Chapter 1: The First Night
It wasn't really like she had expected it to be, but then, these things never were.
In the same way that the past was sepia toned and full of gramophone hisses, in the same way that her mother, however else she was remembered, would always be smiling from the mantelpiece in buttercup wedding robes, something about imaginings of the future, however carefully pictured, was insubstantial. She could not possibly know, until that day arrived, how the stones would feel beneath her feet, how the air would thrum with excitement, and, most of all, how the knowledge that the long-imagined day was finally here would fill her with such giddy, nervous excitement that she would want to shout at the top of her lungs "I'm at Hogwarts!"
But the huge, vaunted ceiling of the Entrance Chamber looked like it could absorb a million cries of excitement into nothingness, so instead Luna Lovegood turned to the girl she had shared a train compartment with and whispered excitedly "Isn't it amazing?"
"Sure." Ginny Weasley was clearly trying to be enthusiastic, but she looked a little queasy.
Perhaps she was worried about the Sorting? Yes, that was probably it. Luna's father had told her that the Sorting Hat was powerfully enchanted and whatever it told her would be true and it was up to her to make the best of it, but he would always love her no matter what. Luna had only laughed, because he was her father and of course they would always love each other no matter what, and besides, what could possibly be bad about knowing the truth about who you really were?
But Ginny, she remembered, had a lot of older brothers in Gryffindor and she supposed that brothers might be a different story. They had seemed alright the last time she had spoken to them, but a lot could change in two years.
"Don't worry –"
But before Luna could say any more, Professor McGonagall was asking for silence, and Ginny didn't seem to notice Luna trying to smile encouragingly at her, and then they were walking into the Great Hall and Luna forgot everything else.
There was so much to see and she'd heard about the ceiling and the floating candles and the House tables and the professors and she'd tried and tried to see them in her head but it had never been anything close to this and even if she stood here for seven whole years she would never have looked hard enough or long enough and she wanted to know everything and –
She made her way to the stool and couldn't help beaming as she put the hat on her head.
Luna was a little disappointed that it hadn't told her more because she really had wanted to know but the table on her right was cheering and she was a Ravenclaw just like her parents had both been and the Hat really thought she could be wise and witty and if she smiled any harder her mouth was going to fall off.
Ginny, Luna was pleased to see, had been Sorted into Gryffindor, so she would be with her brothers after all – and, of course, Harry Potter. Luna remembered too late that Ginny's brother Ron and Harry Potter had both been late onto the train, and she realised that might have been why Ginny looked so worried.
She felt bad for forgetting but when she had asked Ginny about it on the train she girl had flushed bright red and changed the subject. Luna had guessed at the time that the two boys were playing some kind of prank and had asked Ginny to cover for them – Ginny's brothers had always liked practical jokes –but now she wasn't so sure. She wanted to crane her head around to make sure that they were at the Gryffindor table but there were too many people in the way and she wasn't very sure what either of them looked like.
A sudden wave of noise swept through the Hall, and Luna realised she hadn't heard Dumbledore announcing the start of dinner. Why was she so unfocussed tonight? Of course, there was a lot to focus on, but –
Oh! She knew what the problem was. There must be one of those creatures her father had been telling her about – a wrackspurt! Of course, Hogwarts would attract all kinds of magical creatures – the prefects would know all about it.
"Excuse me," she said to the girl sitting next to her. "Do you happen to know if there might be some wrackspurts present?"
"Wrackspurts?" The older girl looked confused. "What are they?"
"They're invisible creatures that float between your ears and make your brain go all fuzzy and –"
The boy on Luna's other side looked around his head nervously.
"Don't worry," she told him. "It doesn't hurt, they just make you a little bit forgetful sometimes."
"No, they don't," the Prefect girl said firmly. "I've never heard of wrackspurts. Don't make things up to tease people."
