|SIYE Time:5:41 on 22nd February 2018|
Characters:Harry/Ginny, Hermione Granger, Ron Weasley
Genres: Drama, Romance
Warnings: Disturbing Imagery, Mild Language, Mild Sexual Situations
Summary: The year after the war was a confusing time for the teen warriors. They had fought against the greatest evil - what was next? Follow them as they try to find out. Canon pairings.
Hitcount: Story Total: 84117; Chapter Total: 3940
Awards: View Trophy Room
Thank you to my wonderful betas seekers_destiny and StephanieO! I appreciate their hard work. Thank you for the emails and Silver Trinket Nominations! It is so nice to know that people enjoy your work :)
Following Hermione down the aisle of the train, Ginny soon found herself in the Prefects’ compartment. It was large, the size of two normal compartments. There was a large bench behind a desk in the front of the compartment facing the rest of the benches. She didn’t know how it was normally set up, but there were enough benches for the twenty-six Prefects that had been chosen for this school year. In a semi-circle around the front desks, were three rows of benches with an extra bench in the front row for the two extra Prefects.
Turning, Ginny smiled to see Bruce Miller, the Head Boy. “Bruce, it’s good to see you.”
Ginny hugged him briefly. The two of them headed to the front benches. Bruce had a sheaf of parchment in his hand. He gestured towards it. “You have a lot of really good ideas for this year. My mum is thrilled with the idea of the parents’ weekend.”
“Good,” Ginny said happily. “I’m hoping it will become a yearly event.”
As one of Bruce’s housemates distracted him, Ginny set her notes down on the desk and waved to several of the Prefects. She found that she knew all of the seventh year Prefects and most of the sixth years. Her eyes narrowed as Astoria Greengrass breezed in with the other Slytherin Prefects.
Ginny watched them a bit uneasily. While the known Death Eaters had all been arrested, she was well aware that there were still sympathizers in school. Astoria gestured towards Ginny and said something her friends all found very funny. Ginny blushed even though she didn’t know exactly what they’d said. She imagined it was not at all complementary towards her.
Looking at the list of Prefects that Professor McGonagall had sent her, Ginny read the names of the Slytherin Prefects. The Slytherin Prefects were listed as — Seventh year: Michael Pratt & Renee Flint, Sixth year: Irvin Gamp & Astoria Greengrass, Fifth year: Joshua Herdman & Posey Parkinson.
She nearly groaned out loud. Half of them were associated with known Death Eaters and none of them came from moderate families. Astoria and Posey were busy whispering together and the way they kept gesturing at Ginny, she had no doubt about the topic of conversation. Glancing at the pair from underneath her hair, she wondered if she could get away with a Bat Boogey Hex. She knew she couldn’t, but she spent a minute or two imagining giant bats flapping around the two girls.
Bruce re-joined her and they called the meeting to order. Ginny had actually been a bit nervous about the meeting as she’d never attended a Prefect meeting before, but when she realized that she knew most of the Prefects she relaxed.
“I’d like to welcome everyone back to Hogwarts. This year is going to be a rebuilding year for the school and for all of us. I’ve spoken to Professor McGonagall and the two main emphases for the year are going to be communication and safety. Professor McGonagall will be explaining all of the safety protocols that have been put in place during the welcoming feast.
“Our job as Prefects will be to act as role models to the younger students and support the staff. We plan to have several fun events during the school year. The biggest event that we have planned so far is the Parents’ Weekend that will be held the weekend of October 25 & 26.”
Ginny looked around the room and was pleased to see that everyone was paying attention and seemed happy with the plan. She explained the concept of the Parents’ Weekend and soon had volunteers to help with the event. The rest of the meeting ran smoothly. Bruce discussed the patrolling schedule and the regular meetings that would be held during the year.
Everyone seemed enthusiastic and happy to be back at school. As most of the people in the room had been targeted the previous year, they all agreed that reassuring the students and parents they were safe was paramount. Everyone that is except the Slytherin contingent. Ginny gritted her teeth several times during the meeting as she watched Astoria and Posey pass notes back and forth. She wanted to set fire to the parchment, but she also didn’t want to start hostilities so soon.
As the meeting broke up, Ginny noticed Astoria leaning over to pick up something she’d just dropped on the floor. Ginny almost gasped when she saw the pendent the girl was wearing. It was a golden pendent of the Dark Mark. Looking at the other Slytherin girls, Ginny saw that Posey was wearing the same pendent. She was rather surprised that neither of them bothered to hide the necklaces.
Astoria wandered up to the front of the room. She was a tall, leggy blonde and she towered over Ginny. Smirking down at the smaller girl, she said, “I hear you managed to trap Potter into marrying you.”
“I didn’t trap him,” Ginny said angrily.
Astoria reached down and grabbed Ginny’s left hand, lifting it so she could see the ring. Several people had already done that, but it was all Ginny could do not to wrench her hand out of Astoria’s.
“I hear he couldn’t even be bothered to buy you a new ring,” Astoria laughed. “I certainly wouldn’t settle for a second hand ring, but of course I imagine you’ve never seen anything half as nice.”
She turned to Posey who had joined her friend. “Potter gave her an emerald. These low class blood traitors can’t even pick out proper jewellery.” Turning back to Ginny she said, “I wouldn’t accept something as cheap as this.”
Posey tittered at her friend’s comment. “I wouldn’t accept a used ring. Of course a stupid little blood traitor like you wouldn’t know anything about good jewellery.”
Pulling her hand away, Ginny said angrily. “I don’t notice anyone offering you anything.”
Posey’s face changed. “That’s because your horrible fiancé murdered my Vincent. We were going to be betrothed next year.”
