“Breathe Hermione, “ Neville calmly told Hermione as they sat on the carriage pulled by the threstrals, who now were seen by the majority of students after the war. She was worried about what Miss McGonagall would say about Medusa and whether or not she should hand in the journal. Hermione took a deep breath and walked into the entrance hall of Hogwarts, it felt good to be back.
“Miss Granger, what in the gods name is that following you?!” she heard the shocked head mistress shout from the stairs.
“A snake Headmistress,” Hermione replied politely.
“That is obvious my dear girl but what may I ask is it doing following you?” she demanded. Hermione shook her head to indicate they should not discuss it here in front of the first years so she nodded towards the Head Mistresses office. After informing the first years that she would be back within ten minutes, Miss McGonagall walked towards her office followed by Hermione who in turn was followed by Medusa. Neither of them spoke as they made their way up the staircases which for once did not change.
“Unity” Miss McGonagall spoke as they reached the stone gargoyle leading to the Headmistresses office. She had obviously not had the heart to move anything of Dumbledore’s, Hermione noticed as she looked around the room. It was still full of odd and interesting things as well as books and portraits, two of which caught her eye.
“Miss Granger! How lovely to see you,” came the cheerful voice of Albus Dumbledore from his frame next to the desk whereas the portrait next to him looked down his long crooked nose at her and gave a brief nod, it was obvious Snape had not changed. Hermione took a seat in front of the Headmistress who was interrupted by Dumbledore.
“Well, well, well, what a beautiful creature however I do not remember snakes being on the list of animals allowed in the school,” he said with a twinkle in his eye. Hermione flushed whilst Medusa rose up and hissed.
“Down Medusa, they mean no offence,” Hermione told the snake who retreated and coiled itself up by Hermione’s feet. She looked up and noticed the three teachers staring at her with their eyes wide and their mouths open. Hermione sighed; she probably should have mentioned the events of the train.
“Why did you not tell us that Potter was not the only one that could speak parseltounge Miss Granger?” the Headmistress asked.
“Well I only found out today,” Hermione bowed her head.
“She always was an insufferable know it all,” Snape glared.
“Now Severus, this is a rare talent not something one can learn and who better to own the talent other than the brightest witch of the age,” Dumbledore grinned whilst causing a pink blush to appear on the apples of Hermione’s cheeks.
“Could you possibly explain to us how this...delightful talent became recognised,” came the criticising voice of Snape and so Hermione explained but of course skipping out the part involving finding a dead founders journal revealing many secrets. Nobody interrupted her and she could tell that every other portrait in the room was also listening to what Hermione had to say.
“Well we can’t allow a snake in the schools it would cause disruptions,” Snape gave the first opinion.
“Severus please, I’m sure Miss Granger is more than capable of caring for a snake.
“Well actually neither of you are headmaster of the school anymore so it is neither of your decisions,” Miss McGonagall told them both sternly then looked towards Hermione and pointed her wand at the snake.
“There’s no point Miss, spells don’t work on her, trust me Neville and tried and when we asked her why not she told me that she was to stay until she had fulfilled her purpose,” Hermione told her, remembering when Neville had tried out Wingardium Leviosa and has resulted in a mere hiss from Medusa.
“And did she tell you what her purpose was?” the head mistress asked but Hermione just shook her head.
“How convenient,” Snape said sarcastically. Miss McGonagall sat in silence for a few moments considering what to do before she spoke.
“For the remainder of the evening the snake will stay in my office, after the dinner she can stay in your living quarters but must not been seen during school hours,” she stated, Hermione nodded in relief and left the office towards the Great Hall after informing Medusa of the plan.
