The Sugar Quill
Author: Elucreh  Story: Take My Leaves of You  Chapter: Default
The distribution of this story is for personal use only. Any other form of distribution is prohibited without the consent of the author.

For: Voleuse and the Harry-a-thon

Disclaimer: Not!Mine, Not!Mine. You should be able to tell.
Author’s Notes: Zillions and billions of thank-yous to Ady, who makes my writing possible, and Crystal, who betas beautifully.

 

PLEASE NOTE: This is the sequel to Omnia Vincit Amore. It only makes sense if you’ve read that, or don’t mind not having the scene set.

Take My Leaves of You


I knew there was somebody somewhere
Like me alone in the dark
--At the Beginning, Anastacia


Harry couldn’t seem to stop himself stealing glances at his best friends, who had come back from their argument holding hands and blushing every time someone gave them a significant look. Of course, as soon as they had returned to the room with shy, pleased expressions on their faces, he had sent them the broadest grin he could manage…he wanted them to know immediately that he couldn’t be happier for them. But now that the focus had shifted from them, and theirs from him—he hadn’t missed their first anxious, inquiring looks—he couldn’t stop his surreptitious surveillance. They were glowing, both of them…wrapped up in each other, even when they were talking to other people. He couldn’t help wishing that he had found someone he could care about that deeply. He shook his head slightly and refocused on his conversation with Padma Patil.

“—being silly, Harry. Just because Trelawney’s a few leaves short of a teabag doesn’t mean her methodology is flawed,” Padma was arguing. “One unsound practitioner does not a cracked practice make. Just because one priest argues for the death of all infidels doesn’t mean that all religion is a load of pixie dust, does it?”

“Oh, come on, Padma…Divination is so vague it’s not a practice at all! If you predicted a flood because you thought you saw a hippo and there’s a drought instead, all you have to do is claim your second choice was a camel! Asking a lot of wet leaves to predict what’s going to happen next Tuesday is like—asking a Galleon to convince a dragon not to attack!”

Er, Harry—

“Yes, Hermione?”

“Actually, that has happened.”

”…What?”

“Remember I told you the school’s motto was chosen when Godric Gryffindor tried to tickle a sleeping dragon?”

“Ye-es…”

“The dragon—a Hebridean black—followed him to Hogwarts. The MacFusty clan owed Slytherin a favour and, in token, had given him a Galleon with the clan seal. Slytherin showed the dragon the Galleon and it stopped attacking.”

There was a short silence. Harry shot Hermione a stunned glare before turning back to his argument.   “Okay, bad example. I still say that Divination is cracked.”

“Well, how about a demonstration?” Padma was looking up at him through her eyelashes in a way he found unsettling.

“What kind of demonstration?”

“Simple soul leaf-reading. Five or ten of you drink a cup of tea, marking it where I won’t see. I’ve got a pretty good grasp of Divination, and this is one of my best techniques. I’ll read your cups and, based on my reading, we can guess whose cup it is. If the traits I describe fit the person, it’s a mark in favour of my argument. If not, point to you.”

“Done.”


Quickly they rounded up a few more people and trooped into the kitchen to make tea. Tonks and Lupin were standing there, talking quietly, but they seemed to find the proposal amusing…they, too quickly gulped the scalding liquid, marked their cups with Kray’s Olde Erasable All-Surface Pens, and put them on the table to drain. Lupin muttered a quick incantation to randomly sort the cups, and Padma began.

 

“Let’s see…intelligence—

“You’ll have to give us more than that, Padma!” Ernie laughed. “We all think it applies to us!”

“Tenacity—tends to panic in dangerous situations—“ Ron shot Hermione a sideways look—“defender of the weak—need to prove him or herself—susceptible to public opinion, but hides it well—in the recent past has been injured—and had a revelation dealing with personal relationships. Any guesses?”

“Hermione,” Harry and Ron said, simultaneously. Everyone chuckled—and the laughter grew as she reached forward and claimed her cup.

“Try another one, Padma,” her sister urged. “That was interesting.”

“Let’s see—humble—good listener—tends to blame him or herself for the things that are wrong in others’ lives—compassionate—distances him or herself from personal relationships—lifelong suffering—recent loss of a family member—and physically very attractive.”

There was a brief silence. She sighed. “Well—the mark is four circles linked by double lines. Who is it?”

Professor Lupin was startled. “Er—that’s me, actually.”

“Right again,” Tonks remarked—and blushed when he shot her a glance.

“Okay—Padma took pity on the young Auror—“let’s try this one. A lot of fierce, blind loyalty—sense of isolation—heavy responsibility since a very young age—a lot of public control over him or herself—doesn’t like to take orders, but takes advice if it’s presented as a suggestion—protective of those who show even small kindnesses—recently had a revelation in how to deal with the world—

“Harry.”

“Harry, of course.”

“Harry.”

“Who else could it be?”

Harry grimaced—it did sound dreadfully like him. “I marked it with three overlapping circles.”

“Then—this isn’t yours.” Even Padma sounded puzzled. “It’s a flower—very pretty for just a casual doodle.”

