Chapter 3 : Chapter 3 ~ Returning
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I'm not sure if this is as good as my first story, but hopefully this idea I have will develop well. As usual anything from the HP books belong to JKR :)
Chapter 3 ~ Returning
Hermione was pacing in her room. It was the day before the Hogwarts Express always left to take everyone to school. She was supposed to be leaving for the Burrow soon, but was struggling with actually going through with it. Her trunk had been packed for days and she loved her new owl, but grabbing her trunk and apparating to the Burrow had become a problem. Luckily she hadn’t been specific with when she’d show up, she had only mentioned after lunch. It was about 1:30 now and she needed to get going.
Her stomach was in a knot and the pacing had been happening for about 15 minutes. In a sudden motion she threw up her arms, stomped over to her trunk and grabbed it while thinking of the Burrow. She disapparated before she could back out again and as she finished her thought she appeared before the jig-shaw house that was another home to her. The chimes must have gone off because Harry was running out to her.
“You came!!! I wasn’t sure if you were going to or not. I know it’s a lot after being away for so long.”
Geez, Harry was very good at hitting the nail on the head sometimes. Although completely oblivious at other times. This is why Hermione loved him and was so glad that he had welcomed her back with open arms, literally. He reached her and as he hugged her she felt herself being lifted off the ground. She smiled. When he put her down, he took the handle of her trunk and started dragging it towards the house. Everyone else was making their way out and waving to her. Her smiled stayed and for once it was genuine.
Everyone was glad that she had come to join them and tried to include her in conversation. The only person who remained absent or on the outside was Ron. He didn’t seem to want to be around her very much and she tried to shrug it off. George, however, made up for Ron’s absence. He greeted her and seemed to hover around where she was. When Harry and Ginny went to help Mrs. Weasely for a while George turned to Hermione and asked,
“Hermione, I know we’ve never been close but can we talk?”
“Of course George,” she said a little surprised. “What’s on your mind?”
His face saddened.
“Well I don’t know what exactly happened to you last year and while you’ve been away… but you look similar to how me and my mum feel. Everyone else is healing ok, but we, well we’re struggling. I was just wondering if I could talk to you sometime about how I’m feeling?”
Hermione was stunned. This is not what she expected. He had seen her pain and even though he didn’t know the cause, they shared something. She felt a little strength come back to her. She wanted to help George.
“I would love to listen and talk with you.”
“So I can write you while you’re at school?”
“Thanks Hermione… and just so you know, you’re like a sister to me, I don’t have any other motives in this.” He said with a small smile.
He gave her a quick hug and then bounded upstairs. She hoped he wouldn’t expect her to talk about herself too much, she wasn’t sure she could voice her pain to anyone.
The rest of the day passed quite peacefully… besides the Quiddich match that took place between Harry and George against Ron and Ginny. They were ruthless to each other and constantly fought over calls that Bill called out. The oldest Weasley son had shown up for the farewell dinner and decided to referee the game. From what Hermione knew about the game and rules, he was being quite fair and unbiased but that’s not how either team felt. Thus a wild and interesting game that ended not by either team catching the snitch, but because 3 out of 4 players were too injured to play and needed healing from Mrs. Weasley. Hermione just shook her head at them because as soon as they were all off the pitch they were laughing and comparing wounds. Molly Weasley of course scolded them as she chuckled at their immaturity. She knew how her family was about this sport and just fixed them up without telling them off too much.
Dinner was wonderful and Hermione found herself having seconds for the first time in months. Her spirits were a little higher, but as soon as certain topics were brought up or when they all separated after the meal and her mind caught up with her she started to slip.
“Hey, want to go for a walk?”
A voice said from behind her. She turned to see George pulling on a light jacket. She nodded. No one would miss her. Harry and Ginny were curled up in a corner, Mrs. Weasley, Mr. Weasley and Bill were all talking about Fleur’s pregnancy and Ron had gone to his room again. Hermione followed George out to the garden and then along a path she’d never explored before. She figured this was one of his places to go and think. After a little ways, he slowed down and then conjured up a blanket to sit on. He patted the spot next to him. She could feel him watching her as she plopped down and sighed.
“You ok?” He asked.
There was silence. Hermione glanced at him and saw him looking at the pond that was to their left. She looked at it and saw it rippling slightly from the breeze.
“I miss him…”
Hermione didn’t need to ask who “him” was, she knew. She also knew that George just needed silence to continue.
“I don’t quite know how to describe it, but losing a twin is unbearable. I lay awake almost every night wondering how I got through another day without him here. Many days I still get this feeling like I’m waiting for him to jump out with a new prank or come home laughing. Or that maybe I’ll wake up and he’ll be standing over me ready to cause me some headache or another.”
Hermione saw streaks appear on his cheeks that glistened in the fading light. Her heart hurt for him.
