Okay, we're past that whole self-deprecating phase. I cleaned this chapter up a bit. I'm really starting to like this story again, and I hope you feel the same.
The next morning, Harry found himself practicing spells with Hermione. She showed him a wide variety of fascinating spells, and Harry showed her quite a few as well. They practiced with each other, dueling. Harry was obviously the stronger, but Hermione knew many more spells. Harry would let her win on occasion, and sometimes, Hermione took the victory on her own with her vast knowledge of jinxes and counter-jinxes. Sometimes, George, Ginny and Percy watched the duel in fascination. Not only could they tell that they were extremely powerful for their age, but they guessed that the couple was holding back. As a week and a half passed by, Harry and Hermione knew about the same number of spells, to Hermione's fascination. Harry's mind was a lot clearer, now. He was able to learn spells with ease as he watched Hermione say the enchantment and do the wand movements, and no matter if he just learned them yet, was using the spells with amazing power and accuracy.
Harry started reading books with Hermione when they were in the Library, causing Hermione to check his head for a fever. Harry laughed and sheepishly admitted that he does read a little in his spare time, but the only reason he practically never went to the library at Hogwarts was because Hermione was always there, which Ron would've been jealous of. If Harry sat a distance from Hermione, then that would raise suspicion of why Harry wasn't sitting with his best friend. If he did sit with her, then there would be a chance for them to grow closer together and Ron wouldn't have liked that. When she asked why Harry had kept asking her to check over his homework, Harry grinned.
"Hermione, when was the last time you criticized me for not doing my assignment right?"
Hermione started slowly, "Well... there was that time when... " she stopped, trying to think of an answer.
"I do remember one time in fifth year when I made a typo, but you said otherwise that it was perfect. I thought that you would catch on that I was only doing that for appearance. Love, how do you think Ron would've felt if I read books a lot, got better grades than him, and basically, become more compatible to you?"
Hermione thought about what he said for a few minutes. She was deeply lost in thought until she had another question. "You could have had better grades?"
Harry looked up from the book and smiled. "Some of my grades could've been better, I admit, but I kept them high enough to pass."
Hermione walked over behind him and hugged his back. "It was all in vain, too."
Harry sighed. "It was. But, do you regret it now?"
Hermione snorted cutely. "Of course not. But when we're in Hogwarts, I expect competition, Potter."
Harry grinned. "I may have somehow evolved into much more than I was weeks ago, but I doubt I'll be able to topple the brightest witch of our generation."
But it would be close.
About a week later, they found themselves at Gringotts again. Griphook proceeded to explain to Harry that his parents did indeed have a mansion, and Professor McGonagall had the deed to it. When Griphook finally noticed that Harry and Hermione were holding hands, he smiled a toothy smile. He didn't particularly like humans, but it seemed to him that he would enjoy associating himself with an entire family name in time.
Griphook also told them that the vault had been moved to 713. Harry grinned again, unnoticed by Hermione. They left Gringotts and a few seconds later, they were in Hogsmeade. The village still looked pretty rundown, like it was a ghost town, but a shop or two was still open. The Hog's Head and The Three Broomsticks were up and running, with quite a few people at The Three Broomsticks, and as expected, only Aberforth was inside of the shop, not bothering to clean the very dirty and smelly shop.
They waved at both of the owners, Aberforth and Madame Rosmerta, and Rosmerta waved cheerfully, but couldn't greet them properly, as she had customers. Aberforth only looked up, grunted a hello, and went back to drinking his Firewhiskey. Before his lips touched the bottle, however, Harry could have sworn that he saw a ghost of a smile.
The couple walked up the path to Hogwarts, wondering if the place had been repaired, as almost half of the castle was demolished by that battle.
When they reach the gates, they saw the four heads of houses casting spells across the fully built castle. They watched them for a moment. It looked as if the school hadn't even been touched by Death Eaters. They sneaked past them, not wanting to disturb their work, and went into the castle to look for the headmistress. They found her in one of the corridors, talking to the portraits.
"Make sure that all secret passages to the school are sealed." She sternly and urgently whispered to the moving pictures. "If I stumble upon one passageway - "
"Minerva, we've been looking around for a week!" One of the portraits said, exasperated.
"Do you need something to eat?"
"You know that isn't possible, but - "
"Then I don't see any reason why you should not be looking around." McGonagall said, as if finishing the conversation. Apparently, it did, as the people in the portraits started trudging along out of the portraits.
Harry and Hermione chose this chance to turn into the hallway to reveal themselves. The headmistress turned to see them when she heard footsteps. Her wand almost slipped out of her grasp when she saw the couple.
"M-Mr. Potter... Miss Granger - " She stopped abruptly and narrowed her eyes in suspicion. "What special act did you perform which made me put you onto the Quidditch team?"
"When I caught Neville's Remembrall." Harry easily said, knowing that he was tested to see if he was the real Harry.
Professor McGonagall walked up to them and hugged each one of them with a smile on her face, something she had never done before to them. When she pulled back, she saw the extremely shocked faces of the pair. This caused her to smirk. "You're like a son to me, Harry. Who else could do the job at Hogwarts?"
