Disclaimer: Anything you recognize belongs to the wonderful J.K. Rowling. I am not making any money off of this.
Background for story: I follow everything that happened in DH except the epilogue. I borrow some info from J.K. about what happened to people after, what they did with their lives, who they end up with, etc., but ignore other things. Like the fact that Hagrid doesn't marry Madame Maxime. What is that? That probably won't even come up in the story. So just so you know, if it never gets mentioned, Hagrid marries Madame Maxime.
Author's Note: This story is going to be written very oddly. First and foremost, it is a writing in progress, although I do have the entire thing outlined (and no matter what, no matter how long it takes me between updates, I promise NOT TO ABANDON IT).
Second, it is a story about regular, everyday life. There will be conflict, of course, between the characters, but unless I have a change of heart between now and the ending, I do not expect there to be any huge climactic (literal) battle between good and evil. If you are looking for that, you will not find it here (probably).
Third, I planned at first on writing this as a one-shot. That's because I'm really horrible at writing out full-fledged stories. I get my ideas for stories in these flashes of scenes, and I try and figure out how I'm going to flesh it out, but I get so excited about getting to the good parts I brush over the other stuff. But if you're writing a full-fledged story, the other stuff is important. It's not going to be a one-shot, though, because if it was, it would be really, reaaaalllllyyy long. And that's pretty annoying to read.
Fourth, I am going to write this like I get my ideas for stories. In flashes. And I'm going to have different points of view. Of all different characters (but not a crazy amount. At least three. No more than…five, let's say). But it's not going to be split up evenly. And some chapters will be shorter than others to make those different points of view understandable. And I am going to skip periods of time between chapters. So…things might get a little weird. It's not going to read like your typical novel, let's say.
Think you can handle that?
Good. If you've made it this far, I have faith in you. Hope you enjoy.
Hermione's eyes filled with tears as the train left the station, waving out the window at Ron and Harry's increasingly smaller faces. Then the train turned the corner and they were out of sight, and she had to close her eyes and bite her lip to keep the tears from falling. She was being stupid. She should be excited! She was going back to school! Going back to Hogwarts, finally, which had been painstakingly restored during the summer months and was now fit for students to once again grace its halls.
But Ron and Harry wouldn't be with her, and it was the strangest and saddest feeling in the world. Kingsley, who had been officially given the title of Minister of Magic three weeks after the Battle of Hogwarts, had made an exception to the rules governing acceptance into the Auror Training Progam. If you fought in the battle, you would be granted automatic acceptance into the program instead of needing to return to school and earning the five required N.E.W.T.s.
Ron and Harry of course immediately took advantage of this and had been accepted into the program at the beginning of June. Many other students Hermione knew did the same thing, including Dean, Seamus, and Padma Patil. But she personally had no desire to become an Auror. As she had once told Ron during fifth year, she wanted to do something which would allow her to take S.P.E.W. further, and she was beginning to form an idea as to how that could be done. As such, she would need to return to Hogwarts for her seventh year and take her N.E.W.T.s. But the thought of returning to school without her two best friends was…overwhelming, to say the least.
"Hermione? Are you okay?"
She realized she was still standing at the window, staring blankly out of it. She turned to Ginny, now one of the few close friends she would have at Hogwarts, and smiled.
"Yes, I'm fine. I've got to go to the Prefects Compartment and give orders. I'll catch you up later, okay?"
Ginny nodded, although still looked a bit worried, and Hermione made her way to the front of the train.
When she entered the compartment, she found a friendly and welcome face waiting for her. "Neville!" she exclaimed, and ran up to embrace him. He grinned back at her happily, and she stepped back to study his face.
She hated how war changed people. Even though their side had won, they had suffered many losses, and you could always see it in people's eyes. People would smile at you, and they might be truly happy, but you could see a slight deadness in their eyes that was frightening. You could tell, if a person had that look, that they had seen terrible things. Neville's eyes had that look.
"Hermione! It's good to see you. How have you been?"
"Good," she replied. "Enjoying watching Ron and Harry work harder than me for once in their lives."
He laughed. "Well, that'll be changing soon, won't it? N.E.W.T.s will probably have us working just as hard as them, even if they are in Auror training!"
She couldn't help but marvel at the joking manner with which he mentioned N.E.W.T.s. Two years ago, the mention of any kind of test would have had Neville quaking in his boots, but now he was talking about the most important test he would ever take and making jokes about it! Despite the hardships he had had to endure during his previous year at Hogwarts, they had definitely strengthened him for the better.
"Unfortunately, you're probably right. By the way, sorry for asking, Neville, but…what are you doing in here?"
"Oh! I was made Head Boy." His smile lit up his entire face.
Hermione was somewhat taken aback. After all, Neville hadn't even been a Prefect! But she supposed it wasn't all that unbelievable. Considering the return Prefects Professor McGonagall would have had to choose from, Neville was definitely the best candidate. "Really? That's amazing! Congratulations! Er…Where's your badge?"
He rolled his eyes at himself. "Where else? Lost it, of course. McGonagall's giving me a new one when we get to school. My Gran's really proud of me though, didn't even get mad that I'd lost it!"
Hermione smiled. "Some things never change." And she was glad for it.
McGonagall rose, and the chatting between students died away. Hermione put down her fork slowly. She had barely eaten anything all dinner.
"Before I send you off, I have one more announcement to make. We have one more addition to our staff this year, although she is not a Professor. Her name is Ms. Oblenio, and she is a magical therapist."
A middle-aged woman in dark blue robes rose, smiling and waving to the students. There was a smattering of confused applause.
