Saturday 3rd October

Dear Harry,

It's so good to hear from you! How are you? Ron's given me the general gist, but I need details! But I know what you mean, sometimes the days feel like they're flying past, between classes and Head Girl duties as well as trying to catch up on what I missed last year.

I'm glad to hear that the Auror program started well. So who were you partnered with? And who's your instructor, anyone you've met before? And what about the size of the class, is fifty the average number, or is it above or below the norm? What's the average percentage of female recruits? Speaking of the recruits, are there any familiar faces?

Sorry for the multitude of questions, I'm just very curious about how the Auror program works. And I guess I also feel a little out of the loop - there are so many new developments with the Ministry (and everywhere else) everyday but since I still don't totally trust the Prophet, you and Ron are my eyes and ears. I imagine that most, if not all Ministry departments are in a similar situation numbers-wise, though the Aurors were probably hit the hardest. I'll be interesting to see how quickly those positions will be filled as I'm sure there are a lot people are looking for work, especially with muggle borns coming out of hiding, though it's likely most of those people will be very wary of the Ministry. I don't doubt that Kingsley will have installed new procedures for hiring people, like thorough background checks for example.

I didn't know about the international aid, but I'm glad to hear it, it'll be the first step towards repairing relations with other Ministries after the last few years. I don't doubt that other Ministries have ulterior motives, though it would make sense if their first priority was to ensure that our Ministry is stable, and to asses Kingsley's competency.

I'd love to visit Teddy, and to see both of the plaques as well. Have the Weasley's visited the fountain? What about Ron? I just looked at the photo - Teddy's grown so much! I've added his photo to the collection next to my bed. I'm glad that Andromeda has Molly, I was worried about her being lonely. What's your favourite story about Sirius? But I can imagine those stories being a double edged blade, for you and Andromeda. How are you? How is she?

School is fine. Everyone has settled into a routine now and it almost feels like normal. Head Girl duties take up most of my free time, but thankfully Ryan does his fair share, and there's a good group of prefects this year as well. Everyone is doing well, as you've probably heard from Ginny. Neville started tutoring some of the younger students in Herbology. He can only take a few because of his course load but he's in very high demand. He's brilliant at Herbology of course, but all the younger students heard about his part in the battle, and so now they practically worship him. He doesn't quite know how to handle it so there's a lot of blushing. Ginny keeps telling him to write to you for advice on being famous.

Did Ron mention the new changes to promote inter-house unity? Headmistress McGonagall introduced a few at the beginning of term, the most notable being assigned seating at every meal during the week, so we get to know everyone, not just our house mates. It's actually worked very well, lots of new friendships are being made and people are also learning some tolerance.

The other major initiative was actually Ryan's idea. He set up an Quidditch match every Sunday afternoon, just a friendly match so anyone can play. It has been so popular that the matches have to be shortened so everyone gets a turn; there's about three games an afternoon now. He also began a workshop for first and second year students who love the game but aren't quite up to the level needed for the House teams. For the first years, it's a chance to practise the skills they learn in Madame Hooch's class and since those classes are only available to first years, it means the second years can continue learning new techniques. It's a lot of responsibility for Ryan, especially with his studies, Prefect duties and his spot on the Hufflepuff team. I help out with supervising every week of course, but everything else about Quidditch is a bit beyond me. Luckily most of the male prefects (and quite a few of the girls) are crazy about Quidditch so they're all eager to help out, and a few other seventh years have volunteered to help as well. They all work together to run the games, acting as rotating teachers for the classes, depending on their own areas of strength. All of the teachers are very impressed, especially the Headmistress.

Before you ask, no, the Slytherins haven't given me, or anyone else, any trouble. Honestly, I think most of the older ones just plan on keeping their heads down for the rest of the year and the younger ones are trying their best not to live up to their House's reputation. Some progress with inter-house relations has been made thanks to the new initiatives but it's only been a month, and four weeks isn't long enough to override years of prejudice. It's a work in progress.

Something did happen with Malfoy the other day, though. Nothing bad, before you overreact. There was an owl waiting for me when I returned to my dorm after classes on Tuesday, and it carried a note from him and my wand, the one I lost in Malfoy Manor. All the note said was "I found this. It belongs to you". It was unexpected to say the least. I'm not quite sure what to do with my old vine wand, I tested and it works well enough, but it doesn't work quite as well as my new one. Maybe it's because I'm a different person now. And Harry, I'd appreciate it if you didn't mention this to Ron. I am not hiding it or lying to him, but I'd prefer to tell him about it in person, since I see him in two weeks anyway.

And I might not have your voice in my head, but I miss you too.

Love Hermione

PS: I'm sure you and Ron are over the moon about Quidditch, but how does the Ministry managing it financially? I would have thought sports was very low on their list of priorities.

A/N: It's the longest chapter yet! Likes? Dislikes? Any requests?