"I'm not making it up," Luna explained. "They were only discovered very recently. My father told me all about it – there was an article in the Quibbler -"
A boy on the opposite side of the table laughed.
"Roger, don't laugh." the Prefect girl said warningly.
"But Penny, the Quibbler?"
"We're all here to learn," Penny told him. "I don't think there are any wrackspurts in here, you're probably just tired. What did you say your name was again?"
"I'm Luna. Luna Lovegood."
Roger laughed again, and Penny glared at him.
"Well, Luna, I'm sure you'll fit right into Ravenclaw if you keep asking lots of questions, but perhaps stick to something more… mainstream."
Luna nodded, although she didn't really understand the problem. Didn't all the other Ravenclaws want to know about her father's discoveries? But perhaps they wanted to read about it for themselves, and after all the article had only come out last month. Soon, they would have read it and they would all want to know more about her brilliant father and his incredible stories.
She was sure of it.
Chapter 2: The First Day
The first year Ravenclaws, Luna was quickly discovering, were not as inquisitive as their House values encouraged them to be.
Perhaps she was a little premature. After all, they wouldn't get to take optional subjects like Care of Magical Creatures for another two years, and just because she loved the subject already didn't mean everyone else did, or would. But surely there had to be someone in her House who didn't roll their eyes at the mention of Nargles. They hadn't even wanted to hear the exciting news of the Crumple Horned Snorkack sighting in Norway!
Lessons went a little better. She had already read through all of her textbooks – as had most of the Ravenclaws, it seemed – and she had managed to earn five points in Charms for correctly stating the definition of Charmwork. She was in a good mood as she made her way down to the dungeons for Potions, certain that it couldn't be as bad as everyone made out.
"Hey, Luna," Ginny said, catching up to her on the stairs. "Do you have Potions now too?"
"Yes – do you want to sit by me?"
"Sure." Ginny looked a little nervous. "Do you really think Snape's as bad as my brothers say?"
Luna shook her head. "They were probably just winding you up."
Ginny didn't look convinced. "Even Percy doesn't like him, and Percy likes all of his teachers."
Luna didn't know what to say, except "we'll be fine."
The lesson didn't start out badly. Snape seemed like a fascinating teacher, and Potions sounded like a really interesting subject.
"Lovegood." Snape turned on her suddenly. "What is the difference between monkshood and wolfsbane?"
Luna paused for a second, remembering a trip into the woods where her father had shown her some wolfsbane. It was shaped a little like a monk's cowl, he had pointed out, which was why it was also known as monkshood.
"They're the same plant," she said.
Snape nodded, and turned to Ginny. "Weasley. Where would you look for a bezoar?"
Ginny bit her lip, and Luna could tell she didn't know the answer. She wished that she had some way of telling Ginny what to say, but there was no way Snape wouldn't see.
"Um... the store cupboard?"
"I suppose you think that's funny, do you? Five points from Gryffindor." Several Gryffindors around the room gasped. "Clearly, you aren't the brains of the family."
Snape laughed cruelly, and a couple of the Ravenclaws joined in. Luna looked away, ashamed to be in their House.
By the end of the class, Gryffindor was seething. Snape had deducted another twenty points from their House during the lesson, plus five from Ravenclaw when Luna had helped Ginny with her Cure for Boils.
"He's totally unfair," a boy named Colin Creevy said. "Why would he take points just for you helping someone?"
"I don't care," Luna said, and she meant it. If she hadn't helped, Ginny's potion would have boiled over, which could have been dangerous. She would rather help her friend and lose points than risk everyone getting injured and give Snape another excuse to pick on Gryffindor.
"Thank you," Ginny said quietly as they entered the Great Hall for lunch. She seemed rather shaken by Snape's bullying, and Luna wished they could sit together – but the House tables were waiting for them.
The reception waiting for her at the Ravenclaw table was not nearly as friendly.
"Why did you help her?" Daniel – the boy she had sat next to after Sorting – hissed. "You lost us points. Do you want Ravenclaw to lose the House Cup?"
