A/N: First things first: a HUGE apology to my readers for the long wait for this chapter. I am apologizing from the very bottom of my heart. The last few weeks of school were busier than I expected it to be, plus I went through some personal stuff. But I’m out for the summer! I’ve got two weeks free, but I’ve got 6 weeks required summer class. That shouldn’t be a problem though because I’ve only got two subjects to take. I promise to make sure the next chapters come up quicker!
Anyway, I’ve intentionally made this chapter longer than the others, so I hope you have a good read! :)
As Hermione went about ushering the students onto the train, she got several greetings of congratulations. She smiled to herself, glad that her fellow students seemed supportive enough. Luna and Neville each gave her a hug as she passed them on the platform, and she was happily surprised to see them walk away holding hands. “Me and Ron, Harry and Ginny, and now Luna and Neville. Well if there’s one good thing that came from the war, it’s that it brought together the people who are meant to be together,” she mused. She boarded the train at last and headed for the Heads compartment, stopping to wave at her friends who were only a few compartments away. She stashed away her trunk in the overhead compartment, choosing not to look back when she heard the door slide open behind her.
“Put your things away so we can read the letter from Dumbledore over there on the windowsill, and then we can get started,” she told Draco, who had just walked in. He scowled at her back before doing as she said. Once he was done, he snatched up the envelope but dropped it again as it began to open and unfold on its own. He was even more surprised when Dumbledore’s voice boomed from it.
“Mr. Malfoy and Ms. Granger, first of all I send you my heartiest greetings of welcome back, and congratulations on being Head Boy and Girl! By now I’m hoping you understand as to why your identities were kept hidden from each other until today; although I trust that now that you know, you shall be able to work together.”
There was a pause, as if Dumbledore knew that they would need to process what he just said.
“Moving on, allow me to discuss your instructions for the trip to Hogwarts. There will be no prefects on duty, so the responsibility of maintaining order lies with both of you. You are to patrol the corridors in turns, if you wish, and you are free to decide how your shifts will go about. Upon arrival at Hogsmeade, Hagrid and Professor Flitwick will be there to sort out the trunks so you’ll be free to join your friends for the trip up to the castle. You’ll wait at the Entrance Hall with Professor McGonagall to greet the first years and lead them into the great Hall. You may, of course, join your friends again for the Sorting and dinner. The prefects will take care of leading their houses back to their respective common rooms; you are both to proceed to my office where you’ll receive the rest of your instructions and duties.
As I trust that there are no questions, I bid you both good day, and good luck.”
The letter folded back in itself and floated onto the table. There was a few seconds of silence before Draco spoke up. “We should take our shifts by the hour. I’ll take the first shift?”
Hermione was slightly shocked by the abrupt lack of hostility in his tone when he spoke to her. Not 10 minutes ago, they were out on the platform with her friends and he had his cold and arrogant signature drawl in his voice. Now, he sounded almost…decent. “Wait a second. Did I just use ‘decent’ to describe Malfoy? Snap out of it Hermione!” She shook her head to clear her thoughts.
“All right, do you want to take the first shift then?” Draco asked her. Hermione abruptly stopped shaking her head. She was still in slight shock because of the tone of his voice but she managed to respond quietly, “Uh no, you can take the first shift.”
Draco nodded and stood up. He stopped at the door to the compartment, and without turning to look at Hermione, he said “I suppose you’ve got a bit of explaining to do to your friends. None of them looked too happy. Good luck getting Weasel to shut up about it.” Walking away, he didn’t have to look at her for her to see the smirk on his face; she could practically hear it in his voice.
She sighed, frustrated because she knew he was right: she had a lot of explaining to do.
Ginny sat with her arms crossed, looking back and forth between her boyfriend and her brother. She had already given up on asking them to please sit down and relax because she knew that neither of them would until Hermione walked into their compartment. At the moment, Harry was glaring at the door as if silently willing Hermione to appear; Ron was pacing the length of the tiny compartment, cursing and muttering under his breath.
“Honestly, you two. There’s a reason why Hermione told me everything, and I’m guessing it’s the reason why Dumbledore didn’t say anything earlier either,” Ginny said to get their attention. The two boys looked at her expectantly. “I’m not going to tell you anything now, if that’s what you’re hoping for,” Ginny continued. “That’s Hermione’s business to tell, not mine. And she said she’ll explain, so she will. If you two could just sit still and be patient. It’s really not that hard, you know.”
“Easy for you to say, Ginny. You know what she’s been hiding. I’m her boyfriend; I want to know what, and why,” Ron replied, and sat down next to Harry instead of pacing.
A few minutes later, Draco walked past their compartment with the usual smirk on his face. Ginny saw Ron and Harry tense up and then relax again as Hermione came into view.
