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Different Hues

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Luna Lovegood wore a green dress to his funeral: lime green with light blue tool. She adorned this dress with a soft yellow sweater and thick red tights. People stared and mocked but Luna paid no mind. She had heard once that it is tradition to wear black to a funeral, but Luna did not wear black to her mother’s funeral and she refused to wear black to his. Snape was more than just the color black. He was an abundance of green for Slytherin, he was partly blue for Ravenclaw, and hidden deep down he was slivers of red for Gryffindor. Luna suspected him to have a bit of yellow for Hufflepuff as well. She wishes dearly to discover that Hufflepuff. She wishes dearly to discover the bits and pieces that was Severus Snape and put them together. She believes she has an idea of what that picture would look like: different hues of green, blue, red, and yellow, all outlined in stark black. The picture has depth, it is dark and light and beautiful and stunning. She tried to reflect his lesser known attributes—the lighter parts of him—with her dress and sweater.

She is wearing that same sweater now, she wonders if he knows. He is staring at her now. Ginny told her that Snape’s eyes were nothing but pits of black. They are not, they are brown. Deep brown.

“Miss Lovegood.”

When they revealed that he was not dead she was not at all surprised. Snape’s death had never felt final to her. It was too predictable for him to die over the elder wand. He would have expected such a misconception, he was too paranoid not to.

“Miss Lovegood.”

She is glad he is not dead, but she is not glad that he is once again her potions professor. Not because he could be a bit difficult at times— in fact Luna always thought Snape to be an excellent professor and a master at brewing potions— but solely for the reason that Snape did not belong at Hogwarts anymore. She has a sense that he is a bit lost. Luna has a good sense for when people are lost. She would like to help Snape find his way, if he would have her.

“Miss Lovegood.” Luna Lovegood notices that Professor Snape looks underfeed. She would like to remedy this too.

“Miss Lovegood, are you trying to test my patience?” He snaps.

Most would say that Snape has a way of making the dungeons ten degrees colder then it ought to be. Luna disagrees. Snape’s voice is much too deep and warm to chill her bones.

“I am very glad Nagini did not ruin your voice Professor, it would have been very unfortunate if she did.” Ginny quickly covers her mouth to the left of Luna. Luna thinks that Ginny is trying to stifle a laugh, though she does not know what is so funny or why Professor Snape suddenly looks so taken aback. She hopes he has not taken her comment as an insult, she is not looking to kick him while he is down, and Luna has a feeling that if Professor Snape took off his mask he would look very somber indeed. Luna hates that mask, she imagines it’s stifling.

“Ten points from Ravenclaw, for being an insufferable day dreamer.” Slowly he walks toward her desk, to intimidate. She recognizes his dance, “Please do pay attention Miss Lovegood” he will stick up his nose now, she thinks, and when he does she feels glad that she still knows him so well, “least you blow up the classroom with your potion.” He ends his statement with a sneer, as he always ends his statements with a sneer when it comes to her.

She imagines that Snape takes points away from houses when he does not know what else to say to his students. Luna wonders if she has embarrassed him. She reassures him that she means no offence with a smile, her eyes seeming distant yet all too knowing. Snape’s mask falters, and for a second he looks confused, and then the mask is set firmly back in place and he is off to repeat the same dance with one of her peers. She sighs, because his mask does not need to be his only friend. Ginny finally lets out a giggle.

“What was that all about Luna? ‘I’m very glad Nagini didn’t ruin your voice’” She mimics. Luna turns to face Ginny with her big blue eyes.

“I missed his voice, didn’t you?”

Ginny is frowning a bit now. “Er, yeah. I suppose I did Luna,” she ends her uncomfortable rambling with a, “I’m glad he’s alright too.” This makes Luna smile dreamily and she scribbles in her potions notebook in big pink letters.

“Do you think he would ever read us poetry? I believe it would sound quit stunning.” This makes Ginny laugh loud and hard. Suddenly Snape is before them once more.

“Ten points from Gryffindor. Please do keep your insolent mouth shut Miss Weasley, and try not to distract Miss Lovegood. She needs no help in that department as it is.” Ginny blushes, Snape sneers, and all is as it once was before the war. Snape is off again to make sure the potion boiling over two rows down doesn’t eat away at the table.

“If anyone can get good ole Snape to read poetry, you can Luna.”

 

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This is the third time this week that Luna Lovegood has left an apple on Snape’s desk. In the beginning he was confused, now he is just angry. He swipes the confounded thing off his desk with a flick of his wrist. He feels mocked. He feels the girl is making fun.

He watches the apple roll on the floor until the nearby wall stops it.

He falters in his anger for a moment, only a moment, and attempts to contemplate what other reason the girl would have for giving him apples. She always struck him as odd, but she has never been spiteful. In fact, Miss. Lovegood was not that much of a nuisance at all. If he was being honest with himself, the girl would have blended into the walls if it weren’t for her odd manor. If it weren’t for her odd manor, or the fact that she traveled with Potter and the Weasels, he wouldn’t have noticed her at all. Still, he had never paid much attention to the brat, and in return she never paid much attention to him. Well, she hadn’t until now. He is irritated because he cannot tell if Miss. Lovegood is giving him apples as a kindness or as a joke. He has always been a pessimist however, and proud of it, so he believes in the latter. He at least convinces himself that he believes in the latter, or tries to.

Lovegood was never a bully. She is not a Gryffindor.

He growls and furrows his brow. He is tired of trying to be understanding so he makes his way to his chair to grade papers. He decides he is angry, and when he is angered he likes to take his frustrations out on his student’s essays. He flips through the stack on his desk and sorts the essays into the student’s respective houses. He writes Outstanding and Excellent in red ink on the essays that belong to his house, then Acceptable on Hufflepuffs’; the sickly smiling bunch never gave him much trouble but they annoyed him none the less. He places Acceptable and Poor on any essay belonging to a Gryffindor because they were a Gryffindor and did they really expect anything else? Finally he makes his way to the Ravenclaw stack. Typically he gives Ravenclaws’ the mark of Excellent; their essays are so thought provoking that sometimes he actually reads them. He would never admit this to anyone, but he always read Miss. Lovegood’s. There were times when her essays took a slight turn into the fantastical, speaking on Nargals and the like, but this entertained Snape because at least her essays were different. She had a way of seeing what wasn’t there and presenting ideas on further research that he himself found impressing. Severus Snape was not normally impressed, in fact he made a point in staying disappointed. So when her name persisted to be the first one on the infernal pile, he hesitates. He hesitates because he is not sure that he wants to read her essay this time around. He is not sure, because he still cannot decide whether he is angry or not. Snape tries to conjure the ball of furry that has followed him around his entire life, and cannot. This frustrates him and he grabs the piece of parchment aggressively.

He reads her essay, and immediately regrets the decision.

Snape asked for two feet of parchment on the effects of Alihotsy Draught that he had the class brew on Monday. The Alihotsy Draught induces hysteria through ingestion or inhalation, which she points out clearly in her analysis. It is then, however, that she continues to speak on hysteria and how hysteria can affect ones appetite and have one forget to eat. She goes on, in a very academic way, to explain how forgetting to feed one’s self is very dangerous indeed. She describes that although one’s head may be screwed on correctly at the moment, after experiencing malnourishment one’s head will be infested with Nargals, and we wouldn’t want that now would we? Miss. Lovegood in all of her infernal, buggering, irritating wisdom then proscribes the antidote to a failing apatite: an apple, one a day.

He marks her essay with a big ugly P for poor. Poor and persistent. He still cannot decide if he is angry.

 

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“What happened to your leg Neville?”

Neville Longbottom is sitting in a chair and has his left leg resting on Luna’s lap. It is horribly bruised, Luna notices, and is swelling. Her poor Neville, always tripping and falling and hurting himself. She frowns and lightly places an ice pack on the ruffed up appendage. She isn’t sure why he won’t go to Pomphrey, but she doesn’t ask and instead enjoys the moment of taking care of her friend. Friend, she hasn’t seen many of her friends lately. She is glad she still has Neville and Ginny.

“Just one of the plants snagged me is all.” He shrugs.

“Only a plant Neville?” She teases. Sometimes she thinks that Neville forgets that she does care about his plants, and that his explanations don’t bore her. As if on cue his eyes light with excitement.

“Alright it’s not ‘only a plant,’ it’s an extraordinary plant. But If I tell you what it is, you can’t tell anyone Luna. Not even Ginny.”

Luna says nothing in reply, she only stares back at him. He clears his throat.

“Right then, I know I can trust you Luna.” He smiles his dopey smile and Luna offers one in return. The moment is broken when Neville blushes and looks down. Luna continues to bandage ice to his leg.

“Is this mysterious plant the reason why you can’t go to Pomphrey?” She wasn’t going to pressure him, but Luna believes that Neville wants someone to talk to. Ginny isn’t one for herbology and Hannah Abbot, the love of Neville’s life, is off training to be an auror with Harry. They are quite alone, her and Neville.

“If I went to Pomphrey there would be questions and I promised Professor Sprout I’d not tell anyone,” he hesitates, and then, “It’s a baby Devils Snare. For whatever reason the Order of the Phoenix asked me and Professor Sprout to raise it. It got a little exited is all, when I watered it, and grabbed my leg. It didn’t mean anything by it though, doesn’t know its own strength, the silly bugger.”

“It must be quite large” she says softly as she imagines what a Devils Snare looks like. She remembers Harry speaking about his encounter with one fully grown during his first year. It had felt soft, he had said, and was endlessly black. She wonders if the Devils Snare feels anything like Professor Snape’s hair?

“Very, I wonder what the Order wants with it?” It takes a moment for Luna to reply, because the Order has been a touchy subject with her as of late. Luna will never forget what it felt like to be a part of something. She will never forget being a part of Dumbledore’s Army, how it felt to fight for a cause she believed in next to Harry. She will also never forget how it feels to be excluded by the very people who had included her before. She desperately wants to join the Order, but Harry said no. She understands somewhat, she understands that Harry wants her far away from the repercussions of war. She is still sad, sad because not being a part of the Order has disconnected her from Harry and Ron and in a way, even from Ginny.

“Luna? Are you alright?”

“I think it will take up Hogwart’s entire dungeon when it’s grown.” Neville laughs at this, believing Luna to have been day dreaming about Devils Snare.

“I’m sure it will Luna.”

Luna no longer wants to talk of Devils Snare or what order a phoenix should have.

“Neville, if Professor Sprout is supposed to be raising the plant with you, where is she?”

“On another one of her trips I suppose.” Luna wrinkles her nose. Ever since Neville became Professor Sprout’s apprentice, Sprout went on many vacations leaving Neville to teach her classes and to care for her plants. Neville did not mind, but Luna felt that he should have a true mentor. He deserved more.

“You know Neville, you could always apprentice under someone else. With everything you’ve done I’m sure anyone would have you on.”

“I know Luna, but I don’t think I’m quite ready to leave Hogwarts yet. It’s been home to me for so long now that I don’t know what I’d do without the place.”

Luna squeezes his hand and offers a comforting smile, because Luna understands. Luna understands this feeling all too well.

 

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Snape begins to throw the apples away in the waste basket beside his desk. He does not understand why he does when he could simply magic them away. He tosses the newest apple in his hand once, twice, and then places it on top of the ever growing pile of red and green.

Perhaps he is trying to make a point?

That must be it, he decides. He is trying to show the girl that there is no saving him. He had died long before the snake and in life there is no place for a walking corpse. A pair of blue eyes and blond hair was nothing against the raging black.

 

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Luna notices that the bin by Professor Snape’s desk is now full to the brim with uneaten apples. They are red and green and caged in black wire, they remind Luna of Christmas. This makes Luna curious. She wonders not only why he has not eaten her apples, but why he has intentionally showed her that he would not be eating her apples. The Professor Snape she knows would not just carelessly toss apples in the classroom bin without a reason. He is sending her a message. She crinkles her nose and chews on her quill.

Then Luna is gazing at the essay Snape magically sends out to his students.

It is marked with a big, red, angry P.

When she looks up, she sees that Professor Snape is sneering at her. Other students openly grumble about their grade, but her professor only has eyes for her. It is an intense gaze, one that she senses comes from his frustration over her constant pestering. Never the less she enjoys the attention, it makes her skin warm. Snape’s eyes narrow to slits, and it is clear that he is not at all amused with Luna’s essay.

Snape was definitely trying to send her a message. She hears it, she understands it.

She will ignore it.

Luna Lovegood gives Severus Snape the biggest smile she can muster. The sneer he had adorned is visibly wiped off his face and is replaced with a look of concern. Her Professor should not worry so much; she will take care of him. Class has ended and Luna grabs her bag, waves at Professor Snape, and skips out of the classroom with a confused Ginny trailing behind.

 

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“You should have seen his face Harry, it was brilliant!” Ginny laughs while tears of mirth trickle down her cheeks. Harry’s face can be made out from the flames of the fire as he cocks an eyebrow.

“You made Professor Snape make a face Luna? That’s impressive. I didn’t know the man had a face other than condescending.” Luna picks at the cushion of the couch that she sits on with Ginny.

“I only smiled. Perhaps Professor Snape is not used to people smiling at him.”

“Luna, your smile practically took up your entire face. It wasn’t just a smile. And his waste basket is full with Luna’s apples, Harry! The poor man doesn’t know what to make of it!” Ginny is mirthful in her amusement. Luna is bemused. She didn’t mean to frighten her professor.

“Well, Luna is known to be very persistent when she wants to make a friend. Isn’t that right Luna?”

Luna looks up and finally meets Harry’s eyes. She gives him a light smile. Harry smiles back, and although it is difficult to make out facial expressions through the forever leaping flames, she can tell that it is drawn and tired. He looks pale and his hair is sticking up as if he were struck by lightning. His green eyes are dull. Luna is concerned. He had mentioned earlier that the auror training has been intensive. That he has long nights and few breaks. Luna suspects something more is going on, however, because Harry looks like the war never ended. He looks like he never stopped fighting.

Luna suddenly feels a chill in the warm Gryffindor common room. She shivers.

“When will you visit me?” Ginny asks, pleads.

Harry sighs. “You know that I haven’t the slightest idea Ginny.”

“I know, but I—I miss you.” Luna has never heard Ginny so open, so fragile. Harry falters.

“Tell you what, I promise to come to the burrow for Christmas.” Christmas seems a long time away but Luna sees Ginny smile and she knows that for her friend, this promise is enough. It is enough because it shows that Harry Potter is still very much in love with Ginny Weasley. Ginny loves him too.

Luna knows nothing of love, apart from the platonic sense. There was a time when Luna thought she loved Neville, and when she thought Neville loved her too. But then Neville had run up to Hannah Abbot after he killed the snake. At first Luna was stung. She has always wanted a person of her very own. She has always wanted someone to travel with, to write on and search for fantastic beasts with, and to share in her adventures. She has always wanted someone to hold at night, to whisper secrets to. She had wanted this person to be Neville; Neville with his brown hair and gangly limbs and awkward manner. But Neville was not hers to have. She realized this when she saw Neville kiss Hannah Abbot. He kissed her passionately at the Hogwarts entrance as bricks fell from the sky like rain.

Neville would never kiss Luna like that, not in a million years.

Luna knows nothing of love.

“Luna?” Luna has pulled a chunk of stuffing from the couch, “Luna did you hear Harry?” Luna looks up and blinks once, twice. She notices that the fire is much lower than before and that Harry is gone. Ginny sighs. “Off catching creatures again are we?” This is what Ginny calls Luna’s day dreaming; ‘off catching creatures.’

“One was particularly loud and had red hair” Luna replies with a twinkle in her eyes and Ginny smacks her arm playfully. They laugh until the laugher dies out.

Then Ginny becomes serious.

“Harry was telling us to be careful Luna. He said there’s still extremists out there and they’re picking off the death eaters that betrayed you-know-who’s cause. He said . . .” Ginny pauses.

“What did he say Ginny?”

“They murdered Narcissa Malfoy, Luna. The Order found her dead this morning.”

 

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The smell permeates the air and Snape wants to purge his senses. He believes it must smell of home cooking, but his mother never cooked a damn thing in his life so how was he to know? He wants to throw whatever the fuck it is that’s making his potions classroom smell homey out the God damn window.

He wants to breathe it in.

The smell is coming from Miss. Lovegood’s desk and this, in a very small sense, frightens him. What in damnation was the twit up to now? When he found no apple on his desk this morning he thought the silly girl had given up.

Self-note: stop underestimating blond girls with blue eyes and a penchant for madness.

He tries to ignore the stench, dear Merlin does he try, but its driving him up the wall. He attempts to lecture on the different fumes the current potion will emit if brewed incorrectly, but his mind continues to drift to the smell and he trips over words.

His dungeons should never, ever, smell of biscuits.

Finally he gives up, and shouts in mid-sentence “What, in Merlin’s name, is that STENCH?”

The entire body of students jump in their seats, all but Miss. Lovegood that is. She does not even flinch. Instead she stands from her chair, slowly, daintily, and procures from the bottom of her school bag what looks to be a pie. Snape’s stomach drops because Miss. Lovegood is now making her way to the front of the classroom. She glides towards Snape, and holds the pie out as if she expects him to take it.

It is a chicken pot pie. It smells divine. Severus Snape makes no indication that he thinks Luna Lovegood’s pie smells divine. Instead he chooses to curl his lip, he chooses to look down at her as if she is the most loathsome thing in the world.

“Are you daft? Take your detestable dinner elsewhere.”

Without a pause, without a stutter she replies. “This is for you Professor.”

It is as he suspected and yet he is still surprised.

“Detention Miss. Lovegood.” Because, honestly, what else could he say?

Chapter Text

Luna has never been at such a colorful funeral. She is on a hill belonging to the Malfoy estate, and the sun has begun to set. Soft hints of pink and orange follow the rising sun, and peacocks prance around showing off their feathers a few feet away. As she watches the casket being lowered to the ground she thinks of how interesting the wood carvings are. She is not quite sure what the Celtic like knots etched into the wood mean, but she is sure it is of a traditional nature.

One word Luna would use to describe this scene would be beautiful; a perfectly beautiful funeral for the perfectly beautiful Narcissa Malfoy.

One word Luna would not use to describe this scene would be elegant. She would not use this word, because the people who are typically known for radiating elegance are too raw with emotion to radiate much of anything.

Lucius Malfoy stands in a trance over Narcissa’s grave, and his grey eyes are dull in the morning light. Luna wonders if she has ever seen them sparkle, and then she remembers she had. Every time Narcissa Malfoy would enter a room Lucius’s eyes would light to life. She remembers the dark cellar; she remembers him broken and throwing her bowls of food. She remembers him sobbing; she remembers the only time Lucius ever seemed anything but a mess was when Narcissa was down in the cellar with him, a comforting presence. Luna was never afraid of the man unless he stood with his other half. They were quite the team and one without the other always seemed incomplete. Narcissa lies in a coffin now, and Lucius is undone. She can tell in his rigid state, in his sunken bones, in his limp hair, in his dying eyes, in the way he crouches over the casket.

Draco stands next to his father. He is not crying, Luna did not expect him to; not in front of people that is, not in front of her. But, for all the effort Draco uses to keep that indifferent mask on tight, she can still see the red that lines his eyes. She imagines him curled in a tight ball alone in his room with tears lining his face. Draco is not the definition of spoiled brat as many of her friends would believe. She knows he feels pain, she knows he is feeling pain now. Professor Snape stands beside Draco, and Draco is as skinny as he is. This concerns Luna.

She supposes she will have to feed Draco as well.

The prospect of conversing with Draco, of handing him apples, scares her. She remembers his face during her questioning. She remembers his impassive expression, the expression he wears now. She remembers him flying curses, she remembers the sneers.

“Go on Draco try it, it’s fun to watch them squirm.”

She remembers, she remembers, she remembers.

This does not define him. His actions during battle do not define him. They are actions of survival. Yet, Luna still flinches in the hallway when he comes near. She still hides in bathrooms when she sees the glint of his blond hair. It had sent her into shock when she first saw Draco in her charms class. She couldn’t understand why he was there, why he was at Hogwarts. Later she realized that he could not repeat year seven with Hermoine or Harry or Ron because he was standing trial. He must repeat the year now while Luna only has Neville and Ginny for protecting. But Luna does not need protecting. Luna does not let fear win.

She supposes that is why she is here.

She heard of Narcissa’s death, and the thought of the Malfoy’s had sent shards of hot ice into her gut. So she decided to pay her respects. Fear would not stop her from honoring the woman who saved Harry’s life. She loves Harry, and so she will love Narcissa. She will try to love Draco too, and Lucius. Luna tries to love everyone.

Snape is continuously giving Luna odd looks.

She imagines he is confused as to why she is here, since she is the only one present other than Lucius, Draco and the Professor himself. She decides to clarify her reason and skips up to him, dancing around puddles as she makes her way.

“Good evening Professor.”

“Lovegood, following me now are you?” His eyebrow forms a perfect arch of inquiry.

“Oh no, nothing like that. It would be a bit silly of me, since I’m to see you for detention later on.”

“Quite,” He looks her up and down in a very condescending manner, “may I ask what you are doing then?”

Luna wonders what her professor means by his question paired with his assessment of her current wardrobe. Perhaps he is mocking her choice of clothing? Luna looks down at herself. She is wearing a dress of deep blue, covered in silver stars. Her hair is down and drapes to her waist. She has dandelions in her hair and dragonfly wings hanging from her ears. She tried to look elegant for Narcissa’s funeral, because Luna wanted to pay tribute to Narcissa who had radiated elegance. If she deciphered Snape’s look correctly, then she has not pulled elegant off as well as she thought she had.

That’s alright, she thinks, it’s the thought that counts.

Luna loves muggle sayings, they are very inspirational.

“Miss. Lovegood?”

Luna forgot to answer his question. Luna does this frequently: “Oh, I’m here to thank Mrs. Malfoy for saving Harry’s life. Harry is a dear friend of mine and it was very courageous of her.”

“I hadn’t noticed,” Snape deadpans, “Where is the golden boy? Off gallivanting no doubt.”

Luna wrinkles her nose, “Harry? He’s very busy. He’s training to be an auror you know?”

“You don’t say.”

“He paid for mother’s funeral.” Suddenly Draco is before them and it gives Luna such a fright that she jumps. His eyes are grey as steel and his cheek bones could cut through metal. He seems taken aback from Luna’s reaction, and a bit hurt. Snape seems curious.

“What is it Lovegood? Did the Nargals get you?” Snape sneers. Luna is more offended by his lack of knowledge than by his jab.

“Nargals more inspire confusion rather than fear, Professor. Hello Draco.” She acknowledges Draco because she is afraid of Draco and Luna has no more room in her heart for fear.

“Loony.” It takes Draco a moment to realize what he has said, but by then it is too late. Luna sees his cringe and forgives him.

“I am very sorry for your loss, she was a remarkable woman.” Luna reaches across and squeezes Draco’s arm in comfort, because the idea of touching him makes her skin crawl and her skin should not be crawling at the prospect of something so silly.

Draco stiffens from the contact and furrows his brow, “Thanks.”

“When your father’s back to being your father again, tell him the funeral was lovely. I’ve got to be off now. Neville said he’d help me with my herbology project. Screechsnaps are ever so moody aren’t they? I can never put in the correct amount of dragon manure. I always send the poor plant into a tizzy I’m afraid.”

“Uh, yeah. Right, well, I wish you luck with that then.” Draco shuffles his feet awkwardly.

“Why thank you Draco. Luck is such a rare entity these days, it’s very sweet for you to wish away luck only to give it to me.” She smiles brightly, and this interaction is not forced. Luna has always appreciated the gift of luck.

She waves to Draco, and then her professor, before she turns to apparate.

“Lovegood.”

Luna pauses. “Yes Professor?”

“Detention tonight. Eight sharp, and do not be late.”

“I would never dream of it sir.”

Luna is off with a flip of silver stars and a resounding pop.

*

 

Luna loves the dungeons. The walls hum and the floors whisper. It is talking to me she thinks Hogwarts is speaking. True the message isn’t always a happy one, nor altogether nice, but it’s a message none the less and if Luna is good at one thing it’s listening. She likes to run her fingers over the cobbled stone, she likes to press her ear to the floor. She likes to press herself against the wall. Before she understands what she is doing, she finds herself in a handstand. At first she is baffled at herself, but then she realizes that this way she can feel the walls buzzing and hear the floor speaking at the same time. Of course she will never be able to make out words. Hogwarts does not speak in any specific language. Hogwarts speaks through emotion. The dungeons feel lonely, Luna thinks. They are much like her potions professor.

Suddenly the dungeons groan as a door is slammed open and Snape is growling. “What on earth are you doing?”

From Luna’s point of view the professor is upside down in his classroom doorway. His scowl is a smile from this angle, and Luna finds herself enjoying the view.

“Hello Professor.”

“Stand on your feet when you address me.”

Luna throws her legs over her head and gracefully lands on her feet. “Hello Professor.”

Snape places his thumb and index finger over the bridge of his nose. “Do I want to know the reason for your tardiness Miss. Lovegood?”

“Am I late?”

“You are.”

“Oh dear, I do apologies Professor. The walls were extra talkative today and I couldn’t help but listen. I do believe time slipped away from me.”

They are at a standstill now, Luna looking ever innocent and Snape quite perplexed. He is unsure on how to handle the situation. He could always take away house points, but that never seems to ruffle the girl. Nothing does. He sighs and steps to the side.

“Do come in, if you’re quite done with your conversation.”

It is sarcasm, but Luna smiles anyway because Snape’s comment means he is listening. She skips into the classroom and Snape sweeps in behind her. The classroom seems darker than it usually is, and yet warmer. Candles that line the walls are lit and glow a soft orange, casting shadows on desks, on chairs, and on her Professor— her Professor who walks into his supply closet, digging for something he deems horrible she imagines. Luna is excited for whatever he dregs up, sure she will find whatever it is very interesting and not gross at all. Luna enjoys the uncanny, the odd, the decrepit, the weird.

She enjoys Snape.

There is something about his presence that comforts Luna. She has always felt safe when he is near, even when she was a first year and he barked at her house mates, even when he was headmaster and sent her into the forbidden forest for detention, even then. In her second year, when the bullying had reached an all-time high, she used to follow Snape in the hallways whenever she could, because the other students would not dare torture her in front of ‘the bat.’

Luna never saw Snape as a bat.

Bats are small, they are eerie, they are harsh. Snape was none of those things to Luna. Snape is sly, he is quiet, he is soft; especially in this light. His harsh lines seem to fade in the candlelight, the scar on his neck is less shiny and pink, his hair less greasy and his body less lean. Snape is soft, he cares, and he loves. He loves more than Luna could ever hope to love. She wants to learn how to love like Snape does, like Ginny does, like Ron does, like Neville does. . .

Suddenly a large glass beaker full to the brim of frozen eggs is placed on the table in front of Luna. Luna slowly looks up at her Professor who flicks his wrist causing many other, smaller, glass beakers to materialize in front of her eyes. Luna immediately applauds.

“Wonderful Professor.”

Snape frowns, “What are you on about now Lovegood?”

“I have always loved wandless magic, and you do it ever so elegantly. Professor, you wouldn’t suppose you could teach me?”

Snape opens his mouth, and then closes it. He once again cannot tell if the brat is making fun of him. She stands there in his cold, dark classroom with a dreamy smile on her face. Her eyes are full of hope and her hair radiates more light than his candles. She never changed out of that dratted dress, and the flowers are still placed in her hair. She looks like a woodland creature, and she certainly does not belong down here with him.

He decides she is not making fun; he also decides to ignore her.

“These are called Ashwinder eggs. Your class is to use them in their next potion. They need to stay frozen, or they will burst into flame. Do attempt to place two in each of the smaller glasses without melting them if you’d like to keep your hands from burning.”

Luna ducks her head down to get a closer look at the eggs, and from the other side of the table the beaker makes her eyes look even larger. She is full of curiosity, and Snape wonders how he is to make this child fear him. He has given up on the concept of hate, because he does not think Luna can hate. At least she did not bring him food this time.

“What potion are we to make Professor?”

Snape sneers, “I guess you’ll find out, won’t you?”

Luna stands once more with a look of understanding, “Yes, I suppose I will. I’ve been meaning to work on my patience, thank you Professor.”

Again, Snape believes he should detect a note of sarcasm where there is none. He is done talking to Miss. Lovegood, he gets nowhere with her. Or maybe he gets somewhere; he is just not sure where that somewhere is.

With a sweep of his cloak he makes his way to his desk where he conjures a cauldron and ingredients. He is working on a new version of sleeping draught. Ever since the war Snape dreams of snakes, of harsh flashing spells, of fading red hair, of dulling green eyes. He cannot sleep, and he no longer has a purpose to pour his nights over. The Potter brat is no longer in need of him, and after seventeen long years of dedicating his life to nothing else, Snape is at a loss of what to do.

“Find a new hobby.” Dumbledore’s portrait had advised

Yes, because protecting Potter was merely a hobby.

To placate the dead old man, Snape began to create a non-addictive substance that allowed him to sleep, or at least attempted to create. But he had the rest of his life to figure it out, he was in no rush. Sleep was a faraway concept to him now, something he had been without for years. A few more wouldn’t hurt. He was numb to it all anyhow.

“Oh dear.” It is a light, feathery, and unconcerned ‘oh dear’ yet Snape’s head still snaps up.

Luna’s table has burst into flames and she is cupping her hand. A cold feeling ice’s his veins and immediately Snape disperses the fire with a quick flick of his wrist and is making his way to Miss. Lovegood. He grabs her hand in his and inspects it. It is red and a blister is starting to form in the middle. Snape begins to curse under his breath.

He should have known this would happen. She does not concentrate like his other students, her mind drifts, of course she let the bloody egg defrost. She is incapable of anything that requires an attention span.

“I’m sorry Professor. I was trying to see what the egg was exactly and then it— time got away from me again sir. I’m not so good at time.”

Snape is startled because he realizes he is not angry with Miss. Lovegood, he is angry with himself.

“Sit down.” He barks and she does. Snape then kneels before her and tries to heal her hand with his wand. Wandless magic is his specialty, but burns are tricky and he is meticulous in his craft. He refuses to leave a scar, to leave her in discomfort. The burn looks more irritated, more red then it ought to on her ivory skin. It makes him all the angrier that he let it happen, which startles him once more because when did Snape start blaming himself for other’s stupidity?

“It smells familiar, like sleeping draught, and yet altogether different.” She announces which breaks him from his inner tirade.

“Pardon?” He does not stop in his process of healing her fragile, confounded, small, dainty, nuisance of a hand.

“The potion you’re brewing. It smells of sleeping draught, but different.”

Once he has made sure that he has healed her hand entirely, he stands and brushes off his robes.

“Very astute of you, you may go.” She vexes him, and he is frustrated that her foolishness does not concern her. He is frustrated that she was hurt under his watch. He is frustrated that he is so frustrated. Snape vanishes the rest of the eggs and turns to continue with his potion, but before he reaches his desk Luna is speaking once more.

“I want to help.”

Slowly he turns, baffled. “You want to help me what, Miss. Lovegood?”

“I want to help you brew.”

“I don’t need your help,” he sneers.

She smiles, “I know you don’t need it, I only want to give it.”

He is pinching the bridge of his nose for the second time this evening. “Miss. Lovegood, I am brewing a new brand of sleeping draught. It is very temperamental, and I don’t need you in line of fire.”

Luna stands, pats the Professor on the hand, and skips over to the potion. Before he can stop her she sticks her nose in the cauldron, breathing in deeply. When she emerges she is crinkling her nose. Her hair is sticking up on end from the heat of the brew, and her eyes shine. Snape is now stunned and standing still. What on earth was the twit doing? He is too curious to stop her. She is looking at his ingredients, and now his notes. She smiles as if she has affirmed something in her mind, and then she is taking off her dandelion crown, and then she is throwing the dandelion crown into the cauldron.