"Ginny needed help," Luna pointed out.
"Snape's a teacher. You're meant to do what he says."
"He wasn't being fair."
Daniel laughed. "It doesn't matter if he's being fair or not."
"Of course it does!"
Daniel just shook his head.
"If you were a real Ravenclaw, you'd understand."
Luna knew there was no point trying to argue with him. She ate the rest of her lunch in silence, telling herself over and over again that soon, it would get better.
Chapter 3: The First Week
"I wish I was in Ravenclaw with you."
Luna and Ginny had decided to make the most of the September warmth by meeting after dinner every day for a walk in the grounds.
Luna also hoped that if she delayed their return to their respective Common Rooms long enough, she could perhaps avoid facing the most callous of her House-mates. She hadn't realised until just now though that maybe Ginny had similar reasons of her own.
"Don't you like Gryffindor?"
Ginny shrugged. "It could be worse, I guess, but – oh, ignore me. I'm just being silly."
But Luna could tell something was bothering her. "I thought you wanted to be in Gryffindor, with your brothers – and Harry Potter?"
Ginny blushed, as Luna had known she would – as she did every time that name was mentioned. Luna felt bad for teasing her, but Ginny didn't seem to mind.
"I did want to be in Gryffindor – I do." Ginny insisted. "But it isn't how I thought it would be. Everyone knows about my brothers, and…"
Luna waited patiently for Ginny to collect her thoughts.
"I'm just 'another Weasley,'" Ginny said quietly. "That's all they see – the little sister. I'm never going to be as brave as Ron or as funny as Fred and George or as smart as Percy. I'm just the girl who can't stand up for herself. I'm… nothing special."
"But – you're Ginny."
Luna repeated the familiar phrase automatically, before she'd even thought what to say. It had been one of her mother's favourite sayings, whenever Luna had felt depressed about something: "You're Luna. How could you be anything but wonderful?"
"What's so special about being Ginny?"
"There has to be something." Everyone had something.
But she didn't know what Ginny's was. Not yet, anyway.
Ginny sighed. "It probably wouldn't make much difference if I wasn't in Gryffindor, but at least they wouldn't be around all the time. Everyone expects me to just hang out with them. Can you imagine?"
Ginny pulled a face to show what she thought of that idea.
"Fred and George put a spider down my dress once," Luna recalled.
Ginny nodded. "I remember! They do that kind of thing all the time. If I hung out with them they'd probably give me a heart attack, and Percy's too busy for anything except work. Ron's okay, I guess, when he's not being an idiot. At least he has good taste in friends…"
That blush again.
"… But they don't want me hanging around them all the time. So what am I meant to do?"
Luna did not comment on the existence of four other Gryffindor girls in their year. She felt a little selfish not to, knowing how much easier it would be for Ginny to have friends in her House, but she was fast beginning to suspect that Ginny got on about as well with her House-mates as Luna did with the other Ravenclaws.
No, there was only one solution Luna wanted to offer her:
"Well, you'll just have to be friends with me, then."
Ginny stared at her.
"What?" Luna wondered if she'd said something wrong.
"It's just – you have a strange way of looking at things, sometimes."
So I'm told, Luna thought, her heart sinking.
"It's brilliant." For the first time Luna could remember since they had arrived at Hogwarts, Ginny broke into a smile. "Of course we're friends."
"Good." Luna couldn't help but smile back. "You had me worried there. You looked like a wrackspurt had got you."
"What's a wrackspurt?"
"They're invisible creatures that float between your ears and make your brain go fuzzy," Luna explained, expecting at any moment Ginny would roll her eyes and tell her not to be stupid.
But once again, Ginny surprised her.
"That's a brilliant idea! I can't believe I've never heard about them before. Are they real?"
Luna hesitated. A week ago, she would have said "yes" without thinking, but now she wasn't so sure.
