As the War looms closer, Harry returns for his seventh year at Hogwarts. But the relationships are not as they should be. Hermione's love for Gryffindor's worst enemy puts tension between her and her friends, especially Ron, who she finds herself drawing closer to. But when Hogwarts becomes locked down, how will the battle with Voldemort and the battle stay alive within the supposedly safe confines of Hogwarts affect her relationships with those she loves the most, even when those relationships bring too much trauma for her?
How is it that you keep a secret from people you know and grew up with for so long without them finding out? How is it that you keep the most glorious things of life hidden away from the people you care about?
How is it?Well, I'm here to tell you how my life was drastically altered by what happened in my fourth year. But we won't start there. No, the real story starts in seventh year. That's where this story begins.
Hermione Granger sat in a small compartment on the Hogwarts Express, a book carefully laid out on her lap and her cat, Crookshanks, lying next to her, her hand running over his fur in a rhythmic petting that she had tuned out to the back of her otherwise brilliant mind. Her dress was modest, with a knee length blue skirt and white sweater covering a rather womanly figure. She was not incredibly gorgeous, but she was pretty and her hair, though still frizzy, was tamer as her Hogwarts career came to a close. At the moment, she had it pulled into a pony tail so that she could read better.
She looked up and smiled as she saw three people enter the compartment. Ronald Weasley, Ginny Weasley and Harry Potter all took their seats around her, smiling widely at the girl. Her eyes went to Ron first, taking in his gangly, yet handsome appearance. His scarlet hair was long and almost covered his bright blue eyes, which were watching her in anticipation. Harry's hair was not quite as long, nor was Harry as tall and gangly, but both seemed to have gotten full benefits from Quidditch, with strong arms and, though Hermione could not see through cloth, she knew that both carried hard abdomens. Ginny had long, curly red hair and a rather curved figure, which seemed to be drawing the attention of Harry, though respectively, as Ron was in the room.
"How were your summers?!" Hermione asked eagerly, starved for their friendship. Harry's smile faltered a bit and he sat back in his chair, sighing. Hermione's shoulders sank slightly. "The war…"
Ron nodded, sighing also. "The Order locked us all up at Grimauld and wouldn't let us leave for anything. It was soooooooooooooooo boring! Well, except…" He stopped there and glanced at Harry, who nodded slowly. "Well, there was one point where…well, you won't believe it Hermione, but Lupin and Mad-Eye caught a Death Eater and imprisoned him at Grimauld!"
Hermione's eyes widened. "Really?!"
Ginny leaned forward, lowering her voice. "He was all yelling about the Dark Lord and Harry and stuff. Harry talked to him even, didn't you Harry?"
Harry didn't respond immediately and Hermione realized that he had dark circles under his eyes, showing his apparent lack of sleep. She would have to talk to him later about that.
"Yeah, I talked to him," he replied eventually, looking at Hermione. "His name is Cecil Borris."
Hermione blinked, shocked. "Cecil?!"
Ginny frowned. "You know him?"
Hermione shook herself and turned to Ginny. "No, no. Just…no, it's nothing."
Ginny raised an eyebrow, disbelieving, but shrugged and turned to Harry. "Didn't Cecil say that he knew all about the Death Eater movements and stuff?"
"Yeah," Harry said. "He's set to testify in a couple weeks, naming a lot of Death Eaters. That's going to help with the war a lot." He stopped for a second, thinking. "It was weird. He kept going on about how the Death Eaters wanted something…that they would kill him for it…I don't know."
Ron turned to Hermione, frowning. "What about your summer? Why weren't you at Grimauld with us?"
Hermione sighed, closing her book and picking up Crookshanks. "I told you Ron, I had to be with my parents this summer. We went on a tour in the South Pacific. It was lovely!"
A knock at the door drew their attention there and the door slid open. A tall, dirty blonde girl leaned in, her sparkling hazel eyes drawing the attention of Harry and Ron.
"Excuse me, but do you know where I can find Lavender Brown?" the girl asked, flipping her hair over her shoulder and looking pointedly at the boys. Ginny frowned.
"She might be down the hall. Are you new?"
The girl flashed a smile, hands on hips. "Yes, I am. My name is Kelsey Gaber. I'll be a seventh year this year. Who are…Harry Potter, good grief, is that you?!"
