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A/N: Summary credit goes to MargaretLane and orderofthephoenix over at the HPFF forums :D Aren't they awesome?
Her blonde hair was blown back from her face by the wind. She squinted her eyes, trying to see the figure approaching. She smiled and waved at the dark haired man, who waved back. Astron grinned when he made it to her. "Hi Luna."
"I was told you had proof of a new species?" Right to business, as always. His brown eyes found her grey ones, and he could tell she had. "Which one is it you've found?"
"I've found a nest of Nargles," she told him. "We can't distrube it now, but soon they will hatch and be ready. I made a sketch of the nest." She pulled the sketch book out of her bag and showed him.
Astron shook his head. "This is a regular birds nest. These aren't Nargles, Luna." He wondered how it was she had became such a revered naturalist. Most of what she said and believed was nothing more than fable. He even said as much.
Keeping the dreamy tone in her voice, she answered him. "We're fables too, aren't we? Myth and legend to the Muggles?"
Astron shook his head. He didn't like working with her, he never had. "I'm done, Luna, I can't do this. We haven't had a find in nearly six months," he said, as if finding new species happened every day. He Disapparated and left her in the field where she had found the Nargle nest.
She shook her head. This was not surprising, but she was still disappointed. Still, she wasn't sure he would be able to leave their partnership that easy, since he was the only person who hadn't been her partner.
When she first started, her senior partner had requested her, probably because of the fame the war had brought. But when she hadn't been the person he had fantasized her being, he cut her loose. Since then, she had been partners with most of the people in the office.
Not that the office was very large. She had had about three partners, including Astron. She worked in a subsection of the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures. She sighed, resigning herself to what the Head would say.
She Apparated to the Ministry and made her way to her office. She had no more sat down at her desk than the Department Head, Atkins, knocked on the doorframe.
"Luna, I don't know what we're going to do with you."
"They really are Nargles," she said. "They aren't birds. He didn't even look at the curious pattern on the eggs that made me give them a second look."
"I believe you. We're here to investigate. Astron is just…" Atkins sighed. "This isn't even where he wants to be. He wants to work with the vampires, he just hasn't gotten the training yet. He'll be gone soon enough. But you need a partner, Luna."
"I know, I do try to explain it to them, you know." It didn't matter anyway. She filed her sketch under the Nargles part of the cabinet and sighed. This was something she cared about. She just didn't know how to make them see she was serious. She knew some things didn't exists. She had even convinced her father that crumple-horned snorlacks weren't real. What more could she do?
She gritted her teeth as another knock came. But she put on a smile anyway and turned to see who it was.
"Luna Lovegood, right? I'm Rolf Scamander, your new partner."
She had a new partner again she mused silently to herself. Astron had barely lasted three months. And this guy was younger than him. He seemed close to her age, his hair dark, and his blue eyes shining with excitement. "I've reviewed all your files."
That was new. He reviewed her files, and he still wanted to be her partner? She smiled up at him, taking in his appearance. He had on a suit-tie and all. "Is today your fist day?" she asked.
"No, I've been in the field for about six years. But I was free-lance. I just finished the training program, which was a load of rubbish." He smiled. "I've heard so much about you, Luna. I can't wait to work together."
"Of course," she said. "Where’s your office?"
"Right across the hall," he said excitedly.
She inwardly groaned. It would be weird to have him that close once he decided he didn't want to be her partner after all. "I can't wait to work with you," she said to him. "But I'm about to clock out for the day, so I guess I'll see you later."
"Unless you wanted to get dinner," he offered. "My treat. We could get to know each other, like partners should."
She wasn't sure what to say. She could accept, but she didn't know much about him.
"Oh, come on," he said, still smiling. He was really cheerful. "You know you want to. It's free food. Everyone likes free food."
She gave up thoughts of saying no. "I'd like that, Mr. Scamander," she said with a smile.
"Please, it's Rolf. "
They made it out of the Ministry and walked down the streets of London, side by side. "Where are we going?" she asked.
"This great place I know, it's a real hole-in-the-wall, but it's great." He lead her down a few more blocks and then turned into a small side alley. She stopped and peered in. It was the most well-light place. "It's right here, come on," he said, and walked right through the wall. His head poped back out a few seconds later, when he realized she wasn't there. "It's a great place to eat, I'm telling you."
Deciding to just go with it, she followed him.
