Author's Notes: Okay, so, here's an attempt to write characters who aren't Death Eaters or Blacks, sort of in honour of the 34 Stories challenge. Enjoy.
Hermione Granger didn't like to admit there was anything she couldn't learn do.
From an early age, she had decided that she could figure out how to do anything she set her mind to, assuming she had enough books at her disposal. For the most part, this had worked for her. She had gotten top marks in muggle and Hogwarts classes alike, simply because she would latch onto an idea and then read until she had it figured out completely.
But this divination class wasn't working that way. No matter how much she read about it, she couldn't work out how she was supposed to predict the future by staring into the bottom of a teacup, much less a sphere of crystal. Professor Trelawney was no help, maintaining that the so-called "inner eye" would not see unless she believed it would. So Hermione had stared at the crystal ball until her eye developed a twitch, she had glared at the tea leaves, trying to twist them in her mind so that they looked like a cat, or a key, or a cross, or any of the symbols the book listed. But no matter what she did, she couldn't make them look like anything but tea leaves.
Which was why she was lowering herself to ask for help.
Hermione hovered outside the divination class before break, waiting for the second year class to come out.
She tried to look nonchalant as the twelve-year-olds climbed down the rope ladder to the divination room and filed away. They glanced in her direction, then looked quickly past her and continued on their way.
Hermione was feeling decidedly nervous, as she waited for the student she had been told had the greatest talent for divination. It offended her pride that she had to ask from help from a dotty student a year below her.
The last student out of the trapdoor shut it after her, and Hermione's heart skipped a beat. This had to be the girl she was waiting for.
She waited while the younger girl climbed down the ladder, and only after her mismatched shoes hit the floor did Hermione gather the courage to speak.
"Luna Lovegood?" she asked, a little more nervously than she would have liked.
The second-year turned to look Hermione in the eye, and Hermione stared at her. Oh yes. This could only be "Looney" Luna Lovegood.
Her hair was waist-length, blonde and rather scraggly and tangled, as though she hadn't combed it in some time. Her eyes were huge and silver, with slightly over-dilated pupils, and she fixed them right on Hermione's face, meeting her eyes directly. As if that wasn't enough, she was wearing a necklace made of butterbeer corks, and earrings in the shapes of radishes. Besides that, there was a sizable smear of blue potion on her collar, ink droplets spattering her nose, and Hermione was fairly sure she saw something crawling in the girl's hair.
"Yes?" said Luna Lovegood.
Hermione gulped. There was no way that she, Hermione Granger, model student, should be asking for help from a girl who couldn't be bothered to clean up properly. But she couldn't very well stop now.
"Er… I was told you're good at divination," she began. Luna smiled and nodded enthusiastically.
"It's my best subject," she said proudly.
I can't imagine that's saying much.
"Well, I need help with it," Hermione said. "Do you think you'd be able to… give me some lessons?"
Luna nodded again, no less enthusiastically. Hermione was repulsed to see that she had been right about the crawling thing in Luna's hair, what seemed to be a spider scuttled out of the mess of blonde waves, and hurried along her shoulder, apparently trying to escape the vigorous nodding.
"Er… you have…" Hermione said, indicating Luna's shoulder. Luna looked down with mild interest, and tutted when she saw the spider.
"Bad nargle," she said, catching it with her fingernail. To Hermione, "I've been trying to breed them, you see." She held out her hand so that Hermione could see the creature.
It was indeed a spider, albeit one that seemed to have a fondness for pushing up on its back legs and waving its front legs in the air. Hermione didn't have the first clue what a "nargle" was or why Looney Lovegood should want to breed them, but she was fairly sure that this was a spider, nothing else.
Luna put her finger next to a strand of her hair, and let the spider crawl back onto it. Hermione shuddered.
"Sorry," said Luna brightly. "I would be happy to give you divination lessons."
"Good," Hermione said, trying not to think about that spider. "When can you start?"
"Oh, any time," Luna told her. "We could start right now if you like."
Hermione glanced at her watch. There were ten minutes left before her next class, and she needed to finish her transfiguration homework.
"I can't," she said, not altogether regretfully. "How about after the last class this evening?"
"All right," Luna nodded. "I'll meet you here?"
"Yes. That sounds good."
Hermione watched as Luna skipped away.
What had she let herself in for?