The Sugar Quill
Author: Arnel  Story: A Valentine Rescue  Chapter: Default
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A Valentine Rescue

A Valentine Rescue

 

By Arnel

 

A/N: This is the original version of the 1500 word story I entered into the Valentine’s Day Challenge at Phoenix Song.net.  I hope you enjoy the longer, more detailed story.

 

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Luna Lovegood wrinkled her nose. "What is that smell?" she asked vaguely fingering the necklace of demitasse spoons she wore over her robes.  She and Neville Longbottom were wandering though Greenhouse Three before going into Hogsmeade for lunch on Valentine’s Day. Neville wanted to check on his Mimbulus mimbletonia project before they left the castle. 

 

“The venomous tentacula just belched.   Professor Sprout probably fed it this morning,” Neville said with a smile.  “Don’t go too near it.  It’s probably still hungry and those tentacles will grab at anything within fifteen feet.”

 

“I suppose you’re right.  Where is it?”

 

“Over there, in that corner.”  Neville pointed to a towering plant set out by itself in one corner of the room.

 

Luna nodded and walked straight for it.  “What’s it eat?”

 

“Luna! Are you listening to me?  Don’t go over there!  If you get too close, it’ll eat you!”

 

“Oh, sorry.  I just wanted a better look, that’s all.  A healthy tentacula is supposed to be teaming with Dingle Fairies.  The two have a symbiotic relationship. I wanted to see if there were any on its tentacles.  What’s wrong with that?”

 

Neville gave an exasperated sigh.  “I suppose nothing.  Just stay out of its reach,” he said glancing at his watch.  “Come on, Luna.  We still have to get to Greenhouse Six.”

 

“Oh, all right, I’m coming.”  Luna sounded more than a little annoyed as she ran to catch up to Neville who was now halfway through Greenhouse Four.

 

The two entered Greenhouse Six and Neville took Luna over to where his project grew under a protective hood.  He reached under the hood and brought out a rather large and ugly cactus-like plant.  It began to hum and bend towards his hand as he reached out to stroke it.  It shivered when Neville ran a finger down its stem.

 

“Oh, I remember that,” Luna said, her protuberant eyes enlarging in recognition.  “You covered Harry Potter with that green stuff it squirted on the train last year.  He wasn’t very pleased when Cho Chang showed up right afterwards.”

 

“I suppose not.  But Ginny got rid of the sap with that cleaning charm of hers, so no harm done.”

 

“Actually, Harry was rather mortified that Cho saw him covered in green goop and holding your toad.”

 

“As I recall, he got over the incident,” Neville told her distractedly as he put his mimbletonia back and extracted a tiny specimen covered in small white flowers from the group under the hood.  “Luna, I wanted to show this to you.”

 

Luna peered over his shoulder at the plant.  “Wow, Neville.  It’s beautiful.  So this is the new strain you’ve been telling me about?”

 

“That’s right,” he beamed. “I named it after you: it’s the Mimbulus luna I was down here the other night and it was glowing in the moonlight coming through the roof.  Its radiance reminded me of you.”

 

“That’s nice,” Luna said dreamily, her attention already straying.  “How long have you known about this strain?” 

 

“Two weeks, three days, four hours, and nineteen and one-half minutes. Professor Sprout’s spell to tell me the plant would survive sounded its alarm on twenty-nine January at seven-forty one, just as I was getting back from dinner,” he told her proudly.  He placed the luna back in its spot and began fussing with his other plants.  “I’ll be just a few more minutes, Luna.  I need to water and fertilize.”

 

“Take your time,” Luna told him and began wandering back toward Greenhouse Three.

 

The tentacula swung its leafy head toward her as she entered the greenhouse and let out a loud belch.  Luna held her nose.

 

“You’re rather rude,” Luna told it edging closer.  The plant seemed to smile as it followed her movement.

 

Luna knew that the Dingle Fairies usually built their colonies close to the base of the stem inside the plant—her father had printed a feature article about them in last month’s Quibbler.  If she could just get close enough, she might see the entrance hole they had chewed in its base.  She knelt down in front of the big planter and began examining the soil line.

