Disclaimer: I do not own any of the characters, setting etc, they are the work of the genius J K Rowling. I am simply borrowing them for my own selfish fantasies.
A/N: My first attempt at fanfic so please be patient. I welcome constructive criticism and advice though, anything to help you enjoy the story more.
Hermione dropped her heavy pile of books on the grass and slowly lowered herself so that she was leaning against the rough bark of the tree. The September sun spread a welcome warmth over her skin and she kicked off her shoes to spread her toes through the soft blades of grass. It was the first day of classes back at Hogwarts after the war. It had been an easy decision to make to come back to do her seventh year, after all it was in Hermione's blood. The castle hadn't completely recovered but it was well on it's way. Hermione had been part of the team that had helped with repairs over the summer.
It was difficult being here without Harry and Ron, but at least she had Ginny and Luna to keep her company. It had been an odd sensation sitting in a classroom, learning, reading, carrying on as normal after everything that had happened in these walls, but she was glad to have some normality back in her life. There was only a handful of people from her year that had returned to complete their seventh year, but perhaps the most surprising was Draco Malfoy. She had spotted his platinum hair on platform 9 ¾ as soon as she'd stepped through the wall. He was obviously trying to blend into the background and go unnoticed, but who could miss the 18 year old, 6 foot, blonde slytherin, he stuck out like a sore thumb. Even more so at school as he had been the only Slytherin of their year to return. She had pondered all the reasons that he had come back, he couldn't possibly think he'd be welcomed back with open arms since most of the events of last year had been due to his actions.
But Harry and Ron had mentioned seeing him during the clean up when she had been busy with other things. Was it possible that the Malfoy heir, the son of a Death Eater, the nephew of the woman who tortured her, was trying to make amends? Had he really changed? Or was this all another ploy? She doubted McGonagall would have let him back in without good reason, but he could have tricked her. It wouldn't be the first time. No matter what the headmistress's reasons had been, Hermione would stay as far away from him as possible.
As if her thoughts on him could summon him, she spotted him strolling across the grass towards the lake, not too far from her. She could see the sorrowful look on his face, the lines marring his clear despair. She felt something pinch her gut; something that felt a little like pity. It couldn't be easy for him, she thought, coming back here after all he and his family had done, and with nobody to talk to. That was if he'd changed anyway. Do I really feel sorry for Draco sodding Malfoy? She scorned herself, He is a pompous, entitled, prejudiced bully. Once a Death Eater always a Death Eater. She shook off any remaining feelings of pity she felt for him and got back to her notes from her classes that day. It would be time for dinner soon, and she'd promised she'd meet up with Ginny and Luna. As the only Gryffindor girl in her year who'd returned she had been permitted to share her room with Ginny, a welcome room mate who was just as lonely as her without her boyfriend. She'd already spent the last year apart from him, and now he was in Auror training, not much had changed. She still rarely heard from him, but when she did a smile spread across her face so radiant that Hermione knew they were destined to make it all the way. It was a strange thought that two of her best friends had found their soulmates in each other. She thought she had found that with Ron at one point, but they had both quickly discovered that the tension of the war and the uncertainty at whether they would survive had led them to find solace in each other, and actually they were better as just friends.
As the sun began to lower behind the trees, Hermione packed her things and made her way to the Great Hall for dinner. Whilst she'd shared most of her classes that day with Ginny and Luna, she had tried to keep to herself. It was strange being back here after all that had happened, and not having Harry and Ron by her side made it even more difficult. She was only back because she felt like she had to, but it was going to be a strange year. However, she knew that whilst she could get away with not being chatty in class due to her studious nature, she wouldn't get away with it at dinner. It was their first day back to classes and none of the professors had set any assignments other than reading and everyone would know she had already read every book she needed to. It felt a little strange that there was no homework but she figured that the professors were still recovering from May themselves.
As she walked through the main doors and towards the hall she could already hear the drawling sounds of mindless chatter coming from the rest of the Hogwarts students. Everybody was still catching up about their summers and no doubt gossiping about things that had happened after the war. She herself had been the topic of many a gossips conversation after hers and Ron's relationship had been written about in the prophet. Rita Skeeter had written an article on the war romance to give us hope. What better way to doom a new relationship than spread it all over the country like celebrity gossip? Of course they didn't last the summer, realising they were better off as friends. Due to the amicable nature of the break up, they had managed to keep it out of the paper this time.
Hermione spotted Ginny immediately, but then it wasn't hard as she stood and waved her arm frantically as soon as Hermione walked in. She threw her bag on the bench next to her and took a seat. She hadn't realised quite how hungry she was until she saw the food laid out before her. She quickly filled her plates and began tucking in.
They chatted about their classes and how strange it felt to be back as if nothing had happened after everything. And how stranger it felt that some people were back and some people weren't.