He sees her throw it in the cauldron, into his cauldron, into his potion, into his sleeping draught in slow motion. Snape grabs Luna by her wrist and is pushing her behind him before he knows what he is doing. The potion could react badly—she could get hurt.

The potion seems fine. In fact it has turned a lovely shade of yellow and smells of honeysuckle. He is furious.

“Fifty points from Gryffindor,” he growls and turns on her. This is the first time Severus Snape has ever seen Luna Lovegood caught off guard.

“I’m not in Gryffindor sir,” is her reply.

“Your friends are.”

She makes an ‘o’ with her mouth and smiles. “That was very clever of you Professor. Much more effective than taking it away from my house. I’ll think on my actions more next time ‘round.”

He stops and stares. She is the most infernal thing he has ever had to deal with, and he has taught Neville Longbottom for seven years.

“May I help with your potion now?”

He bangs his fist on the table in frustration and has the pleasure in seeing her jump. So Miss. Lovegood can be surprised he thinks.

“Leave.”

She is frowning at him. He cannot handle it.

“Off with you, before I lose my patience.” He hisses through clenched teeth. The mantra of she could have been hurt pulsates in his mind. He imagines her unconscious on the floor, her skin the color her hand had just been, blisters bursting. The image of this this creature who offers him food and help dead on his dungeon floor is clawing at him.

He is shaking.

“I— thank you Professor, for healing my hand.”

He does not hear her leave, but he feels it. She is gone and Snape runs his hands through his hair, goes for the fire whiskey, and continues to brew.

Chapter Text

Hello Draco, mind if I sit down?”

Draco furrows his brows, looks around the charms classroom as if expecting something else to happen, and then gestures to the empty seat next to him.

Luna sits and squirms. The wooden chair is uncomfortable, and Professor Flitwick’s lectures has always left Luna bored, but that is not why she feels so uncomfortable and she knows it. Her neck prickles as Draco takes her presence in. Draco has had more death threats than friends lately—Luna thinks—and is in need of a positive interaction. So Luna smiles and meets his lingering gaze. He flinches and looks down.

Professor Flitwick begins to demonstrate how to summon water, but Luna does not look away from Draco. She wonders what it is exactly that makes her so afraid of him. He was only a boy when the war began. He was only a boy when his spells cut into her skin. He is still just a boy. Only now he is just a boy with no mother. Luna doesn’t have a mother either.

Even though they share such loss in common, her memories still burn and the fear burrows deeply into her stomach. She clutches her bag to her chest in anxiety and feels the outline of her potions note book. It sits nicely in her hands. Slowly she brings it out and opens it to a blank page. She notices that she is running out of blank pages. Soon they will all be colored in. Luna scrunches her nose at this thought and swishes her pink pen across the page in a sharp line.

The sharp line looks like Draco’s chin.

She stares at Draco again and truly takes in his features. Perhaps she is afraid of his tall figure, or his marble eyes? Maybe it is in his pale skin, his posh sneer, or his blond hair that makes her shiver? Yet, as she sketches she draws an entirely different picture. She draws a tall boy scrunched over in his chair, trying to be smaller, trying not to be noticed. She draws marble eyes, yes, but marbles eyes that are sunken and sad. She draws blond hair parted perfectly as a statement to hide behind.

Draco should listen to moon frogs; they will help chase the sadness.

Snape should listen to moon frogs too. But Snape does not want to talk to Luna right now. She will have to suggest this to him later on, when he is not being so stubborn.

As Luna looks closer at the picture of Draco, she realizes she has given him some stubble on his chin. She looks closer and giggles. She has given Draco the beginnings of a beard. Luna thinks he looks lovely. She giggles again.

Draco is looking at Luna now, and this time Luna finds it difficult to meet his eyes.

Luna shuffles in her seat, flips a page in her book, and finds that she is now too distracted to work on her sketch. She sighs and looks down, focusing on her mismatched socks and mismatched shoes instead. She had trouble finding pairs this morning. Even her earrings are different, one a radish and the other a broom. Looking at her life she finds that pairs in general are not one of her strong suits. Her socks are pair less as are her shoes, her earrings, herself . . .

Luna does not want to pay any more attention to her mismatched feet and looks back to her sketch book instead. Somewhere in those pages she has drawn her potions professor. He is beautiful and broken in his dungeons, brewing his own brand of sleeping draught. Snape is pair less too, she thinks. He had thought he found his match, much like Luna, but their matches did not fit quite right and left them to find another.

She hopes Snape is not too mad with her. He had seemed so upset the other night. She unconsciously clutches at the purple hyacinth in her pocket.

Suddenly Professor Flitwick is announcing the end of class and the students are starting to put their books in bags. Before Luna allows herself to run from Draco she tares her sketch of him out of her notebook and places it in his hand.

Draco looks at Luna as if she has two heads instead of one.

Luna smiles, “I’m not afraid of you Draco, and I think we’d make grate friends.”

Luna never did know how to be subtle.

Draco’s cheeks are pink and Luna is not sure if he is angry or grateful. Draco and Snape are similar that way; even when they are happy they look pained. Then—because she didn’t think—Luna reaches out her hand and ruffles Draco’s hair.

“It wants to be free,” she explains. With that statement she stands, grabs her notebook, and skips away, intending to place a certain something on a certain someone’s desk.

 

*
Severus Snape sits in his rooms in front of a dying fire. He finds the cold draft circulating the room a bit uncomfortable, but refuses to call on a house elf. Ever since know-it-all Granger raged on about house elf rights, the school released a rule decreeing that staff must say things like ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ when asking a house elf to do just about anything. Severus Snape was not in the practice of saying words like ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ to anyone. Not to mention that Snape was quite cordial to house elves anyhow. He never snapped, never cursed their names or called them daft. If he were being truly honest, Snape rather enjoyed house elves. They stayed quiet and did their job with efficient grace. However, Snape did not thank and Snape certainly did not ask, he told.

And so it is that Severus Snape sits in his rooms in front of a dying fire. He would spell another log at some point, just as he would spell away the apples that were taking up his potions room. The poignant greens and reds were beginning to turn brown, and in some way it irked him. They were the only things that gave the room color, and Snape found himself missing it. Miss. Lovegood had given up on feeding him, and Snape found himself missing that too. If anything her odd behavior was a distraction from the endless boredom that was his existence. He wonders if he scared her off finally, but is apprehensive with this conclusion. Luna Lovegood was not the sort who scared easily. She must have another plan having to do with him. He will discover this plan and desist it before it truly forms. The dunderhead would not out step him, only, she wasn’t much of a dunderhead was she? She was something altogether different. Or she at least wanted him to believe she was. Perhaps this was a part of her plan? Snape would have to keep a close eye on her from now on.

He shakes this thought away and trains his eyes on the fire, tries to follow the crackling embers with his eyes, tries to ignore the items in his hands. He carries an irritating letter in one and a calming flower in the other. He found the flower in his desk this morning, its purple petals felt very out of place in the shadows of his dungeon. Snape could not imagine who had placed it there, but then a certain someone came to mind. A certain someone with blond hair and blue eyes. If anyone could manage to sneak anything into his classroom it was Luna Lovegood. The flower must be the first part of her plan, he thinks, and glares at the weed as he has glared at it for the past week. Miss. Lovegood was an irritatingly smart chit. He somewhat respected her, was somewhat vexed by her, but he would not be fooled by her. He should toss it along with the apples, with the pie, with her offers of help. He finds he cannot, however.

When he first picked up the weed, the smell hit his senses and he felt his shoulders relax, felt the corner of his lips shy upward. He breathed in again, closed his eyes, and decided he rather enjoyed the feeling. He looked closer at the flower, and determined that it was a hyacinth. Purple hyacinths, if he recalled correctly, carry a specific message.

I’m sorry.

Luna Lovegood was sorry.

The image of a dandelion crown turning his potion golden and lovely made him want to crumble the flower in his hand. He resisted the urge, and instead found himself putting the flower in the breast pocket inside his robes. The smell calmed him for the rest of the day. Later he found himself spelling the flower to prevent it from wilting. Snape then found the scent calmed him all week. He should get rid of it, he should, but all the fire whisky in his lifetime had never soothed him as Luna Lovegood’s flower did. He sneers at this thought, and directs his anger toward the letter.

The letter had appeared in his favorite sitting chair along with his evening tea. It looked a typical piece of parchment, white and thick and sturdy. For a brief moment Snape believed it was a summons from Dumbledore, but Dumbledore was only a painting now and McGonagall the headmaster. He opened it cautiously, two feet back and wand at the ready. It did not react badly, and when Snape deduced it was safe enough to touch he found himself looking at a drawing. It was a badly done sketch of a bat with a long nose and stringy hair. The bat flew into the sky and toward a rising sun, but flew much to close and burned into ashes, slow and screaming.

It made Snape snort ironically, because Severus Snape did not want to be alive. He was prepared to die in the war, was looking forward to it. Dumbledore had given him a purpose to go on, he completed his purpose, and now he wanted to bugger off. Yet, a certain Slughorn would not permit Snape to bleed out, would not allow him to seize from the poison and desist.

Severus Snape hates Horus Slughorn.

Severus Snape hates the letter. It makes him think of a future no longer attainable, such as dying in a war. It makes him try to recall Lily’s face; a face he has not seen in a decade and is now beginning to forget. He wonders if he would have seen that face, had he died. Would they have been reunited? Would she forgive him? Would James be there? More than likely. Snape tosses the letter into the fire. It hisses and crackles and curls into ash. Let them come if they insist. He will be there, smelling of hyacinths.

 

*
The screech snap yells directly into Luna’s ear while wiggling profusely, attempting to escape her grasp. Her hair keeps falling into her face and she looks as if she has been dragged through dragon manure. Each time she manages to place the plant within its pot it lets out a high whine, indicating that there is either too much or not enough dirt for comfort. It claws at her hands and bashes its roots on the side of the pot. It has broken three already.

“I don’t think it likes me very much Neville.”

“It does sound pretty angry, how long have you been at that anyway?”

“It seems like a long time, doesn’t it?” Luna holds the plant away from her and gazes at her friend.

Neville Longbottom is propped up in Professor Sprout’s chair, feet on her desk and a magazine on interesting plants in his right hand. He slowly levers himself out of the chair and limps over to Luna, leg still a bit bruised but much better than before. True to his word Neville never did go to Pomphrey.

“Luna, why don’t you call it a day? It’s not the end of the world if you don’t get this one, you know I’ll pass you anyway.”

Luna scrunches her nose, “That’s not very fair to the other students.”

“At this point I don’t much care, your dedication is good enough for me and to be honest the screeching’s giving me a headache.”

Luna contemplates this, sighs, and hands the plant to Neville in defeat. The screeching was getting to her as well. With one extra scoop of dragon manure and a sprinkle of feed, Neville plants the screech snap and the screeching stops. Neville is truly a marvel and a master at his work. Plants and Neville fit together somehow. He was always meant to care for them. Luna would like to find her missing piece. She has decided that plants are not it.

“Can I ask a question Luna?” Neville says as he takes out his handkerchief and begins to clean the dirt from Luna’s face.

“Of course.” Luna enjoys Neville’s attention.

“Why are you taking advanced herbology? You’re super smart and great and all, but you’ve never been good at plants.” Neville gives up on trying to clean Luna’s face and puts his handkerchief in his pant pocket. Luna misses the contact.

“Well, I’m not so sure what I want to do when all my learning is done so I’m trying everything.”

Neville frowns and sits in a nearby chair, his leg throbbing. “You haven’t any clue? Nothing?”

To be polite Luna sits in a chair next to Neville. “Well, I can’t decide between taking over the Quibbler for daddy, or taking up potions like my mother. I need a decent score in herbology to be able to become a potions master, so I’m not so ready to give up on screech snaps you see. Not until I decide I don’t want to take up potions that is.”

Neville lets out a big breath and leans back in his chair. “I never thought you’d do anything but go searching for those creatures of yours.”

Luna smiles and pats Neville’s shoulder before standing. “Not many did.” Luna begins to gather her things. It is time for her to leave, she has taken up enough of Neville’s time.

“Luna?” Luna stops and looks at Neville.

“Yes?”

“This whole potion business, it has nothing to do with getting closer to Snape, does it?” Neville looks worried. Luna gives him a soft smile.

“Talking to Ginny I see?” Neville blushes an answer. “No Neville, it has nothing to do with Professor Snape. I’m just trying to figure a few things out is all.”

“Ginny says you’ve been giving him apples.” Neville is still blushing, and is now looking at his lap rather than at his blond friend. Luna understands his insinuation, that Luna has a crush on Snape, but is confused by his reaction. Neville seems a bit upset by the prospect and she cannot quite understand why. He has Hannah, hasn’t he?

“I did, yes. I think I overstepped though. I’ve decided to give him a bit of space for now.”

“You like him, don’t you?” Luna is startled by the tint of anger in her sweet Neville’s voice and sits down once more, grabbing his hand and holding on for comfort.

“He needs a friend Neville, just like you did. Remember?”

Neville finally meets her eyes, hesitates, and finally smiles. He does remember, just as Luna does. She remembers the pudgy second year and his forever disappearing toad. She remembers all of the adventures they went on, just the two of them, to find Trevor. She remembers sharing her hard to believe stories of creatures and faraway places and government conspiracy’s and how Neville had just believed her. He never questioned, never judged. She remembers visiting his parents every year, holding his hand and holding him when he couldn’t look, not anymore. She remembers him holding her when her daddy died. She remembers him kissing Hannah Abbot.

“Are you missing Hannah Neville?” Neville frowns, looks at their hands, and nods.

“She’s been busy. It’s hard to talk to her and when I do she seems off somehow.”

Luna nods, and squeezes Neville’s hands. “Harry’s the same with Ginny. The auror program must be so tuff, I’m sure she’s having a hard time with it. But it will be over so soon and then Hannah will be Hannah again and you’ll be so happy you waited for her.”

Neville nods and squeezes Luna’s hand back. “Thanks Luna, you always know what to say.”

Luna knows this and smiles.

Chapter Text

“Miss. Lovegood, I insist that you take off your earrings, least they fall into your potion—or whatever concoction you are brewing.”

Luna Lovegood believes that Professor Snape is pitching a fit.

He holds out his hand, eyebrow arched and lip pulled back, as he waits for her to give him her acorn earrings. This is the third pair this week, and Snape has not been in the practice of giving them back. It is beginning to make her sad. Perhaps she should stop waring her jewelry in his classroom, but Luna does not feel quite like Luna without them. She sighs and hands them over.

Ginny gives her an ‘I told you so’ look and shrugs her shoulders. Ginny had warned Luna he would take her acorns before they entered his classroom.

“You would think one would learn. Pity.” Snape ends his jibe and sweeps back up to his desk.

Luna wrinkles her nose and nibbles at her pen.

“What an immature git.” Ginny spits angrily as she plucks nails off of severed rat’s paws.

“He has been through a lot recently. I think he just needs someone to be mad at, and I am known to be irritating.” Luna explains as she tries to focus on mixing her brew. How many times did she have to turn it clockwise again? Three times? Or was it five? Luna decides to turn it four times—a compromise.

Ginny slams her pliers on the desk with a hollow thump. “What is with you lately? I am tired of you always making yourself out to be the one at fault. All you did was give him apples Luna, there’s nothing wrong with that.”

Luna watches as her potion turns dark blue. “The apples did stink up his classroom.”

“He’s the one that let them rot, not you. He’s being a complete arse and you know it.”

Snape has continuously shouted at her in the classroom, which he has never done before. He tells her she needs to pull her hair back, that she cannot stand so close to her potions, that she should not take so long looking at her ingredients. Luna only want to understand the different properties, she only wants to understand what makes magic magic. Snape has lost his patience with her.

Luna cannot tell if Snape has lost his patience because she turned his potion gold, or because she hasn’t paid him any mind as of late.

It is not that Luna has given up on her potions professor, it is only she is trying to give him time to breath her in. Luna knows that she has an oddness about her, she knows she is not everyone’s cup of tea. So, currently, she is letting Snape decide if he would like her company. Luna refuses to force herself on anyone. She can only hope that he wants to forgive her.

Briefly she wonders if he found her hyacinth?

Ginny continues to mash up her ingredients violently.

“I wish I knew what was with you.” Ginny sounds vulnerable.

Luna pauses in her stirring and looks to her friend in concern. “Is there something with me?” It is wrack spurts season, Luna thinks, and swats at her ears.

“Yes, you’re off playing with ex death eaters so I’d bloody well say there is something with you. You stopped coming into the Gryffindor common room.”

Ginny sounds bitter, she sounds hurt. Luna is confused however, because Ginny is the one who had been avoiding her. “You never did give me the password to open the door Ginny. I had thought you wanted to be left alone.”

“I didn’t?”

“I think you must have forgotten.”

“Bugger,” Ginny finally looks to her friend, “I’m sorry Luna. I suppose with everything going on with Harry and the Order I haven’t been the best friend lately have I?”

Luna smiles and sprinkles some sort of weed into her potion. She is not certain it is what the potion called for, but the weed had smelled so good Luna could not resist.

“Ginny, you will never be anything but my best friend.”

Ginny smiles and teasingly elbows Luna in the ribs. “No wonder you’ve been running around with Slytherins. You must be so bored without me.”

“Draco and Professor Snape actually make interesting companions, if you gave them a chance.”

Ginny rolls her eyes and looks at Snape who is yelling at a Ravenclaw two seats down. “You can’t be friends with everyone Luna.”

Well, she could certainly try.

*

 

Severus Snape sits in the teachers’ common room with a newspaper in one hand and a cup of black tea in the other. Apparently more reformed death eaters have gone missing. He isn’t surprised. Just because you cut the head off the snake does not mean you have burned the body. Tom Riddle had poisoned many minds, and it takes time—a lifetime—to cure bigotry.

Severus throws the newspaper down on the table. He would reinforce the security in his rooms, if he cared enough. There is a little excitement in him however, at the prospect of someone coming after him. He would love to put down the person who murdered Narcissa, would love to watch them scream and burn. Snape takes a long sip of his tea.

Neville Longbottom chooses this moment to walk in. He is covered in mud, his hair is tussled, and he is talking extremely loud to Professor Flitwick.

“I’d never seen the plant throw such a tantrum, I’m telling you. It’s like it’s allergic to Luna.” Neville yells as he bends over and thumps his head. Snape swears he sees dirt fall out of his ear.

Flitwick speaks to Neville in low volumes so that Snape cannot hear. Apparently neither can Neville for he replies with a barreling “What?”

“I said that is precisely what I wanted to speak to you about. Miss. Lovegood is as brilliant as ever, but the poor dear seems off somehow. She hasn’t been paying attention in charms.”

This peeks Snape’s interest, and so he picks the newspaper back up and pretends to be reading while he listens.

“I see what you mean,” Says Neville as he limps to a table and sits down, “she’s been practicing her herbology every day and only seems to get worse. I’m not really sure what to do.”

Snape frowns. For some reason he thought Miss. Lovegood would be great with plants. They were a form of creature weren’t they? And to be so brilliant in potions, one needs to understand the ingredients they work with, such as plants. Yes; in Snape’s mind Lovegood should have mastered herbology. Longbottom must be a poor teacher.

“I was wondering if you might speak with her, see what the trouble is? You two seem very close.”

Close? Longbottom and Lovegood? Snape has to repress a scoff. Lovegood could do better.

“I could manage that I s’ppose.”

“Most kind of you Mr. Longbottom, most kind.”

Snape sneers. Put Longbottom in charge of Lovegood’s wellbeing? The worlds gone mad. Snape stands, glares at Neville who finally notices he is there, and sweeps out of the common room.

Neville is no good for Luna, and Snape is confused as to why he cares.

*

 

Luna Lovegood, standing in the middle of her room, notices that her shoes are missing. She frowns. Luna has not been bullied since her fourth year and tries to repress the pain she feels. She never enjoyed having her shoes stolen, especially so close to the cold season.

Luna looks at her bare feet and spreads her toes.

“You must stay strong, it may be a while before I can cover you up.”

Luna’s feet do not talk back.

Luna sighs and looks out her window. Leaves have begun to fall.

“A little walk might be good for us,” says Luna conspiratorially to her feet. Her toes wiggle and Luna makes her way out of the Ravenclaw common room.

She has gone without shoes before. She will be alright. She always is.

*

 

Severus Snape’s footsteps echo off of the dark and empty Hogwarts halls. The sound creates a precise rhythm of one who will not slow down for anyone, and will certainly not stop. Snape does not notice how fast his pace is, and does not particularly care. He is irritated that he was chosen for night patrol, he is disappointed that he has yet to find himself any wondering students to punish, and he is frustrated that he can still not shake thoughts of her. Her with her nonsensical behavior and ruthless way of not following dress code.

She refuses to tie her hair back when brewing potions.

He had never noticed before, but now that it is imperative to put a stop to her plan—whatever that plan may be, Severus Snape has begun to study Luna Lovegood. The list of disruptions she creates in his dungeons is innumerable. To name a few, Miss. Lovegood holds her head much too close to her cauldron, and stands on her chair to get a better look at her potions, and spends too much time inspecting each piece of ingredient before finally, finally putting it aside.

Snape recognizes that inspecting ingredients is not a disruption per se, but it is a distraction to him, and that within itself is a violation. What was the imbecile trying to deduce anyway? That the plant was in fact a plant? Was she checking to insure the ingredients he gave the class were correct and not some sort of ill-mannered trick? In all the years Snape taught at Hogwarts, he never once intentionally sabotaged his students’ potions —the cleanup was too much a headache, especially when Longbottom got his hands on something tricky. Is this truly the man Miss. Lovegood thought him to be? If so, why would she offer him help and apples? Only, Miss. Lovegood no longer brought him apples.

Snape’s robes billow behind him as he hastens his steps, fists clenching. Still no wondering students to take his frustrations out on, and his mind is wondering to dangerous territory. Thoughts such as— why did Miss. Lovegood no longer bring him apples—plague his mind. The last gift Snape received from the odd chit was the flower, and then it all stopped. He had awaited her next move with quiet grace. Surely she would beg him once more to help with the sleeping drought, or ask to learn wandless magic, or perhaps she had more pies to give? Whatever nicety she had planned he would put a stop to it and she would say something odd, and then Snape would take away house points or give another detention.

Eventually, through this process, Snape would learn her true intentions.

Only, Miss. Lovegood did none of those things. She no longer offered anything but silence and at times a smile. When she did speak, it was only to offer an I’m sorry Professor when he barked at her in the classroom, which he did frequently now. No such nonsense on how the weather affected her balance or the like, only I’m sorry.

She was irritating to be sure, but she did not offend him so much that she always need reply with I’m sorry. Ridiculous. More ridiculous was the fact that Miss. Lovegood was now giving apples to Draco Malfoy— ignorant dunce and godson. Every morning, for the past week, Snape would watch Luna skip over to the Slytherin table and hand Draco a piece of fruit. Luna would then offer words of wisdom, as Snape could only assume, and skip to her own table. What Luna did not see was the look Draco gave her when her back was turned. His face would soften, and he would stuff the fruit into his robes while sneaking glances at the Ravenclaw table.

Oh the offensiveness of young love.

Well, Lovegood could ignore him all she wanted. Who cared for purple hyacinths, blond hair or curious eyes? Who cared what her plan was, as long as it did not involve him? Luna Lovegood does not belong in dungeons brewing potions. She does not belong with dark shadows and dead men.

Snape shakes his head and furrows his brow, he has not had to deal with such conflicting emotions since Potter— he came from Lilly but was made by the ilk of James. He had been an achingly perfect genetic disaster. He had been Snape’s torcher, his hope, his lose, the last piece remaining of her. Snape had turned to alcohol because of that boys eyes, had thrown furniture and broken bottles because of that boys face. Although Miss. Lovegood did not make him nearly so self-destructive, she did have him carrying flowers in his robes.

Perhaps it is because she offered him smiles.

Snape is not used to people smiling at him.

Serverous Snape slows his pace and looks around. He has walked these halls numerous times and has yet to find any simpletons out and about. Perhaps he had been too loud? Snape scoffs, he is never loud. He is, however, out of sorts and in need of a cigarette. As he fishes in his robes for a pack, he stills himself. There are too many portrait eyes on him and he knows they are prone to tattling, especially when it comes to him. Snape is not in the mood for another lecture from Dumbledore’s portrait about health and the need of working lungs, so he finds a passage that brings him outside and away from anyone who may see. He frowns and feels a bit foolish, he has not had to hide his smoking habit since he was fourteen. Yet he sneaks his cigarette and lighter out anyway, finds a tree to lean on, and takes a long drag. It is cold and crisp outside, which makes his cigarette taste all the better. It sits warmly on his chest as the beginnings of fall try to creep into his clock. Well, perhaps not the beginnings of fall, since the trees have turned and leaves have begun to hit the ground. There is a pile of them under his tree, stacked up a few inches. When did the seasons change? Had he really spent all this time in the bellows of the castle? When was the last time he had been outside?

He puts this thought out of his mind and focuses on the fact that he is outside now. He closes his eyes and finishes his cigarette, then pulls out another. He feels at ease, he feels years of tension rolling off. Relaxing would be the word for it. Severus Snape has not thought of trying to feel relaxed in years, he had forgotten what relaxed is. Dark lords and boys from prophecies did not give time off in their job description.

The pile of leaves to his left begins to shift.

Snape tenses and grabs for his wand.

Blond hair pokes out from a layer of red, orange, and green. Then a pair of blue eyes followed along with a pert nose and pink lips. Luna Lovegood stares at her professor with a sleepy look and yawns. She is quite the sight with leaves poking from her hair and dirt smudged on her cheeks. Severus Snape feels relief along with suppressed rage creeping up his spine.

“What in the blazes are you doing?”

Luna with bleary eyes looks around confused “Well, I suppose I was sleeping in a pile of leaves?”

Snape has to physically stop himself from massaging his temples. “What an excellent deduction. Would you like me to award you house points?” It is sarcasm, she must know it is sarcasm, and yet she smiles.

“That would be lovely. It seems the Ravenclaws have become upset with me recently. Perhaps if I start contributing house points, rather than take them away, they would be more friendly?”

This makes Snape frown, “inside Lovegood, now.”

Luna has stopped looking at him however, and is staring at the sky. “The stars are lovely tonight. Would you like to take a look?”

He hesitates. His first instinct is to pull her up by her arms and march her inside, but something makes him stop. Perhaps it is the way the filtered moonlight sits on her skin that makes her look fragile, or perhaps it is the way her lips barely tremble as if she is keeping something painful deep inside. Perhaps he is just mad, but he sits with her, and gives her his cloak to keep her warm. She smiles at him and pulls the cloak in close.

“I hadn’t a clue you smoked Professor. Your nails are tinted yellow and your teeth are a bit stained, but for whatever reason I never put two and two together. It makes sense I suppose.”

“What does exactly? Me smoking?” He wants to sneer, but is now too self-conscious to show off his teeth.

“Yes. Another piece of you to fit in the puzzle.”

Snape snorts and looks at Luna Lovegood: crazy Luna Lovegood. No, crazy is not the correct word—eccentric. What was it that Draco called her? Loony? This makes him frown. She wears raven feathers for earrings and has placed a furry pink vest over her yellow long sleeved shirt. Nothing matches, yet it seems to fit her.

“Is that what I am? A puzzle?”

She nods, never looking away from the vast sky. “A puzzle with many different hues and colors.”

“And what are you Lovegood?”

“Most would say a bit off my rocker, but I am not so convinced.”

When she looks at him she has stars in her eyes, and Snape can finally see that Luna has been crying. Her eyes puff out and there is a slight sheen to them. His stomach twists in an uncomfortable manor. Never once had Snape seen Luna as fragile, but perhaps that is exactly what she is. He had overheard Flitwick say that her father died. Most of her friends have moved on from school and Ginny was, well, Ginny. A self-absorbed creature with her black and white ideals that at times Lovegood does not fit into, because Lovegood does not fit into anything at all. She had always been a fierce entity of light and purpose, she had always been Loony Lovegood with odd theories and honest eyes. Luna Lovegood had never registered as hurt or harmed to his analytical and at times paranoid mind. He had never seen her as a victim of war before.

“I think it’s time we went inside.”

Her hand reaches out and clasps his. “You’re not mad with me professor?”

“No, I am not mad.”

“Would you let me help with your potion then?”

Snape frowns, “I am not in need of help Lovegood.”

“I never said you were.” It is a statement of fact, it is not tinged with passive aggressive snark. Yet, Snape still thinks of how Luna’s flesh could have burned.

“After your actions during detention? No –I do not trust you around things that acquire such attention to detail.”

“Ah,” She replies as she looks to the stars a final time, “You don’t know me at all.”

Before he can react she is off and walking into the castle, her feat bare. Severus Snape lays dumbfounded with leaves fluttering down into his hair. He supposes he does not know her, he does not know her at all.

Chapter Text

Luna Lovegood’s footsteps echo off the dungeon walls. They do not speak to her this time, instead, they wait with bated breath. This puts her on edge. It has her hair stand on end and her stomach curling. Yet she walks on with her head held high and a pink notebook clasped in her hands— a purple hyacinth hidden inside its pages. She had found the hyacinth in her professors robs when she had curled against it in the night. It had caused tiny butterfly’s to explode in her stomach when she discovered it. It had made her feel that someone cared, someone cared for her.

Luna has not felt cared for in a long time. Not truly.

In a moment of self-doubt, she wonders if her plan will work, if he will except her gift. The thought has her pausing before the potion’s classroom door, because if he rejects this gift he will be rejecting her. She taps her bare feet for a moment, pondering the possible rejection—the likely rejection—and then she presses her feet hard into the floor and watches her pink toes turn red. She notices that they look like little tomatoes, just as she notices how the dungeon floors are colder than the October air, just as she notices that her destiny begins down her with Snape.

Luna breaths in deeply from her nose and holds it for three counts, because everything worth anything happens in threes. A magic number to be sure, and if any number would calm her down, then three should do the trick.

One: She has been rejected before.

Two: Destiny is destiny, there is no stopping the balance of everything.

Three: She had read the lines in her professor’s face. He would spell out his own death if no one showed him companionship. If there was anything she could do, now was the time to do it.

She lets go of her breath and, with some effort, finds the spell to unlock the door. He is a paranoid man so it is expectedly tricky, but her head of house specializes in charms and Luna, when it has nothing to do with plants, is an astounding student. After unlocking the door she walks to her professor’s desk and places her notebook on top of the third years’ essays. The pink stands out brightly on his desk, perhaps a bit too brightly. The cracked mahogany is covered in black ink stains and over time pieces of wood have chipped off the desk. It is old, it is worn, and at first glance the pink notebook—surrounded by dark and dust and dreariness—does not seem to fit. At a closer glance, however, one would see the cracks in the pink leather of the journal echo the cracks on the mahogany. One would also take note of how some of the pages have begun to yellow and how other pages are missing or torn. In the end, the journal has found its home on the old beaten desk.

Luna steps away from the desk, and finds that her hands are shaking. It is an odd feeling, to be unable to control your body. Luna does not remember a time previous, other than Malfoy’s basement, that her body reacted with pure emotion.

Nervous—she was nervous.

This makes her smile, and has her studying her hands. She studies them in the dim lighting, concentrates until she feels her hands are not her own—only some odd physical extension of herself. They are made from small palms and thin fingers and are lined with jagged blue veins that run from her knuckles all the way down to the wrist. Luna notices that they are very pale, and look very fragile.

She wonders if she, herself, looks fragile. She supposes she must, or else Professor Snape would be more willing to let her help with his sleeping drought. If Luna seemed strong, perhaps her professor would allow her to stand closer to her potions, allow her to wear her earrings, allow her to be his friend.

Perhaps— hopefully— her notebook would change his mind, even if it was pink.

With this last thought Luna leaves her gift and the classroom, a whisper of a smile on her face.

