This story was written for the Samhain challenge at GE. The prompt was Divination with apples. I couldn't help myself - there's something about apples and Draco that happens to be irresistible. What started out as a little one-shot as turned into a short-story. This was a much needed break from the heaviness of Crimson, and I'm nearly done with it, and loving how it turned out. It's my first attempt at real fluff! Whee! The time frame is ambiguous, but I'm thinking it's after OotP since Hermione and Luna are friends. Really, though, the time frame isn't that important. I want to thank my beta, strangegibbon, who was so kind to help me with this - she makes me a better writer! And now, on to the story!
1. Divination Rubbish
Hermione Granger was decidedly grumpy as she clutched her books to her chest and prepared to excuse herself from the wide, wooden table in the Great Hall. All around her she heard the warm din of the other students, the sound of laughter, yells, squeals and conversation. She smoothed her school robes and then tucked a stubborn, chestnut curl behind her ear with irritation.
As she contemplated whether to leave or wring Lavender's neck, she stared at the back of Luna's head. Her blonde friend had pulled her hair back from her face using two ridiculous looking purple barrettes from which hung a number of gold, fuzzy, and round puff-like things that sparkled magically. As she focused on Luna's unfortunate hair accessories, Hermione took a deep breath.
I want to spend time with Luna, I do. But I can't do this. Not now, not when my day has been such an agonizing mess already.
Decision made, the bushy-haired Gryffindor stepped over the bench to leave just as Luna looked up, offering her a dreamy smile.
"Where are you going, Hermione? We only just got here."
'Here' happened to be an early lunch in the Great Hall after their morning classes.
Hermione had reluctantly agreed to join her friend for a quick meal before her afternoon lessons, homework, and what she was certain would be a rather unpleasant tutorial.
In fact, her whole day thus far had been an unpleasant affair.
She had awoken that morning to the sound of Lavender's voice, blithering on about nothing and then, her date with Ron at Hogsmeade the following weekend. Then, she had spent a double lesson in Care of Magical Creatures, which had culminated with a rather long assignment and a bite mark on her right thumb. Whilst nursing her thumb, Hermione had spent her next lesson in the dungeon, listening to Slughorn lecture about the dangers of mind altering potions, which wouldn't have been so bad if it hadn't been for Draco Malfoy, who had spent the entirety of the lesson whispering about her accident in their previous class. And topping her crappy day was the fact she had nothing to look forward to that evening except an hour long tutoring session with Gregory Goyle.
No, the day was just about as horrid as a day could get.
So, Hermione had not been entirely surprised that the pleasant lunch she had hoped to share with Luna Lovegood had turned out to be a mind-numbingly boring hour spent listening to a gaggle of silly, boy-crazed girls.
It wasn't that Hermione disliked Luna; in fact, she quite liked her, and they had been through too much together for either girl to abandon their fledgling friendship. What was so irritating was the company that Luna kept. Hermione knew she needed female friendships; it was rather odd that her closest friends happened to be Harry and Ron, both unarguably boys. But she preferred boys simply because they were generally no fuss, low drama, and focused on other things besides…
Lavender was giggling as she tossed her blonde curls from her shoulder.
"I'm going to do it," she said, her blue eyes sparkling with excitement. "You heard what Trelawney said, on the night of Samhain, you just drop the peel on the ground, right?"
She picked up a rather lovely looking apple, twisting it in her palm. Then she grinned.
"What if it really works?"
All through their meal, Lavender, the Patil twins and Luna had gone on and on about Trelawney's lesson for the day, which had been about divination with apples.
As if using a crystal ball to see the bloody future wasn't rubbish enough!
The girls around her had quickly bought into the lesson, during which the Divination professor had stated that if on the eve of Samhain, a girl dropped a long bit of peeled apple skin onto the ground, it would land so that it took the shape of the first letter of her true love's first name.
Much to Hermione's chagrin, each of the girls now held shiny, red apples and giggled amongst themselves.
It was bloody annoying, that's what it was. Every year, at the end of October, Trelawney inflicted her claptrap theories on her Divination classes, causing all the brainless girls at Hogwarts to swoon, and the sensible ones, like Hermione, to grind their teeth in irritation.
