Originally written for Melody_Jade for Chocolate Box, February 2016. Cross-posted from AO3.
Ron drifted around the Burrow, feeling lost. He'd always complained about the house being too cramped, but today it was entirely too empty, with most of his brothers moved out, and Percy and Dad at work at the Ministry, and Fred-
He firmly forced his mind away from that. Awful as Mum's too-cheerful façade was, it was almost better than Percy or George's unrelenting despair. He wouldn't let himself slip into that kind of gloom.
Harry and Ginny had— well, they had said they were going to sort through some of the old things at Number 12 Grimmauld Place. And if that wasn't all they were doing, well— Ron was very firmly not thinking about that. Hermione was reading in Ginny's room, having declared that she had 'spent quite enough time around people,' and she needed 'time to herself once in a while, thank you very much.'
Ron was almost desperate enough to ask his mum for something to do, even if it was de-gnoming the garden or peeling carrots or cleaning the attic. But when he looked for her, she was nowhere to be found, and the door to his parents' room was shut.
He backed away. Even Mum deserved a moment where she didn't need to keep a happy face on things.
Outside, the day was warm and bright: a good day to fly a broom, even if there was no one to play Quidditch with. With that in mind, Ron ventured outside.
There he saw Luna, crouched down in the garden, her face close to the ground.
"Luna? What are you doing in our garden?" Ron asked, before thinking better of it. Whatever it was, it was sure to be nuts.
Luna stood and brushed the dirt off her dress. "Talking to your gnomes."
"Gnomes can't talk." Hermione might argue that this wasn't strictly true, but as Ron had never heard a gnome say anything more clever than 'Geroff me!', he was holding his ground.
"Have you ever listened?" Luna asked reproachfully.
"They're pests. Mum's always trying to get rid of them."
"Daddy says they orchestrated the Goblin Rebellion of 1509."
Ron was quiet for a moment as he tried to digest this information. "How is your dad?" Ron finally asked, desperate to change the subject.
"Oh," Luna sighed. "He has Wrackspurts. They're quite terrible, you know."
"Wrackspurts? Does he need to go to St. Mungo's?" he asked.
Luna shook her head. "They wouldn't do anything. Most people don't believe me, you know."
"Are Wrackspurts like those snorkel-horned crumple things?" Ron asked, suddenly suspicious.
Luna looked blank, then burst into hysterical laughter. "Snorkle…horned...crumples," she gasped out between laughs. Ron waited, feeling his face heat. She suddenly straightened up. "Of course not, silly. Wrackspurts are invisible creatures that float into your ears and make your brains go all fuzzy." She flapped her hands to illustrate.
"Of course they are," Ron answered awkwardly, still wondering exactly how that was different. "So, er, how do you get rid of…Wrackspurts?"
"I have a charm to keep them away." Luna held up her Butterbeer cork necklace proudly. "But sometimes they go away if you tell the person they have Wrackspurts. That usually works for Harry."
"I think his brain's always fuzzy," Ron said, thinking of the mad schemes Harry had dragged them into over the years.
Luna blinked slowly at him. "That's not very nice."
Ron opened his mouth to explain, thought better of it, and tried to steer the conversation back onto some sort of course. "What makes you think your dad has Wrackspurts?"
"He's been very odd lately," Luna said, without any hint of irony. "Ever since- since our house was destroyed."
Since you were kidnapped by Death Eaters and he turned on Harry to get you back and ended up in Azkaban, Ron mentally filled in.
"It's rebuilt now, you know," she went on. "There was only one wall missing, really, but I'm quite sad I didn't get to see Daddy's Crumple-Horned Snorkack horn."
"Ah, right." Ron scuffed the ground with his toe. Silence hung heavy in the air.
"The charm didn't work for him," Luna said suddenly, breaking the silence. "And he doesn't believe me, that he has Wrackspurts."
"Well, there must be another way to get rid of them." Ron wasn't sure that was true, but he'd try to help Luna if he could.
"We could bury silver and steel at the corners of the house," Luna said. "That's usually a last resort, but it gets rid of malevolent spirits."