“Finally!” Ron exclaimed as he stood up to open the door for her. Harry moved to sit next to Ginny, and all of them – Ginny included, even though she had heard the story before – looked eagerly at Hermione as she sat down to explain.
Hermione took a deep breath; she could feel Harry and Ron burning a hole through her with their stares. She risked a glance up at them and faltered at the intense and anxious looks in their eyes. Ginny must have felt her apprehension because she reached over and gave her hand a light squeeze and smiled slightly in encouragement. Hermione smiled back, and opened her mouth to explain.
“Do you guys remember at Harry’s birthday party, when I sort of disappeared for about 15 minutes? I told you that I went to get some fresh air. Well, that’s technically true. I just didn’t tell you that it was Professor McGonagall that wanted air, not me. She asked me to join her for a walk outside, so I did.” Hermione paused to gather her thoughts.
“When we were outside, she told me straight out that she was almost positive that I was a shoo-in for Head Girl. She wasn’t supposed to tell me that, obviously, but she believed I’m sensible enough to keep it a secret first. I think she’d had more than a little to drink by that time, because she went on to tell me more things she wasn’t supposed to. It reminded me a bit of Hagrid, actually, when he kept accidentally telling us things about the Sorcerer’s Stone and the Chamber of Secrets.” Hermione laughed lightly at the memory.
“Anyway, she told me even she wasn’t sure who Head Boy would be, because Dumbledore hadn’t told her either. Apparently, it’s a surprise even for the staff, up until he sends the owls. She did say that she had a pretty good idea though.
Most of the time, it’s the girl and boy with the top marks from first to sixth year, collectively. That’s why she was positive I would be Head Girl. I realized I didn’t actually know who the boy was who had top marks in our year, and I told McGonagall that. And that’s when she told me that Malfoy’s marks have been almost at par with mine every year. They’ve always been just barely below mine, and his intelligence just gets overshadowed by his indifference and sheer obnoxiousness.
She was hoping that Dumbledore might shake things up a little this year, starting off with making Harry Head Boy instead of Malfoy. She thought Dumbledore would decide that after all the trouble that Malfoy has caused it would be unreasonable to make him Head Boy no matter how high his marks are or how skilled he is with a wand. Unfortunately, nobody ever knows what Dumbledore is thinking, and the decision always lies with him alone. She merely thought to give me fair warning, and to tell me to hope for my own sake that it’s Harry and not Malfoy.”
The compartment was silent as Hermione finished retelling her story. Finally, Ron piped up. “So that’s when you had the idea that you might be Head Girl, and that you might have to work with Malfoy as Head Boy?” Hermione nodded. “Why didn’t you tell me and Harry, ‘Mione? You know you can tell us anything.”
Hermione looked up at her boyfriend and saw that he no longer looked anxious or angry; instead he looked genuinely upset that she had not chosen to confide in him. She took his hand and entwined her fingers with his. “I’m sorry I didn’t tell you Ron,” she said before turning to Harry, “and you, Harry. I was just unsure of how you both would react. I was afraid you’d write to Dumbledore and ask him not to give it to Malfoy, and that would’ve put me and Professor McGonagall in trouble. Or I thought you might ask me not to be Head Girl, or that you would do something stupid to Malfoy just to be sure it wouldn’t be him. I knew that Ginny would take it in stride and I guess that’s what I needed.”
“’Mione, don’t be ridiculous.” Harry said, speaking up for the firs time since they got on the train. “If you had told us, well, of course we wouldn’t have liked it. It’s Malfoy! We’ve hated him since day one. But we would’ve known better than to do anything stupid. Not even to Malfoy. And I of all people would know that Dumbledore wouldn’t have listened to me even if I begged him to let someone else be Head Boy.”
“Exactly!” Ron agreed. “And ‘Mione, love, we would have never asked you not to be Head Girl, because you deserve it more than anyone, and I know how happy it makes you. Why on earth would we ask you to give it up? It’s absurd.” Hermione smiled at her friends. “I just wish you’d told me earlier.” Ron finished.
“I know, and I’m sorry. I promise I’ll never do that again. From now on, I’m not hiding anything from you, Harry, or Ginny.” Hermione promised.
“Glad to hear it, Hermione.” Harry and Ginny stood up to give her a hug.
When Hermione sat back down next to Ron, he leaned over to whisper in her ear. “I still haven’t given you a proper kiss since you got back, you know.” Hermione blushed lightly and her cheeks burned slowly redder as Ron leaned in to kiss her. Their lips were mere centimeters from each other when the compartment door slid open and surprised the couple into jumping away from each other.
Hermione looked up to see Lavender Brown standing at the door. “Oh Merlin, I’m sorry, was I interrupting something?” she asked with wide eyes. “You were, sort of, yeah.” Ginny answered with her arms crossed and ice in her voice.
