Things were tense at the Burrow following the World Cup.
When the group had returned, Mrs. Weasley had grabbed all her children and Harry and Hermione into a large bear hug and had to be pried off by Mr. Weasley. Before she burst into tears, Mr. Weasley was able to usher the kids up stairs before they would be trapped by Mrs. Weasley again.
Hermione and Ginny went to her room, and got dressed for bed in silence. They turned off the lamp and laid in their separate beds in silence to try and fall asleep. When Hermione was about half asleep, she heard Ginny whisper her name. She rolled over and blinked blearily at the younger girl, waiting for her to speak. "Can I sleep with you?" She whispered, not meeting Hermione's eyes.
As she pulled her wand from under her pillow Hermione responded to the red head "Of course you can Gin, just let me enlarge the bed." Ginny smiled weakly and climbed into bed with Hermione, who squeezed Ginny's arm before rolling back onto her side. That night, the girls nightmare's were kept away because of the feeling of safety.
The Weasley and Co. annual trip to Diagon Alley had been slightly derailed by the events of the cup. Mrs. Weasley wanted to be sure there would be no fallout from the cup before she let the children into the central Wizarding hub of England. So the children spent a few days playing in the lake on the Weasley's property, and lazing around in the sun.
They ended up going to Diagon Alley the day before the Hogwart's Express would be taking the children back to Scotland. The trip was hurried and frantic, like normal. What was not normal was the amount of times both of the Weasley adults looked over their shoulders. Mrs. Weasley lead the group while Mr. Weasley was at the back of the group to ensure no one was lost. It seemed that safety was becoming more and more paramount.
The day of September the 1st in the Weasley household was hectic as usual. Both Hermione and Ginny had taken care to pack their trunks the night before, to ensure they could relax in the morning and eat breakfast. Harry and Ron chose the exact opposite approach.
Mrs. Weasley had woke the girls up with a gentle call of their names when she had seen that they were already packed. The boys on the other hand, she woke up with a bellow of their names. Hermione and Ginny giggled as they got dressed, able to hear the scrambling happening in the room above them.
As the girls ate breakfast, the twins joined them shortly before Mrs. Weasley headed up the rickety stairs to begin yelling at Harry and Ron again. Mr. Weasley shook his head with a smile and continued reading the paper, disregarding his wifes continuous shrieking. Eventually, the boys stumbled down the stairs, dragging their trunks with Mrs. Weasley berating them close behind. As the girls got up to grab their luggage to depart for King's Cross, the boys were shoving toast down their throats as Mr. Weasley laughed. The twins began dragging the boys out of their seats to make sure they would be able to catch the train back to Scotland.
This year, the group had been sent a car by the ministry, to make them look good by assuring that the boy-who-lived would make it to the station safely. Hermione and Harry giggled at the Weasley children, who were astounded by the muggle invention.
When they arrived at King's Cross, Mr. and Mrs. Weasley followed their charges into the station. In sets of two, they all leaned against the wall between platforms 9 and 10, sliding smoothly onto platform 9 and 3/4s. The lively platform pulled a smile from Hermione, seeing friends greeting each other after months apart, parents holding onto their children looking as if they never wanted to let go. It had all become familiar to Hermione, and it made Hogwarts and the wizarding world feel more and more like home.
The train ride to Hogwarts was strangely uneventful, considering the world cup had been such a short time before. Hermione, Ron, Harry and Ginny had been joined in their compartment by Luna Lovegood, who was friends with Ginny, and Neville. The six of them caught up on what had happened over the summer, and they were of course asked by Neville and Luna about the World Cup. Ron had no problem retelling the tale, but it seemed as if Hermione was the only one who noticed Neville's face growing grimmer and grimmer as the story came to a close.
Neville, Hermione had come to learn over the summer, lived with his grandmother because death eaters had landed both of his parents in St. Mungos indefinitely due to some prolonged crucios. This was why Hermione felt such a need to fight. Not only, were Tom Riddle's followers pureblood supremacists who believed blood was the most important, they were the kind of people who would hurt anybody they came across, no matter what.