Harry blinked. "Excuse me?"
Kelsey laughed. "Sorry, silly me. You don't know me, but I wrote that article about you this summer. The one about you and Quidditch. I was named as Korin Gaber. I go as both. Good grief, it's good to meet the Boy-Who-Lived. Or, do you not like that name? I don't know, that just seems like what everyone is calling you and look at me running my mouth. Hi, I'm Kelsey Gaber, how are you?" She held out her hand politely and Harry took it, eyebrow raised.
"Harry Potter, nice to meet you."
Kelsey turned to Ron. "You must be Ron Weasley. I wrote about you, too. I love the red hair, it's beautiful." She stuck out her hand to him to as is ears became red with embarrassment. He shakes her hand and she then turns to the girls, tucking a piece of hair behind her ear.
"And who are you two?"
Both Hermione and Ginny became red in the face but before either could answer, the train whistle went off and the train began pulling out of the station. Kelsey glanced down the hall and smiled.
"I've got to go, but we should talk later," she called before leaving the doorway and disappearing down the train hallway. Hermione turned to look at Ginny, who stared back at her with the same shocked look. Both boys did not even notice.
For about an hour, the four talked and played Exploding Snap, not really knowing what else to do. Then, after the food cart came by, the door opened, but it wasn't Kelsey.
"Ah, it seems like I've found the wrong compartment, Malfoy."
All four occupants of the compartment looked up to see Blaise Zabini standing in the door, hands in pockets as he looked lazily over the group.
"Potter, Weasley, Weaselette, and…Granger," he continued to someone out of sight. Ron stood, glaring.
"What the hell do you want?" he snapped and Zabini eyed him critically.
"Nothing, I can assure you. I merely happened across the wrong compartment."
"Who are you talking to, Zabini?" came a drawling voice and Hermione's heart skipped a beat. Almost as tall as Ron, Draco Malfoy strolled into view from where he had been buying several items from the food cart. His platinum blonde hair was neatly combed and his tailored clothing fit him nicely as he chewed, with mouth closed of course, on what Hermione knew to be Muggle gum. Malfoys did not chew with open mouths.
His stormy grey eyes surveyed the compartment with apparent boredom and he turned back to his companion. "You never did have much taste in company, did you?"
"Yet I stand here with you. What a shock."
Malfoy rolled his eyes and turned to the compartment again. "Perhaps, had I been younger, I would have insulted you, thereby provoking a fight, but as I am older, I will be sophisticated and merely comment that Weasley has an extraordinary lack of fashion and has chosen to make his sweater out of what appears to be…" Malfoy then took this time to lean in and examine a furious redhead's sweater, "a rather dead mongoose." Straightening, he turned to Hermione and winked. Her eyes widened and Ron became incensed.
"What the hell-"
Malfoy turned back to Ron and eyed him. "Please take it off, Weasley. It's upsetting." With that, he walked away. Zabini followed him slowly and the door slid closed. The four stared at the door in shock and then Ron turned to Hermione.
"Did he just wink at you?"
Hermione blinked and turned to Ron. "I think so."
The opening ceremony at Hogwarts went quietly, with Hermione becoming Head Girl and a boy named Roth Dell was named Head Boy. As dinner ended, the four friends headed into the Entrance Hall.
"I'll see you all tomorrow morning," Hermione told them. "Luckily, tomorrow's a Saturday, so we don't have anything to do."
Ron raised an eyebrow and put his hand on her forehead. "Are you ill?"
She pushed his hand away, frowning. "No, Ron. Why?"
He shook his head, peering down at her as if she was mad. "I don't know. I just thought I heard you said 'we don't have anything to do' like it was a good thing. Must have heard something else. Sorry."
Hermione shook her head at him, smiling. "Goodnight, guys." She walked off away from the Gryffindor common room, heading down a hallway after Roth. They had just reached the common room door when Malfoy appeared at the end of the hallway, leaning silently against the wall. He was still chewing the gum. Excusing herself from Roth, she walked down the hall, frowning as he disappeared. She came to where he had been standing and stepped into a hidden alcove. Malfoy was staring at the ground as she entered and didn't look up as she stood in front of him.
"Hi," she murmured. A ghost of a smile fluttered across his face.
A moment later found his lips against hers.