Chapter 3 : Welcoming Feast
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“Hermione,” a voice said drawing Hermione out of her thoughts.
Hermione looked up to see a familiar face with long, fiery red hair. “Ginny,” she said trying to sound relaxed “it’s great to see you…it’s been a while” Hermione fidgeted trying to avoid the awkwardness of this conversation.
“Hermione we need to talk,” Ginny said bluntly getting straight to the point. She was never one to dance around the point “I know you and Ron aren’t together anymore and it was hard on the both of you but that doesn’t mean we can’t be friends…I mean I would rather like to be friends again.” She said smiling.
“We never stopped being friends, Ginny,” Hermione stated “we just grew apart a little bit over the summer that’s all”
“Well let’s grow back together,” Ginny suggested “I’m sick of not spending time with you Hermione, the war has been hard on all of us and I just hate not talking about it. Ron won’t talk to me, Harry won’t talk to anyone, and—“ she broke off her bottom lip trembling ever so slightly. It was not like Ginny to cry so Hermione knew she must be really upset.
“Well, talk to me Ginny” Hermione said “anytime you want, I’m here to talk.” Hermione didn’t really want to talk about the war, but she saw how important it was to Ginny and decided to just go with it.
“Thanks Hermione, I’ve really missed you, you know?” Ginny gave a small smile.
Hermione returned her smile “I’ve missed you too, Ginny”
Suddenly, the doors of the Great Hall swooshed open and Professor Sprout led a group of nervous looking first years through the hall. Ever since Professor McGonagall had become headmistress, Professor Sprout had taken over the duties of the deputy headmistress.
She led them to the front of the hall where the Sorting Hat, who had miraculously survived the year before despite being set on fire, sat waiting for them.
Hermione waited patiently until every last first year had found their respective houses. As soon as the last first year had taken their seat the golden plates in front of them erupted into mountains of delicious looking food. Hermione helped herself despite the fact that she wasn’t very hungry. She scanned the table looking to see which Gryffindors from her year had returned. She was surprised when she discovered that Neville Longbottom, Lavender Brown, Pavarti Patil, Seamus Finnagan, and Dean Thomas had all returned. As she scanned the room she noticed that a few Ravenclaws and Hufflepuffs had also returned. Her eyes cautiously glanced over the Slytherin table. She noticed that along with Blaise Zabini and Draco Malfoy (Hermione let out an involuntary shutter as she glanced at him) Pansy Parkinson and Gregory Goyle had come back. She wondered why on earth Goyle had come back, seeing as it was unlikely he would gain anything from it. She pondered this until the voice of Professor McGonagall drew her attention to the front.
“Welcome back for another year at Hogwarts” McGonagall began her voice ringing throughout the Great Hall “as you have most likely noticed I will be taking over as headmistress at Hogwarts” Hermione noticed a small smirk playing over her lips “but not to fear! I will still be teaching Transfiguration!” there was an audible groan from the Slytherin table. “This year we will also be home to a few students who are returning to complete their seventh year of education that was stolen from them last year. I would like them all to stand and be an example for true dedication to the pursuit of knowledge!” McGonagall motioned for them to stand. Hermione groaned silently as she stood up. She could hear the excited whispers of some of the younger students upon seeing her stand. She also heard whispers of confusion from some of the older students. McGonagall led them all in a round of applause and then continued on.
“I would like to introduce our new potions master Professor Brewnei” she motioned to an old mousy looking man to her left “and our new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher Professor Noires” she motioned to a middle aged man with a broad smile seated on her right “let’s give them a warm Hogwarts welcome” The Great Hall broke out into applause. The two men bowed their heads graciously.
McGonagall continued on with the usual speech on rules and regulations which flew over the heads of 70% of the students. Finally she brought the speech to a close. “Lastly, before I send you off to bed could I have the returning seventh years, or I guess you could say eighth years stay behind. Now off to bed. Best get a good night rest for you all have class tomorrow!” McGonagall gave a rare smile as the students pushed back their benches and hurried off to their common rooms.
“See you in the common room, Hermione” Ginny said as she hurried off with the rest of her class.
