Authors Note: Hello! Okay, so this is my first fanfic, and I'm a little bit nervous. Please be gentle, but I really do appreciate criticism and ideas! This first chapter may seem a little dry, but it's just so that I could try to set the scene properly. Also, I do not have a Beta yet, so please forgive any small errors on my part. Hoping to find a Beta soon! Anyway, please review and tell me what you think!
Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter, although I really wish that I did.
When Harry Potter decided to share the memories that Snape had given him with Professor McGonagall, he really had no idea what the result of this might be. The only thing that he wanted to do was convince the woman to allow Snape to be buried alongside of Dumbledore, something that she had blatantly refused to do without Harry providing proof that Severus had not murdered the man that she had so loved and respected, out of cold blood. Oh, Dumbledore's portrait had told her this, of course, but it is one thing to be told a thing and another to see it with one's own eyes.
And so, as soon as the new Hogwarts Headmistress had agreed to his proposal, Harry didn't give any of it another thought. If he had, then he might have noticed the thoughtful, and slightly disturbed, look that befell her face after returning from her glimpse into the past. There was something that Dumbledore had said that had particularly thrown her off balance.
You know, Severus, sometimes I think we sort too soon.
Sometimes I think we sort too soon.
Sort too soon.
Sort too soon.
The words echoed in her mind, dancing softly back and forth like some sort of demented lullaby. Minerva stared at the sorting hat in her office for hours, contemplating an idea as though it were a fine wine. Slowly swishing it about her mouth to get the real taste of it, understanding its many levels, and deliberating its worth. Breathing deeply, she craned her neck slightly to the left to see the portrait of Albus Dumbledore himself smiling down at her, his eyes twinkling slightly in a knowing fashion. Even as a painting, the man still seemed to know exactly what is was that was running through her mind.
She continued staring, waiting for some sort of guidance, until she thought he gave the slightest nod of his head before closing his eyes to sleep. With that, Minerva grabbed her quill and rolled it between her fingers, allowing one bemused thought to cross her mind before she set to work.
At this rate, people will think that I am as mad as the man I studied under.
Shaking her head slightly at the thought, she began to write with fervor. She had some rather important owls to send in the morning.
Hermione Granger was exhausted. Never mind the fact that she'd had a full 8 hours of slumber the night before, she was still every bit as bone weary as she was a week ago, when she had finally returned home from Australia with her parents in tow. The long, arduous journey searching for them would no doubt continue to weigh on her for days to come, but in the long run it was completely worth it.
Proof of this sat down at the table in front of her, glass of orange juice and muggle newspaper in hand. Hermione smiled warmly at her father and was about to ask what was for breakfast, when her fireplace roared to life and an irate Ginny Weasley began shouting Hermione's name from the sitting room.
"Mione!" Hermione winced at the name Ginny had adopted from her brother and Hermione's now ex-boyfriend. "MIONE!"
"Alright, just a moment!" she shouted back. She jumped up from her seat and, with an apologetic look towards her father, ran to the sitting room to answer her friend's cries.
The look on Ginny's face was enough to stop Hermione in her tracks and cause all of the blood to drain from her face. "What is it? What's wrong?" she whispered, wondering as soon as the words escaped her lips if she truly wanted to know the answer.
"Have you gotten an owl from Hogwarts, yet?"
Hermione opened her mouth to answer, but before she could a large barn owl flew through her window and extended her leg. Ginny nodded for her friend to take it, and read the news for herself. It took longer than it should have to remove the post, but her fingers were shaking hard out of fear for what it was she was going to read. What would have Ginny so upset?
Quickly as she could, she broke the Hogwarts seal and began to read. Hermione gasped and the letter fell to the ground with a heavy clunk, as Hermione stood petrified. It read:
Dear Ms. Granger:
As you have already been informed, due to the rather unique circumstances surrounding last term all students who were in their 7th year are being required to return to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry on September first via the Hogwarts Express. These students will merge with this term's 7th years to simply create a larger year and allow all students to complete their N.E.W.T. levels.
Additionally, this year we will be attempting a small experiment. Each student in this new, combined 7th year will be required to once again put on the Sorting Hat and be resorted into your Houses. Some students will remain in their previous House, while we suspect that many others will find a new home.
It is our hope that by doing this, it will promote House unity, as many students will likely be separated from those they have known for years, and will wish to continue this bond. In previous years, students have been allowed to challenge the Sorting Hat, and request or deny a certain House. This will not be the case this year, as many students would be likely to try to force themselves to remain in their previous Houses.
Please note that upon receiving this letter, and charm was cast to change the color and badge of your current robes to the Hogwarts crest and simple black. Do not be alarmed. Upon sorting your robes will change to suite that of your new House.
Additionally, Ms. Granger, I would like to congratulate you and inform you that you have been selected as Head Girl. Enclosed is your badge, which, again, will change color to suit your new House upon sorting.
Minerva McGonagall, Headmistress
Hermione stared at Ginny in horror.
The mood that day on the Hogwarts Express was a somber one. The group of friends in the compartment was at a loss for words as they stared at the robes they were all wearing.
Black. Plain black. Their ties were black, too. It was as if the past 7 years had not existed and all ties and connections to the Houses they had grown to love were gone.
It was Luna who broke the silence first.
"Congratulations on getting Head, Hermione," Luna stated blandly. Then, her shoulders picked up a little as she shared another little bit of news. "I overheard some Slyth- erm; well I guess they're just students now aren't they? Anyway, I overheard some students saying that Draco Malfoy got Head too."
