After the Battle of Hogwarts

Chapter 2 The Hogwarts Express

6 weeks later, Harry stood on Platform 9 3/4 gazing in awe at the gleaming scarlet engine in front of him. Despite all of the fighting, the Hogwarts Express had remained untouched. It stood waiting just as it always had, ready for the wave of students returning to Hogwarts. "We could just stare at it all day if you like," Ginny appeared at his side, "but I'd much rather be on it." Harry wrapped an arm around her waist and led her onto the Gryffindor carriage.

"Do you think it'll be different this year?" Harry asked.

"Hogwarts?" Ginny asked. Harry nodded. "I don't think the castle will have changed much, but it might not be as busy, and of course we will have new teachers as well."

Harry nodded solemnly. He couldn't imagine Hogwarts without Dumbledore there. Dumbledore had devoted his life to Hogwarts, and to its students. Suddenly Harry wasn't looking forward to school as much. Harry could hear the train blow its whistle and watched Kings Cross Station roll out of view. "It won't be the same without him there." Harry said, gazing absently out of the window.

Ginny knew whom he was talking about. "It isn't. Dumbledore made the place special. McGonagall has incredibly big shoes to fill." Harry felt Ginny's hand give his knee a squeeze. "We have each other Harry. No Voldemort, no danger, just school, and Quidditch. I still passed a few N.E.W.T.S last year, so 7th year won't be hard." She was right. 7th year was almost a formality. He had plenty free periods, all of which he intended to spend with Ginny. Harry watched out the window as the countryside in Scotland rolled by. At some point during the journey, Ginny had ended up in his lap. Now they were stretched out, snoozing in their compartment.

A shout of "anything from the trolley?" Snapped Harry out of his slumber. He was up on his feet, wand drawn and pointed at the door, leaving a dazed Ginny picking herself up off the floor of the compartment.

"Christ Harry!" Ginny exclaimed sourly, "a little warning wouldn't go amiss."

"Sorry," Harry said weakly, lowering his wand, "reflexes." Ginny didn't look pleased, but she sat quietly without any further comment. Harry beamed as the old lady who had pushed the trolley since his first year stuck her head into the compartment.

"Harry Potter," the woman smiled, "I heard rumors you were returning this year."

"Well," Harry replied, "here I am."

She addressed both of them, "I still remember the day a shy 11 year old boy stepped aboard this train. I should too, I made quite a profit that day." Another smile appeared on her face. "Now look at you! You've grown into a fine young man Harry."

It was Harry's turn to grin as he held out a large handful of Galleons. "We'll take the lot."

"A different Weasley this time," a wicked smile crossed the old woman's face, and she raised an eyebrow. "I'll just leave the trolley here." She left without another word.

"You just bought the entire trolley!" Ginny exclaimed moments later as Harry sat back down.

"For old times sake," Harry replied casually, peeling the wrapping off a chocolate frog.

"You mean you've done it before?" Ginny's jaw dropped.

"How do you think I became friends with Ron?" Harry asked.

Ginny seemed to contemplate this for a moment, before adding, "I understand now. Anyone who can buy a trolley full of sweets would be an instant hit with my brother." There was a moment of silence, and then they both burst into peels of laughter.

Harry flopped down next to Ginny and rested his head on her shoulder. He could have stayed there forever, but they did need to change into their robes. Which unfortunately meant Harry had to leave the compartment for a few minutes. He arrived back at Ginny's side just as darkness started falling. He was longing for a glimpse of the castle. "So," Harry announced, "know any good broom cupboards?" The comment earned him an elbow in the ribs.

"As far as I can see Harry," Ginny whispered into his ear, "We have the compartment all to ourselves." She placed her hand lightly on his chest, and brought her lips up to meet his.

"First years over here!" Hagrid's voice boomed across Hogsmeade Station. "Come on now lets not hang about!"

"Hagrid!" Harry called, forcing his way through the crowd.

"Harry?" The half-giant quizzed, "What are you doing here?"

"Harry!" Hagrid exclaimed with delight, "what are you doing 'ere?"

"They let me retake my 7th year," Harry explained, "I didn't have any other plans, and I really miss Hogwarts. Besides, I still have a few exams to pass don't I?" He was lying, he had thought up several plans, all of them involving Ginny, and usually a warm beach in the Caribbean. But Hogwarts seemed the best idea. "No Skrewts this year I hope?"

"You mean-"

"Yep," Harry cut the giant off, "see you in class, Professor." They gave one another a hug and went their separate ways. Harry reappeared at Ginny's side with two broomsticks slung over his shoulder; they were just entering the gates.

