Luna stood in the orchard of the Burrow, enjoying what was the second anniversary of the Final Battle and Victoire’s ever first birthday. Everybody seemed to be having a good time, Harry and Ginny were definitely happier than ever with their marriage, while Hermione and Ron were heading towards a wedding of their own, most probably in the following years.
Teddy Lupin was running around, trying to chase some of the bubbles that George had blown for him all over the garden, while Seamus and Dean Thomas staunchly tried to prevent him from falling. It seemed that everyone had gained a certain liking for the bundle of joy that Teddy was, particularly since they all knew how much the boy had lost even though he scarcely minded that now. Fleur was carefully feeding Victoire who as always enjoyed being the centre of attention, while Bill and Percy’s new girlfriend, Audrey, were just being introduced.
There was a nice atmosphere and it seemed to Luna that the two years that had elapsed since that night, had gone by too quickly. It seemed like just yesterday she had watched so many brave people dying in a battle that had eventually set the survivors free. They were still missed to this day, though on that beautiful 2nd of May, this knowledge hardly gave those gathered a sense of sadness. They were happy today, despite the motif of their get-together.
They were buoyant because today they were celebrating two years of freedom and despite the absence of several important people, they could still smile and enjoy each other’s presence. The mere parting with so many wonderful people no longer posed that threat of succumbing them into the deadliest mourning, but it rather gave them hope – hope that one day they would all meet again, in another dimension, in another time when things such as grief and pain would no longer exist.
Ginny laughed hard and her raging giggles managed to wake Luna from her day dreaming. Teddy had just pulled the table cloth and all the gifts for Victoire had fallen over him. The boy’s hair turned pink, just like his late mother’s, and for a second Andromeda’s eyes seemed to flicker in sadness. The violent shades of pink instantly changed to turquoise and the surge of sorrow glistening in the eyes of all those who had once known Tonks and Professor Lupin died at once, only to be replaced by a genuine smile. Luna merely flinched and despite the contagious laughter of Ginny, she did not join the happy gathering.
She was concerned because Rolf had said he would come with her. He had excused himself that morning, telling her that he had some issues to attend but he would make it to the party in the afternoon. Now, as she glanced at her watch, she noticed that it was way past afternoon and Rolf had yet to come. Where was he? Had something bad happened to him? She could hardly cease the obnoxious rambling going around in her head at the thought of Rolf being hurt and unable to contact anyone. There were various scenarios flashing before her but she kept pushing them aside, telling herself that she was merely imagining things. Rolf was alright and he would come as he said he would.
She comforted herself in the recollection of the days of her childhood, when she had found friendship in times when such feelings were very much on a brink of extinction. With Voldemort and the Death Eaters on the loose, one could hardly trust anyone but his family. Who would have thought that day in the Express that in five years’ time they’d all be sitting there in the orchard of the Burrow, enjoying a nice little gathering remembering the very things that had once been normality.
She glanced again at the road, hoping to spot Rolf apparating and then entering the yard, casually stepping on the green grass and smiling at her. But he didn’t come, not that instant, nor any other moment of the day when Luna had desperately thrown a look at the very place. He had not come and as the people started leaving one by one, she began panicking. Had he forgotten about it? Surely he hadn’t, she had mentioned it that same morning and he had assured her that nothing would stop him from attending the party. Could something bad have happened? Of all her doubts, it was this thought that concerned her the most. She couldn’t lose another dear person, not now. Her heart could not bear to part yet again with someone whom she dearly loved, just like it had happened to her mother. She could not longer sit on that chair waiting…she had done that for the past hours for she had been afraid to move place in case Rolf came and did not find her.
She counted the hours that had gone by and suddenly realized that what was to be a merely three hours delay had transformed in nine hours. Rolf would not do this without letting her know – he would tell her if he didn’t manage to come. He would send her an owl or just send someone for her to announce her that something had come up and he could no longer keep his promise.
