Harry Potter and the Grimoire of Darkness
Disclaimer: Harry Potter and all associated characters and places do not belong to me. If they did Harry and Hermione would have been dating since 4th Year
Chapter 7: The Sorting Hat's Prophecy
"You said it looked more solid this time?" Hermione looked at him worriedly.
Harry nodded. "Yes, it looked like a material creature instead of a phantom. But there was the same smell as before. And the same coldness and feeling of evil."
"At least we know the patronus works against it," Hermione said. "But I've got a bad feeling about all of this, Harry. The sooner we get the chance to research this thing the better. But for the moment we need to get to the Prefect's meeting."
The two friends were heading back to the compartment where the prefects were already gathering.
"Left it a bit late, haven't you?" Harry asked. "We're almost at Hogwarts."
Hermione shrugged. "I didn't want any discussion, Harry. This meeting is just to set policy for the prefects. I thought it best just to keep it short and avoid any arguments, especially with the Slytherins. Holding it now there's no opportunity to get bogged down in unnecessary details." She looked at her friend apologetically. "I'm sorry, Harry. I should have talked about this with you."
"It's okay," Harry assured her. "I'm still new to all this, so I'm quite happy for you to take charge. You know you'll always have my support."
"Thanks Harry!" Hermione gave her friend a brilliant smile, just as they entered the compartment reserved for the prefects' meeting.
This compartment was larger than usual, reminding Harry of those in the V.I.P. section of the train. Even so, with six prefects from each House it was quite crowded.
As the two friends entered everyone turned towards them. The Gryffindor prefects grinned and gave them thumbs up signs, although Ginny looked disgruntled at seeing them together. The Slytherins were noticeably hostile and Malfoy and Parkinson glared at the two Head Students.
"All right, everyone," Hermione began. "We'll be arriving shortly so I'm keeping this brief. In fact there are just two points I need to make."
"You surprise me, Granger!" The sarcastic drawl of Draco Malfoy interrupted her. "I was sure you'd have at least a dozen!"
The other Slytherins sniggered, but Hermione ignored both them and Malfoy's intervention.
"The first is that any new rules introduced last year under the Carrows are now rescinded." Hermione paused, studying the prefect's faces. The Slytherins were clearly annoyed but everyone else looked pleased, although the announcement was hardly unexpected. "A copy of the new rule book is available for each of you in your dorms and you are advised to study it carefully. I expect the Senior Prefects to assist new ones in getting the hang of their duties."
Hermione paused for a second as everyone heard the screech of brakes and felt the train begin to slow down.
"My second comment is that I expect the rules to be enforced as written," Hermione continued. "But in doubtful cases I also expect you to err on the side of leniency. Harry and I will be reviewing all punishments handed out by prefects and any hint of favouritism or victimisation will be dealt with severely."
"You don't have much to say, do you Potter?" Malfoy said sarcastically. "Granger already got you whipped, eh?"
Harry shrugged and gave Malfoy a mocking smile. "I'm quite happy to let Hermione handle things, Malfoy. She is the best student in the school after all. Unlike some people who were, what, never better than fifteenth in our year?"
Draco Malfoy glared at Harry for this reminder of his poor class performance but before he could say anything the train came to a halt.
"All right everyone, this meeting is now closed," Hermione stated. "We'd better all disembark and head for the coaches."
Hermione turned away, with Harry and Ron following only to be halted by another comment from Malfoy.
"What about my wand Granger?"
Hermione turned back to face him. "I told you Malfoy, I'll give it to your Head of House to return to you tomorrow."
"And how the hell can I be a prefect without a wand?"
"You're not the only prefect in Slytherin," Hermione reminded him. "I'm sure Hogwarts can survive without your immense magical gifts for one night!"
Harry and Ron were both chuckling at Hermione's retort as they followed her out of the Prefect's Compartment.
The three of them, together with Ginny and Luna left the train and joined the crowd of students already on the platform at Hogsmede.
Darkness had already fallen, with no hint of moon or stars under the overcast sky. As the five walked to where the carriages were waiting they heard a familiar voice.
