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Chapter Two: Moving on

    “The place looks so different!” exclaimed Ron as they walked through the newly repaired doors into the entrance hall. Everything was clean and instead of the old stone walls they were so used to, the entrance hall was now decorated with beautiful black and white marble walls, black tiled floor and mahogany staircases leading up to the next floors. The suits of armor were restored and in pristine condition now although several were still missing from their usual places, probably too damaged to repair so quickly. Harry looked upwards towards the nearly invisible ceiling, every banister and set of stairs that he could see had been repaired or replaced with sparkling mahogany and gold.

    None of these things were the most shocking new development however. In groups all around, repairing and cleaning, some hovering half way up the wall, others crouched down under stairs were House Elves. House Elves dressed in smart little uniforms, happily chatting away as they worked.

    Hermione however ignored all of this and began walking straight towards Dumbledores old office, now Professor McGonagalls after having been reappointed Head after Voldemorts downfall until Harry tapped her on the shoulder making her stop in her tracks.

    “Harry we don’t have time for this, what’s wrong?” she cried.

    “Hermione, look!”  whispered Harry in awe. “The house elves…” he added, still in shock.

   At that Hermione began to look around, very gradually a smile began to appear on her face which quickly turned into a huge grin and a squeal of delight. “They’re happy!” She exclaimed grabbing Harry in a tight hug bursting with joy. “This is what S.P.E.W was all about!” she laughed watching the elves do their work.

    “Bloody hell,” said Ron “I never thought I’d see this!”

    “Come on,” said Harry moving away. “Let’s ask McGonagall about it.” With that the trio carried on towards the headmistresses office staring in awe the whole way.

    As they reached the end of the corridor and turned they found that the gargoyle who usually guards the office from intrusion and demanding a password from those wishing to gain entry, was standing to the side leaving the stairs accessible. Almost as if Professor McGonagall was waiting for them. They trudged up the steps and knocked smartly on the office door, waiting for a reply before entering the office.

    As they walked through the doors Harry took a look around. Not much had changed since the last time he had been here. Dumbledore in his portrait slept soundly above the headmistresses chair while the other headmasters were chatting with each other. Professor McGonagall stood up as Ron closed the door and greeted them surprisingly warmly.

    “I think I know why you’re here Miss Granger, although I must say I expected you a lot sooner than this. Mr Longbottom applied to come back weeks ago,” said Professor McGonagall without allowing them to start.

    Hermione flushed. “I didn’t know that you… I mean to say Hogwarts was accepting eighth year students back to finish their NEWTs or I would have applied straight away.” Glancing at Ron she gave him a small smile. “Ginny only told me that it was announced in her school letter this morning after I had already got my letter back from the Department for Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures at the Ministry.”

   “Ah. I see. You will of course require top grades in your NEWTs to join the ministry these days. Minister Shacklebolt has really been cleaning the place up since he was put in charge officially,” she smiled at Hermione. “Although I don’t doubt that you will get top grades Miss Granger.” Becoming more serious she added “Now, do you have a letter for me formally requesting to come back for the short term NEWT course?”

    “I do professor,” said Hermione handing over the letter she was holding tightly in her fist. “I can’t wait to come back.” She said excitedly with a grin.
    Ron shaking his head looked at Harry grinning. “Typical Hermione,” he laughed.

    Unable to contain himself any longer Harry said “Professor, what’s with all the house elves? When did they decide to give in and wear uniforms?”

    “And they are allowed to be seen! It’s just so amazing!” squealed Hermione, seemingly now just remembering her earlier excitement about the house elves.

      “Ah yes, well after their part in the Battle of Hogwarts I had to insist that they take some comforts. It was much easier than it would have been before the war. I did have to threaten some of them with clothes if they didn’t take the uniforms, pay and holidays however.”
    “They are taking pay and holidays to?” asked Hermione “That’s great!”

    “Yes, they have decided to accept a Galleon and two days off a month.” She said “They would accept nothing more than that though.” She added before Hermione could complain.

     Harry was glad that Hermione had sorted herself out for the next year, with Ron looking to join a professional quidditch team and Harry going back to Grimmauld Place to clean the place up they all had some semblance of a plan. Ron didn’t seem to be taking Hermiones leaving quite so well. As the days passed and back to school came closer, Ron became noticeably more miserable.
    Over the next few days Hermione began getting ready to go back to Hogwarts to complete her final year and get her much needed NEWT scores. In the meantime she was driving Ron and Harry crazy with her obsessive compulsion to have every single thing ready several days before leaving so much so that when it came to the day of her departure on the Hogwarts Express; Harry was almost glad to be rid of her.

