When you spend as much time in one place with the same people as I do, you begin noticing things about them. Some witches my age look at a wizard they fancy and immediately notice the attractive parts: bums and chest muscles and eyes and such. Others take their time and become aware of the qualities that inherently make up a wizard’s personality. Me, I notice people’s hands. I always have and find that a person’s hands speak volumes about his/her life and the circumstances of their birth. Living at Hogwarts presents me with the opportunity to be around many people from a variety of backgrounds. As such, it’s been easy for me to observe my friends and teachers to learn personal things about each of them just by looking at their hands.
Subject One: Dean Thomas is a good friend and a fun person to be around. We have many things in common, so it’s easy to find topics to talk about with him (including our shared charade that Dean is my boyfriend, something that infuriates Ron). Many times when we’re together I find myself gazing at Dean’s hands. I’m fascinated by what they can do with a quill or a brush loaded with paint. With a few quick strokes, Dean can turn ordinary doodles into a cartoon of Hagrid. With a few more, they become a caricature of Hagrid and a dragon. Add a bit of colour, and he’s drawn an entire scene down to the last detail!
The first time we shared a study table in the common room I was amazed by his illustrated lesson notes. Nothing boring there! His Muggle Studies notebook was filled with careful drawings of items he remembered from his parents’ house, while his History of Magic notes were covered in sketches of the giant wars and goblin rebellions Professor Binns was lecturing about in class. Dean caught me staring and I confessed that I was admiring his handiwork. He seemed pleased that I’d noticed and quickly drew an illustration of the common room for me.
A few nights later, we were again sharing a table and I noticed, for the first time, that Dean had specks of paint stuck to his cuticles and under his nails. He caught me staring again and remarked on it.
“I like your hands,” I admitted, blushing to the roots of my hair. I had been silently admiring how the torchlight gave the rich brown of his skin a golden undertone and how his long fingers curved gracefully around his quill as he wrote.
“Don’t be embarrassed, Ginny,” he told me, smiling. “I look at other people’s hands all the time, too. Everyone’s hands are unique; no two sets are shaped or weathered exactly alike. Take yours, for example.”
“Sure, why not?” Dean studied my hands for a moment, then said, “Even if I didn’t know you as well as I do, I can tell you’re the outdoors type.”
I raised an eyebrow. “How do you know?”
“Just look at the backs of your hands. They hardly look like Hermione’s. I mean, they’ve got the same Quidditch glove tan your brothers do, and the tips of your fingers are roughened from gripping your broom handle and the Quaffle. We both know that Hermione wouldn’t be caught dead handling a Quidditch ball much less flying on a broomstick!” That made me smile as I thought of my friend’s trepidation about leaving the ground.
Dean continued. “I’d also say that you’re probably fifth or sixth year just because your hands lack the baby fat that someone younger still retains. Besides, there are ink spots on your thumb and the pointer and middle fingers of your right hand where they’ve come in contact with your ink well. You’ve probably taken loads of notes today and are trying to complete a massive amount of homework.”
“You’ve got that right,” I murmured, studying the ink smudges on my right hand. For all the hands I’d studied over the last few years, I had never given my own a second thought. It had taken an outsider to make me really look at my own.
Dean smiled. “You like to make contact with people you feel comfortable with; whenever you’re with someone like Hermione or even Harry, you often reach out and touch the person on the arm or shoulder or leg. I think you want them to know how much you care about them. Am I right?” When I nodded, he continued, “I can also tell that you’re fairly self-conscious about how your hands look. Hey, don’t look at me like that. Look at your hands. They’re nothing to be embarrassed about. Your skin is quite smooth and pale above your Quidditch tan and your fingers are long and slender. I don’t often see both on the table, though; you keep them in your lap when you’re reading and stick your parchment to the table with a spell. I also know you’ve got a dictation quill in your bag charmed to reproduce your handwriting when your hand cramps up.”
I shook my head in amazement. “How long have you been noticing things like that?” I asked, slightly embarrassed because he seemed to know me so well.
“I reckon I’ve been watching people all my life. People use their hands in fascinating ways and, to me, they’re the hardest part of the human anatomy to draw.”
“Why’s that?” I queried.
