I'll come back to haunt you
Memories will taunt you
And I will try to love you
It's not like I'm above you.
"Hermione Granger!" Hermione's head snapped up as Ginny's appeared in her fireplace. The red-head had a devious smirk on her face as a magazine came flying through the green fire. Hermione picked it up, scanning the page.
"You've got to be joking?" The middle section of witch weekly was showing a large photograph of Draco Malfoy leaving her apartment in the middle of the night. The top of the article read 'Golden Lovers.' Hermione hated that title. "Bloody hell, who comes up with this stuff?" Now the whole world will think she slept with Draco Malfoy.
"Well honey what did you expect? Draco Malfoy equals trouble," Ginny smirked as she watched Hermione, who just sighed and rubbed her forehead as she read the article out loud.
"Draco Malfoy, recently released from Azkaban, was seen leaving the home of Golden Trio member, Hermione Granger, late last night. Sources confirmed that the two of them had spent the day together in the apartment. Could something be brewing between the former Death Eater and the Golden Girl?" Hermione had to stop herself from rolling her eyes at this nonsense. Those bloody people at Witch Weekly never cared about who they wrote about or why. This was bad, what if this somehow reached Ron? It would hurt him terribly. During her...darker years, their relationship was under tremendous strain. Ron couldn't offer her the emotional support she needed, and she couldn't give him what he needed. They parted on good terms and remained friends, but she knew Ron still felt something for her. He was very hard on himself for not being able to give her what she needed, but he understood that she didn't want a relationship anymore. It was not him, it was her, and that was true. She couldn't be in a relationship, period. She was too broken beyond repair, even for Ron, the person who has always been by her side. She would always remain loyal to Ron, but they were better off without each other. When he was in town he usually stayed with her, but it was only for a few nights. He worked with the international auror division, so he traveled a lot. They were still rounding up Death Eaters from all over the globe. Most of them scattered after the war around Britain and Hermione, Harry and Ron worked to round them up, but when they realized there were Death Eaters overseas they needed to branch out. That was around the time Ron and Hermione started having problems, so he volunteered to go overseas, while Hermione left the autor department completely. It was never what she wanted to do with her life.
"Well they sure know how to spin a story," Ginny said.
"Hopefully it'll blow over, I don't think I'll be seeing him again any time soon," Hermione said, tossing the magazine to the side. She did not have time for weekly gossip, which is why she never subscribed.
"The Wizarding World thrives for this kind of gossip, you're going to have to tell people it's not true," Ginny said.
"Or I could just hide until it goes away."
Ginny snorted and rolled her eyes. "Since when do you hide from idle gossip? You've faced Death Eaters, this should be easy!"
"I'd rather take a Death Eater than deal with a bunch of witches and wizards who have nothing better to do than stalk my apartment," Hermione huffed, pushing a stray curl back in place. "I'll write Witch Weekly a letter, telling them that nothing happened." Hermione stood up, walking over to her desk that sat in the corner.
"Whoa there, that might not be the best idea," Ginny's head disappeared for a moment before her whole body appeared in the fireplace. Ginny walked over the Hermione, snatching the parchment away from her. "These people thrive on juicy stories, and what's more juicy than two rivals turning into lovers?"
"We're NOT lovers," Hermione hissed at Ginny.
"I know, but the world doesn't. Don't write them a letter, they can use it against you. The best thing for you to do is to just go out and show everyone you're not with Malfoy."
Hermione's eyebrows shot up. "Since when are you the expert in gossip?"
"Please Hermione, I write for the Prophet remember? You learn how to deal with these people."
"Fine," Hermione sighed, giving in. She didn't have the strength to argue with Ginny. "What do I do?"
The next month passed in a flash and before Hermione knew it, it was time to return to Hogwarts. She felt as giddy and nervous as a first year as she packed the last of her things in her trunk before shrinking it down to pocket-size. She always took the train to Hogwarts, she enjoyed the journey as much as the destination and the train brought back wonderful memories. Teachers were supposed to live at Hogwarts, but some of them, like Neville who was married, had permission to go home on some evenings. Hermione only went home in the summer holidays as she was Head of Gryffindor House, so she needed to stay. She could floo to Hogsmeade and then head up to the castle, but she preferred the train. The last month had been quiet. Hermione took Ginny's advice and just continued living her life as if nothing happened. The gossip died down within a week and she didn't see Malfoy again, so it was a win.
Hermione checked her watch, seeing that it was almost time to leave. She was meeting the Potters at Kings Cross and she didn't want to be late. She quickly put her trunk in her cloak pocket and made sure she had her wand and that everything was locked up before apparating to Kings Cross. The station was busy as ever, young witches and wizards were all over the place, talking excitedly about another year at Hogwarts. Hermione spotted the Potters right away and went to greet her friends.
"Aunty 'Mione!" Teddy ran over to Hermione, almost knocking her over as he hugged her tight. "I'm so excited, do you think I'll be in Gryffindor? Huh? Will I?"
