Generally people put an author's note at the start of the first chapter. But I have no idea what to say other than enjoy the story. Soooooooo, yeah. Enjoy the story!

Oh yeah, I don't own the Harry Potter characters or world. Rated M for language and future chapters.

Now you can enjoy the story.

"So how would you describe the year, Mr. Malfoy?"

Draco pursed his lips in thought. "This year? The school year or the entire year? Hell, I could describe the year before that if you'd like."

Mr. Kinder frowned. "This school year, Mr. Malfoy." It was said with just the barest hint of annoyance.

Draco breathed in deeply and exhaled in a rush. "Well, let's start at the beginning. I made some potions, got in some fights, made some friends. Oh, there was that one incident where I nearly died, but that seems to be a common occurrence in my life, so I'm ignoring it."

"You don't want to talk about Ms. Gr-"

"No, I'd rather not talk about Ms. Granger. I really don't want to talk about how I got magically attached to the single-most annoying witch on the planet. Twice, I might add! Or," Malfoy said with enthusiasm, "how I was, again, nearly killed because of her annoying-ness."

Mr. Kidner sat quietly, writing on a notepad. "So your relationship hasn't changed at all, then?"

Draco smiled. It was an actual smile, the only one Mr. Kidner had seen on the young boy since he met him.

"Our relationship? No, our relationship hasn't changed at all. Not in the slightest. Still the same. One hundred percent-"

"Alright Mr. Malfoy. You've made your point."

Draco smirked.

"What do you mean, we're going back?" exclaimed Ron.

"What I just said Ronald! It says right here in the letter!

*"Dear Ms. Hermione Jean Granger,

We are pleased to inform you that Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry has repaired itself, and will be open for a bright new year. Due to extenuating circumstances of the year prior, Hogwarts and the Ministry of Magic have decided that the students did not receive a full education, as the year before was too distressing. This means that every student of Hogwarts will be returning to repeat the previous year. There will be no exceptions to this. Students who were seventh years last year will become the newly dubbed eighth years; previous sixth years shall become seventh years, and so on. If you have any grievances regarding this letter, please contact the Minister of Magic, Kingsley Shacklebolt.

Minerva McGonagall, Headmistress of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry."

"But they can't make us go back!" Ron shouted.

"Apparently they can." Harry muttered.

Ron shot Harry a distressed look. "But Harry! We've got the Auror offer from Shacklebolt! We can't go back to Hogwarts."

"I don't see the problem with it," Ginny said simply.

"That's because you're going back anyway!" Ron yelled.

"Ronald, do not yell at your sister! And for Merlin's sake, sit down and shut up!"

The freckled red head was surprised into submission. This was the most verbal Hermione had been all summer. While the two boys and Ginny had played Quidditch, celebrating in their victory against Voldemort For the most part she had planted her nose in a book and kept quiet. It wouldn't worry the three so much, but she hadn't really said anything. She had seemed to pull into herself, and had not come out yet.

Ron had tried talking to her about House-Elf rights, but he had gotten a small smile from her before she turned back to her book. Harry, bless his heart, had gotten so many new books to try and coax Hermione from her shell, the Weasleys had to put an extension charm in a room to fit them all. Ginny had also tried talking to Hermione, but she had gotten as much as either Harry or Ron.

To say they were worried was an understatement. When Voldemort was defeated, and everyone had celebrated, and they had come back to the burrow, Hermione had gone to her room and hadn't come out for three days. Mrs. Weasley had the food delivered to her room, and told the rest of the people in the Burrow that she was just reading. She had changed clothes and kept up her hygiene, but besides that, Hermione only read.

When the letters came with the Hogwarts seal, no one had made to open them. The four Gryffindors had sat at the table, including Hermione for once, and just stared at the pieces of parchment. They had gone through four cups of tea, two sandwiches, and Hermione had finished a new book, before she had slammed the book on the table and took up the letter.

She tore through the envelope with an irritated expression, before she read silently. Her face had undergone a confused look, an excited look, and a surprised look before she looked up at the others.

"We're going back to Hogwarts."

That was all she said. No explanation, no details, just one little sentence. Hermione had gotten up from her chair, and raced upstairs. Ron, Ginny and Harry heard some banging around and a thump and they saw Hermione coming back down the stairs with her trunk. She placed it by the door and looked over at the three, still at the table and looking at Hermione like she'd gone crazy.

There was an odd silence before Ron had his little outburst.

And that's how they got to the present situation. Harry and Ginny had smiled a bit at Hermione's old bossy attitude.