Hermione gave Neville's shoulder a tight squeeze as Ron finished the story. Neville gave her a grateful look, and was quick to change the subject as he asked Ron and Ginny to play exploding snap. The redheads readily agreed, and the three set up on the floor of the compartment while Hermione pulled out a book to immerse herself in. The group let the rest of the trip pass mindlessly.
Arriving at Hogwarts was, like always, an experience. There was of course Hagrid calling all of the first years to the boats. Hermione and the rest of her friends climbed in to a carriage together. The trip to the castle was quick, and soon enough the group of friends were sitting at their house table, catching up with their year mates. Hermione, Ron and Harry were quick to notice an empty spot at the head table where Remus had sat the year before, but they were pulled out of their musings when Dumbledore stood from his seat.
Dumbledore called the room to order to begin the sorting. Professor McGonagall stalked into the Great Hall, looking imposing as ever and being followed by the first years that were gazing around the room in wonder. The sorting was conducted without much fanfare, thought the sorting hat had added some strange lines in it's song that referenced the making of many new friends in the coming term. But it all made sense when Dumbledore gave his speech.
"Welcome back to another year here at Hogwarts!" Dumbledore began with a characteristic twinkle in his eyes "As you all know, Hogwarts is one of the premier wizarding schools in the world. This has allowed us, in the coming year to host a great international event on our grounds." The headmaster had to pause here due to the whispers that broke out at his announcement "Many of you," he continued "are familiar with the history of this event. In under two months time, Hogwarts will be welcoming two other wizarding school delegations to Scotland to participate in the TriWizard tournament."
The hall broke out into chatter once again, and Hermione thought back to when she had first arrived in the wizarding world, and Hogwarts: A History had been her best friend. She recalled reading about Hogwarts sending a garrison of students to foreign schools to compete in such tournament, but she also recalled reading that the tournament had been discontinued due to some of the champions dying.
As if reading her confused mind, Dumbledore began speaking again over the students "This will be the first year the tournament will be held since 1795, and some safeguards have been created to make the tournament as safe as possible! One such safeguard will be an age limit. All students putting their name in the running to compete as a champion must be seventeen."
Dumbledore had to pause here due to the uproar his statement. To Hermione's surprise, some of the loudest groans were coming from the Weasley twins that sat across from her. With a frown covering her face, Hermione kicked both of her legs out under the table, connecting to the twin's shins. The twins groans turned into startled yelps, and they both turned wounded eyes to their brunette friend. They were quick to turn away once again when they saw Hermione's patented "I-am-disappointed-in-you-and-you-make-me-sad" look, that she must have learned from the Weasley matriarch because it worked better than the look Mrs. Weasley often used.
Dumbledore let the complaining fo on for a moment before he tapped his wand on the podium three times, producing an echoing slam in the hall that shut all the groaning students up. "Now then, there are of course other safeguards, but only the champions will need to be privy to that information."
Dumbledore opened his mouth to continue his normal term announcements, but was interrupted by the startling crack of the doors to the great hall bouncing open. Through the door came a hunched over figure, walking with a limp and shrouded in a black travelling cloak that covered their face.
"Ah," Dumbledore mused "It looks as if our new Defense Against the Dark Arts professor has arrived." When the professor reached the head table Dumbledore stepped forward and shook his hand, while speaking to the person under his breath. With a nod the professor walked towards the empty seat at the table between McGonagall and Snape. "Students, this years Defense Against the Dark Arts professor is Mr. Alastor Moody!" As he was introduced, the man dropped his hood to show a scarred face and a mechanical eye that looked to be whirring around in its encasement against the mans face.
Dumbledore then continued on with his term announcements, but Hermione's mind couldn't concentrate on such mundane things. This tournament was bound to cause trouble. Foreign witches and wizards in the school, an event that came with a death warning. Hermione had a feeling that this year would not be a simple one, and when she made eye contact with Harry sitting beside her she knew she wasn't the only one feeling that way.