Chapter Three: House Unity
A month after the trial, Hermione sat alone in a train compartment, waiting for the Head Boy to arrive. It felt strange to be going back to Hogwarts, after all that had happened, but a week or so after the trial, she’d received a letter from Hogwarts, inviting her back to finish the seventh year she’d never even started.
And, along with the letter, she had received her Head Girl badge, which was now pinned to her sweater. She was very proud of being made Head Girl, and had half-hoped that the Head Boy would be Harry, but when she announced that she had to go to the Head Compartment, he hadn’t followed, which minimized the possibility of who the Head Boy was.
She just hoped that it wasn’t Ron, who hadn’t joined her, Ginny and Harry in their compartment. He was probably in a compartment alone with Lavender.
I don’t care, Hermione told herself furiously. I really don’t.
It was a lie, though. Because she did care—more than she would dare let anyone believe. And it did hurt, more than she let on.
So, imagine her surprise when Malfoy, the last person on earth she would’ve expected, walked into the compartment a minute later.
‘What the—? I must have gotten the wrong compartment. Sorry for bothering you, Granger.’
He almost walked out, but Hermione stopped him. ‘You’re looking for the Head Compartment, yes?’ She asked him, and he nodded reluctantly. ‘This is the right compartment then, Malfoy. I’m Head Girl.’
Malfoy’s eyes widened, and then he shook his head. ‘Of course. I should’ve known. Well, Head Girl. I’m Head Boy,’ he said.
‘I can see that,’ she said, nodding at the identical badge he wore. ‘Come sit down, then. I’ve got leftover chocolate frogs, if you want any.’
He accepted the chocolate, and she noticed that he looked healthier than the last time she’d seen him. There was a pink flush to his cheeks, and he’d gotten his hair cut. He’d been eating, too, she noticed. His uniform didn’t hang off him. In fact, it fit him very well…
She shoved the thought out of her head. ‘I know what you’re thinking,’ he said, finishing the last chocolate frog. ‘I have no idea what possessed McGonagall into giving me the badge, either.’
‘That wasn’t what I was thinking,’ she protested. Though it had crossed her mind—barely. ‘I was thinking that you look better. Healthier, I mean.’
‘The war, and everything, took its toll on me. But, I’m getting there,’ he said. ‘What about you? You put on a good show, Granger, but you can’t fool everyone. With everything that’s happened, it’s got to be affecting you.’
She looked down at her shoes. How could he, of all people, see through her? How could he possibly know that she was hurting, deep down inside? That her smiles and laughter were forced? How could Malfoy, of all people, know that, when Harry didn’t have a clue?
‘I guess… I keep thinking that if I tell myself that I’m okay, it will be true,’ she admitted quietly. ‘I keep thinking if I make myself smile and pretend that everything’s fine, then maybe it will go away.’
‘It doesn’t work like that, though,’ he said. ‘Look, Granger… I know I’m probably the last person you expected to see right now, but you and I… we can help each other, yeah? We’re supposed to be Head Boy and Girl. We’re supposed to set an example for the others, to be strong even though we’re not. I can’t promise I’ll be much help, but I can try. You and I, we both have scars that people don’t understand. The Cruciatus Curse isn’t something people just get over. I get it. And I’m offering… I’m offering to help you. We can be each other’s support, if you want.’
‘Why?’ She asked, staring at him. ‘Why would you want to… to help me? You don’t even like me.’
‘Maybe… maybe because I owe you,’ he said. ‘You saved my life. Not just in the Room of Requirement, but at the trial. I owe you. You have no reason to trust me,’ he added, ‘but sometimes, having someone who’s been in the same boat as you can help a lot. You can’t keep everything bottled up inside, or you’ll explode. But having someone there that you can talk to who won’t judge you or try and fix your problem helps.’
‘Are you offering to be my therapist, Malfoy?’ The idea was so ridiculous that she actually smiled.
‘No,’ he said, sounding offended. ‘I guess it’s more like… a support group. The Head Boy and Girl Support Group.’
