Chapter One- Loony
“This is the third time, Miss Lovegood!”
Professor Flitwick stood in the middle of the stony hall. The little man’s face was red in anger and she could easily see the tiny veins that throbbed in his forehead, even though it was nearly midnight and the light was dull. He was hissing at a niche she could not really see from her place just around the corner, but she was sure who he was hissing at.
There was something strange about that girl.
It was not because of the several strange little things she used that acted as jewelry, nor was it because her face was more often than not stained. It was not because her hair was the longest she had ever seen, reaching almost her knees, nor was it because she always had that lost, faraway look in her icy eyes.
This girl was different, but it had nothing to do with the way she looked.
She was pretty, sure. Her face has already lost the baby fat most her classmates still had, and she could easily see a womanly figure starting to develop. Her blonde hair swayed with every step she took and her pale blue eyes barely shone with the light, giving her a haunted air of… loneliness. Yes, the girl was lonely. The lithe blonde was always by herself, reading in the corners and little niches that overpopulated the castle. The students parted like the Red Sea every time they saw her approaching and everybody in her year made it to never be near the one they called Loony.
If she could remember the Sorting Ceremony that was the name this strange petit girl had. She was a Claw, but, strangely enough, her tie and robes didn’t bore the bronze/blue theme the others did. Her uniform was as black as they came when recently bought, and it was never worn properly. The skirt was always askew, the tie untied, the jacket untucked and she rarely wore the school socks, simply preferring those with rainbows, kittens or smiley faces.
That was the name the people called her. Be it her year-mates, housemates, classmates. Even the staff sometimes referred of her as that, but always in private and with each other, or in other words, when they thought nobody was near to hear them. Everybody knew of her, but there was barely anyone that knew her.
Ginny Weasley was her only friend. Or, rather, had been her only friend. The young Gryffindor had entered a year after her youngest brother, and two years later, Luna Lovegood had entered Ravenclaw. It had been painfully obvious that years in Hogwarts have changed Ginny as she no longer wanted to be the blonde’s friend, just as Ron’s year apart from Ginny had strained their own relationship.
Poor Luna, she had arrived to Hogwarts believing that Ginny would still be willing to play with her, just as they had done in the past. She had believed that Ron was the sweet boy she remembered from her childhood, where he would play the groom to her bride, while Ginny married the heavily mismatched couple.
She herself had wanted to meet the girl, but the opportunity had never presented itself. She had seen her in the library countless of occasions, yet every time she had tried to approach her Ron or Harry had appeared in front of her trying to bribe her to do their homework, or she would simply lose her before she could try and get up from her customary table in the little nook that her favorite bookcases made. She really wanted to talk to the girl, but it was never meant to happen.
Where she can easily concede that she was the last to really know the girl, the blonde had sparked enough of her curiosity to actually try and get to know facts about the girl… only to be smacked in the face with the knowledge that nobody knew about her and those who did simply spoke rubbish about her.
The girl was a mystery, she would easily concede she had many quirks, but what she was seeing was definitely something beyond what she thought possible of her.
That voice. Merlin, she had never heard something smaller, more scared, more wounded. She had never heard the girl speak before, but certainly this whispered echo was not what she expected. The little girl’s voice trembled, in fear or cold, she was not sure. It was melodic, but she had the feeling that it was missing some warmth and joy. Why was this girl so scarred?
“That would be twenty points from Ravenclaw, Miss Lovegood.” The exasperated Head of House nearly shouted. She had never seen the Professor this angry, this aggressive. This scary. She reacted before she could think.
“Uh, Professor Flitwick?” She walked slowly to where the man was, almost instantly seeing what the diminutive man was seeing.
She almost gasped.
Sure that was Luna Lovegood. But that was not the quirky second year Claw she had come to kind of know. This girl was a ghost. A little girl that had been broken so many times she was no longer human. This Luna was almost naked, only a thin camisole and a pair of white cotton panties protected her lithe body from the harsh December air. Her hair pointed everywhere and her cheeks were red and a little stained with dirt. Soft tears ran down her face, and, for the first time, her eyes shone with alarm.
“Ah, Miss Granger. I see you’re taking your role as Prefect seriously.” The half goblin smiled pleased.
‘How can he smile when Luna is there, terrified to death and freezing? The bastard is smiling!’ Hermione thought bitterly. “Yes, Professor.” She betrayed nothing of what was running through her head. “This is the last part of my rounds.” She looked at Luna, her features those of a neutral mask. If there was something she learnt at Hogwarts was that the less you showed of your emotions, the better you could deal with people. “What’s going on here?”