"Now, like the letter said, we didn't get the best education last year-"

"Because we had 'extenuating circumstances', yeah." Ginny had widened her eyes for emphasis. She looked up at Hermione to see her glaring at her for interrupting.

"Sorry Hermione."

"Anyway, we didn't get the best education last year, and I agree with McGonagall and the Ministry; we have to go back. Think of all the things we didn't learn, all the work we missed."

"But...Hermione..." Ron started lamely.

"But what Ron? Don't you want to go back to Hogwarts, and not have to be worried about being killed? About just having one normal school year?" Hermione asked Ron in a quiet tone.

The three others sat in thought. Of course they did. They wanted a normal year, a normal life. But they had become so immersed with the strangeness and the harsh war life that they didn't think that a normal life could happen. What else had they known except war and fighting? They didn't know if they could be normal.

However, they also realized how much going back could help. They hadn't even known about the letter for five minutes and already Hermione was acting like her old self. The war had scarred them all and each person in that room needed a break, to get back to their old selves.

Harry, Ron, and Ginny all shared a look, making a silent agreement.

"I think," Harry started, "Hogwarts is just what we need."

At present, Hermione Granger sat in the Hogwarts express, looking out the window at the ever changing scene. She was tired. She had not slept that well since getting the letter, too excited to sleep. She had work to catch up on, books to read. The week before they were supposed to go to Hogwarts, Hermione had run around so much trying to get last minute things done, that Harry had to cast a spell on her just so she wouldn't wear herself down.

Harry and Ron were getting food from the trolley while Ginny went to find Luna. She was glad for the time alone. She loved her friends, but each of them had smothered her over the summer, convinced that something was wrong with her. She just simply wanted to read to get the thoughts and memories of war out of her head. Nothing was wrong. Everything was fine.


Life sucked. These were the two words that Draco Malfoy lived and breathed.

He was content with spending the rest of his days, not to mention his Galleons, ignoring everything around him. He wanted one, just one moment in life where he got to sit around and experience boredom and the horrid feeling that came with it.

But no.

McGonagall was staring at him with a raised brow. Like an idiot, Draco could only gape at his old Professor-turned-Headmistress, and pray to whatever wizarding deity, if there was such a thing, that he wasn't going to be arrested. Or hexed.

"Draco, darling, who is at the...door..." His mother trailed off. She was equally as stunned at the Headmistresses appearance. His mother cleared her throat.

"Mrs. McGonagall. What a...surprise," she finished lamely.

McGonagall looked back and forth between mother and son before giving off an impatient sigh.

"I won't dally long," she said. The old woman handed Draco a letter and stood silent as he read its contents. He was gaping even larger now and mouthing incoherent words. Mother took the letter from him and read it, worried at his reaction. She started sputtering as well.

"Many are inclined to bar you from the school, Mr. Malfoy. I had to persuade, and grovel, to the Governors Board that you would be on your best behavior and you would do everything in your power to remedy your...past transgressions."

Draco was going back to school.

He didn't want to go back to school! Merlin's saggy balls, there was no way he wanted to go back there of all places. Not to mention he quite liked the idea of no homework.

But there were forces, probably that wizarding deity that disagreed with him, and no words came out of his mouth.

"Dumbledore saw something in you young Mr. Malfoy. There are many things that I disagree with him on, but in your case, I am willing to give the benefit of the doubt. However," she started sternly, "you will be watched closely."

When his mother opened her mouth to protest, McGonagall held up her hand to silence her. "Believe me when I say I fought on this matter. However, it was the only way that I could get the Board to agree to let you back in. You will have sessions where a Ministry official will ask you all that you have done. There will be a session every two weeks, however I have managed to get the first month of the term free of these sessions, so that you may get settled."

She breathed in deeply and sighed. "I am taking a major risk with you Mr. Malfoy. Do not make me regret it." She had nodded at him and his mother and turned to leave, but Draco found himself sticking his hand out. She gave him a stunned look before accepting his hand and shaking it. Giving him another nod, she left.

For a few minutes he and Mother stood there in silence before Lucius voice cut in. "The gall the Ministry has, sending a Ministry official to spy on a member of the Malfoy family." "Well, we've not given them a reason to trust us in the past Father. No thanks to you." Then Draco had left with Lucius sputtering angry non-sense.

It was a mad flurry after that. His mother chattered happily about his return to school, Draco shopping for Hogwarts supplies, shutting himself in his room for some peace and quiet.

His mother gave him a tear filled hug goodbye with a watery smile and shooed him onto the Hogwarts Express.