‘Alright then,’ she said. ‘I’ll join this… support group, but you have to promise me something in return.’
‘Okay,’ he said, automatically. ‘Like I said… I owe you, so if you want me to carry your books for the rest of the year, I’ll do it.’
‘I might take you up on that, actually,’ she said, grinning. ‘But you have to promise me that you won’t leave all this… Head girl stuff to me, okay? The Head Boy has to do his share, too.’
‘I wasn’t going to do that, but fine,’ he said. ‘I’ll do what I can. Only, there’s a slight problem. I highly doubt anyone’s actually going to listen to me.’
‘Oh, they’ll listen,’ she said. ‘You’re Head Boy, Malfoy. You earned that title, somehow. So show them why you deserve it.’
‘If we’re going to prove to people that we’re working together, then you can’t keep calling me Malfoy. No one will take us seriously.’
‘I’ve always called you Malfoy,’ she said. ‘Everyone knows that. It doesn’t make a difference what I call you.’
‘Hermione,’ he said it slowly, like he was testing it out. ‘Okay. That’s weird. You need a nickname.’
‘No. No nicknames, please. I’ve already dealt with Mione. No more,’ she said, pretending to be mortified.
‘Alright, fine. I’ll stick to Granger, then,’ he said. ‘And just FYI, Mione is a horrible nickname.’
‘Yeah, I know. But Harry just started calling me that after the war, and it kind of stuck, so….’ She shrugged. ‘It’s worse for you, though, huh? You can’t really have a nickname.’
‘Pansy used to call me Drakie-poo,’ he said. ‘But that was just awful.’
Hermione burst into laughter. ‘Drakie-poo? Seriously?’ She snorted. ‘How original. So, Drakie-poo, I think we’re supposed to patrol the train and then go gather the rest of the Prefects and meet here.’
‘Do not call me that,’ he said. ‘Just don’t. It’s not even remotely funny!’
She snickered. ‘It’s hilarious, actually,’ she said. She stood up, and headed out of the compartment. ‘C’mon, Drakie-poo, we’ve got a train to patrol,’ she called over her shoulder.
Draco muttered something rude under his breath, but he followed her anyway.
Draco couldn’t help staring when they arrived at Hogwarts hours later. The prefects meeting had gone… well. No one complained, and they all seemed okay with Draco being Head Boy. Astoria Greengrass was a prefect, and a Slytherin, and she smiled at him encouragingly when she’d entered. He’d gone on a couple of dates with her that summer, but he wasn’t sure how he felt about her.
Still, it was strange to be back at Hogwarts. He hadn’t seen the place since last May, when it had been almost entirely destroyed. Now it was rebuilt, and it looked almost exactly the same, except for the giant monument standing in the entrance courtyard. The monument took up most of the space now. As they passed it to enter the school, Draco saw that most of the plagues were decorated with flowers.
‘It’s beautiful, isn’t it?’ A girl’s voice asked him. Draco turned and saw Luna Lovegood standing next to him. ‘It’s so sad, but beautiful.’
‘Yeah,’ he agreed.
She smiled sadly. ‘Come on. We’ll be late for the Sorting,’ she said.
They went inside, and Draco took his place at the Slytherin table, next to Astoria. Hermione was already seated with her friends—though Ron was at the end of the table with Lavender. That Brown girl made him sick to his stomach.
‘Draco, you’re staring,’ Astoria chided.
He glanced away, at the Teacher’s Table. The Sorting had begun, and he noticed that there weren’t very many first years, and the ones who were there looked terrified. There were less than thirty of them. Only three were placed into Slytherin, and Draco felt bad for them. They looked scared out of their wits.
McGonagall stood when the Sorting was over, and the Great Hall fell silent. ‘Welcome, students, to another year at Hogwarts. First years will be warned that the Forbidden Forest is off-limits, and Hogsmeade Village as well until you reach your third year,’ she said. ‘Now, I know that I am not Professor Dumbledore, nor can I try to be, but I am still your Headmistress, and it is my great honor to teach such fine young students. I would like to introduce Professor Quincey, who will be teaching Defense Against the Dark Arts this year.’
