Disclaimer: All the characters, places, objects in this fanfic belong to JK Rowling. I'm just borrowing them for a while.
The Hogwarts train was slowly chugging from Scotland back to London and King's Cross Station. The cross country journey normally took a long time, filling nearly a whole day but today the journey felt like it was taking days instead of hours. Not that Luna normally minded. Time sped by so fast and people wasted so much of it running to get things done that in a few years wouldn't even matter. Thought of in the short term journeys of these lengths were unbearable but viewed in the long term, it was good to have the time to sit and think. Yet today there was something different in the air that filled the compartment.
The five of them were crammed in the old train compartment, as it rattled along and a variety of trees swept past the window. Life seemed so much freer and easier amongst those trees.
Sweet Neville Longbottom, he had always talked to her even though she had often scared him with her comments, Neville was tending to a plant.
Intelligent but painfully limited Hermione Granger was reading yet another book that would, no doubt, provide her with facts to quote at people.
Brash and occasionally ill-tempered Ronald Weasley was about to lose his eyebrows as he built a house out of Exploding Snap cards.
And melancholy Harry Potter was starring out the large windows at the landscape, just like his former girlfriend had done before. Harry Potter was sad. He had looked like this, last year when his godfather had died. And when Harry Potter was sad, he isolated himself.
Luna always enjoyed observing people.
She loved watching their movements, their interactions with other people and wondering what was going on in their minds. It really was fascinating to watch other people. There was no need for big bangs and dramatic gestures, just for the point of making them if it meant overlooking so many little things, that showed people's real feeling. The little gestures that people used when no one else was looking so often showed their true character. Sometimes the littlest gestures showed the most.
Take Harry who was sitting opposite as an example. Harry Potter was rarely still unless he was sad or was over-thinking something and right now, he was still. There was clearly something going on in his mind that was more than the death of Albus Dumbledore. It was hard not to notice that Ginny Weasley was no longer constantly at his side. In those days directly following the headmaster's death, she had seen him all around school with Ginny Weasley still at his side. When so many people had looked sad, Harry and Ginny could still be seen smiling at each other when they were together.
Clearly something had happened to part the pair that had become more inseparable than a pair of Crumple-Horned Snorkacks, and it was more than the headmaster's death. Everyone knew that once Crumple-Horned Snorkacks, found their mates they mated for life and were rarely seen without the other apart from when they left the other's company to die.
Maybe that was why Harry had left Ginny's side; he thought that he was going off to die.
Ginny Weasley had told her after the funeral that she and Harry Potter had broken up, not that Luna had needed telling. She had been people-watching then, just like today. She had seen them talk, she had watched as they spoke and then Harry had disappeared in one direction, Ginny in another. She had watched as Ronald and Hermione had followed Harry, and Ginny had been left alone. She had watched as Ginny went to the lake alone to sit there until Luna had made the unusual decision to join her.
She normally left people alone when they sat by themselves, watching from afar, not wishing to disturb. In her experience, when people disappeared from others they often wished to be alone. However, she had only ever seen Ginny Weasley act this strangely once before and that was in their second year, the year that they had become friends. On that occasion, what Ginny had needed was a friend and not to sit alone and something in Luna's core had told her that it was the same with the events of yesterday.
Luna had known something was wrong as she had watched her friend yesterday and something had told her to go to her Ginny and strangely she had decided to act on those instincts. It wasn't right to surround one person and to leave the other one suffering alone.
Ginny had just sat there, still, staring out into the lake.
The first thing that had alerted her to the fact that something was wrong that Harry wasn't with her. For the last couple of months, every time she had looked for her best friend, Harry Potter had been by her side. This happened to the extent that more than once she had worried she would lose her friend entirely. In reality though, he had drawn her closer to Ronald, Hermione and himself. Yet after a funeral, and everyone always commented on how sad funerals were and how people needed to stick together, turning to those they loved, Ginny was alone. If there was any time one would expect Harry Potter to be at her side it was then.
