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Wands of the Woods Entry - Marigolds

Title: Marigolds
Author: jdbracknell
Prompt: Ash - Ash also referred to as Yggdrasil in Northern Europe and known as the world tree was very sacred to the druids. Its main symbolism being that of stability as it links the inner and otherworlds. It is used in spells that require focus and strength and is often used to banish mental strife. It is said that if you put its leaves under your pillow it will induce psychic dreams.
Rating: PG
Genre: Romance
Word Count: 2237
Summary: Her mother used to tell her stories of love and life, only in the stories, the two didn’t seem all that different.
Author’s Notes: I can't resist flower meanings, so I chose marigolds for a reason ;). The story of the leaf in your shoe is folklore from the North of England, and the story of the lovers is based on a Norwegian tale, Axel Thordsen and Fair Valdborg. Feedback is always appreciated :D.



Her mother used to tell her stories of love and life, only in the stories, the two didn’t seem all that different.

She remembered as much as she could (the words were too precious not to at least try and recall them), but one stuck in her mind more than the others, so piercing and beautiful was the tragedy of it. It was about lovers who had been destined, but had never had a chance to make a go of things, who had ended up side by side in death, together for all eternity when they never were in life. Ash trees had grown over their graves, one tree each, and over time the branches had woven together and bound themselves to each other, and she’d thought how wonderful for them, for their tree-selves to be forever holding hands above what remained of their mortal souls.

When she’d told her mother it was the story she liked best, her mother had kissed her on the forehead and said something about a melancholy soul, which she hadn’t understood and still didn’t –

But she thought about the story sometimes, wondered who her branches would find (although in truth, romantic as she thought the story was, she hoped she’d find him, whoever he was, long before she was in the ground).




The leaf in her shoe prickled a bit when she walked, and so she found a sunny spot behind the greenhouse and sank down there with a book, running her fingers over the text as she read, checking for pinprick codes above the letters.

She’d heard about the power of the leaves from the girls in the common room – one leaf, ash (it was that which had caught her attention), in your shoe, and you’d discover your true love.

They’d whispered about it behind their books as if it was a secret they wanted her to know they knew but not hear (she’d had kippers for breakfast that morning, though, and with the heightened senses that afforded, she could make out every word), and then had giggled and talked about who they wanted the ash leaves to reveal as their destiny. The way they’d spoken, though, made her think they didn’t really know what they were talking about, didn’t really believe it at all, but she did, because why would the story exist if it wasn’t true?

There was a collection of ash trees down on the edge of the forest, and so she’d gone there as soon as she could, and found the tree that most resembled what she thought she wanted, someone strong and true and kind, and although she’d found strong and true, kind was harder to tell in trees, and so she’d picked the one that seemed to have the most birds nesting in it, and settled for that.

She’d taken an old leaf, one that was barely hanging on and wouldn’t be missed, and placed it carefully in her shoe, and now, with the sun shining and her foot prickling, she waited, wondering what love would look like.




“Hello, Luna.”

The voice would have startled her, if she hadn’t been waiting for destiny to reveal itself, and so she just looked up to see who it was. “Oh, hello,” she said, and smiled a little at the dirt on Neville’s face. “Tricky things.”

He frowned a little in incomprehension, and so she elaborated, which she didn’t mind doing (although she’d like it occasionally if people kept up). “The calendula officinalis,” she said. “You were re-potting them.”
“You know the Latin name for..?”

Luna looked up properly, and found it worth the effort to watch his expression change from surprised to impressed (although really, she didn’t think there was anything impressive about it).

“Oh,” she said, “it’s rude not to call them by their proper name, don’t you think?”
“Well, yes,” Neville said, his eyebrows working on his forehead as if she’d just uttered a thought he’d had too, but had never expected to hear from another’s lips.
“Although some of them are very tricky to say, I find,” she added, looking away a little at the thought.

