AN: Here I am, drinking lukewarm green tea. And I have been contemplating exactly which story it was to work on today: the Dramione? The George/Luna? Maybe try and start on the OC/Harry that I could not continue for the life of me last week. Instead, I decided to scrap each of those ideas and start on the poll-winner, The Eighth Year. I KNOW. It's been done a million times before, and I KNOW, there's enough Dramione being shoved into everyone's heads already. HOWEVER. I have quite a few interesting little bits to this story that you haven't seen before. It's going to have a few different levels to it. Of course, Dramione romance. Then some Ron darkness, and some struggling. Harry is going to find solace in a very surprising partner, and that can only mean interesting things for the-boy-who-lived-a-billion-times. A significant plot twist towards the end threatens Hermione's happiness, and her continuation at school. If this goes well, it'll be probably fifteen chapters, if it doesn't, I won't hesitate to scrap the whole thing and re-write it under a few different conditions. The only reason I'm doing this for this story is because it's a wayyy overused idea, and I have plenty more original ones sitting around waiting to escape. Alright. So, these are the longest notes ever, BUT. I've basically already given you a nice description. So that's taken care of. Alright. Enjoy!
Harry Potter sat at the kitchen table of the Burrow. It had been almost two months since the end of the war, and he'd spent every waking minute enjoying a painless scar on his forehead. He sipped at his tea and sighed. He'd be starting Auror training soon, but for some reason it did not feel as significant as it had before the war, before he'd defeated Voldemort. Where was the final goal? What was there to defend against? He picked up the paper, and set it down again. News of Voldemort's defeat was gone, but the trickle of articles that followed had not - "accurate" recounts of the event, "accurate" mini biographies of important figures involved - all of course, by the pesky nitwit Rita Skeeter. The paper was barely worth reading most days now, besides a clip or so of Kingsley Shacklebolt building the new regime of Wizard equality. Again, he sighed. Ron was just coming down the stairs now, at almost eleven. Molly was in the garden, Arthur at work. Ginny was off somewhere else, and Hermione would be arriving to stay for a few weeks, in just a few minutes. As he reminded Ron of this, the ginger quickly retreated back upstairs to ready himself. Harry rolled his eyes, he'd never seen his best friend even remotely concerned with his appearance until Hermione was mentioned.
Hermione arrived just on time, as usual. The whole of the Weasley family - recent tenant Percy included - gathered in the sitting room to receive her. She threw her arms around everyone in turn, spouting stories of her summer and her family and friends back home. She spent the most time connected to Ron, of course, and Harry groaned audibly when he realized he would be losing his best friends to each other very soon. At least they were happy. Ginny had joined the group, and she managed to sneak her way around the circle so as to be standing next to him. This was his first happy moment of the day, as he dropped his arms from being folded and non-chalantly grabbed her hand. He could catch her smiling out of the corner of his eye, and that made him feel better already.
The next day was July fifteenth. The golden trio, plus Ginny, Percy, and George, had spent many afternoons playing quidditch and attempting to find new things to do after the war. It felt as if time had stood still for all - now that there was no fight, what was going to happen to those who fought?
After a particularly long lunch, the group settled around the kitchen table. Another long afternoon awaited them, and quite frankly, any new switch in play would have been greatly appreciated. What they received, however, was more than they bargained for. Within minutes, there were scratches on the window. Expecting fan mail, as they'd been receiving quite a few letters of thanks and appreciation in the past months, Hermione tossed the letters, all tied together, onto the table. The owl pecked her hand affectionately and flew off. Once they'd stopped moving, however, they fell silent. This was not fan mail. Far from it. Ron untied the package and passed out the letters.
"Ginerva, of course... but also Harry... myself... Hermione... I don't understand."
The problem with the letters, unexpectedly, being that they were all from Hogwarts.
Mr Harry Potter
The Attic Bedroom
Ottery St. Catchpole
Dear Mr Potter
We are pleased to inform you that you have been accepted at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Please find enclosed a list of all necessary supplies and equipment. Term begins September first. We await your owl by no later than July thirty-first.
PS: Harry, please read the enclose letter. I'm sure this is a bit of a surprise for you, but I hope it explains enough for you. I look forward to seeing you at the start of term.