The second thing that was wrong was that Ginny Weasley was still; Ginny Weasley was never still. Ginny Weasley was a Quidditch player who played in the heat of the action to the extent that she had picked up several minor injuries in the last year. Ginny had often said to her that there was no point in waiting for things to happen, when Luna had asked her why she had almost hung off her broom letting her get hit by a Bludger as she scored instead of waiting for a less dangerous chance to put the ball through the hoops while Ginny had cleaned a bloody nose after the Hufflepuff match. If you sat on the broom waiting for the Quaffle you were never going to score; you had to win each of tackles in the centre of the field to get the Quaffle in the first place, stealing the ball from other players instead of waiting for a pass, you had to be involved in the heat of the action and Ginny took that attitude off the Quidditch pitch too.
In class, Ginny was confident to answer questions and even when bored in lessons, instead of daydreaming she would doodle on her parchment or make paper birds and float them in the air with her wand. She had to be doing something. In short, she was very much a fidget. Ginny would smile, laugh, engage friends in lively conversations, duel in the corridors but not stay still. She doubted Ginny had the patience for stillness.
While Luna may have spent time thinking over things and watching other people, Ginny was full of energy. It was an infectious energy really. It was hard to stay still watching when Ginny was talking, laughing, taking flight on her broomstick or bouncing around the school. There were so many people attracted to that energy, which was probably why Ginny Weasley had so many friends.
That was why it was so strange to see her alone. The last time she had seen Ginny alone was at the start of her second year at Hogwarts after the Dementors had come on the train. Just like then, Ginny had chosen to be alone.
It was easy to see why Harry and Ginny worked so well together.
Just ten minutes by that lake showed how noble she was. She wasn't going to make Harry suffer by arguing with him. Luna had seen Ginny arguing with so many people but something about what had happened had changed her. Ginny had understood what he was doing and why and was not going to spend hours in a pointless debate or cry for the sake of trying to change Harry's mind.
Luna couldn't stand girls that cried for no reason and there was no doubting that Ginny Weasley was made of tougher stuff than the other girls in the Ravenclaw fifth year dormitory. It was also the same reason why just twenty minutes into the journey, Ginny had given some feeble excuse about needing to exchange some notes despite the fact that the OWL exams were suspended indefinitely and headed out of the compartment to join some of the girls from her Gryffindor dormitory.
She had no doubt that Ginny was not sitting there exchanging notes or enjoying a game of Exploding Snap surrounded by lively conversation, that normally followed Ginny around. Instead she expected that Ginny was sitting there still, just like Harry was in this compartment.
Ginny was not going to put Harry through the pain of having her there. Just like Harry was not going to risk hurting Ginny by making their love known to Voldemort and the Death Eaters. It was the same reason why she was so sure that whatever Ginny said, this split was temporary.
Harry and Ginny were a pair of Crumple-Horned Snorkacks, in a way, and now that they had found each other, they had mated for life.
That didn't stop Luna being worried though. Not only the silence that had filled the compartment but Ginny's disappearance had convinced her that the dynamics were about to change again. Over the last month, Harry, Hermione, Ronald, Neville, Ginny and herself had been less a group of twos and threes and more a group of six.
If Harry had broken up with Ginny to stop her from getting hurt then he was hardly likely to want help from Neville or herself. Unlike Ginny, she preferred patience and sitting, thinking things over and watching as events unfolded to action. This, however, the more she had watched recent events, the more she had known that this was a fight that she wanted to be involved in. She had always known that He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named would threaten the world and her father told her about Death Eater raids and the terror from before but it was more than just that; Harry was her friend and she wanted to help him.
Luna looked over at Harry. He was staring aimlessly out the window as well. She couldn't help but feel sorry for him. She didn't want Harry Potter to feel sad. He had always been nice to her and had never laughed at her. If anyone was deserving of happiness, it was probably Harry Potter.