Draco passed several people in his attempt to find an empty compartment. Many students gave him a wide eyed stare, while others glared at him. He had gone all the way to the end of the third car when someone shoved him from behind into an empty compartment. He was whirled around with a wand jabbed underneath his chin.

"You have a lot of nerve coming back here, Malfoy," growled Blaise Zabini.

Draco gave him a cool stare. "Is that so?"

Blaise stepped back, but kept his wand firmly pressed against Draco's throat.

"Yes Malfoy. You should know that you shouldn't have come back here..." Blaise lowered his wand.

"Especially since our usual compartment is in the front of the second car." Blaise smirked.

Draco cracked a smile. "Really now?"

Blaise rolled his eyes. "We've been in that compartment ever since first year, you idiot."

Blaise grabbed Draco by the shoulder and pulled him into an embrace. "It's good to see you mate."

Draco chuckled at his best friend. "You too. Although, I could have gone without the surprise attack. My shoulder's going to be bruised now."

Blaise shook his head. "And the world shall end." He eyed Draco curiously. "Why didn't you come to our regular spot?"

Draco sobered up. "I didn't think that after everything..."

"That we wouldn't welcome you back? Come on, Draco. That's in the past. And you must be an actual idiot if you think Pans and I would shun you. After all, we hardly have a clean slate."

Blaise, however, did not do what Draco had done. Zabini had gone to Italy with his mother, to wait out the end of the war. And the last Draco had seen of Pansy was when he grabbed Crabbe and Goyle from the dungeons.

"Come on, mate," Blaise said, giving Draco a warm smile. "Let's go sit down."

As it turned out, Pansy was also excited to find him. As soon as the dark haired girl saw Draco, she jumped out of her seat and enveloped him in a bone crushing hug.

"Ow. Pans...can't, can't breathe!"

"Oh sorry!" She hugged him again. Blaise laughed and rolled his eyes. "At least I didn't get as emotional as a woman, mate."

"What are you talking about Zabini? When you saw him pass by, you jumped up, cried 'Draco!' and ran after him. That sounds pretty feminine to me."

"Yes well, I didn't cry."

"Actually, Blaise, I'm pretty sure your eyes were watery when you hugged me, mate. I must say, very touching."

Blaise smacked Draco in the shoulder. The train lurched forward, signaling the train's departure.

The trio spent the time talking about their various summers. Draco left out most of his, and told them about the mini vacation he and Mother took after all the trials. They had gone to Egypt for a much needed get-away. Lucius did not come.

Pansy had spent the beginning of her summer burying her parents. Draco knew that Pansy hated both parents, but that didn't lessen the blow of losing them. She had then spent her time redecorating her manor, as everything was now hers. She went on shopping sprees and did everything Draco would expect Pansy to do in an emotional situation: ignore it.

Blaise on the other hand, had a marvelous time. He had met a girl or two or eight while in Italy, and had no qualm with spending time with all of them. His mother had met a new man, which Blaise had rolled his eyes at.

The three did not, however, talk about the war, trials, or Voldemort in general, and by the time they arrived at Hogwarts, the friends had caught up with one another. They changed into their robes and gathered their belongings that were in the compartments. Blaise was in the process of exiting the door, when a furious brunette brushed passed.


Blaise, having to scurry back in a sudden motion to avoid being trampled, turned and looked at his two friends. "Do you think, now that You-Know-Who is dead, we'll have a normal year?"

Each Slytherin contemplated the likelihood of that.

"Nope," they said at the same time. And they exited the train and found a carriage.

'A normal year at Hogwarts?' Draco laughed at the thought.

'No fucking chance.'

The school looked the same. It smelled the same, felt the same. It didn't look as though a war had taken place just months earlier. Draco wanted to feel smug, as his many donations of galleons went into the rebuilding, but he actually felt bad for once.

Damned conscience.

He felt far from smug, though, as part of the fault, if not all of the fault, fell on his shoulders. To be honest, Draco didn't know what to feel. He felt guilty, and yet given the choice, he'd do the same thing over again. Anything that would keep his parents safe.

He had been targeted and ostracized mercilessly, while not surprising, still left Draco feeling hollow. Feeling hollow, however, was nothing new.

He had made himself that way during sixth year, so he could avoid the feelings of guilt he knew it would bring. And then Dumbledore just looked on calmly as he faced his death, and that brought Draco apart. It was useless though, his emotions. He had to steel himself again when Voldemort had invaded his childhood home. And the hollow feeling stayed even after the war ended. Draco had relied on that empty hole for survival, and he knew he couldn't make it go away. On the Hogwarts express, Draco had found Blaise and Pansy, his two best friends, and for a moment he felt...something. But even as they sat there chatting animatedly, well Blaise and Pansy anyway, the moment faded and Draco was left to his shell. When the war ended, however, there wasn't anything to feel hollow about, but the feeling still stayed. So he had put on his big-boy robes and let the old Draco Malfoy shine through.

