Hey guys this is my first Harry Potter fanfic, so please R&R. I know this first chapter is kind of long, but I needed it for plot development.

It was the beginning of Harry's seventh and final year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. As he boarded the Hogwarts Express, he smiled at the thought of not having to live with the Dursleys, but at his favourite place in the world, his home – Hogwarts.

Harry moved his trunk to the luggage compartment, then began to look for Ron and Hermione. He found Ron in a compartment down the end of the train with Neville and Ginny.

"Hi everyone," said Harry, awkwardly avoiding Ginny's eyes. They had broken up at the end of last year, after all. There was a general murmur of greeting from the others.

"Where's Hermione?" asked Harry. "Have any of you seen her yet?"

"Nope," said Ron and Neville simultaneously.

"I saw her outside, on the platform," remarked Ginny. "She said she'd find us in here in a minute.

At that precise moment, the compartment door slid open. All four of them looked up to see Hermione standing in the doorway. She stepped inside, slid the door shut behind her and sat down next to Ginny, opposite Harry.

"Hello everyone!" said Hermione brightly. "How were your summers?"

"Same as usual," replied Harry.

"Mine was good, except for the part where I had to look after Ron!" said Ginny.

Neville, Harry and Hermione laughed as Ron spluttered at Ginny angrily until the train began pulling out of Kings' Cross Station, when the all leaned out of the window to wave goodbye to Mrs Weasley, Hermione's parents and Neville's grandmother. This was the part of returning to Hogwarts that Harry liked the least, as he was strongly reminded of the absence of not only his parents but also of Sirius, his godfather.

"What would it be like," he wondered absently. "To have my parents standing there waving goodbye to me?"

He didn't have long to ponder this as Ron pulled out a pack of exploding snap cards, which they played for the rest of the trip.

As train approached the Hogsmeade Station, the five of them changed into their school robes.

The now familiar cry of "firs' years this way!" met them at the station. Harry grinned at Hagrid then made his way with Ron and Hermione over to the thestral-drawn carriages. Trying to ignore the eerie feeling they gave him, Harry climbed up beside Ron.

Up at the castle, the three of them clambered out of the carriage and made their way into the Great Hall, only just dodging the ink pellets being fired by Peeves at random.

Inside the Hall, Harry, Ron and Hermione found their seats, halfway up the Gryffindor table. When everyone was seated, Professor Dumbledore held up his hand for silence, which fell immediately.

"It is time, once again," he announced. "For us to welcome a new group of students to our school."

As he spoke, the doors to the Great Hall opened and in strode Professor McGonagall, followed by a line of very nervous-looking first-years.

"They are getting smaller every year, I swear it," whispered Ron into Harry's ear. Harry was about to agree when he saw, at the end of the line, a girl who looked closer to his own age than the first years she followed.

"Who's that?" Harry asked Hermione.

"It's a new girl for our year. Her name's Rebecca. She's moving here from Wirfold Academy of Magic in America."

"How do you know all that?" asked Ron, amazed.

"I met her as we were getting on the train," replied Hermione. "I invited her to sit with us but she told me she'd already found someone to sit with."

"So that's where you were!" said Ron triumphantly. Hermione rolled her eyes at him and turned to face the front, where the Sorting Hat now stood upon its stool, and Professor McGonagall was preparing to read out the names of the first-years.

"Burrett, Melinda!"

A timid-looking girl stepped out from the group huddled together at the front of the Great Hall, up to the stool where the Sorting Hat stood. She sat nervously on the edge of the stool as the Hat was lowered onto her head. After a moment of expectant silence, the rip at the top of the Sorting Hat opened.

"Hufflepuff!" it shouted.

Those at the Hufflepuff table cheered loudly as Melinda, now looking considerably relieved, walked over to sit with them.

The group of new students shrank in size until "Yeel, Derick" was placed in Ravenclaw, and only one person was left standing up the front.

As Ravenclaw's cheers grew silent, Dumbledore stood up.

"As most of you know," he began. "It is highly unusual for a new student to begin at Hogwarts after their first year. Due to exceptional circumstances, however, this year I am pleased to welcome Rebecca Levance, to be joining our seventh-year students. I hope you will all make her feel welcome."

With that, he gestured for her to sit on the stool facing the rest of the school. Professor McGonagall placed the Sorting Hat on Rebecca's head, where it sat for a few moments before opening the rip that served as a mouth and yelling out, "Gryffindor!"

Harry, Ron and Hermione joined the rest of their table in congratulating Rebecca as she made her way over to the Gryffindor table. Ginny moved over to make room for her.

"Hey," said Ron. "I'm Ron."

"Hello," replied Rebecca. "You guys can call me Beccy or Bec."

"I'm Hermione."

"Hi-" said Rebecca, breaking off as her eyes flicked up to Harry's scar. "You're not…?"

"Yeah, I'm Harry. Nice to meet you," said Harry, trying not to feel annoyed that this girl probably already knew a lot more about him than would have been a normal amount for anyone else.

Professor Dumbledore was once again rising from his chair in the centre of the staff table to make his annual speech to the students.

"Welcome to our new students, I hope you will do all you can to support your individual houses. To everyone else, the same goes, and welcome back! Mr Filch has asked me to inform you that Super All-Over Hair growth Potions and Exploding Wands have been added to the list of banned items which can be found outside his office door. The Dark Forest, as always, is out of bounds for students. And on the subject of dark, I would like to introduce your new Defence Against the Dark Arts teachers. Yes, that's right," continued Dumbledore, as a babble of whispers exploded around the Hall. "This year, we have two Defence Against the Dark Arts teachers, who will divide classes between them. Professors Dervill and Harrod."

At his words, two people stood up at the end of the staff table. Professor Dervill was a tall, imposing man with a mouth set in a hard line. Professor Harrod was a shorter, middle-aged woman who waved at the students as she was announced.

"And now," continued Dumbledore. "Without further ado, let us eat!"

At once the tables filled magically with food from the kitchens below. Everyone helped themselves to the food, piling it on their plates, and the Hall was silent except for the sound of cutlery hitting plates and goblets being lowered onto the table.

I'm sorry if this chapter was a bit uneventful, but it gets better I promise!

If you have any suggestions for the story, I'd love to hear them. Constructive criticism is also accepted as I'm still learning! : )