DISCLAIMER: I do not own Harry Potter.
A/N: Picks up straight from DH, ignores the epilogue.
"That wand's more trouble than it's worth," said Harry as he turned to the door. "And quite honestly, I've had enough trouble for a lifetime."
Hermione smiled as she followed Harry and Ron out of the Head's office and descended the stairs, heading straight for the Gryffindor Common room. "It's really over, isn't it?" she asked. "We can finally breathe freely, do what we want to do."
Ron gave a sad smile and said, "Yeah, I suppose we can. I just wish Fred were here now, to know it's actually over."
Hermione took his hand and gave it a squeeze. "There's Remus and Tonks, too."
"Don't forget Snape," murmured Harry. Ron looked disgusted, but Hermione nodded.
"He really was on our side, after all, wasn't he?"
"Yes. Which reminds me: I need you to watch his memories sometime tomorrow so that you can back me up at his trial. With him being dead he won't be able to do it himself. You'll understand his motives better after you've seen them."
Hermione could tell that Ron didn't much like the idea of delving into their old Potions Masters memories, but Hermione knew it was necessary. "We'll go after we've had some sleep and cleaned up. We'll have to go to Madam Pomfrey sometime tomorrow, too. I don't know about you, but my body feels like it's on fire."
"All I want is a sandwich and bed," said Harry as they stood in front of the Fat Lady. She swung forward without even waiting for a password and when they had climbed in Harry said loudly, "Kreacher!"
There was a loud crack as the blood-stained house-elf appeared before them, bowing low to the ground. "Master called?"
Harry knelt down so that he was level with Kreacher and laid a hand on his shoulder. "I want to thank you again for telling us about the locket and for what you did tonight. As a reward, I want you help yourself to whatever you want from Grimmauld Place."
Kreacher's eyes sparkled, his breath hitching in his throat as he grinned widely, before bursting into tears similar to that night, so many months ago, when they had given him Regulus' locket. "Thank you, Master Harry! Kreacher is the happiest he has ever been since Master gave him the locket! Is there anything else you is wanting, sir?"
Smiling, Harry asked for a plate of sandwiches. He bowed low again to Harry, then Ron and, to her complete surprise, Hermione. "Thank you Masters and Mistress!" Then he disappeared again.
Harry got up and sank into his favourite armchair by the fire, sighing in relief. Hermione and Ron followed suit, equally sighing as they made contact with the soft cushions, savouring the silence after all that had happened the night before. After about ten minutes, Kreacher arrived again carrying a large tray littered with an assortment of sandwiches, biscuits and chocolate. There was also large jug full of pumpkin juice, as well as a few bottles of butterbeer and three goblets. After they said their thanks the elf went again, they each grabbed something from the plate, chewing hungrily. Ron sighed again as he stuffed a sandwich whole in his mouth, "I 'uf 'Ogort's 'ud."
Hermione, who was usually good at interpreting Ron's broken sentences, swallowed her mouthful and asked, "What?"
"I think he said he loves Hogwart's food. You're getting out of practice," chuckled Harry.
"Who doesn't love Hogwart's food? It's just as good as Mrs Weasley's," Hermione stated, mentally adding, Maybe even better.
The boys nodded in agreement as they helped themselves to a goblet of juice, draining them in one. Hermione wondered if they were thinking the same as her, What happens now? School and fighting were the only things she knew and, like Harry said earlier, she had had enough trouble to last a lifetime. She just wanted a quiet life, to be able to do something beneficial to those who need it without the imminent threat of death hanging over her head.
She was sure that with Kingsley as the new Minister for Magic she would get a million job offers without the need to finish her education, but she wasn't sure if that was what she wanted. At the end of her sixth year she had already said her good-byes to the castle, sure that she wouldn't be able to return, but now that she was back, despite everything that had happened there, she knew that she wasn't quite ready to leave again. It was a familiar place, somewhere that she could call home.
"What do we do now, then?" she asked, finally voicing her question.
Harry looked down at his hands, obviously deciding how best to phrase his answer. "I'm going to speak to Kingsley again after I've had some sleep. He's already offered me a job at the Ministry, but before I accept I need to help fix this place so people can come back in September. Then there are the trials for the Death Eaters and funerals. Basically, it's going to be one heck of a summer."
"I was thinking about going into the shop with George," Ron told them. "That's if he decides to keep it open. I know I always said about being an Auror but I don't think I could hack it, not after this year. And now Fred's…Well, George will need all the help he can get." Ron gulped, his eyes shining with unshed tears. When he was sure that he wouldn't break down he looked at Hermione and asked what she was planning on doing.
"I think I might come back here to do my last year. If McGonagall will have me, of course."
Harry nodded, knowing she wouldn't pass up an opportunity to finish her education, but Ron laughed, making her frown. "What's so funny?"
"Why would you want to come back? You could have any job you wanted, we don't need N.E.W.T's because we've had more than our fair share of experience. You could even carry on with the house elf thing."
"I know I could, but I still want to finish here. There are things that we haven't learnt that they teach in seventh year and I promised my parents ages ago that I would make them proud by getting the best possible grade I can…" She trailed off, thinking about her parents. They were still in Australia, as far as she knew. She made a mental note to ask Kingsley about it later.
Harry abruptly stood up, "I'm going to bed. I'm exhausted." He winced as he stretched his arms above his head and clutched his chest where Hermione supposed he had been hit by the Killing Curse. She and Ron stood up too and followed him to the staircase, the boys going through the door that led to the boys dormitory, Hermione going through to the girls'.
Hermione knew she needed to clean herself as she looked at her bed longingly, but she got as far as taking off her shoes and socks before she collapsed on top of the duvet and fell asleep immediately.
Fresh Water Plimpy =]