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Academic Understandings

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Luz was sitting on a pillow next to Amity in her secret library hideout, enjoying the relative silence, save for the semi-consistent scratches of pencil on paper. It felt good to have a moment to relax.

A week prior, Luz had gone through the entire ordeal of being taken hostage by Lilith, losing Eda, fighting the emperor, then getting everyone back safely to the owl house, at the cost of Eda’s magic. Luz had spent a lot of the past week juggling school work while also now trying to teach Eda what little she knew about casting using glyphs. Combined with Eda still getting used to living day to day life without access to regular magic, and having to figure out exactly what to do with Lilith… it had been a very long week, with mixed results.

Needless to say, Luz was more than a little relieved to be able to have some free time with Amity, and the hidden room they were in gave them space to hang out without interruptions, at least for a little while. Amity had also been enthusiastic about getting to spend time with Luz, and she kind of felt bad. She’d not been able to make much time for her friends recently with how much had happened, and Amity still had a cast on her leg from her injury during the whole grudgby fiasco. At least she was able to hobble around on crutches now, but still, Luz couldn't help but feel a tiny bit guilty.

Most of their afternoon had been spent by Amity helping Luz catch up on some homework. She hadn’t quite understood the material, but having Amity explain a few concepts had allowed her to grasp them better. After a while though, Luz had found it nearly impossible to concentrate on the work, and Amity agreed that they should allow some time for a break. Luz jumped at the chance to call an impromptu sort-of Azura book club meeting, and to her delight, Amity had gone along with it.

While Luz was busy absentmindedly sketching random Azura doodles, Amity seemed to be drawing something of her own, but Luz couldn't see what it was from the angle she was sitting at. She glanced over for a moment, and saw Amity scowling at the paper in front of her, brows furrowed. Luz had to suppress a giggle - she looked anything but inditimating, she’d sooner describe the expression as goofy. It was kind of cute, as if a bunny was attempting to look scary.

She knew that, realistically, Amity could be dangerous if she wanted to be, but Luz couldn’t help but make the comparison in her mind.

Amity slumped in her seat, sighing loudly, then violently scratched out something with her pencil. Luz considered for a moment if it was worth it to ask what was wrong, then concluded it would be. If it was a problem with inspiration, maybe she could help! Or at least give pointers.

“You okay?” she asked, breaking the relative silence.

“Huh?” Amity blinked up at her, confusion clear on her face as she took a few moments to register what Luz had said. “Oh. Sorry, no, it’s just…” she looked back at the page and frowned. “This isn’t coming out right no matter what I do.”

Luz bit back the immediate bi joke that nearly slipped out on instinct - not the time - and put her own drawing down before crossing her legs, giving Amity her full attention. “Well, maybe I can help! What are you tryna do?”

Amity sighed again, fiddling with her hair. “I wanted to try redrawing the moment where Azura calls out the challenge for a witches' duel, but I keep just-” her eyes shot towards Luz for a second, then quickly back down. “She doesn’t… look how I want.”

“Hmm…” Luz absentmindedly rubbed her chin with her hand, contemplating what kind of advice she could offer. She was distracted from her train of thought as she watched Amity keep fidgeting with her hair, apparently finding a tangled bit and attempting to de-knot it before giving up with a small growl. She reached back towards her hair tie and let it loose, her hair falling down. Luz felt her own eyes widen.

She came to the realization that she had never actually seen Amity with her hair down before, and in that moment Luz found she couldn't look away. She was supposed to come up with a helpful answer, but it was like she suddenly couldn’t think, as if all trains of thought were put on pause without her permission. Luz was vaguely aware that she was staring, but it didn’t register in her mind enough to stop.

Amity looked so different with her hair down, and yet also… didn't? That didn't make sense, but her brain couldn't seem to come up with anything better. Her hair, usually strictly separated between the different shades of green, faded into one another, and it made Luz want to feel it. The multiple coloured space-themed lights above their heads left Amity in a gentle glow, and while Luz hadn’t really noticed before they helped to highlight Amity’s features. She was… pretty. Luz felt her heart fluttering a little, her breath caught.

She blinked.

That was… new.

Amity turned towards her and met her eyes, and they both froze. Luz was definitely caught staring, and Amity had apparently not expected Luz to be looking directly at her. Luz saw Amity blush, and she thanked the fact that her darker skin made it more difficult to see when she was blushing, if only by a little, for she could feel her own face heat up a bit.