"First Years this way. All First Years follow me!"
"Hagrid!" All five of them shouted the half-giant's name as they rushed towards him, pushing their way through the crowd of first years that surrounded him and were looking up at his huge frame in awe.
"Hello you lot," Hagrid's ruddy face lit up into a beaming smile as he caught sight of them. "Great to see ya all back 'ere. Lookin' forward to yer last year?"
Hermione nodded enthusiastically. "We certainly are Hagrid. I was wondering..." Hermione hesitated for a second before she continued. "I know I didn't take the first year of your NEWT class Hagrid, but is it too late to enrol for it? I'll make up the work I missed in Sixth Year."
Hagrid beamed even more. "Course yer can 'Ermione!" He looked hopefully at Harry and Ron. "What about you two?"
Harry exchanged a quick glance with Ron, who he could tell felt the same way he did. Both of them had missed Hagrid in Sixth Year but they did not relish the prospect of so much extra work.
"Come on, guys!" Hermione pleaded with them. "I promise I'll help you both catch up!"
Noticing the silent appeal in Hermione's eyes, Harry found it impossible to refuse her.
"All right," he said softly, and Ron nodded his reluctant agreement as well.
"Wonderful!" Hermione gave Ron a quick kiss on the lips then hugged Harry enthusiastically. He closed his eyes for a moment, breathing in the scent of her hair and the floral, slightly fruity perfume she was using.
Hagrid chuckled. "You two are just putty in 'er hands, aint ya?"
Before either Ron or Harry could protest this, there was a flash of lighting overhead. Thunder rumbled across the darkened sky and heavy rain began to fall.
"Ye'd better head fer the coaches before yer all get drenched," Hagrid shouted.
The five of them hurried away as lighting flashed again and the downpour increased.
"We're gonna get soaked!" Ron moaned.
"Oh no we won't!" Drawing her wand, Hermione swept if round in a circle over their heads. "Impervius Enclosum!"
Instantly the rain stopped falling on them. Looking up, Harry saw the raindrops bounce of an invisible barrier about two feet above their heads. Rivulets of water were running down what appeared to be a hemispherical dome surrounding them. But it clearly did not impede the passage of solid objects as several people brushed against them, running towards the coaches to escape the rain as the five companions walked at a more sedate pace.
"Brilliant spell, Hermione!" Harry grinned at her as he made the compliment and she smiled back shyly, her face flushing a little at his praise.
"Oh yes, Genius Hermione at work again!" Ginny muttered. "We should all kneel down and kiss her arse!"
Harry darted an angry glance at his girlfriend, but she stubbornly ignored him. Looking at Hermione, he could tell by her stiff posture and the studiously composed expression on her face that the words had hurt. He decided then to confront Ginny about her attitude as soon as he got the chance.
But there was no opportunity for that just then. They came up to where the couches were waiting and after a brief search found one that was empty.
Harry, Hermione and the two Weasleys hastily got in trying to avoid looking at the thestrals. They had all seen people die during the Battle of Hogwarts and did not want this reminder of it. Typically, Luna was completely unfazed by what made everyone else uncomfortable and gazed dreamily at the spectral winged horses.
"Sorry Luna, there's only enough room for four," Ron apologised. "Looks like you'll have to find another coach."
"Oh I don't think that will be necessary, Ronald!" With these words Luna promptly settled herself on the redhead's lap.
Ron's ears turned as red as his hair and he coughed uncomfortably. Harry glanced quickly at Hermione who was seated next to him, wondering how she would react to another girl being so familiar with her boyfriend. Hermione was frowning at the blond Ravenclaw and for a moment Harry feared there would be trouble. Then she just shrugged and looked away and Harry guessed she had just accepted it as part of Luna's eccentricity.
"There seemed to be quite a lot of First Years," Harry remarked, trying to find a safe topic for conversation, as the carriage started moving.
"Yes," Hermione agreed. "There must have been at least fifty."
"Never known there to be so many Firsties before," Ron chimed in.
