The story did indeed appear in the paper the next day but it didn’t mean that Hermione was left alone. Instead whenever she went out to work for George or even popped out down the village she was mobbed by reporters. The paper had said that Malfoy denied all accusations and that they were definitely not a couple and Ron, after seeing it, had relaxed and now walked around with her, a smug smile plastered over his face. He made sure that they went out together, once even using most of his savings and some of the money had earned working with George (as the brother insisted he paid them) to take her to a posh restaurant. Hermione had almost refused until Harry had told her that he had been going on about how he wanted to show her how much he cared. She went but slipped a few gold gallons into his moneybag while he wasn’t watching to make sure she at least paid for some of it.
Of course the reporters had followed them there and had made a point of asking about Draco. Hermione civilly and politely told them that they were not together and could they please leave so that her and her boyfriend could have dinner together. A young witch came towards her with a camera and for the first time since the papers had reported her and Draco asked her something that wasn’t about them.
"Miss Granger, My readers would like to know where you shop? Where did you find that stunning outfit you are wearing tonight?" Hermione smile and replied simply.
"Top Shop" she turned and walked into the restaurant after Ron giggling about the previous day when she had taken Ginny into the muggle world shopping. The red head had loved it and Hermione had brought them both new outfits.
Eventually after a few weeks the press died down and Hermione woke up one day to find that Malfoy had begun dating 5th year Astoria Greengrass. The sixteen-year-old was very pretty and should have been taking her sixth year but because of the shift she was re-taking her fifth year. At first she wondered why it would be in the papers but then she figured that Malfoy was one of the most well known wizards in England and had taken over his fathers many companies so it would be news. She did not once speak to him and she tried as hard as she could to forget about him but a strange feeling in the pit of her stomach kept bringing him to the for front of her mind. It was as though somehow, something deep inside her was telling her she couldn’t forget him.
So for the next month and a half Hermione spent her time working, writing and sometimes going to meetings with the minister of magic and posing for photos. They were all awarded and Order of Merlin First Class for what they had done for the wizarding world and the muggles. This had been a great achievement for Hermione and she had broken down in tears when she had been given the medal. It now sat proudly on the bedside table.
The trio had become celebrities and because Ginny was with them everywhere they went she became just as famous. People wanted to know where they went, what they ate and what they wore. After telling the reporter where Hermione had got her clothes there was a horde of young witches shopping in the muggle world. Most got their muggle clothes from a special store in Diagon Ally but they were actually shopping in New Look and H&M and Primark.
Even Harry’s birthday was celebrated all over their world. The Weasly’s had thrown him a small party at the burrow that all the Weasly’s (including Fleur) had turned up to celebrate with him. Percy even brought his new girlfriend. Hagrid arrived with Tonk’s mother and Teddy. Harry was delighted to see his godson again and spent most of the day with him. Though the party was relatively small Harry received lots of birthday messages and presents from witch’s and wizards that he didn’t know, one of them even asked him to marry her and sent Ginny an accompanying letter that told her to break up with him. There were Happy Birthday messages in the Prophet and over the radio, everyone was celebrating the day that the chosen one had been born.
Hermione knew that she would be glad to get back to school to escape the madness their lives had plunged into and she was more than pleased when their booklists came. She was grateful to see that she had been put in for all the lessons she had started in sixth year; Charms, Defence Against the Dark Arts, Transfiguration, Herbology, Arithmancy, Ancient Runes and Potions.
"Who do you think will be taking Defence?" Ron asked peering over towards Hermione’s list. Ginny shrugged.
"I don’t know, but we’re going to get a new Transfiguration teacher too remember, now McGonagall’s the head."
Hermione went back into the envelope and with her letter she pulled out a shiny new Head Girl badge. She squeaked in delight and almost jumped on Ron.
"I got Head Girl!"
"Congrats Hermione," Harry said, a beaming smile on his face as he held up his badge, "looks like I’ve been reinstated for Quidditch Captain!" Hermione instantly let go of Ron and hugged Harry instead.
"Oh this is so good. I wonder who is the new head boy?"
"Maybe your letter will say," Ginny suggested as she pulled Harry around and kissed him, saying something about how he knew she was a good Quidditch player and that she really did need to get on the team again this year. Hermione opened her letter.
Dear Miss Granger,
It is my duty to inform and congratulate you on becoming Head Girl this year. As you realise already this prestigious spot in our school requires all the hard work and determination that I know you posses but also a great deal of people and leadership skills. You and our Head Boy will be meeting with me once a month and with the prefects every two weeks. These meetings will be used to discuss the many events that will be coming up (a list of which I shall give you when we meet), and anything that the prefects feel need going over.
As you know already from your invite to attend the school this year every year will be re-taking the year that was disrupted last year. This means that we will have a double amount of students taking their first year. After the welcoming feast I would ask all seventh years that are returning to meet with me at the head table where I will explain the arrangements that have been made to accommodate you. I will also meet with you and the Head Boy before the feast begins so that you are aquatinted with each other and know what to expect.
Hermione looked up from her letter.
"It doesn’t say who the Head Boy is just that I have to meet her before and after the feast."
"Mine says I have to meet her after the feast," Ron commented, "I wonder how they are doing this?" Hermione shrugged.
"I guess we will find out then won’t we. Come on, you and Ginny have to work with George today, we are going to be late."
"If you give me your lists, Hermione and I can get all your stuff."
"Ok," Ginny said, handing over her list, "just remember that I need potion ingredients too, and if you want to get me a present I wouldn’t say no to a cat, seeing as you still need to get me my birthday present for tomorrow," she winked. Harry gaped at her.
