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Chapter 3 : The new regime.
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Hermione took her place at the long Gryffindor table in the Great Hall with Harry to her left, and an ecstatic looking Neville to her right. She couldn’t help but let her jaw drop as she took in the minuscule total of students that had returned to Hogwarts.
At least half the population of Hogwarts, like Ron, and decided Hogwarts was to much with the memories of their lost loved ones to endure another year.
The majority of students remaining sat at the Huffelpuff and Gryffindor tables, something that didn’t shock Hermione too much. These two houses and always powered through together.
Over at the Ravenclaw table, only 18 students remained; the look on most of their faces suggested it had not been there idea to return. Of course Luna Lovegood, who sat at the end of that table by herself, seemed overjoyed at being back. Hermione couldn’t wait to talk with her, she had missed Luna’s odd companionship.
But it was the absence of nearly the entire Slytherin body that stood out the most, only six students remained.
Three seventh years: Draco Malfoy, Blaise Zabini and Pansy Parkinson. Along with a third year who appeared a bit ratty, and two petrified looking second years.
Nobody had been sorted into Slytherin, but that didn’t really say much, considering there had only been 10 first years to sort.
“I can’t believe so many people decided not too come.” Harry looked down as he spoke. “I mean the Slytherins I understand, they all should have bloody well stayed home, but look who’s missing from the Gryffindor table, Hermione. It’s not just Ron, Lavender and Parvati aren’t here either.”
Hermione looked down the table. Harry was right, the girls were also among the missing students. She felt a twinge of guilt for not immediately noticing that her roommates of 6 years were not in attendance. However, She couldn’t help but realize that the lack of students meant she would be free to share her dormitory with only Ginny. Again, the guilt washed over her, berating her for looking towards the possibilities as opposed to regretting the absence of her classmates.
“Don’t concern yourself, Harry. The ones that didn’t show up are just too scared. Don’t think about who isn’t here, instead focus on who is here.” She felt like she was speaking to herself, as well. The anger of Ron abandoning them, abandoning her, still remained fresh and raw. But behind it something deeper lived, a heavy sadness at the realization that the golden trio would not be together for the first time in almost a decade.
Catching Harry’s wavering glance, Hermione gazed over to where he was looking.
Draco was laughing along with Zabini and Parkinson, he seemed to be mimicking someone as they screamed and thrashed around. Hermione felt mortification fill her as she ducked her head, knowing Draco was reliving what had happened on the train.
“Who in Merlin’s name is Malfoy insulting now?” Harry questioned, banging his fists against the table, glaring at Draco with malice. “Shocking that it’s not me, you’d think after what happened in June, he would have at least grown up a bit.”
Ginny, who was sitting on the other side of the table, looked over her shoulder at Malfoy, and then back to Hermione.
“Hermione,” Ginny looked at her with suspicion. “You said that you almost fell off the train but someone grabbed you: tell me Malfoy just saw it happen and that it wasn’t him that saved you!”
Hermione bit her lip, that was all the answer Ginny needed. She closed her eyes and rubbed her temples. Harry staring at Hermione, his expression mixed with confusion, until it finally sunk in.
“Hermione, why didn’t you tell me? I mean Draco Malfoy saved your life, that’s got to count for something. Even if he is currently sitting over there acting like a three year old.”
“Yes, alright, he saved me!” Her voice was exasperated as she threw her hands up and looked at her best friend with surrendering eyes.
“And I would have been eternally grateful, except for the fact that he went back to acting like an arrogant, slimy git, afterward. Oh and to top it all off, he’s Head Boy this year!”
Harry gazed back over at Draco who had ceased his juvenile performance, he was staring straight at Harry and then his eyes flickered over to Hermione, he smirked that ridicules smirk of his, and flashed his head boy badge towards them. His lips moved at Hermione, it took her a moment, but she was able to read, Good luck Mudblood, being mimed from them.
This was too much for Harry, he shot up out of his seat and was seconds away from jumping over the table and heading to Malfoy.
