Author's Note: Please be gentle as this is my first attempt at writing any fiction let alone fan fiction since school. Please review and let me know what you think.
Disclaimer: I'm obviously not J K Rowling if I was then I'd be too busy spending my money to write fan fiction
The Great Hall
Hermione smiled as she looked around the Great Hall. They had been back at Hogwarts for a month and the simple pleasure she got from the routine was immense. The stress of being on the run, hunting down Horcruxes and the final battle was replaced with the simplicity of studying for her NEWTs. Hermione was more than happy to take a back seat this year. She had passed up the opportunity to be Head Girl. Prior to the insanity of the past few years being Head Girl had been her ultimate ambition. Now she wanted nothing more than to revel in her lack of responsibility. Besides Hogwarts couldn't have had two more compatible heads in Neville Longbottom and Hannah Abbott. It was good to see others shining in the spotlight, something the so-called Golden Trio were more than happy to pass on.
Hermione looked down Gryffindor's table. Ron and Harry had their heads together as always, planning their strategy for Quidditch domination this year. Ginny was busy carrying out an expressive facial conversation with Luna across at Ravenclaw's table. The four had decided not long after the battle that remaining friends was more of a priority than possible relationships between them. Besides, they had all agreed that pairing off so conveniently was a little too trite no matter how much the wizarding community seemed to clamour for it. None of them wished to remain romantically involved because it was a nice media story.
McGonagall cleared her throat "Could all seventh years stay behind please."
The Great Hall broke into chatter as the lower years glanced at their older counterparts wondering what the problem could be. Ginny stared over at Hermione who shrugged as non-plussed as she was.
The Great Hall emptied slowly much to McGongall's annoyance. McGonagall surveyed her top year, noticing the absent seats of those who had fallen in battle just a few months ago. A stranger to Hogwarts wouldn't have believed that these were students such was the age and weariness apparent in so many eyes. None of the petty squabbling that had attached themselves to previous years was visible with this particular year. Not even the animosity which raged inevitably between the Gryffindor and Slytherin houses from the year dot was traceable. Very surprising when you considered the bad blood that had gone before especially between Harry Potter and Draco Malfoy. Both young men were currently sitting quietly with a patience that had never been part of their make up. Potter no longer felt every injustice with such burning passion and Malfoy's perpetual arrogant sneer had disappeared. Indeed McGonagall had been heartened to see a small thawing between the two house leaders which had been taken up by their friends. Nothing more than a small nod of acknowledgement but more than she could ever have hoped for two years ago.
It was such a shame that this attitude hadn't seeped into the younger years of their houses. Nothing, it appeared, could stem the petty in-fights that kept breaking out between the Gryffindor and Slytherin students from fifth years and below. McGonagall had reached breaking point just yesterday when a mass brawl had broken out in the Charms corridor. Several students had ended up in the infirmary. It was then that she had come to accept the rather drastic solution which she hoped that her seventh years could accept with a modicum of grace that would then filter through the lower years. Well time to get on with it.
"I'm sure it has come to your attention that despite the excellent example being set by yourselves and on a whole the sixth years, the rest of the school is having problems letting bygones be bygones," McGonagall started.
Hermione felt a shiver of unease as McGonagall's eyes flashed quickly to her. She saw what she thought was a little guilt residing at the back of them. Hermione shock her head slightly, sure she was imagining things.
"It is with this in mind that I have a rather melodramatic but necessary measure to help promote inter-house unity amongst the rest of the school." McGonagall could hear the shuffling as her students realised something not so great was going to be placed on them.
"I've decided that it would be beneficial for a member of both Gryffindor and Slytherin to switch houses for the rest of the term." McGonagall blocked out the gasps and whispered exclamations and continued on.
"Therefore would Miss Granger and Miss Parkinson please follow me to discuss the finer details?" On this note McGonagall swept down the Hall, motioning to both girls to follow her.
Everything seemed to be happening in slow motion as Hermione took in the reactions of her house mates. Ron and Harry had equal expressions of disbelief on their faces as she rose to her feet and gathered her belongings up in clumsy haste. She looked across the Hall and saw Pansy Parkinson mirroring her actions. They stumbled after McGonagall, both in too much shock to do much else.
In what felt like no time at all, Hermione and Pansy were in the head mistress' office facing McGonagall. The portraits were muttering amongst themselves. Hermione glanced up and saw the twinkling eyes of Albus Dumbledore gazing down at her. It was then that she realised precisely who was behind this hair brained scheme. Next to Dumbledore was a less than happy portrait. The sour expression on Severus Snape's face showed exactly what he thought of this idea.
Pansy whimpered next to Hermione "But Professor, I don't understand."
McGonagall sighed "Look I know this is very unfair to the both of you but frankly the situation in the lower years is getting out of control. We need to send a strong message that such behaviour is not acceptable. I cannot think of a better way of encouraging inter-house unity than in switching a couple of members into other houses."
Behind McGonagall's head, Dumbledore nodded in agreement "As tough as it may seem Miss Parkinson and Miss Granger, it was felt that the two of you would be open minded enough to cope with such a situation. You have both come so far over the last few months and we need two people with cool heads and tact to carry this through."
To his left, Snape snorted. Hermione found herself in agreement with her old potions master. She also disagreed with the idea that Parkinson was open-minded or cool headed. Her shriek during the final battle to hand Harry over to Voldemort forcibly came to mind.
As if sensing her thoughts, Snape looked at her and sneered "You're very quiet about this Miss Granger. No opinion to give for once?"
Hermione looked away from Snape and settled her steady gaze on McGonagall. "I take it there is no way out?"
McGonagall shook her head and gave Hermione a small smile. She knew she could count on her to take the news with dignity and make the best of a bad situation. "Sorry Miss Granger but my mind is made up. You and Miss Parkinson are to change places from tomorrow. You will effectively be a Slytherin, living in their dorms, sitting at their house table and earning them points and vice versa for Miss Parkinson."
Hermione sighed deeply and turned to look at Pansy who was shell shocked.
"I suggest you both go and pack. I encourage you to spend the last evening for a while with your house friends. From tomorrow you will both be encouraged to spend time with your new house. I won't have you slipping off for evenings in your former common rooms. I also ask for you both to sit with your houses in all lessons. Understood?" Both Hermione and Pansy nodded.
"Very well then, off you go," McGonagall said ushering both girls to the door.
She lent back in her chair in relief as the door closed behind them. Looked up at Dumbledore and said "Well Albus, I'm still to be convinced that your idea will work."
Albus smiled back "Give it time Minerva. I'm sure there will be fireworks but that these seventh years will surprise us all in the end."
Snape snorted once more and stalked off to his portrait in the Slytherin dungeons.