Hermione walked into the Great Hall with every set of eyes on her as she walked down the centre of the benches, she could hear mutterings around her and even though nothing being said was bad she still did not enjoy being the centre of attention. She became confused as she scanned the Gryffindor table and was unable to spot Harry or Ron but then she heard Neville’s cheerful voice calling her to a table at the front of the hall. Around the table seemed to be all of the returning seventh years; Harry Potter, Ron Weasley, Neville Longbottom, Padma Patil, Anthony Goldstein, Hannah Abbott, Draco Malfoy, Blaise Zambini and Pansy Parkinson. Hermione sat down in between Harry and Ron across from the three Slytherins who were the only ones sat on the opposite side of the table.
“What’s going on?” Hermione asked slowly.
“All the returning seventh years have to sit together to show house unity” Harry told her.
“Even with them lot,” Ron spat and nodded towards the three Slytherins.
“We don’t exactly want to sit with you either Weasel,” Draco glared at the ginger. Ron was about to throw a comeback at the blonde but was stopped by Mrs McGonagall entering the hall with the new first years. The sorting began and with every scared first year came a cheer from the house they entered, but Hermione had to admit that Gryffindor were the loudest house to cheer. Unlike Professor Dumbledore, Miss McGonagall allowed the students to eat first before she started her welcome back speech so that pupils were not sat day dreaming about the food they were craving. It wasn’t long before Ron was stuffing his face as per usual whilst Hermione continuously told him to be polite, the Gryffindors chatted among themselves as did the Ravenclaws as well as Hannah Abbot-the only returning Hufflepuff, the Slytherins on the other hand whispered and glared as if they were scheming against the others, this year was not going to be a peaceful one Hermione thought. The food was exactly how they had remembered it, delicious, and Ron once again was full to the point that he might burst. Miss McGonagall stood up and the room silenced, ready for her speech.
“Welcome new first years, and to our returning students welcome back. This year marks a new era for Hogwarts and the Wizarding world, without the fear of Lord Voldemort we can enjoy a life of happiness, peace and unity. This is the year for change amongst houses, this is the year to set aside rivalries and unite together as a school. Down in the front we have a perfect example of house unity as our returning seventh years sit together, four houses, ten different people, all joined as one. Now I know many of you will be questioning what the new subject is that the Minister of Magic has added to the curriculum and now you will find out. Every year group will be attending the class, Genealogy. This subject is the study of family trees, history and previous generations, it has been added to the curriculum to discover what kind of people you originated from and to show the great achievements your ancestors made. That is all I have to say, would prefects show the first years to the dormitories and would all returning seventh years stay behind please. Goodnight.” Everyone began to exit the Great Hall whilst Ron and Malfoy restarted their glaring match with one enough, but Malfoy won when Miss McGonagall called them over and Ron looked away.
“Now then, you are all the oldest pupils in the school and I expect you to act like adults-
Miss McGonagall paused to look accusingly at Malfoy, Harry and Ron.
“Now there are ten of you so I have made the decision to make you all prefects this year except Hermione and Neville of course who are this year’s Head boy and girl. Now because there are more pupils this year than before there is not enough room in all the dormitories so the ten of you are being given your own living quarters to share and if you follow me I will direct you to them.” And with that speech she turned on her heel and exited the Great Hall with the seventh years in tow. They didn’t know whether to be excited at having their own living quarters or appalled that they would have to share with Slytherins but nobody voice their opinions as they walked in silence along the many corridors until they realised they were in a corridor they had never seen before which led to the top of the south tower.
They all stopped behind Miss McGonagall in front of a large wooden door which was the home to a large painting. The painting was of the Black Lake and part of the Forbidden forest, in the distance Hermione could make out four figures walking amongst the trees and getting closer.
“Helga would you mind moving off my toe,”
“Oh sorry Rowena! I couldn’t quite see around the tree,”
“Helga would you kindly move your fat behind away from my face!”
“Do not speak to her like that Salazar!”
“I’ll speak to whomever I-
They stopped their discussion at once when they heard Miss McGonagall’s polite yet loud, throat clearing. The four members of the painting stood proudly at the front of the painting observing the ten pupils in front of them.
