twenty-five

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HER QUILL SCRATCHES AGAINST THE parchment, echoing in the silence of the library. She had found a secluded area of the library where she could study without being bothered by most students.

Usually, she would study in the Slytherin common room with the rest of her friends, but she can hardly handle the crackle and snap of the fire. She slipped out, but it won't be long before there's an entire search party looking for her.

"Excuse me, Celestia?"

A voice interrupts her studying, but it is not one she recognised. Her grip on her quill tightens as she looks up at the girl who had spoken.

Before her, was a girl who had unkempt, waist-length blonde hair, and an almost dazed look on her face. She wore Ravenclaw robes, with pink, odd-looking glasses resting on her head. She looked vaguely familiar.

"Luna Lovegood, right?" asked Celestia.

Luna gave a dainty nod, one you would expect from royalty.

"Is there something I can help you with then, Lovegood?" Celestia continued.

Celestia had has no qualms with the girl Hogwarts deemed Loony Lovegood in the past, but at the moment, Celestia does not want to have a conversation; especially with someone who spoke in near-riddles and sounded like a Disney princess.

"I wanted to apologise about your fathers death, now that he has been proven innocent. Everyone was so cruel to you because of him, you know?" said Luna.

"Thank you, I guess?" Celestia replied tentatively. "But Sirius and I were estranged, if you're passing along condolences, they'd do better with Potter," she continued bitterly. "Weren't you there that night?"

Her final question had an underlying meaning, and Luna grasped it. She was asking if Luna had seen who she had sided with in the end; not her father, but Lucius, a condemned Death Eater.

"I was," confirmed Luna.

"Then why all the condolences?"

Luna pondered Celestia's words, staring at the dark haired girl before her. She looked at Celestia as if the reasoning had not occurred to her; she'd simply thought it, then executed it.

"Many people have walked these walls, many people live with magic in their blood. When war came, some chose good, and others chose bad. But there were some who chose neither. Who simply watched as havoc was raised, as people died, as new sovereigns came to reign: those bystanders are the worst. I chose my side, and you chose yours. I can't blame you for whatever lead you to that decision," explained Luna, "but I can not promise you that when the time comes, I won't hesitate to stand for what I believe in. If you are on the receiving end, I won't falter."

Those were not words Celestia had expected to hear from the girl who was notorious for being ditzy. Whoever had deemed her loony, must have been crazy in their own right. Perhaps she spoke in riddles to others, but she had spoken straight to Celestia. And Celestia respected that.

"Understood," said Celestia.

The words were a dismal, but either Luna missed that, or had something else to say. There was an awkward silence that only Celestia seemed aware of.

"Is there something else I could help you with?" asked Celestia.

"Oh! I wanted to give you this," Luna smiled.

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