever thought she would, yet the stoicism not to fall back on her promise had kept her strong all throughout this week when barely waking up had seemed too hard without the shape of his body resting next to her, between the sheets. Luna had often dreamed of him, mostly blurry and dark flashbacks of their lives: his tender smile, her raging giggle as he told a joke, the watercolours that he often bought from Johnson & Sons and the way his skin smelled like kiwi from Africa. Sometimes, when she was all by herself, in the small simple room that she was not allowed to decorate to her liking, she would remember such silly things that merely thinking of them would make her at least, smile – a frail smile that is, for it could never be done properly. Not since Rolf had broken her heart, anyway.
Charlie opened the door for her, but she did not look at him. She did not thank him and instead pursued further, to the round inner court of the convent. The main building seemed to seal the small space that hosted a fountain, quite similar to the one that the Scamanders had. This one though, had no angels to pour water from their tiny marble vessels. The murmur of the water reminded her of that day when she and Rolf had first kissed, but Charlie’s cough managed to prevent her from venturing into such a tempting, yet most dangerous recollection that would have certainly brought her on the brink of madness yet again.
They walked together towards the exit door that did not only set a border between the intimate space of the Romanian convent and the outer forest that hosted dragons – unbeknownst to the sisters and the priests – but also a boundary between Luna’s inner faithful cogitation and the world that did not understand her pain and not even who she was, for that matter. She knew that once she would step over the old faded-with-time threshold, her feelings, her worries and mostly her memories would come back to her… would come back to torture her. Being with the others members of the team all day long, comparing diagrams of Dragon’s breeding or migration and making random assumptions about the wildlife they were researching, was proving quite time-consuming for Luna.
She had no time to think of Rolf, of her disappointment and instead would focus on whatever the group talked. It was only at night – or in the random trips they took – that Luna finally allowed her mind to wander again to the man she had left behind.
That night, when she had sought shelter at Harry’s and Ginny’s, she had believed that healing would come easily, that if provided with a good distraction, she would gradually start forgetting until not even a feeble memory would be left of Rolf Scamander. Now she knew that she had been wrong – just like she had been about him. Healing would not come easily because she loved Rolf more than anything in this world and even if she no longer saw him in flesh and blood, he was as present to Luna as if he were standing there beside her. She thought of him, she remembered him with every single detail in its rightful place – like the mole on his neck or the passion burning in his iris – and she knew that obliteration may just as well feel as bearable as a Cruciatus.
She knew she would not forget him ever… She saw herself thirty years from now – in a rocking chair on the stoop of a nice house, facing the ocean with a lighthouse fading somewhere in the distance – and she would still think of him, even if by that time, the days and the years would have dripped without ceasing. She would still remember his flattering words, the way he seemed to understand her and even that joy glistening in his eyes as she spoke his name. Rolf would be there, in her heart; he would be a part of her like he always had been – a painful one indeed, but still definitive for her identity. Then, she would still ask her conscience how it would have felt like if Rolf had proven to be the man she had sought as a young woman. But the answer would be painful, as painful as the sequence of days and night that had gone by so lethargically for her since she had arrived in Romania.
Charlie began humming a song, but she did not accompany his cheerful tune afraid that she might contaminate it with her sadness and melancholy. He watched her silently; he did not make any gesture to initiate a conversation knowing perfectly well that she would not reply, no matter how fiercely he would try to get a word out of her. Luna had seldom spoken since he had welcomed her to his site and Charlie – given his experience – understood that her silence was due to a disappointment that words could not explain. He would often contemplate her sadness at dinner, when all the team would gather. He would sit across the table from her and he would analyze the sick manner in which she fidgeted with the fork, not being able to engulf anything without feeling the urge to vomit.
She had lost weight – thought nothing essential and obvious for a rude observer – and the sparkle in her blue eyes had faded long, or so it seemed to Charlie – who had met Luna several times prior to her coming to Romania. He had seen her fighting at Hogwarts that night when Voldemort had been vanquished and the fire burning then in the depth of blue did not seem compatible with the dullness and the apathy reflected in it, now. He somehow knew that she was like that because of that young man she had brought along at Ginny’s wedding. Yet it seemed so unbelievable – Luna Lovegood broken hearted – it was not her.
“Did you see it too?” asked Luna as they both headed for a nearby glade, from where Luna could hear the roaring of what she knew to be a Romanian Longhorn.
“See what…?” Charlie questioned, slightly relieved that she had finally decided to break the silence.