As the last of the students filed out, Hermione got a better look at the returning students. She was surprised that twenty of them in all had decided to return. Maybe she wasn’t the only crazy one out there.
“Now” McGonagall started “seeing as you all have already received N.E.W.T marks based on your marks throughout your Hogwarts career, you will not be required to take the actual test seeing as none of your former classmates did” she paused “and this year you will be participating in something a little different than your experiences in years past.” McGonagall was now looking directly at Hermione “However, I will leave that up to Professor Noires to explain to you tomorrow. That is all.” She finished before exiting with the other teachers. The six Gryffindors got up and headed off to the common room.
“What do you suppose we’ll be doing?” Lavender asked turning to her companions.
“I haven’t the slightest!” Dean replied.
“I just hope it’s more exciting than normal classes! Then maybe being back here won’t be so boring!” Pavarti exclaimed.
“Why are you here then, Pavarti?” Neville asked raising his eyebrow.
“Oh my parents wanted both me and Padma to come back! Said that in order to be respected in the wizarding world we must had a full education” Pavarti said with a tone that suggested she thought the idea was preposterous. “What about you Neville?”
“Gran and I both figured it would be best” he answered simply “since last year was so terrible.”
“I wasn’t here at all so I figured why not try and catch up” Dean said answering the unasked question.
“I wouldn’t know what to do with meself without Hogwarts!” Seamus cried “Besides I figured I’d help Dean here catch up” Seamus laughed at the look on Dean’s face.
“Ooooh that’s why I came back too!” Lavender squealed “I just couldn’t stand the thought of poor Pavarti being here alone!”
All eyes turned to look at Hermione who hadn’t spoken the entire time. She looked up and met the questioning looks in their eyes. It was Pavarti who spoke.
“Why did you come back, Hermione?”she asked “I mean it’s not like you need any more school! You’re the smartest witch in our year and you were off all last year with—“
“You can never have too much education” Hermione said quickly cutting her off “Besides who knows how much I’ve missed out on already” Hermione declared picking up her pace a little.
“Well what about Harry and Ron?” Lavender asked matching her pace to Hermione’s “I mean we thought surely you’d want to stay with them, especially after all you went through last year.”
“I guess they thought they were finished with their education” said Hermione keeping her eyes down.
“Is everything all right, Hermione?” Neville asked with concern.
Lavender nodded “Yes, you seem a bit off—is everything good between you and Ron?” Everyone at school had known about the start of Hermione and Ron’s relationship, however very few had learned of its demise. A thought that still slightly pained Hermione.
Hermione spun on her heel. “Everything is fine!” she snapped though she knew it wasn’t “I just wanted to come back to school okay? Honestly what is this? The bloody Spanish Inquisition?” Hermione knew her anger was uncalled for but she didn’t really care. Without another words she spun around and marched up to the common room.
“The Spanish what? What is she on about?” Hermione heard Seamus question.
“The Spanish Inqui—nevermind” she heard Dean answer before she was out of earshot.
Hermione was still quite irked when she reached the portrait hole.
“Bravery” she told the Fat Lady and the portrait swung open. She walked into the common room intending to go straight up to bed.
“Hermione” said a voice by the fire. Ginny leaned over the back of the armchair and smiled. “What did McGonagall want with you lot?”
Hermione sighed she really just wanted to go to sleep. “Not much” she said answering Ginny’s question “she just wanted to tell us we didn’t have to take our N.E.W.Ts”
“That’s good,” Ginny said cautiously noticing Hermione’s annoyance.
“Yup, well anyways Ginny, I’m off to bed. I want to get a good sleep for tomorrow. Goodnight!” Hermione hurried up to her dormitory before Ginny could respond.
Hermione lay awake in her bed. She had put a Silencing Charm on herself so as not to wake the other students with her screams that accompanied her nightmares. But tonight was not an issue. The sky was already beginning to lighten before Hermione finally fell asleep.
A/N: Thanks for reading! Anyway I know the chapters are a little short and not much action has occured yet....but do not fear! There is a lot more coming! Please keep reading and reviewing!!!!!!
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