Harry smiled at her, thinking of how loudly she screamed when she thought he was dead and how much she cared. "Thanks, Professor," He said, his voice full of sincerity.
"You can call me Minerva, now, Harry, Hermione. You're not at Hogwarts anymore."
"Well, we wanted to talk to you about that... Minerva," Hermione awkwardly mumbled. "We have quite a few things that we would like to discuss with you. Firstly, we want to return for another year, if we're allowed."
McGonagall smiled even wider. "Actually, a few Hufflepuffs and Ravenclaws have informed me that they want to return, also. I couldn't say no. I would want a carefree year, also. You two and Ron deserve a carefree year, most of all."
"I don't think Ron is returning." Harry murmured.
The professor showed no look of surprise. "I expected him to not return. Now, shall I tell you the roles that you two will play as you return for your final year?" When they both nodded, she gestured for them to follow her to her office. After a moment of walking, she spoke again. "This may not come as a surprise to you, but I ask of you to be Head Boy and Head Girl."
Hermione smiled brilliantly at McGonagall's off-handed announcement. She was almost positive that she would be Head Girl, and secretly had no doubt in her mind that Harry would become Head Boy if he returned.
Harry laughed a little. "After all the mayhem that I caused every single year, after all of the rules that I've broken, I'm Head Boy? I know I've saved the school time and time again, but - "
"You must not worry about that, Mr. Potter. If you did not have too much on your hands years ago, you would have become Prefect, and most certainly be Head Boy by all rights today. Your recent actions have nothing to do with you getting this position, although it has increased your maturity greatly. Your father would be proud that you never acted like him in his younger years, your mother doubly so. You have been chosen for your leadership and bravery. Dumbledore's Army was proof of that. You two have been chosen for this position for quite some time, I might add. And you did say that Ronald Weasley was not returning, correct? I am sure you will not cause... as much... trouble this year. And with certain obstacles out of the way, you may actually enjoy this year."
Harry and Hermione chuckled. They would be sharing the Head Boy and Girl's tower together. Alone. It would be a nice last year.
"I hope you will not cause any trouble at all, though," she continued, "and prevent others from causing it. First and Second years will be looking to you for guidance. You are to award points or take them away. You are to assign posts for Prefects. You are to change the password to the entrance of the Gryffindor Common Room every few weeks, and don't forget to post them. You are to report those who are threatening others or calling them names, such as the offensive term for muggleborns, a rule that we added recently. You are to break up fights and duels in the hallway. You are to report those who openly support the man formerly known as Voldemort." The couple's eyes widened; they had never heard the Professor call Tom by his nickname.
"I know you want to, so I will allow you to do this; If you hear someone call Voldemort by his name, you are allowed to award that person five points, but only that first time. Our former Headmaster told me that some students may try to make a song out of his name, so every student would receive a hundred points for singing it." Harry and Hermione laughed - that is what the old Headmaster would say.
When the pair stopped laughing, Professor McGonagall continued. "Mr. Potter, if you accept the job as Head Boy - "
"I accept." Harry politely interrupted.
"I need to warn you that you may not have time to hold Quidditch practices. You cannot keep the position of Quidditch Captain, and I'm not sure if you can keep the position of Seeker. Are you sure that you want to take the position of Head Boy?"
"Yes." Harry answered almost immediately. He had spoken with Hermione, and she agreed with gusto, much earlier that he didn't want to end up in the Hospital Wing this year, and was sure to have a nice, long visit there if he faced the Slytherin team. He could practically see those Bludgers aiming for him unmercifully, putting Dobby to shame.
McGonagall stopped and turned around in surprise. She noticed that Harry didn't even think about the question, and saw the pair holding hands. She then smiled while they blushed, noticing her gaze. Apparently, there were things that he loved more than Quidditch.
"Very well," she said, turning back to walk. "Since you have taken the position of Head Boy, and Ronald Weasley will not be attending, I will be sending the Quidditch Captain's Badge to Miss Weasley. I am sure that she will still be attending, correct?"
"Also... I'm not sure how to ask this of students, but this is my first year being the Headmistress of Hogwarts. Since you two could be called as Dumbledore's apprentices all around the school, I hesitate to ask if you had any advice to change this school for the better."
Harry and Hermione was a little shocked at this request. They thought about this for a few seconds. They knew of a bunch of changes, but now that they were under the spotlight, they had to recollect their thoughts. Hermione, of course, spoke up first. "Professor, I would like to talk about a few classes and the education status."
"Such as, Miss Granger?"
"Well... I would like to start with Muggle Studies. I think that the next teacher of the class should be a Muggleborn, muggle-raised, or a half-blood. I know I shouldn't say anything about our departed Professor Burbage, so I'm not going to.
"My second suggestion is about Professor Binns' teaching method. Not many people can stay awake in his class, not even me sometimes. He is very informative, but he reads by the book, word-by-word, And most people tend to... well, doze off. I recommend that he explain more about the Wizarding World History in his own words instead."