     “Have a good year ‘Mione,” said Ron, wrapping his arms around her giving her a kiss on the neck “I’ll see you over Halloween, make sure you write me!” He added with a frown stepping away and allowing Harry to say goodbye to her.
    “Bye Hermione, see you over Christmas!” Harry said hugging her quickly and stepping back to let her get onto the train. “Good luck! Not that you need it.” He took another look around, hopelessly looking for Ginny as she had been strangely distant over the last few days and hadn’t said goodbye to him before getting onto the train.
     Hermione stepped closer to Ron for a last proper goodbye kissing him passionately, during which time Harry tried to become invisible while their actions made him miss Ginny all the more, before Hermione stepped onto the train.
    As the Hogwarts Express began to move off and disappear into the distance, Ron watched until it could no longer be seen before reluctantly returning to platform 9 of King Cross station and headed outside to apparate back to the Burrow with Harry following.


     Hermione watched out the window, seeing Ron and Harry standing on the platform shrinking away into the distance until the train turned a corner. She was worried about going back to Hogwarts, she hadn’t studied at all for over a year, how would she manage to pass her NEWTs?
    It would be very strange going back to Hogwarts again, this time without Harry and Ron. Having been together since their first year Hermione had never really bothered to make any other friends which would leave her quite lonely if there was no one she really knew. She set off to find Ginny and Luna she remembered having seen them disappear together a few minutes before she boarded the train.
    She walked down the corridor of the train, telling off a few 2nd years who were fighting as she passed their compartment until she finally found Ginny sitting with Luna, Neville, Dean Thomas and Romilda Vane in one compartment.
    “I think Harry was looking for you Ginny,” said Hermione as she entered the compartment and sat down. “He didn’t say so but he was definitely looking for someone.”

    Ginny shrugged and continued talking to Romilda who was giggling about something Ginny had said.

     Hermione decided not to ask anymore and put her bag onto the shelf above the seats, sat down next to Luna and began to help her with a puzzle in the Quibbler. The Quibbler incidentally had become a much more popular magazine since the summer, with a much wider fan base and a much more serious range of articles.

The journey passed quite quickly and before they knew it they were getting changed into their Hogwarts school uniform ready to get off the train and onto the Thestral drawn carriages which took them up to Hogwarts for their final year.


    “So Ron..” Harry began as they reappeared at the Burrow moments after leaving the station. “I’m thinking of moving back to Grimmauld Place and I was wondering if you would come with me,” he asked apprehensively “Hermione will be welcome to join us once she gets back.” Harry added, watching Ron carefully.

    Considering Harry for a moment, maybe to try and make sure he wasn’t kidding. “Really? What’s wrong with staying here?” he asked.

     “Nothing Ron, really. Don’t get me wrong I love living here and I consider you all my family but I think it’s time that we moved into our own place and well… I have one just sitting there waiting for us,” he explained pausing for a second to search Ron’s face for an answering expression he added “And with Kreacher there to help us we can have the place clean and liveable before Hermione comes back from Hogwarts!” without allowing Ron to interrupt.

    Ron considered this for a moment before finally saying; “It does sound like a good idea but you can tell mum. I really don’t think she’s going to be happy about it. You know she’s been really clingy since Fred…”

    “Yea, I know,” said Harry with a consoling smile.

    Ron was right, Mrs Weasley didn’t like the idea at all and it took them two whole days before they could really explain why they wanted to move but after a lot of persuading, consoling and promises to visit often she finally relented refusing to help them pack their stuff. She insisted that they would need the stuff in their rooms when they came back.

    “Mum we’ll be fine, we even have space for you to come and stay with us sometimes!” Ron cried after another of Mrs Weasleys sudden change of minds “But not all the time of course!” he added hastily on seeing her begin to make another argument. He glanced over at Mr Weasley for help but just received a small shake of the head and a smile instead; Mr Weasley was clearly enjoying this far too much.

    As moving day got closer and closer Mrs Weasley became more and more uneasy and frantic. Constantly trying to get Harry and more successfully Ron to eat seconds and even thirds at every meal until finally Mr Weasley gently took her aside and told her to stop worrying, they weren’t going far and would be within easy reach just a floo or apparition away and they would have Kreacher to look after them after all.

    Kreacher had gone back to Grimmauld Place on Harry’s orders a few days before, allowing him time to re-bond with the place before Harry and Ron turned up. Hermione wasn’t much help either. Her letters were becoming few and far between as her exams got closer which only made Ron worry and miss her all the more. Harry hadn’t heard much of anything from Ginny either. At first her letters came every week with Harry sometimes writing several feet of parchment to her, then they began to peter out as they ran out of things to say and the letters became just lists of everyday things until as Halloween came and went Ginny stopped writing completely. Ginny seemed to be especially unhappy about Harrys move to Grimmauld Place to the point where she refused to talk about it meaning that both Harry and Ron were quite down when it came to the official move day.

    “Now are you sure you’ll be okay dears?” asked Mrs Weasley giving both the boys a hug. “It’s not too late to change your minds you know. You’re both still so young!” She cried
   “Oh mum, we’ll be fine. We aren’t going far,” sighed Ron already fed up with having to repeat the same thing over and over to his mum. Even Harry who was touched at her concern for him was quite exasperated with it.

    Harry and Ron each gave Mrs Weasley a hug in turn, shook Mr Weasleys hand and with a last look at the Burrow apparated to Grimmauld Place.


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