Disclaimer: Not mine.
This was written for a challenge put out by The Reviewers Lounge. Each chapter in the collection is by a different writer, each chapter a short one shot. We each requested the story we wanted and that request was given to someone, but who we were not told. The collection is posted under The Reviews Lounge Birthday Ficathon . It was fun writing a story I would normally not consider. I also am posting A Split Second's Realization, the second one I did for the same collection.
Firenze raised his head to the dark sky, seeking the stars that would be his guideposts for the next few months. Whereas he would normally turn to the north and search the heavens toward the land of his ancestors, tonight he turned to the south and sought the stars of the ancestors of men.
His own blood lineage had turned him away. They did not understand and were too stubborn to change their views of the heavens, resolutely turning to the north. They failed to see the shifting tides in the time of men and how the lines that ran to the north in the night sky would affect them and threaten them with extinction.
The stars moved so very slowly that it was easy to miss. Ever since this valley first shared its self with magical men, one centaur from each generation had followed the stars of the south. This was now Firenze's inherited duty. He knew that his future, and that of his people, was inexplicitly entertained with the future of the men. Now it was his turn to watch, wait, and be ready for the end of times.
He closed his eyes, seeing the stars, as they should appear on the inside of his eyelids. Opening them after a few moments, he compared what he knew with what he saw. He studied the vastness of space from Cassiopeia to Sirius, back to the farthest reaches of Adrastea, and saw the slight shift of alignment. A minuscule movement.
The universe with all its millions of constellations and billions of stars, each with its own planets and each planet with its own moons, now rushed to correct the imbalance Adrastea caused as it pulled away and changed the gravitational pull of the entire universe. He lowered his head and softy whinnied.
"A great storm cometh," he sighed aloud.
"Excuse me?" A soft, gentle voice answered from the edge of the wood. "Were you looking for someone to talk to Professor?"
"Ah, Miss Lovegood, you should not be out at this hour," he said softly lowering his head and dipping one of his front legs to a formal bow.
"I often come here at night." She walked into the clearing and looked up to where he had been gazing. "Do you feel it too?"
"Feel it Miss Lovegood?"
"The storm. You said a great storm is coming."
"Not in wind and weather Miss Lovegood. A different kind of storm."
"Yes, it would be. Harry feels it too you know. I imagine that is why he and the others ran off. He knows the storm comes close and hopes to stop it."
"Perhaps." Firenze turned his face again toward the heavens. "Perhaps it is his searching that will bring the storm quicker than I first thought."
"Not the search but the finding," Luna said wistfully. "If he searches in vain all will be for naught."
"The storm will come, Miss Lovegood, with the finding or without."
"Then it will be a matter of how the storm ends. I do like the ones that end with a rainbow suspended in the sunlight. Don't you?"
Firenze lowered his head and looked at her quizzically only to smile at the intent expression he saw. "Yes, I do think that is preferable over flood waters."
"I don't think a flood can reach us up here," she smiled at him. "The valley is magical you know. Not just the castle, but the whole of it. That is why all sorts of wonderful creatures can live here."
"You have found these creatures? Tell me Miss Lovegood, what creatures have you found?"
"Only those that do not wish to be hidden." She tipped her head and looked at him openly. "Surely you have seen the Bangle-footed Toad and the Hissing Horn Bellied Snout?"
"No, I cannot say that I have, although I have heard they live here."
"More's the pity. They are quite lovely," she sighed. "I fear they will die if we lose this world."
"Even if the storm is fierce, and washes away our existence, the valley will survive."
Luna pondered this, bringing her brow together and pressing her lips tightly together, she slowly shook her head.
"We live here in a symbiotic relationship with all the rest. The Muggles have a term for it that is backwards you know. They say Eco System, as if the place supports the life and not the life supporting the place."
"You know this to be true?" Firenze smiled at her.
"Oh yes. It is obvious. Is it not? Why if we are not here to see them they will no longer exist."
"If the tree falls in the forest with no one to hear does it make a sound?" he snickered.
"A sound is made when the wave lengths carried on the air hit the ear drum, so no, it would make no sound. Only the sound waves would survive." She said firmly, reaching up to twist her earring. "It will be the same if no one is here to see the Hissing Horn Bellied Snout."
"It is possible for those things that are no longer here to be seen. So, perhaps it is also possible for things here not to be seen unless they want to be," he smiled at her. "You make a fine point."
"Myrtle is no longer here, yet we can see and hear her. She is easy to understand," she sighed and put a hand to stroke the hair of his mane. "Yet Draco is here, he is not easy to understand and difficult to see."
"Difficult?" He lowered his head to put himself closer to her hand, yearning to feel the touch of another.
"Oh, you can see the face he wears like a suit of clothing to cover his nakedness, but not what is under it. I don't know what he looks like any longer," she sighed and peered into Firenze eyes. "Draco tries so hard to look like his father that he wears it every day."
"You do not think he is like his father?"
"Oh no. Myrtle would not talk to him if he were. And, since she is not here she can see the things that are being hidden."
Firenze looked at her blankly having lost his way in his conversation with her. He knew better then to try to have her explain.
"Miss Lovegood, be so good as to look up at the stars, focus on Betelgeuse." He tipped her chin up and directed her face to see Orion. "Remember now, the left shoulder only."
Luna's eyes sought the star and finding it, focused on the reddish light as Firenze turned her head to capture the view.
"Keep your eyes on the star," he said softly, turning her head until he could see a golden reflection of the star in her eyes.
He wanted to divine her future. A skill not oft used in dealing with humans. The complete void of pigment in the centaur irises made reflection possible. He hoped that Luna's silvery blue-grey would be the same. He studied Betelgeuse in the face he held just below his own. He saw the rays of golden-orange light stretch out for its sister star, and the sibling slap it back.
"Beware of Bellatrix," he said, turning her chin back down and placing his head against her forehead. "The red of Betelgeuse will temper to golden if you do not fight. If you go willingly, there will be others there. They will benefit from your company. You can bring them great calm."
She looked at him tilting her head to the side, again putting her hand out to touch him.
"Will you call me Luna?"
"If you call me friend," he kissed her forehead in goodbye, knowing not to say more.
"Will it hurt?" she asked curiously.
"A little, more if you fight."
"Will my father be safe?"
"If you do not fight."
"Oh, that is fine then," she said wistfully. "I won't have to pack. That is a good thing, I do so hate to pack and say goodbye."
Luna stepped back and turned to go back to the castle thinking to give Dobby instructions for leaving fish and seeds out for the Bangle-footed Toad in her absence.
"My friend?" she said lightly as she turned back to see him watching her intently. "Will you be here when I return?"
"Yes, Luna," he whispered softly. "All you have to do is look to the stars and I will find you. Look for Merope, in Taurus."
She frowned and slowly began to walk back to the castle, watching the ground in front of her. Stopping suddenly she lifted her head and smiled as the myth of Merope and Orion came back to her. Perhaps the story will end better this time, she thought.