Hermione pulled him by the robes as hard as she could, she had to almost sit on him to control his angry outburst. This was why she wished she hadn’t had to tell him, Harry didn’t think before acting anymore and everyone that messed with him, Ginny, or Hermione were in his path of destruction.
Settling down, he glanced at Ginny who was, as always, calming him down with the reassurances that ‘everything was going to be alright,’ it seemed to work. Satisfied that the crisis had been averted, Hermione sat back down on her seat, and looked over at the laughing form of Draco Malfoy.
She despised him so much, not only was he planning to ruin her year, he had already proven how ungrateful he was about the fact that Harry and saved his life numerous times during the fight. Hermione couldn’t believe someone who was supposed to be proving to the wizarding world that he had purged himself free of the death eater name was casually calling her a mudblood, not only was this insult frowned upon severely now, it was considered punishable by the ministry.
She no longer felt guilty about not thanking Draco, he didn’t deserve even a drop of her gratitude.
Before she could think any more about it, silence filled the hall, as the new Headmistress of Hogwarts stepped up to the podium.
Professor McGonagall stared over at the students remaining, she smiled at everyone and began her first ever announcements as Headmistress.
“Welcome, students! This year will be the beginning of a new regime at Hogwarts school of Witchcraft and Wizardry. We have all been put through unfathomable trials during the last year, and the loss of many friends and family has taken us to the edge,” McGonagall stared over at Harry and Hermione, sympathy in her eyes. “Though the wounds of the past will forever be with us, we have a chance to start a new, to begin our lives free of evil and the chance to have second chances!”
Hermione could feel the essence of Dumbledore inside McGonagall’s words and serenity washed over her as she settled in for the remainder of the speech.
“I look around at all of you this evening, and I am sorry to notice that many of our classmates have not returned. However, I do not feel disheartened by this, for those of us who have returned will persevere and become stronger than before. The bonds of friendship will be more important than ever this year, and for that reason, changes must be made to ensure that all our houses will be as one. For we are together in this, and so it will show.”
Confusion filled the great hall; nobody knew what she meant by this, and everyone seemed to be giving their Headmistress undivided attention.
“Instead of separating each house and isolating the unions that need to be made within, I have implemented a new system in which all houses will be brought together. Instead of the common rooms being separated by house, they now will be separated by the year you are in, first years will be with first years, second years with second years, and so on.”
The hall erupted with outbursts; everyone was quick to voice their opposition. Hermione looked at Harry as the fury grew in his eyes, she could see how much he hated the idea of having to share a house with Draco Malfoy, and she wasn’t sure if either of them would actually make it through the year like this, especially without severely harming each other.
Hermione could see McGonagall’s resolve as she waited for the room to quiet down.
“You all may dislike this idea, but my decision is final. It is my sincerest hopes that you will eventually get used to sharing with all houses. You must not think of yourselves as individual houses anymore, we are but one school and we must join together to ensure that past events never occur again.”
“Talk about redundant,” hissed Harry. “She’s looking at a downright war now, no way is this going to work, not with Malfoy!”
Hermione silently agreed as she peered over to the Slytherins table. Malfoy, Zabini and Parkinson were deep in conversation. In Hermione’s opinion it looked as though they were planning something, she didn’t like it, not at all.
McGonagall continued on about the rules and how Hogwarts would be run this year, most of the students were too deep in their own thoughts to pay much attention, but Hermione continued listening the best she could.
“And finally I would like to announce that our new Head boy and Head girl will be Draco Malfoy and Hermione Granger. I hope very much that the two of you will work together this year to show the rest of the school that unity among houses will bring us close and make us stronger then we have ever been before.”
Hermione could have sworn she saw a smirk meet McGonagall’s lips, but she couldn’t be sure.
Over on the Slytherin table, Malfoy let out a loud snort, trying to contain laughter.
Hermione was outraged that he obviously was not even going to try and be mature this year, this was going to be harder then she thought.
Harry rubbed Hermione’s shoulder in an ‘I feel so sorry for you’ motion.
His gesture was noted, but it did not help Hermione’s feelings of how horrible it was going to be to have to do so many activities with their Slytherin enemy.
