A/N: Sorry for the delay, I had internet issues and was offline for fifteen hours! But here it is, finally, and this chapter is a fair bit longer than the last. I hope you enjoy :)

Oh, yeah, one little thing...the page number in the textbook...I just couldn't resist, I had to put it in ;)


~ Chapter 12: Striving for Normality is an Uphill Struggle ~

After such an eventful first day, Hermione found the rest of her week to be monotonously boring. Her lessons were just as they always had been and her free periods she did intend on spending in the library, but that all fell apart on the Thursday. On one of the odd frees which they had together, Draco had been enjoying the rare peace and quiet of the Head's Tower (which certain Gryffindors had now taken to spending their evenings in), when the painting slammed inwards and Hermione stormed in, ranting.

"My table, my table. What makes people think I want to share my table with them?" she muttered angrily, stomping up the step and slamming her bag onto the large wooden table.

Draco raised his eyebrow, "You right, there?" he asked, echoing Hermione's words from the other day, when he had entered, exhibiting a similar display.

Hermione looked up, and continued her rant more audibly. "It'smy table." She said.

"Riiiight," Draco said, clearly non-the wiser as to what she was going on about.

"That clears that up." He said looking back at his parchment.

"Ever since my first week here, that was my table," she continued. Draco sighed quietly, put his quill down mumbling, "and she hasn't finished yet."

Draco sat up and leaned back in his chair, as Hermione continued to rant at him.

"I've always sat at that table, whenever Harry Ron and I went to the library, that was where we would sit. It was our table! People used to respect that, it was commonly accepted. Why is it now being overtaken, by irritating third years? And why do they think I would want them to join me, while I'm working peacefully? They just come and sit down, without waiting to be invited. And then they stare at me! As if I'm some sort of hero! They just stare! It's infuriating!" she said, loudly, finally throwing herself into her seat with a huff.

"Better now?" Draco asked.

"A little." She said grudgingly, and then sighed her anger giving way.

"I just want my table back," she whined, "I want the peace back. I'm Hermione Granger, the bookworm, who people leave alone while she's studying."

"Not anymore." Draco told her. "Granger, people look at you like you're a hero, because to them you are a hero. You're not going to escape that in the castle, no matter where you go. Except for here, this is our little sanctuary now." He indicated to their tower.

"Why do you think I don't study in the library anymore? Wherever I go, I get loathing glares and ill mutterings. Not quite the same as all the adoration poured forth to you, but it's still just as irritating and distracting. Face it Granger, this isn't the Hogwarts we once knew. The only peace and quiet we're going to get is in here."

Hermione sighed, "I know." She said resigned, taking her things from her bag.

"Now, quit your wining, and get to work. I could use your help for the Arithmancy task we got set this morning." Draco said, picking up his quill, and frowning back at his parchment.

Hermione couldn't help but grin, "Are you actually asking for myhelp?" She asked, hardly believing it.

Draco looked up and scowled, "Don't gloat, Granger. It's only one subject I'm not on a level with you, let's not get carried away now. It's hard enough for me to ask for help, I don't need you rubbing it in. But I need top grades if I want a career in the Ministry, so I'm going to have to swallow my pride to get it." He admitted.

Hermione stopped her gloating, and pulled a bag from her bag, which she had just checked from the Library.

"Here," she said, pushing the book across the table, "I was just doing the assignment in the library before the children interrupted me. There's a good chapter, more detail than our textbook. Turn to page 394, that's the chapter you need."

Draco took the book gratefully, "Thanks."

Hermione sat for a moment, then asked, "You want to go into the Ministry?"

Draco nodded without looking up, "You have a problem with that?"

"No, of course not. Any idea what department?" Hermione asked conversationally.

"Not really. Though sometimes hiding away in the Department of Mysteries doesn't sound bad." Draco joked.

Hermione laughed, "I think that sometimes, but that's not an option for me." She told him.

Draco looked up and frowned, "Why not? Surely any department would take you, no questions asked, after saving the Wizarding World." he commented dryly.

Hermione looked down at her parchments, "They don't like me in the Department of Mysteries," she said trying to exude a calm nonchalance, without laughing.

Draco's eyes narrowed, "Does that have something to do with slight disruption you and your friends caused, the night my Father was arrested in there." he asked.

"Maybe," Hermione said evasively, then added after a few seconds: "And it was more total carnage, as opposed to slight disruption." she admitted with an embarrassed laugh.

Draco was silent for a moment, then he himself laughed, before shaking his head and returning to his work.

The pair worked in relative silence for the next half an hour, asking the odd question here and there, to ascertain if they were both coming up with similar solutions.

Five minutes before twelve, Hermione packed up her things, leaving most of her books on the table, taking only her wand and books for her single charms class before lunch.

"Do you need this back?" Draco asked, picking up the textbook he was still using.

Hermione shook her head, "Not yet, you can keep using it. Do you not have a class now, though?"

