Hermione Jean Granger believed that she was fiercely independent, and many would agree with her. She did what she believed was right in her heart and tried to follow it as best she could. Right now, her heart was being sucker punched by her brain that craved all the knowledge it could hold. Being such a bookworm she decided to return to Hogwarts, a place she had deeply missed while searching for horcruxes, for her seventh year. When she told those important in her life she was met with mixed opinions. Her parents applauded her decision to continue her education, and Luna and Ginny were ecstatic that the three would spend their final year together. As for Ron…
…Well with Ron it was complicated. Things were always complicated with her…boyfriend? She believed that was the proper term. She cared very deeply for him, always had, always would, and he clearly felt the same way towards her. They had been spending nearly every spare moment together. She helped him grieve Fred and he was there to help with her nightmares. Occasionally, there were kisses…but Hermione always stopped them just as quickly as they began. That, unfortunately, is where it got complicated.
Ron loved her. Not in a best friend, been through everything together way. No, it was more like a…grow old surrounded by twenty children that all have Weasley red hair way. If she let herself think about it, she had to admit that it might be pleasant. Her brain would insist that it was simply logical, therefore, that was the way it should be. Her heart however…well that's another story for another day.
When she told Ron and Harry that she wanted to return to Hogwarts, Ron's initial reaction had been...mildly disappointed to say the least.
"I'm not going back," he said as he crossed his arms.
Hermione shrugged, "I'm not asking you to," she said gently.
The anger started churning inside of him and he quickly uncrossed his arms and raised them over his head, "This is not how it's suppose to be! The three of us were suppose to go through Auror training together." He slapped his hands on the kitchen table angrily, "Why do you want to change that?"
Hermione forced herself to remain calm and levelheaded…one of them had to be, and clearly it wasn't going to be Ron. "Ronald, it's just something I need to do. I want to go back and complete my N.E.W.T.S-"
"-Hermione, after everything we've been through, you will be accepted into any field you choose! There's no point in returning to school." He looked at her with disappointed blue eyes, "It's not the smart thing to do."
Hermione's plan to remain calm was beginning to fade and in its place she came up with a list of rather impressive come backs, if she said so herself.
"I think it's a good idea Hermione," Harry interjected, sensing another row coming on.
A faint smile crossed her face, "You really think so Harry?"
He nodded, "I know how important school was to you," he shrugged, "I was actually surprised it took you this long to decide to go back."
She grinned sheepishly, "I've been thinking about it since the war ended," she admitted softly.
Ron shook his head in disbelief, "Traitors. The lot of you." He stormed out of the kitchen and ran upstairs to his room. Hermione turned around to call after him but decided against it. "What's the point?" She asked softly to herself. She placed her head in her hands and let out a soft sigh. She rested her hands on the table, "I have to go back," she said softly.
Harry reached out and gave her hand a gentle squeeze, "I know." He looked down at their joined hands, "I don't know how I'll make it through Auror training without you."
She smiled, "You'll be brilliant Harry," she said reassuringly giving his hands a squeeze in return. "I can't imagine being back there without you and Ron."
"I'll write all the time," he said hoping to comfort her, "You'll receive so many letters it'll seem like I'm right next to you."
She shook her head, "Hardly." The two remained quiet for a moment, "Harry?"
Her nickname always made her blush. He had said it casually said it one day in the woods and it just stuck. He very rarely called her that, and only when the two were alone. "You'll look after yourself?" she asked worriedly, "I can't imagine Auror training being much more difficult than what you've already gone through but," she paused and looked at him with bright brown eyes, "Please just look after yourself."
Harry grinned and Hermione instantly felt a smile of her own creeping on her lips. Harry's smiles were always contagious. He nodded his head, "I promise."
"Will you look after Ron?"
Harry's smile faltered slightly, "Of course."
Hermione leaned across the table and kissed his forehead, like she had done so many times before. She smiled down at him, "Thank you, for everything Harry."
She gave him one last smile before heading over to the stairwell, she knew she had to work things through with Ron, or this would be the longest summer of her life.
"Look after Ginny for me."
Hermione turned and saw the protectiveness in his face. She gave him a small smile and a nod. She watched as his face relaxed slightly and he leaned back in his chair. Hermione knew the thought of spending even more time away from Ginny was killing him. She gave him another smile before walking up the stairs, hoping one day to be that much in love with someone.
Hermione looked up at the giant Hogwarts Express sitting in front of her. In the years past just the mention of the Hogwarts Express made her heart race with excitement. The excitement was still there of course, but now it was accompanied with a little dose of panic. She turned around to Ron and Harry, "I changed my mind."
Ron beamed and Harry simply rolled his eyes, "No you didn't."
"You heard the lady Harry!" Ron grabbed a hold of her trolley, "Lets get her back home."
Harry ignored him and rested his hands on Hermione's shoulders, "I know you're just worried about being Head Girl-"
"-I left school! That's not exactly Head Girl behavior!" She shook her head, "What is McGonagall thinking?"
"She's thinking that you're the brightest witch of our decade, probably century, and nobody deserves to be Head Girl more than you do." Harry said reassuringly. He turned his head, "Oi! Ron! Get back here!"