In the past, he had appeared indifferent, but schooling your expressions in front of people was necessary if you were a Malfoy. He was only indifferent to those he had wanted to seem indifferent to. But with Pansy and Blaise, hell even Goyle and Crabbe, he was different. His friends had noticed the change as well, but they were smart enough not to comment on it. Strange though, Draco almost wished they would comment on it, just say something so he could get it off his chest. But they were Slytherins, and Slytherins were infamous for being cold.

Maybe he should befriend a Gryffindor. Draco shook his head and snorted.

"Something funny mate?" asked Blaise.

"Just thinking of something ridiculous."

Blaise looked at him with amusement. "Should I be worried?"

"Oh, don't go all Hufflepuff on him Zabini. He was probably thinking about the possibility of you getting a girl," Pansy put in.

"But he said he was thinking about something ridiculous."

Pansy rolled her eyes. "Don't you catch on quick?"

Draco smiled very small. He may have had a dark hole within him, but his two best mates' antics always brought a smile to his face.

As they entered the Great Hall, murmurs of excitement rose. Most of them were from first years, or rather the new first years, but a few were from the older kids. Malfoy was honestly surprised that Hogwarts was forcing its students to have a repeat year. He was even more surprised when Headmistress McGonagall had come to his home to personally deliver his letter. That was another reason Draco was glad to be back at Hogwarts. Besides that he practically had grown up in the school, he got away from Lucius.

He had no doubt Lucius cared for him, in his own way. But with everything that Lucius had put them through because of his beliefs and associations, Draco would never forgive him for it.

Draco walked down the Slytherin table on the left side to the far end. Pansy sat to his right, while Blaise took the seat across from him. Draco watched as the rest of the students filled the tables up.

The Slytherin table was on the far left wall, with the Gryffindor table next to it and Ravenclaw along with the Hufflepuff table on the other side of the Great Hall. The teachers' table was also filling up. The magically enchanted ceiling showed a starry night beyond the floating candles. There was a long line of first years in the center of the hall. Dinner had not started yet, and Draco was actually hungry.

Draco went to comment on dinner when a younger Slytherin walked by and slammed his shoulder into him.

"Traitor." he said with a sneer, walking backwards before turning back around and going to the other side of the table.

"So the fun begins," Blaise said with an exasperated expression.

"Merlin, you recant the stereotypical pureblood views in court and sign a paper saying that you no longer have racist tendencies toward Mud- Muggle-borns, and suddenly the world hates you," commented Pansy.

Draco looked down the table at where the younger boy was sitting with a group of friends, all who were shooting Blaise, Pansy, and he dirty looks.

"Something tells me this is just the start." Draco murmured.

Any further conversation was interrupted by McGonagall calling for attention.

"Ladies and gentlemen, please take your seats and we will begin dinner shortly." Headmistress McGonagall called. "Firstly, the Forbidden Forrest is off limits. Secondly, I would like to thank you all for co-operating in this repeated year, as well as welcome all our new first years. We shall commence with sorting in a moment, but first I would like to introduce to you a few exchange students."

Whispers broke out in the Great Hall. Draco remembered reading about the exchange program in the Daily Prophet. Hogwarts and the Salem Witches Institute in America had decided to trade a few students as a test to see how different the learning styles were and as a way to strengthen the bonds of the wizarding world. Or at least that's what the Board said when they released a statement.

Draco knew it was really a chance for some of the students to escape this place with an excuse. Not that he blamed anybody for wanting a different start, but he didn't want to get stuck with a bunch of sodding Americans.

"Let me introduce you to Amy Larkly, Jacob Smith, Ben Eckardly, Felix Markins, and Valerie Jacobson." McGonagall called.

The Great Hall's doors swung open and the five newcomers strolled inside. They were clothed in the regular Hogwarts uniform, but without the robes. The first three were at least fourth years, so Draco didn't pay them any mind. The last two, though, were clearly his age. The boy, Felix had dirty blonde hair, was rather tall, and had strong facial features.

He was unnerved when he though was how...good looking the bloke was. Draco considered himself a ladies man - Not that he was bragging, but you didn't get nicknamed the Slytherin-sex god for nothing. Although most people didn't know that he'd been with maybe four girls. The rumor mill had its perks. He turned to make some snide remark to Pansy, but she was intently focused on Felix. "Pans? Hey Pans?"