Draco shook his head and turning back to his parchment, "Double free." He said as explanation.

"Just leave it on the table for me, if that's alright? I have another free, last period, I'll want to use it then." She asked.

Draco nodded, "Sure." He said as Hermione made her way out.

Once Hermione started avoiding the library during break times and Lunch, only going in during a free period when it was free of the younger students, she found her personal study time far less stressful.

Her last class of the week was another double session of Defence Against the Darks Arts: they continued their work on non-verbal casting, which a few members of the class were still having some difficulties with. They also spent the last twenty minutes going over their assignment from their first lesson, engaging in a group discussion about spell-modification.

When class was dismissed, Ginny turned to Hermione; "You want to hit the Library? Make a start on our Transfiguration homework before dinner?"

Hermione couldn't help but look a little shocked at Ginny's readiness, "Isn't that my line?" she said, "You're kind of stealing my swotty-thunder, there Gin."

Ginny laughed, "I know, that's not something I'd usually say." She agreed as the pair left the classroom, "But I have Quidditch trials tomorrow afternoon, so I want to get something done tonight, because you just know I am going to sleep in tomorrow, despite my best intentions." She admitted.

Hermione laughed, "I would, but I have a meeting with McGonagall. I have to be at her office at four thirty," she explained. "But, if you could grab some books we might need from the Library, come back to the tower after dinner, and we can make a proper start then." Hermione compromised, knowing full well that Ginny would accomplish nothing on her own on a Friday night.

Ginny grinned, "Sounds like a plan," she said as Draco caught up with the pair.

"Are you planning on walking any faster any time soon, Granger. We have to be in the Headmistresses office in five minutes." He told her, not sounding thrilled at the meeting.

Hermione rolled her eyes, "I'll see you later Ginny." She said, as the redhead turned towards the Library and Hermione carried on with Draco, toward the Headmistresses office.

As they gave the Gargoyle the password, and stepped onto the moving staircase, Hermione suddenly felt nervous: the last time she had been in this office was right after the final battle. The conversation she had had with McGonagall and Kingsley about her future plans had taken place in McGonagall's old office on the transfiguration floor.

Hermione knocked on the door, pushing it open when McGonagall called for them to enter.

The room wasn't much different to how she remembered it back in Dumbledore's day, with the obvious exception that Fawkes was now noticeably absent, and the table of strange spindly objects had been removed and replaced with a table covered in various artefacts reflecting McGonagall's Scottish heritage. McGonagall sat behind her desk, and signalled for Hermione and Draco to take two of the four chairs in front of her.

Hermione took her seat with a smile, pleased to find that while McGonagall hadn't provided the comfy armchairs Dumbledore was so fond of, she had at least supplied them with rather comfortable, cushioned seats, as opposed to the wooden chairs she used to favour.

"I trust your first week hasn't been too disappointing for you?" She asked, as the pair sat down.

"Can't complain." Draco said politely, Hermione looked at him quickly with a quirk of an eyebrow, before shaking her head. Sure, he wouldn't complain to the Headmistress, but Hermione had heard her fair share of his complaints over the week.

"So far, so good." Hermione responded, taking the high road like her co-head.

"And your living arrangements are to your satisfaction?" McGonagall asked.

Draco nodded, and Hermione spoke, "Very much. I don't think I would have enjoyed living in Gryffindor Tower this year. I've already been driven out the library thanks to all the stares and whispering. I probably would have hexed someone by now if I'd have had to endure the common room every night." She admitted, earning herself and indulging chuckle, and a less than amused scoff from two of the portraits on the wall.

Hermione looked up to see Albus Dumbledore smiling down at her, with a twinkle in his eye. She looked to the portrait next to him and saw Severus Snape shaking his head, muttering.

"You've clearly spent too much time with Potter. Just because you helped save the Wizarding World you think you have a sense of entitlement that allows you free reign to do as you please." Severus told her.

Hermione chuckled, "It's nice to see you too, Severus." She said, smiling up at the portrait, causing Albus to laugh again.

"Yes, well," McGonagall said, before it could get out of hand. "We're just waiting on the two deputies to join us, then I will get down to business."

"They shouldn't be two far behind us." Draco said, "We were all in the same class."

"How was your defence class?" McGonagall asked, "No more issues with modified spells I trust?"

Hermione had the decency to turn pink, and look a little embarrassed. "It had been a long morning," Hermione said avoiding their Headmistress' eyes. Draco snorted with laughter, and Hermione shot him a dark look.

"Quite." McGonagall said with a hint of a smile, as there was another knock at the door.

"Enter!" McGonagall called, and finally Smith and Luna joined the meeting, taking the two seats at either side of Hermione and Draco, who had taken the middle two. Draco's smirk that had lingered from Hermione's embarrassment was wiped away as Luna had taken the seat next to Hermione, leaving Smith no choice but to sit next to Draco. The blonde scowled at the Hufflepuff, but at least Smith was silent this time, which greatly improved him in Draco's opinnion.