Dean considered his answer. “If the hands are out of proportion to the body, they look awkward. Each finger is its own separate entity. Hands are positioned in a thousand different poses, too. Then there’s the concept of perspective; people extend their hands in front of them which can make them the unwanted focal point of a picture if the artist isn’t careful.”
“I never knew that,” I murmured.
“Here. I’ll show you.” Dean grabbed a piece of parchment and made a few quick sketches. When he finished and handed over the drawings, I could see what he meant. I thanked him and went back to my essay writing, still a little embarrassed about being caught.
An hour later, I heard, “Ginny?” and looked up to see that Dean was holding a sketch out for me to look at. I gasped when I saw what it was: a pen and ink rendering of my right hand writing my Potions essay! Dean had captured my hand down to the last detail, including the cut on my wrist I’d received that day in Herbology from a particularly nasty fanged geranium. Dean had also drawn a perfect imitation of my handwriting, capturing how my letters slanted forwards while my words seemed to be crowded onto the page.
Taking the parchment, I stared at it in admiration. “May I keep this?” I asked looking up. “It’s beautiful!”
Dean grinned. “Of course,” he said. Then, he asked nervously, “And ... erm ... I ...would you ... would you consider modelling for me sometime?”
Startled, I blushed for the second time that night. “Sure, if you want me to,” I told him, feeling flattered.
Dean relaxed visibly. “Professor Morgan, my Art instructor, wants all his sixth year students to have someone sit for them several times during the year for various projects. You really don’t have to do this if you don’t want to.”
Laying a hand on his forearm, I told him, smiling, “Just let me know when you need me. I’ll be glad to sit for you.”
So far, I have only sat for him once. He posed me in front of the common room fire one Saturday afternoon and made me hold certain facial expressions while he drew them in charcoal on a special piece of art parchment. I had fun that afternoon, even though I sometimes found it hard to hold a frown or a cheesy smile for five minutes while he tried to capture each expression just right. When he finished, he brought his assignment over to show me; I laughed and laughed at how ridiculous he made me look in some of them.
After he got his assignment back (with full marks nonetheless) Dean gave me the drawing as a reminder of how much fun we’d had that afternoon. I’m hoping that he’ll ask me to sit for him again soon, because I never tire of watching his hands create beautiful drawings.
Subject Two: Ever since the basilisk petrified him in our first year, I’ve had an affinity for Colin Creevey and have taken particular interest in his hands. They’re often stained purple because of the photographic chemicals he uses to develop the prodigious number of pictures he takes around the castle each week. His work seems to bring him tremendous joy and he shares his creations with everyone he photographs; not a week has gone by, since Colin discovered which solutions to use to make his photos move, that he has not given me a copy of his latest snapshot of me, Harry, Ron, or Hermione or all four of us together. Somehow, Colin knows when to hand over a picture that will bring me out of the pensive moods I often find myself in these days.
Colin is a compact person and his hands have remained about the same size as they were when we were eleven. They’re extremely expressive, flying about as fast as his mouth runs. If he weren’t holding his camera a lot of the time, his friends would be in danger of being knocked over by Colin’s enthusiasm. Sometimes, when we’re studying at the same table, Colin makes somewhat intimate contact with his friends, often touching our shoulders or forearms. I haven’t discovered whether this is because Colin is somewhat insecure (possibly a by-product of his time spent in the hospital wing away from his friends in Gryffindor tower, for which I take complete responsibility) or whether he is just a “touchy-feely” sort of person. Either way, Colin wouldn’t be Colin without his hands.
Subject Three: Draco Malfoy. If anyone had told me at the beginning of last year that I would be writing about Draco’s hands I would have hexed them three ways to Sunday. It seems that as much as I loathe thinking about him, there’s something frighteningly attractive about Draco’s hands. I’ve talked with Hermione at length about it and as much as she hates to admit it, she’s somewhat attracted by his hands, too. Ron and Harry would never understand the attraction of Draco’s long, well-manicured, finely chiselled fingers to a witch. There’s just something about how Draco wears his rings and curls his hands around a book or his wand that just sends chills up my spine. (Hermione feels it too, sometimes.)
However, I know I could never love hands that can deliberately point a wand at someone and send forth a malicious curse; I’ve been unlucky enough to be on the receiving end of Draco’s wand hand and that’s a scary point of view to know. What I do know is this: Draco’s hands could never be like Harry’s. For one thing, Draco’s hands have never seen an honest day’s work; there are no calluses on his palms or dry skin around the nails. For another, Draco’s skin is just too pallid; it’s as though Draco’s hands have never seen the light of day, even though I know he’s had Quidditch practice. Finally, and probably most important, Draco’s hands have never seen the abuse that Harry’s took last year; they have never bled for his convictions, never given evidence of a tormented soul in their actions; they’ve never had to face Lord Voldemort!
Subjects Four and Five: Two sets of hands that are never far from Draco’s belong to Crabbe and Goyle. It’s interesting that I’ve never thought about the one without the other; they always just seem to be joined at the hip or something. Also, it’s just natural that if Draco is around, those two goons are usually in the near vicinity, ready to flex their muscles or “take care” of any threat to Draco. The two are big burly sorts, which lends a heaviness to the look of their hands. Whenever the three “join” us in our compartment on the Hogwarts Express, it’s not their wands that take on the threat, it’s their hands; they’re big and muscular with short stubby fingers that easily ball into fists. Besides, it’s the sound of their knuckles cracking in unison that grates on the nerves like fingernails on a blackboard and keeps me from really focussing on how callused or pampered their hands really are. What I do know is this; I never want to have to study their hands “up close and personal” as some reporters at the Daily Prophet so succinctly put it.
Subject Six: I’ve always had a soft spot for Neville Longbottom’s hands. For most of the time I’ve known Neville, he’s been unsure of himself (probably due to his Gran’s lack of confidence in his abilities) with his gestures reflecting his uncertainty in everything he does. That seemed to change last year: through Professor Sprout’s praise in Herbology and his determination to succeed at the spells we learned during DA meetings, Neville showed everyone that he really wasn’t a Squib as we all thought! To think that he learned the Shield Charm almost as fast as Hermione! Those successes were accompanied by more confidence in his abilities as evidenced by his performance in Umbridge’s office prior to the Ministry fight. Ron is still in awe of the Stunner Neville pulled off during that fight; somehow, Neville’s aim was spot on and his victim never knew what hit him.
When I first saw Neville’s hands they looked like so many other twelve-year-old boys’ hands; plump and pink with dirt embedded around the nails. There was a difference to them, though: they moved timidly, as if they really didn’t know what they really wanted do or where their owner needed them to be. The following year, when I was twelve and Neville thirteen, I made a point to be in the common room when the third years came up to dump their book bags before lunch. On the days that the third year Gryffindors had double Potions, Neville would often come back from the lesson with nasty burns on his hands that had been covered in a thick, orange paste applied by Madam Pomfrey. (I think Professor Snape enjoyed making Neville so nervous that he inevitably moved too close to his cauldron and either touched the molten metal or scalded himself.) In any case, I felt sorry enough for Neville that I began talking to him about what happened in class each week as we all headed for the Great Hall. That, at first, put Neville into such a complete tizzy that he would stumble over his sentences and wring his hands: after about the seventeenth trip back to Madam Pomfrey, he began to relax enough around me that we became good friends as we walked back to the hall together. By the end of that year, Neville trusted me enough to let his hands swing naturally while the healing paste did what it was created to do.
That’s when I started noticing small changes in Neville’s hands. As he matured, they lost their plumpness, just like the rest of him. Over the summer between his third and fourth years, he grew taller and his fingers lengthened, although they still maintained their layer of ingrained dirt at the cuticles. Two days after the Cruciatus Curse incident in Professor Moody’s class, I happened upon Neville in the common room. He had the air of unmistakable sadness that settled over him when he didn’t think anyone was looking; his hands, which played absently with his quill, seemed to be shaking slightly. I sat down across his table from him and boldly took his hand. It was stone cold and I could feel the strength in his fingers as he curled them around mine.
“I don’t know what it was about that lesson that has affected you so much,” I said to him. “But if you want to talk about it, I’m here and I’ll gladly listen.”
“Thanks, Ginny. I just have to deal with this myself,” he told me quietly.
The subject never came up again and several months later, a very nervous Neville asked me to the Yule Ball. He was rather cute about it, too, standing in front of me with his hands thrust deep into his robe pockets while he scuffed the toe of his shoe on the flag stones of the courtyard. I somehow knew that Neville would not have the confidence to ask anyone else if I didn’t accept his invitation, so I told him I’d gladly go with him to the ball. We had a good time together that night until he trod on my toes one too many times and left the Great Hall so frustrated with himself that he didn’t come back. That’s when I met Michael Corner.