Neville laughed, and Luna wasn’t quite sure why; but she liked the sound of it none the less. His laughter seemed to make the sun shine brighter and the grass greener, and she thought of the leaf in her shoe and if –

“What are you reading?”
The Runic Codex,” she replied, and Neville’s mouth formed into an ‘oh’, although no sound came out and he looked rather baffled. “It’s not hugely interesting,” she added, and Neville smiled in what she couldn’t help thinking was relief that she didn’t want to talk about the book in her hands. “I was hoping to find a message in it, but so far, nothing.”

Neville nodded. “DA tonight,” he said, leaning in and lowering his voice. “Are you going to come?”
“Oh yes,” she said, “I’ve been looking forward to it all week.”
“I’ll see you then, then.”

He blushed a little, and turned, and as he walked away, the words kind and strong and true bounded in her head, and although he wasn’t the kind of person she’d dreamed about at all, something about the thought of Neville made her smile (and always had done, now she thought about it).




They talked, sometimes, after meetings, when the sky turned inky and the stars came out. It was nothing special, she thought – spells and what they’d learned and what homework they had left to do – but that was what made it, she thought, for both of them.

He talked about how various things were doing in the greenhouse, and eventually about his parents, and what had happened to them, and she recounted the stories her mother had told her (but she always kept the one about the ash trees to herself).

They were friends, she thought, and so when, nearly a year later, he put his arm around her at the funeral, she didn’t think it was that odd that she liked the feel of his body next to hers.

He didn’t say anything stupid about Dumbledore – in fact, he didn’t say anything at all, and she found that comforting, in a way, that he thought some things were too big to talk about, too.




The cellar (if that’s what it was, she wasn’t sure. She’d thought about calling it a chamber, or wondered if it was a coal shed, but in the last week or so, she’d decided that cellar was probably the best fit) was cold, and dark, and smelt of damp. She wasn’t sure how long she’d been there – she’d started to count the days, but had lost track, and sometimes she thought it was better that she didn’t know.

She thought about Neville, that he’d know the right name for the lichen on the wall, and maybe even for the moss she’d found growing between the stones the other night with the very tips of her fingers. She thought about the stories he’d told her, too, when they’d lingered outside in the corridors after the DA meetings, the tales of his parents and their bravery, how he only hoped he’d have a tenth their courage when the time came –

She told Mr Ollivander again that they’d be all right, that someone would figure out where they were and come for them (although she was beginning to suspect that he didn’t believe her at all, and that his murmurs of agreement were just to humour her), and wondered if she’d ever get the chance to tell Neville that he had more than a tenth of his parents’ courage, more than anyone she knew.

Sometimes she imagined she could see him in the darkness, could feel his hand in hers, solid and comforting and warm and just there.

It was always upsetting when she realised she was imagining things.




The Ash trees on the edge of the forest were scorched, and she stood and looked at them with tears in her eyes she couldn’t seem to hold in.

She traced the scared silver bark with her fingers, not quite imagining that she could feel evil beneath them.

People had died in the battle, and she knew she should be sad for them, was – but something about that, about everything that had happened, felt too big to cry about.

And the trees –

“Luna?”

She turned a little, and Neville’s fingers settled on her elbow. His touch was just like she remembered from Dumbledore’s funeral – warm and comforting and solid and just there, when she needed it.

“They’ll be fine,” he said, as if he knew exactly what she was thinking. “Ash is resilient – it’s a sacred tree in a lot of places – some people think it bridges the gap between the living and – ”

He stopped, but she knew, anyway, what he was going to say, because she’d heard that story too.

Ash trees were spirit trees, a bond between the living and the dead.

Maybe that was why she’d always liked the story.

She let her fingers fall away and slipped them into Neville’s, and for a moment, they just stood.

And then –

He hesitated momentarily, leant in, and before she knew it (though at the same time, she thought she’d always known it) his lips were on hers, and hers were on his, and fleetingly they weren’t on the edge of the forest with death and destruction in the air, but floating above it, above everything.