"My dad says there's some very interesting evidence in support of them, but I don't think there's any proof yet."
"I bet they are real," Ginny said. "That's just what it feels like. Even if they aren't, it's a wonderful thought, isn't it?"
Luna smiled. "I always thought so. I love magical creatures. I wish we could study them already. But…" Her smile faded. "Most of the other Ravenclaws say I'm just making things up to be silly."
"Well, in that case, they're the ones with wrackspurts." Ginny insisted.
But now that she had thought of Daniel and the others, Luna was finding it harder to smile.
Ginny noticed her frown. "If you're worried about it, why don't you just not talk about it to them?"
"I wouldn't, now," Luna explained. "But I already did. I thought they'd want to know. Now they won't listen to anything I say."
Ginny bit her lip. "Maybe… maybe you should just apologise."
"But they're real!" Luna protested. "I'm not going to apologise for making things up when I didn't."
"No," Ginny said slowly. "I mean apologise for talking about them."
Luna shook her head. "I'm not going to lie."
"But you are sorry that you talked about them, just not for the reason they might think," Ginny said. "If you don't apologise, they're going to keep thinking you did it on purpose.
Luna stared over her friend's shoulder at the setting sun, wondering what she should do. She shouldn't lie. But…
"We should go inside. It's getting late."
The next morning, Luna had made up her mind.
"I'm sorry." She could barely get the words out. She hated that it was necessary, but she suspected Ginny was right – if she didn't, she would never be able to live the past week down.
"I shouldn't have said all those things about the creatures my dad writes about. I know they haven't been proven to exist yet…"
"There's a reason for that," Daniel muttered under his breath.
Luna knew what he meant, but she wasn't going to say that wrackspurts didn't exist. Sooner or later, she would be proven right.
"It's okay," said Cordelia, a girl in Luna's dormitory. "We probably shouldn't have been so hard on you. You're really interested in magical creatures, aren't you?"
Luna nodded. "I can't wait until we start having classes. Hogwarts has so many interesting creatures. I heard there's a whole herd of Thestrals to pull the carriages into Hogsmeade."
That was a safe enough topic, surely – she'd read about Thestrals in "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them."
But nearby, a boy in the year above – Luna thought his name was Terry – frowned.
"I thought the carriages were enchanted. I've never seen anything pulling them."
"You wouldn't," Luna said. "Thestrals are inv-"
"Honestly, Luna," Daniel interrupted. "Just stop making things up already."
Cordelia shook her head. "I was trying to give you a chance."
"No, really –"
"Give it up," Daniel told her. "No-one wants to hear any more of your nonsense, Loony."
Chapter 4: The First Attack
By the start of November, the shortening evenings had long since put a stop to Luna and Ginny's walks in the grounds. Instead, they visited the library together, whispering behind bookshelves, or else wondered the hallways in search of some of Hogwarts' famous secret passageways.
Luna had little luck winning over her fellow Ravenclaws, and she was still reluctant to return to her common room at the end of an evening. But as long as Ginny was there to walk with her until the moon rose in the sky, she knew she could ignore any amount of teasing from her other classmates.
Even after what had happened on Halloween.
"The Chamber of Secrets has been opened. Enemies of the Heir, beware."
Suddenly, there was only one thing that anyone in the school wanted to talk about, and it drove Luna mad.
"What is the Chamber of Secrets?"
Luna's Father had given her a copy of Hogwarts: A History for her eleventh birthday, so she had heard all about the Chamber of Secrets. She also knew it was a legend. In hundreds of years, no-one had found any hint of a Chamber or a monster within Hogwarts – what could possibly have changed that now?
"Who is the Heir of Slytherin?"
Luna didn't believe that the one true Heir of Slytherin was loose in Hogwarts. It was, quite frankly, a little silly. Even the pureblood houses couldn't trace bloodlines back that far – probably every wizard in the country had a little of Slytherin's blood inside them by now.
