AN: This is AU in the sense that we are assuming that Harry defeated Voldemort in his sixth year, so now it’s seventh year, everyone who died in the books is dead. Also, I’m American, so I will write and spell as such, my apologies if that annoys you.
AN: For reference for all future chapters: J.K. Rowling owns everything that you recognize. Anything I reference belongs to the person I reference. You recognize it, probably isn’t mine. Thanks!
Chapter 1- In His Memory
McGonagall was a lunatic.
That was the thought going through every student’s mind as they read to her letter explaining the new program at Hogwarts. They had known that things would be different, without Dumbledore. Little did they know that McGonagall had a plan to keep his memory alive.
Enclosed is the list of books you will need for the new year, as well as your typical Hogwarts letter, however, this additional letter has been included to inform you of a new program starting this year at Hogwarts. Professor Dumbledore was always so eager to see great unity among the houses, so in honor of his memory we will be starting a pen-pal program. You will not know who you are writing to, and there will be a charm so that you cannot give any hints. You will just write to each other throughout the first semester and get to know one another. After Christmas break you will have the option to tell each other what house you are in, and see how that goes. Assuming you are able to overcome your differences, by Easter break you will have the option to tell one another your names. Hopefully you will learn something about a different house.
In a few days you will be receiving your pen-pal package. It will include paper charmed to mail itself to your pen-pal without you knowing who it is you are writing to. It will have the only quill you can use to write on this paper, charmed to prevent exposure before it is allowed. And it will have a list of suggested opening topics to include in your intro letter. Each kit will either have a one or two. If yours has a one, you write the first letter. If it has a two, wait for your pen-pal to write to you. You should start this summer, I will know if you have not started writing to each other by July. It is part of your graduation requirement. Enjoy!
Everyone thought this was the stupidest idea ever. According to the letters sent to non-seventh years, they would receive a new pen-pal every year. Harsh. Hermione wasn’t sure if this was really going to create any better unity than they had had in previous years, but it was a school assignment, so she was willing to participate and try to make it work.
“Did you get McGonagall’s stupid letter about the pen-pal thing?” Hermione was at the Burrow sitting in the backyard with Harry and Ron. Ron was staring at them with huge, wide eyes, obviously distraught at the idea of the assignment.
“Yes, I’m kind of excited about it, aren’t you?” She wasn’t really all that excited, but she knew that if she didn’t pretend to be excited than they would notice it and allow themselves to hate it. If she wanted to see them graduate she was going to have to help them out a bit, even if they didn’t know what she was doing. She chuckled quietly to herself. She was honestly excited about one thing, she had gotten Head Girl, she figured she would leave that as a surprise for the boys, but she was super excited about it.
“Oh, um, yeah I guess. I just hope I don’t get stuck with anyone boring, can you imagine that?” Harry was frowning as he said this, imagining writing back and forth with Millicent Bulstrode. They all laughed.
Their summer had been alright. They had relaxed, recovering from the big battle and all those lost in the war. The beginning of the summer was spent attending funerals, Tonks and Lupin’s, Fred’s, his had been the hardest. Ron had been so unwilling to show any emotion, for fear of showing too much emotion. He and Hermione were not together. They had kissed in the battle, but they had just been too much, it would never work out.
Harry was still in the process of coming to terms with the fact that all the deaths were not his fault. Voldemort would have killed more people if it weren’t for him, not less. Finally coming out the other side, the trio was hoping to make their seventh year a happy year, they deserved it.
Two days after getting the letter, the pen-pal packages arrived. Harry’s had a number one on it, Ron’s had a number two, and Hermione’s also had a number two. They all helped Harry write is first letter. Since he couldn’t tell his pen-pal who he was, it was a general letter just saying hello, how has your summer been so far, etc. Once he had sealed the letter it disappeared.
“Well,” Hermione said, “I guess once you seal it you better be sure you want it sent” she giggled at Harry’s shocked face as he stared at his empty hands.
Ron got his first letter later that day. It sounded a lot like the letter Harry had written, pretty general. He replied with his answers and some questions of his own. Both boys seemed to find it a horrible chore, Hermione couldn’t help but laugh at them.
