Please look up "Les danse des trois bergères," by Camille Jean-Baptiste Corot before you read this.


25 June 1997

As Harry, Ron, and Hermione sat on the banks of the lake, where they'd been since Dumbledore's funeral had ended, three figures appeared, silhouetted in the castle doorway. Slowly but surely, the three shadows crossed the lawn and came to join Harry, Ron, and Hermione where they sat. Ginny, Neville, and Luna stood a few feet away, silently asking if they could come closer.

Hermione waved them over, and Neville came to sit down a little stiffly on Ron's other side. He was still recovering from the battle. Ginny and Luna sank down on either side of Hermione.

"We wondered where you'd gone," Ginny said quietly. Harry couldn't look at her, but he nodded.

"We've just been talking," he answered.

There was an uncomfortable silence, and a cool wind whipped past them. Storm clouds were building on the horizon as the sun went down.

"Things are going to be really different," said Neville softly, staring at the clouds. "Everything's about to change."

"But we'll always be here," Luna said, looking around at them. "And that's what counts." Harry hoped his discomfort didn't show. Ginny didn't meet his eyes.

Ron dropped back on the grass, staring up at the sky. "Hogwarts, Hogwarts, hoggy, warty Hogwarts, teach us something, please," he chanted under his breath.

Hermione and the girls stared at him. Harry started to smile, and he and Neville joined in with Ron.

"Whether we be old and bald, or young with scabby knees," Ron sang a little louder, sitting up and putting his arms around Harry and Neville's necks.

"Our heads could do with filling, with interesting stuff, for now they're bare, and full of air, dead flies and bits of fluff!" Luna sang loudly, leaping to her feet and twirling. She seized Hermione and Ginny by the hands and pulled them up, dragging them in a circle, like Muggle children playing a game.

The wind started to pick up. All six of them sang together, louder with every line. Harry felt tears sting his eyes and squeezed them shut, throwing one arm around Ron and feeling Neville do the same. His throat began to burn as each of them began to yell, rather than sing.

"So teach us things worth knowing!

Bring back what we've forgot!

Just do your best, we'll do the rest,

and learn until our brains all rot!"

Laughing, crying, and breathless, the girls tumbled onto the grass in a heap. Harry looked over at them. Ginny had tears spilling from the corners of her closed eyes, and a pained smile on her lips. Hermione had covered her face and was sobbing gently. Luna was staring up at the sky, darkening with clouds and the falling twilight, her eyes sparkling with unshed tears as she caught her breath.

Harry turned to Ron and Neville. Neville's eyes were full of tears as well, and Ron's smile was fading as he stared at the grass. Harry released Ron and lay back on the grass. The silence was broken only by his friends' breathing, the rustle of the trees, and the gentle whoosh of the lake, as the unseasonably cold wind blew past.


For MidsummerNightGirl's "Inspired By A Painting" competition.