“Uh-” Amity started, speaking up. “Is everything alright?”

“Yeah!” Luz replied both too quickly, and louder than necessary. “Totally alright! One-hundred and ten percent fine!” she smiled, but she was sure it didn’t look natural. What was her problem, why was she suddenly acting all weird? It was like her brain was fried. Luz didn’t get it - it was just Amity!

“… Okay, if you’re sure.” Amity sounded uncertain, but to Luz’s relief, she let it go.

“Yep!” Luz replied, popping the ‘p’. Desperately, she tried to get her brain to work again. What had they been talking about before? Azura, and- Amity’s drawing!

“So uh,” she started again, willing herself to focus, “what's different with what you're sketching out versus what's in your head? What's the theme for the scene?” she wiggled her fingers as she said the last bit, adding some flair.

Amity seemed to straighten up at that, diverting her attention back to the page in front of her. Luz almost sighed with relief.

She listened as Amity went on to detail what the scene meant in relation to the book and the characters, and where they stood in that arc. Luz knew all of it, but she didn’t mind - she liked hearing Amity talk, so she wasn’t about to interrupt.

She sat there quietly, putting one arm in her lap and resting her chin on the other as Amity spoke. She did her best to concentrate on what the other girl was saying, but she was having trouble not getting distracted. In the apparent surprise over catching Luz staring at her - and her brain almost frying in the process, ugh - Amity had forgotten to tie her hair back up again, and Luz’s eyes kept being drawn to it like a moth to a flame. She felt herself zoning out of the conversation, doing her best to memorize what Amity looked like with her hair down. It was nice, it made her look more relaxed, more casual, her hair framing her face more than it usually would. Briefly, she wondered if she’d be able to sketch how Amity looked like this, if she’d let her, or if she’d have to do it from memory alone.

Amity waved her hand in front of Luz’s face, causing her to jump to attention, breaking her out of her thoughts. Damn her brain, she’d completely tuned out what Amity had said!

“Uh… sorry, what was that?” Luz - badly - attempted to regain the conversation, not even trying to hide that she hadn’t been paying close attention. Not to what Amity was saying, anyways.

Amity scowled at her, stern expression on her face, but it only lasted a moment before it fell. She sighed, looking disheartened. “I’m sorry.” she said, “I’m probably being boring talking about this.”

“What? No!!” Luz leaned forwards, her own worries forgotten, and took one of Amity’s hands in her own. “You’re not being boring, I love hearing you talk! It’s just- I’ve never seen you with your hair down before and it’s kinda, really distracting, that’s all!”

Luz wasn’t sure why it felt like she was admitting to something important, but she pushed the weird feeling aside. The last thing she wanted was for Amity to mistakenly think she was boring her, assuring her friend that she wasn’t was much more important than some odd feeling in her gut.

“You…” Amity paused for a few seconds, and Luz could see the gears in her head turning. She looked Luz in the eye as a blush spread across her face. Amity took her hand away, and Luz let her, hoping she hadn't somehow made a misstep. “You were distracted by- me? Because- my hair’s not tied up?”

She sounded like she didn’t believe her, which frankly, Luz thought was ridiculous. Why would she lie?

“Yes! I’m sorry you thought I didn’t wanna listen to you.” she said.

“Oh, no, that’s- it’s okay!” Luz watched as Amity started to fiddle with her hair again, becoming even redder as she laughed. Luz wondered if playing with her hair was something Amity did when she was nervous - or maybe uncomfortable? She hoped that wasn’t the case, she'd feel terrible if she'd made Amity feel like that.

Right as Luz considered double checking that she hadn’t actually done anything to make Amity distressed - and preparing to apologize profusely if that was the case - Amity made a motion to tuck back a large portion of her hair, and Luz noticed something that immediately grabbed her attention.

“WAIT!” she cried out, making the other girl jump. “Amity, you have an undercut?!”

“I- uh, yes?” she replied, blinking at Luz with an expression she couldn’t quite read.

She was not deterred in her excitement, continuing without missing a beat. “Ohmygosh I guess I’ve never seen your hair from an angle before - THAT’S SO COOL! Can I touch it?” Luz raised her hand, as though starting to reach out for it, but looked to Amity for a response first. Whether or not social rules were complicated and confusing, she was not about to touch someone’s hair with permission.