McGonagall proceeded with the meeting right away, "First of all, are there any issues any of you would like to present to me? Anything you feel needs to be addressed before we can continue?"

The looked at each other, then back at their Headmistress, all shaking their heads: their first week had had no complaints from the Prefects, and no real responsibilities for them to carry out. All that would start on Monday.

"Good." McGonagall continued, briskly. "Have you had your first meeting with the prefects yet?" She asked.

"Not yet," Hermione answered, "We've planned to have our meetings on Mondays, starting next week."

"We didn't see the point of scheduling one the first day of term: we told them all they needed to know for their first week on the train." Draco explained their decision.

McGonagall nodded, "Make sure the time and place of the meeting goes up in the prefect dorms before Monday morning, please." The heads nodded, and McGonagall continued.

"As far as I'm aware, the rota you came up with for corridor duty seems to be fine this week. I'm sure if the students have any qualms they'll bring them to you on Monday. I have here a list of dates for Hogsmeade visits." She then handed a copy of the list to each of them. "If you can arrange the necessary supervisions required ahead of time, and make sure each date appears in the house common rooms two weeks in advance."

"This year, the school is intending to try and right the wrongs of the past. Over the years, what has started as good-natured competition between the houses, has turned into a great divide. While we will still be having the inter-house Quidditch competition and we will still award the House Cup at the end of the year, I really want to start promoting inter-house unity." McGonagall explained,

"So your main tasks over the next couple of weeks it to come up with as many ideas as you can as to how we can achieve this. Also, as you will be aware, Muggle Studies is now a mandatory subject. We have been gravely ignorant in the past of the muggles whom we share this country with. This ignorance is undoubtedly, partly to blame for past mistakes, and we really need to increase our understanding and tolerance – again, something for you to come up with ideas to help us achieve this. I would like you to include all this in your meeting with the prefects on Monday: the more of you that work on this, the better." She told them, in her no-nonsense voice, brokering no argument.

"For now, that is everything. Obviously, further into the year, there will be other tasks for you to undertake. But for now, I would like you and your prefects to concentrate on these two in particular. We will have our next meeting in two weeks time, but if you come up with anything before then, please arrange a meeting to go over it with me." McGonagall checked the clock on the wall,

"It's already past five, you can head down to the Hall for dinner." She dismissed them.

Without speaking, the four students rose in unison and proceeded out of the office.

"What time are we doing the prefect meeting on Monday?" Luna asked as they stepped on the moving spiral staircase. "Lunch?" She asked,

Hermione was about to answer when Smith interrupted, with a grumble. "Great, fifteen minutes to eat, and hour of prefects bitching, and late to class."

Hermione frowned at Smith, then smirked as she had an idea. "Maybe Zacharias has a point." She said, noticing that Draco gave her an incredulous look as if she had gone mad.

She continued in a heartbeat, not giving Draco the chance to interrupt. "We will have a lot to go over with them, so our Lunch break probably won't be long enough to discuss everything and have a decent amount of time to eat. I suggest we meet them at four-thirty. That gives everyone fifteen minutes after our class to get there. Dinner is served right up until 7pm, as long as we're finished by 6.30, we'll have plenty of time to eat." Hermione explained. Draco's incredulous look shifted back to his trademark smirk, realising what Hermione had done:

"That would give us a good long meeting of two hours, rather than trying to cram it into fourty-five minutes." Draco clarified, looking at Smith, who was glowering even worse at this change of timing. "And the best bit, Smith, is now you wont have to worry about being late for class, and you won't have to rush your meal."

Luckily, they had reached the gargoyle at this point, and Smith stormed off toward the Great Hall without looking back, as Hermione and Luna laughed.

"I doubt the meeting will go for two hours, in fact I think it would have fit into lunch time fine." Hermione admitted, "But I do love to piss that boy off. And until I can get to partner him in Defence, this is my only release."

Draco shook his head, and the trio continued to follow Smith's path in their own time. "Don't get your hopes up for that too soon, I'm pretty sure Fidelis is going to keep you two separate: he knows you can't stand Smith and he knows what you're capable of."


Hermione's Friday night was the most relaxed she'd been since she had returned to Hogwarts. Ginny accompanied her back to her Tower, and the pair worked on McGonagall's Transfiguration assignment, and other homework, for a couple of hours, discussing their answers, and talking about the general things they usually talk about.

Draco returned to the tower not long after the girls, followed as usual by Blaise. The boys sat at the opposite side of the table, keeping to themselves and echoing the Girls' work ethic. Where their subjects interchanged, the four would sometimes call a quick question across the table, and a small discussion would arise. At one point Blaise and Ginny became distracted by Quidditch and the renewal of the strong Gryffindor-Slytherin rivalry, while Draco joined in at one point, it was one comment and a reminder that Blaise had a lot of work to do.

