A/N thanks to all my readers, I hope you're enjoying it so far. For all you dramione fans the contact between them starts a little in this chapter but more so in the chapters to come. I didn't want to rush their relationship because I want to keep them as close to character as possible.
Thanks to my reviewer Vienna Frost, I appreciate all feedback and I'm glad you're enjoying the story so far :)
Now on with chapter 4...
Hermione woke early the next morning, eager to begin her first day of classes. She showered and dressed in record time and practically skipped out of her room, not looking where she was going. As soon as she opened her door she collided with something small that had been standing outside of her door.
"Miss Granger!" A high pitched voice said at her feet.
Hermione looked down and to her horror realised the something small was a house elf, presumably her personal elf, and she had knocked her over.
"Oh my goodness! I'm so sorry, here let me help you up." Hermione bent down and grabbed both of the elf's tiny hands and pulled her up. She was short, even for a house elf, the top of her head didn't even reach Hermione's hip. She wore what looked like a dress, but had clearly been fashioned from some curtains. They reminded Hermione of the ones her grandmother had. Cream with red roses. She wore a hat made of the same material. Her eyes were the size of tennis balls and bright blue. Of course she had the classic pointy elf ears sticking out of either side of her hat.
"Minnie is sorry, Miss Granger. Minnie didn't mean to frighten Miss." She squeaked quickly.
"No, it's fine Minnie, completely my fault, I really should watch where I'm going. It's lovely to meet you." Hermione smiled kindly.
"And you Miss. Is there anything Minnie can do for you this morning? Mr Draco sent me to ask and..."
"Wait," Hermione interrupted, "Mr Draco? As in Draco Malfoy? You're his elf too?"
"Yes Miss, I was appointed by Headmistress McGonagall to assisst the Head Girl and Head Boy. I asked Mr Draco if he needed anything and he told me to 'go away and see if Granger wants anything'" Hermione had to laugh at her Malfoy impersonation, it was actually very acurate.
"Well thank you, Minnie, but I'm absolutely fine. You can head back down to the kitchen, I'll call if I need anything."
"Thank you Miss, bye." Minnie disappeared with a 'pop!'
Hermione sat with Ginny at breakfast who began complaining about her father the second Hermione had sat at the table. She tried to distract her friend by telling her about the new Seventh Year dorms, in particular her own quarters and Minnie. It worked and Ginny chatted animatedly and expressed her jealousy until a new distraction came in the form of their new timetables.
"Oooh, " Hermione glanced down that day's column, "Free all morning, Defence, Transfiguration and Muggle Studies this afternoon. I'll get to meet all of the new Professors! Well, except..." She glanced at Ginny, who, thankfully, was too preocupied with her own timetable to have heard what she was saying.
Hermione spent all morning in her favourite place in the whole of Hogwarts, the library. It was blissfully quiet with it only being the first day back. Even Madam Pince eying her suspiciously did not dampen her spirits.
After lunch, Hermione left the Great Hall as soon as she had finished eating. She wanted to get to Defence against the Dark Arts early so that she could get a good seat near the front. As much as she missed Harry and Ron it was nice to be able to rush to her classes without them slowing her down or teasing her. She smiled fondly as she thought about her best friends and wondered how they were. Making a mental note to send them both an owl after dinner, she entered the empty classroom and sat down, front and center. Just as she was unpacking her wand, quill, parchment and books the door swung open and Professor Charles walked in.
"Ah, you must be Hermione, Professor McGonagall said you would be here. She's excused you from my class and asked if you would go to her office immediately. The password is 'Albus'."
"But...your class," Hermione protested, "I don't want to miss anything, especially not on the first day back!"
"Trust me, by the sounds of the rumours, there is very little left to teach you about defending yourself. I will make sure you get your homework though, I shall give it to one of your peers. Now go, Professor Mcgonagall will be waiting for you, she seemed distressed."
Beginning to worry, Hermione quickly grabbed her things and hurried along to the Headmistresses office. She gave the password and ascended up the moving spiral staircase. Once at the top she found the door open and heard Mcgonagall telling her to enter.
