Chapter One: Luna Lovegood
It was a wintery morning in Hogwarts. Students milled the courtyard with the laziness of the cold weather as they prepared to return home- in the aftermath of the Battle, the school had been closed a month early. The arches of ancient stones were rapidly piling up with luggage- already damaged by the war, the mossy rocks seemed to be collapsing under the weight.
Luna Lovegood walked amongst the snow, absently. Her dirty-blonde hair was tied loosely, crowning her pale face and surprised-looking eyes; it was not difficult to see why people avoided her. Two large radishes hung from her ears, and a large purple feather was jutting out from her hair, making the girl look very much like a startled peacock.
But she did not mind. She was her own person, and thought little of how she looked. But there was a subtle beauty to her movements, a grace to her steps and an endearing charm about her. Sometimes, one of the male students would turn their heads and glance at her- and then finding out, would quickly turn away.
Luna skipped forward lightly, carefully avoiding the debris on the ground; the arms of statues and many tiny fragments of glass lay buried under the snow, and pricked her bare feet as she walked. In the Transfiguration Courtyard, McGonagall had raised her wand and was mending the shattered statues. A storm of granite sand rose from the earth, flurrying together; when they dispersed, the gargoyle figure had been completely repaired.
"Piertotum locomotor," she said, tapping it with the glowing end of her wand. The statue quivered slightly, and then spread its wings outwards; with a pig-like squeal, it came to life and began to chat animatedly at the milling students.
Luna smiled and took out her own wand from beneath her robes. "Reparo," she said, in her clear and sweet voice. Bits of glass gathered themselves together, fusing and soaring back into the windows above.
McGonagall seemed pleased. "Thank you, Miss Lovegood," said the elderly woman, whose eyes seemed far and distant. The battle had taken a lot out of her, as was the massive clean-up operation. Each spell seemed to be cast with less and less conviction, and only seemed to heal a tiny part of the massive scar.
Luna watched, slightly sad for her, as she hobbled away into the castle. Her leg had been hurt during the battle, by a stray curse; McGonagall would probably never be able to walk properly again. It was tragic, that one who had given so much to a selfless cause would be rewarded by nothing but a crippled existence.
Then, feeling cheerful again, she flounced away. She would be back home by the evening, and then she could go to the river and fish for Gulping Plimpies.
Several hours later, the students left Hogwarts for home. They migrated en masse from the castle, entering the train and quickly finding compartments with their friends. There was much talk in the air, about Voldemort's downfall and of Harry Potter; no doubt they would revel in their glory, as participants in the Battle of Hogwarts.
The Express was not nearly as full as it had been at the start of the school year. Many had left the school just before the final battle, and many others had perished in the fight. Luna could remember the battle clearly, with curses and spells flying across the castle in barrages of light, tearing apart every mossy stone in the walls.
She had barely escaped with her life. But many had not, and she would remember their cold and dead faces for as long as she lived.
Luna quietly slipped into the compartment with her friends. Harry, Hermione, Ron, Neville and Ginny were seated inside, and silently acknowledged her presence as she occupied the last seat in the carriage. At a glance, she could tell that their minds and hearts were heavy with the weight of what had happened; she didn't blame them at all.
"I wonder what it will be like, next year," she said out loud. Some people thought her to be random and weird; but truthfully, she enjoyed the startling effect that her honesty had on people. "Everyone except Ginny will be gone."
She smiled at the red-haired girl, who seemed surprised by her sudden declaration, and added, "But it will be strange without the DA. It was almost like having friends."
Hermione interrupted her. The other witch had certainly melted her shell a little since they had first met, although she still refused to acknowledge the existence of the Crumple-Horned Snorkack- the horn of which would certainly have grown back by the time she returned home.
"I'm staying to complete my seventh year," she said. "Just because I had to save the world from Lord Voldemort with these two," she motioned at Harry and Ron, who grinned, "Doesn't mean that I have to enter society uneducated and unskilled!" She finished with a dirty glare at her two friends, who were decidedly not continuing their schooling.
Luna smiled gratefully. "Excellent, Hermione! I'm sure we'll have plenty of time to discuss the creatures that you don't believe in! A whole year, in fact!"
Hermione looked slightly pained. "Yes, Luna, I'm sure we will."
Then the train chugged off into the distance, leaving a veil of white smoke in its wake. Away from Hogwarts, back to King's Cross- before it would journey back in September. In that time, it would carry not the old students, who had faithfully rode it for seven years- but new faces, fresh talent to walk the halls of Hogwarts.
And then it would carry the strange blonde girl, whose large and peculiar eyes stared in a constant blank out its glass windows, to her final year in the place. Those who had shaped the course of the castle would not be returning- but a small portion of their legacy would be coming back to shape her own path in the world.