A week later the five friends were sitting in the great hall at a special table designated for eighth years waiting for the rest of the students. Luna was sitting at the table since she was under their protection and living with the four eighth years.
Harry was very quiet looking within and thinking, "Five of the most powerful families are sitting at this table and we are all aligned." Looking at Draco across the table, he had the Malfoy Crest on his robe since his father had stepped down and made him the Lord with himself as Lord Advisor. Neville's uncle had also stepped down at his sister's urging and Neville was not only Lord Hufflepuff but also Lord Longbottom. Thinking of his own robes he smiled to himself. On his chest was the Gryffindor crest, on his right sleeve was Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff and Slytherin on his left sleeve was Potter, Black, Malfoy, Longbottom, Prince, Dumbledore and McGonagall among others. His left sleeve was full from top to bottom.
Of course so were just about all of their robes, His and Hermione both had Dumbledore through right of conquest, Minerva had pledged hers to them and of course the rest were all more or less family. Draco had a few that he didn't and so did Neville but by them being pledged to them they were also pledged to Harry through their own pledge.
The first meeting of the Wizengamot was going to be very interesting. They controlled it with votes and were planning on stirring things up big time.
Hermione put her hand over Harry's that was lying on the table. "What are you thinking about?"
"The fact that life is getting ready to change once again and how much power we as a group control. I also wonder what the school will think when they see us all in our formal robes with all of our crests."
"They are going to be shocked and then jealous before wondering about what we are up to," drawled Draco.
The whole group nodded, "it should be interesting to say the least," Neville added and then looked up as they heard the trampling of feet leading from the entrance.
Hermione sat up straighter and put on her 'I can do this' face as did the rest of the group. Minerva was meeting the students at the entrance before letting them enter the main hall and explaining about the eighth years having their own table. What was also going to surprise the returning students were the expanded head table there were more teachers than ever.
Just as Hermione was getting ready to chew on her bottom lip the door opened and the students began filling the great hall. Ron was half way through the door when he stopped and stared at the head table before continuing across the hall to the eighth year table where once again he stopped and stared.
Harry smirked while Ron turned bright red and went to the furthest end of the table away from the group already sitting. Draco snorted trying to hold in his laugh at Weasley and Luna just started giggling. Hermione just watched to see what he would do, but soon her attention was caught by how quiet the hall had become. Hermione looked around and realized that all of the students were staring at their robes and the different crests.
Within minutes the noise level started increasing again especially as those in the know began explaining to the rest of the students. Harry reached down and took Hermione's hand as they both watched; Neville did the same with Luna's.
Once everyone was seated professor Snape walked in with the first years and once again there was total silence as they all stared at the Slytherin crest on the front of his robe along with all of the family crests down his right and left arm.
The first years seemed to take a long time to be sorted as the group watched on. Of course this was one of the biggest classes to ever be admitted. By the time the sorting was finished, Slytherin had gained twelve new students, Ravenclaw eleven, Hufflepuff sixteen and Gryffindor the fewest at ten for a total of forty nine new students. The most surprising of the sorting was that a set of twin Muggle-borns had been sorted to Slytherin while Blaise Zabini's youngest sister went to Gryffindor; No Zabini had ever been any place but Slytherin.
Blaise, who was sitting next to Draco, just shrugged, "She always was different than the rest of us. Guess we know why now."
Hermione had to laugh; they had gotten to know Blaise over the summer and knew that Blaise would still love his little sister even if she was in Gryffindor. Ron at the other end of the table was sneering and couldn't wait to give the poor girl a hard time. Being who and what he was, he took no notice that others were all too aware of his sneer.
Dinner was a lively affair with several of their year friends talking up and down the table and everyone catching up with what had happened over the summer. As the meal was ending Colin Creevey slowly limped over to their table where Harry quickly slid closer to Hermione so that he could sit.
"I just wanted to thank you for thinking of my mom when the job came open; she was struggling with letting Dennis and I return. Especially, since I'm still not up to my normal standards yet. She felt much better letting me return when she could come with us."
Turning to Blaise: "I'll help keep a watch on your sister for you Mr. Zabini."
Blaise stood up and came around the table and bowed to Colin. "Thank you Mr. Creevey, the House of Zabini appreciates your help and considers it's self in your debt."
Colin who had been talking with Harry and the rest stood up also and bowed the best he could. "Thank you Mr. Zabini. The Creevey family accepts your pledge and thanks you."
All around the hall you could hear more whispering, many of the students thought that things would become more like a Muggle school and were shocked by the formality. Taking another look around they saw that all of the Professors were dressed in formal robes and began to wonder what the year was going to hold.
With dinner finished Minerva stood up to address the students and introduce the new Professors. "This year the eighth year students are free to come and go as they please. We just ask that you sign in and out with your head of house. Seventh year and below will only be allowed off grounds for scheduled Hogsmead weekends. We have several new classes this year and those that were not born in the Wizarding world will be taking Wizarding Studies and those that were born in the Wizarding world will be required to take Muggle studies. As always you will receive your schedules tomorrow morning during breakfast from your Head of House. Prefects, please show the first years to their houses, eighth years please stay behind so that we may speak with you for a few minutes."
