Ch.2 - Home Sweet Home?

Forty minutes and one delicious, way too filling feast later, Professor McGonagall stood to make some more announcements, tapping her silver fork on a glass goblet emblazoned with the Hogwarts crest once again. "May I have your attention please?" The din of chatting children lowered to a low murmur, then silence. "In addition to hiring our new professors, we have also expanded and hired nine new members of staff for the medical wing. If you would stand, please?" She turned to the eight new faces in medical robes. "Madam Wainscott has been promoted from nurse's assistant to full time nurse." He remembered her from last year, she treated a lot of the injured students after the battle.

"We have also brought in Sir Rowan Wiggentree as our medi-brewer for the hospital wing's new potions laboratory." No doubt so Professor Slughorn and that new guy don't get overburdened with all the dreamless sleep and calming draughts everyone will be needing. "And for the first time, Hogwarts has hired not one but seven mind-healers - one for each year." She introduced them, but he was only half paying attention. Where are they getting all this money to hire people from? The Ministry? They can barely afford to pay for the school supplies of the scholarship students with the funds provided by the governors.

Professor – Headmistress – McGonagall continued. "I encourage anyone who would like someone to talk to, privately, confidentially, to please visit the hospital wing to see your assigned mind healer. They will be available any time of day or night, you needn't worry about bothering them. They are here to help you." Then, she turned her eyes to the Gryffindor seventh years. "All returning seventh years are required to make an appointment by the end of the week to see their assigned mind-healer. This is non-negotiable."

If he hadn't had every manner and principle of propriety beaten into him as a boy, he would be looking away and glaring down at his empty place setting. That sounds nice and all, but they probably care more about the wellbeing of the Dumbledore's Army war-heroes than they do us Slytherins. He saw Blaise openly glaring across from him out of the corner of his eye, whispering to Pansy and Draco in frustration. "I don't need a mind healer. I was neutral, I kept out of everyone's business equally."

Draco scoffed. "So?"

Pansy rolled her eyes. "Blaise you were the only decidedly neutral one in our entire year. Think of everyone else."

"I am!" Blaise retorted. "One of you three can take my appointment. You guys need it way more than I do."

Minerva continued. "That is all the announcements that I have for you today. First years, you will be released early, I would like everyone else here to remain seated until they have all left the Great Hall. You will be dismissed in twenty minutes. Again, all seventh years must remain behind for a private meeting. Heads of house, if you would please?" Headmistress McGonagall gestured to the new heads of houses at the ends of the tables.

Christophe stood up from beside them to start his head of house duties. "Right…Slytherin first years and fifth year prefects, may I have your attention please. Fifth year prefects, stand up please so the first years can see you." A moment's pause, and the two new prefects stood up from the group of fifth years just beyond the middle of the table. They waved at the children cowering at the end of the table by the second years. A few shy smiles were given in return. "First years, if you will stand and line up by your prefects, we will show you down to your dormitory." He walked half the length of the table to meet them so he could walk with them. "This way, please." And with that, a line of eight shaking, terrified children were led out the doors of the great hall.

Theodore watched his nephew leave with the children. He's a bit stiff. Out of practice, I'd imagine. But there's no one better to show them you don't have to be afraid of all the death eater's kids in Slytherin. We aren't like our parents. Twenty minutes later, everyone else was released to their dormitories including the staff. Only him and the rest of the seventh years remained, just sitting there nervously at their house tables.

Professor – Headmistress – McGonagall approached them. All 17 of them. