A/N: It's new and improved! Thanks to MidnightBlue88's invaluable advice I was able to improve the story tons!
Disclaimer: I don't own HP.
Harry, Ron, and Hermione sat in the library, waiting for the others to arrive. The library was almost empty and preparing to close. Ron kept glancing at the door, impatient as always. Hermione had her potions book out before her and was starting on the essay they had been assigned earlier in the day.
Harry, meanwhile, gazed out the window. Night had already fallen and shadows were spreading across the grounds. Harry's mind wandered to his friends and what he was going to show them. After the incident at the Department of Mysteries last year, Harry felt the newest editions to the "Dream Team," Neville, Ginny, and Luna, ought to know the about the Marauder's Map, in case they were needed in an after-hours adventure. He knew he could trust them with the secret, after all, he trusted them with his life. But should he be bringing anymore peers into the war? Or had their jaunt to the Department of Mysteries already brought them into the war. Harry sighed. He knew Neville and Ginny would follow him anywhere. They had helped him from the beginning. But what about Luna? Harry didn't fear that Luna was secretly a Death Eater or something, but he didn't know how she felt about the war, or him. She hardly knew him. She didn't even talk a lot, and whenever she did it was about a new conspiracy or wacky creature. Then again, when she did talk, truly talk to him, she understood more and said more than any of his other friends. Why did she have to be such an enigma?
"What's this all about, Harry?" Neville asked, startling Harry out of his reverie.
"Just wait a second," Harry replied as Neville, Ginny, and Luna joined the Golden Trio at the table. Harry reached into his school bag, glanced furtively around to look for any eavesdroppers and brought out the old piece of parchment that was much more than what it seemed. Harry tapped the parchment with his wand and said, "I solemnly swear I am up to no good." The familiar ink then began to spread across the parchment, creating a detailed map of Hogwarts.
"It's called the Marauder's Map," Hermione explained, setting aside her potions homework. "It shows all of Hogwarts, including the secret passages, and it shows everyone in the castle."
"See, that's us," said Ron, pointing to their huddle of dots in a room marked "Library."
Neville's and Ginny responses were expected:
However, Luna's was…not:
"It's missing a room." Harry was stunned for a moment. He thought he was showing her the full layout of Hogwarts, something few ever got to see, only to learn that she knew more than the map!
"What!" Ron exclaimed, outraged that their seemingly flawless map was in fact missing a room.
"What room?" Hermione asked.
Hermione scoffed at this. "Hogwarts does not have a ballroom." Hermione was quite confident about this, after all, she knew Hogwarts: a History better than the author.
Luna turned her large, unnerving eyes to the Gryffindor. "Of course it does. It hasn't been used in years. It's even haunted."
"The whole castle's filled with ghosts, Luna," Ron said as though he were talking to a child.
"It's not haunted by ghosts; it's haunted by memories." Harry glanced into Luna's large eyes. What did she mean "memories"?
"Yeah, okay," Ron sighed.
"It is. Let me show you." The rest of the group acquiesced, if only to be kind.
Luna led them by candlelight down the deserted corridors of Hogwarts. After a myriad of turns, staircases, and dark hallways, the group arrived at a set of ornate double doors. The large wooden doors seemed old and rotten. Cobwebs clung to the corners and dust lay thickly on the floor. Luna set down the candle by the doors and turned to smile at them.
"Is this the entrance to the ballroom, Luna?" Ron asked, tried of this lunacy and desperately wishing for his bed.
Luna nodded, her smile growing wider. "Can't you hear it?" she asked.
"The music!" Luna exclaimed. She then started to quietly hum a tune, a waltz, and dance slowly in circles.
"Luna," Hermione said exasperatedly, "there's no music."
Luna stopped, her surprised expression seeming even more surprised now. "You really can't hear it?" Luna asked, desperately turning to each of them for some support. Harry sadly shook his head, feeling as though he was betraying her.
Luna smiled. "You're not listening!"
"But Luna – " Hermione began, only to be shushed by Luna.
"Listen." So they listened. For a few moments the corridor was silent. When it became almost oppressive and they each felt the need to shout in order to break the unbearable silence, they heard it: a soft tune, barely audible behind the thick doors.
Luna's face lit when she saw their expressions of amazement. "Now do you believe me?" she asked hopefully.
"That could come from anywhere, an adjoining hallway perhaps. It doesn't have to come from dancing ghosts," Hermione said. Though her words held doubt, her voice was quiet so as not to overpower the enchanting melody they heard, as though any loud noise would banish the song forever.
Luna smiled. "Hermione, look." Luna pointed to where the large doors met the rug. A light could be seen beneath the door.
As another look of astonishment passed over her friends' faces, Luna turned to the doors. Placing one hand on each handle, Luna swept the doors open, releasing a flood of light to the corridor.
If the music had astounded the group, what they saw now created pure awe. Before them lay a beautiful ballroom, complete with sparkling marble floor, glistening crystal chandelier, and grand orchestra playing a waltz. Hundreds of people twirled gracefully with their partners on the dance floor, perfectly in tune with the music. The women were adorned in grand gowns, reminiscent of the eighteenth century. They were led in the waltz by men whose attire did not seem to be any more modern than their companions.
Harry's eyes widened. Before him stood a room of ghosts, wraiths forever dancing in the night.
Luna stepped into the room gracefully, now practically glowing in a beautiful dress of light blue silk, pearls strung through her neatly arranged hair.
It was then that the other five Hogwarts students noticed their own clothes, clothes meant to be worn to an eighteenth century ball.
Before anyone could comment on the oddity, a handsome young man approached Luna. He bowed slightly, one hand behind his back and the other outstretched towards Luna. She daintily placed her own hand in his and he kissed it lightly. Luna's smiled widened. Her eyes danced happily as he led her to the floor and they began to waltz.
"Something tells me Luna's been here before," Ron said, noticing the way Luna perfectly executed the steps.
"Yeah," Harry replied absently, his eyes locked upon the beauty Luna had become. He'd never really noticed Luna as pretty before, or even as a member of the female sex. She'd always just been Luna. But now she was gorgeous. It wasn't just the gown or the jewelry either; Luna danced as though she'd been dancing all her life. The elegant movements brought something out of Luna as well. She seemed to shine as glided across the floor.
The group stood there for a moment, too stunned to move, before Neville turned to Ginny, and said, "Dance, milady?"
"I'd be honored," Ginny replied taking Neville's hand. As the couple descended the steps and joined the rest of the dancers, Hermione turned to Ron expectantly.
Ron looked at her. "What?"
Hermione sighed heavily, grabbed his hand, and led him roughly down to the dance floor.
Harry was still completely ignorant to his friends, though their clumsy waltzes usually would have had him rolling in laughter. Instead his eyes were still locked on the Luna, laughing and grinning as she danced with one handsome man after another.
She seemed to fit so perfectly, never tiring, never stopping, just dancing on and on.
Eventually, though, she did stop. Harry was surprised as she walked toward him, disregarding the queue of men wishing to dance with her. "Want to dance, Harry?"
Harry was surprised, but he took her hand and followed her into the mass of dancing couples. As they began to dance, Harry felt weightless, as if gravity no longer held its sway and they were dancing on air instead of the polished marble floor. Luna's silvery-blue eyes danced with laughter and merriment, the normally dreamy look replaced with pure joy. The same feelings swelled inside Harry. For a while he forgot he was the Boy-Who-Lived, the one in the prophecy, the chosen one. For a while time held no meaning, and there was only him and Luna, captivated in the moment and the music.
But as every perfect moment, this too had to end. As the garish morning light peaked into the large windows lining the ballroom, the music became fainter and fainter before stopping all together. The swirling couples evanesced as the morning claimed them. The dust coated the marble floor and cobwebs dulled the gleam of the crystal chandelier. The morn left only four children, all alone in large, dusty, old room.
"Oh," said Luna, her extravagant gown replaced by school robes, her hair long and stringy, and the dreamy look once again in her eyes. "The morning's arrived."
Luna sighed and headed toward the stairs, Harry's other friends doing the same. None of them noticed that they had danced the entire night without tiring. Instead, a feeling of sadness descended over the group. The night was over, the masquerade was gone. Once again they were six kids who were knee-deep in war.
But as Harry exited the old ballroom, he knew that at night, they didn't have to be strong. In the soft moonlight they could be themselves, they could have fun. He then gazed at the girl with dirty blond hair walk down the hall in front of him, still quietly humming the final waltz. Harry smiled. Even though Luna was mocked and ridiculed during the day, he knew that at night, in the light of her namesake, joy apparent in her large eyes, dancing with the memories of those long dead, she was more beautiful than anything he'd ever seen.