Across the hall, Hermione spotted Malfoy sitting alone with his cheek rested against a balled up fist and picking at his food. She felt the twinge of pity again somewhere in her stomach and swallowed it down along with a piece of chicken.
He could feel the eyes on him. Not everyone was staring but even without raising his own eyes from the table he was staring at he could feel his skin prickle from the few that were. It's not like he hadn't expected it, but he realised now that he hadn't been completely prepared for it, or how it would make him feel. Like he was being judged just for being here. He and his mother had tried hard over the summer to break out of the influence of his father, and with Lucius in Azkaban now they had been doing fine, but he knew that others wouldn't know this. The last two years had been hell for both of them and they had made it through. And with some well placed donations of time as well as money to the clean-up effort after the war, and helping the ministry in their hunt for the death eaters involved, they had managed to avoid the same fate as his father. A condition his mother had made with him for her not leaving the country was for him to go back to Hogwarts and complete his NEWTs. It taken a lot of persuading for McGonagall to let him back in, but after many meetings between the two of them she had finally agreed.
Draco raised his eyes from the table to assess just how much he was being stared at and immediately he noticed her. Granger was sitting on the other side of the room. The staring wasn't unusual, he'd often caught her and those annoying friends of hers glaring at him, but this was different. She wasn't looking judgemental or suspicious of him. If anything she looked confused, like there was some battle going on inside her head, but not an accusatory one. Not one where she was suspecting him of doing something and trying to convince herself of the good in everybody like she always did. He felt uncomfortable under her gaze, like she could see inside of him; which was not a feeling he was used to. He needed to get away from her, so he quickly pulled his bag from under the table and slung it over his shoulder as he raised from the table and quickly fled the hall.
He wandered slowly to the Slytherin dormitory. As he reached the stone wall he fumbled in his brain for the newly learnt password.
"Serpentes" he muttered, and the wall moved aside to let him enter. He silently thanked whatever deity may be listening that it was empty and quiet as he threw his bag down and collapsed onto the sofa. He shut his eyes and let the green glow and the soothing sounds of the lake as he thought to himself, Fuck me, this is going to be a long year!
Hermione's sleep had been restless, which anybody would be able to tell from the heavy, dark rings under her eyes. Images of the events of the last year had flashed through her head all night causing her to crash and turn and wake, and then it would happen all over again. She knew Ginny had heard her through the night, she'd felt her friend's worry every time she woke. But Ginny knew Hermione better than to mention it, and so they went about their morning as usual.
She lazily ran the brush through her thick brown curls before attempting to tackle the bags under her eyes. She dreaded the day ahead, an unusual feeling for her usually studious herself. The only reason she looked forward to homework this year was because it would be a welcome distraction from the dark memories that haunted her every day. She knew the fact that he was here wouldn't help that. He would just serve as a reminder for one of the most terrifying days of her life. Just the thought of him made her arm itch where his sadistic aunt had unleashed her darkness as the finishing touch to her torture. The scar had faded significantly since Bellatrix's death, but she could still tell exactly where the awful word had been seared into her skin. Hermione pulled her sleeve back over her arm and bunched the end of her fist. With a large sigh she resolved she would just have to avoid Malfoy for the entire year.
The day was passing slowly, and that's because Hermione knew that she had a class coming up that Ginny wasn't in. Arithmancy was her favourite class but the thought of being in it alone, where everybody else was younger than her, was an uneasy one. When the time came she left Ginny and paced slowly along the corridors towards Professor Vectors classroom. She knew she was late, another unusual trait she had come into this year, but for once she didn't care. Anything to put off being alone. She hoped the cheerful disposition and rosy smile of one of her favourite professors would help her through the class but somehow she doubted it. She finally reached the heavy wooden door to the room and as she pushed she released a heavy breath she hadn't been aware she was holding.
"Ah, Miss Granger. How nice of you to finally join us. Take a seat please and turn you book to Chapter 2." Professor Vector looked a little disappointed and Hermione felt a little sick at the thought. She looked around for an empty seat and spotted one.
"For fuck's sake." She muttered to herself as she spotted the white hair and green robes sat in the seat beside the empty one. Typical! Hermione marched over to the chair and dropped her heavy bag under the table. She pulled the chair out and dropped in as if her legs just couldn't hold her upright anymore.
"Granger." Malfoy acknowledge monotonously without looking up from his book. Hermione rolled her eyes as she dragged her book onto the desk and opened it at the right page, and thought, Fuck me, this is going to be a long year!
A/N: Hope this is okay. My updates may be slow to begin with as I get into the swing of it. Also lots of uni deadlines at the minute, but the end is nigh and then I will be a graduate and will have all the time in the world to give to my Dramione fantasy.