Each head in the compartment looked up- Hermione groaned. As if there needed to be anything else to make her heart feel as if it were a stone.
"As least you'll be able to keep him in check, Hermione," Neville supplied. He even tried to go in for a smile, but it ended up coming out weak.
Hermione gave him a look of gratitude for trying, at least.
Over in the corner, legs on Harry's lap, Ginny chortled with mirth before busting out into full on laughter.
"What in the name of Merlin's Baggy Y-Fronts is funny about that slimy git getting Head Boy?" Ron asked, looking at his sister as if she had finally gone round the bend.
"Oh- it- it's just," she gasped out. "I had this vision of Malfoy getting sorted into Hufflepuff!"
There was a beat of silence as this image formed in everyone's mind before the entire compartment burst into outrageous laughter. For that one moment, everything was how it used to be, and they were able to forget the heavy moment that was approaching them.
Nervousness had Hermione shaking, though she was doing her best to hide it. The first years had just been sorted, and now it was their turn. Again.
Silently she cursed herself as wave after wave of fear penetrated her mind. She was Hermione Granger for Godric's sake! She had faced torture and Death Eater's and Voldemort, yet here she was glaring at an old hat as stone formed in her stomach.
Immediately she was reminded of her first year, surely she had been this afraid then, too? But no. She had merely been excited; not knowing to what depth the sorting would change her life forever. Well, she certainly knew now, and that was the entire problem!
The Great Hall was more silent than it had ever been, the tension so thick she could feel it weighing down on her, making her bones feel like wax. And then, McGonagall spoke, calling out the first name of the 7th years: Terry Boot.
He walked up to the pedestal, sat, placed the Hat upon his head and waited.
"RAVENCLAW!" The Hat shouted, and off Terry went, sighing in relief.
From that point on things seemed to move so quickly for Hermione that her eyes seemed to stop working. All she remembered were names, and the Houses being called. She remembered shock, and gasps, but barely. The only thing she was really clinging to, were the names.
This was it. The next name to be called would be hers. What was she going to do? Panic start to set in, she could swear her body was going to shut down. So many people had been displaced already, what are the chances? But surely, if she were to be displaced, she would go to Ravenclaw? That wouldn't be too bad... She could handle-
Her body seemed to do what was required without any help from her mind. Outside, she was brave and collected. On the inside she was screaming.
But then the Hat was on her head and she heard nothing else, but it speaking to her.
Hm... You again I see. Brave and loyal as always…
At this she clung to a small bead of hope that grew in her chest.
Thirst for knowledge, the strong desire to prove yourself. Where to put you, my dear? You've proven yourself to be quick thinking and cunning, you've also proven that you're willing to do anything to reach your goal… hm…
And then, she knew. She knew what was going to happen, the second before it did, and she felt as if her world had just been shattered to bits.
Her mouth opened in a silent gasp of horror, and tears began to form in her eyes and she took off the Sorting hat and stood. Jaws had dropped all over the Great Hall, everyone was stunned into silence. Hermione began to shake, and then the crest on her robes changed. Then she saw green appear on her robes, and her tie, and on her Head Girl badge.
She searched the crowd for Harry and Ginny, despair evident on her face as a single tear leaked down her cheek. Ginny looked heartbroken at first, but then defiant, giving a small nod of encouragement for her best friend. Harry smiled up at her warmly, clearly saying that this didn't change a thing. She couldn't find Ron's face in the crowd through her tears.
Suddenly she felt very stupid. How would being sorted into Slytherin change their friendship? After all that they had been through together, for such a thing to happen would be impossible. Breathing a little bit easier, she walked stoically to her new table on wobbling legs, and sat. Hiding her devastation as best she could, Hermione watched the sorting continue.
Hermione watched this closely, for she remembered well how quickly his sorting went the first time, and was stunned when his took even longer than hers had. Finally, the answer rang out.
Once again, there was shock as each and every person in the Great Hall tried to remember if there had ever been a time when the Sorting Hat had changed its mind mid-decision. Hermione was pretty sure that it had never happened before. She watched as Malfoy sauntered over to where she sat, her heart beating faster in her chest. She was openly staring, but she didn't really see him. Instead her mind called up the memory of being tortured by Bellatrix in his drawing room. Sweat broke out on her forehead.
Her eyes opened a little wider in fear as her sat down in the seat directly across from her, he raised an eyebrow at her, but said nothing.
The Sorting continued.
The room seemed to hold its breath-
Harry sent Hermione a grand smile as he went to the table that now seemed so far away from her. Would she really be the only former Gryffindor in a pack of Slytherin's? Could McGonagall not see that this was dangerous for her health?
Dean made a bee-line for Hermione and sat down right next to her. She breathed a sigh of relief; she wasn't going to be alone. Underneath the table she held on to his hand as if her very life depended on it. He did the same.
Hermione chuckled at the look on his face, but overall she thought it was quite accurate. She had not forgotten that he had abandoned Harry and Herself on the hunt for Horcruxes. He didn't deserve to be in Gryffindor.
And with that, the sorting was complete. The blood rushed in Hermione's ears when the food appeared on the tables. Somehow, up until that point she hadn't believed that it was real, that it was all a game that would be rectified easily.
She sat there in her horror, clutching to Dean for dear life as she made a strange observation- The Sorting Hat had hadn't given them a song, this year.