“I am Rowena Ravenclaw and I do look forward to speaking to you two of my house stood at the back,” she beamed at Anthony and Padma.
“Hello lovely! I’m Helga Hufflepuff I see you’re the only one in my house here but we’ll be great friends I’m sure!” the large lady grinned and waved at Hannah.
“ Salazar Slytherin at your service, I see there are three from my house with us, clearly the better house and if I’m not mistaken you must be a Malfoy, the young lady a Parkinson at a guess and hmm...a Zambini of course! Three very talented and pure blooded pupils no doubt,” smirked the man with a grey beard and bald head.
“Godric Gryffindor, please to meet you all, oh what’s this, four Gryffindors! I think that outnumbers you Salazar and makes mine the better house. Now from all the gossip I’ve heard over the years from other paintings you must be Harry Potter of course, defeater of one of your heirs isn’t he Salazar? Ron Weasley! I’d recognise a Weasley anywhere! Neville Longbottom, I hear you have a talent for Herbology, one of my favourite subjects my boy!...and who do we have here, I heard gossip of a short bushy haired girl but the young lady stood behind me is far more beautiful than any description I’ve heard and you are said to be the brightest witch of your age, well Hermione Granger it is an honour to be at your service,” the nobleman bowed. Hermione blushed at his compliment but she was still drawn however to Salazar Slytherin who was also glancing at her with curiosity.
“Well thank you for the introductions now then seventh years the password is secrecy and may I be the first to welcome you to your new living quarters,” the headmistress smiled as the door opened and they all walked into the large room.
Hermione was awestruck at the room, it was magnificent and nothing like she had imagined. She was stood in a large circular room with dark oak flooring and cream walls, on one side was a open fireplace already filling the room with warmth and in front of it was a horse shoe shaped, brown leather sofa. On the opposite side of the room was a kitchen with oak counters, a cooker, sink, fridge and a breakfast bar with ten stools around it. Against another wall was Hermione’s favourite part of the room, the wall was covered in a large bookshelf full of books that she couldn’t wait to get her hands on, a large wooden table for studying as well as several comfortable leather armchairs. The headmistress led them towards a hole in the floor which turned out to be a spiral staircase leading downstairs, the ten of them followed her into another bright room. The room was also circular and contained a large bath similar to the prefects’ one with a fountain of taps in the centre as well as doors into separate rooms containing toilets. The students were to shocked to say anything as they walked back up the stairs where they faced another, shorter, staircase that they climbed. They arrived in a corridor with three doors.
“Miss Parkinson, Miss Patill and Miss Abbott this is your dormitory,” Miss McGonagall said and led them into a room in the same colours as the living room. It contained three large four poster beds in their house colours as well as three dressing tables and three wardrobes. The boys room was larger and contained five beds for Harry, Ron, Anthony, Zambini and Malfoy. The headmistress led them towards the final door which led to a small living space with a sofa, fireplace, fridge and study area for the head boy and girl. In that room were two doors leading to their bedrooms, each similar to the others in neutral colours and red four poster beds to represent the Gryffindors.
“Now I expect the arrangements are adequate-
“They’re bloody brilliant miss!” Ron cut her off and everybody nodded in agreement.
“Language, Mr Weasley. Now there is a portrait on this side of the door too so that the founders can speak to you inside as well and they can come and go as they please, dobby the house elf has offered to serve you all and he will appear at the click of the finger. Hermione Medusa is in your room and settled in quite comfortably now I don’t think I have anything left to say so I’ll leave you all to rest,” and with that final speech the headmistress left the room elegantly towards her office.