Once she stepped through the brick, she looked around in amazement. "They copied the through-a-wall thing from Platform 9 ¾. But they have the best food." He looked around. "Oh look," he said, pointing to a corner, "there's a table. Come on."
The place was crowded. Luna didn't know how anyone had heard of this place, but it seemed very popular. He pulled out the seat at the table. "M'lady," he said, gesturing for her to take that seat.
"Thank you," she said. The people here looked to be around their age. The youngest being Hogwarts graduates, but no one seemed more than thirty.
A waitress was at their table quickly. "Rolf, it's great to see you." She smiled at him and then turned to Luna. "And you must be new, I can't say I've ever saw you here. What's your name?"
"Luna," she told the waitress.
"That's a great name," the waitress said. "I'm naming my daughter that." She absentmindedly held a hand to her stomach. "Do you know what you'll be having today?"
"We didn't get menu's," Luna said.
"Oh, we serve everything. From hamburgers to caviar. Whatever you want, we serve."
"I think I'd fish and chips," Rolf said. "Classic."
"I'll have the same," Luna said. "And a Butterbeer."
"Great," the waitress said with a smile. "It'll be right out."
"Jamie is a great girl," he said. "She's only nine-teen. But her boyfriend and her are getting married in the summer." He looked across the table to her. "But this is so we can know each other, isn't it? I guess you know my basics, my granddad wrote Magical Beast and Where to Find Them. He's really the one who got me interested in all this. And I know you're Luna Lovegood, friend of the 'Golden Trio'," he said, using his fingers to show the quotations around Golden Trio. "But really, that's all just media hype. I want to know you."
Suddenly, she felt like she was seventeen again and being questioned by journalist from everywhere. How had she kept her spirits up while being held captive? What made her so important that Harry Potter saved her?
She must have shown her discomfort, because Rolf changed immediately. "Of course, I do not want to know about the war," he said, lowering his voice from the excited pitch it had been. "I imagine you'd like to put all that behind you. I just want to know what makes you you, if that makes sense." He sighed, running his fingers back though his thick hair. "I've messed it up, haven't I? I've finally found someone who I would like to talk to, and I've messed it up."
"No, you've not," she said. "It's alright, really. I'm just not so use to people really wanting to know me, I guess," she told him.
"Okay…so, what's your favorite band?" he asked.
"The Hedge Monkeys, without a doubt," she answered.
He smiled. "I can't say I've listened to the much. I'll have to look them up."
"They’re really wonderful, I love them. Saw them live a few weeks ago."
He started to respond when their food arrived. "You two have fun now." Jamie winked as she walked away with a small smile on her face.
Rolf picked up a chip. "Okay, so the Hedge Monkeys are a definite interest. Oh hey, what house were you in?" he asked, the questions seeming to come from nowhere.
Luna smiled. "Ravenclaw."
"Smart witch then."
Luna raised her eyebrows. "What house were you in then?"
That slightly surprised her. Sure, she was use to people being in different houses, but Slytherin? Not that it really mattered, they had left school behind.
"Really?" was all she said in reply.
"Yeah. I was a few years ahead of you though…you're what, twenty?"
"Twenty-two," she corrected.
He nodded. "I'm twenty-seven."
That bit of information surprised her, she was sure he was younger than that. The conversation continued in much the same way, not hitting on anything of importance. They left an hour later, and Luna was surprised at how much she had actually enjoyed herself. They walked side by side down the street, just looking in shop windows and talking some more. Rolf seemed like a genuinely good guy. He had been a freelancer, like he said, but he was mostly supported by his father and grandfather. Now he felt it was time he did something real with his life, and that was what brought him to the ministry.
As the sun started to get lower and lower in the sky, Luna decided it was time to go home. Rolf offered to walk her, and she agreed. They weren't far, anyway. She lived in a little flat in Diagon Alley. It only took five minutes to make it to The Leaky Cauldron, where they were surprised to see some friends of hers.
"Hey Luna," Hannah called when she saw her. She was sitting at one of the larger round tables with Harry, Ginny, Ron, Hermione, and Neville. "Want to join us?"
She glanced over at Rolf. He seemed to be trying hard not to stare at the group. Sure, the celebrations and such had died down, and Luna was certain Harry's fame would greatly diminish in the next few years, but he still was a great figure for now.
"No," she said, the dreaminess still in her voice, "Maybe next time. Thank you."
"Ah Luna, come on. Introduce us to your friend," Ginny compelled.