"Harry what are you-"

"Wanna do something against the rules?" Harry asked handing Ginny her Firebolt.

Ginny thought for a moment. "We've only been here five minutes... Why not?" They kicked off the ground and soared into the air, amidst angry protests from Filch. "Race you to the Astronomy Tower Potter!"

"You're on!" Harry replied. They completed a few laps of the castle before landing in the courtyard. Hurriedly, they stored their new Firebolt's in a broom cupboard, and Harry made a note of its location should he decide that he and Ginny might need some time alone. They arrived late into the hall, drawing suspicious glances from all four tables, but it didn't really bother Harry. He greeted Neville and took a seat beside him; Neville smirked but made no comment. Everyone could make up their own version of what Harry and Ginny had gotten up to. Ginny slipped her hand into his as the sorting began.

Harry and Ginny were surprised to find the Common Room very empty when they arrived around two hours later. There hadn't been many first years in the Great Hall, and there seemed to be many students absent. Harry knew that some of them had been killed, and seeing the Gryffindor Common Room so empty really made it hit home. But Harry also suspected that a lot of students weren't returning, because they, or their parents, thought the school was unsafe. The thought made Harry sad, Voldemort was gone, and Hogwarts was the safest place for children to learn magic. The castle was repaired, the protective enchantments had been renewed, any remaining Death Eaters wouldn’t be stupid enough to try and break in.

As if sensing his mood, Ginny flopped down onto his lap and rested her head on his chest. "It'll be all right Harry," she sighed, "it'll be all right." He held her close, and soon succumbed to the heat of the fire. It was a long while later when Ginny woke him. "Wouldn't you be more comfortable in bed?" She asked.

"Probably not." Harry replied with a smirk. But he could see the clock telling him it was midnight. "All right, goodnight Ginny." He rose from his seat and gave her a quick kiss before ascending the stairs to the boy's dormitory.

Harry woke the next morning; it felt strange not having Ron in the bed next to his. It was now occupied by a fifth year, which Harry found irritable. He showered and dressed quickly, before heading down to the Common Room. The room was empty, so Harry looked over his class schedule and waited for Ginny. Around half an hour later, they were walking arm in arm towards the Great Hall.

The pair entered the Great Hall and filled their plates. "Classes this morning?" Harry asked.

"Transfiguration, then a free period, then double DADA." Ginny replied looking over her class schedule.

"We'll be in DADA together, it should be our top subject," Harry said, "I wonder who our new teacher will be." There had been no announcement at the feast last night, and no new faces at the teachers’ table.

"Mmm," Ginny thought about it, but came up with no answers. "I wonder if McGonagall will still take Transfiguration? She is the expert, but she's also the Headmistress now." They discussed this over breakfast, and then headed their separate ways. Harry had a free period, so he retrieved their Firebolts, and couldn't resist taking his for a fly.

They hadn't been able to see it in the dark last night, but the Quidditch pitch had been rebuilt, and it looked amazing. Harry had never noticed anything wrong with the old pitch, but this new one was amazing. Before, there had been large stands for each house, now there was a proper stadium. It looked like it could host the Quidditch World Cup. He flew inside it, even though it was probably against the rules. Inside was even better, there was a large box for the teachers and staff, which looked just like the Minister of Magic's box at the World Cup. Then, each house had its own stand, with the seats colored to match each house. Harry couldn't believe it at first, but there was even a confectionary stand, sponsored by Honeydukes. By the looks of it each team had its own locker room, and below was a merchandise shop. It had everything you would expect to find in a Muggle football pitch, and when Harry thought about it, it looked a bit like a circular version of Stamford Bridge, in London.

He caught Ginny before he had to head off to class. "Brooms are in the same cupboard as last night, go for a fly!"

"Why?" Ginny asked.

"I don't want to spoil the surprise, just go for a fly!"

"Alright then," Ginny replied, confused, "I will head down and get my Firebolt." Harry gave her a quick kiss and headed down to Hagrid’s. He arrived at the hut before everyone else, and turned to see a fiery red streak take to the sky. He smiled; Ginny would soon see the new pitch.

"Harry!" Hagrid roared in delight, throwing open the door to his Hut "good to see ya!"

"Hi Hagrid, am I early?"

"No," Hagrid replied, his head drooping, "yer' the only seventh year takin' my class."

"Oh," Harry replied, unsure what to say, "well, we have more time to spend together then, and it'll save me the use of my cloak."

"It will that," Hagrid replied, his face looking more cheerful, "so, how'd you like to go see Buckbeak?" Harry was delighted; he hadn't seen Buckbeak in quite some time. It would be good to be able to fly again, and Care of Magical Creatures might now be more fun than he had originally thought.

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