A/N – UPDATES AS OF 02/09/16
So I'm editing this bad-boy. A lot. Re-reading it aged nearly 21 having started this when I was 16 I'm actually surprised how well it's held up! But it could do with a few tweaks, and I'll be editing the plot a bit too, hopefully to the point where I get myself out of the writer's block that struck me 2-3 years ago and I can finish this thing.
All edited chapters will be marked with (e) in the chapter title until I've edited all of them, so that in case anybody out there is reading along, they'll know if they get to a point I've not quite edited yet, and beyond there, there may lie inconsistencies between the original plot and my new one.
I really want to finish this time guys. I think I can do it!
The enchanted ceiling of the Great Hall twinkled over the heads of the many Hogwarts students, who were silent and had all their attention focussed on the front of the Hall. It was the start of another year and so, as was customary, the Sorting was taking place. A queue of nervous first years stood, shivering with either cold or fear, in the centre of the hall, in a line, waiting for their names to be called. Almost every student in the Hall watching the Sorting now reminisced about the time they too had donned the scruffy Sorting Hat, anxiously waiting its decision about which house they would be placed in, nervous and scared silly. One of those students was Hermione Granger.
Currently she was not looking at the front as her fellow students were, but she was gazing up at the stars above her, watching the thin grey clouds on the ceiling swirl and drift across it. She was daydreaming, most unusually for her, and she thought wistfully back to her first year, when things had seemed so much simpler, when she had befriended her two closest friends, Harry and Ron, and how this was the first time (disregarding their late entrance in second year) that she hadn't spent at least part of the start of term feast with them.
Hermione was snapped out of her reverie by the cry of the battered old hat currently being worn by a small, terrified looking blonde girl. She watched as the girl removed the hat and hurried over to the table at which she was sat, which was currently tumultuous with applause.
"Hermione, are you ok?" inquired Ginny Weasley, whose red hair stood out like a beacon in the sea of people in the Great Hall, as she was now the only Weasley left at Hogwarts.
"What?" she replied, slightly dazed. "Oh, no, I'm fine. Really," she added when Ginny looked doubtful, "I'm fine."
Concern still etched on Ginny's face, she turned back around to continue to watch the Sorting, leaving Hermione alone with her thoughts. This was the first time in her entire time at Hogwarts that she had felt truly alone, without Ron or Harry by her side. The only thing that came close had been when the pair of them had fallen out with her over the Firebolt in third year and at least back then they had still been in the castle with her. Now, the only person she had was Ginny, who was still Hermione's close friend, but she was no substitute for the boys. And now she felt empty, incredibly and unusually at a loss for what to do now she was at Hogwarts and the boys were gone wandering around the country.
Hermione had felt an all-consuming guilt because she hadn't gone with them, ever since the day they left after a long summer spent avoiding all talk about the future. Originally, the plan had been for her to accompany them in their hunt for Horcruxes, but Professor McGonagall's arrival at the Burrow in the first week of summer had changed everything. Of course, she knew almost nothing of what the trio had been planning, but she knew it was to do with defeating Voldemort and that they wouldn't be returning for their seventh year.
When McGonagall had pulled Hermione aside during her visit and asked her to stay behind she had complied almost immediately, such was her tendency to go along with what her teachers asked. But she had never really understood why the Order had wished for her to be parted from Harry and Ron and stay at school. The Professor had declined to answer and had merely said it was important, and after much consideration Hermione had reluctantly agreed. The Order knew what they were doing. They were older and wiser and had experienced war once before, she'd decided. But with every fibre of her being she was wishing now that she hadn't. What had possessed her to leave her boys?
Hermione heard "Zayne, Emily" be sorted into Hufflepuff, and then McGonogall removed the stool and the now silent hat from the Hall. The Headmaster rose from his seat, smiling, and spread his hands wide.
"Welcome, students, to a new year at Hogwarts! Before we begin our excellent feast, I wish to say a few things to you. First of all, there is a small change to timetabling this year- namely, the lack of Defence Against the Dark Arts classes, due to the lack of a Professor."
Dumbledore's face turned quite sad and quiet mutters greeted his words. There was a moment of silence while everyone in the hall respectfully acknowledged Professor Snape's death.
"Thank you all. Professor Snape was a brave man, and a good and loyal man also. Let his death show you all the dangers of meddling with Lord Voldemort, but how the strength of those who oppose him can be such that one is willing to sacrifice themselves for what is right."
Dumbledore's smile returned though it was a little weak, and his eyes glazed with tears.
"On a similar note," he continued, "secondly, and most importantly, I must advise you all that we are in the midst of incredibly dangerous and uncertain times; therefore it would be most prudent of us to now, more than ever, make an effort to stand together as one, unified and strong, even though our numbers may dwindle."
Dumbledore cast his twinkling eyes over the hall, and his smile dimmed. Hermione too looked round, and noticed for the first time that there were indeed fewer students in the Hall than was typical. While it was still almost full, there were many spaces between students on the Ravenclaw, Gryffindor, and Hufflepuff tables. The Slytherin table, she noticed with distaste, was still as full as normal. Perhaps the Purebloods thought they had less to fear.