He snapped his fingers in her face. She ignored him. "Merlin, he's gorgeous."

"I see you're not the only one who thinks so." Blaise was peering around the Great Hall. The girls, and even a few guys, were paying apt attention to the new boy.

"I don't think I've seen people this enraptured since those Veelas in fourth year at the World Cup." stated Blaise. Draco swung his head around to look at his best mate.

"Think that's what it is?"

Blaise snorted. "What else would it be? There's no way some American bloke would get that much attention. Not with me here anyway."

He flashed a cocky grin. Draco rolled his eyes and turned his attention back to the five at the front of the room. While Felix had an obvious ease and a confident stance, the girl was somewhat tense. There was a calm lethality to her, though and she viewed the Great Hall with a predator like gaze. She had black hair pulled back into a ponytail and her aristocratic features were relaxed.

"These five will also be sorted into a House, and I would like you all to treat them with respect and camaraderie."

"What are we a bunch of simpering Hufflepuffs?" Pansy, it seemed, had finally snapped out of her trance, but was still looking at the new boy.

Blaise turned to Draco. "Five galleons the older boy's sorted into Slytherin."

Draco smirked. "No chance. He has the looks of a Gryffindor. He's far too cocky and arrogant-"

"Look who's talking," muttered Pansy. Draco gave her a look.

"The girl, the one on the end, looks like a Slytherin though. Usual amount of galleons, Blaise."

"You're on," smiled Blaise.

The sorting went about like usual, with the Sorting Hat giving the students some stupid song, and all the first years looking petrified. Slytherin got a few new students, but not any that were worth Draco's attention. When it got down to the American's, the first three were sorted Ravenclaw, Ravenclaw, and Hufflepuff respectively.

Felix strode to the chair and sat down, and McGonagall placed the hat on his head. "Ah, yes. You have many qualities, Mr. Markins, many qualities. Your blood speaks to me. It is quite hard to miss."

Blaise shot Draco an 'in your face' look. Blaise wasn't the stereotypical Pureblood, but Slytherin was famous for the pure bloodlines.

"Veela magic flows through your veins, I see. You are one, are you not?"

"Half-Veela." Felix said in a bored tone. If anything the females swooned more at his voice.

"You would make an excellent Ravenclaw, yes, but your loyalty and courage are more profound. GRYFFINDOR!"

The new Gryffindor hopped off the stool and made his way over to an empty seat at his house table.

Draco shot Blaise a triumphant look. He held his hand out, and Blaise put a bag of galleons in his hand with great reluctance. When it was Valerie's turn the Hat didn't say anything for a minute.

"Hmmmm, I sense...could it be? Yeeees." The hat gave a small chuckle. "I have not had a student quite like you in some centuries." She wasn't looking at any of the houses. She had her gaze stuck to the floor in a sideways glance. The expression on her face was unreadable, however. "Hufflepuff would suit you ill, I think." Another small chuckle.

"My, but you are smart. Ravenclaw maybe..."

"Maybe these American's are smarter than we thought. They keep getting sorted into bloody Ravenclaw," Pansy inquired.

"But no, not Ravenclaw. Slytherin would suit you best, although... I feel reluctant on one matter."

The girl raised her eyes up to the hat. "And you wonder why not many articles of clothing are magical." She said.

The hat smiled, or what Draco thought was a smile. It was hard to tell with all the creases. Draco peered over at McGonagall briefly and was surprised to see a worried expression.

"Gryffindor might fit you. You are brave, and there are some valiant qualities in you," Valerie rolled her eyes, "but you have makings more for SLYTHERIN!"

Valerie slid off the stool with grace as the students clapped, and made her way over to the Slytherin table. She stopped and peered at the table briefly before she walked over to the end of the table where she plopped herself down right next to Blaise. Blaise leaned back slightly to look at her. She just cocked an eyebrow at him.

"Seat's not taken, is it?" Her voice was strong and laced with amusement and her American accent stood out.

Blaise looked at her for a minute before giving her a slow "No." Blaise continued to stare at her for a moment. Draco and Pansy shared a look. After a moment, Valerie leaned over to Blaise. He leaned in excitedly.

"Take a picture it lasts longer," she whispered. Pansy gave a bark of laughter while Blaise flushed with embarrassment.

"I like her already," said Pansy. Valerie gave her a light smile.

"So you have the makings of a Slytherin do you?" asked Blaise good-naturedly. "Ambitious, ruthless, cunning, and sometimes malicious?"

