Chapter One

A/N: Welcome to A New Beginning! If you're coming from my other story Head to Head, welcome and thank you for reading! However, if this is the first story of mine you have read, welcome and I hope you enjoy. Please note that the chapters will definitely get longer, I just wanted to get this out ASAP!

Please review! I love to hear what you are thinking about my story.

A new year. A clean slate. Both Hermione Granger and Draco Malfoy were thinking this as they sat at in their respective houses' tables. The war had finally ended and they were both looking for a new beginning at their seventh year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Hermione wanted to escape the horrors of the war she had witness, while Draco's family name, once powerful and feared, was now a word of shame.

"What do you think that Ministry person is doing there?" Hermione's best friend, Harry Potter, asked, gesturing towards a serious woman sitting next to McGonagall. She had a tense posture; her back straight and her spectacles balancing on the tip of her nose. Ronald Weasley, another close friend of Hermione's, shrugged in reply. Hermione gave Harry a knowing look. The last Ministry official who had taught at Hogwarts had been Dolores Umbridge, a horrible and cruel teacher who had forced students to write lines with a Black Quill, one of whom was Harry.

"I guess we're going to find out now," Hermione said when she noticed McGonagall standing up from her seat at the Professors' table to the podium at the front. "It's time for the Headmistress' speech." At the sight of McGonagall poised at the front of the Great Hall, the student body began to quiet down.

"Students…" McGonagall began, waving her hand dismissively over the crowd of young witches and wizards. "To those returning, welcome back and to those who are new, welcome to our school. I am your new headmistress." Hermione felt a pang of sadness. It had hit her that Dumbledore would no longer be returning to Hogwarts. "Mr. Filch would like to remind you that the Forbidden Forest is strictly off limits." Ron and Harry snorted at the rule. "Before we tuck in, I would like the seventh year students to stay behind after the feast."

"What do you think that's about?" Ron whispered to Harry and Hermione. Seamus Finnigan, a fellow Gryffindor in their year, over-hearing their conversation, turned around to answer.

"I'm not sure, but I'm pretty sure it has something to do with the war and a bunch of kids," Seamus said vaguely. "I overheard one of me mam's meetings. She works at the Ministry."

"I'm not surprised," Ron muttered, clearly still hung up on Mrs. Finnigan's past negative view of Harry and Dumbledore, and Hermione nudged him sharply in his side. "Ow! I mean, sounds interesting." Seamus eyed Ron warily, but everyone's attention was quickly averted to the platters of food that had materialised out of nowhere.

As usual, the food was delicious. Even though her brain was imagining the house elves who had made cooked the food, her taste-buds were saying otherwise. Although, as she had a spoonful of a decadent vanilla sponge cake, she kept looking out of the corner of her eye at the Ministry official.

After a blur of food, laughter and Ron's unintelligible talking due to his constant mouthful of food, the prefects began to lead the younger year levels out of the Great Hall. Hermione sat nervously as she watched McGonagall talk to the Ministry official, looking all but happy.

"She does not look happy," Ron said plainly as the Headmistress approached the podium once again. "I mean, less happy than usual." He dodged the smack from Hermione while Harry laughed.

"I'm sure it'll be fine," Harry said calmly and Hermione nodded in agreement.

"Seventh years," McGonagall addressed. "Mrs. Evelyn Fletcher from the Ministry has an announcement for you all." She moved aside to allow the Mrs. Fletcher to the front. The students took time to survey her. Tall and thin with long, straight blonde hair, she was almost the complete opposite of Umbridge in terms of appearance. She appeared to be on the younger side and although she looked rigid, her green eyes were warm and welcoming. She smiled hesitantly and began to speak in a confident, loud voice that echoed across the hall.

"Hello, seventh years," she said. "As you now know, my name is Evelyn Fletcher, or just Evelyn is fine. I am here to speak to you on something that will be going on this year for exclusively just your year." She paused, a thick air of suspense hung across the hall. "As you all know, the war was a horrible event." Hermione turned to Harry and she noticed his posture stiffen. She reached over and squeezed his hand supportively. "It left children, toddlers, and even new-borns, orphaned. The Ministry has been attempting to re-home all these children, but there hasn't been as much success as we would've wanted. However, that's where you students come in." Evelyn took a deep breath. "This year, you will be placed in partners and will take care of a baby until someone is able to adopt it. Unless, in an unlikely scenario, you and your partner would like to keep it."

The quiet chattering stopped and the room went silent. Hermione's eyes widened and she, and almost every other seventh year, burst out in complaints and questions.

"What do you mean take care of a baby?"

"I'm only eighteen!"

"What about our N.E. ?"

"Who will be our partner?!"

"I can't take care of a baby!"

"QUIET!" McGonagall yelled, silencing the crowd once again. "That is enough." She gestured to Evelyn. "Evelyn, you may continue."

"The Ministry has decided you will be partnered using the Sorting Hat. It will be able to partner you together based on your personality traits and compatibility as parents." At the sound of the word 'parents', just about every student looked as if they were about to faint. After all, they were all only eighteen or nineteen.

"We shall begin now," McGonagall said, brandishing the Sorting Hat from behind the podium and conjured a wooden chair in the centre. "Abbott, Hannah." Hannah Abbott, a tall, blonde girl from Hufflepuff approached the front and placed the hat onto her head. After a few suspenseful moments, the hat seemingly had made its decision.

"NEVILLE LONGBOTTOM!" Hannah took the hat off of her head and looked to the Gryffindor table where she gave Neville a shy wave which he replied.