Subject Seven: I used to think of Michael Corner’s hands as strong and protective, and remember them to be somewhat callused with that funny Quidditch tan that covered only the very tips of his fingers. Nevertheless, whenever he touched me I felt only the softest of caresses. He’s a considerate wizard, too; never allowing his hands to stray where a witch would feel uncomfortable being touched. Even when we were practicing during DA meetings last year, Michael would often misdirect his wand hand so as not to hex me. I have mixed feelings about that because I had to wonder whether he was learning anything from the meetings or just enjoying catching me as I fell, accidentally jinxed by someone else, into his waiting hands.
Michael’s hands are patient hands. They spent many hours holding my own hand when I couldn’t bring myself to kiss him. I gave him the excuse that I was hiding from my brothers, but in truth, I had no desire to express my fancy of Michael in ways other than chaste handholding. Once we did, though, it was nice to find a secluded broom cupboard in which to snog and hold hands...
Michael’s hands are patient in other ways, too: they willingly spend hours drawing out comparison tables of Quidditch statistics and strategies or explaining concepts we’ve learned in lessons. When we revised together last year, Michael would always be ready to point out how I could manipulate my essay wording to make my point come across better. I have to admit that sometimes I deliberately worded phrases awkwardly or said something gauche just to give Michael something to do while we studied.
The only time I’ve ever seen Michael’s hands fly about in anger was after the Gryffindor/Ravenclaw game at the end of last year. I suppose mine were flailing as much as his were, pointing accusing fingers, brandishing brooms, and balling on our hips. I couldn’t help but feel a little satisfied that I would be rid of something rather clingy, and finally pointed to Cho’s retreating back saying, “Well, if you don’t like the fact that I caught the snitch and won the game for Gryffindor, you can just go console her! She’s emotional enough for your entire House!”
Michael looked at me one last time, an angry expression on his face, his hands gripping his broom tightly enough to make his knuckles stand out in relief, and hissed, “Well, if that’s what you want, then fine!” That was the last time we spoke, civilly or otherwise. The next day, Michael and Cho were wandering hand in hand through the corridors.
Subject Eight: Everyone underestimates Luna Lovegood. There’s a reason she was Sorted into Ravenclaw: she’s absolutely brilliant! What people don’t understand is that Luna cultivates her “Loony” persona, right down to her vague and somewhat outlandish hand movements. It’s all an act to her and I think she amuses herself watching people’s reactions. I also think she becomes bored quite easily since she learns so quickly. How do I know this? I’ve watched her. Luna loves Charms and Transfiguration (just as her mother did) and is the fastest of anyone in my year to learn new spells. While the rest of us struggle repeatedly to transfigure newts into notepads or make rocks become wagons, Luna learns the new spell in two or three tries and then has time to puzzle out how to apply the new spell to something else! The same thing happens in Charms and Professor Flitwick is sometimes hard-put to keep Luna’s attention for the duration of the lesson.
I also watched Luna last year during DA meetings. Harry remarked once or twice that he wondered why Luna even bothered coming to the meetings and I told him to watch her carefully during the first few minutes of practice. His amazement was apparent the next day when he told me about how she had knocked him flat on the first go with a perfect Blasting Charm. He then remarked that after that, she had played with the amplitude and direction of her wand movements just to see the results! That’s probably why we all thought Luna wasn’t very good at any of the spells Harry was teaching us, since those around her had to keep dodging flying objects!
We were both witness to a serious Luna at the Department of Mysteries. With no time to be vague and dreamy while the Death Eaters were chasing us, Luna used her wand defensively enough to rival Harry: every spell she cast was precisely aimed and perfectly uttered. When we entered the planet room it was Luna’s wand work and quick thinking that enabled Ron and I to escape with our lives. I will be forever grateful to her for that.
I finally took the time to really look at Luna’s hands when we were sitting with Ron and Hermione that Sunday after the Ministry battle. Luna is a petite girl to begin with, so it follows that her hands are small-boned and delicate. I have decided that her absent-minded movements are very much in control, just like the rest of her. I’ve also decided that I’d like to be on her side the next time I have to duel someone.
