Back in Dorset, things were getting smoother than ever… Rolf and Luna spent most of their time together, eagerly discovering new things about each other, some rather important and other very much insignificant, but charming and delighting in their silliness. The atmosphere in the Scamander house was quite refreshing, as all the members were thrilled about the extent that the relationship between Luna and Rolf had reached; everyone besides Gustav. He had yet to understand what she had seen better in Rolf and was now more decided than ever to unveil to her the true side of his childhood rival. However interesting spying on the new lovers seemed, Gustav refrained from any type of de trop commentaries and instead obliged himself to a daily routine that involved working in the mornings and going out in the afternoons.
As tedious and routinely Gustav’s existence unfolded in Dorset, as wild and adventurous proved to be Luna’s. The days she spent with Rolf were very much intriguing and every minute symbolised yet another quest for a mystery. Whether it meant guessing Rolf’s favourite season, or finding out the true reasons behind which the estrangement from the noble art of mazigology stood, everything was purely mystical and she was enthused to wake up every morning knowing that she was embarking on a new journey.
He made her feel in ways she had never felt before. Surely, she had been told plenty of times that she was unique – most of times in the bad sense of the word – but her identity reached a whole new level and a totally new meaning, whenever Rolf was around. He painted her in those bright colours, with flowers in her hair and radish-like earrings flaunting behind the blond strands, with long dresses that fluttered in the wind and wands stuffed in her bun. He painted her life in red – like the radish earring she wore – in green – like the dress she had worn that night that he had first gained an interest in her – in bright blue – like the colour of her mesmerizing eyes – and in yellow – like the sunflower bouquet she had carried at Ginny’s wedding. And his brushes would glide on the blank surface of the canvas with such artistry, thus producing the most mysterious patches of colours that in the end took the shape of the woman he subconsciously loved.
He knew he was different, he knew she had changed him as he sat before the latest painting of her that he had just finished that late morning of November, while Luna was downstairs working. Rolf looked at the refinement of the female curves from the painting, belonging to a young woman with long blond hair that fell on her back to her waist. The wind was playing with her wet hair, her dress was fluttering but she lay absent, completely unaware of her surroundings, on the bank shore of Dorset where he had seen her contemplating the infinite, so many times. On a first look she appeared to watch the sun setting all by herself, completely submerged in her solitude.
But then, one could spot the dark figure of a tall man distinguishing in the distance, as he walked through a field of golden barley. He smiled as he realized that it was really himself who walked over to the shore to meet Luna. His face features could not be traced as to belonging to him, as the man’s figure was blurred, but there was something about the manner in which his hands hid into his jacket pocket and the casualness of his hair fluttering in the violent breeze that truly made even the rudest observer realize that it was Rolf Scamander.
His artistry had developed a lot since Luna had become his muse. His shapes were much regular, his hand slid on the canvas more freely and the quality of his colour blending had reached a higher level. It was new and better… Rolf was new and better, and all of the sudden this whole changing stuff appeared to be such a big deal. He had never looked for change but it seemed now that change had been looking for him for quite a while. He had never wanted to adjust to the society and the rules that accompanied such altering, but what Luna offered was not threatening to his self. She brought along the novelty that made him want to change, in order to make as much use of her freshness as possible. In the end he indulged himself into believing that it was really the uniqueness in her that truly made him seek for her company, never admitting that he too shared feelings for her.
He knew that she had fallen madly for him, of that there were no uncertainties – not that she would ever seek to hide it – but of what people did not meet eye to eye was if indeed, the affection was mutual. Rolf knew, in fact he felt that he liked her more than he had liked those girls he had dated when younger. But he could not stress over the intensity of this liking – whether it extended to more or simply had maintained the same level as before. He was profoundly intrigued by the influence that she held in his life and moreover sought to understand the extent to which his heart had allowed her to fill it.
Despite the many questions swarming around his head, he decided that for the time being he just had to let himself in the hands of destiny and make up an answer as the events would unfold. He would just have fun and mingle the changes with his old self. A balance was most required at that moment and Luna offered him just that, or perhaps even more than that – only time could tell the veracity of his assumptions. He lifted from his chair and headed straight for the desk where a new note had been placed only a couple of minutes before, upon being read. He picked it up again and re-read its content. It was brief note from Zabini.
