Today I took some time off from writing an essay on how Africa is 'created' through photography to reread 'Making Money' by Terry Pratchett. Gladys and the Chairman with his 'rubber bone'... I love all the little links and references to his other books as well, like the joke shops that features in the Tiffany Aching series and the fact that it was Vimes that gave the first golem.
I also got my latest fic back from its beta, the lovely raisinous-fiend, and attempted to add some pictures to it. I don't think the image quality is particularly fantastic, but at least it looks colourful. So, storytime:
Title: Finding Fantastic Beasts
Rating: PG (for a little mild swearing and insinuation, if you squint)
Length: 2,060 words
Disclaimer: Harry Potter et al belongs to JK Rowling, including the Diricawl, which is mentioned in 'Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them', although we know it better as the dodo. The Apsarute really doesn't exist...as far as I know.
Author Note: With thanks to the raisinous-fiend for beta-ing. This is technically a sort-of sequel to Keeping Childhood's Creatures, but both can be read seperately. Heh, and there is indeed a Mauritian beer called Phoenix.
Summary: Luna Lovegood meets Rolf Scamander in a bar in Mauritius and he tells her that she's narrow-minded.
Finding Fantastic Beasts
Luna Lovegood and Rolf Scamander meet in a bar.
He’s the first English person she’s seen in three weeks, so she moves to his table, taking her cocktail with her (which has coconut in it and probably alcohol and she’s not sure what else but it tastes lovely). The air around them is filled with Creole, French and a smattering of Hindi, Urdu and Bhojpuri, but most people here can speak English as well, so she doesn’t slide into the chair opposite him to hear the familiar. It’s more the sight of the familiar, since they have the palest features in a room of tanned and dark bodies dressed in bright colours.
“Gone native?” he asks by way of greeting as she places her glass on the wooden table.
She’s wearing a sari this afternoon, enjoying its surprisingly comfortable fit, the pleasing way it enhances the slight curves of her slim figure, and the lovely sky-blue and bright-yellow of it. Sometimes it’s difficult to walk in, though, and the first time she wore one she had a pair of shorts on underneath instead of a skirt, which posed an interesting dilemma when she wanted to visit the bathroom.
“As much as you have.” She gestures at his pint of local (
They exchange first names and shake hands, and Luna wonders at the Englishness of the act.
He has hands like a piano player she saw in a concert once: long fingers and delicate wrists. There are mosquito bites on the back of them. If he’s anything like her it might be that he washed off his insect repellent potion after going to the bathroom and forgot to reapply it.
“Enjoying your holiday?” says Rolf.
“Oh, I came for the conference on the Diricawl and ended up staying.” This is a wizarding bar, one of the few magical establishments dotted around the island, so she doesn’t have to lie about the reason for her visit. “It’s fascinating how the Muggles believe it to be extinct and yet it’s still the national bird.”
He smiles at her and relaxes in his chair, one hand resting on his pint. “You’re a naturalist, then? I attended some of the Diricawl lectures with my father a few years back. Is Mr Rajabalee still harping on about the flight or fight response?”
“That and Muggle understandings of extinction.” She shares his smile and sips at her drink. “Are you here with your dad this time?”
“No, his great fascination is dragons. I attended more conferences on them as a kid than anything else. So, have you seen any giant tortoises, or visited the crocodile park yet?”
Her table companion laughs, his broad shoulders shaking slightly. “True. True, true.”
It’s a nice laugh, bright and sparkly and uplifting, like the taste of Fizzing Whizbees dipped in pumpkin juice.
Luna pulls the decorative piece of pineapple off the rim of her glass and chews it thoughtfully. “Do you think there could be some form of tortoise that has a naturally evolved accordion?”
“I have no idea,” he says, still smiling. “Is this a hobby for you then, or a career? Not that I’m fishing or anything, but whilst I might not be that well-known myself yet I’ve met a lot of naturalists through my dad and you I can’t recall.”
“I don’t know.” She places the skin of the pineapple chunk to one side and sucks the tip of her sticky index finger. “I’m an accredited magizoologist and sometimes I write magazine articles about magical creatures. Mostly I just enjoy looking for them.”
“That is the fun part,” he agrees.
“Actually, I might look for the Apsarute next.” At his questioning look she explains, “It’s a small magical creature with sharp blue teeth that like sugar cane.”
He continues to look quizzical. “Has anyone ever seen one?”
“Rumoured to have, yes.”
“So, what you’re doing, in actual fact, is looking for a creature that doesn’t exist?”
Luna is used to people who think she’s strange, who don’t believe in Nargles, Thestrals and Snorkacks, so she merely shrugs and opens her mouth to change the topic of conversation, but Rolf continues talking.
“Let me get this straight. Instead of exploring areas looking for creatures that no one else has ever seen you’re going out there focussed on looking for something specific that, really, no one else has ever seen?” He takes a large mouthful of beer, swallows and his bushy eyebrows draw together in a frown. “Well, that’s narrow-minded of you.”