Valerie shrugged her shoulders. "When the situation calls for it." Draco smirked. "I think she'll fit in perfectly."

Valerie glanced at him. "I don't know about that." she said cryptically. She turned around towards the Gryffindor table. She peered around the Gryffindor table. Draco followed her gaze to the Felix chap. Felix looked at her a moment with a raised brow. Something passed between the two before she did a mocking two-finger salute. Draco chuckled, until he noticed who Felix was by. He was sitting right by Hermione Granger.

The last time Draco Malfoy saw Hermione Granger was at the Final Battle. Potter had just offed the psychotic snake man, and the Aurors had 'captured' him, Mother, and Lucius. Even though he and Mother had walked away before the showdown between scar head and Voldemort, the Aurors still arrested them. They were seated as far from anybody as possible in the Great Hall, or what remained of the Great Hall. Mother and Lucius had had their wands confiscated (Potter still had his) and they were trying to stay invisible to the crowd who was both celebrating and grieving. For the most part Draco and his parents were ignored and left alone, but on the occasion Draco looked up, he caught people shooting them dirty looks and glares.

Mother was sitting in between him and Lucius and was clutching Draco's hand like life depended on it. There was a group who had gathered around the Golden Trio, to congratulate them on their work. The one time he glanced over at them, he caught Granger's eye. They stared at each other for what seemed like hours before she finally turned away. A snort of laughter burst from him. Of course she didn't want to look at him, no one did. He was the one responsible for Dumbledore's death, even if he didn't shoot the killing curse. However, a dark feeling stayed in his chest. This was Granger. Out of her, Potter, and the Weasel, he thought she would be the most...understanding. He shook his head. No one understood. They didn't know what he had to go through. But Granger was the nicest, and smartest, of the three.

Though he was loath to admit, Draco had always respected Granger. How could he not? She was the smartest witch of their age, and a Muggle-born. Draco didn't have the prejudices against Muggle-born wizards and witches anymore, not with everything that had happened. He'd admired her for the qualities that she had, the ones he seemed to lack. It wasn't until she punched him in the nose in third year that he really started to pay attention to her. Not to mention the ball in Fourth year. But Granger dismissing him was the icing on the cake to this whole thing. He stayed in his dark corner until he heard someone walk up and stop in front of them. His heart stopped for a moment when he realized it was Granger. She seemed to be contemplating on what to do until his mother had spoken up.

"Yes?" Her tone was cautious and cold.

Granger breathed in deep before blurting out, "Do you need help?" All three Malfoys stared at her. "I mean, have you been looked at by a Medi-Wizard?" More staring. "Because if you haven't I could help." She found her confidence and stood straighter, daring them to say something offensive. When she was met with silence, she just moved forward and lifted her wand.

His mother flinched a little bit, and Hermione stalled. When his mother nodded her head, Granger started to heal the gash that was on his mother's arm. When that was done, she moved to Lucius. For once, the proud Pureblood didn't say a word against the Muggle-born. If anything, Granger's stare at his father was more resilient. Lucius must have been tired or he simply was too wounded, but he let Granger heal his wounds. And then it was Draco's turn. Her stare didn't falter in the slightest as she looked at him, and he didn't dare let himself read too much into the action. She muttered a soft, "May I?", and healed his wounds when he gave her a small nod. When she moved to his head gash, she held his chin with the softest touch. Her hands were warm and gentle on his cold skin. When she was done, she turned and walked away.

Before he could stop himself, he called out "Granger!" She turned around and he managed to mumble "Uh...Thanks."

She gave him a stiff nod and then left. His memories after that were blurred somewhat, as he was shuffled from Hogwarts to the Ministry and then to a holding cell in Azkaban. The Ministry officials had the sense not to align their selves with the Dementors, thankfully, but his stay there was very bleak and depressing. It wasn't a long stay, however, and he was shuffled back to the Ministry to stand trial.

To his amazement and utter surprise, Potter was there. The court was all set to condemn Draco, had it not been for Potter's testimony about him not handing the Golden Trio to Voldemort, or his reluctance to kill the Headmaster. Then Potter brought out a note from Granger, who apparently could not be there, and presented them with it. It was a long detailed fraction about how Draco was a confused kid with a horrible upbringing. Part of him wanted to be mad at that. He was always in his right mind. He never did things unless there was a reason that benefited him in some way, shape, or form. And as for his upbringing, well, he couldn't argue with her. But he kept silent because he knew at that point in time he was a confused kid. There was also some brief note from the Weasel, though Draco doubted it was from the goodness of his heart. He was cleared of all charges after that; Merlin forbid the Wizarding community does something against Saint Potter. His mother wasn't even given a trial, he later found out, as she was the one who lied to the Dark Lord about Potter's death. When he found out about that, his mother made it quite clear that it had nothing to do with Potter, but with her wanting to find him. If possible, that made Draco love her even more.

