A/N: Review please, I assure you I am not above begging.
Harry stood at the window for a minute looking out at the castle. As the train sped off faster he watched the castle fade into the distance. This was the last time he would be riding the Hogwarts Express and the last time he would see the place that had been home to him for 7 years. He sighed and began head back to the Head’s Carriage. On his way there he passed a carriage and saw a flash of red hair. He stopped and doubled back just to make sure he had really seen Ginny inside. He opened the carriage door to find Ginny and Luna inside talking animatedly and Neville was flipping thru the pages in a Herbology book.
“Hey,” Harry said, “What are you three doing in here?”
“What do you mean in here?” Ginny asked. “Where else do you expect us to sit?” Harry shrugged.
“I don’t know I just figured you would be in the Head’s Carriage with Ron and Hermione.”
Neville looked up at him strangely. “We can’t,” he said, “That’s only for Heads and Prefects and you and Hermione are Head Boy and Girl, and Ron’s a prefect.” Harry shrugged again.
“Like anyone is really going to care. Besides we want you in there.” Ginny jumped up automatically and slipped her hand into Harry’s dragging him off to the other carriage. Neville and Luna looked at each other as if deciding it was really ok to go when the heard Harry’s voice yell, “C’mon guys.” Immediately they leaped up and followed.
Harry pulled back the door to a nicely furnished compartment far bigger than any of the others. Ron and Hermione were already in there. Ron was leaning back against a couch with Hermione opposite of him in a chair and a game of wizard’s chess between them. Hermione’s back was facing the compartment door so she turned around smiling when it slid open. “Oh Hello Harry, Ginny, Neville, Luna, we thought you guys would be back ages ago.” Hermione said happily. “Ron is teaching me how to play chess. He says I’m really getting quite a bit better and soon I might be able to defeat someone in a real match.”
“That’s right Hermione,” Ron said, “You’re getting way better.” Hermione smiled and looked back down at the board. Had she kept her attention on Ron she would have noticed Ron lock eyes with Harry and shake his head then mouth the words ‘Not at all’. Harry smirked. Hermione was smart and good at a lot of things but chess was not one of them.
Harry plopped down on the couch and Ginny laid down right next to him, her head resting on his lap. Harry began absent-mindedly running his fingers thru her hair. Neville and Luna sort of shifted around uncomfortably. Neither were used to having many people want to spend time with them. Luna never had any real friends until around her 5th year and even then it was only Ginny. And although Harry and Ron always talked to Neville and Hermione was always nice to him, helping him out with homework, he never really fit right in with the Golden Trio. Although Ginny seemed to work herself in smoothly and without any trouble for Neville it was never the same. He felt as though he didn’t deserve to be around the four of them. With Hermione being brilliant in every subject, and then there was Ron who always fighting in every battle, even managing to out smart Professor McGongall’s chess board when he was a first year. Then of course there was Ginny who was known through out the school for her extensive talent in Defense Against the Dark Arts, she was only second best to Harry who was famous for destroying the greatest evil the world had ever seen.
Oh yes this was the elite group in the school. How they had somehow thought he should be invited in he didn’t know. He glanced up at Luna who still had a hint of uncertainty on her face but smiled kindly at him. She sat down in an armchair and indicated for Neville to do the same. The room was quite for a minute, Hermione concentrating on her next move, Ginny with her eyes closed as Harry continued the same relaxing pattern, and Neville and Luna still unsure of what to say. Ron was the first to break the silence.
“I can’t believe we’re really done with school, guess it is out to the real world now.”
Harry snorted. “I don’t know about you,” he said, “but I’ve been in out in the real world for quite some time now. As a matter of fact I’m pretty sure the real world is going to be cake compared to what we’ve been dealing with.”
“Very true,” Ginny mumbled from his lap.
“So,” said Harry turning towards Luna and Neville, “what are your summer plans.” Luna was the first to respond.