“Wh-what, you? Me? Touching- my hair?” Amity seemed… anxious? Luz noted that her face had gotten redder too.

“Oh- I’m sorry!” Luz couldn’t quite discern what Amity’s reaction meant, but she backed off immediately to be safe, putting her hand back in her lap. “Is that… not okay? If you don’t want me to-”

“No!” Amity interrupted her, putting her hand up as if to stop Luz. “I mean, no, it’s okay! It’s totally, definitely okay if you wanna run your hands through my hair! IT’S GREAT, IN FACT.”

Luz paused for a moment, trying to judge whether her reaction was genuine or not.

“… Are you… sure?” she asked.

“YUP! Definitely!” Amity replied, intermittently tapping her lap with both hands.

Luz was hesitant, given how erratic Amity was acting. But then again, she thought, she’s kinda been acting like that a lot lately, so… maybe it’s fine? She had said it was fine, but still, Luz wanted to be sure.

She scooted over a bit, testing the waters to see if Amity backed away or seemed clearly uncomfortable. She wasn’t looking directly at Luz, though from where she was she could tell Amity’s face was red. Slowly, she reached her hand over, but Amity didn't flinch or try to back off, and so Luz put her hand on Amity’s scalp.

“Whoa…” Luz breathed, barely registering that she even said anything at all. She was pretty sure she heard Amity audibly suck in a bit of air, but didn't pull away. If anything, Amity leaned into her touch.

Luz’s first thought was right, Amity’s undercut felt really cool, both smooth and kinda spiky at the same time. But the rest of her hair just felt so… nice. It was way softer than she’d expected - maybe she used some kind of product from the boiling isles Luz hadn’t discovered, or one Eda didn’t have? Eda’s hair was basically a wild mane at all times - though whether that was natural or the curse played a part Luz wasn’t sure. Her own hair was just kind of scruffy, but as she put her hands through Amity’s, the best descriptor she could think of was that it was smooth, like silk.

Luz realized a bit belatedly that she had only technically asked if she could feel Amity’s undercut, not play with her hair, but… Amity didn’t seem to mind, so she kept going. It also just somehow felt right. Something comfortable passed between the two of them.

Amity started to lean into Luz’s touch, relaxing half in her lap. Luz held her breath, her thoughts spiraling because wow, Amity was leaning against her, completely trusting, and her hair felt so soft. It came to Luz’s attention then that Amity was close enough that Luz could smell her shampoo - was it… lemon? Luz couldn’t help but smile to herself, amused at the irony. The same fluttering warmth in her stomach that she’d felt when Amity had first let her hair down returned, starting small but blossoming out as she looked at the girl in front of her. She swallowed. Did Luz-

Her train of thought was broken when Amity shifted a little, and Luz froze, fearing she’d done something wrong and Amity was trying to move away, before realizing that wasn’t the case. Her mistake was only clear a second too late though, as Amity then tensed, and Luz sensed the calm spell between was broken. Even then, Amity didn’t move, and neither did Luz, both stuck and unsure what to do.

Technically, Luz had just asked to feel her undercut, not whether she could play with Amity’s hair. She tried to ignore the heat on her cheeks as that thought crossed her mind, especially when she found she didn’t actually want to stop… She’d just- make sure!

“Hey Amity?” she started, finding her voice unconsciously quieter than before.

“… Yes Luz?” Amity responded, tilting her head ever so slightly towards her.

“This isn’t… too weird, is it? Do you want me to stop?” as she said it, Luz started to pull her hands away, just a little.

WAIT-” Amity reacted quickly, turning around and grabbing Luz’s hand as she started to back off. Luz found herself staring at Amity, who was still holding her hand, their faces surprisingly close. Luz could feel herself blushing as she watched Amity’s own cheeks grow more colourful. They both stayed like that for another second before Amity broke the trance, continuing to speak.

“I- uh. I mean! I don’t. Want you to stop, that is. You can keep going, feel free!” she put her hand down, letting go of Luz’s, and clutched her chest, turning back around. Luz felt the loss of contact almost immediately, but pushed the feeling down.

It took Luz half a second more to remember she should probably give an answer.

“Oh.”

No, more words than that.

“Okay.”

