Summary: The trio's final year. The Dark Lord is vanquished and it seems as though life can go on as usual. Professor Snape is cleared of all charges and is back as the Potions professor. Hermione and Ginny find themselves in situations, which neither could have foreseen. Can they make it through this year?

Authors' Notes: This is my first fanfic that involves a friend of mine. I have taken the liberty of writing the Hermione/Snape parts and she is writing the Ginny/Draco parts. I hope you all read and review, as this is her very first fanfic ever. Oh, and none of the characters belong to us… they belong to J.K. Rowling. Except Professor Lily O'Neill. Enjoy….

Chapter One

New Beginnings

Hermione sat at the Gryffindor table in the Great Hall only half-heartedly listening to the Sorting Ceremony. All she wanted to do was get to her Head Girl quarters and settle in bed with a good book. She absent-mindedly twirled a lock of her messy brown hair with her finger, completely unaware of the events going on around her. It was then she felt a tap on her shoulder. She looked to her left and saw Ginny staring at her with a look of concern on her face.

"Are you alright?" she asked.

"Yeah. Sorry, Ginny. I guess I'm just a little tired." Hermione responded.

"I didn't see you on the train," Ginny replied.

Hermione sighed. "I took an empty compartment to do some light reading."

"Oh… well… it's just that…" Ginny began.

"I'm fine!" Hermione stated in a hushed whisper, cutting her off. Ginny looked down at the table from the tone in Hermione's voice. Hermione closed her eyes and willed herself to calm down a bit. "I'm sorry, Ginny," she said yet again. "I guess I'm just really tired."

Hermione knew that Ginny's concern stemmed from the recent breakup of her brother, Ron, to Hermione. She had broken up with him over the summer holiday because all Ron wanted to do was sit in his room and snog her to death or fly around outside playing Quidditch with his brothers. Both of those things bored her to death because Ron was a virtual walking hormone. Not to mention that he was a very sloppy and inexperienced kisser. His intellect nowhere near matched her own and she secretly longed for more. Someone with whom she could just sit with and talk to for hours… not just someone that only had one thing on their minds. Although that would eventually come into play. Hermione was brought out of her musings when Professor McGonagall, the new Headmistress, cleared her throat for silence.

"Welcome, Students," she started and Hermione focused her attention at once of the stern professor. "There is much that needs to be said, especially to the first years, but first I would like to take a moment of silence for our dearly departed Headmaster, Albus Dumbledore." Many heads bowed and Hermione followed suit. She willed the tears away before they threatened to fall and took a deep shuddering breath. McGonagall continued. "Professor Dumbledore would want all of you to continue your education and to remember him at his best. Do not be sad in your remembrance of him but strive to do his name justice by being the best. Now, as you all know, the Forbidden Forest is off limits to all students and no magic is to be done in the halls between classes… or any other time. Also, I have the pleasure of introducing our newest Defense Against the Dark Arts professor. Even though Voldemort has at last been vanquished, there are still many of his followers that are still out there. They cause a threat to this very day so caution must still be followed. Please join me in welcoming Professor Lily O'Neill. She is an ex-Auror and may help many of you in your years here at Hogwarts. She is also going to take over as Head of Gryffindor." Cheers rose from the Gryffindor table as Professor O'Neill politely waved from the staff table. "Now that you have all had your share of food and drink, please make your way to your houses."

People started standing up and filing out of the Great Hall. Hermione kept her distance from the other Gryffindors so she wouldn't have to pretend that her and Ron hadn't just broke up. I should have never gotten involved with a friend, she thought to herself. Then things wouldn't have to be so awkward. She reached the portrait, alone, and realized she had no idea as to what the password was. "Shit! I'm Head Girl. I should know these things."

As she ran her hand through her hair, the portrait swung open. She adjusted her eyes to the light coming from the common room and saw Harry standing there. "Hi, Hermione."

"Hi, Harry," she answered a little flustered.

"I was getting a little worried when you didn't show up here with us," he said. "Are you ok?"

Hermione could swear she heard an unasked question in his voice. The words after what happened with Ron seemed to be on the edge of this tongue. She sighed. "I'm fine, Harry. Just exhausted."

"Come in then." Harry stepped aside and noticed that Hermione hesitated. He looked at the ceiling and sighed. "Ron's gone up to the room."

Hermione slowly stepped into the common room and released the breath she had been holding. There were only a few students left in the room, talking and telling tales about summer holiday. Hermione desperately wanted to just get to her room and flop down on the bed… she only wanted sleep to claim her mind tonight… books seemed to have taken a back seat for now. She was about to head towards the stairs when Harry placed a hand on her shoulder. She turned and met his green eyes. "Yes?" she asked.

"You can't avoid Ron, Hermione. You're bound to run into each other eventually."

Hermione took Harry's hand in hers and forced a smile. "I know. I'm just not ready yet."

"But Hermione," he began.

"Look, Harry, I appreciate your concern but you have things you yourself can not avoid… namely Ginny." Hermione let go of his hand and turned… ending their conversation. She didn't want to see Harry's expression to her comment so she hurriedly climbed the stairs to her Head Girl room. Once inside, she closed and locked the door then leaned back against it. Harry was right. She couldn't avoid Ron forever yet she just couldn't bring herself to face him. After all, she was the one who broke it off with him. Hermione sighed and walked over to her trunk. She pulled out her softest cotton pajamas, a pair of socks, and some fresh knickers. She made her way to her private bathroom, that the Head Girl and Boy were privileged enough to have, and ran a hot bath. As the tub filled she retrieved her bath soap, toothbrush and paste, towel, shampoo, and brush then she stripped off all her clothes. She sank into the hot water and closed her eyes.