It was three days before Hermione finally got her first letter. She didn’t want it to be read aloud like the boys’ had been, so she went out into the yard and sat under a tree by the make-shift quidditch pitch.
I don’t really know what to write. I can’t tell you anything about me nor ask anything about you, so I don’t really get the point. This is stupid. I have to go to dinner with my parents. Just, write back if you think of anything we can actually say to one another.
There was no signature, she had kind of expected it to be signed or addressed like Harry and Ron’s had been, with some title like “Your Pen-Pal” or “Dear Pen Pal Person”, anything. It was a bit abrupt and didn’t follow any of the suggested prompts included in the kit. She stuck it in her pocket, figuring she would have to think about what to write.
Two days after receiving her letter she decided to answer it. She had to focus on having her best handwriting, since he wrote so elegantly, she used the cursive she had learned back in third grade.
I think we need to have names for one another. We can make up something fun. I guess you can call me Grace. What would you like to be called? Also, there are so many things we can talk about. We can get to know each other. For example, what is your favorite color? Or, if you had to choose between sharing a room with the Giant Squid and sharing a room with an Acrumantula, which would you choose? This could be fun, getting to know everything about someone.
Hermione sealed her letter and it disappeared, just as Harry and Ron’s had. She then went to find the boys and see if they wanted to head to Diagon Alley to buy books.
The ‘Golden Trio’ went into Diagon Alley and immediately got swamped by people wanting to thank them for vanquishing he-who-must-not-be-named. They eventually decided to split up to different stores. Harry said he would buy their potions supplies, Ron had to go to Olivander’s to get a new wand, his had snapped in the final battle, and Hermione said she would go buy their books.
As she wandered through Flourish and Blotts, a stack of books floating behind her, someone bumped into her from the side.
“Oh, I’m so sorry.” She turned as she spoke, coming face-to-face with Draco Malfoy. He had joined the right side in the end, but it didn’t mean they didn’t still think of him as bad person. The Ministry had found him guilty of being coerced by his family, putting his family in Azkaban, not Draco.
“Watch where you are going Granger.” Hermione knew that it was he who had bumped into her, but the fact that he called her Granger rather than Mudblood was enough to keep her from pointing this out. “What are you trying to do Granger,” Draco brought her attention back to him, “trying to buy out the whole store?” She noticed that he was looking at the large stack of books floating behind her.
“Harry, Ron and I split up. We were getting mobbed out there. I’m in charge of books.” He looked surprised at her honest answer.
“Wow, the golden trio can’t even shop for school supplies without being surrounded by adoring fans wanting to kiss their feet.” He sneered as he said this and Hermione just nodded.
“Exactly, and it’s annoying as hell” Draco looked up at this.
“Granger, you swear?” She laughed at his surprise, he looked angry at having her laugh at him; he took a menacing step closer to her. She didn’t move.
“Yes, I swear. Now, if you will excuse me, I have to buy these books and somehow sneak out of Diagon Alley without being noticed.” Draco just looked at her as she walked off towards the register.
He was standing by the door when she went to leave.
“What do you want Malfoy?” He smirked at that.
“I just thought that I should, like everyone else, repay you for all you have done for the world.” She looked at him suspiciously.
“What are you talking about? You have never thanked anyone, ever.” Draco laughed at her face.
“No, that’s true. I don’t really want to thank you,” Hermione waited, curious as to what he really wanted. “I want in on your plan.” She looked at him confused.
“Whatever plan you have come up with to get out of here unseen.”
“Why would you need to get out unseen?”
“Well, in case you have forgotten, since the Dark Lord lost, and my family was a bit infamous for supporting him, I’m not exactly popular at the moment.” Hermione just looked at him. He scowled at her.
“Do people really give you trouble over it?” Draco looked away at that.
“Thanks to you three, everyone feels like they can best anyone who is ‘dark’, I bet if there are any Death Eaters left un-captured the public will get them, probably kill them too. They will stand up to anyone now.” Hermione still looked skeptical. “Look,” he really needed to get home in one piece, but he was under scrutiny from the government, even if he was free, so he couldn’t risk getting in trouble for apparating without a license. “I’ve been egged, beaten up, hexed, you name it. I just want to get home in one piece. I will pay you to apparate me back to the manor.”