 

*
Severus Snape sits on a soft blue chair in Professor Flitwicks office, a pair of the most obscene foot wear he has ever encountered clasped in his hands. They are small, so small that he still has trouble believing that they belong to an adult. Yet, it is not their size that has his brow pulled together, it is the fact that they sparkle. They are not always sparkling, no, they are not nearly that ordinary. The shoes only sparkle, or light up rather, once pressure was pressed into the sole.

Ridiculous, completely ridiculous. But then, wasn’t the owner?

You don’t know me at all

No, he supposed he didn’t, not in the least.

Snape almost gives away the fact he is uncomfortable by shifting in his seat, but catches himself and stiffens his spine. He remembers the last time he was in Flitwick’s office; he was fifteen and sopping wet. The notorious Serious Black had sat in the chair beside him, laughing. Flitwick had not been amused—dumping fellow students in the black lake in the middle of the night was apparently ‘done in poor taste.’ It had certainly left a sour taste in Snape’s mouth.

“I will be sure to give them a good talking to Severus, there is no room for thieves in my house. As for the shoes—”

“I was hoping you would return them, as she is one of yours?”

Flitwick smiles and his wrinkles seem to take over his face. “Actually, I was going to propose that you return the shoes.”

Snape looks as if something suddenly smells very, very bad. He had known it was a mistake to take the shoes, was planning on ignoring the fact students were throwing sneakers over the banisters on the ceiling, but once those snot nosed Ravenclaws’ had uttered the sentence ‘Loony Lovegood won’t even notice their gone’ Snape no longer had control over his actions. It is on rare occasion that Snape losses control, and it always puts him in a foul mood when he does. “Filius,” he spits, “to put it mildly, I have enough of my own students to attend to. I would rather not add caring for yours onto the list of my responsibilities.”

In honesty, it would take no effort on Snape’s end to hand the shoes back to Miss Lovegood, however, he did not wish to. He was too embarrassed—an emotion Snape has not felt since his sixth year at school when James had him floating upside down in front of the entire student body. The last meeting with Lovegood had not gone so swimmingly. Not only had she given him a good talking too, Snape had also left her his robe with the hyacinth hidden inside. The very hyacinth that now sits inside a pink notebook, which sits inside his robes. He had found it sitting on his desk that morning. At first he had believed it to be a mistake: one of his dunderheaded students must have left it behind. On further inspection he had noticed a purple hyacinth peeking out between faded yellow pages. The journal had Luna Lovegood written all over it. Still, he thought to throw it out, throw it away with the apples and the pie. He found himself placing it in his robe pocket instead, just as he had with her flower weeks before.

He knows Lovegood intends for him to read it. He has not, will not.

You don’t know me at all

Snape agrees with this statement, he does not know the Lovegood girl at all and has no need to. And yet he saves her journal, just as he saved her shoes.

“Quite right, quite right. I would never have suggested it without good reason. It is only, I believe the bullying started because Miss. Lovegood has taken to defending you.”

Snape’s brow pulls together in confusion. “Come again?”

It is Flitwick that is uncomfortable now, only he does not hide the feeling. He twiddles his squat thumbs and reddens around the collar. “Now, I don’t wish to ruffle anyone’s feathers Severus, it is only—well.”

“Out with it Filius, I believe my feelings will remain unharmed.” He interrupts, voice dripping of sarcasm.

Flitwick sighs, “some of the students are finding it hard to believe that you are completely reformed and have made some,” a nervous pause, “untoward comments about you. It seems that our Luna Lovegood has made it her mission to defend you, and I believe it has made her a target of bullying.”

This makes Snape pause. Very few have come to his defense in his life: Lily who was forever telling his bullies to bugger off if they knew what was good for them, Dumbledore who knew Snape’s place was with the light, and the Potter brat who shared his most personal memory to free him from Azkaban. Snape is not sure if he has forgiven Potter, it was a very personal thing to share—his love. Now, Snape would have to add a fourth name to his short list of allies: Luna Lovegood, a child who believes in nonsense now believes in him.

He is not sure what to think of it, yet an emotion stirs deep within him. It burns his chest and squeezes at his black heart. It has his stomach rolling and his mouth salivating. For the briefest of moments, Snape wonders if he is going to be sick.

Instead he scoffs at his old charms professor. “The consequences to Lovegood’s actions are none of my concern.”

Flitwick’s eyes soften. “Yes, yes, I understand. It is just—she has a big heart Severus, and has always helped those she’s felt need helping. I think it would mean a great deal to the girl if you were the one to return her shoes. Of course, if you are too busy I will be more than happy to do it.”

Snape takes a calming breath, and stands. “I can find the time. In return I would like for you to find me an advanced locking charm. It would seem one of our students has been sneaking into my classroom religiously. I would prefer that they didn’t.”

Flitwick wears an expression of surprise. Whether the charms professor is surprised that the infamous Snape is going to return the shoes, or that a student is sneaking into classrooms, Snape is unsure.

“Why of course Severus. Have you reported this to Minerva?”

“No need. I have my own way of dealing with such matters.” And with that Snape sweeps out of the room and begins to head to his dungeons. So, Miss Lovegood has decided that she is Snape’s friend, even though Snape refuses to be hers.

He will return her shoes, just as he will read her journal.

For her, he could do that much.

 

*
Luna’s toes sink into the earth and she cannot help but to dig them in deeper. She stretches out her arms and enjoys the feeling of freedom. It had felt so stifling inside the castle walls, even though it was Halloween. The dinning hall had been decorated with floating candles and beautifully weaved spider webs. Nearly Headless Nick had even painted his face to look like a pumpkin and wore it on his shoulder, rather than his neck. He had gone on about some muggle tail of a headless horseman, and how his costume would be perfect, if only he were truly headless. It was all so very lovely, and Luna had tried her best to embrace the Halloween spirit. She had even worn her orange and black tool skirt and wreath of amaranth to keep evil spirits at bay. She had planned on sharing scary stories she had read in one of her mother’s old books with Ginny, and if he had a moment, Neville.

Yet, Ginny and Neville had worn such expressions of unease at the Halloween feast that she had kept quiet and observed her friends instead. Ginny had scowled the whole meal and her attempts at conversation were short, and always ended with a bitter edge to her voice. Luna would guess that her friends gruff behavior had something to do with Harry—perhaps he was no longer coming for Christmas, or was unable to call her on the flue anymore—but the glowering warning glances Ginny had sent toward Neville had Luna thinking something else entirely was worrying her friends. She felt ever so bad for Neville. Whatever ailed him had him looking very guilty and sad.

Luna grew somber at the thought that Neville was sad. All she ever wanted for Neville was some peace and happiness. She remembers thinking to herself that she would have to talk with her friends when they fed the thesrales that evening, and perhaps tell her scary stories then. It was Halloween after all, the day of Lilly and James Potter’s death, and it was tradition to mourn them with Harry every year. Even though this year they were apart, it did not mean they should not pay their respects.

The Potter’s were hero’s after all, and had given life to one of Luna’s best friends.

Yet when Luna had mentioned her excitement for their evening trip, Ginny had looked down at her food and shook her head.

“Sorry Luna, I can’t make it this year. I wish I could, I really do, it’s only some stuff has come up. Important stuff.”

“Important stuff that you can’t talk about?”

Ginny met Luna’s knowing eyes with her own, filled to the brim with guilt and anger as she replied “yes.” Luna understood the guilt, understood that she would be meeting with the Order this evening, and forgave her friend. She did not understand the anger, however.

“It’s alright Ginny, I understand, and I’m sure that Neville will too. There’s no reason to be so upset.”

Ginny had scoffed and rolled her eyes, yet her tone had softened. “That’s not why I’m upset Luna.”

“Then why are you so upset Ginny?”

Ginny taped her fingers on the table as Luna tilted her head in confusion. Luna, in the back of her mind, knew that Neville had something to do with what was troubling her friend. Why else would Ginny glower at him? She just did not want to believe it. How could her sweet Neville make any one upset—other than Snape that is. However, Luna did have to recognize that her sweet Neville had been acting odd as of late. Why, just the other day hadn’t he blushed and walked in the opposite direction when he had seen Luna walking down the hall? And hadn’t he canceled their last tutoring session? In fact, when was the last time Luna had seen Neville?

She believes it has been a week. She believes the last time she spoke with tall, clumsy, perfect Neville was when he told her to give up on the screeching snaps and worried over Hannah Abbot. For the first time it occurred to Luna that Neville may be avoiding her.

“Neville isn’t coming tonight either is he?”

“No.”

“And he asked you to tell me for him, didn’t he?”

“He did. I’m sorry Luna.”

Luna reassured her friend with a smile. “It isn’t your fault Ginny. Neville can be shy, especially when he thinks he’s done something wrong.”

Ginny frowned at Luna and, without looking, flipped Neville the middle finger. Neville, who sat with the faculty, eyes had bulged and he turned a bright red. In the corner of her eye, Luna saw Snape with a single eyebrow raised taking in the scene. Briefly she wondered if he had read her journal or tossed it. She hopes he did not toss it, she misses it dearly and would like it back one day. Luna shakes her anxious thought away and looks back to Ginny.

“You didn’t have to embarrass him like that, I’m alright you know.”

Ginny smiles at her friend. “Oh that? Don’t worry about it Luna, that was code for ‘I fucking told her.’”

Luna let out a light peel of laughter. “I think he got the message.”

Ginny had smiled, and for a while had been her old self again. But the light mood faded and once again her friend seemed concerned and anxious. For the zillionth time Luna wished her friend would talk to her, share her burden. Ginny would not however, she was too loyal.

So the feast had been awkward and tense, and Luna had found herself wanting to be outside and away . . . away from everything, if only for a moment.

Luna frowns as she contemplates her day, stepping around a worm that had poked its head out of the ground. Her friends will not be mourning the Potter’s tonight, but Luna would. She owed Harry that much at least. She cannot be with him as he continues to fight for muggles and creatures rights, but she can think on his parents during their death day.

Not only did Luna want to pay her respects, she also wished to see Hagrid. Many cycles of the moon had passed since she had sat down and eaten rock cakes and drank tea with her teacher. Hagrid had been a lovely addition to Hogwarts staff, and she does not know where she would be without his class. Luna believes that Hagrid had found a kindred spirit in her when he had caught her saying her goodbyes to Buckbeak during her second year of school.

Buckbeak had been her only friend other than Neville that year and she had made it a habit to visit him every night with some fish she had caught in the black lake. She had cried when she heard that he was to be executed, and celebrated when news of Buckbeak’s escape had reached her. From that day on Hagrid called on her when he had found a creature injured in the forest, and would teach her how to care for them. She has a green journal hidden in her trunk detailing different ways to cure the different creatures she has encountered. It is also filled with drawings of Hagrid, a gentle giant handling different animals with love and tenderness.

Hagrid was lucky to have found his calling so young. As Luna walks up the steps to Hagrid’s hut she wonders if studying creatures is her calling as well, but it all seems too expected, and Luna is much more fond of the unexpected.

She knocks on his door and drums her toes on his porch as fang begins to bark, wrapping her blue tweed jacket tightly around her as the cold wind blows through her hair. A prickling sensation works its way up her neck, and she feels that she is being watched. The door is opened and before Luna can say hello she is being pulled into a long and painfully tight hug.

“Luna,” Hagrid cries happily, “I’m so happy ya came. I’ve gone and made us some tea and cakes. I even made a nice fire and stored up some meet fer ya to give to the thesrals.”

Luna breaks away from the hug with a smile and takes a deep and long breath. “Hello Hargid.” She says with a giggle, not at all taken aback by his welcoming cheer. Hagrid is taking her hands in his now and leads her inside. He peaks his head out his door and looks around, as if to make sure they were truly alone. Once satisfied, he closes his door and turns to Luna and offers her a big, cheeky wink.

“I got a surprise fer ya.”

 

*
Her journal was full of the potions he had been required to teach, yet directions that he had originally given his students had been scribbled out in Luna’s pink pen and new directions had been written beside it.

When he first opened the journal and discovered the truth she was trying to tell his heart had skipped a beat and he closed the infernal pink nuisance immediately. Images of him young and angry marking out directions in green ink in his advanced potions text book had flit through his mind. It would seem Miss Lovegood was trying to tell Snape that she did in fact understand potions, that she was not just some daydreamer he had presumed her to be. He wondered if she knew of his old potions book, if she knew of the half-blood prince and his horrible hexes. He wonders if she knows just how similar they are. Snape counts to three in his mind, a trick Narcissa had taught him when his emotions would begin to show on his face.

“Don’t let them see what makes you tick Severus,” she had warned, “if they find out your human they’ll tare you to pieces.”

Hadn’t they anyway? Hadn’t they destroyed his heart and taken away the privacy of his mind? Hadn’t they killed Narcissa—his only friend—in the end?

Once he reaches three, he opens the journal a final time, and after a more in depth inspection of Miss Lovegood’s changes he laughs. It is the first true, deep laugh he has had since he can remember. It has his stomach cramping and the corner of his mouth aching, and he knows that he has to try these new methods of brewing. They seem, on paper, absolutely ridiculous to Snape. For instance: stir the pot ten times clockwise was crossed out and replaced with ‘stir the pot seven times clockwise and three times counterclockwise while humming Beethoven’s symphony number five.’

He had tried it, and not only did it work, but the potion came out with a purely concentrated color and when ingested the effects were quite strong. Miss Lovegood’s journal was nothing less than incredible. Yet, he could not look at it for too long. It would seem that Miss Lovegood had taken to drawing sketches of Snape, and to him they felt very personal. His eyes always showed a deep overwhelming sadness that Snape recognized too well.

It unnerved him, and yet—

And yet he found himself needing to speak with her. He had quickly grabbed her shoes and stuffed her journal in his robes and walked out of his private room. That moment had led to this moment: Snape sitting outside Hagrid’s hut, waiting for Miss Lovegood to come out. He has no idea why he followed her, why he had not just grabbed her when he saw her skipping down the hall. But he hadn’t and now here he is, uncomfortable in the October air and wishing she would hurry up. What does she need with Hagrid anyhow? His company was certainly nothing Snape would ever dream of seeking out. The man is a buffoon, and had always been a buffoon.

When Luna finally does immerge she is glowing and smiling from ear to ear. For some reason this puts Snape at ease. Earlier that evening Miss Lovegood had seemed very somber. The feeling did not belong to Miss Lovegood, and Snape had found himself hating to see her wear it. Snape stands to finally greet her, but instead of walking towards the castle Luna turns and walks into the forbidden forest.

Snape’s fists clench and he lets out a grunt of anger. He supposes he will have to follow her into the woods, and give her detention for being so incorrigibly stupid. Many unwanted and hunted creatres had found a home in those woods after the final battle, and no student—especially small blonds who tend to not pay attention to important details—should be exploring it in the middle of the night. He sweeps down the hill he had been sitting on and follows Miss Lovegood into the forest. Snape has not visited the forest in a very long time. He supposes that he had never wanted to visit the forest. The two times he had in the past he was viciously attacked by a werewolf. Remus Loopin’s wolf to be more accurate. Snape has still not forgiven Loopin, even though the war had polished him off.

It was odd to Snape that he manage to survive all three of his child hood bullies. Perhaps this fact should make him feel some sort of victory, he had beaten them in the end hadn’t he? Instead he feels lost. He feels lost and confused. Snape was never supposed to have lived this long. It was never in the cards.

Snape flicks branches and bushes out of his path with wandless magic until he sees his target kneeling over her school bag, digging for something deep inside. Her hair shines in the moonlight and if Snape had not known better, he would have claimed that Miss Lovegood wore a halo on her head. She seems at peace and the light blues of the night make the pink in her cheeks stand out, makes her pale skin glow, makes her eyes shine. Snape had been correct in his assessment before: Lovegood resembles a woodland creature.

She grabs hold of whatever it is she looks for and pulls it out of her bag. What she holds is ruby read and drips on frosted grass by her feet. It is a bloody steak, and suddenly Snape hear a whiny. Big, black, boney creatures creep from out of the trees and begin to nuzzle their heads into Miss Lovegood’s free hand. Snape knows these creatures to be thestrales, and remembers that Miss Lovegood has seen death just as Snape has. He is afraid to break the magic Miss Lovegood seems to have hold on, but steps out of the shadows none the less.

“How long have you been able to see them?”

Luna does not seem surprised in the least to see her potions professor. She merely turns her head and smiles serenely. “I was nine. Daddy kept some on the property. He thought they were therapeutic, in a way I suppose they were. You?”

“Eighteen.”

“Ah, when you joined Voldemort’s cause.” Luna nods as if this is just a statement of fact, not an accusation. Yet, Snape still cringes his regret and grunts an affirmative. Luna smiles at him, then ushers him over with a wave of her hand—an invitation to feed the thestrals. He takes her invitation and finds himself walking towards her. He wonders where his anger has gone, but cannot find the will to conjure the emotion.

“Do you feed them often?”

Luna pets the Thestral and laughs as it munches on her hair. “Oh yes, I try to make it down here at least twice a week. Lately time has gotten away from me though. It’s difficult to come say hi. Today is a special day though, as I’m sure you know.”

“Do I?”

Luna laughs, it is light and beautiful. “Of course silly. Lily Potter saved Harry on this day nineteen years ago. Isn’t that why you’re here?”

Snape’s heart lets out a painful lurch and he has to take a moment to collect himself. Of course he knew what today was, just as he will know next year and the year after that. “I’m afraid I have not earned the right to mourn her memory.”

Luna crinkles her nose. “How is that exactly? You saved Harry, didn’t you?”

Snape shakes his head but does not embellish with a story. How could he explain that he had always been a pawn, not only for Voldemort but for Dumbledore as well? How does he tell innocent Luna Lovegood that he had been tricked by a great wizard to help protect and raise a prophet until it was the right time for that prophet to die?

“Everything was supposed to keep Lily Potter's son safe. Now you tell me you have been raising him like a pig for slaughter?”

That he had been using Snape to raise Lily’s son like a pig for slaughter. No, Snape did not deserve to mourn the love of his life. Lily never wanted anything to do with Snape anyway, why mourn someone who does not want your pity, someone who does not want your love? Snape shakes his head once more and hands Luna a pair of sparkling shoes instead.

“I came to give you these,” Snape then reaches in his robes and pulls out her pink journal, “and this. I believe they belong to you?”

Luna’s smile takes over her entire being as she claps her excitement. She reaches for her shoes first. “Wherever did you find them?”

Snape, still embarrassed that he saved her shoes in the first place, ignores her question and answers with a statement. “I read your journal.”

Luna’s flushed cheek burn more brightly than before, “Oh? And how did you like it?”

Luna had caught her professors eyes with her own. She seems calm, in control, but Snape cannot help notice the way she picks at her nails. A nervous tick perhaps? “I found it impressive. We will start brewing tomorrow, 8 pm sharp.”

Luna’s hand freeze and she looks at her professor for a long time. She seems stunned, but relieved. Snape hasn’t a clue why helping him with his sleeping draught is so important to the chit, but is happy to finally have a second set of eyes to help him with his project.

“I—thank you, thank you so much professor.” Snape thinks Miss Lovegood wants to hug Snape, but before she can he takes a step back an clears his throat.

“No need.” And with a flick of his robes he sweeps out of the forest. He had forgotten to take away house points and hand her a detention, but finds he does not care.

This year will be an interesting one to be sure.

Chapter Text

The table is long, and made from a deep, rich, red wood. The Professors of Hogwarts all sit silently around it while Minerva McGonagall—headmaster and legally documented animagus— stands at the head, tap, tap, taping her fingers in an anxious manner, her lips pursed. Snape knows this look, is well familiar with it in fact as it was present at every Gryffindor and Slytherin Quidditch match.

On the usual occasion, McGonagall’s pinched expression would amuse Severus. This occasion, however, was not a typical one and Severus can feel McGonagall’s anxiety lay over him like a constricting cloak.

“I am sorry to have gathered everyone here at such late notice, I understand that you all have busy schedules,” McGonagall sighs and lays her hand flat on the table, Snape thinks that she has never looked so old, “however, it could not be helped. There has been another death.”

Most gasp at this news, and muttering breaks out around the table. Everyone is asking questions such as: “who this time?” or making ignorant statements much like: “at least we know it wasn’t one of ours.” Statements of such ilk should have stung or angered the potions professor, after all he was a reformed death eater and the death could have been his own, but so used to being the ‘enemy’ was Snape that he felt nothing at all. In fact, the only remotely interesting thing Snape noticed was that, other than himself, Pomona Sprout was the sole person not reacting to the news. Instead she had taken to eating the sugar cookies that were sitting on floating dishes, and flicking the excess crumbs off of her rather large bosom.

He was surprised that she was here. Now that Pomona had taken on the feckless Longbottom as her apprentice she was hardly ever at Hogwarts. The last news Severus had heard of her was that she had left her late husband to run around with a beautiful and reckless young woman. Severus had always suspected the herbology professor to be gay, as she was constantly eyeing Minerva McGonagall with an appreciative smirk. Pomona Sprout catches Severus’s eye and nods her head to him with a cheeky smile on her lips. Severus somewhat respects her, would most definitely respect her more if she had not chosen Longbottom to apprentice, and gives her a slight nod back.

McGonagall presses her wand into the table and makes it rattle until everyone is silent.

Severus resists the urge to roll his eyes at the dramatics. Everyone is silent for a moment—and Snape has to admit it is a bit awkward—until the least tolerable person in the room breaks it.

“I knew it, I saw death in the stars. Wh—who was it this time my dear? It was not in the papers.” speaks Trelawney in her attempt at a dreamy tone and cadence. There is absolutely nothing dreamy about it. Briefly Snape wonders if Trelawney hates Lovegood, because the Lovegood girl is everything Snape imagines Trelawney wishes to be.

“No,” McGonagall shakes her head, “no, his death will be announced in the paper later this evening. Our very own Argus Filch was found this morning in his rooms, deceased. It would seem—” McGonagall’s voice breaks and she takes a breath and begins again. “It would seem that he passed after being afflicted by the cruciatus curse, multiple times.”

No one cries at the news, there will be no real tears for the bitter and old Flitch, but many still gasp and some form a cross over their chest and issue a small hail marry. Snape has a much different reaction and catches the headmaster’s eyes. They are sunken and sad.

“He was found in his rooms? Am I to understand that Filch was murdered within Hogwarts walls?” Asks Snape.

“You are, yes.” Aghast muttering ensues and questions are being thrown at McGonagall from all around the table until she is forced to beat her hand on the red wood, the sound echoing around the large room. The muttering ceases.

“I understand that this is a lot to take in, but unfortunately I cannot divulge any more information. I gathered you all here so that you would not have to find out about Filch’s murder from the papers. I also must inform you that an investigation is taking place and you will all be questioned throughout the week. No faculty is to leave Hogwarts grounds until the investigation is concluded. I apologies whole heartily for the inconvenience and thank you for your cooperation.” McGonagalls’s speech seems strong and she seems powerful, but Snape can read her as easily as his favorite novel. She is a nervous wreck, and her speech had been rehearsed many times over, and then some.

“Now,” McGonagall starts again after taking a deep breath in through her nose and out through her mouth. It is her favorite calming technique that she had tried to teach Snape when he was young and angry. It never took. “Are there any questions that have nothing to do with the incident?”

Hagrid timidly raises his ogre like hands.

“Yes Hagrid?”

“What ever happened to Miss Norris?” He asks in almost a whisper. McGonagall smiles and nods her head as if she expected such a question from the late games keeper.

“Physically she is quite alright, and in need of a new home.”

“Can, can I keep ‘er?” He asks timidly, and suddenly Snape knows why Lovegood takes to the oaf. He is gentle, and kind in an obnoxious way. Still, he is nothing but a nuisance and Snape can’t help curling his lip every time the buffoon opens his mouth.

“Of course Hagrid, there would be no better home for her. Now, is there any more questions?” No one else speaks and soon everyone is being dismissed, everyone except Severus that is. “Severus, if you wouldn’t mind— ”

Severus cuts Minerva off with an, “Of course,” because he knows what all this is about. Filch may not have been a death eater, but he was in league with Voldemort the moment he had taken over the castle. If the Carrows were not torturing a student, then dear old Filch was. Snape remembers it with the deepest clarity. And if Filch was a target, then Snape most likely is as well. In fact, he may even be next.

&npsb;

“Filch dead? I got to be honest, I never thought the old bastard could die. When I saw him sweeping up those bricks like nothing had happened at the end of the battle I figured he was made immortal, and we’d have to suffer him for the rest of our lives.”

Ginny rants as she and Luna walk to their first class after having breakfast in the great hall. What an unexpected breakfast it had been. Everyone was shocked when McGonagall had tapped on her glass before apparating the food, for the headmaster had not given a speech since the first day of school, when introductions and ceremony were necessary. It was now November and the student body had assumed that unlike Dumbledore, who would give out speeches like he gave out lemon drops (which was quite frequently), McGonagall would not be giving another speech until the end of the year.

It would appear they were wrong.

To her credit, Luna thought McGonagall made a lovely speech. It was full of heart for a man who in life did not seem to have one. She reassured her students in a fierce tone that the matter would be dealt with in a swift manner, that they were all safe, and that there was no need to close Hogwarts doors for the year.

Everyone had been taken aback by Filch’s death, everyone but Luna that is. The moment she saw Mrs. Norris sitting on Hagrid’s lap she knew the caretaker was not well. However, she had not figured he was murdered. Luna had hoped that the dangerous times within Hogwarts walls had passed with Voldemort’s demise. It was a silly thought she supposed, to hope that all of Voldemort’s ideologies and violence would have stopped with him. But Luna cannot help but be silly at times. Poor Filch, she thinks. A man born into a world of magic who possesses none, taken out of that very world with even more magic. The whole matter is a sad one indeed and Luna tries her hardest to find some sadness in her heart for the man, but only finds worry for Draco and Professor Snape.

“Can’t say I’m sorry he’s gone.” Finishes Ginny, who gives up on holding her muggle studies book and begins to kick it down the hall.

“He was not a very nice man, was he?” Replies Luna as she picks up Ginny’s book and places it in her hands along with her own. Luna thinks that she would not be very nice either if she were teased for years by students and ghosts for being a squib. Luna regrets that she had not tried befriending the man and is disappointed in herself for never thinking on him.

“No,” Ginny spits, “the man went out of his way to find students breaking school rules. Started making things up towards the end, it was like he was obsessed with the chaos. Got me and Neville in loads of trouble with the Carrows. I wonder how he died.”

“If it was the same person who’s been killing reformed death eaters, then it probably was not pleasant.”

“I hope not.” Ginny snarls.

“That’s not a very nice thing to say.”

Ginny shrugs “Well, it’s like you said, he was not a very nice man.”

As they talk Neville walks by. His body bumps into Luna’s shoulder, and instead of apologizing he continues down the hallway as if he had never seen her. Luna turns and tries to grab her friends cloak, tries to make him turn around and give her some sort of acknowledgement. Her fingers skim Neville’s back as he is too fast to grab hold of and she cannot help but shout his name.

“Neville!”

He does not turn around. She freezes in the hall, a hand held out, and tears in her eyes. The sea of students continue to rush past her, bumping into her shoulders and causing her books to tumble to the floor. Luna feels invisible. Luna hates feeling invisible and the tears tumble from her eyelashes in frustration, causing her vision to blur.

Why won’t he speak with her? What had she done wrong?

Luna suddenly feels the pressure of something heavy in her hands. She quickly blinks away her tears to clear her vision and is surprised to find that Draco has returned her books and is looking at her with concern in his eyes. His concern touches her deeply and Luna finds that she can no longer control her emotions as more tears dribble down to her chin. No matter how many apples or smiles Luna gave Draco this year, he always ignored her or handed her imperfect glares. His curtesy shows he does care, however, and solidifies the friendship Luna was forever trying for.

Luna no longer feels invisible.

“Luna, are you alright?” Draco asks and Luna notices that his hair is not in his typical sleeked back fashion. Instead it has almost a bed head look and is free of jell. Luna’s face breaks out into a sad smile when it dawns on her that he has taken on her advice.

They have been friends longer than Luna realized.

“I’m perfectly splendid Draco. It seems you have lifted my grey cloud, thank you.” Luna hiccups as she takes his hand and squeezes in affirmation, her now happy tears continuing at an alarming rate. Draco frowns, points his thumb back in the direction Neville had fled, and is about to respond when Luna is being dragged behind a very upset Ginny Weasley.

Ginny then punches a very stunned Draco in the nose. He collapses backwards onto the floor, where Luna’s books had just been.

“I swear on my brother’s grave Malfoy, if I catch you making her cry one more time I will end you.” With that Ginny turns and drags a now embarrassed Luna behind her. With flushed cheeks she mouths a quick ‘sorry’ to the groaning Draco as she stumbles behind her enraged friend.

“I swear, I look away for five seconds and you go off getting yourself into trouble.” Ginny mutters bitterly. It is her best Molly Weasley impression to date.

Luna decides that she will clear up the misunderstanding once her friend is no longer seeing red.

&npsb;

Severus Snape cannot decide whether he is impressed or irate to find Luna Lovegood in his potions classroom, candles lit, sitting on his desk whilst swinging her legs and humming a rather odd tune, her eyes closed. On one hand she is not only on time for their brewing session, but is early. Being on time is quite the rarity for the Lovegood girl, but early—well— he had never seen that before. On the other hand she had broken into his classroom, again. To find his door unlocked and the room smelling of lilacs was certainly not how he wanted this meeting to start—not after the long and tiresome meeting he had with McGonagall.

“You must be vigilant Severus, protect yourself.”

Protect himself from what? From the inevitable end that he had itched for, craved for ever since Lily had been snatched away, and by his doing no less. He had worn an expression of indifference when he left her office and was sure that he had etched more lines of worry into her elderly face. Snape wished no more pain for McGonagall, the woman had gone through hell and back: losing her husband so young and seeing Voldemort’s reign not once but twice was enough turmoil for one life time. But he could not seem to convey to the woman that he was already dead. He had died the day Lilly erupted in green sacrifice for the world. There was no saving him.

Lovegood refused to believe him as well.

He sighs at the sight of her: Green overalls and a yellow shirt that blends into her hair, matching the orange leaf earing she has placed in her right ear. He wonders if the other has been stolen until he notices the left is decorate with a yellow star. He believes he has the other star earing in his drawer, with the rest of her confiscated jewelry.

“Practicing our lock picking skills are we?” Asks Snape with a bitter tone to his voice.

Luna Lovegood’s eyes pop open and she smiles brightly kicking her feet more excessively in excitement. Her eyes, however, tell another story. Much like that October night two weeks prior the lids around her strikingly blue irises are red and puffy. Unlike last time though, they take on an almost bruised look, as if she had been crying for hours. Snape forms fists that curl and he discovers that he is angry, but not at her.

She hops of the desk and clasps her hands together in happiness. “Oh no, I perfected that skill years ago.”

Snape’s eye twitches. “You don’t say,” he dead pans.

Luna’s hands unfurl when she notices that her professor is not exactly enthralled with her antics. “I—I am sorry professor. It is only,” she pauses and shuffles her feat, “it is only that I was very worried when I heard Filch had passed, and wanted to test you.”

This has Snape’s blood boiling, and with very thin patience he manages to say through clenched teeth, “test me?”

Luna is looking everywhere but at him. “Well, it was more a test of your locks you see . . .” she trails off.

“And why, pray tell, did you need to test my locks?” He sneers. Still he lingers in the door way, casting a long and ominous shadow. Had Luna been anyone else, she imagines that she would be quite frightened. The fact that Snape does not understand her treachery only causes her concern to grow.

“With Filch’s death—

“What does Filch’s death have to do with me?”

Luna’s eyes open wide and she is aghast “Sir, have you not been reading the papers?”

Snape can no longer control his anger and finds himself barking at the girl, punctuating every point with a threatening step into his classroom. The smell of lilacs increases the closer he gets to the infernal Lovegood. “It is none of your business, do you hear me Lovegood? Stop sticking your nose in places it does not belong, before I decide that I’m not in need of an assistant after all.”