“Draco is negotiating with my father,” Astoria said proudly.
Ginny laughed. “You do realize that Draco spent his time here sleeping with her slag of a sister, don’t you?”
Astoria lifted her head. “I expect my man to come to me with experience. I can’t imagine Saint Potter would know what to do with a girl. He was certainly enthralled by me and my sister.”
“I think the word you were looking for is sickened,” Ginny replied acidly. “I heard you gave him enough of a preview.”
“Draco appreciates a more sophisticated style,” Astoria said smugly.
Ginny rolled her eyes. “I don’t think looking like a cheap tart is a style.”
Posey pulled her friend back when it looked like she might physically attack Ginny. The two girls started gathering their belongings to head back to their own compartment.
“Ginny, you can’t go around picking fights with other prefects,” Hermione scolded as she joined her friend at the front of the room.
“I didn’t start it,” Ginny said. Turning so her back was to the Slytherin group, she said quietly, “Astoria and Posey are both wearing pendants of the Dark Mark.”
Hermione’s eyes flew over to the Slytherin group who were currently leaving the compartment. She shook her head. “I guess they can’t resist showing their allegiances.”
Looking around the room, Ginny assessed the rest of the group. All of the other six and seventh year Prefects had been in the Defence Association the year before, many had sought refuge in the Room of Requirement before the end of the year.
“What are you thinking?” Hermione asked Ginny. “I know it’s upsetting, but there is nothing we can do about it now. You are Head Girl, you need to act accordingly.”
“I know,” Ginny replied. “I’ll report them to Professor McGonagall when we arrive at school. I don’t want to tip them off beforehand.”
“What?” Hermione looked at her in confusion. “Tip them off about what?”
“Hermione, there is a zero tolerance policy for the Dark Mark,” Ginny reminded her friend. “If they are caught with those pendants they will be expelled.”
“That’s not an actual Dark Mark,” Hermione argued. “Surely they can’t be expelled for wearing jewellery.”
“The Dark Mark is a symbol of beliefs that won’t be tolerated any longer,” Ginny replied. “At the World Cup it was simply a symbol shot up into the sky, but that didn’t stop the Ministry from trying to arrest you, did it?”
“I guess that’s true,” Hermione admitted.
“Last year they used to draw that symbol all over the place,” Demelza said as she joined the other two.
“You saw it too?” Ginny asked.
Demelza nodded. “They aren’t trying very hard to keep it hidden. We need to make sure they don’t cause the younger kids to panic.”
“None of them volunteered to patrol the train,” Bruce said as he joined them. “Hopefully they’ll stay in their own compartment until we get to school. We’ll make certain to watch out for them.”
“I have the first patrol,” Luna spoke up for the first time. “I will make sure they don’t scare anyone.”
Hermione watched the other Prefects for a moment. She felt rather out of place and for the first time questioned her decision to return to finish her schooling.
Hermione and Justin stayed behind with Bruce to make sure all of the younger students made it to the boats or carriages while Ginny hurried ahead to speak to Professor McGonagall.
She found the older witch in the Entrance Hall greeting returning students. Ginny had to smile at how right it looked to see her there.
“Miss Weasley, welcome back,” Professor McGonagall said with a small smile.
“Thank you,” Ginny said. Looking around, she leaned closer to the older woman. “I need to talk to you about something I saw on the train.”
Properly reading Ginny’s expression, Professor McGonagall led her to the small anteroom where the first years would soon be gathering. “What happened?”
“Astoria Greengrass and Posey Parkinson are both wearing a golden pendent of the Dark Mark,” Ginny said anxiously. “I saw the necklaces while they were in the Prefects’ meeting. Luckily they didn’t patrol the train and we made sure they stayed in their compartments. They were acting…I don’t know how to explain it, but kind of like the Slytherins did last year. Like they were above the rest of us and didn’t have to follow any rules.”
Professor McGonagall’s lips thinned as she listened to Ginny’s story. “Unfortunately, I know exactly what you mean. I will take care of it.”
Nodding Ginny headed back out into the Entrance Hall to wait for Hermione. She noticed Professor McGonagall head into the Great Hall and returned a few moments later with a man Ginny recognized as an Auror named Proudfoot. He had several other Aurors with him, none Ginny recognized, but she recognized the robes.
As she watched the carriage carrying the Slytherins arrived at the castle. Astoria exited the carriage first and her eyes fell upon the group of Aurors. She laughingly said something to the others who were exiting the carriage. None of them seemed overly concerned.
Auror Proudfoot approached the group and spoke to Astoria. She looked him up and down and attempted to dismiss him as one might a servant. The Aurors quickly surrounded the group and led them off a short distance. Ginny could see the Aurors searching the students. They must have found the pendants because soon Astoria, Posey, and another girl whose name Ginny couldn’t remember stood with their hands bound behind them. One of the boys soon joined them and Ginny could hear them yelling about discrimination and their parents from where she stood.
Professor McGonagall approached the group and spoke briefly to the Auror. After listening to the Auror, she spoke to the students before turning and heading back to the castle.
Auror Proudfoot produced a Portkey from his robes and soon he and the students left the grounds. Ginny noticed that a small contingent of Aurors stayed and re-entered the castle.
“What happened?” Hermione asked as she exited her carriage.
Ginny explained what she’s seen as they headed into the Great Hall. As she headed towards the Gryffindor table, she noticed a few white stars denoting that someone had died. However she stopped when she saw a large golden star in the centre of the room.
She walked over to the star and read: It was on this spot on 2 May, 1998 that Harry Potter defeated Lord Voldemort. Mr Potter defeated the so-called Dark Lord without the use of Dark Magic, but used his knowledge of wand lore and turned Voldemort’s Killing Curse back upon him.
