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The Ring Around His Neck by because i write
Chapter 2 : Chapter Two
 
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 1


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“Welcome back to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry! It brings me great joy to be able to open the doors to you and your classmates once again and to be providing the type of education you deserve. Join me now in welcoming the newest members of our Hogwarts family!” McGonagall began to clap as the doors to the Great Hall swung open and a line of ready to be sorted first years filed in, taking their place in front the Sorting Hat. The entire student body clapped, some even yelled and hollered, their excitement filling the hall.

When the hall fell silent, the Sorting Hat opened his brim wide and began to speak. He remembered those who fell during the war and their sacrifices before celebrating how far Hogwarts and the Wizarding world have come since the Last Battle. Before falling silent again, the Sorting Hat reminded everybody to not rush to judgment and to give their peers an opportunity to prove themselves before condemning them.

Harry thought the speech and the final part was very apt, especially considering the headmistress’ choice for Head Boy.

 

“Guess what I got?”

Harry looked up from his book, a small smile playing on his lips as he took in a shirtless Draco leaning cockily against the bedroom door, pajama pants slung low on his hips.

“Not now, Draco. I’m trying to study.”

Draco laughed, flopping dramatically onto the bed next to Harry, “No, silly boy. This!”

Harry took the thick parchment that was being waved in his face and read aloud, “Mister Malfoy, It is with great pride that I am writing to inform you that you have been appointed to the position of Head Boy. Further information will be included with your book list. Always, Minerva McGonagall”

“Draco! That’s awesome!” Harry enveloped the other man in a hug.

“You think Granger will be cool working with me?” Draco propped himself up on an elbow, worry etching lines into his face.

“I’ll tell her and Ron the truth about the war and what you did for us – for everybody- but it might help if you use her first name.”

Draco groaned and flopped back on the bed.

 

Harry was pulled out of his memory by Ron elbowing him in the side.

“Mate,” Ron spoke with a full mouth, “you’ve got to load your plate. This is brilliant!”

Harry grinned as Hermione rolled her eyes and reprimanded Ron over his “disgusting” behavior. It was harder than he expected – being back at school. Seeing all of the students, tables, and décor where their bodies were, where the rubble used to be, was hard. Searching the hall, he found Draco. The Slytherin was sitting in the middle of his table, surrounded by his housemates, talking and picking at a roll. He’s nervous. He always picks his bread when he’s nervous. The remainder of the feast passed quickly once Harry turned his attention back to Ron, Hermione, and the group they were sitting with. Before he knew it, the plates were cleared and McGonagall was back at the podium.

“Good evening, again. As most of you know, I am your headmistress this year. As usual, the Forbidden Forrest is off limits, as are a number of items that can be purchased in Hogsmead. A comprehensive list has been posted in each dormitory. Unlike in the past, these transgressions will be taken seriously.” Here she stopped and looked pointedly at Harry, Ron, and Hermione before continuing, causing the hall to laugh, “Additionally, your studies will be first priority. New classes have been added, with a focus on careers and a more intensive Muggle Studies program. At this time, I will hand the podium to this year’s Head Boy and Girl, Mr. Malfoy and Ms. Granger.”

Harry joined in the loud applause that filled the room as the two approached the front table. Hermione practically bounced while Draco strode confidently. Once at the front, Hermione raised her hands in an effort to quell the noise.

Finally, she spoke, “I know both of us are honored to be standing in front of you today. We took different paths, but we both ended up in front of you because at our deepest, we are driven and care for this school and our peers. I know many of you are surprised to see Draco by my side. Allow me to tell you a story Harry told me at the beginning of the summer when I, too, expressed shock and confusion over Draco being chosen. Not too long before the Battle of Hogwarts, the three of us were captured and taken to Malfoy Manor where Luna and a few others were being held. Draco was there. Until a few months ago, the only thing I thought he did to help us was pretend ignorance at our identities during our stay. Harry told me there was so much more. From our second year on, Draco first gave Dumbledore and then later Sn – Professor Snape, information he gathered at home from his father and family friends. Without this information, we would not have been able to survive, much less win, the war. Draco Malfoy is a war hero.”