Luna looks as if she wants to say something insightful, but shuts her mouth and nods. Her feet ceases all kicking as she slides, defeated, off the desk. “I do apologies professor. I was only worried, and, well I understand if you take house points.” She mumbles. Snape dwarfs Lovegood, and he thinks to himself that he had almost forgotten how small her frame truly was. She seems even smaller tonight.

Snape feels his tightened body loosen, and he (in a very small way) regrets his actions. Lovegood looks so pitiful that he can no longer find a bone in his body that feels malignant towards the girl. If she had not suggested him taking house points, he never would, but now he feels he must.

“Five points from Ravenclaw.” He says listlessly and takes a step away from the girl before heading to his closet. He has no more energy to give her. Snape walks to the very back where he finds all his papers full of past research before re-entering the classroom. Luna Lovegood still stands at the front of his desk, picking at her nails. He drops the bulk of paper on a student’s desk in the back of the room, which creates a dull thud that echoes. Lovegood quickly gets the point and shuffles her way to said desk, flipping through the pile.

“You would like for me to read these?”

“Yes.”

“And then I will help you brew?” The smell of lilacs is overwhelming with her standing so close and he finds that he needs to take a step back, least he be intoxicated.

“No, you will be reviewing this research, and any research I find thereafter. If, and only if you catch up to my knowledge on the subject will you be allowed to assist.” As Snape makes this speech he heads back into the closet, retrieving a caldron and ingredients for his next attempt.

“But, how will I ever catch up, if you continue to make new discoveries?”

“That is for you to figure out.”

He is not sure why he is being so brash. He only knows that he cannot stop himself. There is a need to distance himself from the girl. Snape fears that if he gets to close, that he may start to care, to truly care. To feel such an emotion would mean that Snape’s soul is not as dead as he thought it to be, and if that were the case, it would mean he would finally have to start living for himself. There was nothing to be gained in such a scenario.

Miss. Lovegood looks as if she is going to speak against his statement, but closes her mouth instead and begins to read. Snape takes this opportunity to focus on his work, only, he continues to be distracted—by her. He has never seen her so tired. It is the only word he can think of to describe her: tired, to her very marrow. Not only do her eyes look bruised, but her body is no longer held in that upright peppy manner. Instead it sags, along with the corners of her lips that mouth along to the words he had written long ago.

He tries to shake his mind, ultimately expects that he is able to from the years of training he had as a spy. His mind should be a sounding board at this point: hearing everything but taking nothing in. When it comes to Lovegood, however, he finds he cannot rid his mind of his curiosity. What has made her so forlorn?

Who did she need protecting from?

Snape snarls at this thought and bangs the sides of his caldron as he stirs clockwise. Lovegood could protect herself, and if not she had the Weasley girl who was more than capable. Still he cannot help himself from glancing at her sunken face from time to time.

Suddenly tears begin to pool in the corners of her eyes. He drops his stirring spoon immediately and before he can control his feet they take him to her. The smell of lilac’s intensifies as he makes his way down the rows of chairs. Last time he remembers she smelled of honey.

“Here.” Snape announces as he produces a handkerchief from the small pocket of his robes. It is embroidered with a rose, and was a gift Narcissa had given him when they were young and shared many secrets. First his cloak, then her shoes, and now a handkerchief—would his gift giving never stop?

Luna wipes away the tears and smiles a small smile up at her professor. “Thank you.”

“Think nothing of it.” There is silence, and finally Snape caves.

“Miss. Lovegood, what seems to be the problem?” Luna takes her finger and feels out every stitch of the flower before speaking quite timidly.

“You are quite familiar with the pains of love professor?”

Snape freezes and he feels a chill work its way down his spine. He was not expecting such a question, and was not prepared to answer it. So he stays silent.

Luna smiles. “I thought you might be. Are we friends professor?”

Snape finds the need to clear his throat, and without his permission the words, “If you wish,” flit through his lips. Suddenly Luna grabs for his hands and squeezes with such intensity that Snape feels the need to kneel down.

“He won’t speak with me anymore, and I’m not sure why,” She whispers, “I know we will never,” more tears spill, “we will never be an item, but I had thought us to be the best of friends. I thought we were a team. I’m not so sure anymore.”

Snape feels stuck in the moment. He knows that interacting with a student in such a way is beyond inappropriate, but cannot find a way to pull himself away from a grieving Luna Lovegood.

“What do I do professor?” Once again Snape finds himself angry, and yet not angry with her. This has been a theme of his recently. He will ponder this ‘theme’ at a later date.

“When I was struck with a similar feeling, and the feeling was not returned, I merely let the person go.” He found he was whispering as well.

“That’s it, you just let them go?”

“And support them as much as you can, anonymously.”

Luna’s tears become fierce. “It’s all so tragic,” she sniffles and then lets out a small listless laugh, “it may be selfish, but I always imagined that when I found the one, I would have some sort of passion in return.”

Snape cannot help but add a small sad smile of his own. “As did I Lovegood, as did I.”

“Are some people just born matchless?” she asks as she touches her star earing. Snape still holds onto her other hand, and finds he does not have an answer for her. All he knows is that there has yet to be a match for him, and he doubts there ever will be. Miss. Lovegood is still young, and Snape cannot fathom her never finding love as she radiates love in every aspect that is just genuinely her. There is silence as the pair look at each other, and Snape has never felt an urge so strong to just hold someone.

He jolts up onto his feet at this thought, removing his hands, and regains his sanity.

“Take the night off Lovegood. I will see you tomorrow, same time as tonight.”

“Of course professor, thank you.”

Luna is out the door with the bulk of research before Snape has time to take it back.

Chapter Text

Ch. 7
There is a moment in every life when a person is within reaching distance to the goal they long to achieve—and yet they cannot quite grasp it. Luna finds herself in such a predicament currently. All she wishes to do this year is to be a help to her potions professor. Now that she finally has a chance to create a sleeping potion for and with the very man in question, he has her reading past works.

Luna blows hair out of her face in frustration as she flips over yet another page.

Luna understands the importance, truly she does. She must understand what it is she is tampering with before she can be any sort of help. However, she had not expected the research and past attempts to be so, well, numerous. If she were being honest, the amount of paperwork was almost explosive. It has been two weeks since she cried in front of Professor Snape, and in those two weeks Luna had only gotten through half of the material. Not to mention Professor Snape kept piling on more attempted works onto her still massive pile.

But what really made Luna tired, tired and frustrated, was that Snape would no longer speak to her. Of course there was the occasional grunt when Luna asked a question, or a quick quip on her intelligence followed by a brief but precise answer. However, Luna wants more. She wants a friend.

He had said they would be friends if she wished, hadn’t he?

Luna rubes her eyes when the words on the page begin to blur together, and looks vacantly at the wall before her.

She must have pushed him too far, had known she pushed him too far the moment she exited his room that night. Snape was an isolated man with isolated feelings. He had just agreed to let her help. Crying on and on about Neville, who was still not speaking with her, probably was not best.

Luna lets out a soft sigh which seems to echo around her.

She had not meant to cry, had tried to stifle the tears. But the emotion that comes along with absolute rejection had been bubbling out of her all day and there was no controlling it. Luna pouts, scrunches her nose and bites her pen.

This is certainly a step back, but she will not give up. She will only have to prove herself to Snape by getting this sleeping drought just right, which is why she had stolen the past research from his office this night. Ever since she had taken the works home after their first meeting, Snape had told her she was never to do it again because her “absentee mind is sure to misplace them all.”

‘A rather dull insult from Snape,’ Luna thinks as she smiles.

Luna supposes Snape was not unjust in his statement. Luna is known for losing all sorts of things, or at least having them stolen. But this was his works, not her own. It would be quite rude to lose someone else’s things. She was raised better than that, and so, knowing she would bring everything back just the way he had left it, Luna took the pile of never ending research. If she needed to read absolutely everything in order to finally put her hands on the project, then she would. And she would do it right now, tonight, in preparation for tomorrow. She intends to skip into his classroom bright and early with a long list of her suggestions that he will have to spend his precious time reading.

The list is only intended to help of course, but it still makes Luna laugh manically to think she will be paying her professor back in kind with her own research. She quickly stifles her noise, however, and looks left and then right to make sure she was not overheard. She is sitting in the hallways after hours, and to be caught would only make Snape all the angrier.

“Not only stealing Lovegood, but out after hours?” Luna imagines him saying with a steely edge to his voice. The type of steel that makes one shiver and stand with their head hanging low. She would have gone to her room. To snuggle in bed with her wand lit under blankets would be homey and very pleasant. It is only that the teasing has gotten much worse, and she did not trust to bring the papers to her common room. Luna looks back down at the pile of papers sitting on her lap and frowns. Who knows what her housemates might do to them? Last night Luna had lain in bed to find her pillow soaking wet. She did not know why the pillow was wet, and threw it out immediately. Some of her sweaters had holes cut through, and the shoes she had just gotten back had been defecated in by a cat. There was also that letter she had found in her potions book this morning with the words ‘death eater whore’ written clearly in green ink, a picture of a poorly drawn skull decorating the bottom of the page.

So no, Luna would not be going back to her rooms tonight.

Instead she sits on the seventh floor next to the tapestry of Barnabas Barmy, and across from the room of requirement. She had wanted to enter the room, had needed to enter the room. But when she placed her hand upon the wall where the door would have appeared it was burning hot. Luna had flinched away and knew that the fire Harry and Ron had spoken of still burned. She let a single tear fall for the loss, the loss of the only home she had left, and sat in front of it.

She had become a hero in that room. She had made friends in that room. She was never alone in that room.

Luna whipped away the tear after a brief mourn and had begun to read. She only has a few more pages to work through, and she is very proud of the helpful list she has compiled. If the list will not make Snape proud of her dedication, she at least hopes he will gain something from it.

Once again Luna buries her nose in Snape’s notes and reads a particular interesting anecdote: Ingesting a sleeping draught with too much lavender will cause the sleep cycle to continue until the body shuts down. An endless slumber. This makes Luna think of an old muggle tail her mother used to read to her before she went to sleep.

“Sleeping Beauty” Luna whispers and suddenly bright light erupts directly in her face.

“Sleeping what?” A slightly pompous male voice asks, and even though Luna is blinded by the sudden light she knows who it is.

“Hello Draco,” she smiles.

Draco Malfoy lets down his wand and raises his brow. “Lovegood, what are you doing out past curfew?”

Luna pats her bundle of papers happily, “homework. I could ask you the same—” Luna trails off, because she has just noticed Draco’s prefect badge, and realizes he is on night patrol. “Oh, congratulations Draco. I’m so glad they didn’t take your badge away from you.” She finishes with a nod toward said badge which has been placed proudly on his chest.

Many are still prejudice against Draco, and Luna is ever so happy that the professors understood the lack of choices Draco was given during the war, and the decisions he was forced to take. Draco scowls at this and runs his hand threw his now messy hair. “Why would they take it away from me?” Draco asks with offence, but takes in the knowing look Luna hands him and his shoulders slump. “I’m glad they didn’t take my badge too.” Draco then leans against the wall Luna sits against and slides down next to her.

“Why are you doing your homework here?” He asks her, his gaze locked on where the room of requirement once was.

“Oh, a couple of reasons. Are you going to report me?”

Draco shrugs “No. Not tonight anyway”

“Thank you.”

A silence, and then an awkward “So why are you doing homework out here?”

Luna smiles and pats Draco’s leg to let him know there is no need to feel awkward. They are friends, and friends share.

“Well, my housemates aren’t too fond of me it would seem, and I’m trying to stay out of their way for a while.”

Draco’s brow pulls together and his fists clench “So they’re at it again are they? The pricks.”

Luna shrugs “I’m sure they have their reasons. I would blame it on attachment spirits, but they only reside in the States. I suppose they could have migrated, but it’s doubtful.” She muses.

Draco looks at Luna bewildered “Attachment spirits? What are—,” he trails off, rolling his eyes at Luna’s new creature, and instead focuses on the issue, “they shouldn’t treat you like that Luna.”

Luna’s smile takes up her entire face at the sound of her first name coming from his lips. The word ‘friends’ sounds off again in her mind and she has never felt so warm and comforted. Luna reaches out and holds his hand. He flinches, but does not pull away.

“No, no one should treat anyone like that. But if the world were so simple it wouldn’t be nearly as much fun.”

Draco lets out a soft laugh at this. “I like your logic, even if it is a bit bonkers.” Luna squeezes his hand.

“I loved that room.” Draco whispers, nodding toward the room of requirement.

“Me too.”

Draco’s legs begin to bounce up and down slightly and he runs his free hand over his hair once again. A new nervous tick Luna thinks, and is happy for it. Draco is showing more and more of himself every day. She has never been more proud of a person.

“I didn’t do it.” He says suddenly and Luna is confused.

“Do what?”

“Light it on fire. It wasn’t me.”

“I know. Ron told me it was Crabbe.”

“He died for it.” The statement rolls off of Draco’s tongue in such staccato that, for a moment, Luna’s heart mourns for Draco’s innocence.

“I’m sorry.”

Draco shrugs, “we weren’t close.”

“I don’t believe you were close with anyone back then Draco, not really.”

Draco snaps his head toward Luna with a look of defiance on his face. He quickly drops it however, when he discovers Luna had not meant the comment as an insult and nods his head. He then turns his body to face hers. He studies her for a moment and Luna cannot decide whether it is her ghostly paleness, or the several bags that reside under her eyes, or how lately the sides of her mouth seem to sink a bit more that has him asking his next question. But he does, and Luna has never been more thankful.

“Stay at my place tonight. I’m head prefect so I’ve got two rooms all to myself.”

Luna is startled and unsure, yet still asks, “what about the head girl. Wouldn’t she mind?”

At this Draco looks away with pink cheeks. “The head girl went back to her usual room. She didn’t feel comfortable staying—staying with a death eater.” Draco’s blush screams out his shame and Luna pats his hand.

“I would love to Draco, thank you.” Draco looks back to her shyly and the corner of his mouth lifts in true happiness, and perhaps relief. Whether it was relief that someone did not believe he was evil, or relief that he was no longer alone Luna could not decipher. All she knows is that Draco is now covering Luna’s hand with his and hulling her up, up, up until she is standing on her feet with a more sound and happy mind. His hands are bigger than hers, she notices, and so very soft. She cannot help but take note that there are no scars unlike his god father, who has as many scars on his hands as he has veins. She wants to trace those scars.

Before the war, Draco must have lived a very sheltered life.

“We are heading into new territory.” Says Luna.

Draco takes a moment to look away while nodding his head. Luna cannot help but think that in this dusky hallway with his pink cheeks, ruffled hair, and glittering eyes that Draco Malfoy is a very pretty boy. He would probably laugh at her if she told him.

“I’m okay with it. Are you?” he asks.

“I’m delighted.” Luna says through a smile and begins to skip down the hallway, leading Draco to her new courters.

“When life gives you lemons,” Luna sings her favorite muggle phrase, “you must make lemonade.”

Draco has never heard it before, and he arches an eyebrow.

 

“I don’t know what I’m doing”

Stresses Snape’s dunce of a god son as he paces in anxiety in front of Snape’s desk. Draco’s hair is a mess and stubble has begun to grow on his cheeks. However, there is a certain glow about him that Snape has not seen since his god son’s fourth year. He seems almost happy. Snape wonders when he himself was last happy when a pair of green eyes flash in his memory before turning suddenly into a clear unnatural blue. He shakes the image immediately from his mind.

“I only invited her to stay the night. Then we ended up talking the whole night and the next thing I know I’m inviting her to stay the whole year.” Draco grounds out in agitation and slumps in the chair in front of Snape, his face buried in his hands. “You should have seen her though. I never knew Luna could look that vulnerable. I’ve never seen her that sad since—”

Since she was tormented in your manner, thought Snape.

Draco trails off, and gazes up at his god father, lost. Snape takes a moment to asses Draco, and tries to put his own emotions aside. He has had much practice at it, and it should not be difficult, yet the ball of irritation pushing against his chest is growing in volume and itching its way up his throat. His concern for the Lovegood girl is growing. It is troubling.

“You do not seem annoyed with her presence.” Snape says in a cool tone.

Draco throws his head back and groans. “I’m not.”

“Then what seems to be the problem?”

“I think—I think I have feelings for her.”

Snape’s skin turns to ice, and he feels his teeth mash up against one another. A natural reaction to his god son’s statement and yet Snape is still embarrassed for it. The girl is twenty years his junior. Who she shacks up with should not, does not, have anything to do with him. Images of Luna in tears over her mystery man stream before his eyes. Is this mystery man Draco? His mind attempts to sooth his simmering blood, but his next question sneaks away from him.

“Oh? And how does Lovegood feel? Should I be expecting you both for the holidays?”

Draco rolls his eyes and sneers at Snape. “Hardy—har—har. No,” Draco stands and begins to pace once again, “she’s in love with Longbottom. Of all people Longbottom! And he hasn’t even spoken to her since late October.” He slams a hand on Snape’s desk. “What I wouldn’t give to put him right on his arse. Remind him that he’s nothing but a coward, snake killer or not.”

Snape’s fist curls underneath his desk and he has to pinch his thigh, hard, in order to gain control. Imagining Lovegood walking hand in hand with such an obnoxious mouth breather has his field of vision turning red. He would rather her be born matchless then have her matched up with him.

“Longbottom? And how did you come to that conclusion?”

“She told me,” Draco throws is hands in the air in exasperation, “she tells me everything now. Says I’m her people, whatever that means,” Draco groans, “she’s too trusting,” and sits a final time.

Snape drums his fingers on the desk. “So the girl you like is now living with you, the boy she likes wants nothing to do with her, and you’re upset because?”

“Because I don’t know how I should feel.”

“But you are feeling something?”

“Yes. I suppose, I suppose I feel furious about Longbottom, obviously,” Snape nods his head once in agreement—Lovegood has no taste, “and I guess, I guess I must be scared. I don’t want to break her faith in me, you know? She thinks I’m this great person and I want to be, I really do. But what if I’m just not?”

At this Snape’s heart softens. He sees his own fear reflected in his god son, the fear of not living up to Lovegood’s expectations. The fear of becoming what the rest of the world already saw him as, a heartless follower of the dark lord. Although Snape does not believe he is a good man, he knows Draco is. He remembers a time when Draco stood in front of an impossible task, remembers Draco’s opportunity to finish and claim the glory to said task, and remembers how he still shook at the prospect of killing Dumbledore. The boy had a goodness in him, and perhaps Lovegood was what he needed to bring it out.

“I think that you will be surprised with yourself Draco. I know that you have impressed me. Never shy away from proving yourself, our house would not hear of it.” An icy affirmation of is god son, but an affirmation none the less. Draco stares at Snape in surprise and then smirks.

“You’re getting soft old man.”

“Out of my office.”

Draco leaves with pep in his step and Snape with an ache in his heart. He rubs at his chest as if to sooth it. It does not work. Perhaps he will be lenient with Lovegood this evening. He would like to see her smile today.

 

“Guess what.”

“What?”

“No, you have to guess.”

“I was right and flubberworms are taking over insect life?”

Ginny rolls her eyes and elbows Luna in the ribs. Luna clings to the tree branch she sits on to keep her balance. It would not be good to fall out of the tree at this height, not to mention she had a perfectly good hot chocolate in her hand. It was a good thing Luna kept good karma, or she is sure the liquid would be all over her lap.

“First of all, flubberworms are harmless herbivores; they couldn’t ‘take over insect life’ even if the whole insect species lives depended on it. Second of all, why would I ever want to talk about flubberworms? They’re disgusting.”

Luna, now stable, frowns and reaches out her hand to catch snowflakes on her pink mittens. Luna is entranced. She is ever so glad that Ginny agreed to join her on celebrating the first snowfall.

“Flubberworms aren’t disgusting.”

“They poop out of the same end they eat with Luna.”

Luna pauses, “perhaps they aren’t the cleanest of creatures.”

“No kidding.”

There is a brief silence, in which Luna uses to take in her surroundings. Hogwarts is a beautiful castle located on beautiful grounds. She can spot Hagrid’s hut in the distance, and can see that the roof is already layered in white. She takes a deep breath in and lets it out and smiles at the white mist she has created. Winter is her favorite season.

“You have to guess again.” States Ginny, her arms crossed and her nose a delicate pink from the frosty wind.

“You’ve finally gotten your belly button pierced?” Luna cries excitedly and Ginny blushes and covers Luna’s mouth.

“No! And be quiet about that, mum would go bonkers if she found out.”

‘I’m sorry’ is what Luna would have liked to say, but it comes out as more of an “mmphorry.” Ginny releases her hold.

“Alright, I’ll give you a hint. Someone we know is coming to Hogwarts to investigate Filch’s murder. Who is it?”

Luna’s smile spreads across her face as she claps her hands, sure she knows the answer now. “Harry!”

Ginny frowns and swings her legs back and forth. “No, not Harry.”

Luna reaches over and squeezes her best friends hand. Ginny has not seen Harry in a long time. Luna understands her pain, as she has not spoken to Neville in weeks. Not being around the person who holds your heart leaves you aching, and even though you may be surrounded by friends, you will still feel helplessly alone.

“Ron then?” Asks Luna, and Ginny immediately acts as if she is about to hurl.

“Merlin no. You really are no good at this you know?”

“Ah, well my third eye is blind today as it is not a Thursday and as it happens to be snowing.” Luna replies as she cocks her head and gazes at Ginny with her big blue eyes unblinking. Ginny squints at her friend, trying to make out if she is teasing or not, until Luna winks and then Ginny is laughing.

“Right, right my bad. Want me to just tell you?”

“That would be helpful.”

“It’s Hermione! She is studding under some bloke for this detective agency under the ministry. Turns out he’s been hired to investigate all these murders since the aurors haven’t a clue who’s killing off all the death eaters.”

“Reformed death eaters.”

Ginny rolls her eyes. “Right, whatever. Anyway Hermione’s coming and staying the week and has promised to take us out for some much needed girl time!”

Ginny is so very excited, and Luna places on a false smile in order to keep the energy that flows around her friend positive. It is not that Luna is unhappy, it is only that she is not nearly as excited as Ginny. Hermione has never been a friend to Luna, not truly. Every time the Quibbler is brought up Hermione would always scoff and make a nasty comment about her dads work. Now, Luna is not blind. She understands her father’s discoveries and ideologies are hard to wrap ones head around and she understands that not all people are believers of the unknown. The unknown can be scary, and for most it is easier to live in the dark. But if Hermione was a true friend, she would not continually make Luna feel as if she were smaller than the dirt on the bottom of her shoe. She also knows that with Hermione back at school Luna will not be seeing much of Ginny. But this good for Ginny, Luna thinks, and in the end that is all that matters.

“I’m so happy for you.”

Ginny shoves Luna and once more Luna has to cling to her branch. “Be happy for you too silly. This week will be so much fun!”

Hermione Granger has ‘penciled Snape in’—as she put it—for a meeting, Wednesday at noon, this coming week to interrogate him on his whereabouts during the night of Filch’s murder. Snape is furious. Students can smell the anger wafting off their potions professor and they jump out of his path, tugging their friends away and backing against walls, as Snape billows down the hallway, his cape flying behind him.

 :

“Pencil me in?” He mutters under his breath, “pencil me in?”
Snape slams open the door to his classroom as he imagines slamming the door shut in Grangers face, with a ‘it seems I am busy tis Wednesday.’ It is a petty thought, but Snape is beyond caring. Of all the people they could have sent for the interrogations, they send know-it-all Granger. He would rather hold Longbottom’s hand as he walked him through how to brew a cure for boils step by step than sit in a room alone with her. Snape storms into his storage closet and grabs the ingredients for his next attempt at the sleeping draught. He then storms out of the closet and begins slamming each object down on his desk, all the while muttering curses under his breath.

“Know it all, daughter of a banshee, Dung for brains git.”

He smells her before he hears her. She smells of pine this evening, much different from the lavender and honey, and he wonders how he knows with such certainty that this new scent belongs to her.

“Am I that late?” She asks in her wistful way, and Snape realizes Lovegood thinks he is talking about her. If a smile is what he aims for, then this is not the best start to their evening. He turns his head towards her and has to restrain himself from rolling his eyes. No wonder the girl smells of pine. Luna Lovegood stands at the entrance of his classroom with pine needles sticking out from her hair, her bright blue sweater, the pockets of her forest green overalls, and everywhere else. She is covered in them, not to mention she is wearing pine cones for earrings. Pine seems to be her theme this night. Her cheeks are pink as is her nose and her eyes are bright.

She has been climbing in trees, thinks Snape.

Luna scrunches up her nose and takes on a look that indicates her mind is miles away. “I was sure I left for our meeting early today, and the dungeon was so quiet that I didn’t stop to talk in case I woke it up. I suppose I did avoid being spotted by Nanette on my way here which may have taken more time than I had supposed?”

Luna is rambling which begins to frustrate Snape because why does everything have to be her fault? Before he can think of a decent reply he hears himself say, “As intriguing as how you came to be here at this hour is, Ms. Lovegood, you will find that the world does not revolve around you.” His reply is icy and he wishes he could disappear into his cloak. He is a man of pride, however, and so he stands with his head held high and an apology far from his lips.

Luna merely makes an understanding ‘o’ with her lips, and then smiles. “I am glad I am not the reason for your ire this evening sir.”

Snape lets go of a breath he had not been aware of holding and looks away, back to his ingredients. “Have a seat Lovegood. I’ll bring the research to you momentarily.”

He hears her feet patter towards him and before he can look up to see what Lovegood had in store for him this time a big bulk of paper is being placed in front of him. He takes a moment to study the papers, and then realizes what they are—his research. The research that, as he remembers, was last placed within the drawer of his desk.

“I never knew you for a thief, Miss Lovegood.” She is either too confident or too dimwitted for her own good. No one stole from Snape without him knowing, no one. Not even Potter, who thinks himself so clever, truly stole his gilly weed. He had placed it in his closet with the intent for the brat to take it. He had not intended for Lovegood to take his research.

“Thieves are not known for giving the items they stole back to their owners.” She states in a nervous timber. He does not like that he makes her nervous, or maybe he does? Hasn’t he been trying to scare her off this whole time? Snape is confused which makes him frustrated and he brings his fist down on his desk fast and hard, making bottles rattle.

“You have one minute to explain yourself.” He sneers. Somewhere in the back of his mind he wonders at what happened to his plan to make her smile. Making her happy was not his forte it would seem.

“I—I only wish to assist you. And I had thought that I would be able to make it through everything much faster if I read it on my own time. And I did, I’ve read it all. And I’ve even taken notes. See?”

Luna reaches into the large front pocket of her overalls and unrolls the largest parchment Snape has seen since his completion of his dissertation to pass his potions apprenticeship. He was surprised at the length, and proud of her dedication. Yet, he is still upset with his behavior and Lovegood’s presence is irking him. Snape takes the parchment and looks it over.

“I will go over this tonight. If I like what I read I may invite you back to brew tomorrow night. If I don’t, then I may not.” He raises his head to look at Lovegood who gazes at him with big, pleading, sad eyes. It makes his fingers twitch. Perhaps he wishes to reach out to her? He does not.

“You are lucky I am withholding further punishment. Leave now, and do not take my possessions without clear instruction to do so. Trust is a fragile thing Miss Lovegood.”

Luna stands still for a moment, then nods her head and quietly leaves.

The room still smells of pine.

Chapter Text

Students whisper her name and heroic nature as her heels click determinedly toward her destination. She wears a white button up with a brown vest and a silk red skirt. It took an hour and all the hairspray she had, but she managed to wear her hair up today. The aura that surrounds her leaves no room for jokes; Hermione Granger is here on serious business.

If she were meeting with anyone else today, perhaps she would have dressed casually. After all, the staff has the utmost respect for her. She had been at the top of her class after all, and had destroyed Voldemort’s horcruxes along with Harry and her boyfriend Ron. There is no need to dress to impress when everyone’s impressed already. However, not everyone is as impressed as she would like them to be. Take one Severus Snape for example; he still talks down to her as if she were back in Hogwarts as a first year.

Oh he really stuck in her craw.

Hermione turns a sharp corner and stomps on her heels with more force. The last thing the man should be doing is mocking her. If anything Professor Snape (‘Severus, you must call him Severus now,’ she berates herself ‘it’s a power move’) should be thanking her. She was the one who slipped Snape the blood replenishing potion—they were in the middle of a war, what idiot wouldn’t carry such an antidote on their person—and ordered Slugghorn to save his sorry arse as soon as she could.

Instead all she receives is his bitter voice and sarcastic remarks. It is possible that Snape (Severus) does not know she saved his life. However, she is still a hero for Merlin’s sake, and deserves a little respect. What was it that he had said when she asked if she could pencil him in on Wednesday?

“We shall see if I can make time.” That’s right, and then he had promptly hung up on her.

Why she could just—just strangle the man!

“Muddle headed, midlife crises having, bitter old man.” She mutters as she marches herself down a flight of stairs into the dungeons. Did he actually think Hermione wanted to interrogate him? This was just as inconvenient for her as it was for him. If Hermione Granger never had to see the greasy old bat again she would be more than happy—she would be ecstatic!

‘Alright’, she pauses; time to look at it from another angle. He wasn’t all bad.

She supposes he, along with Sprout, had created the potion that awoke her from her petrification her second year. And hadn’t he pushed her and her friends behind him when confronted with a werewolf her third year? To be fair he had even tried teaching Harry occlumency to protect him from Voldemort. It was effort on his part even if his attempts did turn out to be unfruitful. And she has to admit that Severus was the only thing that stood in the way of the Carrows having full control over torturing students at Hogwarts her seventh year.

‘Still can’t stand the man,’ she thinks as she pauses in front of his private room. She takes a deep breath to get her barring. Today could still turn out to be a good one. She had already met with Neville about his mission (and spoke on how he was butchering it). All she had to do now was question Severus, then she could meet up with old friends, asses Luna, and speak with Ginny on her current observations. It was simple really. She could do this, she had to do this. Hermione knocks on the door.

It takes a moment, but eventually the door swings opens and Severus Snape looms in the doorway. He is as tall, greasy, and mean as ever.

Without pause and wearing a singular sneer he announces, “Granger, it would seem that I am busy this evening,” and then goes to slam the door, in her face no less. Hermione had expected this sort of behavior, however, and shoves her pocket book in the door frame before he can shut it fully. She opens it a crack and pokes her head in.

“This will be brief Severus, I assure you.” She claims with a roll of her eyes and enters the room, Snape glaring all the while.

 

Severus Snape desperately wants a cigarette.

Granger is of a detestable nature, always had been, and he is shaking from her repugnant way of addressing him. Severus, she called him Severus! No one calls him Severus— apart from Minerva—not even his own father. ‘Boy’ was the label given in his youth. So when his first name issued from her mouth it took every ounce of will power not to curse her into oblivion.

He had studied the dark arts, had been surrounded by it— molded by it. The little heroine should have been shaking in her boots at the sight of him: Voldemort’s right hand man, Dumbledore’s murderer, and the regretful sole survivor of Nagini’s bite. Instead she rolled her eyes and scoffed. She had used her grandiose vocabulary, the brown-noser, to accuse him of offing Filch. As if the man meant anything to him. Killing a person with a violent and painful curse such as the cruciatus tends to make the act personal.

Yes, he thinks solemnly, the cruciatus makes everything personal.

His left hand twitches as the many memories of himself using that very curse on a long list of others filters through his mind. Now Snape desperately needs a cigarette. He pushes himself up from his desk with such force that his chair slams into the wall behind him. The sound is loud, and obnoxious, and has him grabbing for his pack. But he stills his hand, still very paranoid, and rightfully so as the paintings have been gossiping even more with the news of Filches death floating around (Snape had overheard them chittering on about how they had not seen the act happen, and were quite disappointed). They are sure to gossip to Dumbledore about his bad habit if they were to see him, and that is not something he is willing to risk. With this thought Snape storms out of his classroom with silky speed and makes his way to the castle grounds.