Across from the golden star was a black circle. It had Slytherin’s snake above the words: Tom Marvolo Riddle aka Lord Voldemort. His quest for power and Pureblood supremacy led to his downfall. He was vanquished on this spot by Harry Potter on 2 May 1998.
Ginny had to blink back tears as she read the two markers. She was glad that there was something to mark Harry’s deed. The fact that Riddle’s marker had his real name made her smile — he would hate that.
A touch at her arm made her jump, it was Hermione. “We need to sit down,” the older witch said gently.
Nodding Ginny followed her friend to the Gryffindor table. As they sat down, Hermione asked, “Did you know about the markers?”
“I knew about the markers to honour those who had died,” Ginny explained. “Harry told you about those, right?”
Hermione nodded. “He told me about the charm he found. I think it’s a wonderful idea to honour those who died in the battle. I’m glad they added something to honour Harry, he never would have done that himself.”
The girls quieted down as Professor McGonagall called the students to order. Ginny smiled as she listened to the completely unscathed Sorting Hat extol the beauty of house unity. It also snuck in a few words for the one who saved us all. Ginny had to fight back a giggle as she imagined how red Harry would be if he heard the Sorting Hat’s song.
The diminutive Professor Flitwick stood on a box in front of the stool for the first years. Ginny watched the sorting with interest. There were very few additions to Slytherin House this year. Hufflepuff seemed to have gained the most new students, but aside from Slytherin all of the houses gained a number of new students. Ginny smiled and greeted each of the new Gryffindors as they arrived at the table. It was amazing how young they looked. Sprinkled in among the first years were Muggle-born students who should have started the year before, but because of the ban on educating Muggle-borns had to wait until this year to start.
It was a large class, but eventually they were all sorted. Professor McGonagall stood and looked out over the students proudly.
“Welcome to another year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry! I am pleased to see so many students here this year and I would like to welcome those who had to put off their education for a year.” Her expression changed as she continued, “This year our priorities for the school term are to increase communication and our number one priority is to make certain the student body is safe. There is a zero tolerance policy regarding the Dark Mark and espousing the values of Tom Riddle otherwise known as Lord Voldemort.”
She had to pause while a few students gasped at the name, but a majority of students did not. “I am saddened to tell you that several senior members of Slytherin House were expelled this evening after they were seen wearing necklaces with an image of the Dark Mark. I will go over the other measures we have taken for your safety after we have eaten.”
The Headmistress sat and food appeared on the tables. Hermione turned to Ginny in amazement. “She expelled them?”
Ginny shrugged as she helped herself to some chicken and roasted potatoes. “I told you she would.”
Hermione helped herself to some roast beef and potatoes. “I…I hadn’t thought she would actually expel them. I thought they would have some sort of warning or something.”
“They had a warning,” Ginny said. “It was quite clear in our letters that there was this zero tolerance policy. They chose to test it and discovered the consequences. She didn’t snap their wands. They can still practice magic.”
“It surprises me,” Hermione admitted. “Professor Dumbledore always gave people so many chances.”
Ginny nodded. “That is one of the things that needed to change. He was more concentrated on the big picture that he didn’t consider that Snape was a horrible teacher and a petty, vindictive man. He left Binns stay even though he was a horrible teacher and no one learned anything. He knew that Draco tried to kill him and he still let him stay at the school.” Ginny’s eyes flashed. “Do you realize my brother could have died because of Dumbledore’s misguided need to try and save everyone?”
Hermione’s eyes grew wide as she thought back over her sixth year. “Merlin, I never thought of it like that! I was angry at Romilda for the stupid love potion stunt and thankful to Harry for being there and remembering the bezoar. Professor Dumbledore knew that Draco was trying to kill him?”
“I might be a bit harsh,” Ginny said. “Professor Dumbledore might not have put it together until after Ron’s attack. I don’t know when he figured it out.” She shrugged. “I guess I’m not feeling too kindly towards him right now. Some of the things Harry has told me…I think he could have helped Harry a lot more than he did and as I said he kept teachers who he had no business keeping because they were important for the war effort.”
“That is true,” Hermione admitted. “I think Professor Dumbledore saw the best in everyone and wanted to give everyone a second chance. I rather admire that about him. Maybe that’s why I was so surprised that Professor McGonagall didn’t give those girls a second chance.”
“Right now we need to reassure everyone that this year won’t be like last year,” Ginny said a bit heatedly. “Zero tolerance means just that. If she gave those girls a second chance would it change their minds or their view points? No, it wouldn’t. It would just show the rest of us that our safety isn’t as important as their second chance.”
Soon enough dinner was over. As the last of the dishes disappeared from the table, Professor McGonagall stood up. “That was a wonderful meal. Thank you to our wonderful house elves for their hard work.”
The students started cheering and Hermione was pleased at the recognition the elves were receiving. Professor McGonagall waited for the cheering to stop before she continued. “As I said earlier, your safety is our number one concern. The use of any Unforgivable will result in notification of both the senior staff and the Aurors who will be present on the grounds of the school. Anyone performing an Unforgivable will be expelled and sent to Azkaban with their wand snapped. All of the charms on the girls’ dorms have been replaced and reinforced, no boys will be allowed in the girls’ dorms. There have been charms placed in all of the corridors. If you feel you are in danger, simply call out 'help' or 'danger' and help will arrive.”
Cheers broke out causing her to stop for a moment. She allowed the students to express their feelings for a moment before continuing. “You may have noticed the markers denoting the spots where those who fought in the battle here in May died. The markers were actually the work of Mr Harry Potter. He wanted to honour those who gave their lives to protect all of us. The markers of those who fought on the other side were also included to show that they came from the same school as those on the side of good. I would ask you to notice that not all of those who fought with Tom Riddle were from Slytherin House. It is our actions, not our house that determines what becomes of us.”