"Can you leave your debate with the Weaselette until later? I would like to finish this before midnight." He chided.

By 9 o'clock, Hermione had had enough, she threw her quill down, declaring: "I'm done for the night."

"Oh, thank Merlin!" Ginny exclaimed, throwing down her quill as well, "I was ready to give up an hour ago, but I knew you'd bitch at me if I did."

Hermione laughed, and leaned back in her chair stretching her arms over her head, and rolling her shoulders back a few times.

"You know what would be perfect?" She said to Ginny, "A glass of wine, just to finish the evening."

Ginny laughed, but nodded. "And a cheese platter." She added.

"Yes, it's one of those nights, a bottle of red, some cheese and biscuits in front of the fire." Hermione sighed wistfully, "If only."

Ginny thought for a moment, then shrugged, "it's got to be possible: George managed it easy enough, all those times they got food and drink for the Quidditch parties."

Hermione noticed that Ginny had refrained from saying Fred's name, but she let it pass – she was conscious of the two Slytherins at the other end of the table: though they weren't particularly paying attention to the girls, Hermione still didn't want to broach the subject in front of them.

"The food is no issue, we can get anything we want from the kitchens." Hermione agreed, "It's the wine that's the issue. We can't get that from the kitchens, the elves will be under strict orders to only give students pumpkin juice."

"Well, how did George manage it, then?" Ginny asked sceptically.

Hermione grinned, "Hogsmeade. Only trouble is, I don't reckon we could do it they way they did it." Hermione aid thoughtfully,

"I'm pretty sure the secret passageways aren't secret anymore – Wormtail will have told Riddle everything he knew," she said with contempt, "So naturally, the information will have gone to Severus, so it logically follows that the teachers know of them all now. I should have got the map from Harry, that would have helped I bet." She mumbled as an afterthought

"Hang on," Ginny held up her hand, "Passageways? And map?"

Hermione grinned again, "So much you don't know about what we got up to in school."

By this point, both Draco and Blaise had stopped working, to listen.

"Are you saying there are passageways out of the school and into Hogsmeade?" Blaise asked,

Hermione frowned, "Private conversation, Zabini."

Blaise held up his hands, and gestured to the room, "Then don't hold it at a table with two other people." He pointed out.

Hermione rolled her eyes, "Touché" she said, then continued, deciding to answer Blaise.

"There used to be seven passageways out of the school, but over time Filch discovered most of them, bar three. Out of the remaining three, one has caved in, one leads to Honeydukes, from inside the castle, and the other leads to the shrieking shack, from out in the grounds."

"And do you know where the entrances to these tunnels are?" Draco prompted.

"Of course I do. I've used them both." Hermione said. "But I'm not telling you."

She turned back to Ginny, "I reckon the one inside the castle will either have been destroyed or is still being watched. I know Severus had someone watching it last year, in case we entered the castle that way. I don't know about the shrieking shack. It's a pretty difficult one to get into, unless you know how to, and not many do. In fact, I think it's safe to assume that the only people alive who do know how are Harry, Ron and myself. So chances are, that tunnel is still there, and is usable."

"How often did you use these passageways?" Draco asked, intrigued. He'd always thought Granger was a real stickler for the rules, but here she was admitting to sneaking out of the school, illegally, and on more than one occasion.

"Not often. We used them in third year, then last June." Hermione shrugged, "I have to admit, after how third year ended, I'd had enough of those passages to last a while."

Ginny frowned, "What happened?" she asked warily, thinking back, "That was my second year, when we had Lupin for defence, right?" she clarified.

Hermione nodded, and Ginny continued. "Does this have something to do with how Buckbeak ended up with Sirius?" she asked, suddenly. "I can't believe I never asked you about that before now."

Hermione grinned, "Maybe," she said, not giving anything away.

"All I'll say is that night felt long. It was as if it lasted six hours, instead of three." She said evasively, still grinning. Ginny's confused look sent Hermione into giggles; she threw her head back and laughed, before rising from her seat.

"Ask me no questions, I'll tell you know lies, Ginny." She said, patting her on the arm. She could see the wheels turning in Ginny's mind, trying to de construct what Hermione had said. Ginny knew enough of Hermione to know that her comment out about three hours feeling like six was more than just a flippant remark.

Hermione went over to the kitchen, saying as she went:"Since wine is a no go, I guess it's a cup of tea."


Hermione's weekend was fairly tranquil, Saturday afternoon she spent down at Hagrid's, with Luna and Neville, while Ginny held her Quidditch trials. Sunday she spent with Ginny and Parvati, who both Joined Hermione in her sitting room.

"Oh my God!" Parvati exclaimed, when she first saw the room, "Hermione, this is amazing!"

Hermione grinned, "It's actually a replica of my rooms at home. Even the book collection is exactly the same, its quite astounding really." She told them.

