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A Deft Hand

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Luna Lovegood had always been able to see things that others couldn’t. ..or wouldn't. Some things that stood just out of the range of sight… of belief. Her mother had been able to see them. Pandora had taught her husband how to Look, and had taught the ways to her daughter from an early age. Xenophilius had some skills but Luna was the one who knew who to truly Look and See the world as it was and as it wanted to be.

In her early years she had learned to keep her Looking and Seeing a secret to keep others from teasing. She Saw how scared they were, how angry because they didn't understand and how sad they were that they couldn't See like she could. So when she got to Hogwarts she continued to Look in secret. Never openly but always there… Looking and Seeing.

It was that fateful night at the Wizarding World Cup that Luna Saw something strange. So she Looked again and Saw it. The beginning of something wrong. A twisted small root that could grow, could spawn into something truly horrible if given a chance. And Harry Potter was smack dab in the middle of it.

Of course, there were a great many things that Harry Potter stood smack dab in the middle of but this was a small thing. A tiny thing easily overlooked, easily left to grow until it got to big to be plucked out like a pesky weed by a deft hand. Hers was such a deft hand but she wondered if it is her place to interfere with the currents of fate flowing and swerving around the Boy Who Lived.

She'd been thinking about it for most of the year, nibbling on the end of her quill during classes, chewing on treacle tart during dinner, traipsing down to Hagrid's hut for class. She listens at corners to the guttural rumble of the Durmstag students, the lilting syllables of the Beauxbatons students, flittering into the air like butterflies.
She thinks about it as She picks up pretty leaves and presses them between the pages of her school books while her year mates titter behind her.

She ponders as She finds a lost button glinting in the sun , almost lost on the stone steps of the castle, barely pausing a step as she scoops it up and pockets it. She will pull it out later and run her fingertips on the rough edges where someone's shoe had crushed it against the stone.

She muses about it as she walks along the lake's edge, turning over smooth stones and skimming them across the placid lake as the giant squid splashed lazily. And when she presses a bit of hard candy into her soft soil of her Herbology project, one day purple, another orange. She taps her fingers lightly on the facets of an old muggle dye as she plots her astronomy course work. She thinks about it, still not sure if it's her place. But he's no longer the "Boy Who Lived to be Touched By Fate", he was just Harry now, her friend. So she thinks some more.

And some more.

And a little bit more.

And then Harry stumbles out of the Maze, holding the body of Cedric Diggory and sobbing about You Know who, and she has made up her mind. She nods to herself resolutely and lets herself be evacuated with the others back up to the castle. There was work to be done.

Never let it be said that Luna Lovegood was anything less than a Ravenclaw at heart . No matter what anyone called her, not the school, not her year mates and certainly not her housemates. They may call her Loony behind her back and every so often to her face and hide her things and jinx her clothes but they could not deny that she belonged to the raven house. And one thing that Raven Claws know how to do is multitask.

So as life goes on at Hogwarts, with classes and tests and the drama of the tournament and the Professor Moody that wasn't, and Lord Voldemort being back from Hell, she works on her project in secret.

Every night, In the darkness of the dorm, the only light a single floating candle, she closes her curtains and pulls out a knitted pouch. It's a gift from her father, who needs something to do with his hands when the nights are too quiet. It's brightly coloured and mismatched as if he had never quite made up his mind on what colour he'd wanted it to be but the soft wool is warm against her cheek. It smells like him and reminds her of sipping hot chocolate in front of the fire while he puttered around his study, rustling papers and the heady smell of quill ink freshly opened.

Deftly, she loosened the strings and dipped her fingers inside, pulling out her project. She spreads it on her lap and reaching into her hair, she gently combs her fingers through, catching upon the loose hairs and pulling them free. Then one at a time, she weaves each strand in with the others she been collecting until she has an intricately woven strand about the width of a thin leather band. As she does this she sings her magic into the weaving, softly pressing her sense of imagination and joy into the strands of hair until she curls the project and slips it back into the pouch, outs the candle and goes to sleep.

After the first strand is done, she wanders the forest for days on end, bits of meat in her pockets from the kitchens until she has enough thestral hairs for a second strand. This time she sits under a shady tree and weaves the strands together as the ethereal horses roam around her, nickering at each other. She sings about change and renewal and seeing to the true heart of things and the silver strand glimmers in the dappled sunlight.

A trip to Hagrid's is next and she sits with him, having tea and rock cakes and talking about darning spells and dragons and all the odd things he's seen and done as groundskeeper as she picks the strands of hair out of the fur collar of his coat. He teaches her a useful spell for patching dragon hide cloaks and she helps him discover that radishes go surprisingly well with his new recipe for tea cakes. She sits along the shadow of his back wall with Fang laying over her feet and weaves the hairs together, singing of strength and protection and faith until the hound is sniffing at the completed strand and licking at her knees.

She finds Neville looks on in disbelief as her Herbology project blossoms purple and orange and he chuffs a laugh as she offers him a purple hard candy, popping the orange in her own mouth. He's been helping Madam Sprout to grade the lower years projects and he gives her an E. She shadows him as he finishes grading and watches carefully as he tends to his own student project. The silence between them is comfortable and warm and she is fascinated by his quick fingers as he trims the extra vines off of the delicate bittersweet kudzu plant, its blood red and ivory vines curled and guided by loving hands into an intricate pattern. He gives her an odd look when she requests the clipping and he presses them into her hands with a smile.