Professor Quincey, who looked around the same age as Draco’s mother, stood up and waved. He had dark blonde hair and grey eyes. For his age, Draco had to admit that he was in good shape. Several of the younger girls actually swooned and started giggling, and Draco rolled his eyes. It was bad enough when they’d had to deal with Lockhart. Now they would have giggling, swooning girls all over again. At least he didn’t have any classes with them.
‘Thank you, Professor Quincey,’ McGonagall said, and he sat down. ‘Now, let the feast begin!’
As soon as the food appeared, Draco began piling as much of it onto his plate as he could, and began to eat. He was starving—the chocolate frogs Granger had given him had been the only thing he’d eaten all day, as he hadn’t had time for breakfast.
‘Did anyone else see the weird horses pulling the carriages?’ Astoria asked through a mouthful of chicken. ‘I never noticed them before.’
‘I did,’ Theodore Nott said. ‘You can only see them if you’ve seen death. I’ve always seen them.’
No one asked who Theodore had seen die—they all knew that he’d watched his mother die during the Easter holidays of their third year. ‘Did you all see them, too?’ Astoria asked, almost apologetically, like she was sorry to ask.
‘Yes,’ said Blaise Zabini. ‘I think we can all see them now. Everyone who was in the War, at least.’
‘Let’s not talk about the War, Blaise, alright?’ Said Pansy, looking slightly green. ‘I’ve enough trouble with nightmares, thanks.’
‘Sorry. I didn’t mean to bring it up,’ Astoria said. ‘That new Professor looks quite normal, doesn’t he? I mean, compared to all the other professors.’
The others agreed with her, and they switched to lighter topics for the rest of dinner. Draco didn’t join in. It was strange to be here, sitting and enjoying dinner. He kept expecting to look over and see Crabbe shoving food into his mouth, but he wasn’t there. Neither was Goyle, who didn’t want to return to Hogwarts. He was “traveling”, or so he said. Draco suspected he was really just hiding at home, but he didn’t blame him for not wanting to come back. Part of him hadn’t wanted to return, either.
Finally, dessert came and went, and Professor McGonagall stood up again. ‘I have a few more announcements to make, and then you can go off to bed,’ she said. ‘Firstly, I’d like to introduce our new Head Boy and Girl. They are Hermione Granger of Gryffindor house,’
At McGonagall’s introduction, Granger stood, flushing, and the whole Great Hall applauded. ‘And Draco Malfoy, of Slytherin house.’
Draco got shakily to his feet. Not a single person applauded. They all just stared—not at him, but at McGonagall, like she’d lost her mind. He felt rather uncomfortable, and part of him wanted to flee the room.
Then Granger started clapping, and Potter followed her lead. Then Luna, and then Ravenclaw and Gryffindor house—except Weasel and that Brown girl—and then everyone else started clapping, too. He’d warned Granger that this would happen, that the others weren’t going to take him seriously, that they’d laugh at him. McGonagall nodded at both him and Granger. They sat down, and the clapping slowed.
‘Well. I must say I am less than impressed with that reaction,’ McGonagall said, looking around at them all with a disappointed expression. ‘Hogwarts, as a whole, has become far too prejudiced. We are Sorted into different houses, set apart by our personalities. Our social statuses have become more important than being kind, brave, smart, and loyal. Yes, Voldemort came from Slytherin house. Yes, several of the people who attacked this school also came from Slytherin house. Yes, Slytherin was a prejudiced man, but he lived thousands of years ago. These things do not mean that Slytherin house is evil. It does not mean that they should be shunned, because of the choices other people from their House made. That has nothing to do with Slytherin itself, but rather the choices of its students. It is our choices that define who we truly are, far more than our abilities, or our houses or our friends. Our choices, no one else’s.