Parvati raised her eyebrows, "Sounds like you've been holding out on us about your muggle heritage." Parvati said knowingly, but Hermione just shrugged it off and said instead.

"Feel free to borrow any of the books. There are a lot of good muggle novels in there."

Parvati smiled, and got the hint that Hermione wouldn't be talking any time soon.

"Thanks," she said, going to inspect the bookcases, saying as she did. "How were your trials, Ginny?"

"Pretty good, actually." Ginny said from where she was sprawled on a couch, "It's a completely new team. I'm sticking as Chaser, I hated seeking, Dean's back on the team as a chaser. But apart from us it's a fresh team, they've all got skill, and with a little training, when we get to working together, we should be in with a real chance at the cup."

Ginny continued to talk about Quidditch with Parvati, while Hermione sat at the table near the balcony, finally writing the letter she had promised her Mother and Father. She then wrote a letter to Harry, giving him a similar overview of her first week that she had written to he parents, enclosing a copy of the Hogsmeade dates, adding:

I will be on duty at some point during the weekend, but as it will only last for a couple hours, and I'll make sure I'm stationed at the emergency meeting point in The Three Broomsticks over the lunch time period, it won't interfere with our plans (the perks of power and having the final say!)

Hope you're still enjoying work, and the novelty hasn't worn off too soon – have you and Ron been given dates for leaving on your assignments yet?

I'm missing you both; it's strange being here without you. And I'm missing Teddy terrible – I want your reply to be full of stories about our Godson, I want to know everything he's been doing and what I'm missing out on! If you don't indulge me in this, Harry, I swear my next letter to you will be a Howler. And I'll make sure the owl delivers it to you at work!

Love Hermione.

Hermione grinned at her closing threat, she knew Harry would take her seriously, and it amused her to imagine the pains he would take in his response.

In Harry's letter, she also enclosed a small note to Ron. Hermione sighed and looked up from her parchments, the sun was visible out of her windows, which meant it would be setting soon.

"What time is it?" She asked suddenly.

Parvati looked up from her book to check her watch, "five-thirty, almost." She said, "Wow, the afternoon has gone quick."

Ginny laughed, "For you two, yeah. I've been slaving away with the homework I neglected yesterday." She grumbled, and then looked to Hermione, "What were you doing anyway, writing a novel?"

"Letters, to my parents and Harry." She said, "If I don't write soon they'll start worrying and nagging."

Ginny nodded, "So I was right, then. You were practically writing a novel." She grinned.

Parvati laughed, and Hermione threw a scrunched up scrap of blotched parchment at Ginny.


Monday passed in a bit of blur, it was the only day that Hermione had no free periods, so by the time it came to 4:30pm, she was starting to feel a little tired and she prayed Zacharias Smith was not in a difficult mood, because she sure as hell did not have the patience for it right now.

When Hermione got to the spare classroom in the charms corridor, at about twenty-past, Draco was already there waiting. He had moved the tables, and stacked them against the back hall, bar one against which he was currently leaning. The chairs were left in the centre of the room, in no particular order, put all facing the table on which Draco was perched.

Hermione walked over to the table, dumped her bag on the nearest chair, pulled the chair closer to the table, and then sat up on the table, resting her feet near her bag.

"I didn't expect you to be here so early, I came straight from Transfig'." She commented, making small talk – she and Draco had seemed to perfect this art over the past week, there was no hostility between them anymore. Granted, they had the odd rant and vented their frustrations to one another, sometimes, but it was nothing like the shouting matches they used to partake in. They had both most definitely grown up a lot the past year.

Draco shrugged, "I had double charms last, I was only two doors down. Seemed pointless to go back to the tower to drop off my bag, just to come all the way back." He explained, as the first prefects made their way in, followed by Luna and Zacharias.

Luna wordlessly summoned the nearest table, navigating it precisely around the few students already assembled, and placed it next to the table Hermione was sitting upon. Luna hopped up next to Hermione, and Zacharias perched wordlessly in a similar manor to Draco, on the other side.

Hermione and Luna chatted idly, as the waited for the room to fill. Finally, it seemed everyone was there, and Hermione started the meeting, by asking how their first week of duties had gone: thankfully there were no complaints, but a Hufflepuff did voice the question; "What do we do if we can't do our duty one night? Say we have a detention, or we're ill?"

Draco raised his eyebrow, was this kid for real? He couldn't figure this out on his own?

Hermione noticed the look, and jumped in to answer diplomatically, before Draco could release his sarcasm.

"Find someone to swap with, if you can't figure it out amongst yourselves, take it to one of the deputies, and they will make a final decision. Now, onto the main issue:" Hermione said, and she proceeded to relay the information that McGonagall had given the four Heads the previous Friday, about inter-house unity and understanding muggles.