 

Suddenly, she felt something stroke her hair.  She giggled and moved forward a little.  Moments later, she felt the stroking for a second time, this time around her neck and ears.  Her necklace clanked a little.

 

“Stop that!" Luna laughed. "It tickles!” She brushed a distracted hand in the direction of the tickling, all the while moving closer to the tentacula.

 

Then, she spotted it; a small door-shaped hole on the right side of the stem.  Excited, Luna reached up to pull her wand from behind her left ear.  She had to see if the Fairies built tiny houses and villages just as the article in the Quibbler had stated.  Maybe if she could get her lit wand-tip inside the opening she could confirm the existence of this particular sort of fairy.  Her hand met only air and something rather wet soaking her hair and the shoulder of her robes.

 

"Neville, that's so sticky!” she exclaimed looking around to find that she was still alone in the greenhouse.  There was a plop and something just as sticky and wet oozed inside the back of her robes.  Luna looked up to find the tentacula peering down at her, its mouth of sharp pink teeth drooling great blobs of orange fluid.  The plant leered hungrily at her and snaked a long tentacle around her waist.

 

“Neville, HELP! HELP!” Luna screamed grabbing at the plant and reaching for her wand, which the tentacula was dangling just out of reach.  The more she struggled to reach the wand, the tighter the tentacle around her waist became.  As she heard Neville thunder through Greenhouse Four, Luna felt her feet leave the floor.

 

“Luna, what’s wrong?” he panted skidding to a stop just inside Greenhouse Three. He turned and muttered, “Merlin’s beard!” upon seeing Luna dangling from the tentacula.  He pulled out his wand and leveled it at the plant.

 

“Whatever you do, stop struggling,” he ordered Luna.  “I told you that thing would eat you if you got too close.  Now hold still.  I’m going to try to Stun it.”

 

“Hurry, Neville,” Luna squealed and stopped trying to free herself.  “I can’t breathe.”

 

Stupefy!” Neville shouted aiming his wand at the mouth of the tentacula.  The spell hit one of the pink teeth and bounced upward, shattering a pane of glass in the ceiling.

 

Luna screamed as glass cascaded over her and began thrashing about again.  One of her feet grazed the main stem and the plant began to giggle.

 

“Make it laugh, Neville!  Use the tickling charm!” she called urgently.

 

Neville concentrated hard, trying to remember the tickling charm that Professor Flitwick had taught him in Second Year.  He recalled the word and yelled as loudly as he could, “Rictusempra!” A rush of bright yellow light surged toward the plant from his wand tip.  He missed and tried again, this time his spell hitting the stem just under one of the tentacles.  For one long moment, nothing happened. Then, the tentacula began to laugh; at first just a giggle which grew steadily louder until the entire plant was shaking with mirth.  Neville stared, somewhat surprised, then remembered Luna needed rescuing.  He sprinted to a cabinet and pulled out a large spray bottle marked “Tentacula Repellant” which he took back to where Luna was now trying to tickle her captor.

 

Thinking quickly, Neville aimed his wand at the base of the second tentacle.  Another “Rictusempra” sent the venomous tentacula into renewed gales of laughter.  It dropped Luna’s wand and brought the tentacle around to hold its stem as if it had a stitch in its side.  The hungry plant began to guffaw heartily and Neville aimed the nozzle of the spray over Luna’s head at the gaping mouth and pulled the trigger repeatedly.

 

“Neville, what are you doing?” Luna whined as the repellant began to soak into her robes.  “There are Dingle Fairies inside this plant.  They’re very rare. Don’t kill them, please!”  As she whined, the giant tentacle began to loosen its grip on her.  Neville noticed and stopped spraying.

 

“Whatever Dingle Fairies are, this won’t do any more harm than a Dreamless Sleep potion does to us,” he informed her.  “This stuff puts the tentacula to sleep.  Watch out, it’s about to drop you.”  He could see Luna still wanted to protest.  She didn’t have the chance.  The tentacula let go of her and, with one last chortle, was still.

 

Luna dropped to the floor of the greenhouse with a thud, her necklace jingling merrily.  Before Neville could pocket his wand she had scrambled over to the pot and was poking her own lit wand at the base of the plant.  “There is a colony in here!” she exclaimed happily.  “I told Father the readers were wrong to challenge the Dingle Fairies’ existence.”