Luna blinks and blinks again. She’s been called a lot of things, but ‘narrow-minded’ has never been one of them.
“If you walk around with expectations of what you’re going to find based on rumour then you’re going ‘round with your eyes shut,” he tells her earnestly, leaning forward with his arms folded on the table top. He’s wearing a short-sleeved t-shirt and she can see the fine hairs on his bare arms, which are the same colour as the dark brown hair on his head. “It’s all very well looking for this -Apsarute, did you call it? – but if you’re fixated on spotting one of those then you might miss discovering something else. Especially insects. New species of insect are a bugger to spot if you don’t keep your eyes peeled.”
Rolf Scamander, she learns, is fond of insects.
He wants to find all the magical creatures that aren’t listed in it, and since there are so many millions of insects, so many of them ignored, that’s where he started. At twenty-nine years old he has almost twice as many discoveries to his name as he does years, with over thirty being magical insects.
“It’s quite a thin book, you see, if you think about it,” he explains over their second round of drinks, “for such a large world.”
Luna nods in agreement and adjusts the length of sari hanging over one shoulder, fiddling with the safety pin holding it in place. Her hair brushes against the back of her hand and some of the thin strands stick to the pineapple juice still on her fingers. She had meant to tie it back out of the way, but she hadn’t been able to find any hair ties, although she could swear she’d packed some, and she wonders if Rolf keeps his hair cut short because long hair is impractical for people who spend time in hot countries and around animals.
“I used to add creatures to it, with my Mum,” she tells him. “I’d paint them and she’d teach me about the countries where they lived, their habitats and animal biology at our kitchen table. Afterwards she’d stick them into an old copy of Fantastic Beasts that we had. I think that’s the best copy of a thing, a copy that’s constantly evolving.”
“Well, the animal kingdom is, so why shouldn’t the book?”
“They should make evolving books.”
Rolf laughs. “Did you hear about the books on invisibility that Flourish and Blotts lost a load of money on once because they couldn’t find them? Ha, and that ‘Monster Book of Monsters’ Hagrid put on our reading list in seventh year. An evolving book. I bet you could find a publisher to go for it, if anyone could work out a method of making one.”
“There would have to be some kind of Engorgement Charm and a Protean Charm, perhaps linked to a master copy of the book that could then be updated,” she says dreamily.
Rolf blinks and then laughs again. “Bet you were a Ravenclaw.”
“Yes, why? What House were you in?” she asks, peering closely at his face.
“Slytherin,” he says, then adds a little defensively, “for ambition. I already knew what I wanted to do and I was determined to do it.”
“That’s nice.” Luna smiles at him. “I didn’t know what I wanted to do until fourth year and then what I wanted to do was fight in a war, which probably wasn’t a very smart thing to want. I wonder if I’d met the Sorting Hat again that year if he’d have put me in another House.”
“Hufflepuff,” she says and finishes her drink. “I like yellow.”
Luna talks with him until the early evening, about Hogwarts and creatures and journal articles and families, and then they move to another small building further down the street that serves food and talk some more, spices and excitement on her tongue.
She wants to look for an Apsarute, but she also wants to open her eyes (and her mind) wider than they’ve been before, so instead she just looks.
The sugar cane has long, thick leaves wrapped around it that remind her a little of rushes that line the River Nile. The cane itself is brown, stick-like and hard to push out of the way. She peers in the gap between the leaves and the cane and sees tiny spiders with furry legs. She stares at the ground beneath her feet and sees the odd earthworm wriggling back down into the sandy soil.
Luna doesn’t find an Apsarute, but she spends half an hour watching a spider nimbly spin its web. Rolf is quite happy to watch this with her, because it’s calming and exciting, and because the web is dark green and seems to stun any flies that come with a ten millimetre radius.
If yesterday was spent talking, today is spent more in just being, but she learns that he was abroad at the start of the war and couldn’t make it back to be of any use, or even to be with his family, for which he feels guilty, and he learns that she has no trouble at all seeing Thestrals.
At the end of the day they spend most of the walk and bus ride back to Rolf’s hotel coming out with more and more outlandish names for the new species of spider, finally settling on zapporous webbian the first. He doesn’t assume anything in inviting her into his room since an invitation isn’t issued aloud and she doesn’t assume anything in following him in since she’s intelligent enough to know when someone doesn’t mind her company.
“Come into my parlour,” he says with a grin and Luna giggles.
Later she lies on her stomach on the large double bed waving her legs in the air, small pink insect bites littering her ankles, with her favourite paint brush held loosely in one hand and a blank piece of heavy parchment in front of her. She paints zapporous webbian and his glowing web, and when Rolf has finished in the shower and she’s taking her turn he adds a summary of his field notes next to the picture, black ink in neat writing.
Neither of them has a copy of Fantastic Beasts with them in Mauritius, which is possibly some sort of crime for naturalists, but when they move in together two months later, back in England, the piece of parchment is carefully stuck into a shiny new copy of the book under ‘Z’.