Luz felt mild irritation bubbling at her apparent inability to think clearly, but did her best to let it go. She put her hands into Amity’s hair once again, and felt her relax almost immediately. Had she been tense? Nervous? Luz hoped it wasn’t because of something she’d done.

Doing this was just… so relaxing. It just felt right, the two of them like this, it was like Luz’s worries melted away. The warmth Luz had felt in her chest returned once again, and she decided in that moment she liked the feeling a lot.

An idea popped into her head then, and she considered it. She didn’t want to make things weird, but then, Amity could just decline if she didn’t want it.

“Hey Amity?” she asked quietly.

“Hm?” she responded, and Luz smiled at how serene she sounded. It was such a change from how Amity had acted when they first met, (granted, in wildly different circumstances), Luz couldn’t help but feel a little giddy. It emboldened her, asking her next question with a bit more confidence.

“Can I try braiding your hair? Mine’s been cut short for years, and I know yours isn’t super long, but I’ve never really had a friend willing to let me do it,” Or any friends at all, her thoughts interrupted briefly, “and I’ve always wanted to try, so…”

“Of course you can.”

Luz was surprised for half a second with how fast the response came back, and for a moment she swore she could see a similar expression mirrored in Amity, before Luz burst into a wide grin. When Amity glanced over at her, Luz saw her expression quickly turn into a smile of her own, tinged with something Luz found she couldn’t quite decipher. It was almost like admiration, but… something more genuine.

So, Luz positioned herself properly behind Amity, making sure they were both comfortable, especially given Amity’s cast. She did her best to braid her hair with the limited knowledge about braiding she possessed. Luz found herself starting to talk while she worked. She couldn’t help it, she just wanted to fill the silence with something, but Amity didn’t seem to mind, so she didn’t stop.

She spoke about how her mother used to braid her hair all the time as a child, before she elected she’d wanted to learn how to braid it herself. It had taken her months, but she finally was able to do it, and somehow decided that she wanted to be the one to braid her own hair from then on. It had ended disastrously, and soon thereafter she’d decided she wouldn’t have her hair in anything much longer than a pixie cut. But, that also meant that her hard-learned braiding skills had gone to waste, much to her chagrin.

Amity laughed at her story, and it was a melodious sound that made Luz’s heart skip a beat. “At least you get to put those skills to use now.” Amity said.

As Luz continued to methodically run her hands through Amity’s hair, she silently agreed it was a fair trade.

Eventually, Luz finished, creating a sort-of french braid in Amity’s hair, using her tie to keep it in place. It wasn’t perfect, but it was serviceable.

“Done!” she announced triumphantly.

Amity reached up to feel her hair, then turned around to look back at Luz, smiling a little. “How do I look?” she asked.

Luz couldn’t help it, she simply stared at Amity for a moment, transfixed. Had Amity always looked this way? Yes, her brain answered, she had. But that couldn’t be right, Luz would have noticed before. The butterflies were back in her stomach, and the ceiling lights Amity or whoever had strung up in the room gave the impression that Amity was practically glowing. Her genuine smile at Luz, the one she’d only seen appear a few times but one that Luz treasured whenever she saw it, the way her now-braided hair made her look nothing short of pretty, it was all so much. Luz felt the rhythmic beat of her heart in her chest as warmth spread outwards from it.

It all happened in one short moment and suddenly, things all clicked into place. The butterflies Luz had been feeling, why she’d been so excited to be able to spend the day with Amity, to be around her, why grom had left Luz feeling a million different things she’d been unable to properly wrap her head around - not after everything else that had happened that night. Little things she hadn’t really taken note of before, but were quickly bathed in a new light.

All those thoughts swirled through her mind in but half a second as her brain fit the pieces together with a quiet, Oh, but before she could think more of it, or consider what she was doing, she found herself answering Amity’s question.

“Beautiful.” she replied honestly.

Amity’s expression shifted to surprise, and Luz panicked internally for a moment, feeling clear heat on her cheeks.

“I - oh. Well. Thank you, Luz!” she responded, then laughed, and Luz could only hope she hadn’t just made things truly awkward.

They were next to each other, and Luz could clearly see that Amity was blushing. She didn’t even need to look in a mirror to know in that moment her own face was definitely visibly red, currently feeling like it was on fire. Amity was looking at her with an expression that made her heart flutter, and Luz found herself glancing down at Amity’s lips. They looked so soft, and they both so close, if Luz wanted to she could easily just lean in and- oh boy. Oh no. This was very not good.