Even with his new destination in mind his memories on the use of the cruciatus continue to leak into his consciousness. A nasty curse, the cruciatus. Avada Kadavra, when going for murder, is much neater.

In fact, if he remembers correctly— which he most certainly does— Avada Kadavra was the curse used to kill in Snape’s death eater days. For Merlin’s sake, it was nick named the killing curse for a reason. It was simple, quick, and impersonal. Not to mention it was clean. There was barely anything to hide away, other than the body that is.

Snape never used the cruciatus curse to kill, and as far as he knew no other death eater had either. It was best used as a torcher devise. The curse, you see, took too much time to end a life. If used in abundance the spell was more likely to drive one mad, which Bellatrix had discovered when she experimented on the Longbottoms. Not to mention that when used for long periods of time the clean up after was a headache. The victim would always piss and or vomit. If one was lucky, they may even shit themselves. Snape shutters and quickens his pace down the hall towards the door that will lead him outside as his lack of nicotine begins to make him queasy.

One thing about this case was definite; whoever used that spell on Filch was in his rooms with him the entire night. The probability that the culprit knew Filch and was quite upset with him was high. This was a crime of passion. Snape is in no way passionate about Filch.

He is sure Miss Granger is aware of all these facts and more with the case file in hand. For her to come and accuse him of anything to do with that unholy janitor was merely a power move, that along with her petty way of calling him Severus.

Severus, he hated that name.

Lilly had called him Sev.

Narcissa had called him pet.

Lovegood calls him sir, or professor.

This thought startles Snape. Why she is constantly popping into his head is beyond him. It is a bad habit, much like his smoking. One he needs to desist, or things could get complicated. He wishes his God son the best of luck with the girl. Snape’s bad temper has no place in muddling up Draco’s happiness, so he must place Lovegood into the vault that sits in the recesses of his mind with the rest of his students. It is where she belongs.

Speaking of the Lovegood girl, a question of Granger’s had caused him worry. He had caught Granger’s attention when he mentioned he had been brewing with the blond the night of Filch’s death—an alibi.

“You are working with Luna now?”

“I am.”

She had paused, and with great care had asked, “have you noticed her displaying any odd behavior as of late?”

Snape frowns, causing well-worn lines to crease his face, and sweeps up a flight of stairs. Odd behavior? What exactly qualified as odd behavior from a girl who ate eccentric for breakfast? The very fact that Lovegood wanted to brew with him at all screamed odd and out of sorts within itself.

“The woman is the definition of odd behavior.”

Miss Granger had snorted, and then replied “I meant odd behavior for her.”

This had made Snape pause. Why would Miss Granger ask such a question during an investigation, unless she was suspicious of Lovegood as well; perfectly good little Lovegood who smelled of flowers and good intentions. The thought of her standing above a screaming Filch for hours made Snape scoff. Impossible is what that idea was. The only other reason Granger would ask after Lovegood is if she were a concerned friend, but if Snape’s observations proved correct—which they always did—then the two were not that close. Granger was more of a logical person while Lovegood was, well, Lovegood.

Snape takes in a deep breath when he reaches the door to his salvation, and opens it. His lungs go in shock for a moment as the cold freezes them. He had forgotten how the wind shocks his bones in the winter, and makes a metal note that he really must go outdoors more often. But days pass by quickly and with the numb feeling he has carried around for as long as he can remember—well, doing anything out of routine is difficult. It takes effort, so much effort to move himself all the way to the castle grounds that he is sure, even with his mental note, that it will be another month before he will come outside again.

But he has made it here today, and he will try to enjoy it, even if his balls are freezing.

The snow is falling in clumps this evening. He believes it be evening as he was interrogated at two and it took hours, or he felt that it had taken hours anyway. He breaths in and out, creating mist. He would give winter this; the air is fresh, and the snow—when it is not seeping into his cloak and shoes—is quite acceptable. It gives everything a certain glow, and makes it, dare he say, magical? But no, Snape would never describe anything as magical. That would be Lovegood’s job.

He must stop thinking about bloody Luna Lovegood.

Snape sweeps himself off to a familiar tree, his feet creating white tracks on surmounting snow. He believes this to be the same tree he had smoked near the last time, when Lovegood was hiding under leaves. He lifts up the right corner of his mouth at the memory, and the fishes for his pack of cigarettes. The right corner of his mouth, along with the left, frowns when Snape’s hand brings out an empty cartridge.

“Blast it all,” he grumbles, and flicks the cartridge onto the ground.

“Pity, that is.”

Snape almost jumps at the sound of another being behind him, but manages to keep his composure. He turns to the left and spots Sprout sitting on a stump a few paces away with what he believes to be a hand rolled cigarette in her hand. Her winter cloak is black and she wears a mustard yellow cap and mittens. Her plump cheeks are very red and her eyes have a focused yet hazy look to them. She does not seem to be feeling the cold, and looks very happy indeed. Snape’s eyes are trained on her cigarette and he makes his way towards her, keen on snagging it from her—or at least stealing a puff.

“Sneaking away for a smoke are you?” He asks her. She chuckles.

“Oh yes, but not the same kind of smoke you were intending to have. Care for a taste love?” Her eyes sparkle and she seems almost giddy, mischievous even. Snape pauses before taking her cigarette, and thinks on her comment. Not the same kind of smoke?

“Now, Miss Sprout, that would not happen to be cannabis would it?”

She snorts dearly at this and nods her head when she is unable to get words out from all her laughing. Snape considers her proposal for a moment and decides on the affirmative, he will have a taste. It is not his first time, although it has been a while since he has had any. Lilly, you see, introduced him to the drug. He was angry back then, so very angry, to the point that it was hard to control. Snape never took his anger out on anyone else, not until much later in life. No, back then he merely hurt himself. Lilly would not stand for it.

With fire in her eyes she had shoved a joint in his hand and cried “Just chill out, will you?” She always did have a way of words and it had helped. It had helped until the day she left him for James and took her perfect words and wonderful remedies with her.

And so, with a shrug, Snape takes Sprouts cannabis and puffs. It tastes just as he expected and after a moment fills his head with clouds. He takes another puff and hands it back to Sprout. “It doesn’t smell.” He announces, impressed.

“No, I’m not daft. The minute Minerva gets any wind of this I’ll be through here. I used a spell.”

“Ah, it’s quite strong.”

“Yes, I grow it myself. I am a herbologist you know.”

“Well, consider me sky-high.” Sprout laughs at this and then they are both taking a moment to look at the winter landscape. Snape is feeling much better with all thoughts of Miss Granger far away and makes a realization that perhaps he likes winter. Yes, he likes winter, especially now that it is not nearly as cold as it was before. In a distant thought, Snape wishes for fire whisky.

“Snape,” starts Sprout breaking the brief silence, “why did you come back to Hogwarts?”

“Where else would I go?” He answers without looking her way. The clouds are grey today.

“Oh I don’t know, anywhere else?”

He snorts. “After all that I have done? Perhaps in death I would have been a martyr, but in life—well, most are not so forgiving. Hogwarts has always offered me a home, even in my darkest days,” yes, Hogwarts. The closest thing to a home he would ever find.

“Well fuck that,” she spits and then is yelling “fuck it all,” at the castle walls. Sprout then begins chuckling and ends her theatrics with an “I hate this place.” It is said in sadness and in bitterness.

This statement surprises Snape and he now turns to face her. Her eyes are sad, much like Minerva’s, much like Lovegood’s. Damn that name. “And why is that Pomona?”

“All of those students, so many dead . . . being here is too hard. The memories, you know?” She takes one last puff and then drops the joint onto the ground, stepping on it with her foot for insurance that it will not be her fault if the woods do catch afire.

“I do.” They are silent once again, breathing in ice and exhaling mist. Snape thinks of going inside but his feet refuse to move as if his body is waiting for something. Then he sees her. At first he believes he is hallucinating, but Luna Lovegood looks so utterly odd that he knows his mind could not have created such a mirage. To begin with, she wears a long coat that looks to be made out of blue feathers weaved together. They stick out, making her appear to be some great, puffed out bird. She has adorned none of her ridiculous hats this evening, thank Merlin, but her boots are rain boots and have been decorated with what looks to be hand painted creatures that are spelled to run around and buck at one another. He wonders at what type of creatures they are, but is at too far a distance to make them out. He wants to laugh at how utterly her she looks this evening, but does not.

Once Snape is done assessing Lovegood’s ludicrous attire he notices her company. She has exited the castle with one Granger and Weasley and trots slowly behind them in silence. He wonders why she does not walk beside them. Then he notices that she is too busy looking up into the clouds whilst sticking out her tongue to be keeping up with anyone. Luna Lovegood is catching snowflakes, he thinks, and looks picturesque. Her blond hair shines in the sun and sparkles from the wet traces the falling snow leaves behind. It is as if she wears diamonds in her hair. He wants to go to her, to ask what creatures to watch for in the cold, but finds himself frozen from the sight of her.

She is beautiful.

Once far enough from the castle, Granger and Weasley apparate away. Lovegood, however, has taken to twirling with her arms held out and peels with laughter. His heart thunders in his chest. She pauses in her fun to say something to her friends when she notices they are gone. Scrunching up her nose, she runs (as much as one can run in three feet of snow) until she stands where her friends had stood. She then twirls, spraying blue feathers, and is gone. He finds himself missing the sight of her.

“She’s a crazy one, that Lovegood,” states Sprout.

“Quite,” replies Snape in a whisper.

Even in his state of mind, Snape knows that he is in trouble, for there is no getting Lovegood out of his head.

 

Luna Lovegood has done her very best to mind her own business.

She truly has, but Hermione is insistent on gaining her attention. It all began when she had invited her along with Ginny out to lunch. Luna has never been invited out by the Hermione Granger before and was quite pleased, but justified the invitation as a sign of her being polite and nothing else. Luna had then tried to stay out of Ginny’s and Hermione’s way: she had walked far behind them as they exited Hogwarts keeping the snow for company, she had counted the number of bricks the snow had missed and jumped upon them as they walked around Hogsmead, Luna had even sat two chairs down from her friends when they chose a table at The Three Broomsticks. That is when Hermione had asked, “What on earth are you doing?”

What is she doing indeed? Luna isn’t entirely sure. Perhaps she is giving her friends the space they need to reconnect? That is definitely part of it, but Luna is suspicious that she is avoiding Hermione. Bullying, in Luna’s world, is a constant. For the most part the teasing and snide remarks are easy to ignore, to brush off as others lack of insight. Not everyone is as insightful as Luna and how could she fault a person for that? They cannot help it. Hermione, however, can. In fact, Hermione is the most insightful person Luna has ever met and is supposed to be a friend. Hermione’s words hurt and are impossible to ignore, so Luna protects herself by hiding away.

Ginny clears her throat, “Um, Luna? I think Hermione wants to know why you are sitting so far away?”

“I am making room for any hungry Demiguise. They are invisible you know, and quite like shiny things.” Luna does not know why she has said what she has said, and her cheeks grow warm. She wishes she had worn one of her hats, so that she could pull it down around her face.

Hermione rolls her eyes and Ginny raises an eyebrow, patting the seat next to her. “I think the Demigeese will be alright for now Luna. Why don’t you come sit next to me?”

Luna is so embarrassed that she does not even correct Ginny on her mispronunciation of Demiguise, and hurriedly squeaks into the offered chair. Luna has a terrible thought then; that she wishes she had stayed in the castle today, but shakes it away. If she can face the Malfoy Mansion then she can face Hermione Granger. Hermione begins to tap her finger nails on the wooden table, all the while gazing at Luna. Luna represses a shiver. She thinks she can face Hermione, that is. Ginny distracts Hermione from Luna with some conversation and Luna takes a deep breath. She wonders if Snape had felt the way she is feeling when he was interrogated this afternoon. Probably not, Luna smiles. He had probably stood up for himself, had probably chided Hermione and sent her away feeling less than. Though that is his own way of self-defense, Luna thinks, so perhaps he had felt just as uncomfortable as she is now.

It would be lovely to speak with her professor about these icky feelings. To have him give her some encouragement. To hear him say that she is being silly, that Hermione’s judgement means nothing. Luna sighs and demurely thinks that she could talk with Draco about her thoughts tonight in front of his lovely fire place. But Draco is likely to be more afraid of Hermione than Luna, since she did sock him in the nose his third year.

Draco is a sweet child, and Luna is ever so lucky to live in his beautiful rooms. When he had wished away his luck and given it to her at his mother’s funeral she had not realized he had meant it so ardently, and would be giving it away this freely. She is indebted to him, and will become the best friend he has ever had. Sadly, something tells her that will not be so difficult.

“I don’t know, it just makes me sad to hear you’re giving up. What do you think Luna?” Ginny asks. Luna has not been listening, and notices that she has been making a crown out of the blue feathers that have fallen off her jacket. She does not remember starting such a project, but it makes her smile all the same.

“Luna?” Luna looks up to find both Ginny and Hermione staring at her, one with a frown and the other with a gentle smile, “off catching creatures?”

Luna grins, “Always.”

Ginny snorts and pats Luna’s head. “Well, let me catch you up on what you’ve missed. Hermione has decided to put an end to freeing all house elves because she claims they refuse to be freed. She now believes that serving may be in their nature and that it would be cruel to take their current positions away from them. Now, although I agree, I never thought Hermione to be a quitter and think she should keep trying. Thoughts?”

“Slavery isn’t in any races nature.” Hermione cringes and nods.

“I know that, well I at least thought I knew that. But I’ve come up with so many campaigns to help them free themselves and they just run the other way. I don’t know what to do anymore.”

Luna takes a moment to think on it. She remembers that the house elves are offered a salary for their work at Hogwarts, and has an idea. “What are you offering them?”

Hermione scoffs, “other than their freedom?”

“Yes, are you offering them a job?”

Hermione pauses, “well no, I hadn’t thought about that. I figured they could go out and get one on their own. Can’t they? House elves are very strong and clever creatures, who wouldn’t hire them?”

“Daddy told me that once a House elf is handed cloths that they are disgraced and no one will take them on. It’s a sign that they are not loyal, and can’t be counted on. They’re probably terrified that if they take your clothing, they will become homeless and starve.”

Hermione’s eyes light up. It looks as if she is about to say something but then a waitress has come to their table and they are ordering their drinks. Luna attempts to order Gurdyroot infusion, a drink her daddy had invented, but the waitress pulls her eyebrows together as Hermione gags and announces she has never heard of the drink. Luna, disappointed, orders spicy coco instead. It will have to do.

“Luna,” Hermione begins when the waitress leaves, “what are you’re plans with the Quibbler?”

Luna scrunches up her nose at this question and shrugs. “I hardly know. It would be a shame to shut it down forever though, it was Daddies baby. I’d love to keep it going but don’t have the time.” Ginny reaches over and squeezes Luna’s hand, she knows this is a ruff topic for her friend.

“What if I were able to round up businesses in need of help like the Quibbler and convinced them to start hiring free house elves? Would you be willing to open your magazine back up if I were to supply you with hardworking house elf employees?”

Luna freezes. Closing down the quibbler after she had found her daddy swinging from a rope on their ceiling had been the hardest thing she ever had to do. It was his everything. Losing his magazine was losing the last piece of him. To re-open it would be, would be, well it would be her everything.

“Yes,” she whispers, “yes. That would be a dream.”

Ginny rests her head on Luna’s shoulder as a tear sneaks away from Luna’s leaky eyes. Life keeps handing her the best types of things and it is making her overwhelmingly happy. Luna has found a true friend in Hermione it would seem.

Her heart is full.

 

Severus Snape paces anxiously in his classroom as the minutes pass by.

Tick, tick, tick . . . The time passes by too slowly and yet too quickly, it tares at his senses. Tick, tick, tick. He snarls at the clock, grabs it, and smashes it to the ground. He stands in front of the mess he has made for a moment, and finds himself embarrassed. Snape is used to throwing things, had managed to have all sorts of anger fits back in the day, but that was when Voldemort was a constant worry and the golden boy kept going off trying to get himself killed. He had no such stresses as of late to set him off. Perhaps it is not stress then, but nerves. He runs his hands through his wet hair and spells his mess away. He will have to add a clock onto his supply list. Or perhaps he will just purchase one and save himself the trouble of explaining to Minerva what happened to the previous clock. Something told Snape that the new headmaster would not be nearly as understanding as Dumbledore had been.

“I am glad old boy,” he would always say, “that it was not you that broke.”

But Snape had been broken years ago, hadn’t he?

Snape sighs and slumps down into the chair behind his desk. He feels like a school boy. He is acting like a school boy. He has taken a shower and even applied colon while awaiting her arrival. Slowly he reaches down into the bottom drawer of his desk and opens the false bottom to reveal a picture of Lilly, beautiful Lilly who smiles and laughs while holding a buttercup under her chin. “Do I like butter Sev?” She had asked him. She was fifteen then, the year she broke his heart after he had broken hers.

“Am I just a foolish old man?” He asks her, but she continues to smile and offers him no advice. He gazes at her for a few moments more, getting lost in the magnetism she possess over him, and then puts her back away safely and out of sight.

He should not have purchased Lovegood that flower, and he certainly should not have had a house elf send said flower with a note stating ‘eight pm sharp” to her new room in Draco’s quarters. “you stupid, stupid old man.” He mutters to himself and places his face in his hands. What is he doing? Does he truly think he can woo Lovegood with a bundle of yellow acacia? He should never have sent it. Even if the bouquet carries the innocent message of offered friendship it was still highly inappropriate. He is her professor for Merlin sake. The girl only wants to help him brew, nothing more. Well, if she comes he will tell her the flowers were not from him and if she does not come then he will have his answer, won’t he? It is too late to be her friend.

Hopefully she will not come, but Snape’s heart does not truly feel what his mind spouts.

There is a knock on his classroom door. This surprises Snape, because Lovegood never knocks and it is only seven, not eight. The hair on his arms stand on end and his paranoia sets in. He slides his wand out of the carrier he has placed up his sleeve until it barley pokes out of his robes. He is stealthy in his craft. He walks to his door without making a sound, breaths in, breaths out, and opens the door with the words ‘petrificus totalus’ on the tip of his tongue.

It is only Neville Longbottom, with a pitiful and timid look on his face.

“Longbottom,” he spits, remembering the tears Luna shed over the Neanderthal, “to what do I owe the pleaser?”

“Professor,” he says solemnly, “we need to talk.”

Without asking to be invited in, Longbottom shuffles into his classroom with his head bent low. There was an old cartoon Lilly had always loved where the main character was a child constantly depressed, and walked the same way Longbottom was walking now. What had been that child’s name? Ah, Charlie Brown. Yes, Longbottom resembled Charlie Brown in this moment, which meant the man was in low spirits. Good. Snape wished him nothing but ill thoughts.

Longbottom sits on a desk in the front row, then looks back to Snape. It would seem the sap wanted Snape to join him at the front of the classroom. Part of Snape wishes to kick him out immediately, the other part is curious as to why he is here. Neville Longbottom hates Snape just as much as Snape hates him. Curiosity wins and he walks back up to his desk.

“What is it Longbottom? Make it quick.” He snaps and leans his bottom on his desk. He refuses to sit, to lower himself to his former student’s level.

“I’m here to talk about Luna.” Neville replies, shuffling his feet. Snape is proud that he can still make the boy squirm.

“Miss. Lovegood? What about her?” His hand twitches, and he finds for the first time in a long while that he wishes to physically punch a person. Not just torcher with dark arts, but to make bodily contact. To feel Longbottom’s cheek bone crumble under his fist. How dare he ask after the girl he has been ignoring for a month.

“Luna told me you were friends, is that true. Are you her friend?”

Snape could answer in the negative, could turn Longbottom away after letting him know just what he thought of him. Instead he finds himself saying, “yes, we are friends.”

Neville finally lifts his head and makes eye contact with Snape, “Good. Listen, I know you’re a decent man,” Snape sneers and Neville stumbles over his next words quickly, “no truly you are. I—I saw your memories,” Snape slams a fist on the desk and Neville lifts up his hands in truce, “I know, I’m sorry, I get they were personal. But I know what you had to do, what you went through for us, for Harry. And I know, or I’m positive at least, that you were always against Voldemort and his ideals after what he did to Harry’s mum and, and”

“Get on with it boy!” Snape shouts. He wants to smash Longbottom’s head in.

“I know that if you care for Luna, you’d have her best interest at heart. So I have to ask, has she asked to see any dark magic? Has she asked you about death eaters and has she ever called Voldemort,” Neville swallows and tears brim at his eyes, “has she ever called Voldemort the dark lord?”

Ice lines Snape’s veins and he stands from his desk, and hisses, “Mr. Longbottom, you best have a very good reason for making such accusations about my friend.

Neville swallows and wears a surprised look on his face. “You don’t know? I would have thought with you being Voldemort’s right hand man that you would have known.”

“Would have known what exactly?” Snape is becoming very annoyed.

“Have you ever heard of project pure blood?” Snape frowns and shakes his head. Neville nods his and reaches into his carrier bag. “I brought Luna’s file just in case,” he brings out a large manila envelope stamped classified and hands it to Snape, “I got to warn you, after seeing that I haven’t been able to look at Luna. Its—well, it’s a lot to take in.”

Snape wants to call Longbottom a coward, but wants to see Lovegood’s file more. He is sure Longbottom is not supposed to let Snape see its contents and does not want it taken away because of his pettiness. He opens the envelope and takes out a big bulk of pages held together by a paper clip. His hands start to shake and with every flip of the page he begins to see more and more red. Photographs of Luna Lovegood being starved, being beaten, being stretched, and tortured in the Malfoy Manner’s basement bleed out of the pages. The picture that tugs on his heart the most is of Lovegood in chains trying her hardest to grab a pitcher of water that is just out of reach. Snape’s stomach is in knots and he slowly sinks back down onto the edge of his desk.

“We were not allowed to treat pure bloods in this manner. What is this?” He asks in disgust.

“That’s project pure blood.”

Snape snaps his head up at Longbottom, no longer able to look at the pictures. “What is project pure blood?” he growls low. Snape is far from pleased.

“It was Mr. Lestrange’s idea. He thought he could turn the pure bloods who fought against Voldemort into followers. They brain washed them with torcher. It was a three step process. Every time the subject claimed Voldemort to be their dark lord they received water and food. If the subject began to help torcher the other subjects they were given a room, a bath. Finally, if the subject began killing muggles or muggle-born, they earned their freedom. If they refused Voldemort as their lord, well, you saw the pictures.” Longbottom stated quietly, sadly. Snape felt the acidity of vomit slide up his throat. He swallows it down, feeling it burn his esophagus.

“And you,” Snape clears his throat, “you believe it to have worked on Miss. Lovegood?”

Longbottom shakes his head passionately, “No! no, Merlin no. But, well, I –I don’t know. The Order has just discovered that the other subjects of project pure blood are behind the murders of reformed death eaters. They think these subjects were manipulated into doing it by someone else, but, still, they are killing. Ginny and I were tasked with observing Luna’s behavior and reporting back but I— ”

“You couldn’t do it.”

“No, I couldn’t. I’m just worried now because, because,”

“Because?” Snape urges impatiently.

“Because Luna made it to the first step. She claimed Voldemort to be her dark lord.” He states with worry and shame in his eyes. It is the shame that is obviously directed toward Lovegood that pisses Snape off.

Snape sneers, “it is called survival Mr. Longbottom. For a glass of water wouldn’t you have done the same? I have done much worse for far less.”

Memories of all the violence, of all the screams, of all the maniacal laughter fill his mind. Longbottom doesn’t know shit about shit. He is a child who cut off the head of a snake and at times faced the wrath of the Carrows. He understands nothing of true torcher, of facing life and death alone. Snape wants to spit on him, wants to call him names. This is why he ignores a friend? Snape never knew Lovegood had such scars. He want to heal them, wants to sooth her pains. Fuck Longbottom and all his pretend niceties.

“You’ll be glad to know Longbottom,” he grits out, “that Lovegood has never displayed any such behavior, and you can tell Granger she is wasting time best spent elsewhere investigating the girl.”

Longbottom lets out a sigh of relief. “Caught that did you?” He asks with a weak smile.

“Caught what? That Granger suspects Lovegood of Filches death. It’s all rather obvious now, isn’t it?”

Snape is about to shove Longbottom out of his classroom when he hears a thump at the door. Startled, he stands and sees that he, or Longbottom—probably Longbottom—had not properly closed the door which was opened a crack. He follows the crack with his eyes down to the floor and sees blond hair pooling into the classroom.

It is Lovegood.

Without a word to Longbottom Snape races to the door and opens it to find Luna Lovegood laying before his classroom in a dead faint. There is a bundle of yellow acacia curled into her chest and tears line her cheeks. She is breathing fast and hard and he can see her eyes roll in an erratic manner behind her closed lids. She is having a panic attack, he realizes, and a bad one at that. In the back of his mind he comprehends that this panic attack has been brought on from overhearing his and Longbottom’s conversation.

“Luna?” Snape hears in the distance, miles away.

He ignores the other body that tries to push its way past him and knocks it to the ground. Nothing will stand in Snape’s way to getting to Lovegood who he sweeps into his arms. She feels so light and fragile and he is afraid he will break her. Perhaps he was afraid of this all along, but if Voldemort could not, than who is he to think he can? She is stronger than she lets on—much stronger. But she needs help now and with this thought Snape is off to the medical wing.

Let anyone try to accuse Luna Lovegood of murder, he will be there.

No one will put her in chains, never again.

Chapter Text

Severus Snape bounds out of the dungeons and through the halls, his destination set. His hair flies wildly around his face, the portraits will gossip, and his eyes ignite with flame. Never has anyone seen Snape so distressed since the Potter boy had fled to take revenge on his god father years ago. Professor Basil Fronsac, who just happens to be in his frame down in the dungeons, will later claim that the corpse like Snape had looked alive and swore up and down that he held a woman in his arms. No one will believe him.

What Snape notices in his current distress is the way his heart thuds like a brick in his chest. He notices the way his heart stutters every time Luna Lovegood convulses. It feels almost as if Lovegood has set a pattern to its rhythm.

Thud, thud, thud, stutter. Thud, thud, thud, stutter.

It is almost funny; the prospect that even unconscious the chit has control over the function of his heart. How sappy. How fucking stupid and sappy. He is deliriously frustrated with himself and yet all too aware over her condition—a panic attack which transitioned into a seizure. Her stress, he thinks, must be a tremendous burden. Yet another attribute they share, something he can perhaps counsel her on when she pulls through this episode. The darker part of him whispers if she pulls through this episode. He tries to shove the darkness away, but it never strays from him for long, and it persists on reminding him that handling stress by drinking it away is nothing to teach or be proud of. Lovegood convulses and almost jumps out of his arms, but he has kept himself strong from the discipline of always practicing his magic and curls her tightly to his chest.

He will not drop her.

In the distances Snape hears Neville’s shuffling feet. When Snape had first taken off with Lovegood, Longbottom had shouted after him. With his muffled tone and deep breathing of the mouth, Snape determined that the figure he had knocked down earlier had been Neville and that he had broken his nose. The shouting continued for a while and Snape ignored it, of course. Eventually the shouting desisted but the brute never stopped following him. If Snape had the time or energy he would have snarled at the ignoramus, but this evening has left him winded.

He had not known that the world was allowed to hurt people of Lovegood’s nature.

This is not true. He has always known that the world tramples over everyone. Lovegood had seemed immune however, and he wanted to believe she was. Perhaps then she would not be taken away like Lilly. But once again it was proven to Snape that there is no stopping the dark, even if you are pure of heart. Lovegood now convulses so sharply that Snape, for a moment, thinks his heart has stopped. He is relieved to find it has not, and is even more relieved to find himself in front of the hospital wing.

He does not slow his pace, and when he spots a startled looking Madame Pomphrey he merely brushes past her without a glance. He hears her call after him, and this goes ignored as well. Severus Snape is well acquainted with PTSD, has seen panic attacks, has been through seizers of his own. He does not need a nurse to take care of Luna.

Luna . . . he should not think of her in these terms. It is too familiar. But she feels familiar to him.

He continues down the rows and rows of beds in the wing until he reaches Pomphrey’s office where Pomphrey keeps all of her medicinal potions. He enters the room and slows down to place Miss Lovegood down on a bed which lies next to a window. The dull winter sun creates a halo around Lovegood’s face and the yellow acacia is still clenched in her fists. Gingerly he picks them out of her fingers and places them on the window sill beside her. She has somehow managed to still look unearthly and beautiful in her distress, but Snape has no time to admire. He turns to the cabinets on his left and gets to work. There is nothing to be done when it comes to seizures, one can only get through it. However, having something to calm her senses may help loosen her jumping muscles. This can be accomplished with something as simple as a pleasant smell.

Lovegood loves lavender and honey.

With this thought Snape begins to rummage in the cabinets for ingredients. Then Neville bustles into the room. “Oh Luna!” He cries in his new muffled tones and begins to paces in front of her, oozing with anxiety. It has Severus’s teeth grinding.

To make it worse, Longbottom begins to ramble. “What am I to do? Ginny will go mad when she hears, not to mention the order will have a fit. Oh,” Snape hears a thump, and sees that Longbottom has placed himself on his knees, “I hope you didn’t overhear me. It means nothing you know?” Snape now notices that the dunce has taken Lovegood’s shaking hand. “You’re my best mate. I’ll always love you.”

On the word love Snape drops the vile of honey he is holding. This makes Longbottom freeze in his ministrations, arch his back, and slowly shuffle so that he is facing, what might still be, his greatest fear. “I—I didn’t make you drop that, did I?”

If Longbottom continues to hang around him, Snape’s teeth will be turning into stumps in no time. “Leave.” He hisses.

“But I—”

“Leave!” He shouts.

“You as well.” This sentence is not hissed or yelled or uttered in fear. Instead it is said calmly, yet with a firm tone. The sentence belongs to Madame Pomphrey. “The both of you, out. Now.”

Snape feels a blood vessel pop in his forehead. “Madame Pomphrey, I am more than capab—”

“To be quite frank, this poor dear is in a lot of pain and the more time you go on chatting with me is more time wasted. I don’t know what has come over you Professor to have you acting in such a manner but I refuse, refuse, to be displaced in my hospital wing. I want you out. Now.”

Snape has to stop himself from looking in worry at the table that holds Lovegood. He places the concoction he was creating down with forced calm and grabs the yellow acacia, nods his head once and steps outside the room. He will not go any further, however, and grabs a chair that sits by an empty bed and places it right outside Pomphrey’s office. He will wait. In the next moment Neville walks out of the room looking like a zombie—pail and worn to the bone. He finds himself a chair as well and sits next to Snape.

“You broke my nose.” He accuses.

“I did.” Snape answers.

“I think I deserved it.”

And the men leave it at that.

 

Colors are bursting before Luna’s eyes: reds and blues and grays. At first they look like ink blots, forever expanding, until the colors mix and begin to form images. A nose. An aquiline nose, to be precise, connected to gray steel eyes and plastered blond hair. Draco is whispered in her mind. But, no, this is not her Draco. This is Draco possessed by war. This Draco hurts her.

He hurts again, and again, and again.

It never stops, he will not be stopped. Red lines her vision and she is sobbing. Only, she is not sobbing, she never did. She holds the pain in close to her chest so that no one need know how she aches. But her chest knows, and it feels as if it is breaking, it feels like the shards of bone which protects her heart is flaking off. It is only in her mind she reassures, but then it is not. It is all too real and the face that once belonged to Draco now belongs to his father who—with no wand—uses his fists to smash frustrations.

She feels his anger, oh how she does.

Yet still she stays quiet. Nothing, they spit at her, you are nothing. And with her mind numb, her throat dry, and her tummy nothing but an empty shell, she begins to believe them. She is nothing. Nothing but an empty vessel all locked up. Her throat burns. Before her the colors spin and transform into a pool. A pool of sweet water. Her throat is swelling. She is no longer thinking, she is acting, and with full speed she runs with her arms stretched out wide in an attempt to swan dive. I will drink up the entire pool, she thinks, and as she goes to jump a horrible pain leeches up her arm and she is being tugged back away from her sanity. Chains have formed up her arms keeping her close to the cold and dirty floor. Her throat is screaming.