“You know, he’d probably make fun of me for crying and crying in front of a girl, but then again maybe he would do the same if our spots were switched…”
There was a long pause and then he looked at her,
“Why does it hurt so much? Dad’s doing ok, and so is Ron and Ginny and the rest. Harry feels it but it’s a little different for him. But mum and me… we’ve never been so close and we just sit and cry together. She can’t talk about it though and I end up being her support. I don’t have anyone.”
“I’m here for you.” She said quietly.
The next morning was chaos and Hermione just wanted to sleep. She and George had stayed out well into the night just sitting and sharing memories of Fred after George’s heartfelt confession. Harry had given her a questioning look when he first saw her but never got a chance to ask her before they were all apparating to Kings Cross. They crossed through the barrier 15 minutes before the train was to leave, so they stowed their trunks in a compartment and then came back out to say goodbye. Mrs. Weasley was trying not to cry. Hermione felt her nerves catch up to her and she had to force back all the memories… of the war, her parents in the past on the platform and all the people who were no longer with them.
George slipped her a piece of paper when he hugged her and gave her a small smile. As she boarded she looked at it,
Write me, ok?
Was all it said and also the address of his shop. She told herself that she would write him once a week unless he needed more. She waved and then returned to the compartment with their stuff. As she walked past the compartment next to theirs she saw someone with blonde hair trying to pry an adorable kitten off the seat and put it back in its carrier. She blinked and shook her head… that could not be who she thought it was. Malfoy?
Draco had slipped onto the train early and found a compartment towards the back. Barely anyone else was on the platform yet so he had no worries for the moment and he took Seren out of her carrier. She was thrilled. She immediately started investigating the new environment and attempting to jump up on the cushions. Draco just watched and chuckled as he watched her. He made sure the door was shut and then pulled out a book to read as Seren watched the people beginning to load onto the platform. After about 10 minutes she strode over to him, rubbed her body along his knee and then curled up next to him purring.
When the train started to get noisy and he noticed it was about to leave, he thought he should put Seren away for a little while. She, however, did not agree and dug her claws into the seat in protest. He was coaxing her free when he glanced up and saw Granger. He wasn’t sure if she’d seen him or not, but he quickly dislodged Seren and put her away. His reputation was at stake now. Then he laughed to himself, who was he kidding… He didn’t have a reputation except as a horrible person and many probably thought of him as a Death Eater still.
“I’m not though… never really was.” He muttered.
“Uh, who are you talking to?” A voice said from the door.
Draco looked up and saw Blaise looking at him with Astoria standing behind them. They had started dating right after the war and were doing pretty well. She had never really been annoying with her behavior or ideals so Draco didn’t mind having her around. She was nothing like Pansy, which was a relief, and Astoria actually hated Pansy so it worked out quite nicely.
“Huh, oh I was just muttering to myself.”
“Well you’re not the only one muttering, there’s quite a few people out there wondering why you’re on the train. Although, funnily enough, I heard Potter possibly defending you.”
“Really? So Potter doesn’t want me dead?”
“Naw, but Weasley might ahaha. Have you seen Granger?”
“Why?” Draco said, wondering why he was asking.
“Cause she looks bad, it looks like she encountered a Dementor.”
Mentally he agreed and realized that’s exactly what she looked like. He knew that wasn’t the case, but the description worked very well. Draco went back to gazing out the window as the train started to leave the station while Blaise and Astoria took their seats.
He looked up quickly. He still wasn’t used to hearing his name from Astoria’s mouth.
“Whats in the carrier?” She said, eyeing it curiously.
“My new pet, Seren.”
“Could I see?”
Draco sighed. They were going to see if at school in the dormitory so he might as well explain in peace here. He nodded and opened the carrier. Seren jumped out and looked at him with an offended look. He could almost read her mind and rolled his eyes. Astoria, however, squealed in delight.
“Oh, she’s adorable!” she said as she tentatively reached her hand out.
Seren looked at her and sniffed, analyzing that she was a decent enough person she stepped closer and allowed Astoria to gently pet her. She then looked at Draco again and seemed to forgive him because she jumped up and curled up on his shoulder, much to his surprise.
“She’s precious. When did you get her?”
“Last Saturday in Diagon Alley.”
He looked at Blaise who had remained silent. There was a smirk on his face.
“What the hell is that look for Blaise?” Draco said defensively.
“Nothing.” More smirking, “But it looks like you have a new magnet for chicks.”
“Oh shut up… no one is going to come near me, even with my new kitten.”
Blaise just grinned and Astoria swatted him arm. The train rattled on and they talked about what classes they wanted to take and what career they were interested in. Blaise didn’t care because he really wanted to play Quiddich professionally, but Astoria wanted to go into Magical Law which came as a slight surprise. As the conversation slowed down, Blaise and Draco started a game of exploding snap which had its difficulty increased by the fact that Seren wanted to play too.