"Ah Miss Granger. Sorry to have to disrupt your lessons however I have some important news. It seems your friends Harry and Ronald have been injured..." Hermione's heart stopped. McGonagall carried on talking but Hermione's brain just wasn't absorbing the information. She heard words such as 'St Mungo's', 'Death Eaters' and 'Duelling' and each one hit her like a slap in the face. She realised that she was sitting down, Mcgonagall was pushing a goblet into her hand and telling her to drink, Hermione obeyed, not really sure what she was drinking. After a few seconds she felt herself relaxing.
"That was a calming potion," Mcgonagall explained, "you looked like you needed it. The boys are going to be fine Hermione. I've arranged for you to floo to St. Mungo's to visit them. You can leave your school things here, I'll have Minnie take them to your dorm."
Less than 5 minutes later Hermione found herself running along the Fourth Floor corridor ("you want spell damage, floor 4." The woman at reception had told her in a bored voice after Hermione had pushed to the front of the queue and simply yelled Harry and Ron's names at her).
She spotted Mrs Weasley outside of a ward talking to a Healer and skidded to a stop next to her.
"Ron...Harry...where..?" She panted.
"Hermione dear, calm down! They're in the end two beds on the left hand side, both awake and both insisting they be allowed to go home." Mrs Weasley explained, disdain obvious in her voice.
Hermione rushed into the ward and her eyes sought her two best friends. Relief flooded through her as she saw them both sitting on one bed playing exploding snap. Ron had a gauze covering his forehead. She walked over to them grabbed them in a right hug and then hit them both around the back of their heads.
"Ow Hermione!" They both yelled. "What was that for?!"
"Don't. Ever. Scare. Me. Like. That. Again!" She scolded them through gritted teeth. They simply grinned at her. "Well," she said, "what happened then? Are you both alright?"
Harry and Ron proceeded to explain that they had been on a mission for the Auror department. After the fall of Voldemort some of his Death Eaters had, once again, managed to slip through the Ministry's fingers. The Auror office had been given a tip-off regarding their whereabouts which had turned out to be true. The whole team, including Harry and Ron, had prepared for a week to head down there and arrest them. They assumed because they had the element of surprise that they would be safe. As it turned out the tip-off had been sent by one of the Death Eaters in the hope that Harry would come. They wanted revenge.
"So they sprung out on us just past the apparition point where they had been hiding." Harry said. "Before I could say 'Merlin' I'd been hit by 6 different stunning spells. Woke up here with Ron next to me who had tried to dive in front of me but knocked his head on a lamp post and knocked himself out." Ron went rather red at the ending of Harry's explanation. Hermione simply stared at them both, open mouthed.
"Yeah, I know, I'm an idiot." Said Ron. "But that's not the story we're telling the beautiful trainee healer, is it?" He glared at Harry, who shook his head.
"I can't believe it boys," Hermione had found her voice, "I'm so glad you're both ok! What happened to the Death Eaters then?"
"The rest of the Auror team caught 'em" Ron told her, "they're now locked up in Azkaban, where they belong."
Satisfied that the boys were ok, Hermione joined them in several games of exploding snap, joined in laughing with Harry when the trainee healer Ron had mentioned earlier came in and Ron's face went as red as his hair and updated the boys on everything that had been happening at Hogwarts. Other visitors and well-wishers came to see Ron and Harry, mostly the Weasley family, except Ginny who had been told by her mother to stay at school, but also Tonks' mum with little Teddy, it was nice for Hermione to see them all. She decided to leave when the Healers arrived with dinner for Harry and Ron, having ignored their pleas to be allowed to leave (they were to stay in one more night for observations as per the request of Mrs Weasley).
She arrived back at Hogwarts and updated McGonagall on how the boys were and went to the Great Hall for dinner and to let Ginny know she had seen the boys and they were fine. Of course Ginny was in a tremendously bad mood having been told she wasn't allowed to visit both her brother and boyfriend but cheered up a little when Hermione passed on a letter that Harry had written for her.
When Hermione returned to the Seventh Year dormitory, she found Draco Malfoy sitting alone reading a book. When she entered he set his book on the table and walked to her, a peace of parchment in his hand.
"Here," he said, handing her the parchment, "homework from Professor Charles. It's easy, you'll have it done in no time. You didn't miss anything spectacular in the lesson either." And with that he returned to the sofa and continued to read his book. Hermione was confused by his lack of name calling, sneering and smirking, it wasn't like him at all. She folded the parchment and headed upstairs to her bed.