“That Rolf and I were not right for each other…” she replied, the tone of her voice betraying a certain bitterness that Charlie did not wish to accentuate with his response.
“I’m hardly the person to judge whether you and Rolf were a match… I think you’re the only one who can make a call on that matter. It’s an issue of subjectivism after all… what seems appropriate to me, may sound completely awkward to you and vice-versa,” Charlie settled.
“Charlie, what makes people right for each other?” He gazed at her, slightly confused. “What makes a good match for you?”
“I guess it’s all about being able to talk to your partner… where there are words left unsaid, there will be hearts that can’t be mended. It’s a matter of being capable of carrying out a conversation with depth without making it seem strenuous. So, in my opinion, people who can talk – and I’m not referring to the mere act of conversing – are those that are suited to each other. Now, the question is, did you and Rolf talked…like really talked? And did you understand each other’s feelings?”
Luna pondered for a while. She stopped walking, Charlie stopped as well. The flow of her thoughts threatened to overwhelm her. She wringed her hands but did not make a sound that could have betrayed her confusion.
“I don’t think he ever talked to me…” she replied exactly when Charlie believed that his question would be left unanswered. “I mean, he told me things about him, about his life… but I never knew more but the basics. He could never reply with the same honesty…”
“Then you have nothing to feel sorry for…” Charlie spoke while inviting her to walk further. “You kept your part of the deal. It’s Rolf who couldn’t… I do not presume that this should ail the pain, but I can assure you that it gets better in time.”
“Does it?” she murmured, but Charlie did not reply. He knew that it would.
Rolf could not sleep. He kept tossing about in his bed, trying to find a position remotely comfortable but at that point it was obvious that it was not the lack of space that disturbed his peace, but the abundance of it. It was bad. He had never imagined that losing Luna would prove to be such an ordeal: he couldn’t eat, talk, sleep, and think… all he did was paint. It had been more or less a week since he had last gone outside, despite his grandmother’s reprimands. If he was in need of fresh air, he would just open the window, but he would not leave the canvas. He had to stay there and paint until his hands hurt, his back felt stiff and his eyes could not render an appropriate perception of his surroundings. It was his sort of atonement, for the lies, for his deeds, for his fright and mostly for those three words that he had never said.
Perhaps there were more than just the three words that he had left unsaid. There were the feelings that he had never expressed openly… he had not smiled enough while in her presence, he had not held her tighter to his chest when she had been between his arms, he had not kissed her enough… and he would never get to do that again. He felt lonely, lonelier than he had ever been, though it seemed that lately he was not deprived of guests. His family had often come by the house to check on his grandfather, whose condition was certainly not getting better. But it was in his heart that he truly felt alone, for it was empty and cold and he didn’t have the warmth of her body to die the coldness away. He felt older – ten years at the least – and his appearance only emphasized the dramatic change that he had been through both physically and emotionally.
His hand reached for his wand whose tip he ignited as soon as he grabbed it from the night stand. It was midnight, or so indicated the grandfather clock on the wall, though lately time did not seem such a big deal to him. He tried to remember how the day had gone by – slowly, surely. If for that clock there and the day marked in the calendar, he would have thought that it had been years since Luna had left. In fact it was just a week, or something closer to it.
He heard someone laughing – it was so familiar – and on a second thought he realized it had been just a distant memory flashing through his tired mind. The sleepless nights must have made him delusional.
He was losing it – of that there was no doubt – but it seemed almost appropriate at that time. He glanced at the cup of coffee resting on the desk near the tripod and sighed. He had drunk too much over the past week; not even Igor, who had always been fond of him, wanted to provide it to him anymore. He was right though. It made him sick as everything seemed to do lately, including himself. Even looking into the mirror brought him nausea nowadays.
The letter she had written was still in the very place she had left it. He had read it so many times that the edges had started peeling and the envelope seemed to be falling apart any minute. He knew it by heart, but he always read it, albeit having memorised every of her words. He needed to see her hand writing, to see the elegant manner in which she dotted her “Is” and to feel the surface that her fingers had last touched. He knew it meant nothing, that reading the letter over and over again would not bring her back… but somehow it made him feel connected to her. She had written that page, had filled it with her awkward yet charming jotting.
But that letter could hardly match the power of the diaries that she had left behind – a minor slip on her behalf. He had found the notebooks just the day after her departure and ever since he had not been able to part with them. He had read her thoughts, her dreams and hopes… and now he felt like he knew her better than he had ever allowed himself to know her.