The brunette stood there, straddling the table bench and giving Luna a grumpy look just as Lavender offered up another one of her impossibly grating titters.
"I wonder how a peel is supposed to form into the shape of a letter," she mused happily.
Yes, there it was – the main reason Hermione chose to spend her time with members of the opposite sex. They didn't go on and on incessantly about things that made no sense! But most importantly, she wasn't constantly reminded that a half-brained twit like Lavender Brown was now in a relationship with Ron.
The boy I just happen to think is perfect for me. It figures.
Lavender was tossing her apple back and forth between her hands.
"I find it hard to believe that it's just going to form the letter 'R' right before my eyes!"
Hermione had reached the level of tolerance she could maintain towards Lavender, and before she could stop herself, the snippy words fell from her lips, making Luna's periwinkle colored eyes widen and the twins gasp.
"That's because it won't!"
She chastised herself internally.
Great, just great, Hermione. Now they're going to think you're bloody jealous.
Lavender looked up at Hermione, batting her long, dark eyelashes.
"Are you having a bad day, Hermione?"
Parvati giggled behind her hands.
"I think someone's jealous!" she sang, her voice muffled.
Luna gave her friend a look of reproach.
"She's just having a bad day, is all. Leave her be."
Hermione gave Luna a grateful look, and put her hands on her hips, fighting the blush that threatened her face.
"Of course I'm not jealous," she huffed. "I'm sensible. Do you really buy into this rubbish? Every year Trelawney insists of feeding you lot silly little stories instead of actually teaching us something useful! And every year all the girls at this school turn into brainless twits, running around with their apple peels and bloody apple seeds trying to divinate who they will and won't be dating! It's mental, is what it is!"
Hermione decided she liked being angry. She slammed her large pile of texts on the wooden table and folded her hands across her chest as she glared at the girls still seated at the table.
"So no, I'm not jealous," she snapped at Lavender. "And I don't think your extra long apple peel is going to fall into the shape of the letter 'R' even if you and Ron get married and have ten children!"
She then glared at the Patil twins.
"Padma, no, I don't think Seamus' freckles are any cuter just because he has got a tan from his holiday at the seashore."
Then, she gazed at Luna.
"Finally, I don't think you need Divination and a stupid apple to know if Neville is interested in you or not. All you need is two eyes! I'd bet even a blind wizard could see how much he likes you!"
Picking up her huge pile of books once more, Hermione gave her companions an exasperated sigh.
"Thanks for inviting me to lunch, Luna. I've got to get to my Arithmancy lesson and then I've got to tutor Goyle."
Padma snickered but Hermione silenced her titter with a glare.
"That's right. I've got more important things to do than to play with my fruit so if you'll excuse me, I've got to get going."
With that, Hermione turned and stormed out of the Great Hall, bushy hair flying behind her, leaving the other girls at the table in shocked silence.
It was only after Hermione had left the castle and was halfway down the grassy hill towards the lake that she was able to admit to herself, that yes, she was jealous.
It wasn't just that she found Divination annoying because it was a pointless subject with a less than stellar reputation for being useful and it wasn't that she was simply too logical to buy into Trelawney's strange theories about apples and the future. She didn't even really care that her classmates and friends seemed to lose their sensibilities when it came to foreseeing their romantic futures.
It was mostly the fact that this year, unlike the others, Ron Weasley was no longer single, and that needled at Hermione more than she had cared to admit.
Hermione had a brilliant memory, and it was times like this that she wasn't able to forget that it was she who had tutored Ron many a late night so that he would pass his classes. It was also she who had sat up with him while he had been burping slugs. She had always been there for him as a sympathetic ear when he was having problems and as a bossy reminder when he was falling behind in his lessons.
She had been a friend, a confidante, someone to laugh with and take comfort from. So, was it too bloody much to ask for him to see her as a girlfriend and not just as a friend who happened to be a girl?
Apparently, it was. And Hermione sighed with disappointment.
The lake was, for all intents and purposes, free from prying eyes. As Hermione plopped down under a tree that faced the water, she found herself completely alone and glad for it. Leaning back, she finally relaxed.