 

“Neville Longbottom!  What’s the meaning of all this destruction?” Professor Sprout demanded as she strode into the greenhouse.  She immediately pointed her wand at the shards of glass; with a quick “Reparo” the pieces reassembled themselves into a pane and slid back into place.  Then, she turned her attention to the two students.

 

Luna, by this time, was on her feet, her customary dreamy expression back in place.  “I can explain, Professor,” she said.  “Neville didn’t do anything wrong.  I was looking for Dingle Fairies in the venomous tentacula and it decided I was going to be lunch.”

 

“And what, pray tell, are Dingle Fairies?”

 

“They’re a rare type of fairy that lives only in the venomous tentacula, Professor.  They build colonies within the stem—“

 

“Thank you, Luna, for enlightening me.”  She turned to Neville.  “Explain this mess.”

 

Neville did so and afterwards, Professor Sprout told him that she would have to write up the incident.

 

“When do we report for detention?” he asked as he put away the repellant bottle.

 

Professor Sprout smiled.  “As it’s Valentine’s Day, I will not require you to appear for detention.  However, Miss Lovegood, you will write an essay on the proper care and feeding of the venomous tentacula to be handed in to me no later than Tuesday.”  When the two nodded, she continued.  “Now, Neville, I suggest you take Miss Lovegood to see Madam Pomfrey.  She will be starting to feel the effects of the Tentacula Repellant very soon and needs to take the antidote as soon as possible.  I will inform Madam Pomfrey you two are on your way.”

 

Neville nodded and reached for Luna’s hand.  He didn’t want her getting into any more trouble.  She took his hand and docilely followed him out of the greenhouse, looking more than a little sleepy.

 

They were almost to the hospital wing when Luna began to complain. “Neville, you're going too fast.  I can’t keep up.” She stopped and sagged against the wall yawning hugely.

 

There was urgency in Neville’s voice as he said, “Hang on for just a while longer, Luna.  We’re almost there.”

 

She yawned again, closing her eyes.  “Sleep.  I need to sleep.”

 

Alarmed, Neville scooped Luna up in his arms and began sprinting down the corridor. The doors to the hospital opened as they reached them, Madam Pomfrey waiting to direct them to one of the beds.  A large goblet of smoking potion sat on the bedside table.

 

“Is she still conscious?”

 

“Just barely, Madam.”

 

“I’ll take over from here.  Thank you for getting her here so quickly.  Please wait outside.”

 

Neville departed as he was told, glancing anxiously over his shoulder at Luna.

 

An hour later, Neville poked his head around the curtains which had been drawn around Luna’s bed.  She was fully awake and beckoned him to the chair beside her.

 

“Thank you, Neville, for rescuing me,” she told him with a smile, holding out her hand for Neville to take. He wiped his palm on his robes before grasping her hand.

 

“You’re welcome, Luna.  I’m just sorry this has turned out to be such a rotten Valentine’s Day for you.  We missed our lunch in Hogsmeade,” Neville told her apologetically. 

 

Luna tugged gently at his hand, pulling him toward her.  “Don’t say that,” she chided.  “You made this a special day anyway.  How many other girls had a boy defend them against a hungry plant today, huh?  I think I’m the only one.”

 

Neville could feel his ears growing warm and he shifted from one foot to the other. The earth encrusted under the nails of his free hand was suddenly very interesting, too.  “It wasn’t very romantic,” he mumbled not quite willing to look Luna in the face.

 

“Oh, on the contrary, it was quite romantic; especially the part about you naming the Mimbulus luna after me and how you remembered that tickling charm.  And I think I saw a couple of Dingle Fairies embracing, too.”

 

Neville looked up.  “So they really exist, do they?  What were they doing?”

 

Luna smiled.  “Let me show you,” she said and she drew Neville into her arms and kissed him soundly on the lips.

 

~~FINIS~~

 

A/N:  As always, my heartfelt thanks goes to my beta Yolanda for helping me improve the story. Her suggestions made the characters come alive and act like real people.

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