"So what McGonagall wants from you, well us as well, are ideas of ways to promote inter-house unity, something to bring the houses together. And some sort of Muggle-awareness campaign, I guess." Hermione finished.

"And if we can come up with an idea that can incorporate both in one go, that could save us a lot of time and effort." Draco added.

"So, any ideas?" Zacharias asked, determined to appear like a leader in the meeting.

"Don't be shy," Luna said, as no one seemed like answering, "We'll listen to them all. and there are nowrackspurts around, so you're thoughts ideas wont disappear halfway through an explanation."

Hermione smiled; she saw Draco turn with a comical look of disbelief to look at Luna, his jaw dropped. Hermione caught his eye and shook her head, telling him not to ask.

A Ravenclaw spoke up first, "During the Tri-Wizard tournament, the Yule Ball was good for inter-house interaction, wasn't it?" she pointed out. "A lot of people had dates from other houses – in fact, I even remember one Ravenclaw going with a Slytherin." She informed, "Maybe there's something in that, perhaps we could try that again?"

Hermione nodded thoughtfully, "It could work," she admitted.

After seeing that a proposal wasn't going to be immediately rejected, a Gryffindor jumped in: "We could have some sort of muggle theme to it, that way you get your inter-house unity and muggle awareness into the same thing." He suggested.

"Like fancy dress?" Zacharias scoffed, "Come dressed as a muggle? It's hardly ball-worthy attire."

Because the Gryffindor looked slightly too put out my Smith's remark, Hermione jumped to his defence, "Clearly you've never seen a muggle ball gown." She growled at Smith, before turning back to the group.

"Rolling with the fancy dress idea, you could be onto something there." She told the Gryffindor, "Let's specify it a little bit more: instead of just general muggle attire, what about dressing as a specific person?"

"So like a notable muggle in history?" a Hufflepuff joined in. "Like Queen Victoria, or Jane Austen?" she said.

Hermione nodded, "Yeah, that way we could get a variety of period costumes, which always look good for a ball, very theatrical."

"And this could be something we can tie into those mandatory Muggle Studies classes some of us have," added another Ravenclaw. "instead of just learning about their ways, we can learn about certain individuals and their impact on society, and if or how that's impacted the Wizarding world."

"McGonagall would definitely go for that," Draco admitted reluctantly.

"Sounds acceptable so far," a Slytherin said, "But an elaborate fancy dress seems more suitable for Hallowe'en rather than a Yule Ball." She pointed out.

The Ravenclaw that had originally made the suggestion of bringing back the Yule Ball shrugged her shoulders,

"So we do it at Hallowe'en instead." She said, and then added, "In fact, Hallowe'en would probably be more successful as it's during term time, so everyone will be here. I reckon a lot of people will be going home for the Holidays, this year."

Hermione nodded at the truth of that statement, "So we're wanting to go with the themed ball idea?" she clarified, "And we're suggesting Hallowe'en as the proposed date?"

There was a general murmur of assent, and Hermione dug out a diary from her bag. "Well, Hallowe'en falls on a Thursday this year: so I would suggest proposing to McGonagall that we keep the Hallowe'en feast as normal, on the actual day itself, and have the Ball on Saturday."

Again their was a general murmur of assent, "Alright then, we'll run it past McGonagall later this week, and inform you of her decision at next weeks meeting." Hermione told them, before turning to her fellow heads, "Anything to add?" she asked them.

All three shook their heads, and Draco turned to the prefects, "Thanks for your time, you can go."

The prefects filed out, Zacharias and Luna lingered a moment to discuss the meeting with McGonagall, then they too left to make their way to dinner. Hermione remained and helped Draco right the room, before putting her quill and notebooks back in her bag.

"A fancy dress party?" Draco said as the chairs were righting themselves under the desks, "Really?"

Hermione shrugged, "We'll call it a themed ball, it sounds fancier." She said, fastening her bag and slinging it across her shoulder.

Draco snorted and shook his head, "It's still a little too…." Hermione looked at him with raised eyebrows as he struggled to find the right words.

"Yes?" she prompted him, folding her arms and leaning back against the desk she had recently been sitting on.

"High-school" he finished, finally and Hermione laughed.

"Well, guess what. We're in High-School, so suck it up." She told him with a smile.

Draco let out a frustrated sigh, and sat on a table facing Hermione, "I'm well aware of that, thank you, Granger." He commented dryly. "But, don't you ever feel that you've outgrown this place?" he asked her seriously.

Hermione gave a humourless laugh, and nodded. "Like you wouldn't believe." She told him, before sighing and adding, "I honestly couldn't see myself returning here. After last year I thought this would be the last place I would end up. But things happened and now I'm here, regardless of my original intentions."

"Suck it up." Draco smirked at her, repeating her own words back to her.

Hermione laughed, "Exactly." She nodded, causing Malfoy's smirk to turn into a smile similar to hers, and agreed "I need to suck it up too."