"Some of them looked a bit older than eleven," Hermione observed. "I expect a lot of parents were too afraid to let their kids come last year so they're coming now instead."
"Hope there'll be enough room then." Ron looked concerned.
"I expect they'll just double up the first and second year dorms," Hermione replied. "If the extra First Years were students who didn't enrol last September that means the Second Year Class will be smaller than normal, so it shouldn't be a problem."
"That's if there are any dorms to start with," Harry said worriedly. "The last time we saw it Hogwarts was practically a ruin, Gryffindor Tower especially. How could they repair everything that quickly?"
Ron shrugged. "Magic mate! Wizarding building methods are a heck of a lot faster than muggle ones."
"I don't really know much about wizarding construction techniques," Hermione said thoughtfully. "It just never occurred to me to study that."
"It didn't?" Ron stared at her in mock horror. "Not knowing something about magic? Hermione, I'm shocked!"
"Oh shut up, Ron!" Hermione chuckled good naturedly at his teasing.
"I just hope they used properly charmed mortar in the repairs," Luna said. "Otherwise Hogwarts might become infested with Andorian fire-weevils and we wouldn't want that!"
"Um, no Luna, we wouldn't." Hermione agreed uncertainly.
Taking a powder compact from her pocket, she snapped it open and proceeded to check her make-up. Harry noticed though that her shoulders were shaking slightly, and he realised Hermione was trying desperately not to laugh.
As the carriage passed through the boar-headed gates that marked the Hogwarts' grounds, Ron leaned out of the window and whistled softly.
"Those wizard repairers have done a bloody good job!"
Everyone crowded round to look out. The dark mass of the distant castle loomed majestically against the night sky, it's imposing edifice outlined in a thousand points of orange light shining from the numerous windows. Lighting flashed again and Harry gasped at what it revealed. Hogwarts looked exactly as it had done when he came here as a First Year, it's soaring towers and parapets showing no scars or evidence of the battle that had almost destroyed it. It seemed impossible to credit that the castle had ever been so badly damaged.
Within minutes the carriages had come to a halt outside the castle entrance. Other groups of students dashed inside to avoid another drenching, but thanks to Hermione's spell Harry and his companions were able to accomplish their return with a little more dignity. Ron, Hermione and Luna headed straight into the Great Hall but Harry pulled Ginny to the side.
"What is it, Harry?" His girlfriend asked him curiously.
He took a deep breath. "Ginny, will you please leave Hermione alone!"
She stared back at him coldly. "I don't know what you mean."
"You know exactly what I mean," he retorted. "All those little slights and insults you're throwing at her. It's got to stop, Ginny!"
She glared at him furiously. "And just why are you so concerned about her?"
"I'm concerned because she's my friend!" Harry met her glare calmly. "I don't like my friends being abused."
"If you're so anxious about your precious Hermione, maybe you should date her instead of me!" Ginny snapped.
Harry snapped right back at her. "Well if she wasn't going out with your brother, maybe I would!"
The instant Harry spoke those words he regretted them. Tears filled Ginny's eyes and her face was white with shock. Without saying a word she brushed past him and slowly made her way into the Great Hall.
Harry followed, his mind in turmoil. He didn't know what had made him say that, but he realised it was true; were it not for Ron he would jump at the chance of being Hermione's boyfriend. But now he feared that instead of resolving the tension between the two girls he had just made everything worse.
As Harry entered the restored Great Hall, his mind was drawn away from these problems for a moment. The Hall looked as magnificent as ever, lit by a thousand floating candles that hovered over the four student tables. Overhead the bewitched ceiling added to the illumination as lighting from the storm lit up the darkly overcast sky. At the far end of the Hall he saw the teachers' table on it's raised platform. McGonagall sat on the golden throne at its centre and seated around it were the other teachers, most of whom Harry recognised. Flitwick was not present but he saw Hagrid, Sinistra, Sprout and several others he knew but whose names escaped him. He was surprised to see Horace Slughorn as well and he noticed a slender, dark haired man of about forty who he assumed must be the new DADA teacher.
