Harry made his way up towards Gryffindor Tower that first evening, alone. Ron, with Hermione who didn't want to leave his side, had rejoined his family in the Great Hall. Harry had paused to watch Ginny from the doorway. Her arms were around a dry eyed George both comforting each other. Harry felt the guilt of the dead rising up within him,
"Not now," he thought to himself, "later."
The portrait of the Fat Lady smiled when she saw Harry approach her.
"Welcome," she beamed, "you do not need a password tonight," as she swung open.
"Thank you" replied Harry with a weary smile and he climbed into the deserted common room and slowly up the winding stone stairs.
Kreacher was already waiting for him as he entered the familiar dormitory with the five four poster beds that him and his fellow classmates had shared during his school years. It was if Kreacher had read his mind as he was holding a tray with delicious looking sandwiches and a steaming mug of tea.
"For you, Master," he beamed.
"Thank you Kreacher," Harry repiled, "and thank you for your bravery in battle. Regulus would have been proud." Kreacher's large eyes widened and watered. He placed the tray beside Harry's bed.
"Let me know if you need anything else, Master. I wish to return to the repair teams. Parts of the castle took heavy damage but we are working to get it back to normal. Eventually." Harry looked at the now loyal House Elf that stood before him with growing affection. Kreacher could never replace Dobby, again the guilt threatened to rise at just the fleeting thought of him, but Kreacher slowly was becoming important in Harry's life.
"Just remember to get some rest as well and that's an order." Harry said with a small grin. Kreacher smiled, bowed and disappeared with a pop.
Harry sat on his bed and mechanically ate the sandwiches and drank the tea. A small part of his brain acknowledged that the sandwiches were wonderful but the rest was too tired to register the fact fully. He swallowed the last mouthful as his head hit the pillow already in a deep and for once, dreamless sleep.
In the Great Hall, the Weasleys and Hermione sat around one end of the Gryffindor table. Mrs Weasley red eyed but no longer crying announced in her strongest mum voice that everyone must eat before going to get some sleep. George looked blankly at his mother, food seemed like an alien concept, even when the mini feast appeared in front of them, he looked bewildered as if he had never eaten before and did not know what to do. The rest of the group, tentatively began to eat although it wasn't long for Ron to have his mouth full with both hands holding a chicken drumstick each, well it had been a while since he had had a decent meal. George sat and watched.
"Please George," pleaded Ginny in a small but determined voice, "just a little bit." She offered him a chicken drumstick. George looked at the food and was about to shake his head until he looked into Ginny's eyes. They were full of love and pain but with the underlying steely determination that he thought only his mother could project. There was suddenly a little voice in his head, George was not sure if it was his own or Fred's (he would have to think about that later), reminded him of Ginny's perfect execution of the Bogey Bat hex. He wordlessly took the drumstick from her and slowly began to eat, praying that he would be able to swallow and not be sick.
On a different table, Luna sat quietly amongst a group of fellow survivors. She had been watching the Weasley group when the food appeared in front of them and a split second later, food had appeared on their table as well. Luna was now eating a bowl of apple crumble and custard, puddings were always her favourite. Luna was people watching, a favourite pastime. To her left sat Neville, eating heartily with his new found confidence, it suited him. He was not big-headed just sure of himself and his abilities. You could almost say one of the wars success stories, thought Luna, if such a thing was possible. Opposite him were Dean and Seamus, Seamus was upset as Lavender, although still alive, had been badly injured by Fenrir Greyback and was currently en-route to St Mungos, Dean was comforting him. Dean turned and gave a small smile to Luna, they seemed to have been able to strike up a friendship with everything they had gone through. Friends, thought Luna, I now have a growing number of people I can honestly say are my friends, could that be counted as a success as well?
Luna looked across to the Weasleys again, she saw Ginny alternatively keeping a watchful eye on George and glancing towards the door, no doubt hoping Harry would enter. Ron was eating enough for two, if he was a girl you may think he was pregnant, mused Luna, wondering if he had somehow been hit with a reverse procreation spell. Hermione sat next to him looking, at first glance, aghast at the amount of food Ron was eating but on closer examination, Luna saw the love in her eyes. Mr and Mrs Weasley were sitting close together that shouted out their closeness for each other. Percy was talking to Bill, Fleur and Charlie, he looked drawn and tired but it was George that showed the most strain, understandably of course. He looked lost and removed from the family, something Luna had never seen before when the Weasleys were together, as long as you ignored Percy's previous stupidity that is. Luna ached as she watched George slowly chew on a small bite of chicken, she felt a strong urge to rush over and hold him but that was loony even for her, she thought to herself.
Professor McGonagall entered the hall. She never felt more proud and sad as she looked around, what was now, her school.
"Everyone," she began, "the undamaged classrooms have been made into makeshift rooms with beds for anyone who wishes to rest. All rooms will adapt to each parties needs. All dormitories are suitable for sleeping in as well, no passwords will be needed tonight."
With those words she gave a small smile and left the Hall. It was time for her to claim the head teachers office. As she entered, she noted with a sad smile that the statue which had been a phoenix in Dumbledore's time, was now a cat. She still did not understand why it had been a doe when Snape had been Headmaster, she had thought it would have been a snake. Now she would probably never know she mused to herself.