"Consequently," continued Dumbledore, "this year we shall be placing particular emphasis on house unity."
At this point there was a large groan from the Slytherin table and the Headmaster paused to pass his blue eyes warningly over to the Slytherins and then to the Gryffindor table.
"In the spirit of this, I am pleased to announce our new Head Boy and Girl. This year's Head Girl, from Gryffindor, is Miss Hermione Granger."
Applause broke out across the hall and Hermione caught snatches of mutterings of "Should've guessed!" and "Well done, Hermione!" from her own table. She blushed and smiled. She relished the fact that she had been made Head Girl. It was one of the things that had made the idea of staying behind at Hogwarts bearable. Now, in the middle of a hearty round of applause, pride began to swell a little in her heart and she felt a little more normal. Routine and school and work would keep her sane. But she quickly realised she had no idea who the Head Boy was and who she'd have to work with for a year.
"And our Head Boy, from Slytherin House…"
A tidal wave of whispers broke out across the Hall, cutting Dumbledore off. Hermione felt sick. Heart pounding in her mouth, she heard the hissing murmurs cascade viciously around her, buzzing like bees, and as Dumbledore smiled and held up his hands for silence she prayed that it would be someone who would at least be civil to her.
"From Slytherin House," he tried again, "our new Head Boy is Mr Draco Malfoy."
Hermione's heart sunk. Instantly, there was uproar. It was a mixture of startled mutters, cheering from the Slytherins and loud booing from several angry Gryffindors. She chanced a glance over to the Slytherin table and saw Malfoy looking smug, having his back patted and hand shaken by many clamouring housemates.
Their eyes met. He winked at her triumphantly.
Mouth dry, Hermione waited for silence to descend again with her arms folded and her face stony. All around her, Gryffindors hissed angry complaints at their friends, looking as outraged as Hermione felt. She needed something to drink.
After Dumbledore silenced the crowd with several loud bangs emitted from his wand, he invited the students to begin eating. Food appeared magically on the plates. Hands shaking, Hermione poured herself a goblet of pumpkin juice, spilling much in the process, as Ginny turned to her.
"That slimy git!" she swore. "He must have bribed someone. I know Dumbledore is old, but he isn't senile. Bollocks to house unity, there's no way Malfoy is fit to be Head Boy."
Ginny's face was as red as her hair. Hermione was so angry she couldn't speak, and she picked up her fork only to play with her food.
"I mean, does no-one remember that he tried to kill Dumbledore?" she continued. "Or that he let a load of Death Eaters into the school? Have I gone crazy? Did someone use a Time-turner to undo all that or did Dumbledore actually make someone who tried to kill him Head Boy?"
All of a sudden, rage seemed to surge from Hermione like a volcano.
"How dare he? How dare he do this to me? He should have turned it down! He's probably never even considered being Head Boy, and everyone knows that I've wanted this since first year! Ernie Macmillan would be a thousand times better; he's reliable and trustworthy and responsible... In fact, anyone would be better than Malfoy. How can they think he's honest or… or worthy? He shouldn't even be allowed back in school! Why is he here? What were the teachers thinking?" she seethed, tears of rage in her eyes.
The anger began to melt into grief, and she slumped dejectedly onto the table, resting her head on her arms.
"I'm going to have to live with him for a whole year!" she lamented, voice muffled. "We'll have to have meetings and see each other regularly and actually talk… Honestly, this is ridiculous! What am I going to do?"
Forlorn, she looked at her friend. Ginny smiled weakly.
"There's nothing you can do, Hermione, not unless you want to give up being Head Girl-"
"He's not going to rob me of my position!" she declared indignantly. "This is what he wanted. I'll bet this is why he didn't decline being Head Boy; he enjoys making my life difficult and insulting me."
She sighed, defeated.
"At least you're Head Girl, you should be glad about that," Ginny said. "You've wanted this for so long, and as annoying as it is, you can't do anything about him... except maybe hope that he gets expelled before the end of the year. Until then, you'll just have to ignore him as best you can, and get on with being Head Girl. Don't let him ruin it for you."
Hermione placed a hand on her forehead and sighed deeply again.
"You're right. I just need to be mature about this. Although I seriously doubt my willpower when it comes to being civil and polite to Draco Malfoy," she replied.
At the end of the feast, when all the plates had been cleared, Dumbledore stood and spoke once more.
"I hope you have all enjoyed our feast which was, of course, as splendid as usual. Now, I think, it is time for bed. Prefects, please escort first years to their dormitories. Professor McGonagall would also like to speak to the Head Boy and Girl before they leave. Now, I wish you a good night's rest before lessons commence tomorrow. Goodnight to you all!"
There was a rumble of feet as all the students rose from their seats and began to file out of the Hall. Reluctantly, Hermione bid goodbye to Ginny and began to walk towards the staff table. She steeled herself to face her new roommate.