‘I say this because in all the time I have been at Hogwarts, Slytherin has always been the most cruelly treated house, because of their reputation. That does not just go for Slytherin. Hufflepuffs are constantly looked down on for being too kind, for being friendly, for being helpful. Ravenclaws are teased because they are often different, often unique, because they are, as you say, “bookworms”. Some are even ashamed of this. But it should not be this way. No one should be ashamed of who they are. Those of you in Gryffindor, called reckless and foolish, arrogant, and brave. This should not be! This is not what Hogwarts should be. We have faced a war together. Have we not proven that we are stronger as a whole? That Hogwarts cannot be defeated? That though we suffer losses, we will endure? Haven’t we?’
There were shouts of agreement. People cheered and clapped. Some people were even crying. ‘So, from this day forward, we will be united! House Unity will be encouraged. You wonder why your Head Boy and Girl are from different houses? This is why. You are to see each other as equals, as friends. You may be free to sit at the table you choose, no matter what house you are from. You are free to enter the dormitories of other Houses, even if you are not from said House. You need simply ask a Prefect for the password, and they are to give it to you. You should be proud of who you are. Proud of your house. Proud to be smart, kind, brave, loyal. Students and teachers of Hogwarts, we will be united!’
McGonagall was out of breath when she finished, but she was smiling. The entire Hall burst into applause.
‘Now, off to bed!’
They all got up at once. ‘Astoria, Blaise, would you mind escorting the first years to the dormitory?’ Draco asked.
‘Sure. Hey, first years! Let’s get you all to bed, yes?’ Astoria asked the small bunch of tired first years, who were only too happy to follow her and Blaise.
Draco headed over to Hermione, who had Neville and Ginny leading the Gryffindor first years out of the Great Hall.
Startled, Draco looked up and saw that the deep voice belonged to Professor Quincey, who had approached him. ‘Yes, Professor?’ He asked.
‘I’ve been looking forward to meeting you in person,’ Quincey said. ‘I’ve heard a great deal about you.’
‘Y-you have?’ Draco stuttered.
He nodded. ‘Oh, yes. I knew your mother once, a very long time ago,’ he said. ‘I’d heard she had a son. When your name was mentioned in the Prophet the other day… well, I had hoped I would be seeing you at Hogwarts. How is your mother?’
‘Er… she’s alright,’ Draco said. ‘She was ill recently, but she’s alright now. Er… would you like me to tell her you said hello?’
‘No, that’s alright,’ said Quincey, quickly. ‘We weren’t… friends. We shared a few classes together, that was all. Would you care to enlighten me about something, though? The boy who was sitting with Miss Granger, with the dark hair, that would be Mr. Potter yes?’
‘Yes,’ Draco said. ‘Why?’
Quincey shrugged. ‘I was simply wondering. Tell Miss Granger hello for me. I’m looking forward to seeing you both in my classes, though I daresay Mr. Potter and Miss Granger could probably teach the class themselves,’ he said, chuckling as he walked away.
Draco stared after him. What an odd man. It was strange that he would ask about his mother if they didn’t really know each other. Draco had a feeling he was lying. He made a mental note to ask her later.
He and Granger were the only ones in the Great Hall now—other than Professor McGonagall, who waved them over.
‘So, you two. Since you’re Head Boy and Girl, you’re required to share a room together,’ she said.
Draco choked. ‘That’s new,’ Hermione said. ‘I mean, the Head Boy and Girl never shared a room before.’
‘You’re right, but as I said, the Head Girl and Boy have always been from the same house, to make it easier. Now that parts of the castle have been reconstructed, there’s enough room for the two of you to have a common room and a dormitory by yourselves. Don’t worry, Miss Granger, they’re separate bedrooms,’ McGonagall added. ‘Unfortunately, there is only one bathroom, but I think the two of you should be able to manage that?’
‘It’ll be fine. But, Professor, our things…’ Hermione started, but McGonagall just smiled at her.
‘Your things are already waiting for you in your rooms,’ McGonagall said. ‘Your chambers are located down the hall from the Headmistress’ Tower. Come with me, and I will show you.’
Draco and Hermione followed her out of the Great Hall. They didn’t speak as they walked, and the silence was becoming rather dreadful by the time the trio reached the Headmistress’ Tower. It made sense to Draco that it was located here, and he was interested to see what it looked like.