But as he found himself dragged from place to place, and even during his trial, he flashed back to Granger doing something as simple as healing his family's cuts and bruises. It spoke of the undying courage the girl seemed to have. And it made Draco feel better, as though she didn't blame him. He was drawn back to the present, the memory still fresh in his mind. Granger had given a slight jump when she found out he was looking at her. She was pulled away, though, when the Weasel started talking to her. Draco brought his attention back to his friends and the Slytherin table. Blaise was having a nice conversation with Pansy. Valerie on the other hand, was giving Draco a strange look. For some reason that look unnerved him, as if she could read his mind. McGonagall had called for dinner to appear, some spread of potatoes with steak, but he wasn't hungry anymore. Blaise and Pansy had talked to both Draco and Valerie, but he always felt Valerie's gaze on him. It wasn't until after dinner and all the students had gone to their own common rooms and dormitories for bed, that he felt safe from that knowing gaze.

Draco managed to get to sleep some hours later. He was tired from the day's events, and he still felt weird from Valerie's stare. But after a few hours' sleep, the nightmares came, as they always did. He couldn't remember a night when he didn't have nightmares. He would wake up in a cold sweat, panting from whatever the dream held that night. Sometimes he could roll over and get back to sleep for maybe an hour or two, but most times he would just get up and read or something to pass the time. He soon realized that this was one of those nights where he couldn't get back to sleep, so he sat up and got out of bed. Draco was put in the same room as Blaise, Goyle, Flint, and Nott.

The beds were positioned in a circle around the room with three beds on one side and two on the other. Each bed was a dark cherry wood with green drapes around them. There was a very small fireplace that separated the three beds from the two, and it was currently ablaze with a warm fire. There was silver and green carpet on the floor that had the Slytherin crest on it with some swirls of design. Each bed had the respective owner's chest at the foot of it. Draco of course claimed one of the two by the window, as was his right, and Blaise was in the bed to the right of his. On the other side Goyle was snoring loud enough to suck the drapes off the bed. Draco had managed to catch a glimpse of Goyle earlier in the Great Hall, and to be honest, his once-lackey looked horrible. He had dropped weight and his face looked ashen and sunken. Draco attested that with the loss of Crabbe and Goyle's father.

Goyle hadn't been right after Crabbe died, and it appeared his father's death put him over the edge. Draco was sad as he thought about Crabbe. Contrary to popular belief, Draco did see the two imbeciles as friends. They weren't the brightest of the bunch, but they were loyal and that's all Draco could ask for. He didn't mind sharing his dormitory with Goyle. Nott and Flint were another story. Flint was just a downright ass, and not in the playful sense. He would stab you in the back if given a knife, and Draco always kept an eye on the boy. Nott was just a cocky idiot. He had his uses, but for the most part, Draco saw him as insignificant. He had voiced those thoughts by Blaise once, and his mate had merely rolled his eyes and said,

"You think everyone but yourself is insignificant Malfoy."

Blaise had gotten a rather nasty Stinging Hex for that particular comment. Not wanting to hole up inside his room for hours until everyone else woke, he grabbed his silk robe and crept downstairs. The common room seemed to be the only room that wasn't touched by the effects of war. The others had been rebuilt, albeit the same as before, but the Slytherin common room had the original work of Hogwarts, and that made Draco feel smug. There was still a slight green glow from the lake in the room, but that felt homey to Draco. The room itself was large, with a few sitting places here and there. The main spot, the spot Draco had always sat at, was in front of a very large fireplace. His spot was on the large black leather couch that had a matching chair on either side, so that the seats made a box around the fireplace.

As he came down the stairway, he was surprised to find it still lit. It must have not gone out yet. There was a small walkway that led to the entrance to the common room to the right, if you were looking at the fireplace. A few desks were against the other three walls for students to do their homework along with some bookshelves.

Draco was making his way down the stairs of the boy's dorms when he heard someone talking.

"-have got to be kidding me. This school year hasn't even started, and you expect me to-"

"We expect you to do as you're told."

The new girl, Valerie was crouched in front of the fireplace, talking to someone through the Floo. He couldn't see the person, so he figured the person's head was just through. He also couldn't see the head because both Valerie and the small coffee table were blocking his view. He could hear the voice, though, and it sounded like an older male.