She looked out over the student body. “I have shown there is no tolerance for those supporting the ideals of Tom Riddle. On the other hand, there will also be no tolerance for blaming members of Slytherin House for the war. They are student — students who have been shown to be cunning. Cunning is part of what allowed us to win the war, it is not a bad characteristics. Any reports of punishing Slytherins will be met with severe consequences.”
Looking around the room, she seemed pleased with what she saw on the faces of the student. “We have implemented several changes which we will explain over the coming weeks. One of the most exciting is the Parents' Weekend that was discussed in the letters. Another exciting change is the Friendship Chamber. It is located on the Sixth Floor and will be open during normal school hours and will close thirty minutes before curfew. It is an area for students to meet and relax with their friends in other houses. It will be open for all houses. Rules for proper behaviour while in the room are posted in the room.
“The last item is to introduce our new staff members. We have many new staff members this year and I trust you will make them all welcome. First, I would like to introduce Professor Constance Clark. She will be the new Transfiguration Professor and she will be taking over as Head of Gryffindor.”
An older, thin woman with short brown hair stood up and waved to the students.
“I heard she’s good friends with Professor McGonagall,” Hermione whispered. “I hope she’s a good teacher.”
“I can’t imagine Professor McGonagall bringing in someone to teach Transfiguration who isn’t top notch,” Ginny replied.
Professor McGonagall waited for Professor Clark to sit down before she said, “Second, I would like to introduce Professor Rebecca Rossi, our new Muggle Studies Professor.”
Professor Rossi proved to be a younger woman who Ginny guessed was in her early thirties. She was rather pretty with long blonde hair. Many of the boys seemed to find her attractive if Ginny was reading their reactions correctly.
The next professor received the same attention from the girls. The Headmistress introduced him. “This is Professor Michael Carter. He is going to be our new History of Magic Professor. Professor Binns has decided to move on.”
The cheers were quite loud and Ginny wasn’t sure if it was because Professor Binns was gone or for the younger, cute Professor. Professor McGonagall cut short the cheering and introduced the final new teacher. “The final addition to our teaching staff is Professor Jonathan Irving. He will be teaching Defence Against the Dark Arts. I will leave it up to all of these new professors to tell you more about themselves during this first week of classes.
“We have two more staff changes. Mr Filch has left his position-”
Professor McGonagall had to stop as the cheering was almost deafening. She allowed the cheering to continue for a few minutes as she was well aware that Filch had aided both Umbridge and the Carrows in their terrorizing of the student body.
Finally she held up her hand and the students quieted down. “I’m certain you will meet our new caretaker, Miss Zumbrowski, in the coming weeks. Our last new staff member is Madam Florence.” Professor McGonagall gestured to a pretty young woman with a sweet face. “Madam Florence is a therapist and she will be available to talk to anyone who feels they would like to talk about the events that have so shaken us all. Madam Florence will be working with our matron Madam Pomfrey and will be seeing all of the students throughout the year. If you would like to talk to her, she has an office adjacent to the Hospital Wing.”
Smiling out at the students, Professor McGonagall concluded her remarks. “It has been a long evening and I’ve just bombarded you with a lot of information. Please stand and follow your Prefects. They will direct you to your common room and help you get settled.”
Ginny made a face when she saw her busy schedule. “Damn, not many free periods.”
“Ginny!” Hermione scolded. “Watch your language.”
“Have you seen our schedules?” Ginny demanded. “With the addition of History of Magic and Muggle Studies our schedules are rather full. I’m taking seven NEWT level classes.”
“We are here to learn,” Hermione returned undisturbed at the amount of work that faced them.
Ginny turned to see her new Head-of-House standing behind her. “Good morning, Professor Clark.”
“Good morning,” Professor Clark replied. “I wanted to make certain there were no problems last night.”
“No, ma’am,” Ginny replied. “We checked in on all of the girls and everyone seemed fine. I’m taking some of the younger girls up to the Owlery later to show them how to send a letter home.”
“Excellent,” Professor Clark said with a smile. “I have Professor McGonagall’s old office. If you need anything from me, please let me know.”
“I will,” Ginny promised.
“I understand you are also our Quidditch Captain, is that right?”
“I am,” Ginny said proudly. “I plan to have try-outs the weekend after next.”
“Very good, I am pleased to meet you,” Professor Clark said. “I don’t believe I have you in class today.”
“No, ma’am,” Ginny said as she looked back down at her schedule. “Tomorrow afternoon.”
“I will see you then.”
Standing, Ginny said to Hermione, “Come on, we have Double Defence Against the Dark Arts first thing.”
Leaving the Great Hall, the two girls helped direct several first years on to their classes before heading up to the Defence Against the Dark Arts classroom. Because so many students were taking Defence even at the NEWT level, Gryffindor and Hufflepuff had the class together.
Ginny was pleasantly surprised with Professor Irving. He was American and had both worked in their Auror force and taught at the Salem Institute for Witchcraft and Wizardry. He started the class by giving a test to assess the knowledge level of the class and then spent the rest of the first class talking to them about both his experiences and their own experiences. It was rather satisfying to be treated as adults rather than naughty children.
After lunch the two witches headed up to the first floor to the Muggle Studies classroom. As they headed down the corridor, Ginny found she was starting to get increasingly anxious. Last year Muggle Studies had been so horrid, she really never wanted to enter the classroom again.
As they neared the end of the hall, Ginny was surprised to find Professor Rossi standing outside of the former Muggle Studies classroom. She was smiling.