"How did you know…"
"Harry I know you," Ginny smiled, "I know you would leave it to the last minute, you always do."
"I wont let him forget," Hermione said pushing Harry into the fire, "now move guys, we need to go." She shooed everyone else into the fire and they Flooed to Diagon Alley.
Hermione and Harry spend the entire morning together and Hermione couldn’t help but think that it was nice to catch up with him. They brought everyone’s books, potion ingredients and new parchment, quills and ink. They all met up when the shop shut for lunch and had an ice cream before they all got new robes and school clothes. Ginny even managed to convince Hermione to by a short skirt and some heels. She agreed in the end that they looked quite cute on her.
When they left Hermione and Harry stayed and purchased a couple of cloaks (two black school ones, one red one and one dark blue one) before leaving and sitting outside a café with something to eat. Hermione had shrunk all of their purchases into four small box’s all labelled with their names and had slipped them into her handbag.
"I swear," she said leaning against the back of her chair and soaking up the sun that beat down on them, "I am going to have no money left at this rate."
"How much does George pay us again?" Harry asked Hermione.
"Erm, well we work for him twice a week for four hours and we get a two gallons an hour so that’s four times two which is eight. We have been working there for two months and so have earned sixty four gallons, which is actually quite a lot, actually, I think that means I might have just about broken even. That means that without all the extra books Ron and Ginny have left over money."
"Actually I’m paying for all their school stuff, I spoke to Mr Weasly about it and he didn’t want to let me at first but I told him it was the least I could do after everything they have done for me."
"Do they know this?" Hermione asked, her eyebrows raised. She knew how Ron would react to that news and it wasn’t likely to be a positive reaction.
"No, they think their parents gave me the money. Do you want to come and help me pick out a cat for Ginny?"
"Yeah sure." They got up but just as they began to walk towards the pet shop a blonde brushed past them and walked into Flourish and Blotts.
Hermione faltered and debated in her head over what she should do. Part of her thought that she should definitely not go after him, he had almost ruined her relationship with Ron and had been acting strangely nice. The other part of her told her that she had to go after him. She had to apologise for what she wrote to him. Why she wanted to apologise to Draco Malfoy she didn’t know but part of her felt obliged to go after him and part of her knew exactly where he would be. Her heart won over her head.
"Erm Harry, I’ll meet you there ok, I need to just make a stop somewhere." She glanced back over to the shop.
"Oh, sure, I’ll see you in a bit then," Harry replied, confused at her sudden agitated state.
"Erm, Ginny likes Tabby cats or black cats, try to get her a kitten, and make it a girl kitten at that." Hermione didn’t wait for the reply but fled towards the bookshop and disappeared inside.
It wasn’t nearly as quiet as it had been the first time. The shop bustled with the sound of new and past Hogwarts students rushing around to buy their schoolbooks. Hermione and Harry had already been in here once today but Hermione had resisted the urge to go visit the muggle section. It was here she was heading now. Part of her hoped that Malfoy wasn’t there so she didn’t have to apologise but he was. He was in the same section and he was reading more Shakespeare.
The little alcove in which they stood was the only part of the shop that was quiet. It was out of the way and no one would here what Hermione was about to say. She thought that if they did they might die of shock. The Griffindor princess apologising to a Slytherin?
"Malfoy?" she said, her voice both quieter and higher than she had wanted it. Her looked around, saw her and then looked back.
"Yes Granger?" he replied, his voice giving off the impression that he was bored.
"I-I wanted to apologise for what I said in the letter, it was insensitive of me and I should never have said it. I’m sorry." Malfoy snapped the book shut and turned towards her.
"Save it Granger, I don’t need an apology off a mudblood." He pushed past her roughly and walked out of the shop leaving Hermione alone.
When she joined Harry in the shop the first thing he asked was if she was ok.
"Yes of course I am, why wouldn’t I be?" she replied quickly.
"Your eyes are red," he said slowly, "they only go red like that when you’ve been crying."
"It’s nothing," she said, smiling at him weakly, "nothing at all."
"I’m fine Harry," she snapped cutting him off. She re-composed herself and smiled, "so what are you getting Ginny?"
Ginny loved her little black kitten and she squealed in delight when Harry had handed her over.
"Happy birthday for tomorrow," he said, kissing her on the cheek. She had named the cat Socks because it’s white paws looked like socks. Crookshanks at first had been weary of the new arrival but after sniffing around her a few times he seemed to decide that she wasn’t that bad and they settled down on the rug together.
That evening they all sat around the fire in the living room and Hermione couldn’t help but think that the second day she had confronted Malfoy was ended just like the first. Except this time she was interviewing Harry about what had happened when he had got into the chamber of secrets. Ginny, who was leading a piece of string around the floor for Socks to chase, looked a little tearful and slightly red in the face.
"Gin, are you ok, do you want me to do this another time?" Hermione asked putting her quill down.
"No Mione it’s fine, it’s just a little…well I just wish I could remember what I did half of that year that’s all."
"You know none of this was your fault don’t you?" Ginny nodded but still looked on the verge of tears.
"I know," she stopped and pulled the tears back, setting her jaw in place. "I know you haven’t asked me and I know your book is about Harry but maybe I could have a little piece in it, I mean like because Riddle was possessing me maybe I could help you understand him?"
"Would you be ok to do that Gin?" Hermione asked, "because I had wanted to talk to you about it but I didn’t know if…"
"No it would be fine, I think it would help to get it all off my chest anyway." Hermione beamed.
"Thanks Gin, I really appreciate this."
"No problem," her friend said, smiling weakly.
Hermione settled back into Ron and continued interviewing Harry, happy that her book would be the best she could possibly make it.
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