She knew then that something terribly wrong must have happened. Perhaps Mr. Scamander had had another attack and taken by the rapidity of the events Rolf had forgotten to tell her everything. Maybe he was now in St. Mungo’s receiving very bad news and she was not there to support him and aid him in case he required it. Without giving it further thinking, Luna grabbed her bag and wand and upon saying goodbye to those that had remained behind for some late night chats, she apparated back to Dorset.
The sight of the house had never appeared more soothing than that day. She opened the small gate and as she moved along the alleyway she noticed that the light from Mr. Scamander’s room was still on, which meant that he was alright. As refreshing and calming as that thought might have been on a regular basis for Luna it only managed to confuse her now. If Mr. Scamander was alright then something might have happened to her Rolf.
She ran towards the door, opened it with a quick movement and upon reaching the upper floor she bumped in with Gustav. He wore a travelling cloak and at that point Luna wondered why Gustav would choose that over his normal jacket. Only at the sight of his big trunk did she realize that the young man was definitely going on a journey. He seemed to have packed all his belongings and the door leading to his room no longer bore the sign that had once spelled “Gustav’s room”.
“Sorry,” she whispered while glancing at his trunk.
“Oh, no problem…” he replied.
“Gustav, where are you leaving?”
“I’m going back home. This whole service was never really my thing. I’ve managed to persuade my father to allow me to go back to Paris and find a job that I enjoy. Besides, it seems that Mr. Scamander is no longer healthy enough to keep training us…” he explained to which Luna sighed.
“Oh, I see… then, good luck with whatever you do. May all of your dreams come true” she spoke while moving aside as to allow Gustav to handle the trunk on the stairs.
“Thank you, Luna,” he said. “Well, farewell. I hope I’ll see you again some time…”
He levitated the trunk to the ground floor and the started descending the sequence of stairs.
“Gustav!” Luna called, making him turn around. “Do you happen to know where Rolf is?”
“He came back at around four and then left for some Blaise Zabini’s place. He told that to Mrs. Scamander. Apparently he had a party to attend…” he replied and as she nodded silently he went on to descend, leaving nothing but bitterness behind.
Luna stood there in the middle of the hallway for a while and then decided that she should go there to see with her eyes if he had intentionally missed the gathering at the Burrow. She emerged again outside, nearly missing the Knight Bus who had come to get Gustav and as she visualized the Zabini Manor House she apparated to the place that she dreaded going to.
She did not linger anymore in watching the graves of the seven dead husbands, as she usually did, and instead walked as fast as she could towards the entrance door. A house elf greeted her inside and led her to the music room, where the apparent gathering took place.
She opened the gilded door that led to the parlour and instantly noticed Rolf, sitting on a couch with a bottle of Firewhiskey in one hand and the other one clutching a good-looking witch. He leaned over and kissed that girl with such passion that it made Luna’s heart skip a beat. She clenched her teeth trying very hard not to cry but at that point, the disappointment and the heartache that the sight of Rolf gave her could not be hidden.
Zabini noticed her standing in the doorway. They stared at each other for a brief moment and as Luna stepped inside, determined to drag Rolf out of there, she felt all eyes beaming curiously at her. She reached the couch where Rolf was enjoying himself with the bottle. He glanced up at her and as she revealed her big blue eyes, his lips curled in a dim-witted expression.
“Rolf,” she spoke shyly and one could easily guess from her tone that she was fighting very hard not to burst into crying. “Get up! We’re going home… the fun is over…”
“But darling…” he mumbled while unsuccessfully trying to steady himself. She grabbed him just in time, preventing him from spreading himself on the marble floor. “You’ve just come… Stay! Zabini bring another of these…” he shouted while pointing at the bottle.
“No, Rolf. We’re not staying anymore. Let’s go home… You’re drunk!”
“I am not drunk!” he spoke loudly so that everyone could hear him. “And who are you to tell me what to do? I can stay if I want to…And you can’t do a darn thing about it!”
