Chapter One: The First Hour

Harry awoke with a start, Ron had knocked over some glasses returning to his bed from visiting the toilet; forcing Harry to give up on his attempt at slumber and survey the damage that had been caused the night before. He glanced at his watch and noticed that it displayed '11:02' AM, it had only been 7 AM when he retired to bed... Harry sighed, but relished the fact that perhaps from now on sleeping would come a little bit easier than it had the past year when he had been journeying all over the country trying to find horcruxes and escape Lord Voldemort's grasp. Harry was brought out of his moment of contemplation as Hermione emerged through the portrait and walked at his side down the staircase. The two exchanged greetings and Harry noticed how Hermione looked just as bad as Harry had when he momentarily noticed his reflection the night before. The friends were covered in cuts & brusies, dust marks still literring their hair and the clothes they had been wearing; which they had alsot slept in.

"It'll be alright won't it?" Hermione asked sheepishly, turning to Harry, a scared yet somehow secure look on her face. Harry turned to face Hermione and smiled, something he had not been able to do for a long while.

"Of course... Voldemort is finally gone, I mean, it's going to be difficult, but we'll get there" Harry replied, pulling Hermione into a quick hug. The two traversed a small gap in the staircase where a stray spell had broken it apart. As they got closer to where the epicentre of the battle had been they noticed portraits returning to their homes, which they had fled the night before. A chorus of applause echoed all through the large area they were in, the noises seemingly bouncing off the walls then returning to their ears to assault Harry & Hermione with another barrage of sound.

"It's amazing isn't it? this feels so... different" Hermione said, her eyes flickering all over the place as they retreated into the Great Hall.

"Yeah, it's just strange to not feel like we should be hiding, or casting protective enchantments... we can just be normal" Harry said, smiling once more to hismelf as they etnered the hall. Harry's smile quickly faded as he surveyed the damage, a huge gaping hole in the Great Hall's roof exposed the lush morning sunlight that was bleeding into the room. At the end of the hall there was a mix of the all the gems that had made up the house point totals before they were blown apart by straying spells & curses. Harry caught McGonnagal's eye, who was staring down at the many, many bodies that lay on small canvases on the floor; still like they were sleeping, yet they would never wake again.

"Hello Potter, Ms Granger" McGonnagal said, she sounded dissappointed, sorrowful even. Harry & Hermione stepped past some of the fallen to reach McGonnagal as if just the three of them being together among the dead would make them all feel more comfortable, more like they deserved to be alive, more like they shouldn't join the dead that surrounded them.

"It's such a waste... such a dreadful shame" McGonnagal continued, Hermione placed a supportive arm around her, rejecting the level of formality that McGonnagal ususally effortlessly enforced in the relationship betweeen teacher & student.

"It was for the greater good, they all died so that the future could live..." Hermione replied, her voice cracking as she finished surveying the room, noticing several friends, even her schoolyard enemies. Lavender Brown lay to the left of the large group of the dead, her bloody throat exposed, small veins exposed like the tendrils of a mythical sea creature. She had been too late to save Lavender, but knew she couldn't change it now.

"At least it's over" Harry said, "At least we can move on, or try" Harry continued, smiling at the both of them, the three of them united in the grief for the many that had died to save Hogwarts and the future of the wizarding world.

Meanwhile, Ginny had just woken up and found herself close to her Mother, laying on her chest like she would when she was a child and one of brothers had been a little too rough with her during play & hurt her. Ginny was pining for her lost brother, Fred. Although he had only been gone for a matter of hours, Ginny felt like she had known he was dead for an eternity. Her face sore from the tears she had cried through the night.

"Hello Ginny" a serene voice said, Ginny jolted round and saw Luna Lovegood, her hair messily tangled into a pony-tail.

"Hey" Ginny replied, who was admittedly very close to Luna, almost sisterly; yet was not sure she could handle the occasional coldly honest demeanour Luna would give off.

"Death's not always the end you know, I still feel like Mum's here... well, she is really. Dad always says that people that we love can die, but they're always here" Luna said, pointing to her head, and then her heart. Ginny smiled, it was the first time that one of Luna's slightly bonkers sentences had truly stirred some great emotion within her, the idea that Fred would always be there making a joke or smiling that terrific smile near to her comforted her, it made her feel like she would always have a part of him with her.