There has been quite some time since we’ve last seen you, trickster! No signs, no letter, no nothing… I would have thought you’d gone missing had I not seen you in the Prophet at Potter’s wedding. From that article, I realized that you are still dating that girl as odd as it may be of you. But the guys and I are forgiving so we’re expecting you and Lovegood, tonight at a party held at my place. You know, just like in the good old days when I’d come home from Hogwarts and we’d sit ‘till morning talking and drinking the worries away. I presume that you won’t be accompanying me and the guys in any misdeed but being present should do for the lack of action. There’s no need to reply… Damn, just be there Scamander!
Your best mate, (who will severely hex you if you’re not here at 9)
Rolf folded the piece of parchment, sighing, and then threw it again on the desk. He sat on the chair, thinking about what his friend had said. It was true; ever since he had come back home from Zabini’s birthday he had had no real contact with any of his friends and that slightly incommoded him. It felt odd to realize that he had last seen his buddies in August and then he had not dedicated them his attention like they deserved.
Those people had known him since childhood, they had grown up with him in Dorset and understood his fears, his wishes and really enjoyed being with Rolf, not with Scamander – although they called him that. On a second thought, Luna offered that too, but really he could not estrange himself from his friends for the sake of one woman. He had been mistaken; he would not allow so much time to pass without seeing his friends and he would drag Luna along, even though he reckoned that the guys were not so fond of her.
But she was adorable and all that they needed was some time to get accustomed to her and the change that she brought to him. He was a better man all because of Luna and soon enough his friends would see that she truly had transformed him in a good way. And then as they’ll realize all that, they would accept her and make her feel like a part of their group.
Luna entered without knocking, knowing that Rolf allowed her to come in at any given time of the day or night, regardless of the hours. She smiled as she noticed him deepened in thoughts and as he turned around at the hearing of the door creaking, he returned the same loving grin, inviting her to sit on his lap. She did as he had proposed and as she felt his arms curling around her frail waist, she leaned over and fugitively kissed him. He welcomed the rubbing of their lips with much content and as she straightened again, he picked up the note from the desk and handed it to her, gesturing her to read it.
He watched her as she curiously read the content and after she had finished it, he cocked his left eyebrow as though asking for her opinion.
“We’re going, right?” Luna queried, not knowing exactly what to respond.
“Of course,” he replied while running his fingers through her hair. “I miss them sometimes…It would be good to see them. They’re my friends; I grew up with them and they’ve been there for me in times when no one would have. I think Zabini took my absence personal and there’s really no excuse on my behalf. I should have at least owled them…”
“What kept you from it?” she asked as she unfolded the piece of parchment again to give it a second read.
“I don’t know…” he spoke, quite intrigued about the reasons why he had not even written to any of his friends since he used to do that every week. “Zabini surely believes that it’s because of you, but…” he paused. “Who knows? He might be right after all…”
Luna blushed and then scanned the note again, trying to find the part where Zabini mentioned the reasons behind his sudden estrangement. But there was not any sentence to indicate that.
“But Rolf, Zabini didn’t say anything about me keeping you away from them…”
“Oh, he sure thinks it. I know him… I can tell what he’s thinking by the way in which he writes to me. He calls you Lovegood at some point – that speaks to me about his beliefs more than any word could do,” Rolf explained and Luna suddenly was stricken by sadness.
“They hate me, don’t they?”
“No, silly… they don’t hate you. They just need some time to adjust to the changes and to get to know you better. But we haven’t helped them in this respect, have we? We’ve behaved like some bookworms…we’ve been hiding in our little library, without any contact from the outer world. We’ve been a bit rude… even Zabini – as conceited and self-centred as he is – feels offended by our attitude.”
“I guess…” she sighed and Rolf smiled.
“We should make it up. Now, let’s hurry… we have to be there at 9. We’ve got two hours to be ready; otherwise Zabini will keep his promise. He has a pretty nasty Twitchy Ears Hex – we don’t want to be the target” Rolf said and Luna laughed heartedly.
Before the clock struck 9, Luna was already downstairs and waiting for Rolf to come, while entertaining a little chat with Mrs. Scamander who had given her husband a sleeping potion, because he was not feeling that good. Porpentina accused that old age must have taken its toll on him but as usual Luna could understand that there was more behind than what she and her husband allowed people to see.
Nevertheless, she decided that this time she should not inquire more and instead nodded sympathetically, claiming that her father often felt the effects that the passing of the years imprinted on him. As Mrs. Scamander retreated to the kitchen again to feed the three kneazles that followed her every move around the house, Luna succumbed again to her own thoughts and reminisces that lately seemed to convey Rolf and only him.