McGonagall finished off her speech with a minute of silence for the people that had been lost in the war, she then told the students of each year to go to a specific teacher to be taken to there brand new common rooms.
The seventh years were led by Professor Flitwick, who walked as quickly as his little legs could carry him in front of the group, not noticing that fights and arguments had already started among them.
Hermione was currently trying to calm a fuming Harry down, whose tempter was rising because Pansy Parkinson had tried to trip a now blushing Ginny on the stairs, after Zabini attempted to rip out Luna’s radish earrings.
“Ignore it Harry, they want us to react, you know they do, don’t give them the satisfaction,” Hermione said under her breath.
They were on the sixth floor when Flitwick came to a stop in front of an enormous portrait of none other then Severus Snape.
Hermione thought this had to be a joke, her feeling towards Snape of course had changed since the war, but she didn’t think it was kind for them to have a constant reminder of who they had lost, mainly Harry whose face had now been drained of colour.
He wasn’t the only one though, Hermione peered around to see that all of their group had been stunned by their new portrait door.
The shock was deepened when the Snape portrait began shuffling his eyes at some of the shocked seventh years
Hermione ducked behind Harry as Snape’s eyes stopped on hers.
“Come now Miss Granger, don’t tell me your afraid of a portrait, not after what you and Mr Potter here did.”
Hermione stepped back to where she had been standing, and saw Harry look over at her and then at the portrait of Snape, the man that had in all intents and purposes always been there for him, in a very odd way indeed.
Hermione immediately noticed that this Snape didn’t seem to hold the same hatred in his eyes as the real Snape had, something she assumed Harry had realised as well.
“Professor Snape its nice too see you, sort of see you I mean.” Harry grinned awkwardly, obviously feeling uncomfortable standing in front of this man, well his portrait anyway.
“Indeed,” replied the Snape portrait. “It’s nice to hear you speaking to me without venom”
“Right back at you,” winked Harry.
The Snape portrait then chuckled at Harry: a sound Hermione thought wasn’t even possible.
This odd moment between the two was interrupted by the cackling laugh of Pansy Parkinson and the *cough* “Get a room,” *cough* produced by Zabini.
Flitwick departed soon after, first informing the seventh years that the password was Freedom and that the dorm partners were strung up inside the common room.
Walking into the seventh year’s common room, Hermione couldn’t help but smile. It was a beautiful space, much bigger then that of the Gryffindor’s. The walls inside were decorated with each houses symbol and colours, and the ceiling displayed the Hogwarts crest.
Many different cushy looking chairs were positioned around a large fireplace. They looked so comfortable that Hermione thought she could fall into one right now and be fast asleep in seconds.
Instead, Hermione followed Harry, Ginny and Luna over to the now crowded bulletin board to discover who she’d be sharing a room with.
Hermione realised that there was to be two students per room, she almost jumped with joy when she saw that her new roommate was going to be Luna, but she also felt terrible for Ginny who was assigned to share a dorm with Pansy Parkinson.
Over on the boys’ list, Harry was fortunate enough to be roomed with Neville; Hermione knew that if he’d been placed with Draco, there was little chance of both of them surviving their first night together.
She sighed, her thoughts drifting over how much things had changed. She followed Luna to the room marked Granger and Lovegood
Inside, her luggage had found its way to the edge of her bed. She looked over at Luna who had begun mumbling to herself.
“Nargles, had to be the Nargles, they’ve taken all my shoes already!” Luna mumbled.
Hermione giggled at Luna’s naive sweetness as she pulled on her pajamas, and crawled into her bed.
From the next room Hermione could already here yelling as someone began throwing things around, she assumed that Pansy had done or said something to Ginny, who was now taking her revenge.
After what seemed like hours, Hermione finally fell into a restless sleep with images clouding around her brain. The nightmares she had each night were common, but tonight they were not the usual dreams of bodies lying everywhere, but instead of Draco, whose face contorted into a sneer as he whispered into her ear “Good Luck Mudblood” and then he would turn into Voldemort, cackling as he drew his wand out and pointed it directly at her heart.
A/N -- Please review! :)
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