Harry, Hermione, and Ron:
I am guessing that the arrival of this letter must come as a bit of a shock to each of you. However, it is in my personal opinion, and in the Minister's as well, that the last year of education at Hogwarts lacked substance and any learning at all. Students are being required to return to Hogwarts to repeat this last year of schooling and take part in the vital learing they missed under the Carrows, or in your case, because you were on the run and on the way to defeating Voldemort. You three, as well as your other classmates in your year, will be returning as Seventh Years. Ginny and Luna will be returning as Sixth years, and so on. Kingsley Shacklebolt and myself are quite aware that most will not be happy with this decision, but hope that in time people will come to realize that it was a necessary step in the magical education of these children. I'm sure you can guess, by this time, that it means that there will be twice as many first years, in a technical sense, the repeaters from last year and this year's new set. I hope, for everyone's sake, that this all turns out nicely, but I'd really prefer that the three of you be on your best behavior.
Thank You in Advance,
It was, in fact, as if McGonagall herself had jumped from the envelopes and stunned them all personally. Ginny tossed her letter down on the table and left. "I hated sixth year classes..."
Ron simply gaped, Hermione seemed to be panicking about classes and books already, whispering names of books Harry had never even heard of to no one in particular.
Harry spoke first. "You do know what this means, then? Oh, and apparently I'm Quidditch Team Captain again. Wonderful."
Ron nodded. Hermione, shocked from her early preparations, nodded as well. "Yes, Harry. It means we're going back to Hogwarts. And I... I've been made Head Girl."
Ron finally opened his mouth for more than drooling. "And I'm a prefect again. Harry. What's going to happen?"
Harry took a deep breath and rubbed at his scar. Though it had not pained him since he defeated Voldemore, he still took comfort in remembering that it was there.
"We're going to go back to Hogwarts." He looked up at his best friends. "For an Eighth Year."
Days later, they were in Diagon Alley.
Ron, chewing a piece of what was from a very large bag of sweets, smiled. "It's weird, you know? Shopping for school things again. But, well, I kind of like it."
Hermione was already busy with books. She would, of course, have a full schedule for NEWTs, and had too much to think about to participate in normal conversation.
"I s'pose so. It's just strange." Harry squinted slightly, looking at the crowds around him. He spotted several more students with lists and letters of their own, each of them with the same puzzled expression as himself. They were quickly rejoined by Ginny, then by Luna and Neville.
Harry caught a short glimpse of a certain platinum haired Slytherin. His head was down, and he was walking alongside his mother, head hung as well. There were no chins up in the Malfoy family after all, but Harry, in his own nature, felt a little sorry for them. All in all, Draco had only done most of the things he'd done because Voldemort had forced him to, threatening his family after Draco had to take over for his father as a Death Eater. He had not, after all, killed Dumbledore. He had done some terrible things, yes, but in that moment, Harry realized that maybe it wasn't Draco at all, it was simply how he was brought up. Keeping his possibly absurd thoughts to himself, he pretended not to see, joining his friends for a nice break for lunch.
Ron and Ginny, perhaps, had the most fun that day. Because of Ron's efforts in the war and the takedown of Voldemort, the Ministry, under Shacklebolt's orders, paid everyone who fought a hefty sum of money, especially The Golden Trio. He's been buying top-of-the-line supplies all day, and his arms were full of bags of what he deemed "Necessary Investments" from various shops, almost none of which actually related to the task at hand - school shopping. They'd had to buy all new cauldrons, potions supplies, books, parchment, quills. They'd gotten rid of all these things before they'd left on their journey, thinking they'd never need them again. Harry grinned slightly when he realized they'd been wonderfully, hilariously wrong. He'd be returning to Hogwarts after all - his home. His worries of his future were put on hold, at least for a year - his thoughts about useless Auror training, no goals, no bigger picture, were over. He'd have a nice, long, 10 month school year to figure all of that out.
That night, the entire Weasley family (minus Charlie, who was back in Romania) plus Harry and Hermione squashed in around the table for dinner. They further speculated on the terms of their returning to Hogwarts - What would happen if they didn't return? Who would be teaching Transfiguration and DADA? And who in the world would be placed as Head Boy?
Before bed, the trio sat in Ron's bedroom and wondered even further. The entire concept was still a shock to them, but it was nothing compared to the whirlwind of a year they had ahead of them.
AN: Prologue - check. Chapter One posted soon? Possibly tonight. As I've been writing, new opportunities for crazy things to happen throughout the year have been popping into my head - the new teachers, changes around school, bringing smaller characters into the bigger scene - and I have to say it's going to be quite interesting. Some people might think a few of my ideas are a little strange, but that's kind of the point of FanFiction, isn't it?