Deciding it would be best to just go along, she walked over to the table. "This is Rolf, my new partner in the office." A chorus of "Hi Rolf"s followed. "But I was just heading home, I've had a busy day. Found a nargle nest."
"Astron said they were just bird's eggs," Hermione said. Luna resisted the urge to roll her eyes. Hermione was always the skeptic. If she couldn't see it, she wouldn't belive it. It was a wonder she had came to Hogwarts to practice magic at all.
"They are Nargle eggs, just wait til they hatch. But really, I must be going."
After a round of saying goodbye and a hug from Ginny, she and Rolf walked through the door. After she made it up to her apartment above a little café, she turn to Rolf. "Thank you for walking me home, it was nice."
"It was nothing." He smiled, but she almost scowled at the deflected compliment. It wasn't like she gave them out often. She just said the truth, and if it was good, then so be it. "I guess I'll see you tomorrow then?"
She nodded and they said their goodbyes. She was just inserting the key into the lock when he turned around. "You know, I think they're Nargle eggs too." He smiled one last time and walked down the stairs.
She might actually like this partner.
When Luna's alarm woke her the next day, she groaned. Work. She loved it, but today would be all in the office-no field work, and there was no way she could go check the eggs. No, instead, she would have to explain to Rolf exactly what they were doing, since he was new.
She pulled herself out of bed, already resisting what was sure to be a dreadful day. She hated having to spend time in the office, she liked field work much more. She sighed as her feet hit the cold wood floor and she prepared for work. She arrived at her normal time, the latte she always got from the café downstairs in one hand, work pack and purse in the other.
She walked into her office and sat down, waiting for Rolf to show up. His door was closed and there was no light under it, so she didn't know what else to do. Thirty minutes later, she had finished her latte and Rolf still hadn't shown. Had he changed his mind and decided he didn't want to work in this department as her associate after all? She sighed and decided to go talk to Atkins.
He saw her approaching through the window of his office and waved her in before she could knock. "Luna, great you're here."
"I've been here for thirty minutes waiting on Rolf," she said. "He is still working with me, isn't he?"
Atkins grinned. "Of course. When I told him he would be working with you, he practically jumped for joy. I know how you hate being here though, so I had Astron show him around the place. They should be nearly done now, I had him show up early so you two could do whatever it is you need to do." Luna smiled. Atkins was one of the reasons she hadn't simply gone into free lance, like Rolf had done. He was great to work for, and seemed to genuinely care for her.
"Thanks, sir. I really appreciate it."
Atkins laughed. "You just bring me those nargles young lady. Those are all you need to get a promotion. I told Rolf to come here, so you might as well stick around."
She sat in the chair in front of his desk, and the two men walked in just moments later. "I'm telling you Rolf, you need to drop her as quickly as possible, she keeps insisting these things—" Astron stopped talking when he realized Luna was there.
Atkins cleared his throat. "You are dismissed, Astron."
"Thank you sir," he said as he walked away.
Luna wasn't sure where to look, so she just looked at Rolf. Rolf seemed to be about to say something when Atkins stopped him. "I take it he showed you the most important parts of the building?"
"Yes sir," Rolf said with a smile.
"Good," Atkins said. He flicked his wand, causing the doors to shut and the blinds to drop. "I have something to talk to the two of you about."
Luna swallowed. Was it something to do with what they had overheard Astron saying? Hadn't Atkins just told her she was read to be promoted? She glanced over at Rolf, who looked calm. "Okay," he said.
Atkins sighed and looked at Luna. "I really want you to get me those Nargles, okay? I need you to get them. If not, I'll be forced to fire you. I don't want that, and you know I don't, but you've only uncovered one species." Atkins ran his hand down his face and sighed again. "Luna, I think you're a great agent and I want to keep you, so please be right about these Nargles."
Luna nodded. "I am sir, I assure you. They are Nargle eggs." Her stomach still felt weird though. What if they weren't really Nargle eggs? What if her research had been wrong? Her entire career-her life was hanging on this one possibility. Only one, she thought, as if any of the others have done much more. There is a reason this department is so small and underfunded. Still, she didn't see what Rolf had to do with this. It seemed more personal to her, something he didn't have to listen in on.
"And Rolf, you really do have a reputation. I put you through training, with all the other applicants, and your score was the best, so I took you. Only needed one. It seems my bosses aren't too happy about you though. You seem to have caused them some trouble. So they're watching you as well, and the instant you make a claim that doesn't turn out, they'll ship you out too. And you've expressed to everyone about how the eggs are Nargle eggs. Just…be careful guys."