There was no sound in the Great Hall when Hermione finished and the Slytherin table was surrounded by awestruck faces. Harry knew that life within his own house could be a lot harder for Draco now, but life at Hogwarts, and after, would be a lot easier with this information out.

Draco spoke into the silence, “I did what I did to protect my mother, my classmates, my school, and my country. I am deeply apologetic for my public actions over the years; I am not that person. I hope to represent my class and my house well over the course of this year.”

Again silence.

 Harry looked at Ron and Neville while miming clapping. They nodded and started to clap. Harry made eye contact with Draco and smiled softly, while clapping loudly. I’m proud of you. The rest of the Gryffindor table quickly followed. Slowly, the rest of the hall followed.

Harry couldn’t help but be amused as Draco shifted uncomfortably. He never really liked being the center of attention.

 

“You can’t do that next year, you know?” Harry couldn’t help but sound bossy.

Draco shifted, looking away.

Harry sighed loudly. Anytime anything got remotely uncomfortable, Draco shut down.

“Look at me, Dray.”

Draco finally looked over at Harry, his face the Malfoy mask Harry remembered from Hogwarts. Harry never understood what people meant when they said the silence was deafening, until now. Nobody spoke and they couldn’t even hear sounds of the outside world here, tucked away in a hotel, but the silence was crushing him.

“I’m sorry,” Harry started, not being able to take it any longer. “I just want the rest of the world to see what I see – to know the Draco I know.”

The mask slowly melted off and Draco began to shift in his chair.

 

Ron once again interrupted his memories, “Bloody hell, mate. Looks like Gin may come around.”

Harry looked to where Ron was not so subtly nodding and had to agree. Ginny was looking at them like she lost her Pygmy Puff.

“Good,” Harry whispered. “I’ve talked a lot maybe it is finally sinking in.”

They turned their attention back to Hermione, whom had already resumed speaking.

“ – and there will be a prefect meeting tomorrow directly after breakfast to discuss new school policies. In other news, each year has been given two professors as sponsors. Each student will be assigned to a sponsor and they will help you pick classes that will benefit you and aid in what you wish to do once you graduate. Sponsors and their students have been posted in each dorm.”

“There is also a new dorm situation,” Draco began. “Returning seventh years will be housed in a separate dorm on the fifth floor in the east wing due to the influx of students. Last but not least, classes have been postponed for one week in order to implement all of the new changes and allow everybody time to settle in.”

Finally there was noise as everybody erupted and started talking at once. Harry listened to the chatter and watched as Hermione and Draco started back to their respective tables.




 

“Settle down, settle down.”

Draco slipped into his spot between Pansy and Blaise as the headmistress demanded order. He wanted to turn around and meet the eyes he could feel on him, but now wasn’t the time. Instead, he ignored his friends and turned to focus on the front of the room. The woman who had reprimanded the female Weasley outside had just joined McGonagall at the podium.

“This is Professor Angwell. She will be in charge of the new Muggle Studies division.”

“Hello,” Angwell began, and Draco realized that she had an American accent. “I am excited to be here at one of the greatest wizarding schools in the world. A little bit about me: I attended a small private school that blended muggle and magical studies in the southern part of the United States. This unique approach has allowed me to blend seamlessly into muggle society on numerous occasions which was incredibly invaluable when I work at the United States Aurors Society. My goal during my time at your school is to help you to do the same. Education is the key to coexisting.”

“Thank you, Professor,” McGonagall continued on, but Draco lost focus and tuned into the conversation happening beside him.

“Pans, wanna throw party, tonight?”

Draco couldn’t help it; he rolled his eyes. Blaise was always up for a party.

Parties are a nice distraction and we could all use a distraction being back here.

“Only if D promises to bring the red crew.”

“B, P, just invite everybody and be done with it. After all,” Draco couldn’t help but smirk, “we have a dorm to ourselves . . .”

“That’s the spirit!!”

“Sorry to interrupt,” Hermione’s voice came from behind Draco and he quickly turned. “But McGonagall asked all of the returning seventh years to stay and for us to meet her up front.”