“Welcome, everyone! We have a bit of a surprise for you and we have changed the classroom around a bit.”
Gesturing to the classroom to the left hand side, Professor Rossi said, “This will be our new classroom for the year. I’d like for you to drop off your bags and re-join me out here.”
Ginny entered the new Muggle Studies room and was pleased to see the room was nothing like last year’s room. There were no posters degrading Muggles, but instead Professor Rossi had posters of famous Muggles hung around the room. Picking a desk towards the front of the room, she set down her belongings while Hermione did the same.
The girls re-joined their classmates outside of the classroom. Once everyone was gathered, Professor Rossi said, “I want to welcome you to Muggle Studies. Prior to last year, how many of you had taken Muggle Studies?”
Less than half of the students raised their hands; Ginny and Hermione were in the minority. Professor Rossi nodded. “Okay, that is a bit more than what I expected. This year will be a bit difficult I’m afraid as we will have students at all levels of knowledge. My goal will be for all of you to gain some knowledge of living and working with Muggles. If you wish to take your NEWT in Muggle Studies that is of course a possibility, but it will not be a requirement for this course. It would not be fair to those who have never taken a Muggle Studies class before to be held to a NEWT standard.”
Ginny felt a bit relieved to be honest and she imagined that most of her classmates felt the same way. She smiled when she caught sight of the frown on Hermione’s face. She was certain Hermione would be in the minority of students who took the NEWT.
Professor Rossi looked around at the students gathered in the corridor. “I’ve been working with Professor McGonagall and we have come up with something exciting for all of you.”
With that she turned and opened the door to the old class room. “Please come in everyone.”
Ginny’s eyes widened when she entered the classroom. It looked almost like a sitting room. As she crowded into the room, she could see the sitting room opened into another room that she couldn’t see from where she was standing.
Professor Rossi shot sparks from her wand to gain everyone’s attention. She smiled as she saw the students looking around in amazement. “We have set up a Muggle style flat in this part of the castle.” Walking over to the wall, she flicked some sort of switch on the wall and lamps on the end tables lit up. There was a wall of what looked to be electronic equipment on one wall.
“We have set up light switches and Muggle electronics in this room,” Professor Rossi explained. “Now as I’m sure you all know Muggle electronics cannot work here at Hogwarts and unfortunately these are no different. We have approximated Muggle electronics using magic. They will not work outside of this part of the castle and of course the telly doesn’t really work. Professor Flitwick helped me to ‘program’ so to speak a television programme into our fake telly so you can see what a telly is all about.”
She led the students into the next room which was a kitchen. Ginny gasped at the dazzling array of Muggle appliances found in the kitchen. Professor Rossi smiled. “We have also set up a kitchen and laundry room so you will be able to see how Muggles cook and clean. There is no bedroom or bathroom as those rooms are not much different in a Muggle home. We will be spending part of our time here in the flat and part of our time in the classroom.”
The class returned to the classroom talking excitedly. Ginny grinned at Hermione. “This is amazing.”
“I agree,” Hermione said. “I can’t believe no one has done this before. What a great idea!”
Once in the classroom, Professor Rossi told them about the group project they would be working on for the first term. Each group would be assigned an appliance or device in the flat and they would need to demonstrate it’s use and describe how Muggles used it.
Ginny slipped out of the castle doors wanting to spend a bit of time outside. She’d never realized before how focused Hermione was on studying. She knew that Ron and Harry had complained about Hermione’s studying habits, but being a year younger she hadn’t realized the amount of time Hermione really did spend in the library. Ginny spent time in the library and she did enjoy many of her classes, but she didn’t want to spend so much time there.
She felt a little guilty for slipping away from Hermione. While most of Ginny’s friends had returned to school that year, Hermione’s two best friends hadn’t. Hermione had latched onto Ginny and seemed to assume that Ginny would be taking Ron and Harry’s place.
While Ginny enjoyed Hermione’s company, she had other friends she wanted to spend time with as well. When she tried to introduce Hermione to her other friends, she realized for the first time that for all of her talk Hermione still didn’t have many friends and really didn’t know how to talk to others. That was something she was going to work on this year. Hermione could try to make a scholar out of her, but she would try to make more social person out of Hermione.
Pushing the thought out of her mind, she strolled out onto the grounds. It was a warm autumn day and Ginny was glad to spend some time outside. She would have to make some time to get out and fly later that afternoon. She was sure she would be able to talk Demelza into flying, maybe Dean as well.
After spending some time by the lake, she headed back up towards the castle. As she neared the castle doors, she saw Dennis Creevey kneeling in the grass. He looked up when he heard her footsteps and Ginny slowed down.
“Ginny,” Dennis tried to smile.
“Are you okay?” Ginny asked gently.
Dennis looked down and Ginny could see he was kneeling by his brother’s marker. Without a second thought, she sank down into the grass next to him. “I am so sorry about Colin. He was a good friend of mine.”
Dennis managed a smile that time. “Thanks.” He looked over at the beautiful older girl. “Did you know he had the biggest crush on you?”
“What?” Ginny laughed. “No, not really, did he?”
“He did,” Dennis said. “It was funny when I started going through all of his pictures, easily half of them are of you and Harry. C-Colin hated when you were dating Dean, but he knew how much you loved Harry and he was fine you were with Harry. H-he’d be thrilled that you and Harry are getting married.”
“Thanks,” Ginny said.
Dennis sighed. “I didn’t think it would be so hard to come back to Hogwarts.”
“I know what you mean,” Ginny said. “I didn’t really want to come back, but I thought it would be kind of like giving up or letting them win if I didn’t finish my education.”