After she bathed and washed her hair, she felt a little better. She brushed her teeth and tried to get the knots out of her hair. It always looked better wet… less bushy that way. She did her best and got dressed. She pulled the plug on the tub, extinguished the candle in the bathroom, and headed towards the bed. Sleep came quickly and she was blessed with no dreams.


Her first week of classes went by normally. She was the only one out of the three taking N.E.W.T. potions and was surprised to see Professor Snape back. She learned from Pavarti Patel that Snape was cleared of his crimes as it was learned that he helped in Voldemort's downfall. It was also learned that Dumbledore was, in fact, dying and had enlisted Snape's aide to help him end his pain and to fulfill some sort of oath that was made. But it seemed as though Snape did not really enjoy being back at the school. He was never at any meals and seldom spoke in class… depending solely on written instructions that were are the blackboard.

It was now the second week and things were finally falling into a routine. Hermione was sitting in the corner of the Common Room working intently on an Arithmancy essay that was due at the end of the month. She had completed a full three feet when she realized that she needed a certain book. She remembered seeing it in the library but seeing as it was midnight, she knew that the library would be closed. Not even being Head Girl would be a good enough excuse to be there so late but she really needed that book. She looked around and was glad to see that Harry was still awake… and alone. She walked over to him.

"Harry?" she asked quietly.

Harry jumped slightly from his seat but he quickly regained his composure. "Hermione? I didn't realize you were still awake."

"Just trying to finish an essay but… well…" She blew a strand of hair from her eyes as she found that words were escaping her.

"Do you need something?" he asked.

"Actually, I was wondering if I could borrow your cloak? I need a book and seeing that it is now past midnight…"

"But you're Head Girl," he interrupted. "Do you really need a cloak?" He sounded really tired.

"It's late, Harry. I can't go walking the halls like a professor. I should be in bed right now. But if I don't finish that essay, I'll never be able to sleep."

Harry sighed and stood up. "Wait here," he said and disappeared up the stairs. A few minutes later, he reappeared clutching his Invisibility Cloak. "Be careful."

"I will," she said as she reached for the cloak.

"I meant with my cloak," he responded with a smirk.

Hermione playfully punched Harry's arm and softly laughed. "Give me an hour."

Harry waved her away and sat back down to continue reading. Hermione rolled her eyes, slipped on the cloak, and carefully made her way to the library. The halls were blessedly free of people so she made it in no time at all. She placed a non-verbal spell to unlock the door then slipped inside. With her wand tip lit, she found the book she needed. She turned to go when the cloak caught on the edge of a table and slipped off.

"Damn," she muttered. She was about to take hold of the cloak when she heard someone behind her.

"May I inquire as to the reason you are out of bed so late, Miss Granger?" There was no mistaking that cold drawl and Hermione silently cursed herself for being caught.

She turned around and came eye to eye with Professor Snape's chest… seeing as he was almost a foot taller than her. "Um… well… you see…" she stumbled upon her words.

"I'm waiting."

"I needed a book for an essay I was working on, Sir," she said, the words rushing from her mouth.

"And you couldn't wait until the library opened in a few hours? I'm surprised at you, Miss Granger. Just because you are Head Girl does not mean that you can go traipsing about the school at such a late hour. Fifty points from Gryffindor for your lack in judgment." Hermione was about to protest but thought better and clamped her lips shut. Professor Snape, on the other hand, continued. "And I think a week's worth of detention as well."

Hermione gaped at him as he turned away and left the library. Angry, Hermione grabbed the cloak and stormed out… quickly walking towards Gryffindor Tower. Just as she had planned earlier, Harry had the portrait opened for her. She stormed in and sat down next to him, fuming. Harry looked over at her.

"Hermione?" he asked timidly. She didn't say anything… only stared into the dying fire. Harry placed his hand on top of hers. "What happened?"

"That man is horrible," she said through gritted teeth.

"What man?"

"Snape." That one word left a bitter taste in her mouth and she shuddered.

"Snape? He's here?" Harry asked concern etched in his voice.

"Oh, Harry… I forgot to tell you." Hermione explained everything to Harry even down to running into him at the library.

"Wow!" Harry took it all in… his eyes wide in shock.

"Harry, I'm a tad nervous. I mean… seeing him in class is one thing with all the students around, but alone?" She turned to look into Harry's eyes. "Do you think he can be trusted?"

Harry didn't answer right away… it seemed he was deep in thought. Finally, he spoke in a hushed whisper. "You said he was cleared of all charges, right?" Hermione nodded her head yes. "Well… then it should be ok, I guess. But I would still be cautious if I were you."

Hermione sighed. "I guess you're right." Hermione looked at her watch. "Oh geez, Harry, it's two in the morning! We'd better get to our rooms before Professor O'Neill catches us." Hermione stood up, hugged Harry, and climbed the stairs to her room. Once inside, she locked the door and fell onto the bed, fully clothed, as sleep overcame her senses. She would worry about Snape tomorrow… when her detention was to start.

A/N: Hope you like this beginning. Its rated M for future chapters. Sorry. Again, read and review.