an. this went completely different than originally planned.

-River Stones-

He should have known better than to come back here.

They thought him a coward. Everywhere he went he could hear their whispers. He could feel the hatred they all had for him.

If only they would realize he was trying to make it right.

He wasn't perfect. He was a coward. He couldn't deny his past and he didn't plan to try. No more excuses. He woke up every morning and looked in the mirror, only to be reminded of how much he hated the man staring back at him.

Why didn't they see the pain in his eyes when they looked at him with such disdain?

Or maybe they did and they didn't care. Heaven knows, he had cause all of them enough pain to last a lifetime. He had always provided a sarcastic comeback or a distasteful comment. He had been rude, impatient, a downright obnoxious git, but he wanted to change.

He wished that just one person would give him the chance to be a better person.

Zacharias Smith sank to the damp earth that made up the river bank and watched as the crystal clear water flowed deeper into the Forbidden Forest.

Zacharias had not re-enlisted in the DA when they had reunited during his seventh year at Hogwarts. He hadn't been ready or willing to fight against the Carrows – or any death eaters. Deep down, he regretted that decision now, maybe things would have been different; maybe his classmates would have seen him differently. Unfortunately, the past was the past and he could not change his mistake. All he could was try to make it right.

During his seventh year, when he needed to escape, he would sneak out and come down to the river. He would sit on the cool earth and skip the stones, from the riverbed, across the water. It had been his only comfort, given the fact he had alienated all of his classmates.

Maybe that was why he found himself back in that same spot, he needed comfort. He had hoped when he came back to Hogwarts, to help rebuild, he would be able to make amends.

Instead, he found himself at the only place he had been able to find solace for the better part of a year.

He was shaded from the hot August sun as he reached down and picked up a small, smooth stone from the river bed and turned it slowly in his fingers.

He could guarantee – at one point – that stone had been rough - with cracks and jagged edges - just like him, but the water had, gradually, washed them away.

Maybe someday, his rough edges could be washed away.

"What are you doing sitting here all by yourself?" a soft feminine voice questioned. Zacharias turned to face the figure that had settled down beside him.

"Thinking," he replied. "What brings you out here Loon – Luna?" If he really wanted to make amends the first thing he could do was stop using nasty names from his childhood. He knew little about the blonde sitting beside him – except for what he had heard from others – what right did he have to judge her?

She hadn't shoved first years out of her way to escape the battle. She had been brave; she had stood and fought. That alone made her a better person than him.

"I saw you leave – I thought I should see if you were alright." She shrugged her slender shoulders as a small smile tweaked the corners of her full, pink lips. "I know what it's like, having everyone look at you that way, like you have no right to be there."

"It's for a completely different reason," he interrupted. "They don't hate you Luna – they don't understand you. They look at me with contempt; you don't know what that's like."

"No, I don't, but I know what it's like to be misunderstood—just like you." The patience in her voice irked him. What right did she have to sympathize with him? She was thought a hero and he a coward. "You want to make it right. I can see it in your eyes."

"What good is that if they won't give me a chance?"

"Give them time," she looked at him with stunningly blue eyes. "There is a way to redemption."

"And what would that be?"

"Love," she said the word like it was the simplest thing the world.

"And who could actually love me Luna?"

The blonde smiled and leaned back, lying down on the river bed. Her blue eyes looked up into the trees and her blonde hair settled around her like angel's wings. "You know, I'm sure there are plenty of things about you to love, once you break past the surface." He didn't respond. He just stared down at her. "You seem puzzled," she rose up onto her elbows. "What's bothering you?"

"Why exactly do you care? You, off all people, should hate me. You were one of the few who lead the army to beat Voldermort and I was one of the cowards who ran away." He looked down at the river, even more ashamed to have finally said it out loud.

"That's why I can't hate you."

Zacharias turned his eyes toward his companion again, knowing that his confusion was etched across his face.

"You're sorry. You regret what you did. You have grown up and you want to make it right… how could anyone hate that?" Luna smiled as she stared up at him.

At first he had been annoyed that she had followed him into the forest but now he was pleased. She very well might be an angel. She had illuminated the darkness that had surrounded him.

"Thank you Luna."

The blonde nodded and rose so she was kneeling next to him. Before he could say something about the close proximity her lips overtook his. He felt his heart flutter in his chest as she kissed him. He stared at her, stunned, when she finally released him from the kiss. "What was that for?"

"Call it silly, or stupid, or plain insanity, but I can't help but fall for a lost cause." She gracefully rose from the ground and began to walk, barefoot, he now noticed, toward the castle grounds.

"Oi, Luna, where are you going?"

"Back to help build. I'll see you when you come back, because I know you will," she smiled sweetly before disappearing amongst the trees.

Zacharias stared at his reflection in the water. He still wore a stunned expression on his face but he also noticed that, for the first time in months, he also wore a smile.

Maybe he had finally found the water that would wash away those jagged edges.

an. well, I'm sad to say that this will be my last story for this fandom, at least for a while. I'm not sure if I'll ever come back, but for now, it's not looking like it. I really hope you guys enjoyed this, it was very strange for me to write it. It is for a few challenges on the HPFC.

Title Swap Competition (Thank you so much for the extension) – "River Stones" and the character Zacharias Smith
The Super Insane Prompt Challenge – Insanity
The Fragrance 400 – "Angels Wings" + the prompt illuminated.
Competition I'm falling in love Again – Luna/Zacharias. (Although, I won't be finishing this challenge.)
The If You Dare Challenge - #128 Patch of Ground

Well, that's it. I proofread, but I'm not perfect so I apologize for any grammar/spelling mistakes. I hope you enjoyed this + reviews make me smile = D