Hermione laughed, ruffling his hair affectionately.
"I'm sure you will be Ted, just be yourself." Teddy smiled up at Hermione before bouncing back to Harry and Ginny.
"Where are the rest of the kids?" Hermione asked as she hugged Harry and Ginny.
"Andromeda took the little rascals to get some ice cream, although now that I think about it maybe sugar is a bad idea," Harry laughed and ran a hand through his hair. He looked tired as usual, but Hermione could tell he was excited to see Teddy off.
"Hermy! Hermy!" Andromeda come into view, a bouncing baby Albus on her hip and James by her side. James was pulling her toward Hermione and Albus looked very excited to see her. He couldn't say 'Hermione' yet, so he called her Hermy.
"Hello Hermione," the older woman greeted her as Hermione kissed Albus' head and hugged James.
"Hi Andromeda. Are you guys ready to go through?" Hermione asked as she looked at the barrier. It was almost time for the train to leave.
"Yes come on, we don't want to miss the train," Harry said as he took James from Andromeda. One by one all of them raced head first through the barrier. Hermione went last, bracing herself out of habit as she went straight through the wall. Platform 9 and 3/4 was covered in smoke from the scarlet Hogwarts Express, kids were bustling around to get in the train and parents were saying their last goodbyes.
"You be good, and listen to Hermione," Harry was kneeling next to Teddy, fixing his now black hair. "Owl us if you need anything, or go to Hermione."
Teddy nodded, hugging Harry, Ginny and his grandmother before running to get a space on the train.
"Can I go?" James asked, tugging on Harry's leg.
"Not yet, you have to be as big as Teddy to go to Hogwarts," Harry smiled.
"I'm almost as big," James said proudly and Harry laughed.
"Almost, but not yet."
"Watch out for Ted," Ginny said before pulling Hermione into a tight hug.
"I will, you know I will." Hermione hugged Ginny back tightly. "I have to go, I have Prefects to brief."
Ginny let Hermione go and Hermione greeted her friends before climbing into the front car of the train. She watched the kids hanging out of the windows, waving to their parents and she smiled. It was going to be a good year.
The train ride went fairly quickly. Hermione briefed the Prefects on their duties for the train ride and what to do once they arrived at Hogwarts before settling in with a book. She resurfaced hours later when the train stopped in Hogsmeade. Hermione waited until all the kids had left before making sure the train was clear. Once she was sure the train was clear she left to go up to the castle. There was one carriage left and Hermione stopped to gently stroke the Thestral's mane before getting on. The ride up to the castle was always her favourite part, she loved the view of the brightly lit castle against the inky black sky. It always took her breath away. She was home.
"Welcome to Hogwarts!" Hermione smiled at the first years gathered in front of her. They were awe struck, their eyes traveling all over the entrance hall. "Beyond those doors is the Great Hall where you will be sorted into your houses. There are four houses, Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff and Slytherin. Once you are sorted into a house you will be in that house for the next seven years."
The first years whispered excitedly to each other before hushing up as the doors to the Great Hall opened.
"Follow me," Hermione said before leading them into the Hall. She smiled as she watched them over her shoulder. The Great Hall was a magical place. Tonight the sky above them was clear and the floating candles lit the whole hall brightly. The other students sat up straighter, they were always eager to see the first years. "Now when I call your name you will sit here and I will place the Sorting Hat on your head." Hermione stepped up on the platform, picking up the scroll with the first years' names on and the Sorting Hat. She enjoyed doing this and she was over the moon when Professor McGonagall, who was now Headmistress, asked her to take over.
"Abigail Blake." A small girl with dirty blonde hair walked up to the chair, sitting down. Hermione put the Hat on her head and moments later it shouted out: "Hufflepuff!" Hufflepuff cheered as the little girl made her way over to their table.
"Alicia Carstairs." A raven haired girl walked confidently onto the platform, sitting down. "Ravenclaw!" The Hat shouted. "Teddy Lupin," Hermione called. She watched as Teddy nervously walked up to the chair, sitting down. The Hat was barely on his head before it shouted out: "Gryffindor!" Hermione smiled, Lupin would have been proud of his son. And so the sorting went on, and for another year Slytherin House got no new first years. After the war Slytherin House became branded as the House of the Death Eaters. No one wanted to be in Slytherin, and those that were placed in Slytherin were treated horribly. Hermione did not condone this kind of behaviour. Slytherin was associated with Voldemort and his followers, even now after the war. It was unfair, since the children in Slytherin were being blamed for something they had no part in. After the Sorting Hermione took her place at the professors table and McGonagall stood up.
"Welcome to another year at Hogwarts!" The Hall burst out in cheers and McGonagall hushed them.
"I have a few announcements to make before we feast. First of all we have a new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, Professor Draco Malfoy, who will also be the Head of Slytherin House."