A/N: Thank you for deciding to read my story. I do not own any characters associated with Harry Potter; they would all belong to JKR! Please read and review. Story is rated M for language and later chapters which could possibly contain strong sexual content.
Chapter 1: Returning to Hogwarts
The station was noisy and filled with people rushing to catch their train, but Hermione Granger stood in the station starring at the barrier that would lead her to Platform 9 ¾ where the scarlet Hogwarts Express train was waiting. She heard a small sigh from the person to her right, and she gently placed her hand on his shoulder. "Harry, are you sure you still want to do this?" She asked softly.
Harry Potter was gripping the handle of their luggage cart tightly, but when he felt his best friend's hand on his shoulder he loosened his hold. "Yes, Hermione, you are right; since the opportunity has arisen for us to finish our seventh year of school now that the war is over; we should take it." He let go of the cart to run a hand through his disheveled dark black hair. "Besides, I want to be where you are, so that means I have to go to Hogwarts, correct?"
She laughed as his green eyes twinkled at her; she knew that he was aware that Hermione was not going to pass up the chance to actually graduate from Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. "Harry, you do know me too well. I'm just so glad that Professor McGonagall and the school's governors decided to repeat last year, so that those of us who were not able to attend could graduate. I am going to have so much studying to do for my N.E.W.T.s; I'll drawl both of us up homework and study schedules after the first day of classes."
Harry chuckled at the excitement in her eyes; the sparkle in her golden brown eyes had been missing for months so seeing it return meant a great deal to Harry; he would follow her to Hogwarts or anywhere else for that matter if it made her happy. "Yes, well, if we are going, we had better board the train."
She nodded and followed him as he pushed their cart through the barrier between platforms nine and ten and onto the magical platform 9 3/4. As soon as the two of them stepped through the barrier, they were blinded by the flashes of cameras snapping their pictures. Reporters began to blurt out questions, and Hermione started to feel herself overwhelmed as the media closed in around them; she felt Harry take her hand and pull her as he roughly pushed the cart through the reporters. He helped her up onto the train and turned to make sure their luggage was loaded. He jumped up onto the train and saw Hermione motioning him into a compartment. He quickly made his way to her and pulled the door shut behind him, smiling when he saw who was in the compartment with Hermione. "Hello, Neville, Luna." Harry said greeting his two friends.
"Hullo, Harry." Neville said standing up to shake his hand. "How are you?"
"So, so, you?" Harry said, sitting down next to Hermione who was starring out the window, watching the students board the train.
"Well, you know it's been a really rough past couple of months, but on a good note, the healers at St. Mungo's may have found a new treatment to try on my parents to reverse the effects of the Cruciatus curse that Lestrange used against them."
Hermione turned her head to look at Neville when she heard this. "Neville, that's wonderful. That's the best news I have heard in such a long time."
Luna nodded dreamily and reached over and linked her fingers with Neville's. "Yes, well, I had suggested they try brewing Harklorks wings but Neville's gran did not seem too keen on that suggestion."
"Harklorks?" Harry asked, but Neville shook his head to discourage Harry from asking too many questions.
Hermione smiled, happy to be with their friends again; she was also happy to see that Neville and Luna were together as a couple. "So, do any of you know who the Head Boy is going to be this year?"
Harry shook his head. "No, but I wish it was me, so we were not separated. I owled McGonagall about it several times, but she has not responded, except to say she was considering the matter."
The compartment door burst open and Harry turned his eyes lighting up at the sight of the person standing in the entrance way. "Hello, Ginny." Hermione said, smiling at her red hair, freckle faced friend.
Ginny's smile had faded when she opened the door and saw Harry. "Hello, guys. I was just looking for a place to sit, but since this compartment is full. I'll go elsewhere." She abruptly turned and left.
"Shit." Harry said, getting up and taking after her. Hermione sighed; her heart aching for both of them and the pain she knew her friends were feeling.
Harry caught Ginny, by her arm, a few feet from the compartment; the door was left open so unfortunately, Hermione, Luna, and Neville had no choice but to overhear their confrontation. "Ginny, please, stop running the other way every time you see me." When she wouldn't look him in the eyes, he cupped her chin forcing her to look him in the eyes. "Is the sight of me really so repulsive?"
She shook her head and choked out. "No, Harry; it's just with Ron gone now; I can't look at you and not think of him, think of how much I miss my big brother." She wiped the tears from her eyes that were forming. "I can't do this, please leave me alone." Harry stepped back from her and let her go; he turned to go back into the compartment and froze at who was leaning against the entrance way to their car smirking. "What the hell do you want, Malfoy?"
