~*~*~*~August 31st, 1998~*~*~*~
The night before term was due to start, I was relaxing with a cup of tea when I remembered the glimpse of Draco Malfoy I’d seen in the alley outside Fortescue’s, and how he’d also popped up while I was thinking about my parents’ memories. Feeling rather unsettled, I looked through my own memories to see if I could work out why there was such a weird feeling about that day and that man in general, but came up with nothing other than schoolboy taunts and hatred. Feeling a headache coming on, I let my mind wander, sipping my tea occasionally. Crookshanks leaped up onto the sofa and curled up on my lap, meowing softly.
“I know, Crooks, it’s bothering me too,” I said, petting him slowly. I glanced at the clock on the wall to find it was already past midnight. Suddenly, a loud yawn burst from my mouth, and I picked Crookshanks up, carrying him with me to my bedroom. “Come on, Crooks. Let’s get some sleep—we’ve got a big day tomorrow.”
I shut the door and set Crookshanks down on the edge of my bed while I pulled back the covers and crawled in under them. He came up and laid against my chest, his face curled into my neck. With his comforting warmth beside me, I slept peacefully for the rest of the night—happy to be returning to the place I’d come to call my second home tomorrow.
My alarm went off at exactly seven thirty-three a.m. the next morning, and I almost threw my pillow at it before I remembered what day it was. Immediately, my fatigue wore off and I nearly jumped out of bed at the prospect of returning to Hogwarts.
I hopped in the shower and let the warm water wash all of my qualms about going back to the site of so much death and destruction from four months prior; I let the painful memories slide to the back of my mind and focused on actually being able to finish my magical education.
Mum and Dad prepared a wonderful breakfast of waffles, eggs, and bacon, and I ate heartily, still relishing in the fact I got three full meals a day again, not just some scraps or iffy plants and my feeble attempts at cooking them every once in a while.
I relished even more that my parents’ full memories had been recovered—Kingsley did the spell himself—once I told them what happened. Then, the fact that they accepted what I had done as the safest thing I could’ve thought of and that they would’ve done the exact same thing if they were in my shoes lifted a weight off my chest I hadn’t known was there until that moment. Just being able to see and touch my parents again, knowing they were unharmed, and maybe just slightly browner, made it all worth it.
Finally, with my school trunk and Crookshanks in his traveling case in tow, we drove to King’s Cross Station at ten a.m. We arrived on Platform Nine and Three-Quarters at ten-thirty; only a few other families were there already, we all but ignored them.
After I put all of my belongs in the Heads’ compartment, I stepped back down onto the platform and my parents enveloped me in a hug. “We’re so proud of you, darling,” mum said.
“What you did for us, for everyone, shows just how strong you are, how much you really care about doing the right thing. I’d like to think you got that from me, but we both know that’s from your mother,” my dad said as he chuckled.
“Thank you both for understanding why I did what I did and for taking me back so quickly. I was so scared I wasn’t going to get you back at all but this is so much more than I ever hoped. I love you, mum. I love you, dad,” I choked out, tears beginning to spill down my face. They just hugged me tighter, giving me one last squeeze before they released me.
“Go get ‘em, love,” dad said. Mum nodded, tears flowing freely from her eyes as well. I watched the entrance to the platform, anxiously awaiting Harry and Ron’s arrival. I watched as they walked through the barrier together, holding hands. Smiling, I wiped my face and tried to make it look like I hadn’t just been crying over my parents taking me to the train for the last time.
Families began trickling in slowly, some students running off to say hello to friends, their parents combining into one large group to talk about ‘adult’ things. A few minutes later, Harry, Ron, Ginny, and Mr. and Mrs. Weasley all burst through the barrier, talking loudly. Broad grins spread across all of their faces as we met in the middle of the platform. Warm arms that belonged to Harry and Ron circled around me.
“Boys, I would like to breathe, please,” I joked, my voice muffled by their bodies. They let go of me and stepped back just as Ginny launched herself at me and gave me a tight hug. I hugged her just as tightly, laughing as I said, “I’ve missed you, Ginny.”
“We’ve all missed you, ‘Mione. You could’ve come and stayed with us, you know!” Ginny complained.