They thanked him and left since there was no use in arguing. Rolf followed Luna into her office and sat in the extra chair. He groaned loudly, so she shut the door. "What are you doing?" she asked him.
It took him a moment to respond. "I can't believe it. I've just started, and already my job has been threatened. I can't help it if I've pointed out things they've done that is unfair. I can't help it if they're all bigoted idiots." He slammed his fist against the wall and yelled, "It's not my fault I'm his grandson!"
Luna wasn't sure what to say. She was frightened by this sudden out-burst of rage. "Maybe you should go out for a walk. I still have to write up some stuff on the field work yesterday and I'll—we'll need to go there soon to check back in."
He turned his glare to her, the look softening when he reached her face. "I'm sorry. I shouldn't have done that. I just…it's complicated."
Luna looked at him for a moment. He was so upset, and though it wasn't her fault, she still felt somewhat responsible. She had none of the dreaminess in her voice, only true curiosity and care when she asked him exactly what was wrong. It had to be more than just what Atkins had said, after all.
He swallowed a couple times before getting up and taking a random book off the bookshelf of the small office. "My grandfather practically raised me. I mean, my parents were there and they cared and actually did a great job, but I was at his house whenever I could be. He taught me so much. And then when the Ministry started putting up all these extra rules against werewolves and the like, stuff that was absolute trash that they never had before-he got angry." Luna nodded, not wanting to interrupt what he was saying, but so he would know she was paying attention, if her eyes following him as he paces and fiddled with the book weren't enough. "And well, so did I. With the main heads over this department. But they had to let me apply as a result of that thing Kingsley passed." He sighed. "I'm sorry. I was really hoping this wouldn't come down on you."
Luna gave a small laugh-not one from humor, but irony. "No, they aren't too pleased with me either. I'm the greenest field agent they had, and most of the time, I'm just an annoyance to them. They don't like either of us, I'm afraid."
Rolf smiled slightly. "Well, we'll just have to give them what they want, won't we. The Nargle eggs should hatch soon. They generally take a month to hatch-a very long time, which is why it's hard to catch them. Not to mention they move nest weekly."
Luna's mouth opened slightly. "What?"
"Oh, my grandfather discovered them just before his death three years ago. He never reported it because he said they would think he was just an insane old man reading the quibbler." Rolf shrugged.
Luna couldn't wait to get the creatures, and see what they looked like. She couldn't believe the Nargles were really real.
Later that night as she slipped into bed, she smiled. She had been wrong. She didn't like Rolf-she loved him. He was her favorite person in the department, maybe even over Atkins, and he knew the Nargles were real. She was certain he would become her best friend.
She couldn't wait to tell Ginny.
He was in the lead, pushing through the leaves and making sure everything was out of her way. They had left the field behind, in search of a more secluded place. The nest had been moved, so Luna and Rolf had to go about finding it again. The nest was in its final week before hatching, so the mother would be careful to make sure the eggs were not found when the babies hatched.
Luna's senses buzzed as she took in every minute detail around her looking for something that seemed slightly unnatural that could be the nest. This was the fun part-they had their rations, they had their sleeping bags, and it was time to find the nest and wait for the eggs to hatch.
Rolf stopped suddenly, and examined a small hole in the ground. He stood and shook his head, a leaf stuck in his hair. Luna smiled. "We'll find them soon, I can feel it," she said as she plucked the leaf out.
"I want them now," Rolf said. This was day two of the hunt for the eggs. She could tell he wasn't use to waiting or wanting something and not getting it immediately. He was smart enough to be mostly silent while they looked though.
He put his hands on his hips and sighed. "Honestly, I thought this would be better. They shouldn't be this hard to find." She didn't understand why he was whining so much. It was simple-they look until they find the eggs. She had been on month long expeditions before, this was a synch. She suspected that his grandfather had done a lot of the work when he was 'free lance' and that his amazing feats weren't so amazing.
But he still was good at what he did when he tried. He seemed to be trying almost too hard now. She didn't understand why, but it was getting the job done. She looked up at the tree they were passing and stopped. "Rolf, give me a boost," she whispered. There was a strange chirping sound coming from a branch concealed by leaves.
"You can't climb that tree," he whispered back.
Luna resisted rolling her eyes. "Just do it."