Mind racing for something to say, to prevent this potential disaster-in-the-making, Luz quickly blurted out the first thing that came to mind.

“Of course! Friends are honest with friends, right?”

Oh, Luz wanted to smack herself. She put her hand to the back of her neck, looking away in an attempt to dispel… whatever the hell she’d just caused.

If she hadn’t, perhaps she would have seen Amity’s sad, somewhat pained expression.

“Yes, of course!” Amity replied, a little too quickly, “Friends. Best friends!”

Luz actively felt herself digging her own grave, yet still replied with, “Yup! Naturally! The bestest!”

The silence that followed was heavy and awkward, and they could feel it. Luz was both reeling from the revelation she had just had, still feeling like her heart might burst out of her chest, and then the subsequent idiotic desicions her brain had made up on the fly. If this continued, it was going to make future conversations with Amity… difficult.

Both girls jumped as Luz’s phone went off in her bag, signaling an alarm she’d made just before coming over.

“Oh, shoot!” she cried, cringing as she awkwardly got out from where she was sitting and going over to rifle her phone out of the bag, turning the alarm off. She’d only had so much free time that afternoon, so she’d set an alarm for when it would get a bit late, meaning she’d have to leave to return back to the owl house. Hesitantly, she looked back towards Amity, who had grabbed her sketchbook and was holding it in her lap. Luz actively forced herself to focus on something other than her hair, still held up in the braid Luz had made. She rubbed one of her arms, a bit of tension still in the air.

“I, uh…” she started, but then dropped off. What did she want to say?

“You have to go?” Amity asked, giving Luz a smile that didn’t quite reach her eyes.

Luz latched onto the topic like a lifeline. “Yeah! Sorry for having to go all of a sudden-” Luz’s eyes widened. “Ah, man! We didn’t even get to finish Azura book club! And I totally didn’t help you with your drawing.” she turned her face into a pout, strapping her bag over her shoulder.

Amity chuckled. “That’s okay, I’m glad we were able to spend any time at all. I’ll figure the drawing out somehow.”

“If you say so.” she stood up straight and looked anywhere but directly at Amity, not wanting to lose her goal. She no longer trusted her brain at that moment.

Heading towards the door, she waved her hand behind her. “Thanks for the help with schoolwork, bye Amity!”

“Uh, Luz?”

She immediately turned back, one hand on the secret door. Her heart skipped a little as she locked eyes with Amity, but she forced herself to not speak. She knew witches weren’t psychic - to her knowledge, at least - but that didn’t stop Luz from worrying, briefly, if Amity somehow knew what she’d been thinking before.

Amity opened her mouth, as if to say something, but then closed it again, brows scrunching a little. Finally, her expression relaxed, and she spoke. “Thanks for braiding my hair.”

Luz brightened at that. “Of course!” She tried to stop herself, not wanting to push her luck, but found that she kept speaking regardless of the alarm bells going off in her head. “Maybe I can try again next time? Practice makes perfect, after all!”

She wouldn’t exactly mind doing that again, but that wasn’t what she’d wanted to admit to! Shut up, brain!

“Yeah. Next time.” Amity smiled for real this time, in the way that made warmth spread into Luz’s chest. Her worries melted away, and she had to physically stop herself from doing something really stupid, instead opening the door with a large smile plastered on her face.

Luz exited out of the small room, double checking that no one was around before fully opening the door. She quickly made her leave, heading straight back in the direction of the owl house, her thoughts full with everything that had just happened.

She made it there without much trouble, not letting anything distract her for too long. It was still a fair walk, but she was used to it by now. Luz entered the house just before sundown, saying a brief greeting to Hooty before promptly shutting the door behind her. Without waiting for anyone or anything to divert her attention elsewhere, she made a b-line towards her room, closing the door, then flopping down face-first onto her mattress and using her pillow to muffle a scream.

Turning onto her back, she hugged her arms into her chest, giggling with what was probably a ridiculously goofy grin on her face.

Amity. She, Luz Noceda, had a crush on Amity Blight.

She had a crush.

And her bisexual disaster self had, in the minutes after having a revelation about said crush, proceeded to call her beautiful, considered kissing her, then proclaimed what great friends they were!

Luz groaned, still smiling, and laughed at herself.

Oh, she was so fucked.