Draco Malfoy grinned, his silver eyes dancing with amusement at Potter's obvious agony over his broken relationship with the Weasley girl. "Oh, nothing, Potter, it's just nice to see you lose at something once in a while. Maybe now that she's free, I'll have a go with that fiery little vixen."
Harry drew his wand and snarled. "You'll stay away from her, Malfoy. She's been through enough without you trying to use her."
Malfoy pulled out his wand, but he did not point it at Potter; instead, he twirled it between his two hands, still smirking. "Yes, well, I wouldn't want to bed your sloppy leftovers anyway, Potter."
Harry growled and went to launch himself at Malfoy, but Hermione was suddenly standing in the aisle between the two of them. "Harry, don't. He's just trying to goad you into fighting with him; he's not worth it. Come on, sit back down." Hermione pleaded.
"Oh, yes, Potter, please by all means, hide behind the skirt of your little Mudblood." Malfoy spat.
Hermione turned and glared at the tall, blond boy, who was at least half a foot taller than her. "Go to hell, Malfoy. Why are you even allowed to return this year?"
He appraised the girl, whose brown eyes were shining with fury at him; her cheeks were flushed with anger. "Because of my assistance to your side at the end of the war, I was given a full pardon and my record wiped clean."
"What?" Harry seethed. "If it wasn't for you, Dumbledore would not have been killed a year and a half ago."
Draco's eyes narrowed. "Yes, well, as I said, full pardon. Anyway, I have to get going, there are many lovely young ladies I need to reacquaint myself with, possibly I'll track down that red head later." Draco quickly moved out the compartment before the hex Harry threw at him, hit him.
Hermione motioned for Harry to sit back down in the compartment. He moved in and took Hermione's seat next to the window. Luna watched his face, seeing the sadness filling it. "I wouldn't worry too much, Harry."
"Huh?" Harry asked, coming out of his thoughts.
"I said I wouldn't worry too much. Ginny is like my shoes." Luna said, her wide eyes barely lifting from the upside down copy of her father's paper the Quibbler she had in her lap.
"Ginny is like your shoes?" Hermione asked bewildered.
"Yes, every year students hide my shoes, but in the end they all find their way back to me." Luna said finally raising her eyes to meet Harry's green ones.
He felt a small smile pull at the corner of his mouth. "Luna, I wish that was true, but I do not think Ginny can live with Ron having died because he was standing at my side against Voldemort; she blames me even if she wont' say it."
Hermione's brown eyes darkened at the defeat she heard in Harry's voice. She knew his heart was broken over Ginny's decision that she couldn't start dating him again. Hermione understood that Ginny was still grieving the loss of her big brother, but Ron would not have wanted her to give up her relationship with Harry. "Yes, well, Harry, I've said this more times than I can count over the past nine months, but her reasons are rubbish. You would gladly have laid your life down for Ron, and he wanted to be by your side. He knew the risk he was taking, just as I did, and we both wanted to be at your side, fighting for what we believe in, fighting for everyone's freedom from Voldemort's oppression."
"Here, here." Neville said in agreement with Hermione. "She's right, Harry."
Harry nodded, still miserable. "I knew it was going to be hard seeing her again after not seeing her for six months, but I had no idea it would feel this horrible." He leaned his head against the window and sighed sadly.
Hermione reached over and took his hand in hers and squeezed it gently. He did not turn to look at her, but she could see a small smile curve up his lips. She decided they needed to change topics. "So, do you think the castle will look any different with all the repairs that needed to be made from the final battle at Hogwarts?"
Neville nodded. "Gran told me she talked to an old friend, whose son was the head of the reconstruction project and the castle was rebuilt the same way with a few modifications specified by the Head Mistress. I guess they also put some additional architecture out around the grounds, some gazebos and a bench near Professor Dumbledore's grave."
"Wow, I can't wait to see it." Hermione said earnestly; she had missed school so much last year, when she had traveled with Harry and Ron destroying the Horcruxes. The final battle had come around Christmas time at Hogwarts; Voldemort and his followers had breached the castle grounds. The students had stood at the windows casting hexes and curses down at the Death Eaters, but Voldemort managed to blow open the castle doors and storm inside. The Order of the Phoenix was waiting inside and an incredible battle blazed. Hermione shivered as she remembered; Harry, her, and Ron had fought their way through the Death Eaters, until Harry had found himself face-to-face with Voldemort. Voldemort had cast the killing spell, Avada Kedavra, but Harry had dodged the attack. Ron, however, was not so lucky when Bellatrix Lestrange had thrown the same curse at him; Hermione blinked away the tears that always threatened when she remembered seeing his empty eyes as he lay on the floor. She had turned and killed Bellatrix herself, and she realized she had never felt one ounce of remorse for ending the life of the woman, who had taken the boy she loved as a brother and maybe even a little more than that away from her; Bellatrix had also been responsible for the death of Harry's godfather, Sirius in their fifth year.