The ten of them looked at each other still too awestruck to say anything but once Harry glanced at the sofa so did the rest of them and within seconds they had all made a run towards the sofa thinking that there would not be space for them all but they were wrong it had an expanding charm on to fit everybody. Hermione however walked towards the bookshelf as predicted but stopped at the table, lying on top of it were ten piles of paper each with their names on it. She took her own and flicked through the many pages; they contained information on careers, subjects, NEWTS, extracurricular activity as well as their timetables. Hermione couldn’t help but notice Malfoy’s papers next to hers and on the top was a small red envelope.
“No...It can’t be..” she said catching the attention of other’s.
“What’s wrong mudblood lost a valuable book or something?” Pansy smirked as Zambini and Malfoy laughed.
“No...Malfoy...You’ve got a howler!” she said shocked. Nine sets of eyes turned to look at him and noticed the slight loss of colour in his face; howlers were never a good sign. He walked over and snatched the envelope from her hand and slowly opened it being very cautious.
“Mr Malfoy, it has come to my attention that today on the Hogwarts express you performed a spell that released a potentially harmful snake. This is not acceptable behaviour from a seventh year prefect and you will be punished. For the first 3 weeks you are banned from Quidditch practise, you may find yourself a suitable replacement for yourself as Quidditch Captain until the three weeks are up.” Miss McGonagall’s voice finished.
“That was the calmest howler I’ve ever heard,” Neville said, but he spoke too soon as the envelope burst into vicious flames in Draco’s face. The colour had come back to his face, in fact, he was red, incredibly red with rage. He turned to Hermione with a glare,
“You! You told her I cast the snake and you know full well I didn’t mean to but now I wish it was harmful because maybe it would have harmed YOU so that you hadn’t gone running to Miss McGonagall! Three weeks of no Quidditch and I’m the captain so how do you think that will work out!! Perfect I bet you planned this you filthy mudblood!!” and with his shouting over Draco stormed up to his room with Pansy and Blaise following him with matching glares. Hermione was speechless, never had she seen Malfoy so angry at her, it was only three weeks and Miss McGonagall was right he didn’t know if Medusa would be harmful.
“What is all the racket in here?” Rowena asked from the painting as the other founders stood with her.
“Well eh...On the train this morning Malfoy found a random spell written in a book and this snake appeared and it took quite a fancy to Hermione here. Miss McGonagall found out and has banned Malfoy from Quidditch for three weeks,” Harry told her.
“A snake you say? Could I see her?” Salazar asked. Hermione nodded and shouted,
“Medusa!” and soon enough the elegant snake was slithering towards Hermione.
“These are the founders of Hogwarts they wished to see you,” she spoke and realised that the four founders did not know of Hermione’s newest talent. Helga looked at her with a warming smile, Rowena seemed slightly jealous the bright witch was not in her house, Godric was gobsmacked and Salazar just looked curious.
“Tell me...Hermione is it? How long have you been a Parselmouth?” Salazar asked.
“Well I only spoke parseltounge for the first time today,” She said.
“I see...and your parents, they must be a very noble witch and wizard to have had a witch as bright and...talented as you?” he asked showing no emotion.
“Well no actually, both of my parents are muggles,” she said slightly offended that he assumed that she was pureblood just because she was clever. Salazar looked shocked for the first time but said nothing and instead walked towards the Black Lake in silence.
“I think it’s about time you should all be getting some sleep now,” Helga said gently and the students obeyed, retreating to their rooms.
Draco stared at the green curtains hanging around his bed in annoyance, she had ruined the thing he was most looking forward to. He knew it would get back to the Headmistress that he had cast the spell but he thought he would just get a detention not a ban from Quidditch. She didn’t know what it was like, she was so well liked, brightest witch of her age, the brains behind the Dark Lords fall, and she got everything. He wasn’t dumb; in fact he was always top just behind Granger in the majority of classes he just was not well liked, especially because of his parents’ loyalty to Voldemort during the war before they fled. He’d really try this year to beat her, crush her in the subjects to show her what it was like to always come second best. There was still a tiny thought in the back of his mind though that kept bugging him; the golden girl was a Parselmouth.