“Well I plan to keep the Quibbler up and running until I can take over it next year and then I can become editor. I’ll have to find someone to fill in however until then.” The room nodded in response. A couple months after the start of the past year Luna’s father was killed. Death Eaters came to his house and killed him for printing the identities of certain Death Eaters. Luna was fine because she was at Hogwarts, but upon finding out about her father’s death she changed. Although she still had some of her more unusual qualities she no longer had the same spark she used to. She had decided that she wanted the Quibbler to continuing running, and she was going to stay with a nearby Aunt and Uncle for her last summer.
“Well,” Neville mumbled, “My Gran wanted me to be an Auror by I didn’t do well enough on my O.W.L’s or my N.E.W.T’s.”
“Neville what do you want to do. You should be doing something that makes you happy, not just because your Gran wants you to, you’re much better than that.” Ginny said lifting her head off Harry’s lap for a moment before resting it back down. Neville was blushing furiously at the compliment. “Well,” he mumbled again, “I wanted to do something with plants, maybe help grow them for the cures used in St. Mungo’s.”
“That sounds great, Neville” Hermione exclaimed, “you always were excellent at Herbology.”
Neville muttered a shy ‘thanks’ and then continued to ask in a louder voice, “So what about you four.”
“Auror,” Harry answered, “I know training starts soon I’m just not sure when.” Now it was Ron’s turn to snort.
“Like you need it,” he said then continued to Neville, “I’m going to work in the Magical Games and Sports Department. Dad already managed to get me in on the ground floor. So I’ll be able to do a lot work with Qudditch. Things like keeping the players in line, helping with plans for faster and better brooms, you know the lot.”
Hermione looked up in awe of Ron’s newfound ambition before saying, “I’m going to the ministry as well.”
“Which division,” Ginny asked absent-mindedly. Hermione blushed a little before responding quietly, “The Department of Mysteries.”
Everyone stopped what they were doing and stared at Hermione, Ginny’s eyes flew open, and the chess piece Ron was holding went clattering to the chessboard. “How in the world are you able to work there already, you’re only 18,” Harry asked.
“I know,” Hermione said blushing deeper, “But I was approached after the final battle about working there and I think it would be fascinating, so I told the man I would consider it and when we get back to the burrow I’m going to owl him and tell him I accept.”
“Why didn’t you tell me about this?” Ron asked quietly. Hermione turned towards Ron guiltily.
“I wasn’t sure what you would think.”
“Well I don’t want you down there. I mean we all saw how dangerous it is down there. There’s that veil and those brains, I don’t want you getting hurt Hermione.”
“Oh relax Ron I won’t be working in one of those rooms. I will be working in some of the safer ones. The man from the ministry said I could refuse to work in any room I wanted.” Ron seemed to relax more and leaned over the chessboard to kiss her.
“Congratulations Hermione,” he said after he pulled back.
“Yeah Hermione that’s great,” Harry said smiling.
“Well I don’t know why all of you are so surprised,” Ginny said. “We all knew Hermione was bloody brilliant, this just goes and proves it.” Hermione beamed.
“Well Ginny,” Luna asked, “What are your summer plans.”
“I plan to go to a few classes this summer at St. Mungo’s so I can be a healer. Then when we get back to school next year I’m spending one class hour a day in The Hospital Wing working with Madame Pomfrey so I can skip the 2 years of training and get straight to work after I leave Hogwarts.” Ginny explained.
“Sounds like a boring summer to me,” mumbled Ron. Hermione glared at Ron before returning her attention back to Ginny and saying, “I think that’s great Ginny.” That was when the compartment door slid open and in walked Dean Thomas. His eyes flickered around the room and rested for a moment on Harry and Ginny.
Dean had never wanted to break up with Ginny and even now almost a year and a half after they had broken up, whenever he saw Harry and Ginny together he couldn’t help but feeling jealous.
“Nice to see you Dean,” Ginny said brightly. Harry looked up and smiled, as did the others. “Oh… um right hi,” he mumbled looking down at his feet. “I um… just needed to tell you guys something.”
“Oh… what is it,” Hermione said looking up. She had given up on her chess game with Ron and had moved to the more comfortable position of his lap.