Flitwick immediately turned stern again. “Miss Lovegood is out of her dormitory and in a state of poor clothing, again.” He snarled.
‘Bad move there, Professor. Never get angry.’ She blinked. “And may I inquire why that is?” Sure the man was intelligent enough to know that no girl, no one really, would be out in this weather at midnight by their own will, right?
The man just scoffed. “Miss Lovegood is a strange creature, Miss Granger. She does things like this all the time.”
Hermione just managed to stop the snarl that wanted to come out to bite the small man’s head off. Wizards had no common sense, that was true enough, but this was just ridiculous. Luna whimpered. “But sure there is a reason why Miss Lovegood is out here, ill dressed, on the cold December air at midnight, yes?” ‘Please use your head for once, Filius! Someone did something to her, see the obvious man!’
Apparently her silent prod went unheard because the man just shrugged. “Miss Lovegood is a strange creature.” He repeated as he looked to the younger girl with something between pity and disgust. “You may leave to your dorm, girl. And no more wandering around!”
“Yes, Professor.” Luna said softly and started walking… the opposite way from Ravenclaw’s Tower.
“Good night, Professor.” Hermione half nodded, half bowed to the Charms Professor before he could even blink. “I must finish my rounds.”
“Very well, Miss Granger.” There was that stupid smile again. “Good night to you too.”
“Thank you Professor.” She turned and walked briskly, easily following Luna’s retreating form.
The girl was not exactly quick, but she had managed to almost round the corner at the end of a long hallway and Hermione had to run to catch her. She needed to talk to her, to see if she was alright, to make sure she was safe. That look in her eyes, when Flitwick had called her strange to her face, had nearly broken her heart in two. The girl had been hurt by her Head of House, and he didn’t care.
“Miss Lovegood! Wait!” She called swiftly, reaching the girl after her speedy jog.
Luna stopped, dead in her tracks. She turned slowly, the hurt in her eyes gone only to be replaced by… nothing. The girl's face was void of emotion, she looked like a china doll. Her face was white as marble, stained with the mixture of tears and dirt. Her camisole easily showed how cold she was, but the barefoot girl didn’t speak, simply looked at her.
“Are you ok?” Hermione asked. She was given no answer. “What happened, Miss Lovegood?”
The girl simply looked away.
Hermione huffed softly, and Luna flinched faintly. The oldest girl rose an eyebrow. “Miss Lovegood?”
“There are Moon Frogs hopping behind you.”
“Uh?” Looking slightly behind her, Hermione turned back just in time to stop a wandering Luna to escape her interrogation by holding her shoulder firmly with her right hand, noticing how the girl tensed. “Nice try, young lady, I’m not that easily distracted.”
Slowly putting her left hand in the other shoulder she felt the icy skin beneath her warm one, yet the little body didn’t relax. “Now tell me. What is wrong?” Sure the girl had suffered from something, but the actual state of her clothes let her believe nothing too bad had happened. Or at least she hoped so.
Luna just look through her. Not at her, no, through her.
Hermione sighed. This was a lost cause and it was late. She would have finished her rounds way earlier if she hadn’t found a couple of third years snogging away near the Astronomy Tower and she was tired. ‘But then again, I wouldn’t have found Luna and Filius.’ Reaching to her chest she swiftly undo the clasp in her school robe and took it off. With a smile and a slight nod, she let the robe fall onto the other girl’s shoulders. While the robe was at least two sizes too big, and three inches too long, it did wonders for the freezing little Claw. “Come on, then, I’ll walk you to your dorm.”
She easily held her by the arm and started walking from where they were coming.
It was quiet, so quiet she was not sure exactly if the girl had spoken. “You said something?” Only to have a lifeless stare as her answer. ‘Figure as much.’ She just kept walking.
The girl didn’t resist, though she didn’t help either. She simply let herself been dragged through the school to the Ravenclaw Tower, besides the Gryffindor one.
Just when they were approaching the stairs that would led them to the bronze knocker when Luna came out of her stupor. “Stop.”
Hermione stopped. At least this time she did hear something. “What’s the matter?”
Luna finally looked at her. “Please, no.”
Hermione simply blinked. “No what?”
“Please.” It was said with so much emotion that the brunette was actually confused. A little moisture gathered at the corner of pale blue eyes. “Please.”
“Please what?” Hermione murmured. She could understand the girl was scared, but not of what.
“Please don’t make me go back!” And, then, Luna Lovegood broke.