Hermione watched as Harry chased down Ron, who had promptly run away with Hermione's trolley.
"Our boyfriends are ridiculous."
Hermione looked to her right and smiled at the youngest Weasley, "That they are."
"It's sweet that they want us to stay with them," she acknowledged, "Last night Harry had shrunken everything in my trunk and hid them all over my room." She laughed, "He even hid one of my textbooks in his-" she blushed furiously, "It's just all very sweet."
Ron glumly walked back with Hermione's trunk, "Curse you Potter." He looked sadly at Hermione, "Here's your trolley."
"Look how sad you've made him Hermione," Ginny teased. She gave her brother a quick hug good bye before turning to Harry. She gestured to a small, unoccupied corner, "Lets go say goodbye over there." Before he could reply Ginny had grabbed him by the hand and quickly made her way to the corner, not that Harry had any objections.
"So you're really going?"
Hermione's attention returned to the tall red head standing in front of her. "Yes," the smallest hint of remorse hung in the air. Ron nodded acceptingly, "There's nothing I can do to change your mind?"
She shook her head softly, "I'm afraid not Ronald." She wrapped her arms around his middle and gave him a tight hug, "Be careful Ron."
He rested his chin on her head and breathed in her scent, "I'll miss you Hermione,"
She felt him place kisses in her hair and tears filled her eyes. She tried to will them away, but her attempts were futile. Ron looked down at her and gave her a small smile, "Don't cry Hermione, we'll still see each other all the time." He bent his knees so they could be at eye level, "Winter break will come soon enough, and I'll see if I can sneak away from Auror training and meet you at Hogsmeade."
Hermione smiled tearfully at Ron, "You'll get in trouble," she insisted.
Ron shrugged and stood up tall, "Harry and I were already planning it. I was going to let it be a surprise but I thought it might cheer you up." He studied her face, "Did it work?"
Hermione laughed and nodded her head, "Yes."
Ron grinned proudly and bent down to kiss her eagerly.
"Get a room lovebirds," Ginny teased.
Ron shot his sister a look, "Or a corner," he snapped back.
Ginny glared at her brother for a moment before turning to Harry and wiping the traces of lipstick from his face. She gave him one last quick hug and turned to Hermione, "C'mon Hermione, Hogwarts awaits!"
Hermione watched long red hair swish from side to side and board the train. She turned back to the two most important people in her life. "I guess this is it."
Ron pulled her in for another hug, "Bye Hermione."
She smiled into the hug, "Bye Ron."
He pulled away, looked at Harry, and gestured to over to the opposite end of the station, "I'm just going to wait over there."
Harry nodded and the two watched Ron walk away. "He doesn't want to see the train leave," Harry said softly.
Hermione frowned slightly, "Oh Ron." The Hogwarts Express echoed its warning of departure causing the remaining straggling students to hurriedly say their last goodbyes.
"I should go."
Harry nodded sadly, "You don't want the train to leave without you."
Hermione laughed, "Then I'd have to steal Mr. Weasley's car and fly to Hogwarts," she gave him a serious look, "The Whopping Willow wouldn't be able to take it."
He laughed for a moment before his face became very serious. He held open his arms and Hermione wrapped her arms around him. She sighed and felt more tears threatening to fall. She pulled away, "Bye Harry."
"It's not good bye," he insisted, "I promised you a letter a day." He shrugged and gently wiped away her tears, "This is a talk you later, not good bye."
Hermione laughed and blinked back the few remaining tears. She took a deep breath and gripped the handles on her trolley, "Talk to you later Harry."
He gave her a comforting smile, "Talk to you later Hermione."
McGonagall was insane, and Hermione was sure of it. She marched away from the Headmistress' office positive that, even though McGonagall insisted she didn't, the headmistress had made a very, very, big mistake. Her eyebrows wrinkled in confusion as she walked over to the Head's common room. She angrily whispered the password and the portrait of a small child swung open. The Head Boy sat on a plush couch facing a roaring fire. He looked over at her, "Well?"
Hermione crossed her arms, "It isn't a mistake." She cleared her throat, "Headmistress McGonagall believes you are a good example for the students," she paused, "Proof they can change."
He laughed, "She's mental. Really, she's as mental as Dumbledore." He noted Hermione serious face and stopped laughing instantly, "Granger, not that it's going to matter to you, but I have changed."
Her icy glare remained just as steady, "Why should I believe you?"
He shrugged, "You don't have to believe me. It'll just make things a little easier if the Head Boy and Head Girl were at least on speaking terms with one another. Lets just be civil to one another," he stuck out his hand, "Do we have a deal Gran-" he paused, "Hermione?"
She paused for a moment and cautiously shook his hand, "Fine." The two stood in an awkward silence, each one avoiding looking at the other. Hermione looked around the room for some sort of escape… "My room!" She looked over at him, "Good night!"