Subjects Nine and Ten: Since Lavender Brown and Parvati Patil tend to be together as much as Crabbe and Goyle, no one in Gryffindor House seems to think of one without the other! I don’t know either of them very well because they are a year ahead of me, so I’ll have to rely on my Great Hall observations right now. From what I’ve seen, Lavender’s hands are somewhat larger and plumper than Parvati’s and fly about whenever she really focuses on what she’s gossiping about. Parvati, on the other hand, has long slender fingers which tend to finger objects delicately as she speaks. Neither girl is ever very serious, except for that one week last year when all the fifth years were in the midst of their O.W.L.s. At the time, I watched as Parvati caused the salt cellar before her to twitch so violently as she practiced her incantations that it threatened to fall over. Lavender, on the other hand, had stopped gossiping long enough to actually pull a book from her bag and was actually reviewing!
Subject Eleven: I unfortunately know very little about Seamus Finnigan. He and Dean are fast friends and stuck together last year when Seamus had his falling-out with Harry. I can’t tell you how much Seamus’ animosity hurt Harry. I have a feeling that was a bad period for both boys. I know that Harry feels terrible for pulling his wand on Seamus that night following the Welcoming Feast and wonder if Seamus really would have punched Harry for having a go at his mother...All those months the two of them barely tolerated each other…But I digress. During that time, Seamus and Dean would often do their homework together in the common room at the table next to mine. I noticed one day that all of Seamus’ books sported Muggle book covers with pictures of horses on them.
“Do you ride?” I asked out of curiosity.
Seamus smiled. “Yeah. My family owns six horses, all of them show jumpers.”
“It’s a Muggle sport where riders compete against each other by jumping their horses over a series of fences. They get points for each clean jump they make.”
“Do you compete?” I asked sneaking a quick look at his hands wondering whether it took special muscles to control his horse. From what I could see, no. His hands were well-formed and rather stocky, much like the rest of his physique.
“I used to. Now that I’m at Hogwarts, I don’t get to practice except when I go home on holiday.”
“Do you miss the competition?”
“Sometimes, but not as much as I used to.” He ran a callused finger over the outline of one of the stationary horses. (The book covers were Muggle-made.) “My dad bought me a quad bike last summer,” he continued with a somewhat sheepish grin. “My mam wasn’t too happy about it, but allowed him and me to ride all over out property with my friends until I had to come back to school.”
“What’s a quad bike?”
“A motorbike with four wheels.”
“Sounds like something my dad would love to get his hands on.” I bet he’d love to try to enchant one to fly.
Seamus chuckled. “I bet he would. From what I hear, he’s nutters about anything Muggle that has a motor.”
I glanced at his hands again. He probably wears some kind of gloves and other protective gear when riding. At least I hope he does. “You could say that. My mum cringes at the thought of having to go out into his shed and look for something normal. Everything in there either has its parts strewn about or has been enchanted to do something it shouldn’t.”
I changed the subject. “Where do you go when you’re riding?”
Seamus launched into a five-minute explanation of the joys of quad biking which gave me the opportunity to really study his hands. His skin was pale and slightly freckled; it had a weathered look to it, probably due to the amount of time he spent outdoors when he was at home. The ring he wore on the middle finger of his right hand seemed to emphasize the ruggedness of his hands which naturally led me to inspect the muscles of his arms…
Ginny! Stop inspecting Seamus as if he were a hunk of meat! Consider what Michael would think if he knew you were ogling another boy! I chided myself. When Seamus seemed to be winding down, I pointedly looked at my watch and made up some sort of excuse to pack up my books and positively fled to the library.
Subject Twelve: No overview of the hands around Hogwarts would be complete without a mention of Hermione Granger. Although she’s a year ahead of me, the two of us have become fast friends: that’s not too hard to understand when it seems that we are thrown together at every possible opportunity, whether it be at The Burrow, at Grimmauld Place, or here at school. We’ve had some truly eye-opening heart-to-heart talks as we explored our mutual admiration for Harry Potter and Ronald Weasley and when she lets her guard down, (usually while discussing my brother) Hermione’s hands are almost as animated as Parvati’s and Lavender’s! I’ve seen her rake her hands through her hair in an exact imitation of Ron and clench her fists in indignant anger over the way the Slytherins teased him last year. I’ve also watched as she absently rubbed at invisible scars on her right hand as she discussed Professor Umbridge’s treatment of Harry. Sometimes, her hands have grown quite still as she hugs herself or her knees and at others, she fiddles with the fraying edge of her bedclothes while wondering aloud what the future will hold for herself and her friends (she phrased this particular thought this way, but I really think she was referring to her future with/without Ron).