“Oh well,” Dean said, as he seemed to finally realize everyone was starring at him waiting for an answer. “You guys might want to keep an eye on things out there. There are some Slytherins out there who might be trying to take advantage of the fact that they can no longer be punished. I’m sure it’s nothing to bad but, well, you know how nasty they can get.”
Hermione launched out of Ron’s lap. “Oh how foolish of me, Harry we really need to get out there who knows what they could be up to,” she exclaimed. Ron grumbled.
“Oh come on Hermione,” he whined, “do you really need to go now. Can’t you just stay here for a bit more?” Ron stuck his bottom lip out a little and Hermione rolled her eyes but smiled anyway.
“Well no Ron,” she said, “I can’t I have to go out there and…”
“No you don’t,” Harry interrupted. He gently lifted Ginny off his lap and stood up checking his pocket for his wand. “I’ll just do it myself, no need for both of us,” Hermione bit her bottom lip and turned towards Harry.
“Really,” she said, “are you sure because I can come and…” Harry put up his hand and said, “I’m sure, no need for both of us to get up.”
“Thanks Harry,” she said smiling and sat back down on Ron’s lap.
“Yeah,” Ron said with a wink, “Thanks Mate,” Harry smiled and worked his way past Dean who was still standing at the compartment door. Suddenly he felt someone place a hand on his shoulder. He turned around to find Ginny right behind him. “Need any help,” she said quietly. Harry shook his head.
“No probably not,” he said. “I mean what kind of trouble could I get in out there.” Ginny cocked an eyebrow at him but then sighed. “Alright,” she said, “if you’re sure.” Harry kissed her quickly and then turned to search to train.
Harry searched the compartments thoroughly. Although it hadn’t taken him long because he had yet to run into any trouble it had certainly taken him long enough. At nearly every carriage people bombarded him. Sometimes he would run into a carriage full of girls, anywhere from first to seventh years, and they would all be excited to see him and would try to lure him inside with offers ranging anywhere from chocolate frogs to other offers that made him blush and hurriedly deny. Other times he would run into carriages with mostly boys, all of which were also excited to see him and would constantly ask questions about what happened a few weeks before at the final battle. Then almost every time he went into carriages full of first and second years they would circle him and ask for his autograph, saying it would be a great present for their parents.
Naturally he turned everyone down as politely as possible but by the time he reached the back carriages, where most of the Slytherins would stay, he was about to ready to hex the next person who invited him inside so they could ask more questions. Luckily where he was that wasn’t very likely to happen. He sighed heavily and pulled open the door to the first compartment.
As soon as he opened the door he wished he could have slammed it back shut. Inside were Pansy Parkinson and Millicent Bulstrode talking casually until Harry walked in, and both froze mid word. “What are you doing here Potter,” Pansy sneered.
“Just my job,” Harry replied as coolly as possible but his hand had already gone inside his robe and his fingers were wrapped around his wand.
“I bet you think you’re really something now don’t you Potter,” she continued. “Just because you think you won some bloody battle I’m sure now you think you can walk around like you own the place. Well let me be the first to tell you that I don’t think you’re some bloody hero and that you’ll never be anything but a filthy half-blood.”
Pansy stared at Harry with a cold hard gaze. Harry who towered at least a head over her matched her gaze. “Well then,” he said, “it’s a good thing I don’t give a damn about your approval isn’t it,” Harry turned to leave but not before Pansy could add, “The same goes for your awful blood traitor friends and the disgusting mudblood.”
In one swift movement Harry had turned around and had his wand out pointing it directly at Pansy’s throat. Her eyes that were a moment before laced with malice and hatred had now gone wide with fear. “Don’t ever,” Harry growled in a low threatening voice, “talk about any of my friends like that in front of me or next time I will not hesitate to use this on you, understood.” Harry saw Pansy’s eyes flicker downward at the wand that was still pointing threateningly at her throat. But before she could give a nod of agreement Harry heard a scream somewhere down the corridor.