He took her face in his hands, and she felt warmth and comfort (and something else entirely) in them, and when he moved away, she missed the taste of starlight. He smoothed his fingers over her cheeks, and without thinking, she clung to his wrists and looked deep into his eyes, letting him see exactly what dwelt in her heart, sadness and sorrow and –

“They’re hurt but they’ll grow again,” he said quietly. “Just like we will.”




He wrote to her, sometimes, when she was off in the jungle somewhere, chasing a lead.

He told her all about Harry Potter’s children, what a pain in the greenhouse they were to teach, and kept her updated on the fraxinus excelsiors, the new ones he’d planted, and the fairies he thought he’d seen gathered on the boughs in the twilight.

He wasn’t the only one who kept in touch – her parrot brought her letters from all of her friends – Hermione and Ginny most regularly (but Neville’s were the ones that made her smile).

Every time a letter arrived, she’d wait until she was alone, and then trace each word with her fingertips, as if she was still looking for codes above the words.

But there weren’t pinpricks, there was nothing to decipher, because in every word he wrote, that kiss lingered, like it was engraved forever through both of them.




“Ned?” the groundkeeper said. “Come and ‘ave a look at this.”

Ned stopped what he was doing, glad of the excuse to put down his trowel and leave the flowerbeds be for a moment, and walked over to where the Cyril was, resting on his spade.

He followed his gaze, then peered at the trees in front of him, unable to quite believe what he was seeing.

“In all my days,” Cyril said, “I’ve never seen anything like it.”

Ned concurred. It wasn’t uncommon for trees to be planted above graves, but normally they liked space, and these two –

Ash, they were, he was certain of it, and each of their branches touched the other, forming a thick cobweb that reached towards the sky. “That’s – ”
“Right peculiar.”

Ned peered at the lattice for a moment, totally entranced, and then looked at the graves beneath. He’d expected them, for some reason, to bear the same surname, but underneath the branches, he could just make out the words –




“See?” Luna said. “I knew we’d find them eventually.”

Neville smiled at the trees, tracing the entwined branches with his gaze. For a moment, he just stood and looked at them, captivated, and then his eyes found hers. “How did you know it was true?” he said. “The story?”

She’d told it to him not long ago (although left out the part about leaves in her shoe), and he’d offered to help her find them, said that they would certainly be worth seeing, if they existed, but not to get her hopes up, because stories got twisted in the telling –

She smiled in answer, because in truth, she hadn’t known, she’d just believed (just like she’d believed in him, even when they were apart). Her smile seemed enough for him, and he said, “They’re beautiful.”

They were. Better than she’d imagined, but what they meant was better still.

Luna slipped her fingers between Neville’s and squeezed. He glanced about the cemetery, but finding only two old men bent over the flowerbeds, he took out his wand, Conjured a flower, and handed it to her, smiling.

Calendula officinalis,” she said, and couldn’t help smiling back at him.

It had taken years, but finally –

She thought of entwined branches, how hers had finally found the person they were meant to, and how they would forever be interwoven (but much as she liked the romance of the story, she was very glad her branches had found their home long before she was in the ground).

Comments

sugar_fey
Mar. 7th, 2008 09:17 pm (UTC)
I'm here via a rec from Coffee and Chocolate, and I just had to comment. This is beautiful, and very original. I love the way the theme of ash trees winds its way though the whole story until that lovely conclusion. Luna seemed so real in this! Some writers write Luna as merely kooky or as a plot device, you made her seem like a person with a unique and sometimes sad outlook on life. I'm glad she found Neville in the end!

All in all, I loved it.
lady_bracknell
Mar. 7th, 2008 09:30 pm (UTC)
Oh, thank you very much :D. I really loved writing this - I think Luna must have a really fascinating outlook, and I really wanted to tackle how she'd think about love, because there's something quite whimsical about Luna, and yet she always seems to have that edge of really seeing through things to how they really are. I'm really glad you liked it :D.

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