The next morning at breakfast, Hermione received a note from McGonagall in response to her request to set up a meeting with her some time this week: The four heads had an appointment with her on Wednesday, during morning break, in her classroom. Hermione made a mental note to tell the others at some point today, and returned to her breakfast.

Hermione lifted a slice of toast to her mouth, but stopped midway: Parvati was sat opposite her, she was giggling uncontrollably and had apparently received a copy of Witch Weekly in the morning post and it was the front cover which had stopped Hermione in her tracks.

"Erm, Parvati?" Hermione asked, "Why am I looking at myself right now?"

Parvati chuckled, closed the magazine and handed it to Hermione, "It's a weekly expose, entitled 'The Golden Trio: Where Are They Now?' apparently week one is all about you?"

Hermione groaned, it had been bad enough those first weeks after the war had ended, she couldn't open a newspaper without seeing her name everywhere.

"Seriously?" Hermione asked, "It's been all of two months since the final battle, I obviously haven't gone very far in that time."

"No," Parvati agreed, with a suppressed giggle, "But there are some interesting speculations about where you might be going."

Hermione looked up, extremely wary, "I don't like your tone," she said, "What do you mean, what kind of speculations?"

Parvati laughed, "It's Witch Weekly, Hermione, what speculations do you think they're going to be concerned with?" She asked, and Hermione groaned again.

Witch Weekly was infamous for it's gossipy nature – the last time Hermione had appeared in it, she was in a supposed love-triangle with Harry and Victor Krum.

"It's another love-triangle isn't it?" She asked in dismay.

Parvati laughed, and said, "Just read it. I'm not saying a word."

Hermione resigned herself for the worse, and read the three page spread. She was amazed at the photographs they had managed to obtain: there was one of her at Hogwarts, not long after the final battle, during the clean-up operation, looking absolutely exhausted, but smiling at Harry and Ron as they talked.

There was another of her, taken around the same but this time she had been snapped saying something to Draco Malfoy, which she thought was an odd picture to have in there, but she shrugged it off. There were some pictures of Hermione with Ginny, walking down Diagon Alley, and with Andromeda and Teddy in Hogsmeade.

There was also a shot of Hermione, Harry and Teddy at Platform 9 ¾ on September 1st – her hear leapt when she first saw the photo, remembering she had been wearing her engagement ring at the time. Upon closer inspection of the photograph, Hermione was relieved to see that her left hand was hidden from view by Teddy, who she was cradling in her arms – a good job really, as she and Harry really did present quite the family unit, the pair of them cooing over their Godson. But the photograph that truly astonished her was that of her and Richard at his Cocktail Bar in York, Hermione openly gaped at it.

"How on earth, did they get that?" she wondered incredulously, and slightly nervous.

After looking at the photographs, Hermione finally set into reading the article. It was a rather standard overview to begin with: it detailed her part in the war, being by Harry's side since day one, backing him since the Tri-Wizard disaster.

It went on to speculate her activities of the past year; regurgitating the rumours about the Ministry and Gringotts, and also that they had been caught by snatches – Hermione was surprised this rumour made it in there, it was one of the lesser known ones, as Voldemort and Bellatrix wanted to keep it quiet that they had had Harry Potter locked away in the cellar, only for him to escape from under their nose, with the rest of their hostages: an embarrassing moment for them, really.

The article continued about her activities after the war: though Hermione had pretty much been holed up with her parents, and believed herself to be very much out of the public eye, she was surprised about how much they had found out.

Hermione Granger, like many after the defeat of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named in the fight that has been dubbed The Battle of Hogwarts, has appeared to throw herself into family life, spending an ample amount of time bonding with her Godson Teddy Lupin, the orphaned son of the late Remus and Nymphadora Lupin (nee Tonks), who were both killed during the Battle of Hogwarts.

Speculation has been rife as to what Hermione Granger's next step would be in her career: reliable sources have disclosed that Miss Granger was offered places on numerous internships in the Ministry of Magic. However, instead of accepting any of the offered roles, Hermione Granger has returned to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, to complete her education.

Now, what we here at Witch Weekly have been dying to know is what is in store for Hermione Granger in her Love life?

Hermione rolled her eyes, Here it is, she thought, No doubt Harry is mentioned, just like last time.Hermione continued to read,

And our sources haven't disappointed us: it seems War Heroine Hermione Granger is linked with not one, not two, but three gentleman suitors! That's right, readers! The Gryffindor Princess is caught up in what can only be described as a scandalous love-quadrangle!

Hermione's jaw dropped, and her eyes widened: This could not be happening to her, she looked up from the page, over to Parvati and Ginny who were both watching her intently. Parvati creased into laughter at Hermione's face, but Ginny looked wary – clearly Parvati hadn't filled her in.

"A quadrangle?" Hermione said in a strangled whisper, "They gone from love-triangle to a love-quadrangle!" Hermione's voiced raised slightly at the end, and Ginny laughed.