Dennis nodded. “I thought about just going to school at the local secondary school. That’s where we were last year and my sister is there; in some ways it would be so much easier.” He looked out over towards the lake. “I miss Colin.” He glanced down at the marker on the ground. “I’m also so angry with him. Why the hell did he sneak back here to fight? We were doing our part and helping the local resistance. As soon as he got the message that Harry was here, he just…he left.”
Sneaking a look at his companion, Dennis said softly, “I hope you don’t hate me, but I’ve been angry with Harry as well. I know it’s not fair, but…”
“Colin admired Harry so much and that was why he came back to fight,” Ginny said quietly.
Blushing Dennis nodded. Ginny said, “I don’t blame you. I’ve been angry at my brother for getting himself killed and angry at Neville for sending out the message and I yelled at Harry too. I understand being angry. So does Harry. He’s suffered so much with all of this.”
“I know,” Dennis said. “I feel badly that I was angry at him, but…I was. I know Harry has done so much and he’s lost so many people.” He sighed. “It just sucks.”
Ginny started laughing. His eyes flew over to her face and she sobered up. “I’m sorry, that’s what Harry says when I’m talking about things that happened here last year.” She watched the younger boy for a few minutes. “Is it getting better?”
“Yes, my parents have been great and they got me and my sister, Elaine, into counselling,” Dennis said. “The Ministry sent a list of counsellors who know about the wizarding world. It’s helped so much. My mum really encouraged me to come back to school here. I was afraid she would blame magic, but she’s been great. She said that Colin was very brave and the best way to honour him is to be the best wizard I can be.”
“That’s great,” Ginny said sincerely.
“How is George?” Dennis asked a bit nervously. “I’ve thought about him. I really, really miss Colin, but to lose a twin…I just can’t imagine.”
“He’s actually doing a lot better,” Ginny said with a smile. “He still has good and bad days, but he’s getting ready to re-open Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes soon.”
“That’s great,” Dennis said. He smiled as he looked over at her. “Thank you, Ginny. I feel better, thank you.”
“You’re welcome,” Ginny said as the two stood up. Leaning over she hugged the younger boy. “We are here to help each other get through this.”
Friday morning Harry couldn’t stop looking at his watch. The first official week of full-time Auror training had been challenging, but Harry was enjoying it. The classes were interesting and class time had been interspersed with hands on activities that kept the whole class engaged. All of the instructors were or had been Aurors so they had real life experiences that they were happy to share in their classes.
Today however was the first day of their History of Magic class at Hogwarts and Harry couldn’t wait. Seamus elbowed him and Harry looked up at Madam Kelley, she was smiling patiently at him.
“I was asking about the contraindications in using Veritaserum,” she repeated.
“Sorry,” Harry blushed. “Veritaserum is contraindicated in children, pregnant women, and those allergic to it.”
“Very good,” Madam Kelley said.
Harry raised his hand. Madam Kelley turned towards him. “A question, Mr Potter?”
“Yes, ma’am, can you resist Veritaserum?”
“It is possible, but extraordinarily difficult,” she replied. “It is recommended that all Aurors carry the antidote for Veritaserum with them at all times.” She smiled at the class. “I realize that you are heading to Hogwarts this afternoon so I am letting you go a few minutes early. I would like an essay explaining the Ministry restrictions on Veritaserum as well as the rationale for such restrictions.”
The class broke up and Harry gathered his belongings. Originally the Ministry had planned to break up the class along house lines, but when they started to finalize the plans they realized that Susan would be the only person in the morning class. It had been decided to keep the class together and they were all going in the afternoon.
Taking pity on his friend, Seamus said, “Professor McGonagall said we could come over at 12:30. Let’s see what Kreacher can whip up for lunch.”
“Okay,” Harry said. The two started towards the atrium when Katie caught up with them. She was invited to join them and the three of them headed over to Grimmauld Place.
Soon they were sitting around the large kitchen table with a huge pile of sandwiches. Kreacher cut up some fruit and pulled cold butterbeer out of the cold cupboard.
Katie looked around curiously. She’d heard about Harry’s house, but this was the first time she’d been there. “How are Ron and George doing?”
“Pretty well,” Harry said as he helped himself to a chicken sandwich. “They think they will be able to open in the next two weeks. George had hoped to re-open in time for the back to school rush, but he couldn’t get everything together. They had to not only clean up the mess that had been left, but their entire inventory was destroyed as well. Fortunately, the twins didn’t leave their recipe book at the shop. I guess they were afraid the shop might be targeted, so they had one copy in their vault at Gringotts and one they had at their flat.”
“That was good thinking,” Katie said.
Harry laughed. “I know. Everyone always thinks of them as big pranksters and all, but they were surprisingly good businessmen.”
“George is really good at potions,” Seamus added. “I was very surprised; he was helping me and Harry with our potions the other night. He knows his stuff and he can explain it well.”
Harry agreed. “If they’d ever focused their energies on schoolwork I think they could have been top of their class.”
Katie laughed. “Can you imagine how horrified Snape would have been if Fred and George were his best students?”
The boys started laughing. “I would have loved to have seen that,” Harry said.
“Ron’s been a grouchy git all week,” Seamus said with a hint of laughter in his voice. “I think he’s upset he didn’t go back to school with Hermione.”
“Why didn’t he?” Katie asked.
“He wanted to help George,” Harry explained. “Plus, I think he felt rather like I did that he’s past that point in his life. I was hoping he might join us, but he said he doesn’t think he wants to be an Auror anymore. I think last year when we were on the run it was a huge wakeup call for him. He doesn’t do well when he’s cold and hungry, he wouldn’t do well on a stake-out.”
