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Chapter 16 : Home Away From Home
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“I will see you at school, Harry.” Minerva smiled, “Why do you look so dejected, darling? Do you not want to return to Hogwarts?”
“It’s not that, Daernana.” Harry confided, “As a matter of fact, I love Hogwarts…. It’s just… I can’t stop thinking about Elwyn.”
“Ah, I see,” The female elf nodded, knowingly. “Your conscience is troubling you, yes?"
“Aye, did I do the right thing? Will the girl betray us and return to her family? Should we have captured and excecuted Lucius instead?"
“Doing so would have caused more dilemmas, Harry. You know that. Besides, perhaps it was God's will that Miss Malfoy live. Perhaps she still has a part to play in this violent game of war.” Minerva smiled fondly at her grandson, and ruffled his hair affectionately. “Now, hurry on through the barrier, you don’t want to miss the train.” Soon, Harry, Hermione, Ron, and Ginny trooped through the train corridor to the prefect compartment; where Ginny left them to find a compartment.
The prefect compartment was very different from the usual compartments. Whereas, normal compartments had two long, cushioned seats flanking the aisle walls, a window at the far wall, and luggage racks above the two seats. The prefect compartment was much larger, for it had seats at all four walls with a break in the south wall for a door, and there were racks above all walls except the south wall.
Harry and Hermione stood together in the center of the compartment, watching as the prefects streamed through the narrow door before sprawling onto the velvet cushions. Hermione called all the prefects to attention, took attendance, and went over the code of conduct. Meanwhile, Harry handed out patrol shift schedules, reviewed the list of banned items with his colleagues, and took care of additional questions. Finally, the two Heads smiled, and dismissed all the prefects.
“Whew, I’m glad that’s over!” Harry grinned, thereby indicating he was simply kidding.
“Yeah,” Ron agreed, playing along with his friend. “Being a prefect can get fairly tiring, sometimes. The good thing is: now that you’re Head Boy, Harry, we’ll be able to hang out during our patrols together.”
“Not under my watch, guys!” Hermione waggled her index finger at the boys, pretending to reprimand them. “C’mon, let find Car…I mean Ginny.” The trio roamed down the long passage, instilling order, until they found Ginny sitting with Luna and Neville in a train compartment near the back.
“Hey, you three.” Harry acknowledged the students lounging in the compartment. “What have you been up to?”
“Hullo, Harry.” Neville said, deliberately moving over to make room for the raven-haired boy and his redhead chum, while Hermione sat opposite them next to the girls. “I heard you’re Head Boy, congratulations.”
“Aye, thank you. What did you do this summer, Neville?” Harry inquired, politely.
“My great-uncle took Gran and me to the Black Sea, so I could study the magical properties of aquatic plants in the region. I even brought back some samples, to give to Professor Sprout, for the school greenhouses.”
“Neat!” Hermione remarked, before turning to Luna. “What about you, Luna?”
“Daddy and I took a trip to the Swiss Alps. We wanted to try and find Bigfoot, you know, the legendary, muggle beast.”
“Oh… Bigfoot… that is…uh, nice.” Hermione forced out, desperately trying to suppress a giggle, as she rolled her eyes in Harry and Ron’s direction.
“Well…” Ron coughed, breaking the awkward silence. “What did you think of the Cannons' spectacular win against the Tornadoes, three weeks ago?”
“They won?” Ginny asked, surprised. “They haven’t won in ten years!”
“Yeah, I know.” Ron answered, “I think the Cannons won because they got a new seeker, he is some Welsh bloke: named Lloyd Meredith.” At that moment, all six of the compartment’s occupants stiffened, for a familiar drawling voice had filtered through the door. (A/N: Carina fought this guy at Malfoy Manor, so she knows about him.) It was Malfoy!
“Father was furious when he found out that Potter and his mudblood friend had landed the Head positions. Yes, in fact his exact words were: ‘if I were still a school governor, I would have guaranteed that a pair of respectable Slytherins obtained the honors’.” Malfoy stood in the compartment doorway with his two thugs, smirking as he spoke. “You see, Potter I would have gotten the Head position, if it were not for you.”
“Get out, Malfoy! Get out, or it’s detention with the Headmistress McGonagall!” Harry raved, standing up, “Or better yet, twenty points from Slytherin House!”
“You wouldn’t dare!”
“I already did it, Malfoy! Now, get out!” At this, Malfoy had no choice, but to back slowly out of the room, threatening all the while that Harry would soon be hearing from whomever was the new Head of Slytherin.
“I can’t believe McGonagall let Malfoy come back for his seventh year!” Ginny exclaimed. “I wonder why?”
“I’m wondering about that, too.” Harry thought to Hermione. “You would have thought Daernana would have warned me about Malfoy returning.”
“Lucius probably had the Minister oblige your grandmother into letting Malfoy attend. Don’t worry about it, Harry.” Hermione replied through her mind, kissing her fiancé; not realizing Ginny hadn’t told Neville and Luna about her and Harry.
“You guys are together now?” Luna questioned, immediately after the smooch.
“Uh yeah, Harry and I broke up at the end of last year.” Ginny answered on behalf of the couple. “I’m very happy for my friends.” The rest of the train ride went smoothly, and soon, as evening came upon the students, the train rolled into Hogsmeade station. The six schoolmates helped each other get their things into a thestral-drawn carriage before embarking on the last leg of the journey to their home away from home.
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