He nodded in her direction and returned to the couch. She shut her bedroom door firmly behind her. So her escape plan wasn't as graceful as she had planned, in fact it was quite awkwardly done, but oh well, it did the job. She admired her new room, in fact if she was being honest, it was even better than the room she had at her house. The room was decorated with toned down versions of the Gryffindor colors making the room very warm and inviting. It wasn't a particularly large room, but she had just spent the last year of her life in a tent, so she was grateful for anything. The room was furnished with a full-sized four-poster bed, a dresser, and much to Hermione's pleasure, a desk. She immediately knew this would be her new favorite place to study. Hermione collapsed onto her bed and sighed, this room was perfect.
She sat up on her bed and looked around for a second time, this time noticing a door in the back of the room. She hopped off of her bed and curiously opened the door…to her own private bathroom. She leaned against the wall and smiled knowing this was probably the last time she would have her own bathroom. She had a hunch that Ginny would stop by more than occasionally to take advantage of The Head Girl's perk.
She changed into a pair of her most comfortable pajamas and sat down at her desk. She looked over to the small clock on her wall and sighed. Eight o'clock. She wasn't the slightest bit tired. She had thought about grabbing her Charms textbook and reading in her new common room, but decided against it. For the first time in years, she was actually bored at Hogwarts. She looked down at the framed picture on her desk. Harry, Ron, and Hermione smiled back at her. Harry then whispered something in Hermione's ear causing picture Hermione to laugh.
Hermione smiled to herself remembering exactly what Harry had whispered. She watched as moments later Harry had changed Ron's hair color from its natural red to Slytherin green. The change went unnoticed by Ron, until the other two laughed uncontrollably. She watched the picture five times in a row, each time missing the boys more and more.
She pulled out a few pieces of parchment and dabbed her quill in her container of ink.
I was looking at that old picture of the three of us and I decided to write you. I can't believe how much I already miss you and Harry! The castle feels so strange without you two, but that being said, I'm still so glad to be back. You'll never guess who the Head Boy is. McGonagall swears that he'll be an excellent Head Boy, I guess for now I'm just going to have to trust her. I hope everything is going well with you. You're probably spending your last night before leaving for training with your family, no doubt your Mum made a feast. Please give them all my best.
She sealed the letter and put it aside. She dipped her quill once more and began her second.
Do you remember that time in sixth year when you dyed Ron's hair green? Do you remember how made he got when Collin gave me a copy of that picture? You'll be pleased to know that I have it sitting on my desk, yes Harry; since I am Head Girl I now have a desk. How wonderful is that? Can you imagine how much studying I will be able to get done?
Anyways, I was looking at that picture tonight. I miss you and Ron so much. It doesn't feel like I'm really back to Hogwarts without you two beside me. I guess I just need to get use to my new room and get into a routine, and then maybe that feeling will go away.
Speaking of my new room, guess whom McGonagall made Head Boy.
She sighed, remembering that this wasn't a face-to-face conversation. She would have to tell him right out.
Malfoy. He decided to return for his seventh year and McGonagall made him Head Boy. I was pretty shocked when I first found out. I'm embarrassed to admit this, but I even went to McGonagall's office and asked if she had made some mistake.
She reflected for a moment and blushed.
Looking back on it that was probably one of the rudest things I've ever done in my life. First thing tomorrow I shall apologize. Malfoy and I haven't spoken much. For the brief moment that we did speak he insisted that he's changed. He said that we should behave civilly towards one another…which I haven't exactly been.
This letter is becoming more like my diary, and I'm very sorry for that Harry.
I should also apologize to Malfoy tomorrow. I guess I should also call him Draco; he actually managed to call me Hermione without randomly combusting. I'm so disappointed in myself, it's my first night as Head Girl and I've behaved deplorably…
How have you been? No doubt you probably are still full from dinner. Is Mrs. Weasley still making you eat thirds of every meal? She most likely made some amazing last-dinner-before-training dinner. Are you excited for training to begin? Be sure to let me know what training is like. I'm really glad you and Ron are going through training together; that alone will give you an advantage over everyone else. Be sure to look after one another, I don't know what I'd do if anything happened to the two of you. What's the letter equivalent to "chatting your ear off"? Read your eyes off? Anyways, I'm sorry I rambled on. I'll talk to you soon.
She sealed Harry's letter and threw on a sweatshirt. She glanced over at the clock, making sure she wasn't breaking curfew, before quickly reminding herself that curfew for the Heads was not until midnight. She slipped on her shoes and walked to the owlrey, hoping her letters would make it The Burrow before they left for training.
She watched as the school's small barn owl with her letters disappeared from sight. She waited until she could no longer see the owl before making it back to her new room. Every inch of this castle contained a memory for her. She sighed sadly, this year was going to be very different. She whispered the password and found Draco snoring loudly on the couch. She accioed a blanket from her room and covered the sleeping Slytherin. She watched as his leg twitched slightly in his sleep. She bit her lip holding back a laugh. Something about seeing Draco sleep and hearing him snore gave Hermione a feeling that perhaps he had changed. If someone was so evil, why did they look so helpless when they slept?
Her brain then filled with memories of all the bad Draco had done to her in the past. She groaned and went into her room; it was going to take a while before she could get her heart and her head to agree, but for now she settled on keeping her word and being civil with Draco.
She was going to be civil with Draco? She sighed a plopped onto her bed. Yes, this year was going to be very different indeed.