She clasped her mouth but did not gesture anything to him. She felt betrayed and so foolish.
“Sorry, I didn’t mean that…” he muttered and then passed out, only that this time Luna did not catch him in time.
She then leaned over, grabbed him by his arms and supported him again. She took her wand from the pocket and levitated him downstairs. Nobody moved around, nobody made a sound. The silence pained Luna but despite it all, she pursued her way towards the entrance door from where she could safely apparate to the house.
Luna carried Rolf over to their room and placed him on the bed. She watched him sitting there, passed out and with a strong smell of firewhiskey and cheap perfume emanating from his breath. This was not the man she had thought him to be. Yet she loved him so badly that the disillusionment of seeing him as whom he was, felt like free falling from the Astronomy Tower. She had laid all her trust and love on this man and he had failed her in every way possible.
And then she cried… she cried because there was nothing that she could do to mend her heart again. She cried because for the first time she had trusted her heart to someone, he had broken it into so many pieces that merely attempting to put it back together would bruise her even more. She had never felt like this before, not even when her mother had died.
She was choking with air, her lungs did not seem to be able to work properly and the hands did not want to stop shaking anymore. She could not think at that point and it appeared that merely walking would prove to be problematic with all that pain numbing her body. She placed her hands on her chest and pressed hard on it, hoping it would ease the hurting but it didn’t. Nothing could ever restore what he had taken from her that night. He had robbed her of her peace, of her hope… of everything that had kept her strong all this time.
He had promised things…and he had broken every single of those vows, like cranes of paper. She knew she had allowed herself to love an illusion, for Rolf Scamander was not the man she thought he was. He was just like his friends, no better than Zabini and the whole lot that had fun by imperiusing defenceless creatures. Tonight, she felt like the little spider that Zabini had drowned in a cup of wine. She was chocking tonight because she had lived for the past months under a mirage.
There had been signs, which she had ignored. First, there were those questions that had never left her mind while on the trip and then it was Mrs. Zabini – she had been right after all. And all those moments, all those sneers, all those acid comments that she had not understood back then were coming back to her now and they all made sense. She could not stay here anymore after feeling what she felt, after having seen him in his true light. She would leave… she didn’t know where to but she would go as far as possible from him.
She lifted from the bed, still trying to erase the tears that kept falling from her eyes and then she thought that she should explain her decision to Rolf. She sat at the desk while enchanting her clothes to pack themselves and pulled a piece of parchment from a drawer along with a quill. She wrote to him of her disappointment, of her pain, of her gleeful realization that he was not the man she thought she knew and loved, despite having a hunch that he would not care. He had preferred his friends over her and at that point it made all the sense to Luna.
They were who he was and she was so different that now it seemed ludicrous to even presume that she could have ever been a part of his world. She folded the piece of parchment upon completing the letter and then dragged the trunk along. She took one last glance at the man whom she did not recognize, silently sleeping in the bed and then closed the door behind her.
It was Ginny who opened to Luna. She wore a night gown and a silk wrapper on top, which shined in the pale light of the flash lamps of 12, Grimmauld Place front entrance. She appeared to have been sleeping at that moment and Luna suddenly felt sorry for having woken up her friend.
“Luna,” Ginny spoke, rather startled to see her friend standing in the doorway. “Is something wrong?”
“Yes,” Luna whispered and then threw herself into Ginny’s arms. “Everything is wrong…”
“Shh, we’re going to help you. Come on in… I’ll get Harry to make us some tea…”
The basement kitchen of 12 Grimmauld Place was neatly decorated and the atmosphere genuinely resembled that of the Burrow’s but Luna hardly took notice of it. She stood at the table, with Ginny close by, hugging and comforting her while Harry was watching the kettle boiling on the cooking stove. He too seemed worried and the sharp green eyes sparkling behind the round spectacles did not bedight his mood.