"If you expect me to be some little puppet on strings, then you gave me the wrong job. I won't sit back and allow you to put hundreds of innocent lives on the line because you all think that you have some sort of claim on the land. You don't, and by rights, it's theirs."

The fire place snorted. "It's already been put through and approved. It's done."

Valerie jolted up into a standing position. "You had no right to-"

"We have every right. You may be farther up on the power pyramid, be we are not without our connections."

Valerie stood there seething. She was quiet as she looked down into the flames. She was wearing strange Muggle attire and looked rather comical in the glow of the fire. She sighed angrily before kneeling back down before the fireplace.

"Fine. But I want five times the amount of precautions," she ground out.

The fireplace sputtered. "You can't expect tha-"

"The hell I can't. You either quintuple the security, or your connections won't count for shit. I will not have a repeat of Yellowstone. Is that understood." The last part was not a question.

The man in the fireplace was silent, and Draco could imagine that he was glaring at the American girl.

"Very well." And with a whoosh the man in the fire was gone.

Valerie brought one hand up to be placed on top of her head and the other she wiped across her mouth. She stood there before she relaxed, whether in relief or defeat, Draco could not tell. Valerie took a step back and lowered herself onto the table behind her. She rested her elbows on her knees and put her head in her hands.

"Didn't your mother ever teach you not to eavesdrop?"

Draco straightened in surprise. He remembered he wasn't supposed to be there, listening. Her choice of words also brought a flashback from sixth year, but he shook it off.

Striding forward, Draco sat down in his usual spot.

"Didn't your mother teach you that secret trysts are bad?"

She turned around and gave him an incredulous look. "Really? That's your comeback?" She mumbled something under her breath. "And I wished it was a tryst."

Draco laughed. "Well, I could have said something about your night clothes. And if it wasn't your boyfriend, then who was it?"

Valerie leaned back so that she was lying down on the table. "People I'd don't want to deal with."

The pair stayed silent out of sheer awkwardness when Valerie spoke up.

"So what brings you down here at three in the morning...whatever your name is?"

She didn't know who he was?

"Uhh, Draco Malfoy."

Her eyes widened in surprise. "Oh."

Never mind.

Draco did not expect her to shrug her shoulders and say, "Nice to meet you."

He looked at her, dumbfounded. "What?"

She gave him a weird look, which looked twice as weird because her head was hanging over the side of the table. "I said nice to meet you. That's what people generally say when they talk to someone they just met."

"Oh," he said stupidly. He thought about it for a moment and asked, "So you don't know who I am?"

She snorted. "Of course I do. But I reserve judgment until I actually know a person."

Draco didn't know if he should be relieved or worried.

"So you never answered my question: why are you down here so late? Or, early, as it is."

Draco chuckled without humor. There was no way he was telling her the real reason. For one, he'd just met her, and there was something about her that made him uneasy. Another thing was that he didn't like to share about himself. Blaise and Pansy didn't even know about his nightmares, or at least he hadn't told them about it.

"Let's just say I like the night."

"Awwww, a fellow night owl. I can relate of course..."

'Good. She bought it,' he thought.

"...that is, if you weren't lying."

Draco blanched. Valerie sat up, and something in her eyes flashed.

"You've got dark circles under your eyes, your eyes are bloodshot, and your overall appearance is just frazzled." She leaned forward. "You need to be a little more convincing next time. What is it, nightmares?"


She shrugged and leaned back. "No need to say anything. Secrets come out in time."

Despite all the thoughts flowing through his brain, Draco chose not to comment. If she had figured it out, then so be it. But no one had ever called him out on a lie, ever. Then again, however, she was right. His appearance could have been more convincing. And if anyone was going to play this game, they shouldn't have picked him for an opponent. He was a master at this. His thoughts turned to earlier, in the Great Hall. He put on his most arrogant attitude and let a coy smile played on his lips.

"Alright I have nightmares, you called it. What's your big secret?"

She blinked several times. "Pardon?"

"Those secrets the Sorting Hat was talking about? What are they?"

She cocked her head to the side and narrowed her eyes. They flashed again.

She smirked and put a finger to her lips. "Need to know."

"That's not fair."

She laughed and got up. "Life's a bitch."

Before she could make it to the stairs leading to the girls dormitories, he called out.

"I'll find out. By your own admission secrets come out eventually."

She turned to face him and smiled a mischievous, wicked smile.

"Who's to say they haven't?"

So that's the first chapter. Hope you liked it!

Oh, and if you have any song recommendations for future chapters or characters, do tell!