The carriage ride up to the castle was uneventful; except for one startling incident for many of the students. Because of the war most everyone now had seen death, therefore causing the thestrals pulling the carriages to appear before their eyes. A few younger female students screamed a little in shock, but many just had sober looks on their faces when they came upon the carriages. Coincidentally, Hermione and Malfoy were thinking about each other and their motives, hardly even noticing the creatures pulling them up to the castle; this was probably due to the fact they had already been able to see them.
Students entered the Great Hall in clumps, breaking off to go sit at their respective tables. Harry, Ron, and Hermione were some of the last students to enter, earning them quite a few stares and whispers. However, most of the stares were simply because of who they were: the famous “Golden Trio” that had defeated Voldemort in the Battle of Hogwarts at the end of last year. Ron and Harry didn’t pay much attention to the whisperings, but Hermione turned a light pink with embarrassment. Quickly they took their seats and waited for McGonagall to bring in the first years to be sorted.
As everyone waited rather impatiently for the feast to begin, Hermione looked around her to really take in the changes the rebuilding had made to the Great Hall. The enchanted ceiling was as it always was, but she noticed a few extra protection charms glimmering in the floating candles’ light. The usual house banners were still hung, but there was something veiled in silver hung behind the staff table, directly in line with the Headmistress’s chair. As she lowered her gaze, she observed two things: there were at least three new professors, and there was a table parallel to the staff’s that was completely devoid of students or staff. Curious as to why it was there, Hermione turned to ask Ginny but never got the chance. At that moment, Professor McGonagall threw the doors open and strode down the length of the Hall, leading in nearly forty terrified, awestruck eleven-year-olds. Hermione smiled to herself and gave a cursory glance in Malfoy’s direction only to find not only his stormy grey eyes looking at her, but also a pair of brown eyes belonging to his best mate Blaise Zabini. She abruptly turned away, focusing on the Sorting Hat to hear its song for the year.
Once the chatter died down, the Sorting Hat sang its song; Hermione only absorbed a few lines due to her whispered conversation with Harry, making her curious as to their meaning.
So to all who listen, listen well
For in this school lies a spell
A spell that won’t ever tell
Until true love speaks, and finds it well
And with that vague advice, the Sorting Hat finished its song, allowing the sorting to commence. Each house received about ten new members each, much to the excitement of the returning students. Enthusiastic murmurs spread as the feast magically appeared on the tables, much to the surprise of the first years, with some plates moving along the table lengths to allow everyone a chance to try every dish.
After everyone had eaten their fill, Professor McGonagall, now the Headmistress, rose from her seat to stand behind the owl podium to give her start of term speech, much like Dumbledore used to do. As she did so, the remaining desserts disappeared from the tables, leaving few distracters for the students. She patiently waited for the whispers to quiet down before beginning.
“Welcome to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, new and returning students. Before I begin, there are a few matters I must discuss. Firstly, we must all acknowledge what has happened over the past year. Many of us lost loved ones; many of them were students at this school. They died for the greatest cause, so they must not have died in vain, trying to defeat Lord Voldemort. We must remember them, and honour their memories. That is why the staff and I have decided to have this memorial,” she flicked her wand at the silver curtain hanging on the wall behind her, unveiling the black marble memorial with names inscribed upon it.
“To honour all those lost that once belonged to Hogwarts, to keep their memories alive, we made this with the name of everyone lost inscribed. If you ever wish to learn more about a certain person, simply say the words ‘Namium Revelio’ and tap the name you want. There is much to be learned from those that are now gone but still live on in our hearts and minds. Now, many of you are probably curious as to why there is an extra table here in front of me. Seventh years, please stand.” Slowly, the remaining seventh years stood up, understanding dawning on their faces.
"This table is for all of you for the remainder of the year. It shall be a place of meals, a place of studying, a place of friendships and camaraderie, and most of all, a place of unity. You will also be sharing a dormitory together because of the limited space. The Head's dormitory will be down the corridor. This goes for all students now: lay aside your feuds and House rivalries to help us rebuild this school. Help each other in returning Hogwarts to what it once was and will be,” McGonagall paused before continuing on.
“As a reminder, the forbidden forest is off limits to all students, and any student caught with any illegal items or out of bed after curfew will be punished appropriately. If you wish to know what items are illegal, Mr. Filch has a list posted in his office. We have a few new teachers this year to fill the vacated posts of Defence Against the Dark Arts, Transfiguration, and Potions. Please welcome Professor Dragoran for Defense Against the Dark Arts; Professor Tawley for Transfiguration; and Professor Imohera for Potions. Your Head Boy and Girl for this year are Draco Malfoy and Hermione Granger. If any of you have questions you may talk with your prefects or Heads of House. Now, it is late, you have eaten, and it is time for bed. Prefects, please lead the first years to their dormitories. Off you go!”