"Hermione?" Neville asked interrupting her thoughts.
"Huh?" Hermione asked, blushing realizing she had been in a daze and missed what ever Neville had said to her.
"I was just saying that whatever you did with your hair; it looks fantastic, not that it didn't before." Neville said.
"Oh, thank you. I went to spa in France over the summer; Harry took me to get me away from everything. They had this beauty treatment center and they put this spell on my curls so that they lay in soft ringlets and will never frizz again; once a year I just have to recast the spell." She said running her fingers through her long hair.
Harry reached over and tugged at one of her curls. "Shouldn't you be going?"
She nodded sadly. "Yes, I am supposed to go meet the Head Boy and other prefects. Are you sure you'll be okay?"
Harry smiled at her. "Yes, I will. You won't be gone long, and I'll catch up with Neville and Luna, while you're gone."
Hermione returned his smile and said her goodbyes to her other two friends before heading down through the train and into the large compartment set aside for the Head Boy and Girl, along with the schools prefects. She opened the door and was shocked by who was inside. He turned and gave her a dashing smile; she smiled in return. "Blaise, I'm so glad you are the Head Boy. I was afraid when it wasn't Harry that it might have been Malfoy."
Blaise shook his head. "It should have been, Draco. But, after everything that happened, McGonagall decided not to give him the spot; I even argued with her about it, but she said I could take or leave the position but regardless of my decision, Draco would never fill the position. When I talked to him about it, Draco told me to stop being a git and take the position."
Hermione nodded and sat down across from him. "Wow, Malfoy not being a completely selfish prat, who would have imagined."
"Granger, you shouldn't talk about people, who you know nothing about." Draco said coldly, as he leaned against the door frame of their compartment, his arms crossed.
"Oh, I think I know a lot about you, Malfoy. You're a spoiled, malicious, self-absorbed ass." Hermione said glaring at the other boy.
Blaise glanced back and forth between his best friend and the pretty young witch; the tension between the two of them was so charged, he was afraid the compartment might explode. "Easy you two, Draco is a prefect this year, Hermione, so you two are going to have to get along."
"Hermione? Blaise, since when do you call this Mudblood by her first name." Draco asked raising an eyebrow at his best friend, whose dark skin seem to flush slightly at Draco's comment.
"Since, nine months ago, when this horrible war killed my mother and her latest husband, leaving me an orphan; suddenly, their ideals that got them killed didn't seem so important anymore." Blaise said finally, his voice quiet but firm.
Draco saw his friend was serious, so he shrugged and came to sit down next to him. "Well, don't expect me to go all soft on you, Granger. I still don't think you are good enough to lick the dirt off of my shoes."
"Rot in hell, Malfoy." Hermione hissed, but any further retort was cut off by the door opening and the rest of the prefects filing into the compartment, crowding onto the two seats. Hermione did not miss the look of loathing Malfoy gave her when someone bumped him causing him to lurch forward and his knee brushed against the bar skin of her exposed leg. She rolled her eyes and addressed the group, telling them that their first meeting would be tomorrow night where she would hand out schedules for everyone's rounds. She smiled when Blaise told them that he and her would take the first set of rounds tonight; he reminded them that being a prefect was a privilege and they should not abuse it by using their authority; she smirked as he said the last part giving his best friend a meaningful look out of the corner of his eye, but Malfoy merely yawned as if bored. The meeting was soon over and all of the prefects left except Malfoy, who seemed to be in no hurry to leave.
"Hermione are you going to stay here and hang out with us for the rest of the ride?" Blaise asked hopefully, ignoring the disgusted look Draco was giving him.
"No, sorry Blaise, I promised Harry that I would come back and sit with him as soon as our meeting was over." Hermione said rising and smoothing out her cream colored khaki skirt.
"Yes, after all, poor Potty can't be left alone for a few minutes, now can he?" Draco said viciously, examining his hands as if they were a fine piece of artwork.
Hermione scowled at him. "What would you know, Malfoy about what he's going through? Both of your parents are alive, and your dad is going to be released from prison in another three months, just in time for you to come home and have a happy Malfoy Christmas reunion, but Harry has lost everyone he loves but me, so yes, we do not like to be apart from one another for very long." Hermione scathed, before turning on her heel and storming out of the compartment.