"How did they do it?"
Mr Filch's poor cat had clearly been hit by a very nasty curse, but Luna understood that neither Mr Filch or Mrs Norris were particularly popular. It was far more likely that one of the seventh years had felt particularly cruel and pulled a nasty prank based on one of the old Hogwarts legends.
Unfortunately, no-one seemed to share this view.
"Loony thinks it's all made up," Daniel scoffed. "What more proof do you need that it's real?"
The other Ravenclaws laughed, and Luna wished, not for the first time, that some of them would live up to their House's name and actually think for once.
Most of all, she wished that Ginny wasn't so worried about the message on the wall.
"It's probably nothing," she reassured her friend, who had been looking ever paler ever since November 1st. "Just some stupid mean person pulling a prank. I just feel sorry for the poor cat."
Ginny winced, and Luna realised that she may have said the wrong thing.
"What if it isn't?" Ginny asked. "Say that it really is the Heir of Slytherin?"
"I'm sure it's not –"
"But what if there is someone planning to attack people?" Ginny fretted.
"No-one at Hogwarts wants to hurt you," Luna told her. "If there ever was someone that horrible, the teachers would catch them in no time and expel them before they could hurt anyone."
Ginny bit her lip. "What about the monster?"
Luna shook her head. "Where could you hide a monster in Hogwarts?"
"There are a lot a secret passageways…" Ginny looked around nervously. "What if they stopped the Heir but the monster kept attacking people?"
Luna shook her head. "If we're going to believe that ridiculous legend, the monster only attacks when the Heir tells it to. Haven't you read Hogwarts: A History?"
Ginny shook her head. "All the copies are out of the library."
"I'll lend you mine," Luna promised. "You'll see how silly it is. There's no way that a word of it could be true."
The book had been in her trunk.
So had a number of other things, which Luna had gradually piled on her bed as she searched. She knew Hogwarts: A History had been packed in her trunk since the start of term, along with all of the other books she didn't need for class.
But now, right where it should be, in between Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and last month's Quibbler –
There was a gap.
Had she put it somewhere else? Where? She had already checked under her bed, on her bedside table, in the chest of drawers – where else could it possibly be? She hadn't taken it out of the dormitory, surely? She couldn't remember doing so, but perhaps –
She didn't know any more.
The other girls began to trail into the room, sniggering at the mess she was making. Shamefaced, Luna began packing away her belongings again. What had she done with it? She felt so stupid…
The next morning, she apologised to Ginny a dozen times for losing the book, feeling sillier and sillier. Then she headed up to the Owlery with the note for her Father, apologising again for being so stupid and forgetful and asking if he could please, please buy her another copy and –
There it was.
No. That was ridiculous. She hadn't even visited the Owlery before. How could it be her copy? It was probably a library book someone had dropped…
With a sinking feeling in her chest, Luna lifted the book from the floor. The front cover was scuffed, and there was a nasty-looking stain along the spine.
Luna's copy had been brand new.
But she opened the cover, and there it was: "To my dearest Luna on her birthday."
Clutching the book tightly in her hands, Luna sunk down against the wall, and tried her hardest not to cry.
Chapter 5: The First Student
When Luna walked into breakfast the next day, a strange hush lay over the Great Hall.
They've all been talking about me, Luna thought, laughing behind my back. They're all in on it. After all, one of the girls in my dormitory had to have helped – boys aren't allowed in, and who else knew where the book was?
But even as her humiliation filled her with paranoia, Luna's logical mind knew that such a dramatic change in the usually cheerful atmosphere of breakfast could not possibly be attributed to a first year prank. Perhaps something had happened last night at the Quidditch game she had been too embarrassed to face?
Gryffindor had been playing Slytherin. Luna glanced quickly at the tables of each of two Houses involved. Of all the tables in the Hall, the Slytherins looked by far the most relaxed, and the pale haired Seeker Ginny had warned her about was laughing with his friends.
