*Road To Acceptance*
~One: Welcome Back~

Welcome back, your dreams were your ticket out
Welcome back to that same old place that you laughed about
Well, the names have all changed since you hung around
But those dreams have remained and they've turned around

Welcome Back - John Sebastian

Hermione Granger

31st August, 7.22PM

Hogwarts Carriage

It never ceased to amaze me just how beautiful the Hogwarts Castle was. You would think that this being my seventh year and all, the 'magic' of the castle would have dimmed somewhat. Yet, I still gazed at it in awe, every time it came into view. It was beautiful and mesmerising. Welcoming and homely. And after all that had happened in the past, it had been the one constant reminder of better things to come.

A feeling of nostalgia overcame me as we entered through the great iron gates. It was sad really, that Harry and Ron had decided not to come back for their seventh year. After many tears, (on my part) and arguments, (on theirs), I had finally accepted that they'd had enough.

I guess I should have seen it coming, after all, education was never really their thing. Nevertheless, as I sat with Ginny and Luna, in our threstle drawn carriage, I couldn't help but feel like we'd lost part of our family.

Ginny, sensing my sadness, placed a comforting arm on my shoulder and pulled me into a hug.

"I know you're dissapointed that Harry and Ron aren't here. But don't worry, we'll have just as much fun," she soothed, "Just think, this is your last year. This is when all the fun really starts!"

I couldn't help but grin at her enthusiasm. She was right. Without the threat of danger looming over the castle like it had for my last 5 years of schooling, this year at Hogwarts was set to be interesting.

~..*..*..*..*..~

Hermione Granger

31st August, 8.01PM

Great Hall

The emptiness of the great hall tugged at my heart strings. I hadn't been naïve enough to believe that everyone would be returning after all the had happened here, but the sparsely filled tables and empty chairs were actually quite depressing. I looked down the Gryffindor table. Old and new faces were scattered along the long table. We seemed to have had the most students return. Probably all of that Gryffindor courage or something.

I was seated next to Ginny, who was chatting softly with Luna.

"I didn't expect to see them back," I heard Ginny whisper tartly. Luna murmured in agreement and I watched as their gaze travelled across the room and landed at the Slytherin table.

Muddled into the small collection of younger students, were three very familiar faces.

Pansy Parkinson.

Blaise Zabini.

Draco Malfoy.

All three were huddled together, seemingly in deep conversation. I was surprised to see their usual well-groomed features were dull and unkempt. They looked so....desolate. I almost felt sorry for them. It was hard to remember that there were two sides to every story. And even harder to remember that there had been two sides to the war. I didn't agree with what they'd been fighting for, but I could appreciate that they'd lost a lot aswell. Friends, family and most importantly, respectability. It had been rumoured that numerous families had gone into hiding. No one wanted to be associated with Voldemort anymore. It really made me admire the select few Slytherins that had the courage to come back. Violence and despair did funny things to people.

Suddenly, Draco glanced up, our eyes meeting. His eyes bore into mine. It sent chills up my spine. I tried to give a weak smile, Dumbledore's last pleas of the importance of 'wizarding unity,' resonating in my mind. All I received was a dark scowl and I knew one thing was for certain.

Time hadn't changed a thing.

The war may have been over, but the hatred still remained.


A/N: Hi, I'll make this quick! This is a slightly editted version of 'One Last Chance'. I've decided to combine an older half finished story with this one. You probably haven't read it, but it was called Stolen Moments.

This story will be alternating between point of views. Hermione's and Draco's.

Please review! Critiscm, Thoughts and Suggestions are all appreciated! And all will be returned :)

Thanks,

Rain.

P.S - If anyone has any better names, I'd love to hear them :)