There was a new corridor there that hadn’t been there before, right down the hall from McGonagall’s office, and they headed down it. McGonagall stopped in front of a bare wall.
‘Um, Professor? There’s nothing there,’ said Draco. He hated stating the obvious, but it felt kind of pointless standing in front of a blank wall.
‘I’m well aware of that, Mr. Malfoy,’ said McGonagall dryly. She took out her wand, cleared her throat, pointed it towards the center of the wall and said:
Draco didn’t recognise the spell, and from Hermione’s face, he guessed that she didn’t either. It was some kind of an opening spell, obviously.
A door appeared, and there was a portrait of a man wearing a white-colored shirt. He had a beard and finely trimmed moustache, and curled dark hair.
‘Greetings, my fine magical friends! Ah, it has been too long since I gazed upon the faces of the young and innocent.’
‘Young and innocent?’ Draco barked a laugh. ‘Speak for yourself.’
The man gave him a quizzical stare. ‘We know what we are, but know not what we may be,’ he said, wisely.
‘Draco, Hermione,’ McGonagall said, trying not to smile. ‘Allow me to introduce you to Mr. William Shakespeare.’
‘Shakespeare? As in, the Shakespeare?’ Hermione asked, staring at the portrait with wide eyes.
‘Hermione, you say? Hmm, well you cannot be that Hermione, she was fiction,’ the man called Shakespeare said.
‘You mean… from A Winter’s Tale? No, I’m not that Hermione. But I was named after her,’ Hermione said. ‘My parents are dentists. They thought it would be clever to name me that.’
‘Ah. A fool thinks himself to be wise, but a wise man knows himself to be a fool,’ he said.
Hermione smiled. ‘My parents are great fans of your work,’ she said. ‘I imagine the two of them could sit here for hours and discuss all sorts of things with you.’
‘Alas, but life is too short, is it not?’ He said, shaking his head. ‘Nevertheless, I believe the two of you must come up with a sort of code so that I can allow you entry into your sleeping quarters.’
‘A password, you mean?’ Draco asked, irritated. He would much rather answer a riddle like the Ravenclaws than sit there with this muggle writer.
‘Yes,’ said Shakespeare. ‘So? Do you have one?’
Hermione looked at him, and he shrugged. ‘What about Quidditch?’ He said.
‘Sure,’ she said. ‘Our password will be Quidditch, for now.’
Shakespeare nodded, and the portrait swung open, forming a doorway. McGonagall, Hermione and Draco headed inside, and the door closed.
The common room, Draco noticed, was two times bigger than the Slytherin common room. To his right, there were three doors. One door had a large painting of a snake on the door, which he guessed was his room, and the other had the Gryffindor lion. The door in the center was bare, which he assumed was the bathroom. The common room had a fireplace, a large sofa, several chairs, a coffee table, a table with chairs for studying, and two large bookshelves standing next to each other on the far east wall. There was a large window that had long white curtains that looked awfully ghostly.
‘If you decide to have friends here, they are not allowed to be here after hours,’ McGonagall said. ‘If you need to, you may call for a house elf from the kitchens. Winky, as I understand, will be happy to attend your needs.’
‘Thank you, Professor,’ Hermione said. Draco had a feeling she probably wouldn’t use her offer.
‘You’re welcome. And don’t forget, patrol starts at six and ends at seven, when breakfast begins,’ McGonagall said. ‘Have a good night. Sleep well.’
And then she left. ‘Well,’ Hermione said. ‘See you in the morning, Malfoy.’
‘Good night, Granger,’ he said.
They went into their separate rooms, and Draco changed and crawled into bed, muttering Muffliato on the room—just in case. If he did wake up screaming, and he normally did, he didn’t want to wake Granger.
He closed his eyes, and tried to sleep.
Thanks for all the reviews everyone! And just to note, 'Patefacio', the spell McGonagall uses, is not a real Harry Potter spell. It translates from Latin meaning "open". Hope you all enjoyed! Also, William Shakespeare is a real person, and the underlined quotes were said by him.