He shrugged. “I still wish he would have joined our class, I think he’d have fun, but he has to figure out what he wants to do.”
“Plus if he was in our class, he could come to Hogwarts and see Hermione so he wouldn’t be so grumpy,” Seamus said.
Glancing at his watch, Harry said, “I’m going to brush my teeth and then I’ll be ready to go.”
Seamus laughed. “No problem, Harry.”
Harry left Professor McGonagall’s office and hurried down the steps. He broke into a smile as he reached the corridor. There waiting for him was Ginny. It only took two steps before he was in her arms. For a long moment, he just held her tight.
“I missed you so much,” he whispered.
With a slight giggle, she pulled him off to a classroom she’d staked out. “I missed you, too,” she replied before kissing him gently. The kisses grew more passionate and eventually, she pulled away.
He rested his forehead on her while he regained his composure. Sitting down on the desk on the front of the room, he pulled her down next to him. “You look gorgeous.”
She blushed prettily. “Thank you.”
“So how’s it going?” Harry asked with a smile. Even though they spoke nightly and were writing regularly, he missed just sitting and talking with her.
“I talked to Dennis yesterday,” she replied. “He’s talked to Professor Clark about starting a photography club.”
“That’s a great idea,” he said. “Does he like photography as much as his brother?”
She shrugged. “He doesn’t take as many pictures, but he seems to really enjoy it. He told me that at a lot of Muggle schools they take pictures of the students. I guess they sell the pictures to the parents? Is that right?”
Harry nodded. “They have a photographer come in and take pictures and the offer a package to the parents — like difference size pictures. My aunt and uncle would always get the biggest package of Dudley’s pictures. Usually a ridiculously huge picture and a bunch of smaller ones.” He shook his head laughing. “I don’t know who would want that many pictures of Dudley.”
“I’m guessing that means they didn’t get any pictures of you,” Ginny said sadly.
Harry shook his head. “No, I mean they weren’t very good. I had glasses held together with tape and a dorky little haircut.”
“They still should have bought pictures of you, too,” Ginny said kissing him softly. She looked up at him teasingly. “Sounds like they would have made great blackmail material.”
He laughed. “I would certainly pay money so no one would see them.” Dropping a kiss on Ginny’s head, he said, “So Dennis wants to take school pictures?”
Ginny nodded. “Yes, as I said he’s been talking to Professor Clarke, she’s apparently interested in photography and is willing to sponsor a photography club. She’s been talking to a professional photographer and he will come in and take the pictures and also work with the photography club.”
“That’s great,” Harry said. “I could use more pictures of you.”
Leaning down he kissed her again. He meant it to be a brief kiss, but it quickly evolved into something much more passionate. Running his hand up her side, he slid his hand under her robes. Pulling her shirt out from her trousers, he inched his hand up the soft, smooth skin of her back. As he reached her bare skin, he suddenly realized what he was doing.
Reluctantly, he pulled his hand out from under her robes. “I’m sorry, baby. I got a little carried away.”
Taking a deep breath, he turned away from her while she straightened out her clothes. Closing his eyes, he tried to get his unruly body under control. He jumped when he felt her hand on his back. Turning back to her, he almost gasped out loud. She was so incredibly beautiful. Her long glorious hair was down, her lips were a bit puffy, and her eyes were bright.
“I love you,” she said simply. “I’ve really missed you.”
Reaching out for his hand, she pulled him out of the classroom. “I think we need to be out among other people.”
Knowing she was right, he simply followed her. As they walked through the halls, he noticed how she smiled at and greeted many of the other students. As they realized who she was with Harry could hear the buzzing of whispers, but for once it didn’t really bother him.
She led him past the new Muggle Study classroom and excitedly told him all about the Muggle flat that had been set up. He listened, glad that she was excited about school.
“Do you like the new professors?”
“So far they all seem really good,” she replied. “Professor Clarke is our new head of Gryffindor. She’s older and a bit strict, but she definitely knows her Transfiguration. Professor Rossi is the Muggle Studies professor.”
“She’s the one who set up the flat?”
Ginny nodded. “She seems really fun. She told us that her mother was a Muggle and they lived in a Muggle house most of her life. It’s nice because she has a lot of experience with Muggles. Professor Burbage was nice, but I don’t know that she really had a lot of experience living with Muggles.”
“What about Professor Irving?” Harry asked curiously.
“I think he will be good,” Ginny replied. “He’s American. I told you how he tested us all, right?”
Harry nodded. By this time they had reached the stairs and Harry started down the steps. Ginny reached out and stopped him. She was standing above him and they were about even in height. With a smile, she leaned over and kissed him briefly. To her surprise, he wrapped her in his arms and picked her up setting her down on the stair next to him.
She giggled as she threaded her fingers through his. Glancing up at him she said, “Sorry, I couldn’t help myself.”
“You never have to apologize for that,” he said with a grin.
Laughing they continued down the stairs as she told him about Professor Irving and her classes in general. He loved listening to her talk. She was so cheerful and happy and she was very observant. She noticed things about people.
As they neared the new History of Magic classroom, Harry saw the other students had already started arriving. Seamus and Dean were talking and laughing at a table towards the back of the room with Luna and Katie.
He barely had time to brace himself before his vision was obscured by a familiar mop of bushy hair. Laughing, he hugged Hermione. He squeezed her tightly before pulling back and looking down at her.
“How do you like being back at school?”
As the three of them headed to a table towards the front of the classroom, Harry listened to Hermione ramble on about her classes. It was funny having just listened to Ginny talk about the same thing. Ginny focused more on the other students while Hermione was more focused on the actual course work. They were both very enthusiastic.