“Luna, dear...” Ginny spoke softly. “Tell us what happened and we’ll do our best to help you. Don’t keep it in…”
“Yeah, Luna,” Harry spoke clumsily while taking a seat in front of the women and handing them their cups of hot tea.
Luna glanced up from her palms and watched her friends’ faces, all bright and well-intended. She could trust them as she always had and unlike Rolf, they would keep their promises. She told them every bit of that night, how he had promise her things that he had not been able to keep up, how she had found him in Zabini’s house kissing a woman he didn’t even know and mostly how she was determined to leave it all behind. Ginny understood and so did Harry, though by the looks on their faces one could clearly tell that they were infuriated with what Rolf had done. She expressed her sadness and that terrible aching that did not seem to leave her heart.
She did not cry this time, in their presence. But she talked to them of how she felt at realizing that she loved a man who did not love her back, of how deep inside she knew that she didn’t hate him for the humiliation that he had submitted her to. She had surrendered to a feeling that in the end had done her no good. He had played her like a toy, like an insignificant piece that held no value in his eyes… he had lied to her and she had engulfed every single of his words with such avidness.
She had ignored the signs that foretold the tragedy and for the first time in months Luna realized that she had changed too much. What had happened to the Luna who saw the things that others didn’t? He had shadowed her with his charm, with his ability to woo her… he had crushed her with his cynicism and strength and now all that was left of the old Luna was just a tiny flicker – which she would hold onto with her life, if necessary.
“Harry,” Luna spoke again after a long silence of cogitation.
“Yes,” he whispered, not quite sure why she would require his assistance.
“Teach me, Harry…teach me how to mend this like you taught us the spells in the DA meetings. Tell me you know how… tell me it’s just as easy as a Patronus!” she pledged.
“I wish I could Luna… If I knew how, I would teach you because there’s no other person I’d rather do that for than you. I would... if only I knew how myself. But I don’t,” he spoke, rather frustrated.
“Love is not easy, darling...” Ginny muttered while erasing her tears. “Some people get the best of it, some get the worst… but in the end it’s a matter of how we choose to handle the pain that’s left after it’s gone.”
“What makes others worthy of it? What did I lack in order to be happy?” Luna questioned.
“It is not you who lacks something… It is Rolf who misses the greatest thing that had ever happened to him. It is not your doing that it’s over… he is responsible for everything, whether he realizes it or not,” Ginny explained to which Harry nodded approvingly.
“You deserve to be happy, Luna. Never doubt that… It was Rolf who had not earned it…” Harry seconded his wife. “Hey, we’re here…”
Luna closed her eyes and tried to settle some peace among her thoughts, but nothing seemed to calm down the inner rambling. Rolf had taken her peace away and she could not take it back, no matter how hard she tried.
“Ginny,” she whispered. “I need a favour…”
“Anything darling… Harry and I would do anything to help you. What is it that you need?”
“Can you, please, speak to Charlie? I want to spend some time there in Romania, I think I’d like it…” she responded.
“Of course…I’ll owl him tonight and you’ll be able to leave anytime you want.”
“But you can also stay here for as long as you please…” Harry added.
“Thank you,” she spoke bitterly. “I’ll leave tomorrow anyway… I need some time on my own, to find myself again because…” she paused.
“We know,” said Harry while reaching a hand to her.
“We’re going to take care of you, as you did for us back then when we needed it. Do you remember what Neville asked us that day when you graduated, in the forest?”
“He asked us whether we were going to be friends forever…”
“And you said that we would always be that, no matter what” Ginny replied. “You were right Luna… We’ll never leave you and whenever you need us you just have to shout for help and we’ll move mountains if necessary to reach you. We’ll get through this together…The world did not end with Rolf Scamander!”
“But it did for him without you…” Harry said while clasping Luna’s hand.
“Now, we should all get to bed,” Ginny spoke. “I think you’d do with a good night sleep. I’ll give you a Sleeping Potion because you’ll sure need the rest. Romania’s rather far from here.”
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