It was unfortunate, she mused, that late autumn happened to be her favorite time of the year, and right now she wasn't even able to enjoy it. Hermione loved the changing colors of the leaves, the way the Forbidden Forest exploded into brilliant reds, oranges and yellows just before they started to fall, highlighting the grasses with splashes of color. She loved the cool weather in the mornings, and the hint of the coming winter in the air.
She even loved reading the traditions and rituals of the harvest, the dying year, and the festivals to welcome the new. She understood that on Samhain, some magic was stronger, senses were heightened and the veil between the living and the dead grew thinner. She knew the power of that night and why some chose to embrace it.
But the logical part of her brain refused to believe that anyone could determine their true love using a piece of fruit. She found the whole notion silly. And, there was the little thing about her jealousy.
Maybe I am just a silly teenaged girl jealous because the boy I like fancies someone else.
"Sometimes, I think we could all get along so much better if we didn't fight, you know?"
Hermione jumped, startled by Luna, who sank down onto the grass next to Hermione, a small smile on her lips.
"I thought I'd come out here to check on you. Are you feeling all right?"
Luna didn't look at Hermione, instead training her strange blue eyes at something in the distance. Hermione shut the textbook that had been sitting on her lap and set it aside, turning to face her friend. The gold puffs on Luna's barrettes danced happily in the late autumn breeze.
"You seemed rather upset during lunch," Luna pointed out, turning to watch Hermione with interest.
Hermione gave up, sighing.
"Do you really believe all that nonsense about true love and apples?"
She grumbled the question, still rather miffed about what had happened earlier. Luna shrugged lackadaisically.
"Apples symbolize knowledge and the new harvest. It's quite fitting, if you think about it. With Samhain and all that. Besides, it's no less true than anything else, is it?"
"Well, that's not exactly true. There are theories and legends, and then there are solid facts, like those we learn about in Potions or in History of Magic and Arithmancy. Some things are truer than others, Luna."
Luna was silent for a few moments, considering Hermione's words. When she spoke, it was a sound full of whimsy.
"Everyone has their own truth, Hermione. So how do you decide what's truer than something else?"
The logical Gryffindor was struck silent, contemplating Luna's words. In the end, she couldn't come up with a proper response, and Luna sighed happily.
"It's quite lovely out here when it's the full moon."
When Hermione said nothing, she continued.
"Last year, Trelawney taught us about divining with water, and I was curious, you know?"
Her eyes twinkled when she looked at Hermione.
"Traditions say that if you look at the surface of a still lake on the night of Samhain, you'll see the face of your true love reflected there."
Luna smiled to herself, and then let out a giggle.
"Do you know who I saw?"
Hermione rolled her eyes, seemingly unimpressed.
Luna remained unaffected by Hermione's lack of enthusiasm.
"If there's really nothing to divination with water and fruit, then how is it that I saw his face?"
"Maybe he was perched on one of those branches that overhang the lake just there?" she suggested, pointing towards a tree along the edge of the wide lake.
"I like you. You always have the strangest notions. Now who's being silly?"
Her chastisement was gentle, but it did little to soothe Hermione's irritation. She stared down at her pile of books dreading the rest of her afternoon and evening.
"Well? Did you do the thing with the apple?" She asked, in spite of herself.
"No, I didn't. I don't much like apples, and I hated to waste one. My father always told me if one wastes not, he wants not," she informed Hermione in a sing-song voice as she stood.
There was a moment of silence and then Luna looked down and reached into her pocket, to pull out a small, red apple. She gazed at it with a little smile and then dropped it into Hermione's lap.
"I might this year. The others are going to do it with me, I think. You should come!"
She offered a brilliant smile with her invitation.
"I'd rather be Goyle's Charms tutor for the rest of eternity."
Luna sighed at Hermione's dry response and shrugged.
"That's too bad. But, if you change your mind, let me know. I'll see you later, all right?"
The girls said their good-byes and Luna began her slow meander back to the castle. Hermione sighed and then fell back against the tree trunk once more, staring down at her apple, a wry, yet thoughtful smile on her face.
AN: So, what do you all think? Yes? No? Let me know! :)