It sounded made-up to Ron, but if it made Luna feel better…
"Where are we getting silver and steel?" he asked. Neither of those sounded like things he had lying around.
"I think I've got some Sickles in my room," Luna said. Ron followed her out of his family's garden and into the fields that lay between the Burrow and the Lovegoods' home. The last time he'd made this trek, he'd been going to the Portkey to the Quidditch World Cup.
Luna hummed a little to herself, and stopped every now and again to pick a wildflower, but seemed mostly content to walk in silence. As she walked, she wove the flowers together into a circlet.
"Here," she said with a smile, standing on her tiptoes to place the flowers on Ron's head. As they continued to walk, he watched as she wove another for herself.
Ron felt ridiculous, but there was no one around to see them, and taking it off would probably hurt Luna's feelings. He'd just have to toss it before he got home.
The Lovegoods' rook-shaped home was almost as good as new, but the new stones that weren't quite the same colors as the old ones and the scarred ground told the story of what had happened. Inside, it was sparser than Ron remembered, though every surface was still covered with what looked to him like junk.
Luna led him upstairs and into her room. Ron, who had never been in a bedroom belonging to a girl other than Ginny, awkwardly hung back in the doorway. A bit of blue and gold on Luna's ceiling caught his eye, though, and he stepped forward to see what it was.
It was a painting, of him and Hermione and Harry and Ginny and Luna and Neville, the word "friends" repeated over and over around the edges.
"Do you like it?" Luna asked.
"I didn't know you could paint," Ron said. "It's nice."
"I found the Sickles," Luna said, holding up a small handful of silver. "They were in my shoes."
Ron bit back the immediate retort that rose to his lips about people who could just keep Sickles in their shoes. Luna didn't mean any harm. "Where are we getting the steel?"
"I think Daddy's got some steel in his room. He uses it to keep away the Grimlocks. I'll meet you outside," Luna said. She pressed the Sickles into Ron's hand and drifted down the stairs. Ron hurried after her, not wanting to be left behind. He wondered vaguely how exactly this was all supposed to work, and whether it made any more sense in Luna's head.
While Luna slipped into her father's bedroom to find something made of steel, Ron waited in the back garden, a grassy knoll that sloped gently down to a creek. He rubbed the Sickles together in his hand, turning them over and over.
There was no sign of Mr. Lovegood. He must have been at the Quibbler, getting it in order for the next week's printing. It was just as well; Luna's father would probably take whatever she did in stride- would probably believe in what they were doing- but Ron still didn't fancy having to explain it.
"Shall we begin?" Luna asked.
Ron started, not having heard Luna walk up behind him. "Alright."
At the first corner they came to, Luna paused. "We need a shovel. I would Transfigure one, but I still have the Trace. " She sounded as bitter about it as Ginny, which forced a laugh out of Ron.
"I could probably do it," Ron offered. "'s not my best subject, but-"
"Hold these." Luna placed four steel nails in Ron's hand, along with the Sickles, and dashed down the hill and toward the creek. She returned momentarily with a large branch in her hand and tossed it on the ground in front of Ron.
"You'll have to hold all of the stuff," Ron said, as he handed the nails and Sickles to Luna. He pulled out his wand and concentrated very hard. He'd never Transfigured a shovel before. But the branch quickly lengthened and straightened, and one end became wider and sharper. When it looked sufficiently shovel-like, he stopped and picked it up.
"Anywhere around here?"
Luna frowned. "I think so. The book said at the corner."
Ron dug a small hole out of the lawn as close to the corner of the house as he could. Luna placed one Sickle and one nail inside, and Ron used a summoning spell to cover them with dirt and the shovel to smooth it over. They repeated the process at each of the other three corners.
"I hope this works," Ron said, and found himself believing it. Even if it was all bunk, he hoped it made Luna feel better.
"It will," Luna said with surety.
"I should get back," Ron said. "Before Mum wonders where I've gotten off to."
Luna nodded. "I'll see you around."
"Come over and talk to our gnomes any time," Ron offered, on impulse. He grinned, waved at her one more time, and set off back to the Burrow.