The Great Hall is repaired first. It must be first, because here is the damage the worst. Even a first year mediwitch will tell you that you must repair the heart before you can go on to do the rest. Here, where the dead were laid to rest, the witches and wizards who are left standing raise their wands towards the cracked and darkened ceiling to make it shine with stars once more. There, Filch scrubs blood off the stone tiles. And over there house elves carefully sand down the brand new benches, ever watchful for even the tiniest splinter that might cause a careless student harm.
Next come the common rooms, because there must be safe spaces - even when Hogwarts, and the world, are crumbling around you you must have somewhere to retreat to. Each head of house takes on their own common room, and eventually they are restored. Even made greater. Slughorn in particular takes great pleasure in banishing every hint of dankness from the corners of his former house. No slithering first year will ever think they have been banished, that their fate is nothing but the cold and the dark.
Slowly, Hogwarts heals. Eventually, there is nothing left but a single scar in the shape of a beaten down greenhouse. Eventually, new students fill the halls who never knew Hogwarts before The Last Battle. To them, it only makes sense that the dark third corridor on the fifth floor is festooned with magical fireflies that never die. It is as it has always been. They don’t stop to think of the generations of bumped heads and stumbles in the dark that made Flitwick stop and think maybe.
Hogwarts is changed, as are they all. As is the world. But change is relative, and swiftly Hogwarts is as it has always been for thousands of students. A home. Nothing to be remarked upon.
But some remember.
Hermione Granger, who, returning for her seventh year, cannot eat in the Great Hall where she saw Fred’s body on the ground. She sees Aberforth often that year. Dennis Creevey, who goes back every year even though he can hardly bear it, because his brother had loved Hogwarts, had fought and died for it. Laura Madley, who still flinches at every loud noise. Yatin Baghat, who sleeps with his wand under his pillow every night for the rest of his life. Stephen Cornfoot, who has to have his own separate room apart from the Ravenclaws because he wakes up screaming at least once a week.
For people like them, sometimes seeing Hogwarts so whole is not a relief. It is not home. It is a mockery of their pain to see their scars buffed away as if they had never really happened. Sometimes the perfect walls of Hogwarts close in on them until they can’t breathe.
During those times, they go to the Room of Requirement. True to its purpose, it gives them what they need. They can walk on the stones still cracked from curses, and see proof that what they had gone through was real. Proof that Hogwarts still remembered its ruin, still had cracks running through it as real as the ones that scarred its students. On those bad days, those students can go curl up among the broken things, look up at the sky through the gaping wounds torn into the walls, and be able to breathe at last.
It can be comforting, to know that you are not alone in your damage.
(written and submitted by rainbowrites, who has such an incredible, subtle way of conveying the very very difficult and the tragic. In rainbowrites’ hands, something like this remains painful, but it also becomes beautiful, a joy to read.)