Harry immediately took off in the direction of the scream. It had come from somewhere down near the end of the Slytherin corridors. Finally near the last compartment he found the source of the scream. A young boy, first year from the looks of it, had the front half of his body hanging out of the train window while his back legs flailed around wildly looking for something to hold on to. The person who had put the young boy partially out the window was still there with his arms crossed and smiling at his handiwork.
“What the hell do you think you’re doing,” Harry shouted. Blaise Zabini turned to face Harry and his smile immediately dropped into a scowl.
“Potter,” he said his eyes flickered to Harry’s wand which was trained upon him, “I should have known.” Harry walked over to the window, though his gaze a wand still focused on Zabini, and yanked to small boy out. As soon as his feet reached solid ground he began wail loudly. “I’ll take you back in a moment,” Harry said quietly. The boy sniffed and nodded then walked outside the compartment to wait for him by the door. When he was gone Harry focused all his attention back on Zabini.
“Why in the hell did you do that,” Harry asked his voice was quiet and slow but it seemed to radiate venom.
“Why would I tell you Potter,” he sneered, “besides what does it matter the filthy little mudblood is safe now anyways.” Harry stepped forward so that now the tip of his want was touching his chest.
“Don’t call him that,” Harry growled. Zabini locked eye contact with him and gave a small smile.
“I’m not afraid of you Potter,” he said, “none of us Slytherins are. And you would do best to remember that before you try and take on more than you can handle.”
“I’m sure I can handle you just fine,” Harry said in the same low voice. Zabini folded his arms and learned his back up against the now closed window.
“Sure about that Potter,” he sneered. Harry still had a locked gaze and then for the briefest moment he saw Zabini break eye contact and glance briefly behind him. That was when Harry heard the soft shuffling of feet behind him. But before he could turn his back to face his oncoming attacker he heard a strangled grunt and then the loud thud of a body hitting the floor.
Harry whipped around to find Ginny pressing Crabbe up against a wall with her wand trained on his throat. Then with a flash of red emitting from her wand Crabbe joined Goyle on the ground in unconsciousness. Immediately Ginny turned and walked up next to Harry focusing her wand on Zabini.
“Told you you could use my help,” she whispered lightly.
“Thanks,” he whispered back before focusing his attention back on Zabini whose eyes had momentarily gone wide with shock but quickly narrowed again.
“Don’t even think about it,” Ginny said taking her wand and jabbing it at Zabini’s hand, which had gone into his pocket to draw out his own wand. Zabini took his hand out and let them both hang loosely at his sides.
“I see you can’t even handle your own battles anymore,” Zabini said with a look of disgust on his face as he glanced at Ginny. Harry’s only response was taking his wand and gliding it up his chest till it reached his throat.
“I catch you hurting anyone else Zabini,” Harry growled, “and by the time I’m through with you you’ll wish you were in Azkaban.” And with that Harry and Ginny turned stepping over an unconscious Crabbe and Goyle on their way out. But before they could reach the compartment door and slam it shut they heard Zabini’s voice one last time.
“You know,” he called, “You really should wake up the people your little whore stunned.” Harry saw Ginny’s whole body stiffen. In one swift movement Harry’s fist collided with Zabini’s face. Blood began to pour from his nose. “You can wake them your self,” Harry said before turning and walking out of the compartment with Ginny slamming the door shut behind him.
Outside the door the little boy was still waiting. “What house are you in,” Harry asked patiently.
“Hufflepuff,” he murmured.
“Alright let’s go.” Harry said putting his arm around Ginny’s shoulders and quickly kissing the top of her head. Harry and Ginny followed the little boy all they way back to his carriage, and waited till he was safely inside before turning to head back to their own. They walked in silence for a minute before Ginny finally broke it.
“You didn’t have to do that,” she said quietly.
“I know,” Harry responded, “but I wanted to.” Ginny looked at him and smiled, then lightly kissed him on the lips. “Thanks,” she said.
By the time they re entered the Head’s compartment they could see the platform approaching in the distance. Hermione and Ron were still sitting in the same comfortable position and Neville and Luna were talking a lot more comfortably than they were before. “We’re nearing the platform,” Ginny announced. People reluctantly got up and began grabbing trunks, pets and anything else they didn’t want to leave behind.