“Tell Harry about your new project,” Ginny prompted as they sat down.
Hermione’s eyes lit up. “I’ve been working with Professor Rossi and Madam Pince. We are developing a section in the library devoted to Muggle books. We are going to have classics as well as some reference books and best sellers. Madam Pince even took out a subscription to The Times. We’ve started a book club and it’s very exciting.”
“That sound great,” Harry replied. He had to smile at how animated Hermione became talking about books. He thought a book club sounded rather similar to torture, but he knew that Hermione would love it.
Hermione smiled over at Ginny. “When Ginny first told me that she thought we should start different clubs, I wasn’t really very sure about it.”
Ginny snorted. “Weren’t very sure about it? You told me it was a bad idea and took too much time away from studies.”
Blushing Hermione continued. “I was a bit concerned, but people are coming up with all sorts of ideas. It’s a great combination of Muggle and Wizarding interests.”
“Good,” Harry said. “I’m glad you’re enjoying yourself.”
Before Hermione could reply, Professor Carter entered the classroom. Professor Carter turned out to be a young, good looking wizard. Harry was briefly reminded of Professor Lockhart, but as soon as the Professor started talking that resemblance was erased. Professor Carter was enthusiastic about his subject, not himself.
The professor started the class by taking attendance. He paused briefly when he reached Harry’s name, but he didn’t single Harry out. Like most of the other professors, Professor Carter started out the class with an assessment test. As Harry struggled to answer the questions, he noticed out of the corner of his eye that Hermione didn’t seem to be having any difficulty with the test.
When they completed the tests, Professor Carter had them exchange their papers and together they went over the answers to the test. Harry had gotten Hermione’s test and as he thought, she did extremely well on the test. At least according to his standards, he had to laugh when she was upset that she had missed two questions. Ginny had done better than Harry; she missed ten out of the fifty questions. Harry had managed a dismal 65% on the test.
He made a face at her when she giggled as she handed him back his test. Leaning over to him she said, “I can see why you need this class, now.”
Professor Carter started out by reviewing the class and the work that would be expected of them. He explained that they would have two exams over the course of the year as well as several projects. His first lecture covered the early days of magic and the founding of Hogwarts.
When his lecture came to a close Professor Carter said, “That is all for today, thank you for your attention. I would like to see Miss Bell, Miss Bones, Mr Boot, Mr Corner, Mr Finnegan, and Mr Potter.”
“I’ll wait outside,” Ginny said as she headed outside. Harry nodded and joined the other Auror trainees at the front of the room.
As the other students left the classroom Professor Carter smiled at the six students. “Thank you. I wanted to touch base with all of you. Obviously you will not receive a grade for this class, but your progress will be relayed back to the Ministry. I have spoken at length to Mr Robards and Mr Dawlish. You have a strict attendance policy. If you have an assignment that prevents your attendance to class, I will expect to be notified prior to class. As you have already taken your NEWTs, you are not eligible to retake the examination.”
They all voiced their agreement and were dismissed. “Mr Potter, I would like a word if I might.”
Inwardly groaning, Harry waited as the others left the room. Professor Carter smiled. “Mr Potter, I was hoping you might be convinced to talk to the class about your defeat of Voldemort.”
Harry studied the professor while he considered the matter. “Why?”
“Excuse me?” Professor Carter seemed genuinely confused by Harry’s question. “You defeated the greatest dark wizard in hundreds of years.”
Harry squirmed. “I don’t really like the attention and it seems very…I don’t know, boastful. Not to mention there are things about my defeat of Voldemort that the Minister doesn’t want made public.”
Professor Carter looked over the younger wizard. “Mr Potter, have you ever heard the quote that ‘Those who don’t know history are destined to repeat it.’?”
Harry nodded and the older man continued. “After the first war, the wizarding community were determined to put everything behind them. They didn’t learn anything and ultimately I believe that made it very easy for Voldemort to regain power. Part of the reason I think it would be important to hear the story from you is that you know the absolute truth of what happened. I understand that you cannot tell us everything, but I believe that we need to understand what happened so we can prevent it from happening again.”
Harry thought about it for a few moments. Would it be helpful for others to learn about Tom Riddle’s story? As he did so, he recalled something Ginny had said. When she was talking about the need for a better history of magic professor, she said that if she had known the name Tom Riddle her whole first year would have been different.
“Okay,” Harry agreed. “I will do it. I need to talk to Kingsley to see what he doesn’t want made public.”
“Of course,” Professor Carter agreed. “Thank you, Mr Potter.”
Harry left the classroom and was happy to find his fiancée waiting outside. As they headed down to the Great Hall for dinner, Harry explained why he’d stayed behind.
“I think it will be good for you,” Ginny said.
“I guess,” Harry said. “I don’t really want to do it, but I will. I just don’t want people to think I’m like bragging I’m some big hero or something. I defeated him, but I had a lot of help and I certainly wasn’t alone.”
“I know, baby,” Ginny said. “You can tell the story your way and make sure you give credit to everyone. You can honour everyone who was lost in the fight against Voldemort — your parents, Cedric, Sirius, Hedwig, Dobby — all the people that have been forgotten or swept aside.”
He looked down at her his expression unreadable. He lifted her hair off her shoulder and smoothed it behind her back. He cupped her cheek gently. “Thank you, love. You always know what to say and how to make me feel better.”
Leaning down he kissed her gently. The sound of giggling made them break apart. Looking around Harry saw a group of young girls giggling and watching them. When Harry looked their way they all blushed.
Laughing, he took Ginny’s hand and headed down to dinner. It might only be for a couple of hours, but he was with his fiancée and that always made things good. They joined Hermione and their other friends for dinner.
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