She sits in the back of greenhouse 4 on a pile of bags filled with soft mulch and gently strips the vines into delicate threads, weaving them together as she sings of ingenuity and steadfastness and of patience until the strand looks like lightening in a blood red bottle.

The next one is tricky. It is through Neville again that she succeeds. He invites her into Gryffindor tower to study and she accepts. After that it is slight of hand and good fortune that she comes away with the hairbrush. By the time she leaves the tower that evening, she has learned ten things she didn't know about mulch and roots, that Neville Longbottom's blush extends down his neck and disappears into his shirt when he is complimented and that Hermione Granger needs to stop brushing her hair so harshly.

Maybe she should prompt a conversation amongst other girls about hair care within the girl's hearing. It is a thought for another day.
She sits in a small alcove in the library and sings of focus and passion and knowledge as she weaves the golden brown hairs into a smooth glistening strand that glimmered in the coloured light through the library's stained glass windows.

The last one is simple and occurred to her one day as she was sitting in the great hall. She had been chatting with Hannah Abbott and Susan Bones near the Griffindor table about hair care and the modern witch when the dessert course had appeared. It was enough to make her lose her train of though and stop mid sentence. The other two girls, accustomed by now to her strange ways, carried on the conversation, eventually drawing a certain bushy haired witch into the discussion while Luna wandered out of the hall.

She made her way into the kitchens and to a certain house elf. Dobby was overjoyed to be of service and after much tears and weeping for joy, agreed to fray some threads from his lovely pillowcase. The threads were cream with spots of colour from the printed flower pattern and she sat in the corner of the kitchens near the hearth and wove the strings, singing of loyalty and love and innocence as the house elves hummed along as they worked until the strand fairly pulsed like a beating heart.

She dresses warmly and slips out of the dorms after curfew and up to the owlery. Most of the birds are sleeping but there is one who almost immediately flies to land on her shoulder, hooting softly as she reaches up to scratch at the white feathers gently. She sits on one of the benches and pulls the knitted pouch from her jacket. It's almost finished, the many strands have been woven into a complex pattern, the colours folding and twisting into each other.

Hedwig fluffs her feathers, a small white feather fluttering to sit against the pink of her overcoat. She murmurs her thanks, weaving the soft white feather into the strands, singing of companionship and affection and wisdom into the crisp night air as the soft breath and down feathers puffed against her neck.

Her secret box of trinkets reveals a piece of beach glass, green and vibrant as Harry's eyes. She twists a thin silver wire around it and through the woven braid, singing the lullaby her mother used to sing her when she was little. It's filled with mother's love and a gentle flame against the darkness and the project is complete.

She keeps it in her pocket for days, weeks. Twisting the braid around her fingers in her robe pocket until the edges are smoothed away and the weave is supple and soft against the skin and she waits for the right time. It comes one day after DA and she and harry are the last to leave the come and go room. She snags his sleeve and he turns and smiles one of his secret smiles at her, his gaze curious. She takes the braid out of her pocket and ties it around his left wrist. He touches the woven braid with hesitant fingers, the tips running along the green glass and white feather with an almost fragile look in his eyes.

"for the vermillion crested hoodwinklers" she says simply with a smile and kisses him on the cheek.

He covers the braid with his other hand and his smiles changes, deepens and his eyes crinkle at the edges. He nods and they walk to dinner and never speak of it again.

After the final battle while she and Neville are sitting on the broken castle steps, her hand resting on his thigh while he has the sword of Griffindor against his knees. She is comfortable just being next to him and his body heat warms her against the night's chill. A cry goes up and she sees Harry coming into view, Hermione running to him and hugging him and she can see the braid around his wrist and she smiles to herself.

Months later she is sits at the kitchen table in her flat, wearing a fluffy robe and nothing else, reading the papers and sipping tea. Neville sleepily shuffles to the teapot in his boxers, scratching his bare stomach as the pale sunlight of dawn through the curtains playing across his bare shoulders and the scratch marks she left there the night before. She smiles smugly into her teacup and drags her eyes back to the paper with a bit of effort.

There is an owl at the window, white feathered and bearing a letter. Hedwig delivers the letter into her hands and preens while Neville feeds her bits of his bacon. The envelope is ivory and the paper is heavy, the Potter seal pressed into green wax. She uses her butter knife to crack the seal and two clipped articles fall out along with a letter and a card.

One clipping declares "Boy Who lived rushed to St. Mungo's after charmed artifact detects use of illegal potion" and the second states "Weasley Matriarch and two youngest arrested for illegal use of Love Potions on War Heroes " Luna straightens out the articles, pressing out the folds against the tables. She picks up the card and it's a "Save the Date" for the upcoming wedding of Harry James Potter and Hermione Jean Granger. She smiles and hands the card off to Neville who grins into his toast and eggs.

The letter is the last and as she picks it up, something falls out. It is the bracelet, worn and almost deplete of magic. The glass and the feather are gone and the strands are starting to stray apart. The letter has two words in Harry's signature scrawl.

Thank you.

Neville gestures to the bracelet as she stands, packing the clippings and letters back into the envelope, his gaze curious.

"for the vermillion crested hoodwinklers" she says simply with a smile and kisses him on the cheek.

She places the letter into a drawer with the other odds and ends and lets Hedwig pick at her fingers as she lets her out with murmured endearments. She brushes her finger tips along Neville's shoulders and shrugs off her robe, slinging it onto the back of a chair as she pads down the hall to the bedroom.

The hurried scrape of a chair across the kitchen floor and hurried footsteps follow.