Chapter 1 : Chapter 1
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September first had arrived too quickly. For the second time since starting at Hogwarts, the first being last year, Hermione was not feeling excitement when she remembered the date. She was feeling nervous, and a little sad, for she was returning to Hogwarts but her two best friends were not. Harry and Ron had both been offered and accepted jobs as Aurors despite having no NEWTs. Kingsley Shacklebolt had offered Hermione a job too, in the Magical Law Enforcement but she had turned it down. It wasn't that she didn't want the job, but felt like she hadn't earned it. So she wrote to Professor McGonagal and asked if she could return to complete her final year.
Thankfully, Hermione found out she would not be the only student from her year returning, in fact most had decided to come back and complete their final exams. The other year groups were starting the previous year again. The staff had decided this was the best option as there had been very little quality teaching whilst the Death Eaters had been teaching, and then the school had needed to be repaired after the battle. Hermione was pleased that Ginny, Luna and Neville would all be there with her this year. Still, it made her sad that Harry and Ron weren't going back. Hogwarts wouldn't be Hogwarts without them. They had been pleased when she had told them of her plans, they had expected nothing less. They teased her about not passing on an opportunity to spend another year practically living in the library, reading more books than was strictly necessary and driving Madam Pince mad by insisting on taking out more books than anyone else was allowed.
They also weren't surprised in the slightest when the Head Girl badge arrived along with her book list for the year. Hermione wasn't sure how she felt about being given the role. Two years ago she would have been delighted, but so much had changed. She wanted a quiet year for once, a year in which she could keep her head down and really focus on her school work. That was never going to happen though, she realised this when she went to Diagon Alley two weeks previously for her school things. The second she had apparated into the busy street it was as though time had stopped. Dozens of eyes were on her, people had literally stopped just to stare. Throughout her visit (which was much longer than she had intended) she had stopped to have her photograph taken with several people and their families, had her hand shaken, been hugged, questioned, thanked and congratulated. It had been exhausting.
And so, a fortnight later, Hermione sat on her bed staring at her trunk packed with all of her purchases from the awful shopping trip. Crookshanks was curled up by her feet, purring contentedly now that she had given up trying to get him into his basket.
She thought about the past couple of months and the aftermath of the war. She thought of the anger at the death eaters, the sorrow and pain of the many lives lost, relief and pride in her friends who had fought and won. She had felt so many different emotions in a short space of time, she had never thought it was possible to feel so much and so strongly. Hermione smiled to herself as she remembered once telling Ron he had the emotional range of a teaspoon. It had definitely grown since then.
Her relationship with Ron hadn't survived the aftermath of the war. He was an empty shell for a long time after Fred's death, not surprisingly. Both him and Hermione had decided to go back to being friends and Hermione found she could support him better when there were no romantic complications. He was in a much better place emotionally now.
Hermione sighed and pushed all thoughts of Ron to the back of her mind. It was time to leave and begin the journey that would start her final year of Hogwarts.
Platform Nine and Three Quarters was as busy and noisy as any other Spetember first. Owls were hooting and screeching, parents were shouting final reminders and goodbyes and children were being generally excitable. Hermione was standing just beyond the barrier after making the transition through the barrier separating the muggle world and the world in which she truly felt at home. She looked around and smiled fondly, finally finding the excited feeling she had been waiting for.
"Hermione dear!" A familiar voice shouted, pulling her out of her thoughts.
"Mrs Weasley, hi, how are you?"
"Oh fine dear, you know..." Mrs Weasly mumbled distractedly. Hermione could still see the pain in her eyes caused by the loss of her son, as fresh as the day he died. "Ginny is around here somewhere. No doubt saying a thoroughly non-verbal goodbye to Harry" she said with a fond smile. Harry had spent most of his time since the war at The Burrow, the relationship between him and Ginny still going strong.
Sure enough Hermione spotted the redhead in the arms of her best friend further up the platform. She quickly walked over and cleared her throat loudly.
"Hermione!" Harry and Ginny exclaimed.
"Hi Harry, hi Ginny. Great to see you, it feels like it's been forever even though it was only last week!" she hugged them both tightly.
"You too Hermione, are you ready to go find a compartment?" Ginny asked.
"Absolutely. I'll have to head straight off to meet the Head Boy and prefects once we've found one but will be back as soon as I can after that."
"Cool! Who is Head Boy by the way?"
"No idea, my letter didn't say. There are plenty to choose from though, most of mine and Harry's year group are coming back."
"Most, but not all." said Harry, a hint of sadness in his voice. "You two had better get on the train, it leaves in three minutes"
Hermione took this as her queue to give her friends some privacy to finish their goodbye, she climbed onto the train and waited in the corridor for Ginny, who appeared a minute later. They soon found Luna and Neville sharing a compartment and Ginny joined them whilst Hermione headed to the prefect carriage.
Eager to find out who the Head Boy was Hermione quickly pulled open the door to find a carriage full of fifth year prefects but no sign of any fellow Seventh years. She was just about to introduce herself when the door behind her slid open. She turned around and gasped. There stood, with a shiny 'HB' badge pinned to his impeccable robes and a shocked expression on his face, Malfoy.
Draco Malfoy had returned to Hogwarts.