Gryffindor, on the other hand, looked despondent. Had they lost then? But the reaction seemed excessive for a minor setback so early in the year, even if the game had gone spectacularly badly.
Luna's eyes sought out Ginny, and she was shocked to see how distraught her friend looked. Even more alarming was the realisation that nearby, Ginny's brother had his bushy haired friend sat alone, wearing serious expressions.
Harry Potter was nowhere to be seen.
Luna was filled with worry – had he been injured? She felt horribly selfish, moping in her room over a stupid prank while someone Ginny cared about could have been seriously hurt. She wanted to run over to the Gryffindor table straight away and ask if her friend was alright.
But she couldn't. Biting her lip, Luna took her seat at the Ravenclaw table.
None of the other first years were talking; all looked grim.
"So," Luna hazarded, "how did the Quidditch go?"
Cordelia frowned and shot Luna a confused look before answering.
"For God's sake Loony, show a little heart why don't you?" Daniel hissed. "Or do you think this was those stupid Nargles of yours as well?"
"Leave her alone, it's not like she did it," Cordelia muttered.
"She's been saying all week it was a hoax, and now look at her!" Daniel was practically spitting. "Even after what's just happened, she's asking about Quidditch. Like nothing's wrong!"
"What happened?" The urgency in Luna's voice seemed to surprise Daniel, and he turned away from Cordelia to face her.
"A muggleborn was attacked." His low voice, full of anger, came out sounding like a growl. "Paralysed, like the cat. The Heir of Slytherin got him. You know – the one you said was a myth?"
Luna wondered why he was so mad at her. It had been unlikely that the message was real – but obviously, the threat had been serious. The evidence had changed, and the cold realisation that the Heir of Slytherin might be among them made Hogwarts feel suddenly more dangerous than she had ever imagined it could.
But there was no point in saying so – not when saying anything would only aggravate Daniel further, and a far more important question was already springing to her lips.
"Does it matter?" Daniel glared at her, like wanting to know if someone she knew was in the Hospital Wing was somehow a crime.
"A Gryffindor in our year," Cordelia answered. "I think his name was Creevey."
"Colin." The word came out as a gasp. Suddenly, Luna could picture him all too clearly, laughing and smiling and taking pictures of her and Ginny outside Potions last week.
Frozen solid, unable to smile or laugh or move at all, still clutching the camera that he never seemed to put down.
The vivid image of the kind, friendly boy lying petrified in a hospital bed turned Luna's stomach to icy cold marble, and her head began to spin.
"He took Potions with us," she told Cordelia, suddenly feeling that it was vitally important that the girl should know. "When I lost those House points in our first lesson, he stuck up for me. He was nice."
"Glad to hear he was worthy of your sympathy," Daniel sneered. "It's okay for us to feel bad now, because Loony thought he was nice. Good to know you're so concerned about all of this, Pureblood."
Cursing herself for her slow thinking, Luna suddenly realised why Daniel was so mad: he was muggleborn. The news of the attack must have terrified him even more than it did Luna – he was a potential target for whatever madman was doing this, while she only had to fear a direct attack as much as anyone else trapped in the hunting grounds of a psychopath. She couldn't take this rage personally – Daniel was just lashing out at her to hide his own worries.
Luna wished she could somehow tell him that everything would be alright.
But there was nothing she could say, other than she hoped the teachers would catch the maniac before they could hurt anyone else, and that seemed so obvious as to be utterly useless – and, before she had time to think of something better, Daniel seized his bag and stormed away, his mood still as dark as the clouds roiling overhead.
Luna had only realised that Ginny had left her seat as she had been leaving the Great Hall, and she had to race across the Entrance Hall to catch up with her friend.
Ginny spun around, and Luna realised just how pale her friend was. She looked even more shaken by the attack than Luna felt.
"I heard about Colin," Luna said. "I – oh, Ginny!"
