Chapter 12 : Chapter 12
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“The coming year will be an emotional one. I want to thank each and every one of you for being here. I know it will be difficult, but please bear with us. Tomorrow the eyes of the wizarding world will be upon us because of the memorial dinner they are having here. Please try to be on your best behaviour as the castle will be a little more crowded than what we are used to. We not be doing the sorting tonight. That will be done on September 1 as per the norm. So tonight the first years will all be staying in here. After dinner the tables will disappear and they will be sleeping in sleeping bags until the sorting. Our teachers and prefects will be in charge of them. Now eat up for tomorrow will be very busy.”
“I wonder why they are going to sort the first years tonight,” Harry muttered.
“I think it’s because the school hasn’t officially started,” I answered.
“Well we’re already here might as well get it over with,” Ron said.
“Maybe the sorting hat only works on September 1,” Ginny interjected.
I thought for a moment and realized that Ginny’s statement was the one the made the most sense, but decided that I would ask McGonagall after dinner was over. As the meal wore on I found myself glancing across the hall toward the Slytherin table. Draco was sitting there like he always did, surrounded by those who still awed at the Malfoy name. But it seemed different. He wasn’t holding court like he normally was. I could see that he acknowledged someone only if they spoke directly to him. I wished I could walk over there and sit with him. I was sure that if I did that though some of the other students may not like it. Harry, Ron, and Ginny were one thing the rest of the student body was quite another.
“Hermione,” I heard my name from somewhere and looked around startled out of my daydream. “Hermione.” It was Ron trying to get my attention.
“Hermione,” he said. “What are you doing?”
“Nothing,” I replied. “Why?”
“You haven’t touched your food,” Harry said. “And you keep staring at Malfoy.”
“Oh sorry,” I said. “I didn’t realize I was doing that.”
“Well you look like a lovesick puppy,” Ginny said in an undertone. “Give it a few days and then let the world know about your new found friendship.”
I thought why wait a few days and then I remembered there would be reporters here tomorrow and there might be some here already tonight. Now was not the time or place to try and be with Draco. Besides I had all year for that.
Finally after what seemed like forever the desserts were gone from the tables and the older students were leaving the Great Hall. I could see the little first years standing around in a group looked like scared little kittens. I felt bad for them. They had come to this school not knowing what to expect and now they were being forced to sleep in the Great Hall. Then I remembered I was going to ask McGonagall why they didn’t sort the new students tonight.
Making my way up to the top table I found the new headmistress. “Professor McGonagall,” I started “Why do the first years have to wait until September 1 to be sorted?”
“Miss Granger,” the ex-head of Gryffindor house answered. “The reason is because we have come under fire from certain people about the way we separate the students. Some would like to see sorting done away with, but I don’t know how else to run the school. Ever since Hogwarts opened its doors the students have been sorted into one of the four houses.”
“Why are they scrutinizing it now?” I asked.
“I believe they say that it’s because ‘sorting is an archaeic ritual that should be done away with’,” she said.
I knew then that it wasn’t a “they” but rather one person. Rita Skeeter was trying to cause more trouble at Hogwarts. If that woman changed into her beetle form anywhere near me I was going to catch and never let her go. I vowed then and there that I would rid the world of her. I regretted letting her go after fourth year, but it couldn’t be helped.
That night I managed to spend a few stolen moments with Draco while the first years slept and we were doing our patrol. Since Ron and Ginny were prefects this year they covered for us. I felt awful about what I saw in Draco’s eyes on the train and I really wanted to talk to him about it, but he wouldn’t. Instead he said, “Thank you for the hug. I’ve never had one before.”
My heart broke at that statement, but I held back my tears. I didn’t understand why the littlest things made me cry lately but I was determined that I wasn’t going to get all wishy-washy now that the war was over. Instead I replied, “You’re welcome. I don’t know what came over me, but I would gladly hug you again if you wanted.”
“I would like that very much,” he said. “We never showed physical love in my family when I was growing up and then these past few years have been really hard.” He stopped there because he didn’t want to bring up the past. I understood really, but knew that for him to heal he would have to talk about it eventually. And when he was ready I would be there for him. Merlin’s beard I was turning into a real sap. I needed to get a handle on my emotions before they overcame me.
“I wonder where we will be sleeping,” Draco’s voice brought me out of my reverie.
“I think we will get our own dorm, but I don’t know where the rest of the seventh years will go,” I answered. “I guess we will find out after the sorting ceremony in a few days.”
“Yeah I guess so,” he replied and went back to his patrol.
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