"For those of you who do not know what a therapist is, it is someone who helps people by talking with them about their problems or any trauma they may have gone through."
A few students laughed. Hermione tapped her chin thoughtfully. This was strange. She had never thought about it before, but she had never heard of anyone in the magical world having any mental problems that were not inflicted by magic. If a person got depressed, they simply took a potion. She had never heard of a magical therapist before, because other problems like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder seemed only to occur in muggles, so there was no need. She wondered why this woman had gone down that path. She must have some sort of background in muggle studies, otherwise she never would have heard of such a thing. She should try and stop by the library tomorrow and see what she could find.
"Students who participated in, or had family members that participated in, the Battle of Hogwarts will be required to attend therapy sessions twice a month. These will take place in the evenings and will be in Ms. Oblenio's office on the second floor. Your Heads of House will give you your first assigned meeting times. If you have any questions, please direct them at your Head of House. Now, it is time for bed. First years, follow the Prefects of your House. They will direct you to your common room."
Hermione looked over at Ginny, her eyebrows raised. Ginny looked like she had just swallowed something sour.
"Therapy sessions?" Ginny spat out the word as if it had offended her.
"Yes," she murmered, "it does seem a bit…unusual, doesn't it? But I suppose it's to help everyone…"
"I don't need help. And neither do you. None of us do! I can't believe this. We all fight in the war just as hard as they did, and now they're just going back to treating us like children? Making us talk about our feelings? I don't want to talk about my feelings!"
Hermione looked sadly at her friend. She would never say it, at least not while Ginny was angry, but she had to disagree. She felt that Ginny needed help more than others. Ginny was one of the strongest people she knew, but the only person who had taken Fred's death harder than her was George. And Ginny definitely wasn't talking about it, at least not to her. And probably not to Harry either. As much as Hermione hated to admit it, Harry wasn't the bestperson to go to if you wanted to talk about your feelings. And knowing Ginny, she probably wasn't even trying since he was so busy with Auror training. She wouldn't want to burden him, or something silly.
"Maybe it won't be so bad."
"Well, I've got to go help the first years. Neville probably forgot the password and they'll all be stuck outside…"
She got heavily to her feet and started making her way through the crowd until she heard someone familiar calling her name.
She turned around and felt her heart lift. "Hagrid!"
He enveloped her in a rib-crushing hug. "Sorry I haven't been 'round ter see you recently, but I've been busy here fixin' up the castle. How're you holdin' up?"
"Well, but I'm surprised by these mandatory therapy sessions we'll have to be attending! Whose idea was it?"
"Dumbledor's, o'course! Who else do you think woulda come up with a ruddy muggle way to help out you lot?"
Hermione was momentarily confused, then remembered Dumbledore's portrait which hung in the Headmistress' office. She wondered if there would ever be another Hogwarts Head which did not seek his advice. Of course, he and Professor McGonagall had been particularly close, and as able as Professor McGonagall was, relating to students wasn't exactly her forte. She grinned up at Hagrid.
"Fancy comin' 'round my place this Friday afternoon for a cuppa? You could bring Ginny and Neville as well."
"That sounds lovely."
Hermione lay in bed, staring up at the canopy. She could hear the sounds of Parvati and Lavender's breathing in the quiet darkness, and felt another sharp pain of sadness when she thought of what tomorrow morning would bring. Although she had become friendlier with Parvati and Lavender after the war (and they had become slightly less silly), they still weren't close. And even though she and Ginny confided in each other, Ginny still had her own friends from her year. Although she probably didn't feel as lonely as Neville. He was in his dormitory by himself!
In fact, the number of seventh years who had returned was very small. Herself, Parvati, Lavender, and Neville from Gryffindor, which had the most. Ernie Macmillan, Susan Bones, and Hannah Abbott from Hufflepuff. Michael Corner and Anthony Goldstein from Ravenclaw. And Draco Malfoy, Pansy Parkinson, and Blaise Zabini from Slytherin.
The fact that the last three had returned to Hogwarts had caused quite an uproar, at least at the Gryffindor table. Ginny had threatened on more than one occasion to go punch Malfoy in the face, and Hermione had to admit, she had restrained her half-heartedly. She had not had any contact with him since she had testified against his father and on his behalf in front of the Wizengamot in mid-June.
She had been relating the details of her, Ron, and Harry's time at Malfoy Manor, of how Lucius had tried to have Draco identify them but he had not. Whether it was because he honestly did not know or he was reluctant to say, she had not tried to communicate. Harry, strangely, seemed to think that despite their haggard appearances, Draco had just not wanted to admit who they were. Hermione hoped he was right, of course, because it made Malfoy seem slightly less detestable, but the tight-lipped "thank you" he had given to her and Harry after the trial hardly seemed adequate (Ron had refused to testify). That was the third time they had saved his life, after all, including the two times during the battle. But Harry, who had matured so much it almost made her sad (sad that he had been forced to grow up so quickly, they all had been forced to grow up so quickly), had shook his hand, said "you're welcome", and walked away.
Hermione usually tried to be the bigger person. But it was so hard with Malfoy. After everything that had been done and said between them for seven years, a thank you for not sending him to prison wasn't much of an effort on his part. But she supposed it was a start. They had all been told by Professor McGonagall that they were going to have to learn to forgive each other and move forward. And it was her duty as Head Girl to set an example.
She sighed. She really needed to get to sleep. Classes started tomorrow, and she had a feeling it was going to be a long day without Ron and Harry beside her.
Author's Note: So, interested?