Just one glass, she begs, just one sip.

Say the magic words, a shadow cackles. She can go on no longer, and when she finally opens her mouth—which has stayed shut for so many moons—black, muddy, mist floods out rapidly as if it had been building up in her all along. A plague, she has let out a plague. She waits for the monster she has created to stream out into the universe. Instead it stills in front of her, and begins to form its own image on top of the blues and reds and greys. The image has black hair, black eyes, and a broken nose. It is Professor Snape. She gazes at the image in wonder, and then the image smiles. Luna smiles back brokenly. The image of Snape holds out his arms to her, and once again Luna is running.

But this time no shackles hold her back.

 

The room in which Severus Snape slumbers shakes from the high pitched whine the winter winds sound. His windows shutter from time to time as snow thumps blindly into the glass. A storm is brewing. The winds whip and wind the snow in swirling circles which gives the dark night a blue hue. Snape is hidden under green covers which lay upon him as he slouches in his favorite sitting chair. He never did make it to his bed, he had not intended to fall asleep. In fact, he had never intended to leave the hospital wing. But with all Pomphrey’s pestering and Longbottom’s worrying he had needed space. He had found his space in his rooms where he persisted to pace until he could no longer pace. He then persisted to drink, and drink some more.

Snape had then sat drunkenly on his chair in front of his roaring fire, and his eyes had closed.

His fire no longer roars, it crackles, and his eyes now roll beneath his lids. He dreams that he is on a grassy hill. The grassy hill smells of spring and at a distance he spots a red headed girl running towards him. It must be Lilly, he thinks, and waves. As he waves he notices that his hands hold no scars.

He has gone back in time. He is not sure he is happy for it.

The girl is almost upon him now and squeals “Sev,” as she envelopes him in a hug. Snape breaths her in. She smells of hyacinths, and he wrinkles his nose in confusion. Lilly had never smelled of hyacinths before. Yet she is still lovely with pale skin, fiery hair, and green cat like eyes. The dejection of those eyes had caused him to be a villain once. The fading of those eyes had caused him to be a hero. Lilly pushes Snape away and laughs as she picks a buttercup flower and twirls it underneath her chin. She leans forward and bats her lashes.

“Do I like butter Sev?” Snape remembers this, remembers her happy, and when he looks underneath her chin he knows that it will glow yellow.

“The evidence would conclude that you do, yes.” He whispers. He wants to kiss her.

“Does she?” Lilly asks. Snape, confused, raises his head and asks, “who,” but Lilly is gone and the hill beneath him melts away. He is floating now and covered in black, muddy mist. He holds his hands in front of him to catch himself if he falls and sees that his hands are once again covered in scars. He is in present time. He is not sure he is happy for it. In frustration he bats the inky darkness that surrounds him to the side. He is surprised that he is making progress. Typically in dreams he is stuck, forever standing in place. But the mist is moving and once it is cleared from his vision he sees a shackled and beaten blond sitting on her knees with her head tilted back and mouth agape.

It is Luna Lovegood, and she stares up at him in wonder.

Snape does not know why, but he feels that he must smile for her, and so he does. Lovegood smiles back, but it is not her smile. It is the smile the Malfoy dungeons have fed to her. It is the smile of broken things, a smile of lost hope, a smile of dejection. Snape will not deject her, and so opens his arms in invitation. He will hold her. He will try to help her, if she will have him. Suddenly Lovegood’s shackles fall to the floor and she is running to him, arms spread wide and determination written across her face. Of course she will have him.

Severus Snape gasps awake with sweat on his brow and a pounding heart.

 

Luna Lovegood hears birds singing. It is a lovely silique and she finds herself humming the tune softly to herself. She feels a delicate warmth on her face, the type of warmth a morning sun brings and she smiles and opens her eyes in a flutter. A quick pain forms in the center of her brain and she immediately closes her eyes with a hiss. She would keep her eyes closed forever if she could, but she hasn’t a clue where she is. It is not her new room, she knows, for the covers are not the lovely silk sheets that Draco had purchased for her. She can tell because these sheets do not feel like butter on her skin, nor do they sound like water when she moves her legs.

Cotton, she thinks, these sheets must be made of cotton.

“Alright brain,” Luna whispers, “it is time to face our new day.”

She opens her eyes once more, and tries to ignore her newly acquired headache. She faces a window, and it is beautiful outside. White snow reflects off of soft yellow light. Trees hang icicles from their branches and the freezing air forms crystal like spider webs on the glass. She places a hand on the window and her arm prickles at the cold. Luna sighs dreamily, she wishes to be outside. She yawns as her lids droop in protest and Luna decides that going outside at this particular moment is not the best idea. Her body aches and as she moves her head to see where she is her stomach turns. Luna moans in protest but continues to look about.

White walls with white cabinets and a white desk with white bottles. She must be in the hospital wing. Only, there are no curtains to shield her from the other beds that should lye next to her own. She is alone. It hits her suddenly, that she very well may be in Pomphrey’s office. Who would go placing her in Pomphrey’s office? Why wasn’t she in her room?

“It is called survival Mr. Longbottom. For a glass of water wouldn’t you have done the same?”

The memory of the night before accosts her and she places her head into her lap as her vision spins. Neville knew. He knew and he rejected her, and then he had told her professor. Would her professor reject her too?

“Luna?” She knows this voice and her heart breaks to pieces.

“Neville,” Luna manages to speak, but she does not raise her head.

She hears feet shuffling, the scraping of a chair, and the thud of his bottom hitting wood. He smells of medicine and coffee. Her Neville only drinks coffee when he cannot sleep. Luna must not think of Neville as her Neville. She is allowed to be concerned however, concerned that he has not been sleeping. Has he not been sleeping because of her? She clenches her knees closer to her chest until her fingers turn white. Luna is torn; she knows that she should feel angry yet she only feels concerned. Will her heart ever stop bleeding? A large hand is placed softly on her head and begins to brush her hair away from her neck. He is trying to be a comfort. He is smothering her.

“You knew.”

“I’m sorry Luna.”

“You knew and you ran away.”

Neville’s hand stiffens, and then it is taken away. Luna wants it back. Luna wants it far, far away from her.

“I wasn’t running Luna, I only—I couldn’t do what they asked of me.”

“Who asked what from you Neville?” She knows the answer but wants him to speak his truth.

“I can’t tell you that. You know I can’t tell you that.”

It takes all the courage in her spine, but Luna snaps her head up to level her knowing gaze upon him. “No, but you can tell my friend. The order asks you to keep an eye on me and it disgusts you so much that you run away.”

“I didn’t run away Luna, please—”

“You ran away because you didn’t trust me. You didn’t trust I wouldn’t snap.”

“That isn’t true, I—”

“I’m alright to be alone you know. Truly I am, but you acted like you were my friend and I got used to your company. I had always thought of you as my very best friend.”

“I am your best friend.”

“No.” It is a statement of fact and she chokes on it. Neville’s face has gone pale and Luna finally notices that there is a bandage on his nose and purple bruises under his eyes. She hopes his nose doesn’t hurt too badly. She hopes her words do not hurt too badly. She should have phrased it better, but she is nauseous and so very tired.

“I—I’m sorry. I messed up and I’m sorry.”

Luna wants to hug him, to hold him. “I forgive you,” she says sincerely, “I’ll always forgive you, but I need time Neville. I need time away from you.” Her stomach clenches and tears form in her eyes. This is best, she thinks, this is best for them both.

Neville stands awkwardly and his chair pitches backward and slams on the floor. The sound seems much louder than it is in the silent, white room. “Right, of course. I guess, I guess I’ll be off then.” He takes a long look at her with his puppy dog eyes, and then leaves without so much as a ‘goodbye.’ He does not fight for her, she should not have expected that he would.

Luna leans over the bed and hurls up the contents of her stomach.

 

“Well,” says Pomphrey with a click of her tongue. She places Lovegood’s file down with a frown. Her cheeks are flushed and her eyes glitter. Snape believes Pomphrey to be quite upset. “I should have had this information right after the incident.”

Snape nods. “It was classified.”

“I bloody well see that, but this is trauma Professor. When someone goes through this sort of torcher they need medical attention.”

“I couldn’t agree more.”

Pomphrey sighs and thumps her foot on the floor in frustration. “I’ll have to keep her here for the day at the least. I need to run a series of tests, to see if any permanent damage was done.”

Permanent damage imprints in Snape’s mind. He suppresses the worry that seeps into his stomach, “Of course. Feel free to call on me if you are in need of any potions.”

Pomphrey clicks her tongue again and shakes her head. “That poor, poor girl. She’s a tough one.”

Snape nods once, and then finds himself asking “may she take visitors?”

Pomphrey raises a brow and looks at the professor for a moment. He seems sincere in his want to see her, and she trusts the man enough to not go setting the poor child off like Mr. Longbottom had. But she is confused. When has Severus Snape ever cared for a student other than Draco? War has a way of changing people, she supposes.

“She may, yes, but if you intend to see her this afternoon then you’ll have to bring these with you.” Pomphrey walks away behind a curtain and comes back carrying a stack of books. She then walks to Snape and places them in his arms. “That shouldn’t be a problem, should it?”

Snape smirks at the book on top of the pile which is a series of short stories written by Edgar Allan Poe. He is impressed. Not many pure bloods are aware of this particular writer. It was one of his mother’s favorites. “It will not be a problem.” He replies and then he is walking towards Pomphrey’s office. He is glad Pomphrey has not moved the girl. She needs her rest. Rest—he remembers his dream from last night and clears his throat. Snape should not think of such things. He may be unable to control his dreams but he can control his thoughts. At least, he used to have this ability. He is not sure when he lost it, or how, but he believes a certain blond is the cause of it. This thought terrifies him.

Well, there is no room for him to be acting timid, and over a mere girl no less, so he straitens his back and opens the door to the room which contains her.

She is a dream, and Snape is pausing in the doorway. Luna is gazing out at the winter landscape and humming a lovely tune. He does not recognize this tune, but then realizes that the girl is copying a birds call. Her hair glows, as it always glows, and rests on her right shoulder. It cascades down her arm in waves and her pale skin has a pink hue to it. She has a singular freckle on her neck. He had never noticed it before, he should not be noticing it now.

Severus Snape clears his mind and walks into the room with a sharp, “Lovegood.”

Lovegood turns and her big, blue eyes rest on him. She seems to brighten at her visitor, but then her cheeks flush and she looks down until her hair covers her face. “Professor,” she whispers.

She is embarrassed, he realizes. Snape had failed numerous times at trying to embarrass the girl that he had written it off as impossible. Apparently not, his mind notes, and he frowns. He does not want her embarrassed now. He is unsure at how to handle the situation and he looks down at the stack of books he holds in frustration. Snape is absolutely horrid at offering comfort, had been bashed around by his father whenever he had tried to comfort his mother after a beating. He has been conditioned to let those suffering suffer alone, but the girl had offered him comfort so many times before that he finds himself trying. “Sometimes,” he begins, “words are just words, and a glass of water is everything.”

There is silence, and then Lovegood is looking up at him with a genuine smile on her face. He wonders if she will press the matter, if she will tell him details of her time in the basement. He prays to Merlin that she does not, Snape knows he will not handle hearing of her abuse well. Already he wants to smack his god son, even though he understands the child is not to blame. Lovegood, feeling the nervous energy that surrounds her professor, does not press the matter. She merely points to the books he holds and says, “are those for me?”

“They are.”

Luna pats the chair next to her bed. “Come on then.”

Snape stands awkwardly for a moment—he has forgotten how to act around the girl—and then goes and sits down. Lovegood is still smiling at him, dreamily, as if he is the most interesting thing in the room. He looks around him for a moment and decides that he just might well be.

“You helped me get rid of my wrackspurts last night.” Lovegood claims and Snape’s mouth is dropping. He is entirely confused as to what a wrackspurt is, and is rather nervous that it happened during the night. He clears his throat to get ahold of himself.

“Wrackspurts, Miss. Lovegood?”

“Oh yes,” she sits up further in her bead in excitement, “they are invisible creatures that buzz around one’s head and cause confusion. They gave me quite a confusing dream last night, but then I saw your face and they flew away.”

Snape believes that if wrackspurts do in fact exist, that Lovegood’s head is sure to still have an infestation. It also worries him that not only is he dreaming of Lovegood, but Lovegood is dreaming of him. “I’m glad to have been an assistance.” He replies. If possible Lovegood’s smile becomes larger. Her entire face is glowing and Snape looks away, overcome with her happiness.

“What books have you brought me?” she asks and reaches out her hands in a ‘give me’ gesture. He hands her the pile. As she flips through the books a letter falls out and flutters to the floor. Snape bends over to pick it up and frowns at it. It is addressed from Draco. Snape is not sure he should hand over anything from his god son to the girl, as he was part of her trauma. But she is a grown woman and able to decide whether she should read the letter for herself. He hands it over. She grabs it and he is surprised to see her smile when she reads the name. Luna tares the letter open, and then is frowning.

“Well that’s silly.” She says and scrunches up her nose.

“What’s silly?”

“Draco tired bringing me my books and they won’t let him see me because of, well . . .” she trails off, and then, “he isn’t at fault you know? I’ve made it my business to forgive him. If I can do that than so can everyone else.”

This girl continues to baffle him. If he were in her position he would have declared revenge on his god son and anyone else who had wronged him. Lovegood is not him, though. Lovegood is unlike anyone he has ever met. Perhaps that is why he is so attracted to her, like a moth to a flame. He wonders if he will burn to a crisp, much like the letters from anonyms keep warning. Snape is flying too close to the sun.

“You are either very stupid or very brave to forgive the Malfoys. Most would claim stupid.”

“And you?” Asks Luna, her eyes upon him again.

“I would say you are altogether a different type of creature Miss. Lovegood, and no one should pretend to understand you.”

Luna smiles, “we are a different lot aren’t we?”

Snape is confused. “We?”

“Yes. I’d say I’m the same species as you. People tend to find our kind quite frightening.”

Snape barks out a laugh, he cannot help it. Lovegood frightening? He laughs again and Luna seems to lean towards it, as if to capture the sound forever in her memory. “Frightening, you? Doubtful Miss. Lovegood.”

Luna leans back into her bed and wags a finger at her professor. “Ah, that’s where your wrong sir. Have you ever heard of the term uncanny?”

“Of course.” He states flatly. He would rather her not question his intelligence.

She bumps his shoulder playfully and he rubs the spot, taken aback. “I didn’t doubt you for a second sir. Freud once described uncanny as the German word Unheimlich.”

“Meaning familiar and unfamiliar.”

Lovegood brightens. “quite right. Wouldn’t you describe me as both being familiar and unfamiliar professor?”

Snape, only yesterday, had thought of her as feeling only familiar. Too familiar. “I suppose so,” is his response.

“You see, I don’t blame my peers for teasing me so. I frighten them, because I’m uncanny.”

Snape snorts. “That’s quite the theory Miss. Lovegood.”

She shrugs, “I stand by it.” It is silent for a moment, and then, “professor, where did my flowers go?”

He fights down a blush that threatens to spread up his neck. “I took them back to my rooms. Why do you ask?”

“I liked them very much. I didn’t crush them during my fit did I?”

“No, remarkably they were untouched.”

“Do they mean,” she pauses and begins to pick at her nails, “do they mean I can come back and brew with you?”

Snape takes a moment to asses her, the way she has cast her eyes downward, the way she tares at her nails. She is nervous, and he has a feeling that his answer means much more to the girl than he will ever understand. Snape finally replies with a singular nod, “When you are feeling up to it.”

Lovegood lifts her head and smiles at her professor, as she has been smiling at him all evening. Snape could live his entire life with that smile pointed at him, and die a happy man. There is a knock at the edge of the door. Luna looks at the intruder and scrunches up her nose. Snape turns around and finds Hermoine Granger leaning on a wall with her hand beckoning him.

“Care for a chat?” She asks Snape.

He growls.

Chapter Text

The dungeons have grown cold with time. The walls groan and the halls howl as skin biting air escapes through the cracks in the castle’s brick. Yet, somehow, Severus Snape does not feel the crippling sadness that seems to come every year with the winter. He ponders the reason, and decides that he is no longer suffering from seasonal depression because he is no longer alone in the dark underbelly of Hogwarts. Luna Lovegood twirls around his cauldron in a Mrs. Clause dress which captivates his attention—distracting him from jotting down notes. The dress is red, and sparkles when the light of the candles catch the fabric as she spins. A thick black belt with an obtrusive yellow buckle secures the dress to her waste as the bottom floats up around her legs which have been covered in green stalking’s. The blond grabs the potion’s stirring stick, stirs the potion three times, and then takes it for a dancing partner. Lovegood holds her new partner in front of her, gives a smile and a curtsey, then begins to waltz around the caldron.

It is all Snape can do to not roll his eyes as he fights the urge to say something scathing.

She has been doing this often. To be more precise, the day dreamer has been dancing with the potion’s stirring stick ever since McGonagall announced a winter ball a week prior. It annoys Snape to no end: another dratted ball where he would be forced into dress robes and be placed on ‘kissing patrol.’ Kissing patrol is Snape’s least favorite obligation. He recognizes that this particular duty gives him the excuse to cause distress among his most infernal students, however, seeing young adolescents slobber over each other’s faces all night has never been and will never be a ‘good time’. His eyes narrow as he forms a glare in Lovegood’s direction, her giddiness setting him on edge. Suddenly, the thought of who the free spirited girl is going with becomes his utmost concern.

He will have to be vigilant, as he is now her protector.

You fully understand that she is a high risk target?The words echo in memory.

Hermione had asked Snape to keep the girl safe. The moment the position of body guard was proposed, Snape had turned into a hawk. He became familiar with Lovegood’s daily routine, or at least gained an understanding of what a semblance of her typical day looked like, as the chit had no routine. He studied her body language with intensity. For instance; when Lovegood is on high alert her posture stiffens. Whether this means she is on high alert because she hears ‘the dungeons talking’ or she has spotted a mouse skittering about is more difficult to discern. Typically, Lovegood’s posture is held in a loose pose and her eyes stay distant. One thing Snape noted is that although it seems her mind is somewhere else completely, she is always taking in her environment. At times it is just the color of the walls. At others it is the way his eyes wrinkle when he tries to fight off a smile. She had told him of this the day before, and then proceeded to show him the amount of tally marks she had made—one for every time she saw him almost smile. “It’s not perfect,” she had said, “but one day I’ll make you smile so hard you’ll be feeling it for days.”

The memory gives his heart a painful lurch.

He frowns and rubs his chest as Lovegood laughs at something the potion’s stick has supposedly said. Snape sighs, and admits that in her delicate yet intense ways, she has bound him to her. He will forever belong to her, just as he still belongs to Lilly, and if it had been anyone but the girl he never would have agreed to Hermione’s task. Snape had not meant to take on such a responsibility. In fact, it was his intention to ignore those in need for the remainder of his miserable life. Initially, he had responded to Hermione’s mission with a nonnegotiable no.

“Why not?”

“A detestable job, Granger. I’ve only just started living without another life on my conscious and you’d have me take the eccentric Lovegood on? Absolutely not.”

“You understand, Professor, that 90 percent of the participants turned during project pureblood and that the few who have not—like Luna—have been hunted down and triggered with a mere word.”

“You did inform me yes.”

“And as her friend, you still refuse to look out for her, even though you fully understand that she is a high risk target?”

. . . a high risk target.

He had faltered then. Snape knew, even without Grangers prompting, that he would guard Lovegood. It is all that he is worth in the end anyhow—someone else’s life. This time there will be no bitterness at the job thrust before him. This time there will be no anger. He is not upset at the prospect of taking care of the only person who has shown an ounce of understanding. There is only fear, and hope. His fear is for her safety as he has failed all of the woman in his life: his mother, Narcissa . . . Lilly. His hope is that this is the cause that will finish him off. He hopes that saving her life will be the end of his. To die in the name of her would not be so terrible.

He wonders if she would miss him? Snape watches her dance, his chest constricting.

She counts the steps, one two three forms silently on her lips as she furrows her brow in concentration. Snape notices a stiffness in her frame, and itches to place a hand on the crook of her back in order to ease her posture. He snorts at that thought—him dancing with Lovegood, what a sight that would be. Lovegood smiles, and finishes off her waltz with a spin. One of the Candy Cain earrings she has adorned this evening slips from her ear and goes flying across the classroom. Immediately Lovegood stops, feels for the missing earing, and scrunches up her nose. Snape has to stifle a snort.

A nose scrunch: Luna Lovegood’s indication that she is either confused or irritated.

Lovegood then gets on all floors and begins to crawl about his classroom. Snape merely lifts a brow, and continues to watch in amusement. It is at moments like these that Snape must consider himself: what does it say about his character that he has formed an attraction to a female that loses everything? He has no answer, and continues to watch Lovegood who has been crawling on the floor for some time now. She then spots something under a students’ desk. Sticking out her tongue in determination, she bends her head underneath the wooden frame. Snape has stopped pretending to do work, and now stands with a smirk and arms crossed in front of his chest. He should stop her but he has been so board as of late, and if nothing else, Lovegood proves to be entertaining. He decides to let the scene play out.

Lovegood inspects the object, frowns, and then sits up forgetting that she is still underneath a desk. The bang of her head fills the room, followed by a meek and startled ‘oof.’ The desk teeters from the sudden impact, and then falls back, slamming on the floor. Luna Lovegood stares at her professor with the most bewildered look, eyes wide and shining.

“By all means,” Snape says sardonically, “continue. ”

“I have lost another earing.” Lovegood frowns and rubs the new bump swelling on her head.

Snape offers Lovegood his hands as she persists on sitting on the grungy floor. “With all the jewelry I have confiscated I am perplexed that you still have any left to lose.” She takes his hands but does not use them to pick herself up. Instead she gazes at them and traces the marks left by war and abuse up his arms. The hairs on his arms prickle much like a dog when its hackles stand on end. He is ready for defense, to put her down if she decides to ask questions. She does not. With a squeeze of his hand she looks up into his face. “Scars can ruin a person you know? Or give them knowledge. I suspect that you are somewhere in between.”

He has never felt so exposed.

When he gains his senses he has her up and standing on her feet. Quickly he disengages their hands and takes a step back. He must keep his guard up, or risk doing something utterly disastrous and reproachable. Her lips are ever pink.

“I’ve been thinking,” She says, a hand on her hip and her head cocked.

“A dangerous pass time,” Snape remarks. It is not in jest, as many of the things Lovegood cooks up in that head of hers has been a bit bizarre.

“Well,” she stops, and stands on her tip toes while leaning into Snape. He can feel her breath on his chin and forces his hands behind his back. He could hold her now if he’d like, lean in and incase that mouth of hers with his own. He cannot, should not. Instead he forms a sneer exposing teeth. He remembers that Lovegood thinks his teeth are yellow in nature and closes his mouth.

“What in blazes are you doing?” Snape snaps. He refuses to retreat or lean back. Strength is shown by keeping ones composer.

“I am trying to see if you are in a listening mood.”

Snape takes his hands and places them on Lovegood’s shoulders, pushing her down and far away from him. “A listening mood?”

“Yes, sometimes you see, I will make a perfectly good suggestion for the sleeping draught and for some reason you don’t seem to hear me. I’m making sure this time you will. I don’t see any creatures blocking your ears. Perhaps I should grab my Spectrespecs and try again?”

Snape growls low and has a certain irritated bite to his words. “I am listening Miss. Lovegood. Please, indulge my curiosity.”

Lovegood arches a brow much in a Snape manner, and then nods her head. “Alright then, I was thinking that we’ve been going on about this all wrong.”

“Excuse me?”

Lovegood frowns. “I would rather wait to excuse you when I’m done explaining. Could you wait a moment?”

Her reply is so misplaced that Snape almost smiles. He wonders if she will be marking this in that book of hers. “I can wait.” He says his tone of voice now calm. This is Lovegood for Merlin’s sake, nothing she says is ever meant in harm.

“Thank you Professor. I was thinking that instead of trying to make a draught that gives you dreamless sleep, we could brew a draught that gives you good dreams. I know it doesn’t line up with your grey demeanor,” Grey demeanor? Thinks Snape, “but it may be good for you to try something new.”

Snape takes a moment to assess what Lovegood has said. She may have a point, creating a dreamless non addictive draught may be unlikely to happen given the wizarding worlds current lack of knowledge on potions related to sleep. However, the wizarding world’s knowledge on dreams is a vast and fast growing science. Creating a draught related to dreams may make their venture possible.

“Go on.”

“I thought that we could take a stroll down to Wizard Wheezes and see what Fred and George have to say. They have potions that allow you to dream up your wildest fantasies. It’s quite extraordinary really.”

Fred and George are perhaps Snape’s least favorite students, after Neville of course. But the idea of exploring Hogsmead with Lovegood is much too tempting.

“Alright.” He says. Lovegood’s eyes widen in shock.

“Really?”

“Yes; seeing the weasel twins will be a headache, but I see the appeal in changing our idea of the draught.”

Lovegood has never looked so inspired. “It’s going to work you know.”

“Are you always so sure of yourself?”

“When it matters.”

“And this matters?”

Lovegood scrunches up her nose. “Of course it matters; it’s going to help you.”

In this moment, Snape realizes that if anything happens to Luna Lovegood it will be the end of any spirit he has left. Lovegood stares at Snape for a moment, and lets out a soft laugh. Timidly she takes his hand then quickly, so that he cannot pull away, twirls beneath it. Snape takes a step back and yanks his hand to his side. Lovegood’s cheeks are pink and her eyes glisten.

“Another time then.” She states, and then she is twirling away toward the caldron. Snape stares after her until a sparkle catches his eye. He glances at the floor by his feet, and there— right next to his shoe—is the missing earing. With the spinning blond distracted by the potion, Snape leans down and picks up the candy cain and slips it into his robes.

What Lovegood doesn’t know won’t hurt her.

 

One, two, three. One, two, three.

Luna has been counting out this particular beat out in Hogwarts’ court yard all evening. The sun is now low, and the wind has a nasty bite to it, but she does not mind. She imagines the sting of the air is giving her the same sort of feeling on her skin as the winter ball will when everyone is looking at her dance. She has never been a very good dancer—formally that is. Dances like the waltz make Luna have to do the most uncomfortable things like straighten her spine and keep count in her head. She remembers asking for McGonagall’s help when Harry had invited her to Slughorn’s party during her fourth year. McGonagall’s delight in teaching her favorite dance’s soon grew into a concerned irritation as Luna continued to miss count and step on everyone’s feet. Thankfully it had not mattered as Harry had left her the moment they entered the party. No—Lovegood much preferred her own dances, the ones where her daddy would bang the tambourine on his knee while her mother hummed the most lovely tune. Luna would stretch her arms above her head and sway, pointing her face up toward the sky with a sense of utter freedom.

This year, however, Luna wanted to dance with someone.

Luna has now gotten through the most basic steps of the waltz (left foot change, right foot change, and box step) without falling. She squeals, clapping her hands together, and turns toward Ginny who is sitting on a log on top of the snow. Ginny and Luna had quickly made up after her discharge from the medical ward. Luna had not been mad with Ginny as she had been with Neville, because Ginny never left her side. Luna understands that her best friend had been looking for signs of subterfuge, but had done so in order to keep the true Luna—the one who was hidden underneath brain wash and abuse—safe.

“How was that?” Luna asks.

Ginny looks maddeningly board. “It looks fine Luna. Honestly, I don’t know why you care so much. It’s not like you’re going to the ball with anyone.”

Luna frowns at this. It is true. The ball takes place the night before everyone leaves for their winter break which is a week from today, and no one has asked her to accompany them. But Luna has decided that she will have fun, even if she is alone. “I want to dance well, in case someone does ask.”

Ginny lets out a deep breath and nods her head after swiping her nose which runs from the cold. “Wouldn’t you rather just get butter beer and watch a movie with me that night? I’d like to hang out with you before I leave for a couple weeks.”

Luna frowns, “you could come to the dance with me.”

Ginny lets out a laugh. “Bugger all that Luna. You know I hate formal gatherings.”

Luna does know this, but thought she would ask anyway. Well—Luna could use this time to continue arguing with Ginny, or she could keep practicing as she has yet to master the other steps to a waltz: the forward progressive and the promenade. She will keep practicing. With a twirl she dismisses Ginny and takes a moment to spin. Luna loves spinning. In the distance Luna can hear Ginny stand and swipe snow from her pants and jumper.

“Luna I’ve got to go inside, I can’t feel my bottom anymore. I’ll see you tomorrow okay?”

Luna hums to indicate to Ginny that she was heard.

And then she is alone. Luna lifts up her hands as she twirls in her solitude, feeling the icy air on her fingertips. If she listens hard enough, she can almost hear her daddy’s tambourine and her mother’s lilting hum. She takes this time to imagine that she is an ice queen, born in the months of winter, and with her finger tips she can direct the cold winds in any direction she chooses. She chooses east, and stops suddenly, sticking out her right foot and slamming it into the earth as a strong ice queen would do. Only, she has slammed her foot into a hole in the ground. Her ankle gives out and Luna utters a startled cry as she falls to the earth. A puff of white flies upwards and settles on top of Luna’s hair. Once the earth has settled, Luna slowly sits up and inspects her ankle. It seems to be alright.

“Well,” she says to her feet, “that was all rather silly.”

“I’d say so.”

Startled, Luna looks up to see Draco with a questioning look adorning his face. “What in the blazes are you doing?”

Luna smiles at her friend curiously. Draco hates the cold, so much so that he has taken great lengths lately to avoid going outside. Anything that made Draco the least bit uncomfortable was always done away with. It is to his chagrin that he cannot control the weather. “Why hello Draco, it’s always a joy to see you in the snow.”

Draco blushes. “It’s almost past curfew. I was worried.”

Luna smiles; Draco is one of her greatest friends. “That’s very sweet of you, but there’s no need to worry, I’m perfectly all right.”

Draco nods his head and then lifts an eyebrow. “What are you doing out here anyway?”

“Dancing.”

“You call that dancing?”

It is Luna’s turn to blush. “Well, just then I was trying to control the winter. But before I was practicing the waltz. I haven’t quite got it down yet, I still have two more steps to learn.”

“Even I can’t control the weather, Lovegood. Stand up for a moment.” Luna does, and Draco is now assessing her. He walks in a singular circle looking her up and down. Luna feels as if she is being auctioned off on some podium. He then stops and places a thumb on his jaw as if contemplating something important.

“I’ll teach you.” He decides.

“You will?” Luna is ecstatic.

“I will. You’ve got the legs for it.”

Luna frowns at this. “Draco, if you continue to judge girls based on their looks you’ll find yourself very lonely.”

Draco is stunned at Luna’s reply. Good, thinks Luna, I have taught him a valuable lesson. Luna then walks up to Draco and holds out her hands, because they are friends and she will forgive him for treating her like a prized pig—this time anyway. “I’m ready.”

Draco is able to shake off whatever it was he was feeling (stunned because the only one in his life who has ever corrected him on his manners was his mother, and at times Snape) and takes out his wand, twirling it once. A lovely tune issues forth from his wand’s tip, as well as mist which forms into the musical notes being played by what sounds like a violin. Luna smiles, and has to stop herself from twirling some more. Draco steps into Luna and leads her into the dance.

He is spectacular.

She had never noticed how firm Draco’s body was, but as he commands the dance Luna can feel his strength. He pushes and pulls her in a way that is a bit overwhelming and Luna’s heart begins to palpitate in the extreme. She has to force herself to look down to ease her uncomfortability, and investigates their feet. They are swift in their movement, but now that Luna pays her feet mind, they begin to stumble and she almost steps on Draco. Quickly she begins to count to get her feet back on track.

One, two, three. One, two, three.