"Boot, Terry." Terry, a brunette Ravenclaw, approached the chair and placed the hat on his head.

"MANDY BROCKLEHURST!" Terry shrugged, pulling of the hat. The names went by in alphabetical order. The reactions varied from excited squeals of couples who had been put together to loud groans in disappointment. Hermione began to tune out the names as they went by and occasionally glanced up when she heard the names of people she knew well. At the sudden mention of a name, Hermione's head snapped up and her eyes narrowed.

"Malfoy, Draco."

Draco appeared to be half-asleep. Hearing his name, he pulling his chin lazily off of his hand and sauntered to the chair where he placed the hat on his head.

"I feel sorry for whatever chick he gets placed with," Ron said, snorting at his own remark and Harry laughed in agreement.

"He's probably going to end up with Parkinson anyway," Harry said, turning his head towards Pansy who had her hands held tightly in fists, knuckles turning white, and eyes widening in anticipation.

"HERMIONE GRANGER!"

The whole student body collectively gasped. Hermione and Draco were known for their back and forth banter, and endless rivalry. If anyone could come close to beating Hermione in a test, it would be Draco, and if anyone could rival Draco's potions, it would be Hermione.

Draco roughly took the hat off of his head. "Do it again," he said.

"I can't do that, Mr. Malfoy," McGonagall said firmly.

"I don't want to raise a child with Granger," Draco protested and Hermione stood up from her seat.

"Well, I don't want to raise a child with you either!" she yelled back.

"Miss. Granger!" McGonagall cried angrily, her finger pointed towards Hermione. "You will be partners with Mr. Malfoy and that is final. The Sorting Hat never lies." This shut Hermione up and Draco watched smugly, yet with a hint of disgust, as she walked slowly towards him. Evelyn cleared her throat awkwardly amidst the tension.

"Now that that's sorted out," she said. "We may continue the pairing." McGonagall nodded, shooting Hermione and Draco a look.

"I can't believe that dumb hat put me with you, Granger," Draco said grumpily, turning to his new partner. "Worst of all, we have to raise a child together. A child."

"The feeling's mutual, ferret," Hermione said, crossing her arms over her chest. "As much as I hate you, I'm going to propose a truce."

"A truce?" Draco asked curiously.

"The baby we're taking in has lost their parents in the war," Hermione said. "If I'm going to take care of it, I'm going to do it right, but I need your help."

"What's with this sudden show of responsibility, Granger?"

"The war changed me, it changed a lot of people," Hermione said seriously. "But I guess it didn't do a thing for you." She turned away and huffed angrily. She wanted to laugh at herself. How could she expect the Draco Malfoy to be a decent human being for once?

"Patil, Padma." Padma approached the chair and eagerly rammed the hat into her black locks.

"RON WEASLEY!" Ron's face went pale and Padma had an expression closely resembling disgust as she no doubt reminisced about her experience at the Yule ball with Ron.

"Potter, Harry." Hermione gave Harry an encouraging smile as he placed the hat on his unruly black hair. She undoubtedly knew that he would be placed with Ginny, whom was now in their year because they hadn't attended Hogwarts last year. Almost as soon as the hat was placed on his head, it called out a name.

"GINNY WEASLEY!"

A huge smile appeared on Harry's face as he rushed to give Ginny a hug, Ron gagging beside Hermione.

"At least someone's happy…" Hermione muttered, shaking her head at the prospect of Draco Malfoy being her partner.

The pairing finished quickly with 'Zabini, Blaise' and the students were instructed to stand at the front of the hall with their pair.

"All of you will stay in one giant dorm and each 'family' will have their own room," McGonagall said. "No canoodling, of course." A few girls giggled at McGonagall's use of the word 'canoodling'.

"We will now give you all your babies and first thing tomorrow, parenting lessons taught by me will begin," she said. At that, levitating bassinets, padded baby baskets floated into the room carrying gurgling children and the students gasped. Everything suddenly felt so real. Hermione wanted to throw up, she certainly wasn't ready to become a mother, even if it was only temporary.

In front of her and Draco, a levitating basket landing gently. Carefully, Hermione scooped the baby inside and her eyes began to water. Her baby was the most beautiful thing she had ever seen. A baby girl with big green eyes gazed up at her. She had warm, silky skin and a few blonde curls peeked from underneath her fluffy, white onesie. A parchment scroll lay on the top of the basket which Draco opened. It listed the date of birth, name and other details of the baby girl.

"Name, Avery Lynn Anderson," he began to read out robotically. "Age, four months. Parents, William and Sandra Anderson. Deceased." Hermione's eyes began to water at the thought of this baby girl, found abandoned, her parents dead. She recognised the name of Avery's parents, William and Sandra, and made a mental note to investigate their identity.

"We should go to our dorm," Hermione said, placing Avery back into her basket. Draco nodded in agreement, suddenly gone quiet.

"Ready to be a father, Malfoy?" she asked, carefully holding an already asleep Avery in her basket. They walked out of the Great Hall along with the other pairs. Draco paused, taking the question in consideration.

"Definitely not." Hermione couldn't agree more with him.

A/N: I hope you enjoyed the first chapter of ANB! There is definitely more to come so make sure to F/F so you don't miss the next chapter when it comes out. If you want to, leave a review, say 'hi' or a bit of feedback on this story. Also, yes, this is slightly unrealistic, but hey, that's the joy of fanfiction.