Approaching the Gryffindor table he saw Ron and Hermione sitting together and gesturing to him to take an empty space opposite them. Sitting where his friends had indicated, Harry found himself next to Neville Longbottom.
"Nev!" Harry extended his hand to the slayer of Nagini. "Good to see you back here!"
"Hello Harry!" Neville smiled shyly as he shook hands.
"Hey Harry!" Looking round he saw Seamus Finnegan sitting a few seats away next to Dean Thomas. "Great to see you back here mate!" Dean called out.
Harry grinned and waved at them. He wondered where Ginny was and found her several places away down the opposite side of the table, next to Lavender and Parvati. He tried to catch her attention but she stubbornly ignored him.
Harry sighed, wondering how long this particular quarrel would last. But he had no time to worry about that because Professor McGonagall had risen to her feet and was calling for silence.
"Professor Flitwick," The Headmistress called out in the suddenly hushed Great Hall. "You may bring in the new students now!"
The doors at the far end opened and the diminutive Charms Professor entered, followed by a crowd of First Years, most of them taller than he. Every eye was on Flitwick and his entourage as they progressed forward to stand in front of the Staff Table. Motioning them to remain where they were, Flitwick darted to the side and brought out the battered Sorting Hat and a three-legged stool. Placing the Hat on the stool he stood to one side.
The silence in the Great Hall was almost palpable as every eye was fixed on the Sorting Hat. Then it suddenly twitched into life, twisting itself upright. A tear like a mouth opened near the brim and the Hat began to sing
In ancient times, in days of yore,
there lived four wizards bold.
Who thought to build a magic school
their secrets to unfold.
Brave Gryffindor, fair Ravenclaw,
the wisest ever seen.
Sweet Hufflepuff, sly Slytherin,
of dark and cunning mien.
Here each a House they founded,
where their protégées should dwell.
And then at last, to make the choice,
created me as well.
But 'ere I point you to the place,
where heart and soul aspire.
I'll take a moment to digress,
and give this warning dire.
Of recent strife, you're all aware,
there's little need to tell.
The Chosen One fulfilled his fate
and so Tom Riddle fell.
But cease not from your vigilance,
all danger has not passed.
New darkness gathers at the door,
more dreadful than the last.
Against this fearsome enemy,
old tactics cannot win.
The Chosen One himself must fail,
and so the outlook's grim.
Yet hope remains, for someone new
steps forward to the mark.
A bright young witch, our Champion
to stand against the Dark.
A witch indeed, let none deny,
'though foul in many's sight.
Of learning great, of wisdom deep,
of matchless magic might.
The Chosen One's companion true,
through many a trying year.
His hope, his guide, his confidant,
his rock and friend most dear.
And now together both must stand,
upon the brink of doom.
Have courage, gather all your strength,
for the trials that follow soon.
With this I've told you all my tale,
there's nothing left to sing.
Step forward, set me on your head,
let the Sorting now begin!
As the Sorting Hat fell silent all the students began whispering excitedly, trying to make sense of what they had just heard.
"Silence!" The Headmistress commanded and the whispering died down. "Continue, Professor Flitwick!"
"Each of you will step forward as I call out your names," Flitwick instructed the new students in his squeaky voice. "You will sit on the stool, placing the Sorting Hat on your head and it will sort you into your House."
Opening a long scroll, he began to call out names.
A dark haired girl stepped forward nervously. She sat down on the stool and put the Sorting Hat on her head.
"RAVENCLAW!" The Hat shouted.
Applause and cheers rang out from the Ravenclaw table as the girl made her way there.
The Sorting continued but nobody near Harry at the Gryffindor table was paying any attention. Everyone was focused on one particular student. Harry saw Hermione look uncertainly at her housemates as she realised everyone nearby was watching her.
"What is it?" she asked. "Why is everyone staring at me?"
A/N This chapter has taken much longer than I expected. Apologies to people I promised in review replies to have it up earlier. This was much harder than I expected but I needed to get this chapter right, as it's crucial to the story.