Draco nodded, and leaned down to whisper into Pansy’s ear, “Get the usual people to do the usual things and have everything ready on standby when this is over. I’m thinking 2 o’clock?”

Pansy practically bounced from her seat and over to one end of the Slytherin table and slid in between two girls Draco had only met a few times. Grinning, he followed Hermione as she joined Harry at the front of the hall.

“Ginny is coming over to the dorms later,” Harry began when he saw Hermione approaching, but trailed off when he saw Draco. Hermione didn’t see how Draco paled behind her, but he was sure Harry did. Harry shrugged sort of apologetically before continuing. “She came over after the feast ended and said she thinks she gets it and wants to talk.”

“Well, send her a message,” Draco interjected, “and have her bring Luna. We’re having a party in the seventh year dorms tonight.”

Harry grinned up at him, “A Malfoy original with help from Parkinson, no doubt.”

“She’s working as we speak,” Draco laughed.

“’Mione, you are in for a treat. Malfoy/Parkinson parties are the things of legends.” Harry whispered conspiratorially into Hermione’s ear.

Hermione looked confused, so Draco elaborated, “Harry attended a few over the past year or so, mainly while you and Weasley were out of town with family.”

Hermione nodded and turned to focus on the headmistress, and Draco winked at Harry over her head.

A few is an understatement.

“Thank you all for staying,” The headmistress started, “I just wanted to go over a few ground rules before I show you to your dormitory. Please head the school curfew and be in your dorm at the appropriate time; until classes start, the curfew for your class is one am. Do not abuse this. Secondly, each house will have a smaller set of dorms that are house inclusive. However, you will have a larger common room that is meant for members of any house and for friends in other years to visit. Thirdly, younger students are not to spend the night in your dorms without pre-approval from myself. Lastly, there will be no house against house abuse or I will result to drastic measures. Understood?”

A murmur of accent ran through the crowd before she continued, “There will be one password for the main door and a separate password for each house dorm. Gather your things and follow me.”

 

“Follow me.”

Harry nodded.

Draco knew he would wait before joining him in the Room of Requirement. Draco waited, laying across the rug and resting his elbows on large, knit floor pillows. He was reading an old favorite, a collection of Walt Whitman poems, while he waited. Finally, Harry slipped through the door and joined him on the rug.

“Hey,” He whispered, words almost being lost in the music playing in the background.

“Hey,” Draco responded just as softly.

They sat in silence, Draco reading with his head in Harry’s lap while Harry ran his fingers through Draco’s hair, as the hours passed.

 

“Draco.”

“Draco.”

“Draco.”

Draco finally let the memory slip away, only to realize that Harry had a concerned look on his face, “Did you hear what McGonagall said?”

Draco nodded smirking down at Harry’s furrowed brow, “Yes, Potter. I heard. My ears work, you know?”




 

Hermione watched as Harry laughed and rolled his eyes at something Draco said. It was strange seeing them together, even now after knowing the important role Draco played. She never realized they hung out. Toying with her tie, Hermione watched as everybody filed into the dorm’s common area. She followed the last group through and joined Harry, Ron, and Neville at the front.

The room was incredibly large and dome shaped. Directly across from the entrance were four staircases – one disappeared up and to the left, one up and to the right, one down and to the left, and one down and to the right. Groups of sofas and chairs were clumped throughout the room, over ten sets in total. Three large fireplaces were spaced sporadically around the edge of the room, as were numerous bookshelves. However, it was noticeably lacking in any portraits or frames.

A false sense of security – or privacy?

Hermione knew she was being distrustful, but she couldn’t help but step forward, “Head mistress, our dorm has no portraits.”

“That is correct, Ms. Granger. I am extending your class the curtesy of trust in this instance. Do not abuse it.”

Hermione nodded distractedly, mind already focusing on how to conceal the Slytherin party happening in a few hours. We need sound proofing, a way to prevent… The headmistress shortly took her leave and the students started to filter into their dorms.

Suddenly, a voice Hermione didn’t recognize filled the room, “Back to school party – this room – two a.m. – do not tattle.”