He walked over and cupped his hands so that she could step into them. Luna hesitated a moment before putting her foot in his hand and reaching for a branch while he lifted her up. He groaned a little, and she inwardly berated herself for that piece of cake she had had the night before. She reached up, stretching as much as possible to reach the lowest limb and then she felt Rolf give a great shove and she was flying through the air. Her hands flailed around and hit something hard, which she grabbed onto. She was hanging from the middle of the branch.
She looked down and saw Rolf lying on the forest floor. Then she looked up. How she was suppose to get onto the branch…she tried pulling herself up, but didn't make it far. The tree trunk had no branches lower down she could land on either. She was stuck.
She sighed, realizing what she would have to do. She released the branch with only her left hand, dangling dangerously from the branch. She swung to the right and tried to grab the branch with her right hand.
She missed. She tried it again and missed. Then her left hand slipped so that she was barely holding onto the branch. Heart racing, eyes wide, and breath coming in short gasps, she tried once more-
And made it.
She breathed a sigh of relief. She got a better grip on the branch and the swung back and forward, until she had enough momentum to wrap her feet around the branch. Now, to just get on top of the branch instead of under it. She wiggled around and shifted her grip slightly until she was finally on the top. She sat up, legs dangling off the branch, one arm still on the branch, and waved to an impressed looking Rolf below.
He smiled and waved back, shaking his head. Luna caught her breath for a moment and then looked around. The nest was just feet away from her. She carefully moved over to it, astonished that the eggs had yet to hatch.
She got out the camera Hannah had given her to take pictures with-sketches were great, but could be made up. A photograph was real proof. At least, that's what Hannah had told her. She snapped a couple pictures and smiled. These were the exact same eggs she had found. She was about to look for Rolf when she heard a small cracking noise.
She froze afraid the limb was breaking. She hadn't felt it move though. She looked down at the eggs and saw one with a huge crack in it. It moved again…and again…then a head poked through! Her mouth dropped open in silent amazement.
The small creature worked the rest of the shell away and looked up at her and chirped. Luna smiled at it. It moved over to her and she fought the instant to pick it up. It was purple and furry, with a tail and a single leg. The fur on the top of its head was made into a poof and slightly lighter than the rest of the fur. It had small wings, which were also covered in fur-there were no feathers at all.
It hopped out of the nest and toward Luna. She scooted away a bit-she wasn't sure what would happen if she touched it. Would the mother abandon it? Would it bit her? The small beak had teeth. Then it started to fall of the branch. Luna reached for it-she didn't want it to fall to the ground and die, and it obviously couldn't fly-and started to fall herself.
She hit the ground flat on her back, the small purple bird in hand. She fought to gain her breath as Rolf rushed over to her. "Are you okay?" he asked franticly.
She coughed and sucked in a few deep breaths before nodding. "Look," she breathed, holding up the small bird in her hand. "It's a Nargle."
"Did you get a picture of it?" he asked. She shook her head, so he took the camera and took a picture of her holding it. "Beautiful," he whispered.
"I know." Suddenly, there was a loud screech. A fully grown Nargle was suddenly upon them. Luna watched it's wings, the sky blue color blur flying toward them.
"that's not a very happy mum," Rolf said. He grabbed Luna's shoulders and turned, Apparating them back to the ministry.
Atkins had been talking to a new program applicant, but saw Luna appear. One look at her face and he knew something was wrong. "What is it? What's happened?" he asked, looking at her.
Slowly, she revealed the small bird she had cupped in her hands.
"Is that a…?" He let the question trail off. What else could it be? But Luna nodded her head anyway.
"It's all alone now. We don't know what they eat, or what environment it needs to live in or if it—"
Atkins cut her off. "We've got people who can figure that out. You know that."
Luna looked back down at the small chirping bird. "Well Squige, I guess you'll be okay for a little while, won't you?"
Atkins accompanied Luna and Rolf as they took the Nargle to the correct department, then had them come into his office for a debriefing. Rolf didn't have much to say until the part of Luna's tree climbing. She tried to brush it off as Rolf simply giving her a boost up, but Rolf told Atkins what really happened. Then they were sent to their respective offices to write their reports.
It was three days before Luna saw the Nargle again.
"Squige," she squealed when Rolf brought it to her in a cage. "It eats plants. And it's super adaptable for whatever environment it's thrown into.
Of course the normal articles and things came out about Luna and Rolf's find, but Luna wasn't bothered about it. She was just glad to have proven Nargles exist.