Hermione couldn’t believe her ears. Draco Malfoy was no longer the bully, alright, maybe he still was, but he was also the bullied for a change. He needed her help. She didn’t really want to help him, but he did look really pathetic, plus, it could come in handy to have Draco Malfoy owe her one.
“Fine, I’ll get you home, but you will owe me one.” He nodded his agreement as she grabbed his arm, not missing the fleeting look of disgust that crossed his face, and apparated them out of there. She remembered where Malfoy Manor was, unfortunately, having been tortured there during the war. She apparated them right in front of the door. Draco turned to look at her.
“Um…” He didn’t really know what to say. He felt obliged to say something. “What a cup of tea before you go?” He didn’t really know why he had asked. She was still Hermione Granger, one third of the golden trio. But she didn’t treat him any differently than she had before. She hated him and he hated her, but it was based on him, not his family, and he missed that. Plus, with his family in Azkaban, he did not really have anyone to talk to and summer was getting lonely, not that he would ever admit that.
Hermione looked at him, confused.
“Blunt much?” Draco said it snarkily, but not angrily. “I was just asking. You did get me home, in one piece I might add.” He looked away from her, like he didn’t care what she decided.
But Hermione could see something else there, Malfoy was hiding something, and that made her curious. She had always hated the saying “curiosity killed the cat”, because no one bothered to finish the saying, “and satisfaction brought it back”. She was that cat, she always had been. So she just had to know why Draco Malfoy, of all people, was acting so oddly.
“Um, sure, why not?” Draco looked surprised, to say the least, but he opened the door and motioned for her to walk in.
“Bitsy!” As soon as the word left his mouth a small house-elf appeared at his elbow.
“What can Bitsy do for Master Malfoy?” Bitsy asked, clearly eager to serve. Hermione looked on disapprovingly, but Malfoy didn’t notice. He turned to Hermione quickly.
“What type of tea do you like?”
“What do you have?”
“Bitsy, could you bring a tray of snacks, a peppermint tea, and a…” he thought about it for a second, “forest berry tea to the blue parlor?” It did not escape Hermione’s notice that while he didn’t say please he didn’t order her, he asked.
“Of course Master Malfoy, it is Bitsy’s pleasure Master Malfoy.” She disappeared to the kitchen. Draco walked off and Hermione figured she was supposed to follow him, so she did. By the time they got to the parlor Bitsy was already there, setting the tray on the coffee table. “Do you need anything else Master Malfoy?” Draco shook his head.
“Thanks, that will be all.” Bitsy left again and Draco took a seat, motioning for Hermione to do the same. She stared at him for a few seconds before taking a seat on the couch across from him, watching him wearily.
“Malfoy, can I ask you something?” Draco looked up at her, passing her tea over the table. She took it, mumbling a ‘thank you’ for manner’s sake.
“Uh, I guess. But don’t expect me to answer if it’s a stupid question Granger.” She nodded.
“You were almost, nice, to your house-elf. You asked rather than ordered and you even said thanks. Why?” His eyes got a bit wider before he sat back with his tea. He contemplated what to say for a few minutes. Hermione sipped her tea in silence. She had to admit, the tea was delicious. Finally, Draco looked up.
“My house-elves are the only ones in this house with me. My entire family is in jail. What’s the point in being rude; it only makes my tea arrive cold?” While he said it in such a way as to make it sound like no big deal, like he was doing it for himself, Hermione understood what he would never say. He needed friends; his house-elves were all he had. And just maybe, maybe he had only acted the way he had because of his family. Hermione wasn’t sure she could believe that, but it was possible that the pressure from his family was the reason for who he was. With them out of the way, they might just get to see who the real Draco Malfoy was.
They sat in silence for a few minutes as they drank their tea and ate some snacks. Finally Draco spoke.
“Can I ask you a question in return?” Hermione nodded, surprised. “Why did you agree to bring me back, and then agree to tea? I know why I asked, I haven’t fought with someone in so long, and you are such an easy target, but what’s your excuse?” Again, Hermione caught the hidden meaning that Draco didn’t even know he was saying, he needed someone to talk to. She thought about her answer briefly.
