4 December 2010

The hot African sun glared relentlessly upon the endlessly grassy meadow. The field was somewhat dry and the grass was nearing a light yellow-green color. Flecks of flowers and dandelions could be spotted every few yards, and the vague trickling of water from the nearby oasis could just be heard over the rustling of the meadow's long grass in the light breeze.

Through the haze of the brilliant sunlight, two figures could just barely be seen, making their way across the meadow. A man and a woman, both appearing to be in their thirties. The woman possessed a sort of natural beauty, with her waist-length blonde hair that fluttered breezily in the wind, and large, wide, silvery grey eyes that seemed to emanate a faint glow. She had a rather slim frame, short and slender. The man was very much the opposite; tall, sturdy, and muscular. His glittering, emerald eyes gave him a very shrewd demeanor, and his sorrel-colored hair matched the muddy stains on his shirt and trousers.

They were walking increasingly closer to the middle of the expanse, where a large, powerful-looking creature was resting, curled tightly upon the grassy turf. The woman stopped walking as soon as they were about twenty yards away, flinging the satchel that she was carrying to the ground and plunking herself down on her bottom. She stretched her legs out and propped herself up on her elbows, staring happily up at the sunlit sky, and occasionally glancing down at the immense beast in front of her. She pulled her wand out from its position behind her right ear, and began muttering protective enchantments into the air around her.

The man, on the other hand, kept proceeding towards the creature. His face was set, expression determined, as he strode over to the creature with quiet, but confident strides.

"Rolf," the woman called softly from behind him, watching closely, as her naturalist partner ventured further and further towards the sleeping beast, an Erumpent. "Rolf, be careful."

Rolf paused suddenly mid-step, and slowly turned his head, gazing at the woman over his shoulder with a reassuring half-smile gracing his face. His eyes twinkled mesmerizingly. "It's all right, Luna. I'll be fine."

His gaze lingered on her for another fleeting moment before he once again began pacing slowly towards the large critter. Its thick hide was glinting spectacularly in the glaring sunlight, and Rolf's lips twisted into a appreciative, wondrous grin as he neared the magnificent beast. He knelt upon the matted African terrain, observing the Erumpent calculatingly. It was almost certainly a young one. Its horn was not yet fully pronounced, and its tail was short and thin, nothing like the ones in his grandfather's book.

Frowning mildly at the large, sleeping animal, Rolf slowly and noiselessly extracted a small roll of parchments from the satchel slung across his shoulder. Pulling out a small, chipped piece of charcoal, he began to draw, whisking the ashy object across his parchment with sharp, defined strokes.

The Erumpent grunted in his sleep, and Rolf froze, fearfully raising his gaze. He vaguely heard Luna inhale sharply from behind him, but he didn't dare turn around. He merely held his breath, timorously, as the large varmint shifted heavily in its sleep and rolled onto its other side, now facing away from Rolf.

He cursed under his breath. There was absolutely no way he would be able to make his way to the animal's other side without waking it up. Sighing gustily, Rolf got to his feet, and was just about to begin trudging back over to where Luna was settled upon the grass, when he heard a scream.

His gaze snapped up. Luna was on her feet, her eyes unusually wide and her mouth slightly agape. "Rolf," she ordered, voice calm, but distinctly pleading. "Rolf, come back here."

Rolf smiled, rolling his eyes fondly, a hint of mild exasperation on his face. "I'm alright, Luna. It's fine. I won't be able to draw it today, but we can come back—" he stopped short, brows arching questioningly as Luna gestured, now frantically, for him to join her.

Suddenly, a dark shadow was cast over him, and Rolf swiveled around, coming face-to-face with a very much incensed Erumpent. Rolf bellowed loudly in alarm, staggering backwards, and wrenching his wand out from within his travelling robes.

"No," Rolf ordered the Erumpent, trying wildly to steady his tremulous voice. "Stay. Don't come forward."

The Erumpent paid his orders no heed, as it leaned forward, bending his head and glowering at Rolf dangerously through its narrow eyes. Ready to charge.

Rolf stared at it for one fraught moment. Then, he bolted.

He ran, his robes whipping furiously behind him, as he struggled to reach where Luna stood, one arm reaching out towards him, ready to materialize away. He gathered speed, glancing momentarily behind him, and then quickly forward again. The Erumpent was a mere ten seconds away—it too gathering speed—as Rolf launched himself forward, his calloused hand just managing to close around Luna's smaller, warmer, but equally calloused one. He breathed a sigh of relief. He was safe, he was free, he'd made it. But just as Luna began to spin around on the spot, the Erumpent charged towards them, tossing its head violently at the last moment, its solid horn scraping through Rolf's bare arm.

A wrenching, withering pain shot through his arm as they were whisked away, and the discomfort of apparation felt infinitely more overwhelming than it usually was. He was being pressed very hard from all directions, he was going to suffocate; he could not breathe or see, and the only solid things in the world was Luna's fingers against his, which were slowly slipping away. And then—

"Rolf!" he heard Luna's voice.