The eighth years watched as the younger students left the great hall. Minerva and the professors moved down from the head table and conjured some comfortable chairs in front of the eighth years.
"Good evening Ladies and Gentlemen, as you can see many of your fellow students are in formal robes as well as the Professors. Things are going to be very different this year. First of all, you will all be expected to act as adults and also as assistants to many of the professors. Since there are only fourteen of you, I will offer you to decide who you would like to assist with. I'm afraid that Defense, Potions, Herbology and Transfiguration are already taken. I would like to see someone that knows something about each class to become the assistant I also want to let you all know that Miss Lovegood is being considered an eighth year and will be helping Hagrid with Care of Magical Creatures.
Ron stood up quickly and demanded to help the flying professor.
"Mr. Weasley, if you can control yourself I might just allow that now sit down and behave yourself." Minerva sneered.
Harry and the rest of his group had to hide their grins because Minerva was channeling Severus big time. Severus also had a hard time keeping from grinning because she really did have the sneer down. Lucius and Cissy had no problem with laughing and proceeded to laugh long and hard while Ron's ears got redder and redder.
Once Minerva finally got Cissy and Lucius to stop laughing she turned to rest of the group. Susan Bones stood up and bowed to Minerva, "Headmistress I would like to offer my help to whoever is teaching Wizarding Studies or Wizarding History, I would be happy with either."
Minerva stood up and bowed back to Susan, "Miss Bones, which would you prefer? Professor Malfoy will be teaching the Wizarding Studies class for the upper levels and Mrs. Andromeda Tonks will be teaching the lower levels along with some of the Wizarding Law classes."
"I would be happy to help either or both. I think that this is going to be a wonderful year and can't wait for it to start. I only have one question: if we are helping how are we to take our classes?"
"Since you are all further along in some classes then others we are going to have you take a series of tests in the next few days. Many of you will take your classes are a more independent type study and only be in an actual class room for tests or if there is a portion of the class you don't understand we will be available to the eighth years from 7:00 to 10 p.m. every night. If we see several students having the same questions we will set up some study groups.
Those that are continuing in potions will be doing your actual brewing on Saturdays. The rest of your work will be done totally outside of the classroom for that class."
Lavender stood up and followed Susan's lead and bowed and waited to be acknowledged. "I wonder about Divination, will it be offered this year? I heard that Professor Trelawney has retired."
"That is correct, the Professor did retire. We are going to allow anyone that thinks they have the ability to see to be tested by the Department of Mysteries. If you are a true seer we will provide special services to help with the ability."
Lavender seemed to think a minute. "Can we make a decision about who we would like to work with later this week?"
"Yes you can Miss Brown. I don't expect any of you to make the decision today unless you know there is something you are really interested in.
"Now you are all in your old houses, except for those that have asked for special housing. I expect each of you to be very polite to your new dorm mates and to help with the younger years. I will not put up with any hazing or picking on younger years. If I find anyone has been rude or does anything that is not appropriate I will not hesitate to suspend you. I am not going to allow some of the things that have been allowed in the past and I expect this group to help promote the change first.
"Are there any questions? If not please head to your dorms. Remember, this is a year of change. Most of you will leave this year with your NEWT's and at least a start on your apprenticeships."
Minerva watched as Harry and his group stood up and bowed to Minerva and said good night. Watching the group stand others at the table did the same and headed for the door. Ron was the only one that shoved his way out without showing any respect to the professors.
Ron shoved past Harry and his group and bumped Luna rather hard as he went by, Neville quickly grabbed Ron's robe and halted his progress. "Mr. Weasley, you will apologize to Miss Lovegood for shoving her."
Ron started to pull his wand until he saw Professor Snape standing behind Neville. "Is there are problem here Lord Hufflepuff?"
"No, there is not. Mr. Weasley was just getting ready to apologize to Miss Lovegood for bumping into her Lord Slytherin."
Ron sneered and turned to Luna, "apologize for bumping you."
Before he could stomp off Professor Snape stopped Ron in his tracks by drawling out, "That is not a proper apology, please bow to Miss Lovegood and do a proper apology. After you complete that you will go to your dorm I will expect you in my office at 7:00 a.m."
Ron knowing he had to do it correctly turned and bowed to Luna, "Miss Lovegood, please accept my sincere apology for bumping you."
He then turned and moved quickly away from the group while rest of the eighth years stared in surprise at Harry and Hermione watching quietly as someone that used to be their best friend moving away from them without saying a word.
Neville turned to Professor Snape and bowed. "Lord Slytherin, please accept my thank you in your help with that mater."
The Professor bowed to Neville and the rest of his group, nodded his head and moved towards the dungeon while once again everyone else around the group stood with their mouths hanging open, wondering what in the world had they just watched.
Lavender was the first to find her voice, "What in the world was that all about?"
Hermione looked back at Lavender and smiled before moving away. This started everyone to talking while they watched Harry, Hermione, Neville, Luna and Draco move up the stairs.
Once again Lavender was the big mouth. "Where are they going? I thought we were supposed to go to our dorms. Malfoy should be heading to the dungeon."
Blaise laughed out loud and smiled a smug smile before heading towards the dungeon. The year was getting interesting and the first day of classes hadn't even started.