“Well Kingsley and I had to go to Australia to get my parents’ memories back, so I’ve been with them all summer, filling them in on everything that happened,” I answered, tears pricking in the corners of my eyes. Harry put an arm around my shoulders and squeezed once, conveying his sympathy. “And I also had some very serious owling to do with McGonagall about this,” I pulled the Head Girl badge out of my jeans pocket and smiled brightly.
All of them clapped and congratulated me on getting the position I’d so desperately hoped for since first year. “Come on then, we’ve only got ten minutes before the train leaves!” I said, concerned.
With that, all the Weasleys and lone Potter moved quicker than I had seen them in a long time to get all of Harry, Ron, and Ginny’s belongings on the train. There was a last round of hugs, before the four of us stepped onto the train and waved as it pulled out of the station, bound for Hogwarts.
I arrived on Platform Nine and Three-Quarters at ten forty-four with little trouble. Quickly, while keeping my head down, I loaded my trunk and owl onto the train and ducked into the Heads’ compartment, closing the curtains with a flick of my wand.
At last able to relax somewhat, I closed my eyes and put my hands behind my head, leaning back against the plush burgundy seat in the hopes of being able to get a quick snooze in before Granger came barging in.
As luck would have it though, she burst into the compartment not ten minutes later. “Well hello to you too, Granger,” I said snootily.
“Malfoy, what in Merlin’s pants do you want? Why are you in here?” Hermione asked angrily.
I sat up, genuinely smiled at her, and pulled out a small, shiny object, holding it out to her. She slowly sank onto a seat near me, taking it from my grasp.
Hermione flipped the badge over, noting it read ‘Head Boy’ in bold emerald letters. She continued inspecting it, running her fingers over it and conducting spellwork on it—most likely in the hopes of discovering it to be a fake.
She looked at me in disbelief. “Seriously, Malfoy? You’re the Head Boy this year? Was Dumbledore barking mad to make the boy who tried to kill him the Head Boy?”
Uncomfortable silence filled the room. She tossed it back to me and began to scrutinize the compartment inch by inch. Attempting to control my temper, I cleared my throat.
“Listen, Granger. I know we’ve had our issues in the past and I’m sorry if I hurt you,” I shifted on my seat, straightening up and fingering the badge in my hands.
“Are you really apologizing for your bullying of me? You called me a mudblood for seven years of my life. How do you think that’s affected me, Malfoy?” Hermione glowered, her eyes blazing and her breathing rapid..
“Just hear me out, Granger, all right? I’m trying to clean up the enormous mess I’ve made and restore some value to the Malfoy name. And, since you have deemed this thing real, I suppose I have to return to Hogwarts and face everyone I fought against in the war. With the threat of an Azkaban sentence still hanging over me, I think that’s the best option for me at the moment. No matter what I do, everyone is going to judge me for my actions, and I can’t deny them that right. But you might be different, and that’s what I’m hoping for,” he paused. Hermione merely arched an eyebrow as he added, “Granger, during the fighting I saved you from those Death Eaters that were torturing you. ”
“You have a lot of nerve to talk about your dear Auntie Bella like that, Draco,” she hissed.
My heart dropped and I could feel my facial expression fall into one I knew looked helpless. “You don’t remember.”
“Remember what?” she asked, eying me warily.
“I saved you in the Battle of Hogwarts from Dolohov and MacNair. They were torturing you with the Cruciatus curse for sheer pleasure and didn’t look like they had any plans to stop until I stepped in and saved you.”
Hermione stared at me, clearly completely flabbergasted at what I was describing.
I rubbed a hand over my face. “Bloody hell, your mental block was too strong; you shut it out completely,” I squeezed my hands into tight fists. “I need your help, Granger. I need you to help show the world I’m a better person than I was back in school, than I was during the war. Dumbledore must have planned something if he wanted me to be Head Boy and you to be Head Girl for our seventh year,” my voice was pleading and sounded pathetic, but I couldn’t help it.
Hermione studied me before finally replying, “You have to do it yourself. I cannot help you. What you’re talking about, what you claim to have happened, I don’t recall ever occurring. Just because you have faith in me does not mean I have faith in you. I need to see it before I’ll believe it. If you can show me you’ve really changed, Malfoy, then I might be willing to help. If you fail to do so, this will be the end for you, and I will stand by and watch you fall,” she voiced fiercely, warning lacing her words.