“Today my mother died” – that was how her diaries debuted and that simple, yet powerful sentence seemingly had sealed his understanding of the woman he now knew he loved. There was something occult in those four words, something that a rude observer would not be able to decipher, yet Rolf understood that Luna was who she was because of them. After reading the first chapter of her very first diary, he had not been able to talk for a whole day, making his grandmother truly worried.
He had almost felt catatonic, with no desire to move, to speak, to think… he had just stayed in his bed, staring at the odd writing of a child who saw the world through the eyes of an adult. “I am sad, very sad sometimes, even though it’s been quite a while since she died but the thought that one day I’ll see her again, sooths me in a way not even Daddy’s words can” she had written later, regarding the mixed feelings she still had about her mother dying at which point Rolf could not control his tears anymore. He had been strong for so long, but without her he gave up… he could not keep up the appearances anymore, he could not pretend and surely he could no longer go back to what he had once been.
He felt guilty for he had stained the purest of souls, out of mere vanity. He had been too proud to tell her the things that needed to be said and now he was paying the price of his silence. Luna was gone – somewhere so far away from him – and along with her, a part of him had left too. Rolf knew that despite what she had said in her letter, it had not been she who had lived with a blindfold over the eyes, but he. He had been blinded by his huge ego; by his inner fear; by the cheap-talk of Zabini… she had slipped through his fingers like sand because he had allowed it to happen.
“Nox,” he muttered angrily and the tiny spark at the tip of his wand was put out in an instant. He lifted from his bed with the same drowsiness as if he were an elder and steadily walked over to the window to let some fresh air inside. He pulled the white curtains aside and allowed the salty smell of the sea to protrude his nostrils. The moon sparkled on a spotless sky but Rolf merely contemplated its reflection in the water.
He turned around to take a look at the canvas. The pale light coming from the sky beautifully emphasized the rocky coast of Dorset and the figure of a woman who stood on a cliff, contemplating a scarf that flew farther and farther from her. Her hands rested next to her body as if she had let it slip away from her on purpose. She had long blond hair, pale skin and wore a green dress. She was barefoot. There was a house in the background and albeit darker, Rolf could make out the shape of a young man watching the odd display from his room, confined by the curtains that framed the window.
He didn’t understand why he had not painted this scene before… perhaps because he had been afraid to admit its importance. He had been afraid of everything… of her smile, of her hugs, of her eyes but most importantly, of her love. He had pushed her aside because he had been a bloody coward and nothing more. Ron and the guys had been right to hate him; he did not deserve Luna, he never had and he would never do. Perhaps it was true that there’s always someone who loves more in a relationship, but surely for every of these cases, there is always someone who doesn’t deserve the love he’s being offered with. Fate had it for that person to be Rolf.
He glanced around and noticed that his room had become some sort of an art gallery; paintings were placed all over the walls and some of them were even resting on the floor because there was no room for them to be hanged anymore. They hypnotized him…maybe not the paintings themselves, not even the colours he had used – as contrasting as some of them were – but the pair of shimmering blue eyes that always sparkled from the pit of a blonde woman who fancied radish-like earrings. She had a small nose, rosy lips and flowers in her hair. Occasionally she ate red apples or wore flower patterned dresses. Sometimes she smiled, sometimes she was melancholic but the constant features of her face were the dreamy eyes. He could have blurred her whole face, making her unrecognizable at some point, but the eyes – he would always let them intact.
He sat down on the cold parquetry, facing her portrait – one of the many. He stared at her for what seemed like hours but the pain did not go away. She still appeared to be looking at him reproachfully and every time he would dare to lose himself into the blue abyss he would remember her words “I can only hope that my silence will do…” She had been right; her silence had made up. It was her absence that made him understand just how requisite she was to him.
His finger reached out for the mane of blond painted hair. He felt the harsh surface of the canvas that resembled in nothing with the softness of Luna’s strands. He missed her so much… He remembered her shivering lips. The sound that her feet produced when she walked. The way they touched in their sleep. He closed his eyes.
“I’m sorry, Luna…” he whispered but there was no one there to listen. He was all alone.
AN Sorry guys for making you wait, but at first I had some issues with my internet and then school started and bla bla you know:) Real life! Anyway, I hope you enjoy this little filler... the last three chapters will be packed with action so I left this little break in between so to speak:) Hugs, Roe.
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