As they had been told earlier on the train, Malfoy and Hermione made their way through the throng of students leaving the Great Hall up to Professor McGonagall at the top of the steps. They gave each other a polite nod before turning and facing the Headmistress.
“Before I show the two of you to your dorm, there is something I must say,” there was a pregnant pause as Professor McGonagall decided how to properly word what it was she wanted to say exactly. “I know there has been high animosity between the two of you for the past six years, but it’s high time to put all of that behind you. I am counting on the two of you to lead your fellow seventh years and other students in showing unity and civility, if not friendship. They need to be shown what it’s like not to fear for their lives every day; they need stability and optimism; they need strength and light. As is already evident, you are working on civility, or you would have accepted my offer on the train. So for that, I thank you. This way to your dormitory,” she concluded abruptly, taking off at a brisk pace out of the Great Hall, up the changing staircases to the seventh floor. She turned right down the corridor and stopped about halfway down to face a painting of the four founders of Hogwarts.
“Dumbledore,” she said to the portrait, causing it to swing open. Professor McGonagall led them into the most amazing common room both Malfoy and Hermione had ever seen. Smiling slightly at their speechlessness, McGonagall stood facing them with a tiny house elf wearing a too-large ruby sweater and floral-patterned skirt. “This is your personal house elf Starry. She is a close relative of Dobby's and shares his views, which is why she is paid and gets vacations that coincide with yours. She can deliver messages to me or your other professors in case of an emergency, bring you a late night snack during a study session, or anything that comes up suddenly. I’ll let you two settle in then.”
Hermione flushed pink and mumbled a “Thank you,” before the professor left the common room. It was the most beautiful blend of Slytherin and Gryffindor colors Hermione had ever seen. The walls were silver, green, gold, or red with their respective house symbols in complementary colors. Two desks faced each other against the far wall, below a large stained glass window depicting a snake and lion entwined. A beautiful stone fireplace was along the right wall, opposing the stairs leading up to the hallway to their bedrooms and shared bathroom. A pair of silver and deep red armchairs sat on either side of a gold and green accented black couch that faced the fireplace. A black rug with the Hogwarts crest stitched on it lay underneath an ebony coffee table.
Malfoy and Hermione made their way to the bathroom, the door at the end of the hallway. As Malfoy opened the door, Hermione let out a gasp upon seeing the black and white marbled bathroom. The white marble tub imitated the prefect’s, but with only twenty-five taps to choose from and a slightly smaller size, but it was still large enough to swim in from Hermione’s observations. There was a large frosted glass shower commanding the far left corner; a towel rack with green and red towels hung halfway between the two, a cupboard hiding more underneath. Matching bathrobes hung on the backside of the door. Along the left wall was a black marble sink and mirror with shelves on either side to hold any products; a black toilet on the opposing wall. Both of them looked down at the floor to see a black and white representation of the snake and lion once again, with the words “Draco Dormiens Nunquam Titillandus” surrounding them.
Malfoy smirked at Hermione’s open-mouthed stare at the opulence she would be living in for the year. “Uh, Granger?” he asked, worried her brain had stopped functioning with the sumptuousness of the bathroom, something even he was impressed with, as it very nearly outdid Malfoy Manor. Cautiously he touched her arm but immediately removed his hand when he felt a tingling sensation race across his skin that made him jump from the contact.
“Yes, Malfoy?” she turned around, a smirk to rival his on her flawless face—What the hell, Draco? You can’t think like that or you’ll ruin any chance of fixing things with her! She’s not like Pansy; you have to be careful with her.
He opened and closed his mouth a few times before clearing his throat and saying, “Well, I’m going to bed now. I’ll let you and the bathroom be alone together. Good night, Granger.” She merely nodded her head in acknowledgement, leaving them each to their thoughts.
Opening his door, he barely looked at the silver walls and black-carpeted floor before taking off his robes and shirt and crawling into the four-poster bed with green silk sheets and comforter and falling asleep.
Likewise, Hermione had little time to take in the golden walls, mahogany-carpeted floor, and four-poster bed with deep red silk sheets and comforter before she too fell asleep, but with sweatpants and a t-shirt on.
It had been quite the day for the Heads, but there was much more to come, especially concerning the Sorting Hat's song and its rather vexing message.
A/N: Thank you to all of you who are reading this and sticking with me! I'm currently trying to write this and be a beta on another story, so bear with me! Any and all ideas are appreciated, please please please review! :) I promise to get the next chapter up soon!
Edited 6/10/13: Minor plot changes and story flow fixes.