Professor McGonagall was nodding thoughtfully while her favorite female student was speaking. She waited a moment to see if Hermione was done, and said "You raise some very interesting points, Miss Granger. I will see what I can do. I should release Professor Binns and find a new Muggle Studies teacher. I will find a muggle-born or someone very acquainted with muggle living. Mr. Potter?"
"Well, I have nothing to add except for a competent Defense professor who can teach for more than one year. I heard Voldemort put a curse on the school when he hid the Horcrux here when looking for the job."
The stern professor stopped and quickly paled as she turned to the couple. "Did you just say, 'Horcrux', Mr. Potter?"
Harry grinned; this was the same reaction he received from Griphook. "Yes, professor; Tom had seven, which is why we left school. We had to destroy them, first."
The couple watched in amusement as all color drained from her face, before a spark of anger showed as she turned around and started walking at a slightly faster pace.
She decided to drop the conversation of Horcruxes for a moment to answer his previous concern. She said in an almost calm voice, "I am almost positive that there is a curse for the position of Defense Against the Dark Arts, but no one is sure what curse it is. Hopefully the curse has been removed the moment of Voldemort's death. However, we will not know until the first of September next year. I have quite a few teachers to replace, but thankfully we have an extended break. It is now only the beginning of June."
Harry waited a few seconds, seriously considering his options here. "Professor?"
"Yes, Mr. Potter?"
"In a few years, I want to try out that jinx."
"Well, we certainly know that you can do the impossible, but I know you realize that every professor who tried to take on the curse has either ended up dying, possessed, unfit for the job, or not being the person we selected at all. We will perform monthly tests on each teacher, to see if they are fulfilling their job as teaching, much like the High Inquisitor tried to do. If anything happens to the professor that we choose this year, then we would give you the job next year."
By this time, they were walking past the Great Hall. Harry could still hear the distant screams, dozens of people laughing and chanting the sickly green and red curses over and over again...
Hermione's hand-squeeze brought him out of his thoughts. Apparently, she noticed where his thoughts led. She was having the same passing memories herself.
"Now, Mr. Potter," McGonagall continued, "I have another request for you. Our Headmaster's portrait told me that you have the power to repair the Sorting Hat. I thought this very unlikely, since it has permanent burn marks. But I think you should try anyways."
It took a moment for Harry to realize how he was going to repair the hat. Then he realized - The Elder Wand.
"Professor, I can help, but I need my wand. I put it in Dumbledore's tomb - "
"And he asked me to remove it," McGonagall interrupted as she pulled out the wand and handed it to Harry. Harry felt the wand with trembling fingers. He felt the magic deep inside of the wand, slowly seeping into his skin. His adrenaline rush didn't notice it the last time, but now that he was relaxed, he felt the magic of the wand and him slowly getting more powerful.
He was the true master of the Elder Wand.
Harry wasn't particularly power-hungry, he never was, but he felt a sort of an attachment to the wand; like he was always meant to hold it. His holly wand was always dear to him, but this wand - his wand - gave him a comfort that he couldn't describe.
He had found himself in the past days much more powerful, and that was plenty enough for him, but... he found that he rather liked holding onto the Wand of Destiny.
Or he could give it to Hermione. God knows the accomplishments she could get done with her magic. He was far beyond impressed when she showed him the limit of her skills at Grimmauld Place, and he felt she could do much more than he ever could.
Harry's free hand swept over the cool elder wood as the trio silently marched up to the gargoyle, who wordlessly marched aside. They made short work of the spiral staircase, Hermione tugging on Harry's hand to warn him not to trip.
Harry grinned and finally looked up from his hard-won prize. "I've been up these stairs so many times, I could run up them blind."
"I'd rather you not, as these stairs are made of cement." McGonagall's mouth quirked at the banter between the two, until she opened the door to her office.
She turned to her right and was face-to-face with the portrait of Albus Dumbledore.
"Horcruxes, Albus? Explain. Now."
Note to self: Start posting stories with shorter chapters, or at least an embarrassingly long one-shot. It takes less time to update that way. While Deathly Hallows: Take Two is far and beyond my most ambitious project, I find it nice to return to a story with such a basic storyline. I needed that right now.
I have completely revamped my website (rihaansfics dotcom), and I want to know what you guys think. Bunch of exclusive content there, including but certainly not limited to an argument that I got into with a Romione fan. No one ever likes to review there, and if there were still purple 'Review' buttons on this site, I would just steal those buttons and lead the reviewer to post here. But, alas, I cannot.
In case you have not been checking out my other stories, I have been posting a bunch of nice one-shots that I'm sure you would all enjoy, most noticeably Never Leave: The Complete Edition, a story in which Harry teaches Hermione the error of her ways after Ron betrays them a second time. There's also the second and hopefully final chapter to 'It's Good to Feel Remorse.' If you love short and sweet (You're here, aren't you?) then you will love that story.
A nice story image/book cover for this story is appreciated, if anyone wants to volunteer. Same goes for all of my stories. Because the story just looks tacky without one.