Rolf landed hard on his back, and immediately gulped great lungfulls of cold air, opening his streaming eyes a fraction. It was several moments before he became once again painfully aware of the searing pain in his right arm. It was very much numb; he couldn't move it at all. His eyes dilated with terror as the fingers on his left hand stretched over and lightly touched his right, where they came into contact with a great deal of oozing dampness.

Luna's unusually pale face was looming above his, her warm hands catching his left one.

"Rolf! No! Somebody—help!"

He wanted to call out to her, but he found himself unable to say a word. And his speech, instead, turned into a rasping garble. The pain was steadily overwhelming him. Luna's cry for help seemed so faraway, everything was so dark, so out-of-place, and Rolf reluctantly allowed his eyes to close as he slipped completely away.

Rolf's eyes head felt very heavy, and his head pounded vigorously as he tentatively opened his eyes. A dim lantern was lit near on the side of his head and the murmur of voices could be heard from somewhere on his left. He realized, as he scrutinized at the screens surrounding his tiny cot, that he was in a hospital of some sort. Rolf glanced to his right. His right arm was bandaged in thick, white bandages, and was positioned uncomfortably inside a stiff sling.

"Miss Lovegood?" inquired a gentle voice, and Rolf's eyes widened. Luna.


"I believe your partner is waking up."

There was a loud rustling of fabric, and a shuffling noise, and suddenly, the sound of sprinting footsteps could be heard upon the linoleum floor.

Rolf felt a corner of his mouth tug upwards as Luna appeared—hair looking excessively straggly and dark circles encompassing her luminous, silver eyes—leaning over him.

"Luna," Rolf whispered scratchily, grinning up at her pallid face. "Fancy seeing you here."

Luna said nothing, proceeding instead to sink into the seat on Rolf's right and carefully take his palm in hers. She rested her other hand on his sling, patting it softly, whilst surveying him with an unreadable expression.

Finally, she spoke, an unusually anxious edge to her voice that very much startled Rolf. Luna Lovegood rarely got anxious. "You nearly died."

Rolf blinked vacantly up at her face. He didn't know what to say. Had he really almost died? It was a rather frightening thought…coming so close to death, and missing it. But then again, Luna was likely exaggerating; she did have a bit of a flair for that—

"An Erumpent, out of all creatures," she sighed. "The Healers say you're lucky to be alive, you know. It's lucky that the Erumpent was such a young one. Otherwise, the explosive venom could've had you damaged for life."

And suddenly, it all came back to him. Their observation at the nearby veld, the Erumpent chasing after him, their narrow escape…he gave an involuntary shudder, recalling the way the creature's horn had slashed through his arm.

"Where are we?" Rolf wanted to know, pointlessly attempting to brace himself upwards, but giving up almost immediately. The soreness in his right arm was clearly still far too terrible to accommodate such movements.

"The Kwazulu-Natal Infirmary for Creature-Induced Injuries," Luna explained, gently shoving Rolf back into a lying position. "Don't sit up," she advised. "The Healers mentioned that you need at least two weeks of bed rest."

"Two weeks?" Rolf spluttered. "Are you joking? We're supposed to leave for London tomorrow!"

Luna shrugged, smiling sadly. "We can postpone our trip by a couple weeks. Daddy'll be disappointed, but I suppose he'll be fine without me for a bit longer. After all, it's been more than ten years since I last saw him—"

"Luna," Rolf interrupted, shaking his head. "You don't have to stay because of me. It's my fault that we're stuck here, so I'll suffer the consequences. Don't keep your dad waiting longer than he has to. And you've been wanting to see all your friends again for ages now. You don't have to be here."

"Rolf, I won't leave you here alone," Luna said firmly, giving his palm a gentle, but meaningful squeeze. "Two weeks isn't forever, you know. And besides, I want to stay here with you."

Rolf looked up at her, shocked. "You—" he stopped short, face breaking into a wide grin, one that Luna fully returned.

He stared up at her blissfully, and, reaching out with his left hand, tucked a couple stray strands of her fair hair behind her ear.

"Are you going to kiss me, now, Rolf?" she asked him, gazing brightly at his undeniably affectionate expression.

Rolf blanched. "Er—can I—I mean, do you mind?" he stuttered helplessly, glancing away.

"Of course you can," she beamed, and Rolf could almost feel his heart exploding with ecstasy.

Very carefully, Luna leaned down and pressed her lips lightly to his. And, as though he'd meant to do it all along, Rolf reached up with his left hand and ran it comfortably through her blonde hair, cupping her chin gently with his palm.

And it wasn't until they'd broken apart that Rolf realized just how long he'd been wanting to do this. Smiling rather dazedly up at her flushed face, Rolf planted a soft kiss on her cheek, just as she pulled away.

"Thanks for staying with me, Luna," Rolf murmured gratefully.

"I'd never leave you."

This story is dedicated to the lovely sierendipity, who gave me the idea of writing a Rolf and Luna story. I'm sorry it's only a one-shot, but it's all I could manage at the moment. However, the idea for this story kept plaguing me, and in the end, I had no choice but to go ahead and write it. Thank you, sierendipity!