Before long it was mid-day and the trolley finally reached them. Draco offered to get them each something while they made sure Seren was occupied and didn’t escape. As he stepped out to get what he needed, he felt eyes on him. He turned and saw that Potter and Granger were both looking at him. He nodded to them slightly and quickly went back inside his compartment. It bothered him that he couldn’t quite read their expressions.
The train ride was taking far too long for Hermione. She wandered the hallway a little and had watched the people in the compartment next to hers with curiosity. It contained Draco Malfoy, Blaise Zabini and Astoria Greengrass. During the time she stood and watched them secretly, the boys were attempting to play a game of exploding snap but an adorable kitten kept getting in their way and almost setting everything off. She smiled as she watched the little creature and wondered why Malfoy had it.
When she returned to the compartment Harry looked at her questioningly. He came to sit next to her and gave her a half hug. She leaned over and whispered in his ear what she had seen. Harry smirked a little but also looked curious. The trolley arrived and Harry joined her in going to get everyone something to eat. They watched as Malfoy came out and got a few things before noticing that they were watching him. All he did was give them a nodded and then seemed to rush back to his friends. Harry turned around but she suddenly felt this immense anger towards Malfoy. How could he just nod to them after everything he’d ever done to them and after the war? He hadn’t been charged but that didn’t prove anything, he was probably still the most insulting person at school. So why not take the time to say something when he had just seen them. The git.
Finally they pulled into Hogsmead and saw the school for the first time since the battle. Most of the remodeling was completed and it looked the same as always. McGonagall had requested everything be kept as similar as possible but had added a memorial of everyone from the first Wizarding War and the second, most recent, one in the courtyard in front of the school. It had been in every newspaper. Hermione watched sadly as the carriage rolled up and she saw the Thestral pulling it. She could almost bet that everyone who was a second year or older here could now see the creatures pulling the carriages. She shivered as memories flooded in before her eyes and she fought the tears.
She glanced at Harry and Ginny hoping they didn’t see her tearing up but noticed that Harry was teary-eyed and Ginny was crying openly. Harry looked at her and grabbed her hand. Once they exited the carriage and started walking towards the front doors, Hermione noticed just how magnificent the slab with all the names of the fallen on it was. Because it was a special occasion, there were candles lit around the wall and made it pulse and glow beautifully. Ginny rested her palm on the slab for a moment at they passed and Harry closed his eyes. This is when Hermione noticed two things, firstly Ron had disappeared again and secondly, Malfoy was crouched down in front of the wall with his head bowed. She didn’t think that anyone else noticed this occurrence because they were the last group of people to enter the castle. He looked up and directly at her for a split second and she hurried away.
As she entered the castle, it felt as though a 20lb. weight had been set upon her shoulders. Hermione didn’t know how long she could hold on. What made it even harder was the cascading effect that was happening. Many people were crying from walking past the memorial wall and then entering the hall where so much death had happened just a few months ago. The usual happy chatter was nonexistent, instead there were many people standing around holding one another and the colors of three houses were mixed up because hardly anyone was at their own table… well except for Slytherin. They all mostly kept to themselves, the few that had come back. Most of them looked uncomfortable while others looked on in slight disgust, like all this emotion was beneath them. Hermione wanted to punch them.
She soon found herself surrounded by many members of DA. It was too much for her so she found a relatively quiet and out of the way spot at the end of the Gryffindor table. At one point Harry looked around frantically for her, but when he found her he just nodded his head. People were slowly started to drift towards their designated tables when the Headmistress stood up and made a chiming noise with her wand to quiet everyone. She had a slightly sad expression on her face but then it disappeared.
“Welcome back students. I know for many of you this is very hard and a very emotional moment. What I am please about however is the support I have seen from almost everyone here to one another. I hope that you will all continue to help each other this year and that we may all heal together. It is okay to move on. That doesn’t mean we have to forget our loved ones and the people who sacrificed themselves, and I would encourage you to hold them in your heart and memories. But we must let go of the past and what is not in our control.
I hope that this year all four houses can come together and work towards a single goal of friendship. We will still have the House Points but there will be another pillar that will fill with stones that are two colors, the colors representing which houses came together to receive the combined points, what I call “unity points”. The houses that have the most unity point gems will also be honored at the end of the year.
Now, I have an extended list of Weasley items that are not allowed…-“
Hermione tuned out and thought about what the professor had said. She immediately looked over to the table with green and silver and wondered how this year would go. As she looked up and down the Slytherin table she noticed that Malfoy was sitting by himself. Upon closer inspection she saw that half the people looked at him with uncertainty while many others looked at him like he was a traitor. She looked back at Malfoy and watched him. He looked up and glared in her direction. Well, there it is… same old Malfoy. Arrogant and sketchy as ever.
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