"They haven't?" she said, and Hermione nodded.

"Who?" Ginny asked.

"I haven't got that far," Hermione said, faintly, "I dread to think." She mumbled, though she had a fair idea of who the four might be.

Parvati laughed even harder, "Keep reading," she said.

Hermione looked back down at the page:

For years, rumours have flown about Harry Potter and Hermione Granger, and while Harry Potter was famously dating Ginevra 'Ginny' Weasley (The younger sister of Ronald Weasley, one third of The Golden Trio) during his sixth year at Hogwarts, these rumours of Harry and Hermione were never truly quashed. Indeed recent events have in fact strengthened these rumours, as the pair are said to be bonding strongly over their attachment to their Godson, Teddy. Sources say Harry and Hermione were falling easily into their parental roles: a proposal looked imminent.

"Well, that one wasn't surprising" Hermione said, looking up, "Of course they've attached me to Harry, like they did before. I'm assuming the next one is Ron."

At this Parvati laughed even harder, tears were streaming form her eyes, and this worried Hermione, slightly, as she returned to the article.

Imagine our surprise when Hermione Granger, only three days after Harry Potter's Birthday, was snapped in a trendy muggle cocktail bar, getting cosy with the owner: Richard Alden. Hermione was seen enjoying champagne and cocktails in the private section of the recently opened venue, on what was clearly a date.

Hermione was shocked: How?

"They know about Richard." She breathed, without thinking, seriously starting to worry about what else they might know. She prayed they never found out about the engagement. No, she rationalised, something that big would have been reported immediately.

She breathed deeply, and returned to the article to find out who mystery man number three was:

Not much is known about Richard Alden, but we have managed to discover that he is considered one of the most eligible bachelors in Northern England, with an impressive inheritance. Our digging has revealed the rumour that there is an impending engagement between him and an equally affluent muggle heiress, but we have yet to confirm.

It's clear Hermione Granger has expensive taste when it comes to men: Harry Potter and Richard Alden are both wealthy Gentleman, but even they can't compete with the fortune of the third man in this quadrangle –

"Oh God!" Hermione strangled out, as she began to fit the pieces into place, "Oh, no, they haven't-"

It has recently come to light that Hermione Granger, Head Girl, and Gryffindor Princess is thought to be getting close to the Head Boy-

"Oh God! They have!" She stated, at which Parvati quite literally started sobbing with laughter.

"What?" Ginny asked desperately, but Hermione ignored her, too horrified with the next words she was reading.

- non other than the Slytherin Prince himself, heir to an incredible fortune, Draco Malfoy.

Hermione actually let out a strangled wail, sounding a little like a wounded animal, and received a few strange looks in response.

A new perk to the Head Boy and Girl status is the use of the Head's Tower. This, along with the introduction of a Prefect Dormitory, was introduced to free up beds in the House Dormitories, to account for the higher number of students enrolling in the school this year. I think we can safely assume that this year's Head's will put the private rooms to good use, but what will Hermione Granger's other lovers think of her supposed escapades? And who will she chose as the love of her life? Only time will tell, but you can be sure, that when we at Witch Weekly find out, you will be the first to know.

Hermione closed the magazine and passed it wordlessly to Parvati, she was horrified. She didn't know weather to laugh or cry.

"Oh Hermione," Parvati laughed, "You harlot!"

Hermione had to laugh then, she buried her head in her hands, "Oh God, today is going to be awful. It's going to be hell. I want to curl up in a ball and die."

Ginny frowned, "It can't be that bad, who were the other two?" she demanded.

Hermione looked up, "The second is Richard," she told her.

"The muggle?" Ginny asked, "The one who owns the bar?"

"That's true?" Parvati gasped, "He is actually the owner?"

Hermione nodded, "I have no idea how they found all that out, but what they wrote is pretty correct."

"And the third?" Ginny asked.

Hermione paled, as she struggled to say the words, "They believe I have grown quite close to Draco Malfoy since my return to Hogwarts."

Ginny was quiet for a few seconds, then readily joined in with Parvati's mirth.

"According to the article, they're going to be putting their private rooms to good use," laughed Parvati.

Hermione pushed her toast away, no longer hungry. She checked her watch, Breakfast would be over in five minutes, and she had a fee period next.

Hermione stood, "I'm going to go hide in my tower, and try to calm myself before Potions." She told the other two, who were still crying in their mirth. Before turning and almost running from the hall.

A/N: Well, we've managed to progress a week. I know I keep saying I'll move it along quicker, but these little things keep coming out. But I can safely say, the next few chapters will pick up the pace: I have planned out the next four chapters, Hallowe'en will be part of them, so we're moving into the clichés. lol

The good thing about no internet for 15 hours is that I pretty much wrote the entire next chapter :) I'll edit and put it up within 24 hours.

Thanks again for reading