“Oh—that’s mine!” Luna leaned forward and took the cup. Everyone was blinking in perplexity or shuffling their feet.

“Well…how about this one?” Padma distracted the group from their embarrassment by picking up a new teacup and starting to deduce a warm heart, lack of tact—Harry wasn’t paying attention. He thought about the things that Padma had listed: blind loyalty (he suspected that Luna’s defence of her father’s paper was rather like his own attitude towards Hagrid’s classes), protective of those who showed small kindnesses (what was her willingness to fight for him if not that?), public control of herself (he recalled her incredible wispiness in the face of all provocation), a sense of isolation (well, she was, wasn’t she? Whom had he found hanging up a list of missing possessions at the Leaving Feast?). 

Just then, Ron flushed dark red as he grabbed his cup from Padma, almost growling. Harry looked at him, concerned, but Hermione pulled him down to her level, whispering in his ear, and he breathed in and smiled at her, his face losing its colour. Harry remembered his earlier wistful thoughts…could he find someone who knew how to handle his own moods, his urges and temper?


He suddenly remembered Luna’s calm admonishments as he had snapped at Ginny and screamed at Hermione. If he’d known her well enough to listen, rather than ignoring her…he suspected it might have had more effect curbing his destructive impulses than any other method. And hadn’t she just broken that horrible, horrible tension when Lavender and Parvati brought up the war?

As Tonks claimed her cup, he turned to consider Luna in this new light. He watched her wide blue eyes as they watched Padma’s skilled rotation of the new teacup. He studied her still mouth, her hair twisted up and skewered with a rather ratty grey quill. He let his eyes skim over her unmistakably feminine form. She really was rather pretty, he thought.

Suddenly, Mrs. Weasley could be heard calling that curfews were approaching. The teenage crowd began to shuffle towards the fireplace, leaving Tonks and Lupin with one another in the kitchen. Harry went to stand beside them and accept birthday handshakes and hugs from his guests before they tossed in their Floo powder and stepped into the flames. Padma surprised him with a kiss on the cheek and a whispered, “I’m so sorry I didn’t get to read your future, Harry.”

Hermione shot a narrow-eyed, protective look at Padma’s back before she stepped up to take her turn. “Happy birthday, Harry,” she murmured, before leaning in a little closer and whispering, “I think Luna would love it if…well, just—don’t be afraid to go for it, okay?”

He blinked at her. “Um—thanks, Hermione. You’re still coming to stay with us next week?”

“Yes…I’ll see you then, all right? Bye.” She flung her powder into the fireplace and stepped in.

Harry had plenty of time to consider this while he went through most of the Hufflepuff part of the DA. Then Luna stepped up to wait for Susan Bones to disappear. “Happy birthday, Harry.” She reached out a hand to shake.

Harry couldn’t let her pull away immediately—he held on and looked straight into her eyes as he “Thanks, Luna.” Her eyes had widened when he stepped back, and she said her goodbye through a few rapid blinks—and a tiny smile. Inspired by a gesture he’d seen Lupin make towards Tonks, he grabbed a handful of Floo powder and flung it in the fire, gesturing towards the hearth. She shyly bobbed her head in thanks, stepped in, and stated firmly, “Greco Atlantis.”

Harry felt a foolish grin on his face as he turned from the fireplace. Luna had been the last guest—but the way Ginny was watching him with amused little creases playing around the corners of her mouth.

“What?”

***********************************************

When Luna stepped into the parlour of Greco Atlantis, her father’s house, her body was humming with the pleasure of Harry’s long look and parting courtesy. She’d been acutely aware of him since she’d first arrived at
Grimmauld Place to see him greeting guests by the hearth. Her breath had caught at the sight of him, fire flickering on his dark hair and an unusual smile on his face.

She’d expected him to be in much worse shape—at the Leaving Feast, he’d had dark circles under his eyes and hadn’t looked as though he ever intended to smile again. She’d been so relieved to see feeling stir in him again—she was used to pity, and if it got him out of the slump he was in, she’d take it gladly.

Almost without realising, she’d arrived in her room and begun pulling off her shoes. Her fingers were tugging on the buckle of her other shoe. She finished removing them and tossed them in the closet, her mind reverting to the Leaving Feast conversation. As she began to pull off her shirt, she let out a little snort. That hero complex really was at the bottom of his psyche; if the chance to help someone was what had pulled him out of the depression Sirius’s death had pushed him into.

She reached for the hook on the side of her skirt, smiling a little. It really was rather adorable, his instant jump to defend anyone he perceived as being wronged. Almost as adorable as his fierce loyalty to Hagrid…his unexpected but sweet politeness about the Quibbler, despite Hermione’s aversion to it…and the intensity of the hope in his eyes when he’d asked her if she thought he’d see his godfather again. Not to mention the way he looked on a broom.

Grinning, she slipped her worn nightgown over her head and curled up in bed, focusing on the sweet bashfulness on his face when he’d opened the Floo for her as the memory most likely to bring sweet dreams.


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