How good she felt now that he was hers. There had been approximately five months since Rolf had kissed her and every second that had gone by, seemed to have awoken something new in her. Everyday, every night, he showed her things that had been veiled for her up until that moment. He was teaching her to love and by far these lessons were the most pleasant of all. He would kiss her and touch her so fervently that merely thinking about it made her flush forcefully. And he would make love to her so freely and passionately that sometimes she was astounded by her own daring and acceptance of his liberty. At times she felt like a toy between his arms, like one of his brushes that he so fondly used to paint her or like the keys of a piano that he would touch to produce a symphony.
He could do things that no one had ever done to her and still appear like the most natural gestures in the world. Rolf had a way of making her feel good about herself and he knew where to touch, how to kiss and when to speak.
She flinched as she heard him descending and after taking a brief look at herself in the mirror, she proceeded to the hallway to meet him. Rolf looked handsome as he always did, wearing a white shirt, black trousers and a grey middle length coat to keep him warm in that chilly November night whose air predicted the approaching of snow. In contrast with his cold appearance, Luna wore a pretty blue dress, white shoes and a navy coat that reached her thighs. He smiled upon seeing her looking all radiant and on a closer look, he noticed that she had transformed the shell he had given to her into a beautiful necklace that so elegantly poised her décolleté.
“Ready darling?” he asked while grabbing her hand and opening the front door. “Needn’t I remind you that there’s nothing to feel worried about. It’s just going to be us and some friends of mines. Trust me when I say that they don’t hate you…”
“I trust you, Rolf…” she replied calmly.
“Good,” he mumbled.
She nodded happily and then trusted him her hand, as he performed a side-along apparition to Zabini’s house. This time they had reached a field that overlooked the Manor house and the imposing garden that guarded the cemetery of Mrs. Zabini’s seven very dead husbands, as she had claimed herself. She giggled at the sight of the scribbling, just above the kissing gate and pointed it to Rolf but he did not find it amusing. He admitted that as a child he had found it funny, but now that he realized just how macabre it was, that quote only managed to send shivers down his spine. Luna agreed, but that did not stop her from thinking that Mrs. Zabini had a quirky view upon death and she was not prone to hide it.
This time they were greeted by another house elf that looked slightly younger than the former one and as they entered the grandiose hallway, he offered to take their coats, which they denied politely. They headed towards the upper floor, from where the distant sound of a piano could be heard, and as they stepped on the red marble covering the floor, he guided her to the first door on the left.
Apparently, it was the music room as its walls were covered with paintings of opera singers and composers, muggles and wizards alike, all jotted in a rather odd order that followed no chronology. This parlour was slightly smaller than the drawing room where Blaise’s birthday had been celebrated, but it preserved the same exaggerated extravagance that seemed to characterize not only the entire Manor, but also the owners.
“Scamander, you’ve come at last!” Blaise shouted upon noticing Luna and Rolf standing in the doorway. “Come on up here, my friend!”
“Blaise!” Rolf spoke. “I hope you’re not still upset about that thing…”
“Oh, no… mind you, I was never truly bugged. You see, I was going for a bit of drama. Mother says one can never have enough drama in life…” Blaise explained, but Luna felt that he was not being honest. It was the wine talking in him, right now.
The boys hugged and then they were flanked by another set of friends, among who Luna recognized the group that had been present for the last gathering of the genre: Damien who was accompanied by a pretty red-headed witch, Helena, Colin, Irina, Justin, Theodore Nott – the same who had graduated from Hogwarts a year before her and whose father had been a Death Eater – and another friend of theirs, Samson, whom Luna didn’t really know that well. She noticed some other girls giggling in a corner and she felt relieved that she was not the only one who was slightly new in the group.
“Hello Luna!” Blaise greeted her formally, whilst she rose her head up upon hearing her name.
“Good evening, Blaise,” she replied, clutching Rolf’s hand. “Nice room, by the way. I love how you’ve decorated it…”
“Mollyneux was very fond of music,” a voice reverberated from behind and as both Rolf and Luna turned around they were greeted by Cassandra Zabini’s cold snigger and the giant albino snake resting on her shoulders, which she fondled with her long red-polished nails. “Jacques Mollyneux, that’s my fourth husband. This room was thought and designed by him… he managed to complete it the week before his sudden death.”
She approached the small gathering, the girls rushed to help her take a seat but she shooed them out of the way with a swish of her hand. She looked lavish, as she always did, but that night she appeared to have outdone herself. She wore a long red dress, a cap of fur and her opulent jewelleries indicated that indeed, Mollyneux and the other six unfortunate souls that rested beneath the grounds of the domain had been very rich.