The resulting cheer was loud and Hermione couldn’t help but smile at the excitement.

“Hermione, you aren’t rushing to put a stop to this? Harry,” Ron turned to his friend, “do you think we have the right Hermione Granger?”

The students around them laughed at Ron’s joke, Hermione included. It was no secret she used to hate anything remotely close to rule breaking, but that had obviously changed over the years. Sometimes she found herself still reluctant to change – she blamed it on her upbringing – but she was learning sometimes it is better to let go and have some fun.   

She continued to smile as her friends laughed and talked as they dispersed into their various dorms. She, too, headed to her dorm, eager to see what it looked like. She took the stairs up and to the left. After passing through the alcove, she saw a door that wasn’t visible from the common room. It was black except for a growling lion passing back and forth.

“Limitless.”

She wasn’t sure who decided the passwords, if it was McGonagall or if the door keepers decided themselves, but she made a mental note to ask the next time he had an opportunity. The door slid open, tucking into the wall, revealing a small common room. One fireplace dominated the left wall and in front of it were two clusters of chairs and sofas. Tables were scattered throughout the room with lamps for studying. Optimistic, aren’t they? Two staircases climbed the right wall, similar to the Gryffindor dorm. Between the stairs, a large bulletin board was already cluttered with papers and notices.

When she got to the top of the girls stairs and entered the new dorm, Hermione saw a room almost identical to the one she in which she slept for several years.  The only difference – fewer beds. She peaked into the bathroom; thankfully, it was larger than she had expected. Flopping down on her bed, she decided to grab a quick nap before getting up to do what needed to be done for the party.

A few hours later, Hermione woke before her alarm sounded. It took her a moment to figure out why, but then she realized she was being watched. Slowly she began inching her hand toward her wand which was concealed under her pillow.

“Hermione,” Ginny’s voice came from across the room. “Don’t stun me!”

Hermione slumped back against her pillow, suddenly exhausted form her mild panic, “Merlin, Gin. You sure know how to scare a girl.”

Ginny flicked the lights on with a wave of her wand as she crossed the room to join Hermione on her bed, “I’m so sorry.”

Hermione resisted the urge to accept her apology and waited patiently for her to explain.

Long moments passed before Ginny finally continued, “When Harry broke up with me before you guys disappeared to hunt those things, I was devastated and so afraid he wouldn’t come back. When he did, he was different – distant. Especially after the war. I know he saw horrible, horrible things that I could never truly understand. But he turned to you! He would go to you when he couldn’t sleep! You! I was his girlfriend! It was me that was supposed to comfort him.” Hermione could tell Ginny was losing steam; she went from angry to defeated in a few breaths. “I just couldn’t believe it was platonic. When you and Ron broke up, I knew that Harry’s disappearing acts were related to you and the breakup. I mean obviously Ron hadn’t found out or he wouldn’t be staying at Number 12 with the two of you, but I knew. I KNEW!”

She stopped, staring at Hermione expectantly.

Hermione took a moment to gather her thoughts before speaking, “We were there – Ron and I – so we knew more of what he was going through, so it was just easier. He didn’t need to explain why he couldn’t sleep or what he saw when he did. We nev-“

“Oh, shut up. I get it, you two aren’t sleeping together.”

“Why’d you change your mind?”

“If he never told me about Malfoy, if he never told you about Malfoy, then maybe there was never anything between you. I made me think about everything Harry told me whenever I asked and I realized it wasn’t you. There was somebody – but it wasn’t you.”

“Maybe Harry just disappeared in order to be alone. That’s what I always did.”

“Maybe,” Ginny didn’t sound sure, but Hermione didn’t care. She was just thankful that Ginny had finally gotten the point.

“Oh, hey. Malfoy is throwing a party here in a few hours and said we could invite you. Earlier I got permission from McGonagall for you to stay overnight anytime, so please come.”

“Only if you promise to let me dress you!”

Hermione laughed; it was good to have Ginny back.

 

 

 

 



 







As always loves, I would adore to hear (well, read) your thoughts on this! 

 

Please review - xx 

 

 

 

 


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