She stood and walked out of the room, not giving me any time to respond to what she had said before she slammed the compartment door closed.
I pulled at my hair, suppressing a frustrated roar. Something must have happened to her memories when I told her to block the rescue. The adrenaline from the battle must have altered the way her mental walls were blocking the memory, almost like an Obliviate. I know the memory was still there, somewhere. I tried using Legilimency on her while watching her at Florean’s, but I couldn’t get through even the first wall of her defenses.
Sighing heavily, I shoved the Head Boy badge back into my pocket and swore under my breath. I quickly changed into my robes, keeping the badge in my pocket. Hermione returned a few moments later, dressed in her Gryffindor robes and looking much calmer but still miffed about the argument.
Before I could speak another word to her, a rapid knock sounded on the compartment door. Glaring at Hermione, I moved around her and opened the door a crack. “What do you lot want?” I barked, seeing the group of twenty or so students hovering outside.
“Er, we’re here for the Prefects meeting?” a small Hufflepuff girl supplied.
“Oh. Er…one second,” I closed the door and turned to Granger. “Should we let them in and get this over with?” I queried.
She just glared at me again and said tightly, “Don’t think this is over yet.” With that, she sat on the seat facing the door and pulled out a pad of parchment and quill. Taking my cue, I opened the door again and each of the Prefects, new and old, filed in until the compartment was almost unbearable. I noticed Weaselbee was missing from the group, and that there was a much larger pool of fifth year prefects than the sixth and seventh years. Hermione immediately went into what I had dubbed as her ‘teacher’s pet’ mode and started the meeting. I took the open seat next her to, careful to leave a few inches of space between us as a buffer zone.
“Welcome, everyone! To those of you that are new to this, don’t be afraid to ask either Mr. Malfoy, myself, or an older Prefect any questions you have. Now, this past year was difficult, frightening, and scarred most, if not all of us. This is something we’ll have to take in consideration this year as Prefects. Essentially, our jobs are the same, with some slight differences to account for the, um, state, the War put us in,” Hermione passed around papers with descriptions of some disorders and how to handle certain situations if they came to pass in the middle of the day versus at night.
I tuned her out, reading through the handout and appreciating the lengths she went to in describing and explaining what triggers were and how to handle each one independently of another, PTSD and its side-effects, nightmares, and a much more extensive list. Hermione’s voice pierced my thoughts as she asked if anyone had any questions.
“Yeah, I’ve got one,” a pompous voice said. I looked in the direction the voice came from and saw Justin Finch-Fletchley glaring in my direction. “Why is he here?”
Immediately, every set of eyes was on me. Menacingly, I stood up and pulled the badge out of my pocket to hold it out at eye level for everyone to see. “I’m here because Dumbledore wanted me here. I’m here because I have the right to finish my education. If any of you doubt my motives, you can bring your issues directly to me, not to the whole school. I’ll respect you if you respect me,” I stated darkly.
The tension in the air was palpable. Hermione cut the silence, cordially saying, “Okay, well, that’s all we’ve got for you for now. After the welcome feast, I’ll let you know patrol rounds and who you’ll be partnered with. Enjoy the rest of the train ride and the feast. It’s good to have you all back this year.”
Once the last Prefect left, I shut the door and exhaled loudly, collapsing on the seat nearest the door.
“Well, that hardly could’ve gone worse, don’t you think?” I said, a small smile breaking over my face as I looked at Malfoy.
“It certainly could’ve gone better, that’s for sure,” he replied tartly, not in the mood for mindless chatter.
“Malfoy, look. What you told me earlier was a lot to take in, and I severely overreacted. What you spoke of seemed so impossible I took it as a ruse to earn yourself favor with me but as it so happens, I can see where you might actually want that. But my earlier statement still stands—you have to help yourself before I can help you,” I expressed calmly.
After I got nothing but a single nod in response, I busied myself with studying the passing landscape of the Scottish mountains as the day slowly faded into night.
A/N: Revision is a wonderful thing! If you like how I've changed where the story is going so far, please let me know in a review down below! :)