Draco’s fingers are now on her chin and they lift her head up until she is gazing into his eyes. “Don’t think about it so hard,” he whispers, and his eyes are so intense and so close that Luna feels the air leave her lungs. Has anyone ever looked at her this way before? Is everyone supposed to look at their dancing partner with such passion—she supposes it does inspire intimacy. Yet, still, he is so close and so warm that it makes it hard to think. As the dance continues, and while Draco’s eyes refuse to leave her own, all she can picture is Snape’s dark muddy browns. Does he dance as well as Draco? Would he ever look at her so intensely if they were to waltz?

The dance slowly draws to a finish and Draco dips her low to the ground, so low that she can feel her hair brush the snow. Yet his arms do not shake from the weight of her.

“See,” he says, his breath on her neck, “it’s not so difficult.” Draco then lifts her and drops his arms from her waist, taking a step back. It is all Luna can do to not fall down on her wobbly legs. She feels as if she has turned to jellow.

“You’re extraordinary, Draco. I—thank you for teaching me.”

“You should go with me.” He says. He is breathing hard and his eyes shine as they have never shone before.

“Go with you to what?” Luna’s mind runs slowly as it is still clouded from the dip.

“You and I, we should go to the ball together. I was planning on staying in that night, ‘cause formality has been making me nauseous. But going with you could be fun. Don’t you think so?”

Before she contemplates her answer she hears herself saying, “yes.”

“Good, it’s a date then.” He smiles, and then is wrapping his arms around himself as if just remembering they were still outside, “come inside with me? My tits are freezing.”

Luna nods, and in a hazy cloud follows him into the warmth.

 

The doorbell shrieks in Snape’s ear as he opens the door to Weasley’s Wizarding Wheezes. He takes a moment to close his eyes and breathe: he should have expected something as irritating to greet him in this maddening place. He messages his temples, getting himself ready to see the dratted twins. He can only imagine what this meeting will be like, in fact, he can only imagine what the twins will be like. He has not seen them since they flew out of Hogwarts, fireworks spurting from their brooms. If Snape were a bigger man, he would let them know he thought it was one of their better pranks and if that toad Umbrage had stayed a moment longer at Hogwarts, Snape would have done something drastic himself.

The woman had been a nuisance with all her pink frills and kittens.

But Snape has never been known for giving complements, and would not start now. Another breath, and then he opens his eyes. A mad house indeed. The place is oddly full for a Wednesday. There are a gaggle of girls surrounding a booth full of floating hearts that hold potions inside to his left. Two shrieking boys are throwing small balls at one another to Snape’s right. The balls explode dying one boy’s hair green, and giving the other a pigs’ snout. And then Snape is looking up to the spiraling stairs that are full of adults and children alike: they gaze at books, ears on strings, and various other gadgets that Snape does not care to know about. Then Snape looks ahead and quickly has to duck as a paper air plane zooms by his head and exits the door.

Snape grumbles, brushes off his cloak, and then hears her laugh.

“You missed, that’s five sickles gentlemen.” Her voice is soft and bell like. He follows the sound to the front of the store where the checkout line has been placed. Lovegood stands on her tip toes, leaning over the counter where Fred and George stand. They are both smiling, but fake their agitation at losing what Snape could only imagine was a bet.

“No fair Luna,”

“You saw me miss in the future, admit it.”

“Seer.”

Luna Lovegood rolls her eyes, a gesture Snape had not known the girl could make.

“I did not, and even if I did I still won. Gimmie.” She sticks out her hand, palm flat.

Snape strides up to the counter and hovers just behind Lovegood. “And just what is it you have bet, Miss Lovegood?” She squeals and turns quickly, finding herself trapped between her professor and the counter. She blushes and looks to her feet.

“I told them they wouldn’t be able to hit you with one of their paper airplanes.”

Snape is unsure why Lovegood has decided to make bets at his expense, but blames the twins. They are the worst kind of influence. “Ah,” says Snape and then turns toward the two red heads, “I hear you are experts on creating potions for dreams.”

The twins smile, much like a chestier cat, which sets Snape on edge.

“If it isn’t Snivels!”

“Good ‘ol Snivels!”

Snape has not heard someone call him Snivels in a long time. In fact, he had not heard that nickname since Serious. He is all too sure that his long lost enemy had taught this name to the mischievous twins, and understands that to react to such a silly name would be giving the twins what they wanted: entertainment. Yet still, his vision tunnels and if he is not too careful he knows he will begin to see red. Snape can feel his breath labor, and is jolted back into the present when Luna smacks the back of Fred and Georges heads.

“Now, I’m not as scary as your mother. But if I have to tap into Molly Weasley to get you two to behave I am not above it. Understood?”

Fred and George are all too amused, and pretend to be hurt by pouting and rubbing their heads. “Wow Luna,”

“Yeah, it was only a joke.”

“Just wanted to have a bit of fun with our old friend.”

Lovegood then turns and takes her professor’s hands. She has no gloves he notices, and can feel her cold finger tips seep through his woolen mittens. She smiles prettily up at him, and Snape knows that his presence here has meant the world to her. “I’m so glad you could make it Professor.” She says, and then turns to the two boys behind the counter. “You have products to show us?”

 

~
Half an hour later Snape and Lovegood exit the back of the store, each with a load of samples. ‘For research’ Lovegood had said, but taking the erotic dream mixture had still caused Snape to blush. He does not know if he will drink them, and is not sure if this is actually something he wants to incorporate into his research. But he supposes he should just try, even if only to satisfy Lovegood.

At the moment Snape will just appreciate that he is no longer in that inane store.

Hogsmead is quite spectacular this evening. The sunset reflects off falling snow that has blanketed the walk ways. Snape is not sure how he feels about snow. It is cold, and wet, but when safely in doors he supposes it is nice to look at. He looks around himself and notices that he and Lovegood are in a hidden ally way. Best get out in the open, before others get the wrong idea—before Snape becomes brave enough to actually try to woo Lovegood.

What a silly notion. Wat a sad old man he is.

But then Luna twirls her wand and a song is playing, and Snape feels his package being removed from his grasp, and then cold hands are being placed into his own. Lovegood gazes into his eyes, and moves her feet. Snape stumbles at first, unsure as to what Lovegood is up to, when he recognizes the steps to a waltz. Before he truly thinks about his present situation and what it could mean for his own sanity later this night when he knows, knows he will think about what this dance meant to the allusive blond, he takes the lead.

Luna Lovegood is breathless. Snape moves her with such grace that Luna could almost believe she is floating on air. His body is broader than Draco’s, sturdier, yet ever so graceful: like a cat. When he directs her body it is not overwhelming, but a suggestion: move your foot this way? His body continues to make polite questions and Luna’s own responds in affirmation. Suddenly, he spins her out and away. For the briefest of moments she is cold, and then Snape spins her back into him. Her back is pressing against his front and he is now still, still as a statue. Luna is afraid her heart will burst from her chest.

As is Snape. He is sure she can feel it thud against her ribs. Yet, he cannot calm it. She is so close and smells of cinnamon. Her hair is silky and tumbles in waves and he was able to put his hand there, on the crook of her back where back meets bottom. She feels perfect in his arms, small and sweet and strong. She is so lovely, and all he wants in this moment is to place his head into the crook of her neck and breathe deep. To trace her jaw line to the base of her collar bone with his lips would be one of the world greatest pleasures.

Snape does not deserve such pleasure, and lets her go. Luna stumbles forward, surprised at the lack of contact, and turns slowly. She hopes he will not be angry with her. It is only, well, she dreams of dancing with him at the ball. She does not know why, but thoughts of him have been circling her brain like a pack of nates. She wants him close by her. It makes her feel safe, and he makes her feel understood.

“Thank you, for dancing with me.” She says softly, not wanting to scare him off.

“You have gotten much better. I’m almost impressed.” Is it Luna’s imagination, or does her professor sound a bit breathless?

There is an awkward silence, and all the pair can do is stare after one another. Each knowing what they want, but not sure in how to achieve it. They itch to be close.

“Yes, well,” says Snape resisting the urge to shuffle like a simpleton, “try out a dream tonight and record how it affects your psyche.”

“Shouldn’t we test these long term on some rats instead?” She asks, her face red.

“Yes, quite right. I’ll procure what we will need. You— why don’t you take tonight off. You did a fine job today.”

“Thank you professor.”

Before Luna could say anything else, her professor is off with a snap.

Chapter Text

“Oh, I don’t know about this one Lunes. It’s much too tight in the bust and its so, well, frilly. What is it with you and frills?”

Luna sits on the edge of her seat with her front protruding out as far as it can. The only thing that keeps her from slipping are her fingers which hang tightly to the underside of her chairs seat. She sits outside of a curtained off dressing room. Luna enjoys the curtain: it is a velvety red, and looks like something a king might wear around his shoulders. Luna can imagine herself with the curtain around her own shoulders, but instead of a placing a crown upon her head she would put on her lions hat and march around the Quiditch field. She still does not understand why there are not mascots for Hogwarts Quiditich teams, as she would make a great one for Gryfindor—a lioness. Luna wonders if she cold roar loud enough for the whole audience to hear? She could always use a spell.

“This is a no, a capital ‘N’ ‘O’.”

Luna scrunches her nose, “won’t you show me first, before tossing it?”

Ginny groans beyond the curtain and a swish of a dress can be heard as she walks towards Luna. They had been trying on dresses all morning—well, Ginny had been anyway. Luna has already made her own you see, out of scraps of material she had found around Hogwarts. It is beautiful and big and lifts up around her while she twirls. Luna wants Ginny to experience a puffy dress too. It makes one feel like a princess, or like they are sitting upon a cloud.

Luna enjoys clouds.

The curtain opens to revile a flustered Ginny. Her hair has started to come out of her braid and her eyes have turned into slits of irritation. The newest dress Luna has procured for Ginny is blue this time, and when she turns a certain way shimmers green. The bottom is beautiful and covered in ruffles. It is so large that Ginny struggles to fit outside the dressing room door. Luna cannot imagine how far off the ground the dress will lift when Ginny spins, and almost claps in joy at the thought. If it had pockets, like Luna’s dress, it would be perfect. Well, almost perfect as Ginny’s bosom was almost falling out.

“No.” States Ginny.

“But— ”

“Absolutely not.”

“If you could just twirl for me?”

“How Luna? There’s not room enough in this whole shop for me to twirl in this thing!”

Ginny groans in frustration, waddles her way to the bench, and sits down. The dress flows over Luna’s lap like a dream. She smiles at the material and spreads it further until it drapes down over the other side on the bench. Luna admits a mistake: Ginny does not look like a princess, she looks like a queen. Luna has always known her friend to be a queen, queen of the lions—Luna’s hat has always been a tribute to her.

“You know I can’t wear this to the ball, right?”

Luna nods, still playing with the frills. They are not as soft as she would like them to be.

“No hard feelings?”

Luna stills her hands and looks at her friend, “honestly Ginny I’m surprised you even tried them on.”

Ginny furrows her brow, and then opens her mouth in a gasp, “why you little twit!”

Luna laughs and attempts to dodge her friends grasping fingers, but is not fast enough. Ginny gets Luna’s head into an arm lock and gives her a noogie until Luna begs for mercy between gasping fits of laughter. The whole shop is staring, they do not care. Ginny lets go and Luna’s hair frizzes so badly that when she moves her hand around her head the strands of yellow follow.

Ginny sighs and stands. “I’m going with the dress I picked out,” she sticks out a hand in way of telling Luna to stand, “It’s your turn.”

“My turn?”

“You get to try on a dress that I pick out for you. It’s only fair.”

Luna nods. She supposes that she owes her friend, and trying on dresses is ever so fun. Ginny disappears into the shop and Luna smiles at the sound of her swishing dress — the only tell that she is still there. After a moment Ginny returns with a long silver dress that shimmers like the stars. On its side it has a gash that travels far up the dress. Like people and scars, the dresses’ gash gives it a certain personality. It is much too sultry for Luna Lovegood.

Ginny tries to hand it over, Luna hesitates. “I don’t know Ginny.”

Ginny rolls her eyes, “Oh common Luna, it won’t bite. Just this one and I’ll leave you alone.”

Luna nods, takes the garment, and heads into the dressing room.

She is now alone with the dress. The material is light and surprisingly slick. It slides through her hand like a wet fish, which causes her to shiver. She wonders what it would be like to belong to such an elegant dress. Is this how Narcissa Malfoy felt before putting on one of her gowns? No, thinks Luna, Narcissa would have felt powerful. All Luna feels is unworthy.

She slips it on anyhow.

She is surprised at the way it fits. It is snug, but not so snug that she cannot breath. In fact, she is most comfortable. The slit goes up to her mid-thigh exposing her pale skin and a scar. Horizontal in nature it cuts across the side of her fibularis longus muscle. It is deep and pink and protrudes from her skin like a brand. Luna supposes it is a brand, and looks away with a wince. She holds her waist for comfort, and then notices her cleavage. ‘Hello,’ she whispers, as she has not explored her own cleavage in some time. The dress molds to her breasts in an appealing fashion and dips down just low enough to announce to the world that yes, she is in fact female, but not so low that everything is exposed. What would Snape think of her cleavage? Luna blushes.

“Common out then, I want to see.”

Luna holds her breath, three counts for courage, and then opens the curtain.

Ginny’s draw drops and then she begins a slow clap as she stands. “You have to get that dress.”

Luna looks at her feet and shakes her head. “I don’t think it wants me.”

Ginny snorts in disbelief, “doesn’t want you? Luna even I’m swooning. You have to wear that dress to the ball. If you don’t I won’t speak with you for a whole week.”

Luna scrunches her nose—she still won’t look at her friend “that’s hardly fair.”

“So is you not getting that dress. I tell you what, Harry’s given me way too many pounds for my dress. I’ve got more than enough to buy that for you.”

Luna grimaces.

“Please?” Ginny never begs, and so Luna must give in. She nods her head.

And then there is a gasp. A soft gasp that escapes from behind Ginny’s head.

“You look Beautiful Luna.” A timid and familiar voice says gently.

Luna raises her head a meets brown eyes, Neville’s very sad brown eyes. Her heart kicks into over drive. In any other circumstance—when her skin does not have goosebumps from the cold, when the scar of a dress does not expose the scar on her thigh, when her cleavage is not bare, when she is not showing so much of her skin—she would never run away. Not from her Neville. But he is staring at her with such guilt with an undertone of longing that does not belong to the girl who only wares frills, and so she turns and runs behind the curtain. Luna has no room for fear in her heart, if she can face the Malfoys she can face anyone, yet she cannot face Neville—not in this dress.

Perhaps if she had her cloths on she would be able to talk with him? She takes her dress off and stumbles around as she tries to put her stockings on. They stick to her skin that is now slick with sweat from anxiety. Luna can hear Ginny starting in on Neville.

“What do you think you’re doing here? Following her now are you?”

“Please Ginny, I just need to speak with her. Just for a moment.”

Luna has finally got the stockings on, now for her skirt.

“Isn’t it obvious? She doesn’t want to speak with you.”

Luna wants to peek her head out and tell Ginny that she is fine, that she only needs to put on her cloths. She cannot, there is a knot in her throat stealing her words.

“It’s important Ginny. If it weren’t I wouldn’t be here.”

“Bugger off Longbottom.”

Luna zips up the back of her skirt and leans on the far wall while she clutches at her chest.

She can hear a commotion, a person pushing and someone else stumbling.

“Alright, alright I’ll leave,” Neville says in frustration, and then loudly announces, “I’m sorry, alright Luna? I’m sorry. We need to talk, plea— oof” Luna imagines Ginny has pushed Neville again. A few moments pass before she hears the bells of the door signaling Neville’s retreat. Luna puts on her shirt and sighs.

Ginny opens the curtain. “You okay?”

Luna nods, and says “you didn’t have to kick him out.”

“Yes I did. You’re not ready to talk to him.”

“I— ”

“It’s okay Luna, to not be ready. Some things take time,” Ginny takes Luna’s hands and gives them a squeeze, “let me change and then we can leave. Sound good?”

Luna nods, Ginny gives her a kiss on the cheek and shoos her out of the dressing room.

As Luna sits on the bench while waiting for her friend, all she can think about is her deepest desire to hide in the dungeons with the sleeping drought and her Professor Snape.

 

~
“You mean to tell me that someone has poisoned your tea, and you think nothing of it?”

Severus Snape sits in McGonagall’s office, what was once Dumbledore’s office, feeling nothing but annoyance. Everything would have been fine if it wasn’t for that thief of a house elf. The prat had gone in his room to clean as a supposed kindness and smelled the poison that someone had drenched his loose leaf tea in. The house elf then immediately ran to the headmaster, and now here he is, having a stern talking to. Was there something about Snape that invites people to sneak into his personal life? He makes sure to keep his manor icy, his conversations short and to the point, and when someone is becoming too chummy he insures they have their own taste of embarrassment—preferably in his class while he watches their humiliation. And yet bloody Potter and his buffoons shares his most precious memories, Luna Lovegood dances with him in a dark ally, and now a bloody house elf went sneaking into his rooms. Snape does not believe he has an inviting personality whatsoever, but the world continues to prove him wrong. It is most irritating.

“I do not believe it was meant to harm me.” Replies Snape. McGonagall’s eyes open wide and her nostrils flare.

“Then what in Merlin’s name do you think the poison was meant to do Severus?”

Snape goes to reply when a very flustered Trelawney bursts into the room. Her hair, if possible, is frizzier than its normal state and she places her hands on her knees while she catches her breath. Both Snape and McGonagall stare at the odd astrologist, McGonagall with concern and Snape with unadulterated boredom. Trelawney has always landed on the more dramatic side of things, and Snape has seen too many of her displays to act impressed. McGonagall, however, has always had a caring heart.

“Whatever is the matter Trelawney?” Asks McGonagall as she walks to her and places a claiming hand on her back.

“Peeves . . . gotten hold of . . . fortune telling . . . balls . . . whizzing them at students’ heads.”

Trelawney manages to wheeze out, and before she can get in another word McGonagall lets out a curse, pauses, “you will stay here Severus, we are not done with our conversation,” and then is out of her office. Trelawney slowly stands with one hand placed to her heart, and the other fanning her reddened cheeks. She turns to Snape as if to say something, but stops when she sees the expression he wears. He glares at Trelawney, sneers, and snaps out an icy “what?”

Trelawney jumps, turns, and flees the room after the headmaster.

Snape smirks to himself: he’s still got it.

“Whoever said that being a portrait is boring was quite mistaken, that was the most entertaining display I have seen in sometime. You did not have to be so rude Severus, the woman has many things she is frightened of already. It was not nice of you to add yourself to that list.”

Snape turns slowly in his seat until he is facing forward. Placed above the headmaster’s chair is a gold picture frame. Inside this picture frame sits the painted face of Albas Dumbledore. From a distance you would not be able to distinguish this painting from the real man, but take a closer look and one will be able to see the fine paint strokes. Stored inside this particular portrait are all of the diseased Dumbledore’s memories. As far as this painting is concerned he is Dumbledore; as far as Snape is concerned the paining is but a shadow of what Dumbledore was.

“I merely asked her a question.” Snape replies in deadpan.

Dumbledore lifts an eyebrow and his eyes sparkle in that old familiar way. It makes Snape frown. Dumbledore then clicks his tongue, and looks around the room, “I wish,” he begins, “that McGonagall would change the decorations in this space. It does not feel like it belongs to her, wouldn’t you agree?”

Snape is forced to nod his head because yes, he does agree. In a way he understands. Snape had not re decorated the headmasters tower when he ruled over Hogwarts, much like McGonagall. He hadn’t the stomach for it. It was by his hand that Dumbledore died and he was only able to perform such a daunting task because it was necessary. It was needed in order to save his god son and Dumbledore was dying anyway: a cursed, withered hand that Snape was unable to cure. That within itself was one of Snape’s greatest failures. But then to have the responsibility of sitting in the seat of the very man he had murdered . . . it was almost his undoing, and no part of him was able to completely take over the space.

Dumbledore’s office remained Dumbledore’s office.

It seems McGonagall has the same disposition towards the room. Everything is still untouched. The phoenix podium stands erect, even though there is no bird to occupy the space. The room is still a warm gold and all of Dumbledore’s books line the walls. It is as if she is trying to call back the old man’s spirit, as if she also has trouble admitting that she is now headmaster—that Dumbledore is dead. Is this why she keeps his portrait so close by?

Dumbledore’s portrait sighs, and then his focus is back on Snape. “You say the poison was not intended to harm?”

Once again Snape nods. It is difficult to speak to ghosts.

“Let me try and guess,” Dumbledore intertwines his fingers and sits them politely in his lap, “I see this incident pointing toward two opposing conclusions: either this was done by someone young and silly who did not realize that, being a potions professor with a well-tuned nose, you would have smelled the poison miles away. Or this is someone who knows you well and wanted you to smell the poison because they are trying to warn you. Warn you from what I wonder?”

Snape’s left pinky twitches. The portrait is entirely correct and it bugs him to no end. He always hated the way the old man just knew. It was as if he could read minds. Perhaps he could, maybe he was a master in occlumency. But if that were true Snape would know, would have been able to feel him pressing into his mind years ago. He never has. Had. Yet the way this portrait is able to spell out everything Snape has already put together makes him finally speak.

“I believe it is the latter, and I haven’t the faintest idea what they’re warning me against. This may be their way of communicating that I am their next intended victim, or they could be warning me away from trying to figure out who’s behind the assassinations. Either way I couldn’t give two fucks about it.”

This makes Dumbledore’s portrait chuckle. “Now that’s curious. They wouldn’t be warning you against being nosy unless you’ve already been trying to name the murderer.” Snape sits very still and makes sure to keep his eyes on the portrait. He will not twitch, he will not look away. Dumbledore’s portrait does not need to know that he has been compiling a list of potential suspects, that he has been contacting witnesses, that he has a planned visit with Filches murderer. Dumbledore does not need to know what Snape does in his free time, he no longer belongs in his pocket. Snape is not his pawn.

Dumbledore smiles and the lines beside his eyes crinkle in that kind, welcoming fashion. Snape does not buy it for a moment. “But then,” the portrait continues, “you don’t care about the whole matter, so why would you investigate?” The old man twiddles his thumbs, and Snape knows he has him all figured out just as Dumbledore always had. His thumbs still, but his smile stays in place. “This turn in behavior wouldn’t have anything to do with a certain blond, now would it?”

Snape’s spine stiffens.

“I have always found your heart admirable Severus, and it lifts my spirits that you are finally looking into these deaths. But I ask you to remember that portraits gossip, and not only to me. Be careful with what you do and where you do it. Remember your training.”

Snape stands, and starts towards the exit. McGonagall will have to wait for further lecturing; this conversation has gone on for far too long. He did not ask for his advice. He did not ask for his friendship. It isn’t even Dumbledore for Merlin’s sake. It is a portrait. It is only brushstrokes and paint. Albas is dead. Snape makes it to the door before Dumbledore’s portrait says, “Oh and Severus, please do stop smoking.” Snape freezes in the door way for a moment and feels the muscles in his back tense from anger. Once he gains control over his immense fury, he slams the door behind him.

Fuck portraits, the whole gossiping lot.

 

~
Draco Malfoy can hear Luna Lovegood squealing from her room. He sits on the common rooms green leather couch with his right leg over his left. Draco’s foot taps impatiently as his eyes scan over the morning newspaper that he holds in his right hand. His left hand thoughtfully taps at his chin, now decorated with stubble, as he desperately tries to digest on the information contained in the business section of the paper. He cannot. Another gleeful squeal is admitted from her room and the noise ekes out the door. He huffs in frustration and drops the newsletter onto his lap.

What is so bloody wonderful?

He is trying to read on the market in order to suss out new investments, but for the life of him he cannot concentrate. Not with Luna making all that racket. Why is she so happy? Is it her new dress? She had been decidedly upset the night before, claiming she could not wear the dress she made since Ginny had purchased her a gown with Potters money. The relief Draco had felt at this was immense. He would never admit to ever having a decent though about Ginny Weasley, but thank Merlin for her. Draco has seen the contraption Luna made, and it is nothing short of awful. Luna Lovegood is perhaps the loveliest creature Draco has ever seen and deserves the finest silks and diamonds money could buy, yet she insists in covering herself up with feathers, fringe, and homemade jewelry.

It makes Draco shiver in the wrongness of it all.

What Draco wouldn’t give to see Luna in one of Pansy Parkinson’s gowns. Now, Pansy never could fill those garments out the way she should, but that wasn’t the dresses fault. Luna could pull them off. He knows she can, has had dreams about her covered in silk, slim, green dresses eyeing him with desire across the hall. It wasn’t like Luna to be so saucy, but Draco was allowed his fantasies. He wonders what her new dress looks like? He hopes it is becoming of Luna’s beauty. The Weasley girl did have some amount of taste, he would give her that much credit, so there was some hope. He wants to peak his head inside her room.

Another delighted squeal.

Finally Draco stands, marches to her door, and knocks politely. His mother did raise him to be a gentleman after all. There is a pause, and then a sound of padding feet. In a moment Luna sticks her head out from around the door. Her cheeks are pink and her eyes glow. In a mock whisper she asks; “am I distracting you from your money again Draco?” Draco’s lips twerk upward in amusement. Luna distracts him often.

“What is it that you’re squealing over?”

Luna bites her lips, and looks around her shoulder as if deciding whether she wants to show him or not. “Will you be happy for me?” She asks herself. Luna turns back to Draco, her head tilting to the left as she assesses him. In another moment she smiles, opens the door wide, and takes his hands. “Of course you will be,” she says in answer to her own question.

Draco stays silent and follows her into her room.

She truly has made it her own. Draco provided her with the furniture and linens, all green of course. But then Luna had ripped them all up; the sheets, the curtains, even her bathroom robe, and made a pattern for a quilt which now lies on her bed. Draco almost took offense, but knows that Luna’s creative force has nothing to do with him, and is not a slight in the least. Plastic stars are plastered on her ceiling in the form of her own constellations. One she just calls ‘the king’ and the other ‘his bird.’ At first he had thought these decorations silly, until one night Luna had invited him to go stargazing in her room, shut off the lights, and the stars began to glow. He had never seen anything like it. The walls are his favorite, however, for they are plastered in her portraits. He believes there is a portrait for every student, teacher, and creature that resides at Hogwarts. The one of him sits above her bed to the left. He had given her back this drawing when he had first seen her collection. She never did ask why he had kept it. He is glad she didn’t, he wouldn’t know what to say.

Luna continues to lead him into her room, and stops at the bed. She picks something up from her mattress, turns and shyly hands him a letter. It is addressed from Hermione Granger. Well, this isn’t off to a good start. But Luna stares at him in such happiness that he would be nothing less than a prat to dismiss this letter based on the writer. He is better than that. She makes him better. Draco begins to read.

‘Dear Luna,

I must regret the way I left things during my last visit. I want you to know that the Order and I were only looking out for your protection. We never believed you to be a traitor to our cause, only a potential victim of a manipulative zealot. I was pleased to see you doing well, and staying strong. It saddened me that my line of questioning had sent you to the clinic. I hope you are feeling better. Enough of my apologetic ramblings. The purpose of this letter is to initiate a business proposition. I was not in jest when I offered to fund your magazine if you employed house elves. After cutting through much red tape, I am happy to announce that the huse elves initiative bill has been recently made official. This bill states that any business willing to hire freed house elves, giving the same royalties and benefits as any other employee, will be financed by the wizarding government. I have a list of willing candidates who would love to work for you. If you were serious when you said you were interested in hiring house elves, then the wizarding government would fund your business for as long as you kept house elves under your employ. With your help, along with other willing businesses, we would allow house elves live in a society where they can be freed and not fear unemployment. Think on it.

Sincerely,

Hermione Granger.’

Draco is quiet for a moment, and when Luna sees that he has finished reading she asks a timid, “well?” ‘Well Draco?’ he can hear his father whispering in his ear, ‘how do you like that? Little miss pureblood still running around with mudbloods now wants to free all house elves, and you expect to bring her home to meet your family?’ Draco’s left hand curls into a fist. Fuck his fucking prat of a father.

“I think it’s great news. Never done revolutionizing the world are you Lovegood?” Draco meets her gaze which is as sharp as ever. He offers a smile, lips lifting just above his teeth, and boops her on the nose—Draco’s way of teasing. He won’t give away his other thoughts to her: the thought that he would finance her magazine no matter how ridiculous the content, the thought that he could take care of her for as long as she’d like, the thought that there is no jumping through hoops or cutting through red tape where he is concerned. He wants to give her the world.

Luna keeps her steady gaze on him for another moment and holds her excitement back for as long as she is able, but eventually it takes hold of her. Draco can see it in the way her toes curl into the carpet as her knees slightly bend and her hands curl into tight fists. In fact, her entire body seems to be tightening until the energy bursts from her being. She leaps into the air and flings her arms around his neck whilst giggling in delight. Luna, in her enthusiasm, offers him a big smacking kiss on his cheek before pulling away and twirling with her letter. She then lands on her bed clutching the letter to her chest.

“Mercury is in retrograde and yet I cannot fathom this year being an unbalanced one,” says Luna. Draco hasn’t a clue what she means, but mumbles a polite “quite,” as his hand lightly touches the burning hot spot on his cheeks that Luna has made with her lips.

This year feels quite unbalanced to him, anyway.

 

~
It is the night of the ball and Luna Lovegood has butterfly’s: it is the first time that she will be attending a dance with a boy that has chosen her as his preferred partner. Harry had asked her to a dance once, but only because Ginny was dating another boy at the time and Hermione had gone with someone else. Harry had no one else to ask. Luna had been grateful anyway, any chance to dance in a pretty dress. But then Harry had run off the moment they entered the party to speak with his other friends, leaving Luna decidedly alone. This time will be different, however, because Draco has chosen Luna first. It gives her a warm feeling in the pit of her stomach. Draco is a sweet boy, and a most gracious friend. She is sure he will not leave her alone tonight, and to make good and sure that he will stick around for the evening Luna has been practicing her dancing. She goes over her steps every night to insure she won’t embarrass him. Luna hopes that this will be enough, but a paranoid voice in the back of her mind whispers ‘what about your dress?’

Will Luna’s dress embarrass Draco?

Luna Lovegood stands in front of the mirror. She very much enjoys her newest creation, but cringes with the knowledge that Ginny will be upset to see what she has done with her gift. It could not be helped though, Luna was not able to wear Ginny’s dress in full. It wasn’t her, it didn’t feel right, it did not fit in the way it ought to. She admittedly likes the top half however, and supposes that Draco and Ginny were correct about the original dress she had made weeks prior. It was a bit much with blue, red, yellow, and green feathers sticking up around her top half until it reached her waist where feathers turned into big poofing lace and tulle.

Luna had decided to meet her friends in the middle by taking the top half of Ginny’s dress and sticking it to the bottom half of the one she created. Now the top of her was covered in beautiful sparkling silver that fitted to her waist in a lovely way, and the bottom of her tented outward in Hogwarts colors. When she spins it flows outward and represents all houses, the colors touching in symbiosis. It makes her smile. She decides that if Draco likes her, he will like her dress too. She spins in front of her mirror and laughs. A knock then sounds at her door.

“Luna, you almost ready to go?” It is Draco and he sounds almost anxious. He should not be so nervous, he will be the prettiest one at the ball. Luna opens her door. Draco looks like a gentleman in his black tux and green tie, hair slicked back and stubble trimmed. Draco seems to be gaping at her, but she heeds no mind. Her newly finished dress is quite the marvel and she is happy that she was correct in her earlier assessment—Draco likes her dress.

“Your father would be so proud Draco, you look so handsome,” says Luna which shakes Draco out of his trance. He blushes, and nods.

“Thank you, and may I say that you are quite stunning this evening Miss Lovegood.” He says with a bow and offers her his arm. Her eyes sparkle in response and she takes his arm in her hand.

“Why thank you good sir.”

With that they are off to the ball, Luna’s heart in her throat and a lingering thought of: will Professor Snape be there?