Hermione’s hands are small and delicate with perfectly filed nails and creamy white skin. (They’re positively tiny compared with Ron’s, and the many times I’ve seen their hands side by side on the Great Hall and library tables, Hermione’s hand looked like it should be nestled in his.) Hermione’s hands always seem to know what to do, whether it’s comforting a friend, correcting someone’s homework or waving her wand in complicate spell patterns. (I think my brother has been in awe of what Hermione’s hands can do since their first day in class!) Always the Lady, Hermione’s hands are never where they shouldn’t be. Well, except for that one time in her third year when she slugged Draco Malfoy...The way Ron tells that story, Hermione was winding up to slug Malfoy a second time when he and Harry recovered enough from their shock and decided they really did have to stop her before someone besides Draco’s ego became bruised. When I asked her about the incident, she refused to incriminate herself and told me that subject was closed.
It’s been fun watching Hermione and Ron “spar” over the years. Everyone in Gryffindor tower knows to watch Hermione’s hands when their voices start to rise. If she begins to clench one or both into a fist, we know that their row will immanently escalate into a full-blown shouting match much the same as it did on the night of the infamous Yule Ball. Believe me; no one wants to be stuck in the common room when that happens! I’ve even heard that Lavender and Parvati stop their gossiping when Hermione storms into their dormitory with tears streaming down her face and her wand clutched tightly in one hand…I think she’s hexed her roommates one too many times after a row with Ron!
As Hermione’s feelings for my brother have grown over the years, she’s begun to respond more often to his gestures and mannerisms. Something happened in the hospital wing at the end of last term that has made all the difference in how Hermione’s hands react around Ron’s. As he reached out to her in comfort or restraint during those tense last few days of the term (when she was often on the verge of badgering Harry to tell them what had happened to him after the Ministry fight), her hands often sought my brother’s, either brushing his hand from her shoulder or elbow or, more often, catching hold of his hand as she gazed up into his eyes, and exchanging a special “look.” To be more specific, as Harry and the Dursleys left King’s Cross, I watched Ron and Hermione standing together tracking him with their eyes, Ron’s arm draped casually across her shoulders. When they were out of sight, Hermione glanced down at his hand, a sad little smile playing on her lips. She then reached up and began caressing the scars on Ron’s forearm, which had been exposed when he drew her close. (Since his release, Ron had not rolled up his sleeves as was his custom; rather, he just left the cuffs unbuttoned.) When he seemed to protest, Hermione gently slipped from under his arm, never letting go of his wrist. They stood there, in the middle of the busy platform, completely oblivious to their surroundings, as Hermione continued to trace each angry red welt as if it were a precious thing. Finally, Ron laid his free hand atop Hermione’s and she looked up at him with silent tears rolling down her face. Ron pulled her into a tight embrace and I turned away to give them some modicum of privacy. I have the feeling that if Ron and Hermione spend much time together over the summer holidays one or the other will finally summon his/her Gryffindor courage and move beyond simple hand-holding.
So ends this portion of my Hogwarts study. The hours I’ve spent getting to know my fellow students have been pleasurable indeed. I’ve learned much more about people than they probably would have liked, but I find it amazing to observe how much they give away through the expressiveness of their hands. In the second half of this study, I will centre on the hands of the adults I’ve met around the school. Their lives are tellingly presented in the condition of their hands and show the hardships and pleasures their owners have experienced. Without these people, Hogwarts wouldn’t be the intriguing place it is.
End of Part One
A/N: The information about Seamus Finnegan was taken from Devon Murray’s website and Veritaserium.com. I decided that because there isn’t very much about Seamus’ life in canon, information about the actor who plays him would make a good back story.
Also, many thanks to my beta Aggiebell for the cute comments, helpful suggestions and her eagle eye for my punctuation mistakes.