Pushing her way through the throngs of students moving in the opposite direction, Hermione tried to hasten towards the staff table, but in doing so bumped into someone in front of her and send them sprawling. Hurrying towards them to apologise, she placed a hand on their shoulder.
"I'm so sorry…" she began then stopped when she saw who it was.
Malfoy jerked away from her, sneering.
"Keep your hands off me, you filthy little Mudblood."
"Big words coming from a ferret, Malfoy," she replied coolly, feeling loathing bubbling up inside of her.
They glared at each other for a brief moment before continuing to the staff table.
"You better watch that mouth, Granger," he said, brow furrowed and eyes locked ahead of him. "You seem to be forgetting that we'll be living together for a year. I can make your life very difficult."
Hermione bit back a retort. She had to start being mature somewhere. Trading banter with this hateful young man would do nothing but make her furious. If she spent the whole year like that she'd be miserable. She stayed silent until they had reached the Professor.
"Good evening, the pair of you," she began, and didn't wait for a reply. "I'll make this quick as I'm sure you're keen to get to your dormitory. As I'm quite sure, the pair of you understand how important it is to the Headmaster and to the school that we are unified, this year in particular. Therefore, Professor Dumbledore is looking to you two and the prefects to promote this. He thinks it best that the prefect patrols be paired up boy-girl and inter-house, in the spirit of unity. Ravenclaws will be paired with Hufflepuffs and Gryffindors with Slytherins."
This revelation caused Malfoy to attempt an interruption, but one glare from McGonagall stopped him in his tracks. While Hermione was also not very impressed with this idea, it was a rule, and she'd follow it. She saw the logic behind even if she wasn't thrilled by it.
"This brings me to your first duty as Head Boy and Girl. The patrol schedule must be made up and the prefects informed of the new regulations, and so it falls to you to do these things. Is that clear?"
Hermione nodded vigorously, but Malfoy looked livid and not nearly as accepting.
"With all due respect, Professor, I really don't think this is necessary," he argued in a tone that suggested he was anything but respectful.
Hermione noticed that his eyes were cold and grey, like steel.
"With all due respect, Mr Malfoy, that is none of your concern."
Hermione smirked and bowed her head to hide it. Looking up, she noticed that Malfoy looked about ready to explode with rage. He was so used to getting what he wanted.
Without any further ado, Professor McGonagall gave them the password to their dormitory and then bade them goodnight. She turned and left, leaving a sour-faced Malfoy and a pondering Hermione. After a second, Malfoy stalked off wordlessly, hurrying so that Hermione had to run to catch up with him.
"I imagine it will be my job to draw up the schedule?" she asked in the most polite tone she could muster.
"You imagine correctly. I certainly won't be doing it."
Neither of them said anything more until they reached the second floor, having remained in uncomfortable silence for about five minutes.
"By the way, if you were going to do some 'lead by example' bullshit with these patrols and pair us together, think again. If you think for one second that I'll be patrolling with you, Granger, then you are mistaken." His voice was cold.
"As if I would ever do that to myself," she replied with a half-laugh before she could stop herself. "I plan to see as little of you as possible."
"Well isn't that a shame," he snarled, sarcasm dripping venomously from every word.
Stony, uncomfortable silence fell once more and wasn't broken until the pair reached a portrait of a lion and a serpent on the fourth floor that concealed the entrance to their dorm and Malfoy spat the password. Hermione was still irritated, but by now was just desperate to reach her bed and get some sleep. The portrait swung forward, revealing the cosy shared common room behind it. She pushed past Malfoy and entered.
For a moment Hermione was bewildered by the beauty of the room. It was stone walled, like all the rooms in the castle, but it was warm and inviting due to the merry fire blazing in the magnificent fireplace in the centre of one wall, which lit everything with a warm glow. The furnishings were a mixture of green and crimson, crimson rugs on the floor and green throws on the sofas, which somehow all worked together. On either side of the room were two hangings, one emblazoned with the Gryffindor crest and the other with Slytherin's. There were two mahogany desks covered with an array of stationary, and armchairs, sofas and tables, one topped with an ornate wooden wizard chess set, were scattered around the large room. One wall was covered by an enormous bookcase full of leather tomes that Hermione was already excited to delve into.
Directly opposite her were three wooden doors spaced well apart, raised on a slightly higher level to the rest of the room, so that there was a step. The centre one, Hermione guessed, was the bathroom, and she cringed at the thought of having to share it with Malfoy. The left was obviously Hermione's bedroom, as it had her initials carved into it. To her relief, Hermione noted that each door had a lock.
The entire room was breathtakingly beautiful and very luxurious. Malfoy, however, didn't seem to agree. Hermione heard him snort from behind her and mutter something about "nothing compared to the Manor." Without a word to her, he stalked towards his room.
"I suppose this means we have to be civil to each other then?" she ventured, knowing in her heart that though she had resigned herself to being mature, it was unlikely Slytherin's Prince would be up for the same.
Malfoy ignored her, still walking to his room. He opened the door, stepped inside and looked back out at her.
"Not if I can help it," he snarled, slamming the door closed.
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