“Oh, well, I just dropped by to congratulate Hermione,” she said to Ginny with equal animosity, before turning to face Hermione and switching to the annoyingly familiar sweet voice she used to use with Ron. “I suppose you’ll be very busy this year. I heard Draco Malfoy is Head Boy? Good luck with that. Anyway, congratulations! You deserve it. See you lot later!” She wiggled her fingers at them, turned, and left.
“Charming.” Ginny commented dryly. “Why, oh why, did you ever break up with her Ron? I absolutely loved her.” She continued sarcastically.
Harry and Hermione laughed, so they didn’t notice how scarlet Ron’s ears had turned from the moment Lavender walked in to the moment she left. Ginny, however, didn’t miss a thing. She narrowed her eyes at her brother; he quickly looked away from her and almost forcibly joined in the laughter.
Draco paced up and down the corridors of the train. He was about 40 minutes into his first shift, and so far nothing interesting had happened. He wasn’t surprised; usually the trouble starts up when everyone starts to get excited at being so close to Hogwarts. He saw someone walking quickly up the corridor and caught a glimpse of her just as she turned to go inside a compartment a little way from where he was standing. He recognized her; she was that Gryffindor girl from his year that the Weasel went out with in sixth year. “She didn’t get any prettier. As much as I hate to admit it, I have to say that at least Weasel was smart in picking his girl this time around. Granger’s a scale above that girl.” He continued to walk in the direction of the compartment the girl went in, and slowed down as he realized that the door was left slightly open. He wasn’t usually one to eavesdrop and was about to keep walking when he heard his name.
“Draco Malfoy is Head Boy? Lavender, are you sure?” A girl’s voice asked, sounding incredulous.
“Positive. First of all, I heard the Greengrass sisters talking about it on the platform, and they’re Slytherins and friends of Malfoy so they’re bound to know. Also, I just came from Hermione’s compartment to congratulate her and ask, and they didn’t say yes but they didn’t say no either. And to top it off, I just saw Malfoy out in the corridor. He’s probably patrolling, otherwise why else would he be there and not with his friends?” Lavender explained.
“Lav, you are the most gossipy person I know,” another voice said. “And we all know you didn’t go to Hermione’s compartment just to satisfy your curiosity.”
“No, I told you, I went to congratulate her as well.” Lavender replied.
“Right, so you’re telling us that you weren’t the least bit hopeful that you’d see Ron Weasley there but not Hermione?” the first voice asked, and Draco could hear the smirk in her voice.
“Parvati, you know me too well. There’s a reason why you’re my best friend.” Lavender laughed out loud. “All right, I’ll admit, I was hoping that Ron would be there and Hermione would be off doing Head Girl duties. But no, she was there, and so were Harry and Ginny. I actually purposely barged in their compartment as they were about to kiss. I almost laughed when I saw how red Hermione was. Ginny was blatantly unhappy to see me, as usual. Not that I really care.”
“You’re crazy. I thought you’d be well over Ron by now.” The second voice commented.
“I thought I was. But things happen, and feelings come springing back. And you never know Padma, Ron might’ve just thought he was over me too.”
“What are you talking about, Lav? He’s obviously really happy with Hermione.” Padma replied.
“I’m just saying, you never know.” Lavender laughed again.
Draco listened to their conversation, and could guess just what this Lavender girl was implying. Of course, she could just be lying to her friends about whatever could secretly be going on with her and Weasel. Then again, he wouldn’t be surprised if it was true, because that would just convince him that the Weasel isn’t as smart as Draco just gave him credit for.
What happened next surprised even Draco himself. He never understood why he did it, or what came over him at that precise moment. He opened the door of the compartment and stood there with his arms folded across his chest, staring at Lavender. Ignoring their surprised faces, he spoke up.
“First of all, it’s true. I am Head Boy. Second, your friends may not understand what you’re implying, but I do. I’m not his biggest fan, and I’m not hers either. So I honestly don’t really care about their relationship and whatever you’ve got to do with it. But I’ve got some advice for you: if you’re going to brag, at least make sure the door is closed. You’re just lucky it was me that overheard you and not someone who actually cares. Someone like Ginny Weasley.” Draco went on, “I’m not going to tell anyone, because I don’t gossip. If you keep being careless when you gossip though, I won’t have to tell. The whole school will know, and you would’ve been the one to tell them.”
With that, Draco shut the door and left to tell Hermione that his hour was up.
A/N: So, what do you guys think? :) I’m scared I might have under-written the last part, but I really wanted that to be part of the story and I just wasn’t sure how else to write it better. I’m already envisioning and working on the next chapter. :)
Have you guys got any suspicions about Lavender? Explanations of Draco’s lack of hostility? I’d love to hear your theories! :) So please please please rate and review! It’ll mean a lot to me. I don’t have a lot of reviews. :( BUT I love the ones I have so far. They’re really encouraging. I reply to every review, good or bad. :)
Thanks for reading guys!