Six years had passed since Harry Potter had first arrived by Hogwarts Express to the castle he would soon regard as his true home. He had never considered where he would go or what he would do when his time there ended.
Little did that small, messy-haired boy know that this choice was never destined to be his own. Indeed as the many bright witches and wizards, both pureblood and muggleborn, boarded the scarlet engine, the 17 year old Harry Potter stood many hundreds of miles away gazing at the granite headstone which guarded the graves of his long dead parents.
For Harry Potter there would be no Hogwarts this year, no Quidditch Cup, no trips to Hogsmeade or games of exploding snap by the fire of the Gryffindor common room. But more poignant still – there would be no Hermione.
It had been decided over the summer that Hermione Granger would remain at Hogwarts for her final year whilst Harry Potter and Ron Weasley went to Godric's Hollow to prepare for the impending war. The Order of the Phoenix had voted unanimously that the trio be split. After all, they each represented one third of the force that would eventually try to destroy the Dark Lord, Voldemort. What would happen if they were ambushed? No, the trio had to be split, for the peace of mind of all involved.
The wizarding community had long heralded the young Harry as their saviour, the "Chosen" one. Little did they know Harry was not the only one to have his or her fate predetermined, but rather, that many of the people Harry knew best were destined to play an important part in the war – on both the sides of the line. It was in fact known to the Order that Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger would represent Harry's personal guard. It was not a task he had wished upon them, but they took it up nonetheless. They understood that it was Harry who would need to raise his wand to defeat the despot, and they could only strive to give him that opportunity.
Of the two, Hermione Granger would be of particular importance in the downfall of the Dark Lord. She was the brightest pupil to have passed through the halls of Hogwarts in centuries, excepted only by Dumbledore, and Lord Voldemort himself. For this reason it was deemed necessary that she spend her final year in the safety of the castle where she would practice honing her skills, shaping herself up to be the secret weapon that they so desperately needed. After all she was a muggleborn – the very last thing Voldemort would expect.
Harry and Ron on the other hand would spend the following year training as well as studying their enemy methodically. They had to find the horcruxes and they had to do this without causing a ripple effect that would draw Voldemort's attention. The Order of the Phoenix would be gathering the infantry in secret meetings behind closed doors, whilst the Ministry of Magic presented an image of utter chaos. The Death Eaters would not be anticipating their attack. But they would know it when the time came - that Harry would ensure.
Harry felt a hand clap his shoulder and he nodded his final respects to his parents before turning to face his companion. Ron was pale and his eyes had a strained look to them. He was worried – like Harry – about their friend. She would be facing the following year without them, or more to the point, they would be facing it without her. He could not think how they would manage it.
The only comfort Harry had in Hermione being at Hogwarts was the knowledge that she was surrounded by those she knew and trusted, people with the same goal as her. Former members of the DA: Luna Lovegood, Ginny Weasley, Dean Thomas, Seamus Finnigan and Neville Longbottom had all been inducted into the Order despite their youth. They would be her protection, he knew. He could only hope it was enough.
It was not that either Harry or Ron were concerned that Hogwarts would be overrun with Death Eaters at any given time but it was instead one person's continued presence at the school which unnerved them.
They knew he was back at the school and as Head Boy no less. This discovery had been made after Hermione had received her Hogwarts letter informing her of her new role as Head Girl and revealing, much to her dismay, the identity of her fellow Head of school.
Harry shook his head in disgust. The family was full of Death Eaters. They were, in his opinion: cold, spineless and utterly evil. Despite his hatred of the boy, Harry knew and understood why he had been chosen. It had been a deliberate venture from the new Headmistress, McGonagall, as per instructions from the Order.
They had decided it would be beneficial to their cause if they could garner information from him. Lucius Malfoy was a Death Eater and they felt sure that Draco would eventually join his father's ranks. Any information they could glean from him that would alert them to Voldemort's whereabouts would help the Order immensely.
Unfortunately the only person who would be able to do the job properly was Hermione. As Head Girl she would have access to Malfoy that no other Order members would. It would be difficult nonetheless. They knew Malfoy to be calculating and cold – he would not reveal anything if he could help it and certainly not to a mudblood like Hermione; but it was their only option.
Sighing heavily, Harry, allowing his shoes to sink deeper into the soft earth underfoot, followed his friend out of the cemetery. He hoped that the nagging feeling in his mind was just over-protectiveness of Hermione and not a bad omen.
All he could do was pray.