 

~
Severus Snape stands by the wall in a crowded hallway with a flask of fire whiskey in is hands. Fuck inane dances and hormonal teenagers. The sexual tension is at a T tonight with pre-pubescent boys flocking around barley developed girls. Whatever happened to teaching abstinence? Snape curls his lip and swigs a sip from his flask. He will be tearing children apart all night, he knows it. He will have to turn up his biting sarcasm if he is to get any form of entertainment. Snape supposes that if he is able to make one student cry during his shift, then the night may not be completely lost.

This thought calms him and he begins a survey of the ball. There are many students to choose from tonight as he is sure that many have snuck in some form of alcoholic beverage with the idea of getting in a good shag. Their behavior will be less than coacher and emotions are already running high, which means –for Snape—picking a target will be an easy task. He looks for one who is obviously tipsy from drink, but the ball has just started and most seem sober. Snape will bide his time. He continues his scan of the hall. All of the females wear dresses tight to their skin, and all the boys stare. They are a pack of animals, the lot of them, all fawning and drooling over one another.

In the next moment his breath catches, and he thinks he must be an animal too, because Luna Lovegood has just entered the hall and he begins to feel primal. Her dress sits on the edge of elegance and lunacy, poofing the way it does yet clinging to her chest in a refined way. The way it sits on her chest makes his body warm. He feels ashamed, ogling her the way he is, yet he cannot take his eyes off her. Her hair is half way up, the top of her head decorated in a bun and her back is covered in hanging golden curls. She wears no jewelry, which Snape believes is his fault as he has been hording a collection of earrings and necklaces in his desks drawer—all confiscations during class. Miss Lovegood sparkles, as she always sparkles. His gaze lingers, and it takes him a moment to realize she has entered the hallway with his god son on her arm. Miss Lovegood is smiling at Draco.

This causes Snape to seethe and chug another swig of whiskey.

Snape is furious, and before he can stop himself he is following the couple into the ballroom. In his mind he convinces himself that he is following Lovegood in order to protect her. This is partly true, she may be targeted by the murderer of Filch and Snape has made a vow of protection. No harm will come to Miss Lovegood, not while he is around. However, if he is honest, that old familiar emotion called jealousy has been creeping up his spine since Draco announced he intended to take Lovegood to the ball. Snape had not entertained the idea that Lovegood would agree to go, and now that she had. . .

He cannot stand the way his god son’s hand settles on her lower back. Snape’s own hand had been there, placed on that very spot as he waltzed with her in a dark alley. Does Miss Lovegood fancy Draco the way Draco fancies her? Dose she prefer Draco’s hand over his own? He knows the answer. His is covered in scars and calluses while his god sons have stayed soft and unmarked in his youth. What woman would ever prefer Snape’s hands? This thought causes the professor to pause—is this how he thinks of Miss Lovegood, a woman?

Snape finds a dark corner to stand in, finishes the rest of his whiskey, and spells more into his flask. ‘How did you find yourself here again old man?’ he asks himself, ‘fawning over a female who will never want you back?’ He should leave. He should walk out of the ball to tare apart dry humping students in hidden hallways as he had intended to earlier. Snape cannot, will not. As much as he wishes to leave this scene he knows that Lovegood is in danger. He would rather live in a world where he would have to watch Luna Lovegood living happily with his godson than to live in a world where she is dead and gone.

Snape’s heart always was his greatest weakness.

 

~
Luna Lovegood is being spun around the ballroom with the handsome Draco Malfoy, and she hasn’t tripped once. She feels powerful in her dance and falls into step with the beat perfectly. Draco has been looking at her as if she is the only person in the room, and Ginny had not been upset about her dress. She should be happy, content, and yet . . .

She cannot keep her thoughts off of Professor Snape. He has been watching her all night, she can feel his stare, and yet he has not come to say hi. Instead he is pouting in a dark corner. Luna wonders what is making him so upset, and wishes to comfort him. She will not leave Draco, however. He has been nothing but wonderful to her all night. It would be most rude of her to go off looking for his godfather, no matter how much she wants to. So she continues twirling and smiling at her dancing partner. When the song ends he steps away from Luna and bows. She curtseys back, panting and exhausted. Draco seems to notice.

“Would you like to sit down for a moment?”

All Luna can do is nod her head in appreciation. Draco leads her to a table and pulls out a chair. Luna wants to tease him for being such a gentleman, but cannot find the energy. She plops her bottom down, knowing she is being most un-graceful. She does not care. Draco sits beside her.

“I must say Lovegood I’m impressed. I haven’t had a dancing partner this in step since Pansy.”

Luna takes a gulp of air, “I don’t seem to have the stamina for it.”

This makes Draco laugh, “that comes with practice. Nothing to be embarrassed about.”

Luna smiles. Draco has come such a long way this year. The man he is becoming is a great one indeed. To indicate this she takes his hand and squeezes. Draco stares at her hand in his own, and begins to rub the top of her palm with his thumb. His eyes then move up to Luna’s, and there is intensity in his stare that makes her uneasy. Relief fills her when a student taps at Draco’s shoulder. Draco seems annoyed.

He turns and barks out a “what?”

The student flinches. “I was sent over to fetch you. The headmaster wishes to see you in her office.”

Draco lifts his brow, “now?”

The student nods. Draco kisses Luna’s hand before dropping it and stands from the table. “I am sorry to leave you like this. Will you be alright?”

Luna smiles at his concern. “I’ll be perfectly fine Draco.” Draco nods and then disappears into the dancing crowd.

 

~
Severus Snape begins to chuckle low to himself as he watches his godson exit the ball. Snape had been the one who told the student to send Draco to McGonagall. A complete lie, and Snape thought himself quite clever. ‘Try and kiss her now’ he thinks to himself, and ignores the fact that the choices he is currently making has to do with his current drink of choice.

So he may be a bit drunk. He dares anyone to judge. Other than Lovegood, that is. He would prefer if she never found out about his antics. Snape does not wish for her to think of him as a school boy, but a man. He is a man isn’t he? That is the one thing he has over Draco and his pretty face—maturity.

Although he is not acting all too mature at the moment.

He brushes this thought away, and stands a little straighter when he notices another student approaching Lovegood. This time the student is female, and Snape has not sent her over. She too is drunk, and stumbles up to Lovegood’s table. Snape trys to remember who this student is. A Hufflepuff? He is unsure, but does not believe her to be one of Lovegood’s friends. This concerns him, and he leans in to try and decipher what is being said. He cannot hear, and before he can use his occlumency to read the situation red wine is being poured over Lovegood’s head.

“Death eater slut!” the student slurs, and stumbles backward. Snape’s blood boils.

He goes to approach the student—no not a hufflepuff, perhaps a Ravenclaw—but before he can reach them Miss Lovegood stands and speed walks out of the ball. Snape has a choice to make: punish the student or follow Miss Lovegood. He does both. With a flick of his wrist and malevolent intent he causes the drunk student to puke all over the ballroom floor. She will be the laughing stock of the school for at least a week. Snape then follows Lovegood.

Lovegood is quite fast, either that or Snape is more encumbered by the whisky then he had originally thought, and is out the back door of the castle before he can stop her. He follows her outside. Lovegood is standing in a pile of snow, head bent up and breathing deeply. He believes he hears her counting.

‘One’ a breath in, ‘two’, a breath out, ‘three’ another breath in. She takes her bare arms and arches them up toward the sky, and then swings them down until her palms meet in the middle of her chest. She begins her breathing once again. ‘one, two, three.’ Her arms are prickling from the cold and her skin is turning into a darker pink. Snape, without thinking, walks up behind her. He then takes off his robe and places it on her shoulders. Lovegood does not even flinch.

“Thank you.” She turns until she is facing him. Snape’s heart stutters. Her once silver top now is a pool of red which leaks into her bottom ruffles.

“I’m sorry.”

Luna lets out a sad laugh. “Sorry for what Sir?”

“I’m sorry that I was unable to stop the incident.”

Luna reaches up a hand from under the cloak and cups Snape’s cheek. He freezes. “You can’t save everyone.” She says, her eyes sad but honest and forgiving. He wants to live in that gaze. He wants to wake up every morning and have that hand on his cheek. It fits perfectly, and even though her fingers are colder than the air he has never felt so warm. Unconsciously he takes a step closer to her, and places his hand on top of hers.

“You’re cold.”

“Am I?” she asks.

Snape wants to lean down, is going to. He has already thought this through as he watched her spinning in Draco’s arms. He has thought of all the ways he would kiss her if she would have him. How he would press his lips softly to hers, how he would lick the bottom of her lips to ask for entry, and if she would open that succulent mouth he has already though of how would devour her whole. How he would make her feel the most intense pleasers. How he would make her know that she is the most beautiful, most important person in his life.

His own thoughts have him pausing. Is he in love with Luna Lovegood?

The sound of a breaking tree branch and crunching snow can be heard in the distance. It ruins the moment and has Luna and Snape looking toward the wood. There is a current blizzard swirling about, which makes seeing in the dark quite impossible. But Snape still sees a shadow lumbering into the forbidden forest. He would say it was Hagrid, but the shape is not large enough.

“Do you see that?” Whispers Luna, “who would be going into the woods at this hour?”

“I haven’t the faintest idea.”

Luna turns towards Snape, her earlier sadness replaced with excitement. “Let’s investigate.”

Luna then turns and follows the mystery figure.

“Bullocks,” curses Snape, and he follows, whisky slushing about in his stomach.

Chapter Text

There is a sharpness to the cold this night. The wind’s icy tendrils kiss at Luna’s cheeks and leave behind a red scar. Her shoes were not made for the snow, open toed and healed as they are. She had fought Ginny on the matter of wearing them in the first place, stating her sparkling sneakers would go well with her sparkling dress. Ginny would not hear of it however, and Luna now adorns the heals and cannot feel her feet. She regrets it full heartedly.
“Whoever invented these contraptions must have hated women.” States Luna to her Professor who stumbles in snow beside her. It is odd to see her professor stumble. He is normally so graceful and lithe, though she had smelled alcohol on his breath earlier. Perhaps he had enjoyed himself too much at the ball. Perhaps this is why he had leaned in so close.
Luna blushes.
“What contraptions?” Asks Professor Snape.
“These silly things” answers Luna as she hops on one foot then the other while taking both heals off. She then throws them to the side, stops walking and frowns. “My feet are cold.”
Snape halts his blundering progress toward the wood and turns around to the frowning Lovegood. He is not surprised by her antics or display, “throwing your shoes away can hardly help the matter.”
“At least I can wiggle my toes now.”
Snape holds the bridge of his nose between his index finger and thumb. Luna cannot tell if he is irritated with her however, because it also looks like he is holding back a smile. Luna finds herself wanting to tease him. To sing to him that he enjoys her company and cannot help but feel joy in her presence whilst skipping around him would be much fun. But her feet truly sting and skipping does not feel like an option. So she tilts her head at him innocently and waits for a reply.
“I think it is time for us to turn back Miss. Lovegood, you are not dressed for this weather.”
Before Luna can retort a scream issues from the forest. It is a scream of anguish, almost animalistic in its nature but for the very human sob that stutters throughout its cry. It is bone chilling, and Luna feels her back stiffen and spine straighten. Her body is preparing for battle. Without asking for permission Luna grabs her wand from out of the pocket of her dress and begins to march her way toward the sound. Someone is hurt, someone needs help and her feet can wait.
Snape is grabbing Luna’s wrist and twirling her around before Luna can get too far.
“Where in the blazes do you think you’re going? Return to the castle. Now.”
Snape is no longer stumbling about. He is strong in his hold and demanding in his gaze. The scream has awoken something in him as well and it does not take long for the man to shake off the whiskey that still sits in his stomach. It is one thing to explore who is sneaking around in the woods, and quite another to discover why someone is screaming. He is ready for a battle much like Luna, and she takes note. She wonders briefly why he does not want her assistance, they are a team after all. Does her professor not remember that she also fought in his war? Does her professor not see the soldier in her eyes? Perhaps not—the Order of the Phoenix had forgotten her strength as well. A fire rages in Luna’s throat and she scrunches her nose up at her professor.
“I have thrown hexes at death eaters since I was 14-years-old. A person needs our help and I am not afraid to give it. So Professor, you can put your fear away and come with me, or go back yourself.”
Luna turns toward the Forest but Snape does not let her go and turns her around once more. His eyes seem tired this time, the demanding nature leaving no trace. He nods his head once. Snape has tried protecting many in the past. One lesson has been knocked into his head on numerous occasions: if someone wants to do something they will. He may as well be by Luna’s side when she chooses to place herself in danger.
“Alright Lovegood, but you are not to leave my side, and the moment I tell you to turn around you will listen. Is this understood?” Luna nods her head but has no intention of leaving her professor alone in the forest, no matter how high the stakes. The last time he was left alone in battle a snake bit into his throat. She traces the scar with her eyes.
“Good,” Snape then takes his other arm and places it on her other wrist. Luna is taken back by his touch, and before she can ask what her professor is up to he rubs his hands up and down her arms—wrist to shoulder and shoulder to wrist—muttering words all the while. Luna begins to feel decidedly warm, her feet no longer numb but tingling with feeling as the snow melts off her toes. Her cheeks turn pink and the goosebumps on her legs disappear. After a moment of this continuous motion Snape takes a step back and assesses Lovegood. She is warm from head to toe.
“How are your feet?”
“Much better,” Luna is glowing from his care and attentions, “Sir, have you placed a spell on me?” This is not the time to play coy but Luna cannot help it.
Snape goes to reply, probably with something sarcastic and biting to which Luna will eat right up, but another scream issues. Loud, agenizing, and desperate— it is all the pair can do to not shiver.
“We best be off.” Whispers Luna.
“Quite.” Replies Snape.
He takes her hand in his own in reflex and they continue down the hill toward the noise, Snape hoping desperately that they will not run into another wear wolf. Snape is all done with wear wolves. Snape is all done with putting his loved ones in danger. He looks down to his left to see the determination painted on the small blonds face. What is it with him and his attraction to the brave? It is bad taste, bad taste and bad luck. These women, always running to action when they are called on. For Lilly and Narcissa, the call to action was protecting their children. Lovegood, however, seems to find everyone in need a ‘call to action.’ The twit pushes her way into battles, friendships, hearts . . .
Another scream. They are getting close.
They are at the forests edge now. Luna seems fluid and more than comfortable navigating herself around trees, fallen branches and leaves. Silently at that. Snape would almost say that Lovegood was as stealthy as himself, almost. But Snape has had years of practice, and no double agent lives quite as long as he without mastering this skill. Perhaps he will help Lovegood further this ability once they have figured out their version of the sleeping drought. Perhaps Snape should focus on the task at hand. Figure out the mystery behind nefarious acts, protect the girl, and turn the intruder into the authorities. Honestly, why Snape did not force the girl to turn around with him and call on the authorities in the first place is beyond him. He supposes his old curiosity and want for adventure got the better of him, and he is finding that Luna—yes Luna—can talk him into just about anything. Drat his lack of better sense, drat the fire whisky, and drat his foolish heart.
A scream—closer and louder this time, with a desperate “stop, please.”
Luna halts in her step and drops Snape’s hand—forgotten. “Neville?” She whispers to herself in question, another scream is issued as if in answer, and then “Neville!” She gasps before taking off in a sprint, disappearing into the foliage.
“Fuck, fuck, fuck.” Snape curses, and takes off after the blond.
*****************************************************************

That was Neville’s voice. She is sure of it, and she cannot think straight. Run her mind demands of her run before it is too late. She obeys. Her long legs are used to running for fun but they know how to stretch and push when they are needed for a more serious task. Trees blend before her eyes and when she hears another yelp she turns in the direction and continues in her sprint. Her dress catches in branches and is pulled on by twigs until she if forced to rip its bottom off so that she can move faster. Luna no longer cares how much noise she is making.
It seems like she has run for miles, adrenaline raging throughout her system, and suddenly she runs into a clearing and has to stumble to a halt. Her body pulses. Before her, shadowed by braches, is the largest body of inky black she has ever seen. It looks almost gooey in nature, like slime, only it seems to have rooted itself into the ground and vibrates. Devils Snare, Luna registers, Neville’s Devil Snare. It is enormous in size, and takes up most of the clearing. It is even bigger than Neville had described.
But where is Neville?
Luna goes to call for him but stops herself when she sees the cloaked figure from earlier standing at the Devil Snare’s left. Luna wants to run about and scream for her friend, but she stays in the shadows and waits instead. She does not have to wait for long.
A flash of yellow light streams from the cloaked figure’s wand and hits the Devil’s Snare. The Devil’s Snare lets out a high pitched wine, raises a long stretch of its body and swings its appendage into the cloaked figure, sending the wizard flying into the body of a tree. Due to the damage the light afflicted, the Devil’s Snare vibrates with more passion and a head slowly pokes out from out the top of its ink body, then a neck, a chest, two arms. It is Neville Longbottom.
“Neville!” Luna yells and runs toward the plant. Out of the corner of her eye she can see the mystery figure stumble its way into a standing position, and then take off into the wood. Luna does not think to follow them, she only thinks of Neville. The plant continues to vibrate and slowly oozes Neville’s body from out of its own. The plant takes another tendril and slowly, gently lowers Neville onto the snow. He is covered in slime and Luna immediately removes Snape’s cloak and covers Neville’s body. It should be shaking from the cold, but is not. In fact, Neville is not doing much moving at all.
“Shhh, shh. It’s alright Neville,” her Neville, “It will all be alright.” Luna checks for a pulse. One is barely beating, and when Luna truly examines his body she sees that his arms, legs, hands, and feet are all wonky and pointing in the wrong direction. It looks like all of his bones have been broken, as if his body had been crushed. Did his Devil’s Snare do this? Luna remembers Neville’s mangled leg at the beginning of the year.
“It doesn’t know its own strength, got excited is all”
But no, the Snare had been so careful, gentle even, when placing him on the snow.
Blood leaks from Neville’s mouth. Luna cannot help the tears that flow from her eyes or the chocked sob that emits from her core. “No, no, no,” she whimpers, “you cannot go yet, you cannot,” she resituates the cloak around him making sure it covers everything but his head so that he stays warm, “you had something to tell me,” she whispers to her sleeping friend as she fiddles, “what was it? What did you need to tell me?” she asks, pain taking over her heart. Her stomach burns and her chest aches. Luna wants to hold her friends hand for comfort, but is afraid of grinding his broken bones. Wasn’t she just dancing? Hadn’t she just seen her friend the day before in her silky dress, hadn’t she just rejected him?
“I forgive you,” she sniffles and pets back his hair which is slick with goo, “all is forgiven. You just h-have to wake up now.”
“Lovegood!” She hears the angry cry from a distance. It is Snape who breaks through into the clearing, upset that anyone dare make him run.
She turns with a sob. “Help,” she cries, “I need help!”
Snape quickly forgets his anger and takes a moment to re gain his composure and breath. He had thought he lost her, and is relieved to find her safe. Snape is quite irritated that she had left his side. But Snape will discuss this with her later, because although she is safe, it is abundantly clear that she is not well. Lovegood is on her knees and crying over what looks to be a body. Snape is unsure who the body belongs to, but from the pain in Lovegood’s eyes he has a good idea. Taking a few steps forward confirms his hypothesis. Neville Longbottom lays broken on the forest floor.
“Please help me Professor, h-he’s not moving.” Luna cries, her eyes are wet and somber.
“Let me take a look.” He states gently and kneels by her side. Of course he will help her. Snape takes out his wand and waves it over Neville’s body in assessment. The boy’s bones are broken, his muscles torn, and he bleeds internally. Snape is not sure what happened, but this could have only been done by two things: the Devile’s Snare, or a body binding spell manufactured to crush its opponent. One thing is for certain, the boy is losing blood and quickly. Snape immediately takes out his blood replenishing potion (one of many potion viles he always keeps on his person) and tilts the boys head back, helping him ingest its contents. After assessing him once more to see if there is anything else Snape could do at this moment, and finding there is not, he places a gentle hand on Lovegood’s shoulder. She turns to him with hope in her eyes. He wishes she would not.
“I am sorry for your pain. He is badly hurt, and I am not sure if he will make it back to Madame Pomphrey on time.”
“On time?” she asks in a whisper and looks back to her fallen friend “do you mean—?”
“Yes” answers Snape, taking her chin in his hand and bringing her eyes back to focus on his own. “I am going to levitate him, and we are going to travel slowly. His body is badly mangled and we cannot risk damaging him more. I need you to clear a path for us, to ensure he does not bump into anything. Do you understand?”
Luna nods. She understands. Snape stands to go but before he begins to make ready for their travel back to the castle Luna takes his hand. “It wasn’t the Devile’s Snare. That...that mysterious figure, they are still out there. I saw them attacking the Snare to get at Neville, but the Snare flung them into a tree and they took off. We must stay vigilant.”
Snape kneels by her side once more. “If this is true, then what is a Devile’s Snare doing out here, and why was Neville inside of it like you say?”
“I don’t know,” she admits, “I don’t, but I think it was protecting our Neville. If the wizard was trying to save him from the Snare, then why did they run away when I arrived?” Her voice chokes at the end and more tears stream down her face, “it makes no sense.” Snape wishes he could make her pain disappear.
He cannot, but he will make sure she feels heard. Snape nods and squeezes her hand. “We will stay vigilant. Let me attend Mr. Longbottom while you go make safe passage for us.”
Luna gives Neville one more lingering gaze, wipes her eyes, and stands up. She will not fail her friend. They will get him to Pomphrey alive. She goes into the woods and begins to move branches out of their path. Snape stays kneeled over the boy in contemplation. Lovegood has many wild idea, but she is not stupid nor a liar. If she had seen someone else in the clearing and believes the Deville Snare to be innocent, then there must be some truth to that. Neville may not live to see the morning, and Snape wants to ensure he knows what happened to the overzealous herbologist. So he grabs the empty blood replenishing vile from out of the snow with one hand, and slithers out Neville’s memory with his wand in the other. He brings the translucent blue mist into the vile and caps it off safely. It is an intrusion into Longbottoms privacy to be sure, but if this mystery wizard laid eyes on Lovegood, then she is now in more danger than ever.
Snape will not allow harm to come to the girl. He will find the culprit.

Luna Lovegood sits in a wooden chair, knees curled into her chest and feet perched on the seats edge. She watches over her Neville in the medical wing as she picks at her nails and chews on her lips. He has been put into a full body cast, and it irks Luna that she cannot see him breathing. This mummified version of her friend is unfamiliar. His usually disarrayed brown locks are hidden beneath white cloth and his recently crooked nose has white tape placed around it to keep it straight. She wishes he would wake up and open his eyes so that she may see his beautiful browns, but Pomphrey has placed him under a deep sleep to help his body heal. The trauma, she had told Luna and Professor Snape, is so severe that he will have to sleep for a long time.
This news had Luna’s heart skipping a beat. She will miss her friend, misses her friend now—his clumsy nature and goofy way of smiling at her as if she were the most clever in the room. Though, she is immensely grateful that he is alive. They had almost not made it in time. Professor Snape was slow in moving the levitated Neville through the forbidden forest, and Luna painstakingly made sure that every branch and bush was far out of reach so that nothing would snag her floating friend. Each second that passed had felt as if an hour went by, and Neville was quickly losing the blood Snape had just replenished.
Neville no longer had a pulse by the time they reached Professor Pomphrey who cried in outrage when she laid eyes on his beaten form. She asked no questions, shoving the pair out of the medical ward and diving into action. Pomphrey saved his life, no telling how, and Luna could kiss her all over. Though she is sure her attentions were unwanted. Perhaps Luna will gift her something for the holidays? Perhaps she will make her earrings.
Luna still needs to get Professor Snape a gift. It must be an extraordinary gift, as he was the only one to keep her sane while she waited to hear if her friend was deceased. He had sat with her, holding her hand, and tried reading her fortune from her palm. “If you trace this line all the way to your wrist you will see,” he had begun, “that you and your friends will live very long lives indeed.” The attempt seemed out of character, and Luna had caught him awkwardly fidgeting his left pinky finger; a tell that he is most uncomfortable. But it had brought out a smile through her tears. Severus Snape is quite lovely, most lovely. The way he convinced Pomphrey to allow Luna to stay with Neville throughout the night had Luna wanting to kiss him as well. Though, from his reaction to a mere hug, Luna did not see a kiss in the cards.
It is now 3am and Luna cannot sleep from worry.
“What were you doing out there so late at night?” she asks the sleeping Neville, all too aware that he cannot answer. Harry had told her stories of exploring the forest at night in his past, and Luna had found a pattern: people out and about in the forest past curfew were typically up to no good. She can believe that her Neville went to feed his Snare, but then, why was the other wizard there? Why was her Neville crushed, and what news did he have for her the day before the winter ball? Luna peals a nail bed back too far and the corner of her thumb begins to bleed.
Luna knows her friend, just as he knows her. If this news was something he felt he could only share with her then it was dangerously important. Luna also knows that her friend, much like her, journals everything. In fact, journaling was a hobby they had started together. It began with journaling the secret places Neville’s toad Trever would disappear off to. It would help them keep track of Trever’s favorite spots so that they would always be able to find him when he eventually ran away. Journaling then helped them keep track of their classes, inventions, and anything that caught their fancy. She knows that Neville was documenting his progress with the Devil’s Snare . . .
With this last thought Luna makes a decision. She stands from her perch to walk over to Neville and leans in close. “I don’t know if you can hear me, but I must apologies now,” she begins sincerely, “ I am going to break into your office and take your journals. I must you see, to find out who hurt you. If I find anything too private or smutty I promise to keep it to myself. I only need to know why your hurt, and I think you’ve got the reason written down somewhere.” Luna then leans over and places a kiss on her friend’s cast cheek. “I promise not to judge you in the slightest.”
And with that Luna is off with her latest mission.
*********************************************************************
Severus Snape stands over a caldron and slowly pours out Neville’s memory. It’s translucent blue swirls and Snape cannot help the sneer that takes over his face. Never in his life would he have imagined himself stepping into the mind of Neanderthal Neville Longbottom. It was enough to have to take interest in the boy’s education, but now to take interest in his personal life?
“If the wizard was trying to save him from the Snare, then why did they run away when I arrived? It makes no sense.”
Drat the Lovegood girl and her way of buggering her nose into places where it does not belong. He sighs, long with effort. ‘This does not have to be so painful,’ he attempts at a self-pep talk ‘just get in and then get out. Simple. Effective.’ He taps his pinky once on the cauldron, twice, and then tilts his head downwards into the pooled memory. Snape can feel a tug over his body, and then the familiar feeling of falling occurs until he lands in a room full of plants. He is in the herbology class room. He stands before a chalk board, and watches Luna Lovegood administer an ace bandage around Neville Longbottom’s leg. They are very close to one another, and Snape must bite his tongue to keep still. It is not like he could tare the two apart anyway. This is a memory, he reminds himself, stop being such a prat.
“Is this mysterious plant the reason why you can’t go to Pomphrey?” Asks Miss. Lovegood a she tenderly cares for Neville’s beaten leg.
“If I went to Pomphrey there would be questions and I promised Professor Sprout I’d not tell anyone. It’s a baby Devils Snare. For whatever reason the Order of the Phoenix asked me and Professor Sprout to raise it. It got a little exited is all, when I watered it, and grabbed my leg. It didn’t mean anything by it though, doesn’t know its own strength, the silly bugger.”
Snape furrows his brow at this interaction. Keeping a Devil Snare secret? The last time the school raised one in secrecy, they had planted it as a guard in order to prevent the dark lord from claiming the sorcerer stone as his own. The plant does not have much use, other than torturing and holding captives within a sensory deprivation state. Snape had used one as an interrogation tactic back in his youth. A good Snare always did the trick, and effectively. What does the order need with one now?
The memory disperses and a new scene fades in like mist. Snape now finds himself sitting in a burgundy lounge chair next to a long burgundy couch placed in front of a roaring fire. When he looks around he can see flags hung around the space featuring a golden lion. He is in the Gryffindor common room, and wants to take a scolding shower. Mr. Longbottom sits on the couch to his right and is speaking to the fire. Snape investigates and finds that he can make out Harry Potters face from within the flames.
“Ginny won’t speak with you, huh?”
Neville shakes his head in shame. “No, and the Order has me on suspension for talking to a potential suspect.”
Snape cannot help but smirk. From the way Longbottom’s nose bends unnaturally, this memory must be taking place after the dimwit had informed him of project pure blood. It is good to know he had more consequences for his treatment of Lovegood than just a broken nose. An incident that Snape does not regret.
Harry seems to nod his head. “I heard. You know I can only talk to you as a friend, not as a member? Right?”
Neville sighs, “yes, yes I know. I just—what should I do with the Devile Snare? Its quite big now and it can’t stay in the forbidden forest forever you know. Should I hand it over to the Order now? Or do you still need more time?”
Harry seems confused. “Time for what?”
Neville pauses, and then “time to set up a space for the Deville Snare.”
Harry looks at Neville as if he has lost his mind. “Neville, what would the order need with a Deville Snare?” suddenly Harry looks behind him as if a commotion is occurring where he is based, “Blast it all. I’ve got to go Neville, I’m sorry. Hey they will turn around, especially Luna. She never stays upset for long.” And with that Harry is gone from the flames. Neville continues to sit there, however, staring. He looks pasty with concern.
The memory changes once again and Snape has been placed in another office. The walls are lined with books and in the middle of the cramped space is a desk with a simple wooden chair for visitors. The only reason Snape can place who this office belongs to is from the name tag which sits on the desk and reads ‘Professor Sprout.’ Neville Longbottom sits on the floor of the office with an open book, an open note book, and an open file in front of him. Longbottom reads the book with surprised sadness in his eyes.
“No, she wouldn’t. She wouldn’t.” He whispers to himself. Snape leans forward to scan the documents in front of the panicked boy. The book that Neville reads details ways in which one can torture an individual with a Devil Snare. There are highlighted pieces, specifically on how this type of torture can affect an individual. When Snape looks to the opened file, a file on project pure blood and its form of torture, he sees that there are highlighted pieces to its after effects on its victims as well. Snape then notices that the project pure blood’s form of torture, and the Devil Snare’s form of torture are very, very similar in how it affects the mind and the body.
Snape suddenly has the icy indication that he knows exactly who has been triggering the reformed death eater murders, and he does not like the answer.
The memory is changing once more and from what Snape can gather, a last time. Neville stands in a clearing in front of a large Deville Snare with a golden vile in one hand. ‘I’m sorry friend,’ he sobs. Snape believes the boy intends to destroy his creation.
“And what exactly do you think you’re doing?” The voice is familiar in its sound, but deeply unfamiliar in its tone. Its tone is dangerous, a warning. Neville freezes and slowly turns around. Before Longbottom is Professor Sprout, silver curls peeking from out of her hood. She looks massively angry.
“You know I have to,” Neville answers with disappointment, “I can’t allow you to turn and hurt people with him anymore.”
Sprout slowly shakes her head. “I liked you, you were one of the good ones.” And with this statement she flicks her wrist and Neville is thrown into the air in a body binding curse. He screams. Snape can hear the boys bones crunching, and if the professor had not been desensitized in war he might have gagged from the sound. The crushing goes on for sometime.
“Stop, please” Neville begs, not expecting an answer or mercy. But then there is.
“Neville?” The woods call back to his plea in concern, and Sprout is so surprised by it she losses her concentration on the spell and drops Neville onto the Deville Snare which drags him into its body for protection.
Neville’s last memory fades and Snape can feel his body being tugged from out of the caldron. The professor stumbles backward and must regain his bearings once he lands in his office. Whisky—he thinks to himself—fire whiskey. Snape has had plenty tonight but is in need of more. He stumbles his way to his liquor cabinet and grabs for the bottle, taking a swig. Professor Sprout has been triggering pure blood students with the Devil Snare to kill reformed death eaters, and now she knows Luna Lovegood is on to her.
Will Snape ever find peace and quiet?