As the journey continued and all her observations had been made, she picked up her copy of The Quibbler. She sat back and enjoyed the stillness and silence as she took a pen from behind her ear and started to answer the questions on the quiz.
She was amazed how pure silence unnerved so many people when it just gave you time to think and there was nothing unnerving at being left alone with your thoughts.
The noise of the food trolley broke the silence and the peace of the compartment as Ronald knocked over his own card tower as he jumped to his feet making several small explosions. Moments later he returned, his arms filled with Chocolate Frog packets, Ronald seemed to have an incredible appetite which would no doubt only be partly filled by a dozen Chocolate Frogs.
Luna lowered her father's magazine as Ronald ripped open the first of his packets. He caught the frog with instincts that must have been honed from having Quaffles thrown at him. Many people suggested that something was wrong with her mind but at least she didn't float in the air inviting people to throw heavy balls at her. Ronald shoved the Chocolate Frog in his mouth before looking at the card.
"Dumbledore," he spluttered through a mouthful of chocolate.
"Ron," Hermione glared at him as she said his name in that disgusted fashion she reserved only for him, seemingly unhappy that he had not waited to swallow the chocolate before talking.
Harry finally pulled his glance from the window and out of whatever thought that had been preoccupying him. He took the card out of Ronald's hand and stared at the picture of his old headmaster for a moment before turning it to the writing on the back.
Harry read out loud for the rest of them to hear, "Albus Dumbledore, former Headmaster of Hogwarts. Considered by many the greatest wizard of modern times. Professor Dumbledore is particularly famous for leading the organisation the Order of the Phoenix against He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, his defeat of the dark wizard Grindelwald in 1945, the discovery of the twelve uses of dragon's blood and" he gave Ron and Hermione a small attempt at a smile, "his work on alchemy with his partner, Nicolas Flamel."
He paused, "Dumbledore was a collector of socks and enjoyed chamber music and tenpin bowling."
Harry looked up at them when he had finished reading, passing the card onto Hermione who had her hand out waiting for it. No doubt, Hermione needed to process the facts herself.
Silence fell as they all sat still again. They were all sad about Albus Dumbledore's death. The great man had been their leader and the one who had inspired hope against the Death Eaters and He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named and now that hope was falling on their shoulders and already having a dramatic effect on their lives.
"They've changed the card already," Harry finally said.
"It probably just happened magically on his death," Hermione observed, struggling over the last word.
"But still," Harry said, "it's too soon."
Luna looked around the compartment and smiled before looking at Harry, "Well, I think it's about right; a lot of things have changed now. There's no point in waiting to show those changes." She spoke bluntly as her father had always told her to do.
She never saw the point of sugar-coating things such as the quills that so many of her fellow fifth years bought in Honeydukes. She always found that after the sweetness had worn off she was left with a sickly feeling. She thought it best to just be honest in the first place and face that sickly feeling head on.
"People have died." Luna looked at the empty seat and as she paused to do so the other five turned to look with her. They were all thinking the same thing: the fact that Ginny had chosen not to be with them was hurting them. It showed that you didn't have to die for others to miss you. "And others have felt the need to temporarily move on."
Everyone was looking at her now and she could clearly see Hermione was frowning at her. Hermione often didn't like the words she used, and they had spoken about that before. It was the mark of a true friend that you could be so different from someone else yet still be there for them in the end.
Whether the current situation, which included both Harry and Ginny's break up and the war they where fighting was going to last a month, a year, a decade or even a hundred years, with the support that all six of them showed each other, they were going to be back shoulder to shoulder in the end. Ginny would be back in Harry's arms, her infectious laugher bringing them all to life. Ronald and Hermione would be arguing with each other. Neville smiling as he talked in those soft tones and she would be sitting back watching.
"But they will come back; they always do. We never lose the people that have loved us." Luna smiled softly as she spoke, "I wonder what Dumbledore's interest was with chamber music, though; the humming of Nargles is much more peaceful."
With that the compartment went back to silence as they steadily made their way back to King's Cross Station in London.