At the boy's name, Ginny had begun to sob, tears running down her cheeks in huge streams.
Luna hugged her, and was scared to feel her friend shaking against her.
"Come on," she said, pulling Ginny gently out of sight of the main doorway, towards a quieter corridor. "Do you want to go to the hospital wing?"
"No!" Ginny shuddered. "I – I'll be fine, just –"
"Okay, okay," Luna said soothingly. "We'll stop here. Come on, sit down – that's it."
Ginny curled up tight on the floor, burying her face in her knees. The hard stone slabs didn't make for the most comfortable place to sit, but this corridor was the only one near here in which there weren't likely to be any passers by, and Ginny had looked a little like she might faint if she tried to walk much further.
"I can't believe it," Luna's friend gasped in between sobs. "I can't – I –"
"I know," Luna told her. "It's horrible. I can't believe anyone would do that to Colin."
Ginny sobbed harder.
"But he'll be alright!" Luna reassured her. She had been told as much by some of the older Ravenclaws. "They have a cure, it'll be ready in a few months. Colin will be fine!"
Ginny took a couple of deep, shivering breaths, and finally the tears seemed to stop. She finally relaxed and uncurled slightly, leaning her head against Luna's shoulder. Her shudders had stilled to a gentle quivering, which disappeared completely as Luna wrapped an arm around her shoulders.
"It's not just Colin," Ginny said eventually. "I – I'm scared what's going to happen. Who's going to get hurt next."
Luna bit her lip. There were a lot of muggleborns at Hogwarts – the thought that they might all be in danger was impossible to deal with, on any level. But it was also hard not to be afraid for herself and Ginny. Someone was attacking students – they seemed to be targeting muggleborns, but would that stay true? And, even though she and Ginny were both purebloods, their families weren't the most respectable. Would that measure up to the Heir's standards?
Luna felt guilty for even wondering.
"It'll be okay," she told Ginny again. "They'll put a stop to it soon. No-one else will get hurt."
"But…" Ginny sighed. "I can't believe it was Colin. He was fine yesterday, joking around after the Quidditch match. He said he was going to sneak out to visit Harry in the Hospital Wing…"
"Harry's in the Hospital Wing?" Luna asked.
"He broke his arm at the match, Ron said he'll be fine by this afternoon." Ginny gave a watery chuckle. "He still caught the Snitch. You should have seen Malfoy's face. I'll have to show you the pictures that -"
Ginny broke off suddenly, and Luna realised that, in the face of everything that had happened, even Quidditch wasn't much of a distraction.
"Why would anyone hurt Colin?" she asked to fill the silence.
"Maybe…" Ginny said slowly. "Maybe they didn't want to."
Now Luna shivered. Every wizarding child had heard of the Imperius Curse. The idea that someone could take you over, control your every action, make you do unspeakable things, was even more terrifying than the thought that one of their fellow students had decided to persecute muggleborns of their own free will.
"I don't know," she said, every word fighting her unwillingness to even consider the possibility. "This is Dark Magic, but – Ginny, that's really Dark."
"Can you see anyone we know choosing to do that to Colin?" Ginny asked. She sounded almost desperate to believe that their fellow students were not the ones to blame. Luna could understand wanting Hogwarts to feel safe, but, to her at least, the idea of someone they knew being under the Imperius seemed just as dangerous.
"Not everyone in this world is nice," she reminded her friend.
Ginny shuddered again.
"What do you think will happen to them?" she asked quietly. "When they catch them?"
Luna shook her head. "I don't know. They'll probably be expelled. They might even go to Azkaban."
Slowly, Ginny sat up, meeting Luna's gaze with reddened eyes.
"I hope they catch them soon," she said slowly. "I hope they put a stop to it. Whatever it takes."
"Me too," Luna told her friend.
The sooner this lunatic was caught, the sooner Hogwarts could start to feel safe again.