“Why the silence?” she suddenly asked upon allowing the snake to curl around a massive gold cup. “Do continue…”
The music started playing again, the conversations began and Rolf and Luna took a seat on sofa, next to Blaise and Damien. Irina initiated a small-talk with Luna, but the latter was not prone to pay attention to a word of what she was saying. Instead, she analyzed Mrs. Zabini with such curiosity that had it not been Cassandra the person in question – who adored being the object of someone’s interest – it would have found it slightly annoying.
The so-called party went out rather nice, until the point when half of the guys were very much drunk from the Firewhiskey and the exquisite drinks that the house elves had served them all night long. Rolf had not touched any glass that contained drink and that could only make Luna feel happy, but surely it did not cheer the guys a lot. At some point – no one could really make out the precise time – Damien lifted from the sofa and started showing off his skills with the wand in a bad attempt to impress the many witches that had gathered that night there.
He swished it a couple of times, mainly managing to conjure a couple of bubbles that the audience found pretty pathetic and at which point, Blaise felt like he needed to make up for the bad performance. He drew his wand at the nearest table and muttered something that no one could quite understand.
Luna felt appalled as she noticed that Blaise had imperiused a spider. He made the poor creature dance, fly in the air, and jump from table to table and in the end he directed it towards Irina’s wine cup. The girl laughed hysterically and everyone followed her, others slightly more elegantly than her. Luna could not dare to look up at the poor creature, as it stood an inch away from death. She was astounded by their cruelty.
How could someone be as poor in mind as to take amusement in this situation? She felt like crying because they were hurting the poor spider that in the end had done them no wrong. Her heart was racing madly in her chest, her fists clutched forcefully to the fabric of her dress while her gaze looked for Rolf’s.
He was frowning but he did nothing; he just stood there as petrified as she was. Were these Rolf’s friends, the one that she was trying so hard to be liked by? She felt tears rushing down at the corner of the eye, but nevertheless she managed somehow to control them enough as to allow herself not to burst there.
There was a splash and Luna knew that Blaise had let the spider fall into the cup. But what really struck her was the high degree of their amusement. Everyone was laughing, but for Luna and Rolf. She suddenly lifted from the chair and as she marched towards the door, barely suppressing her tears, she noticed Cassandra Zabini evilly sniggering at her. The woman lifted her cup at her and nodded.
Luna ran towards the door and did not look back, until she felt Rolf’s hand reaching for her shoulder, by which time they had already stepped out of the music room. She stopped and it was then that she allowed the tears to flow down on her cheeks. He looked at her, not being able to make a single coherent phrase to make up for what had happened inside. Instead he put the coat around her shoulders and tried to erase the tears.
“Is that how you have fun, Rolf?” she asked bitterly.
“No, of course not…” he replied. “That was not funny… at least I don’t think it is! That is not me, Luna. I’m sorry!”
“They are cruel and evil… that spider hadn’t done them anything. Why did Blaise kill it?”
“I don’t know. He’s drunk, probably and he’s not thinking straight. But you mustn’t let them upset you like that…It’s not worth it. Let’s go home, there’s no reason to hang around here anymore.”
“Can we have pudding?” she asked, still shocked about what had occurred, but slightly feeling more assured as he took her hand, leading her to the ground floor.
“Of course…” he replied while putting his arm around her shoulders. “I’ll ask Igor to make some for us.”
They walked over downstairs, pushed the door open and emerged outside where it had suddenly started snowing. They strolled along the domain until they reached the wrought iron gates through which they had stepped the first time they had attended a party at Zabini’s place. Luna hoped this was the last time that she would ever have to face them again. She could not bare their cruelty and evilness.
“Rolf,” she whispered as they emerged on the street, her head resting in his shoulder while his arms tucked her.
“Yes dear,” he spoke fondly.
“Can I sleep over in your room tonight?”
“Sure… In fact, I was thinking about making the change permanent. How would you like that?” Rolf told as they both stopped, before apparating back to the house.
“I’d love to…”
AN Sorry for taking so long in replying to your reviews, and updating all of my stories... plus I've been a little MIA in the past couple of months on the forums for which I apologize deeply. Despite the fact that my Uni life is going good, I'm taking only As and Bs(yay!) I have had some personal, love-related issues... I feel silly about confessing this over an author note, but I must admit that my heart is a bit tarnished... not irreparably but still wounded. So it took me some time to get all the pieces back together... and though it's not quite there, reading again all of your reviews has made me feel better and more confident about myself. So thank you for your constant support! Thank you!
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