When the train finally came to a halt everyone was eager to get off the train and to say hello to loved ones that up until about a month ago they were not sure rather or not they would every see them again. Harry, Ron, Hermione, and Ginny all said good-bye to Neville and Luna as they headed off in different directions. Suddenly the four of them were engulfed in a mass of red hair and bone crushing hugs. When the four of them finally got a moment to breath they looked around at who greeted them. There on the platform all with bright shining faces were Mr. And Mrs. Weasley along with Fred and George.
“Where is Bill?” Ginny asked looking around.
“He’s at the Burrow,” Mrs. Weasley answered, “with Fleur. He didn’t want to leave her there by herself so he is waiting for us to come back.” Fred and George stared at Ron and Hermione with wild grins on their faces.
“Well Hermione,” Fred said, “we’re glad to see…”
“…you didn’t wise up,” George continued, “and leave…”
“…dear little Ronnikins…”
“…for something better…”
“…because you know you could…”
“ …do much better.”
“Shove off,” Ron mumbled under his breath as the tips of his ears went bright red. Hermione only laughed until two figures on the other side of the platform caught her eye. Instantly her smile dropped and her whole complexion seemed to pale considerably, Harry was the first to notice. “What’s wrong Hermione,” Harry asked.
“My parents,” she croaked her voice going suddenly quiet. Everyone looked at her questioningly.
“They were needless to say a little upset when I sent them an owl to tell them about my engagement to Ron. I don’t believe they’ve quite accepted it yet.” She closed her eyes tight and gave a deep sigh. “I’m going to go talk to them.” And with that she left the group and headed straight for her parents.
Ron watched Hermione awkwardly approach her parents. “Hey mate what did the letter to Hermione say,” Harry asked waking Ron from his stupor.
Ron shrugged, “Something along the lines of ‘unacceptable’ and ‘having to talk about it when she returned home’ in short it wasn’t good.”
“Oh dear,” Molly whispered as she watched Hermione come back over with two not to happy looking people.
“Uh well everybody these are my parents,” Hermione said. “This is my dad Albert Granger and this is my mum Jean Granger,”
The Grangers and the Weasleys could be considered complete opposites. The Grangers, much unlike the Weasleys, were both an average height. Mr. Granger had short brown hair that was obviously very bushy if grown out. This, Harry noted, must be where Hermione got her hairstyle from although as Hermione had gotten older her bushy hair had grown out into softer brown curls. Mr. Granger also didn’t have a freckle in sight. Mrs. Granger had long straight brown hair that was slicked back into a ponytail at the nape of her neck. You could also see that she was where Hermione got her chocolate brown eyes however her mothers were hidden behind a pair of rectangle frames. Mrs. Granger seemed to overall have a look that simply radiated intelligence.
“Mum, Dad,” Hermione continued, “You remember the Weasleys and Harry don’t you.”
“Oh course,” Mr. Granger said in a surprisingly deep voice and he reached out to give everyone a hand shake making sure that he squeezed Ron’s hand a little harder than necessary.
“Likewise,” Mrs. Granger said in a soft voice, and reached her hand out to do the same. “We simply came over to talk to you. You see we received a letter from our daughter about her future plans and we feel she might be making some inappropriate choices.” At the words ‘inappropriate’ Mrs. Granger’s gaze flickered over toward Ron.
“Yes…. yes of course, but please let us continue this discussion back at the Burrow where we can speak more privately. Merlin knows that it’s only a matter of time before the Prophet is swarming these four.” Mr. Weasley said gesturing to Harry, Ron, Hermione, and Ginny.
“Now why would the paper be interested in them,” Mr. Granger asked. But his question was never answered because by then everyone was already headed towards the cars.
A/N: Just so you know there are a lot of little clues in this chapter about how people will act later in the story. This is just all the boring set up stuff so everyone knows whats going on. If anyone has any suggestions please tell me and I'll try an add them in but right now I think I''m doing like crap cause no one will tell me how it is...*hint hint*. Im just saying...