September first was a flurry of activity. Harry had to be escorted to the train by the three Aurors who had also been living at Grimmauld Place in order to protect him from harm. Their charge overslept and had to shower, dress, and finish packing in less than fifteen minutes; they didn't depart for King's Cross Station until ten to eleven.
As soon as Harry left you had to scramble to get ready; McGonagall wanted all teachers to report by noon so as to go over new teaching arrangements and rule changes. Today you'd finally find out just how different Hogwarts would be without Professor Dumbledore.
There had actually been talk of closing the school down, but eventually it had been decided that it was best to stay open and teach students how to protect themselves. You were glad; this would give you the opportunity to watch over Harry and instruct him in as much Defense Against the Dark Arts as possible; he'd need it soon.
There had been an Order meeting a few nights previous to the First, and the primary topic was Harry's safety. Without the protection he'd had when living at the Dursleys', he was more vulnerable to attack. Grimmauld Place's Unplottable location and the other enchantments that had been placed on Order Headquarters had helped to keep him safe, but it would be harder to do so at Hogwarts. The time for Voldemort's attack was drawing near; it was agreed that he'd try to take Harry's life before he finished out his seventh year of school. If Voldemort got to him before he was a fully qualified wizard, his chances of murdering Harry increased greatly.
This also made it much more vital to find and destroy the last non-living Horcrux, whatever and wherever it was. Voldemort had to be mortal when Harry faced him, or your godson didn't have a chance.
You shrunk and pocketed your luggage at 11:45. Like Hogwarts, it was now impossible to Apparate or Disapparate in Grimmauld Place, so you stepped outside the house to Apparate to Hogsmeade.
You'd timed the walk perfectly; it was exactly 12:00 when you stepped into the Headmistress' office. The first thing you noticed, aside from how crowded it was and how funny Remus looked with a deep suntan, was the change in the office's décor. The swirling silver instruments and lemon drops were gone, and had been replaced with more sensible items like quills and ink bottles. The more somber, professional feel didn't suit you; for you this had always been Dumbledore's office, even when you attended school instead of teaching it. You scanned the wall of portraits, knowing there would be one more present than there had been last year. You smiled when you found Professor Dumbledore's picture, which was looking back at you. He gave you a wink before closing his eyes and drifting off to sleep, snoring lightly.
"Welcome everyone," McGonagall said from behind what was now her desk. "Please be seated and we'll begin." You sat in the only empty chair, which was beside Remus.
"How was the honeymoon?" you whispered.
"Very relaxing," he responded from the side of his mouth, his gaze fixed on McGonagall.
"I'm sure it was," you replied, nudging him suggestively. He smiled as McGonagall prepared to speak.
"Change will be rampant this year. We can no longer afford to keep things as they were. We can no longer keep our students safe without making adjustments, many of which may not be desirable or popular." You and Remus exchanged a glance. "First, Hogsmeade trips will be cancelled. There is no way to watch over every student, and therefore the safety of every student cannot be ensured while there. We will hold another social event in place of these visits, as long as there are no costumes or masks involved. No one must be allowed to pass us unidentified. Nighttime patrols will be increased; Aurors will be sent over from the Ministry to assist in guarding the doors and corridors. Club meetings and detentions will take place during the day; all students will need to be in their common rooms by dark. In addition to this rule, a staff member will be in each common room until curfew, which will be promptly at ten o'clock." Professor McGonagall paused to take a few breaths and look at each member of her staff in turn. "Please understand that these rules are not something I'd like to implement. They are necessary, and, although inconvenient, will help to keep everyone out of harm's way." You nodded in agreement with her.
"The Forbidden Forest is one hundred percent forbidden this year; no detentions or lessons may take place there. And Quidditch games-" she stopped short. "I haven't decided yet, actually. As dangerous as they could be, as easy as it would be for someone to attend and cause harm, I am very reluctant to take away what will very likely be the only livelihood the students will experience this year." She once again scanned the room, silently asking for suggestions. Unsure of how to voice your opinion, you raised you hand. "Yes, Ms. O'Connell?"
"Practices could take place during daytime hours, and a staff member or two can be present at all times." She nodded in consideration.
"We can try it; but I'm afraid I'll have to cancel the season at the first sign of trouble." You nodded. "There are a number of other minor rule and procedure changes, which should be on your desks. You may review them tonight and ask me any questions you have. Other than that, there is only one issue left to address: that of the vacated Potions job. I have asked someone who is already a member of our staff to take over this position in lieu of finding someone new; we cannot afford to be fooled by an imposter, and this is someone who I trust with all my heart, as many of you do. Professor Lupin as agreed to switch from his Defense Against the Dark Arts position and will now instruct Potions." You turned to him open mouthed.
"You didn't tell me that!" you accused. He shrugged.
"She contacted me while I was on my honeymoon. I didn't want to deal with it right then, or draw attention to myself by telling everyone; I wanted to be left alone for a week."
"I would have been bothering you?"
"I can never tell with you." You smiled in spite of willing yourself not to.
"Well, congratulations. Have fun stirring a cauldron all year."
"I'm sure it can't be that bad."
"Probably not. You're the perfect person to erase the stain Snape put on the subject."
"You're quite welcome. So does this mean we don't share an office anymore?"
"I guess so. Which won't be a bad thing. At least I'll get a new desk." You laughed.
"Can't you let that go?" He shook his head.