Blaise looked at his friend, who was staring out the door Hermione had just left through. "You know, mate, you could try being a little nicer to her; she's been through a lot the past year."
"I don't care what she's been through; she irritates me with her know-it-all attitude and condescending mannerisms." Draco said, his eyes darkening.
Blaise laughed. "Sounds to me like perhaps you like her more than you let on."
Draco looked at Blaise horrified. "Don't ever insinuate that I would have any interest in a Mudblood ever again. The very thought makes me need to go to the loo and heave up my breakfast."
Blaise laughed and then teased. "Alright, buddy, I won't mention your crush on Hermione again."
Draco glared at his best friend, but the nasty response he wanted to give was interrupted by a group of girls coming into the compartment to flirt with the two of them. Draco tried to hide his annoyance at the flighty girls, who were obviously trying to win his affections, did they really think someone like him would be interested in such shallow, brainless bints. He scowled and decided to get up and go find someone to irritate, instead of being the one who was irritated.
He rose to his feet and pushed some dark haired girl off him, who had tried to wrap her arms around his neck. Blaise gave him a pleading look, but Draco chuckled. "You're Head Boy, you can deal with them." He quickly left the compartment and made his way down the train in the direction Granger had headed. His eyes narrowed when he came to the car where Potter's compartment was; he paused outside the compartment, the door was open a crack, so he was able to hear the conversation inside.
"Well, I hope Luna and Neville find the witch with the candy cart; I've got a major case of the munchies." Hermione said, patting her stomach.
Harry laughed and reached over to squeeze her nonexistent fat. "Yes, well, you could use an entire cart of candy; you're still way too thin."
She smiled. "I thought boys like girls that were stick thin."
"No, we like a girl with a little meat on her bones so there is something to keep us warm when we hold her at night." Harry said seriously, knowing his best friend was really self-conscious about her physical appearance.
Hermione laughed as Draco tried not to gag at the conversation. He wondered if Potter and Granger were dating now that the Weasel was dead and his sister wanted nothing to do with Potter. Hermione's voice cut through his thoughts. "Harry, are you going to be okay with me staying in the Head's dormitory? Because, if you don't think you will be, I'll give up the position and stay in the Gryffindor girls' dorms."
Harry reached and arm around Hermione's shoulders and pulled her to him, so that her head was laying on his shoulder. "I told you not to worry about it. I'll just come sleep over when I miss you too much."
Hermione laughed. "And, where will I stay if you're sleeping in my bed?"
"Why the couch of course? Unless you want to go snuggle up with Zabini." Harry teased.
Hermione laughed again. "No, Blaise is just a friend, besides I think he's seeing that Greengrass girl. You know most of those purebloods would never ever consider dating a muggleborn witch, like me."
Draco decided this was the perfect time to interject himself into their conversation. He flung open the door and glared down at the two of them in their intimate sitting position, with Hermione's head on Harry's shoulder as his hand absentmindedly stroked her long brown curls. "How right you are, Granger; no self-respecting pureblood would taint his good name by associating with filth like you."
"Malfoy, why don't you sod off?" Harry asked with disgust at having their conversation interrupted by his least favorite person.
"Yes, Malfoy, don't you have anything better to do than eavesdropping and interrupting our personal conversations?" Hermione asked annoyed.
Draco grinned at his success in getting under her skin. He plopped down on the bench across from the two them, smiling maliciously. "Actually, I think when you're talking about my best mate, I think it does concern me, so let me lay it out for you Granger, you may be Head Girl and share a dormitory with Blaise, but you will not attempt to flirt with him in any way shape or form because if you do, you'll deal with me, Mudblood."
Hermione shook her head and laughed. "You arrogant, prat, do you really think I am afraid of you?"
"You should be." Draco said rising and leaving the compartment, irate that she had dared to laugh at him.
"What a toad!" Hermione screeched when she heard Malfoy slam out of their car. Harry comforted her, nodding in agreement. He had really hoped that Malfoy would not be there for their last year of school, but apparently, nothing ever went the way they planned. He settled back into his seat to take a nap for the rest of the trip; he grinned when Hermione pulled away from him and opened a very large book to read for the rest of the trip. He dozed off and did not stir even when Luna and Neville returned with their treats.
A/N: Thanks for reading, please review.
Sneak Peek of the next chapter:
Draco Malfoy, like everyone else had watched this exchange between Hermione and the newcomer, but he was the only one who seemed bothered by it. He leaned over to Blaise. "Did you know anything about this guy?" Draco asked his best friend, who was also watching the new guy at the Gryffindor table.
Blaise shook his head. "No, this is news to me, but he and Hermione seem awful chummy don't they?"