“I brought you back because I thought it might be useful to have you owing my one. I accepted your offer for tea because I was curious as to why you had offered.” Draco seemed to accept these as normal answers, as he just continued to sip his tea. “So what’s with your tea?” He looked at her, confused. “Forest Berries?” He laughed a bit. Hermione was astonished, it was a real laugh. She smiled a bit.
“Don’t tell anyone. I love tea, of all flavors. I drink normal green and black and so on, but I also love strangely flavored ones. The best tea I ever found was a tea flavored just like raspberry shortcake. It was delicious!” Hermione laughed at him, hearing her laugh brought Draco back to reality and his scowl returned. “If you tell anyone I will make sure you regret it.” This time he didn’t use a joking voice. Hermione frowned, sick of Malfoy acting practically bi-polar.
“I won’t. I think it’s interesting. I’ve never really tried any tea outside of the normal and peppermint, as you can see. I will have to give some other flavors a try next time.” Draco just nodded; his mood was back to being pissy. “Well, I should get going.” As she said this she set her empty teacup back on the tray. She looked up at Draco, meeting his stare. “Thank you for the tea, that was very nice.” She was being honest, she had enjoyed their talk. It felt good to talk to someone who you really didn’t care how they took your words. Hermione spent too much of her time worrying about what other people thought and worrying about their feelings, it was nice not to care.
“Of course, I’ll see you out; don’t want the brightest witch of our age to get lost.” He half smirked, half smiled. He did just that, walking beside her all the way to the door, opening it for her. “Goodbye Granger. If you ever want to bicker again, my door is always open.” Hermione knew he meant it literally, he, like she had, had enjoyed talking without caring.
“I might take you up on that. Goodbye Malfoy.” With that she turned on her heel and apparated to the Burrow.
“Hermione!!” Harry and Ron came rushing out of the house. “Where have you been? Are you alright?” Hermione blinked at them. She had totally forgotten that they would be waiting for her. Oops.
“I’m fine.” They stared at her, unsure. “First I had to find the books, get them all over to the line, there was a very long line, then I had to deal with the huge crowd wanting to talk to me, I couldn’t just disapperate away, that would have been rude, so that took a while.” She didn’t really know why she was lying, it’s not like she had gotten along with Malfoy, and they had both done what they did for purely selfish reasons. But she just didn’t want to tell them the truth.
The boys seemed to accept her explanation, a look of dawning crossing their faces.
“Sorry Hermione,” Harry said, “we forgot that you would have to deal with the crazier lines, neither store we went to was all that crazy.” Ron nodded his agreement.
“Yeah, and trust you to be too nice, we just disapperated from the middle of the crowd, you are just too well mannered for your own good.” The three of them laughed, Hermione a bit less sincerely. They walked back into the house together. Hermione went to put her books and supplies into her trunk in Ginny’s room. She found a letter on her bed, it was from her pen-pal.
Sounds like a plan to me. Since we have to do this anyway we might as well try to enjoy it. My favorite color is dark blue. What about you? I would much rather share a room with an Acrumantula, less messy. But it would have to be a large room. If you had to choose between being extremely famous for something bad and being totally unknown to anyone for anything, which would you choose? You can call me Damien I guess, if we are picking names. How has your summer been, mine has been ok. Better today than it has been.
Hermione smiled. Dark blue, what did that say about a person? At least she knew her pen-pal was a guy, which helped in terms of what topics to discuss. She sat down to quickly pen out a response before heading downstairs for dinner.
My favorite color is light purple, which is best when paired with black. Interesting choice in roommates. I would think that the Giant Squid would be a better roomy, since he would be less likely to eat you in your sleep, or even while you are awake. I would rather be unknown to anyone. Being famous isn’t that important, whether the reason is good or bad. My summer has been alright, sad, as I’m sure everyone’s has been, too many funerals for such a short time. What was good about today? What is your favorite animal? If you had to choose between listen to the same song everyday for the rest of your life and never hearing any music ever again, which would you choose?
Hermione sealed her letter and let it disappear. Then she headed down to see if she could help Mrs. Weasley with the final touches on dinner.
AN: Please read and review. If you have an idea for a question or would you rather for the letters, please feel free to include it in your review and I’ll use and credit the good ones. Thanks so much!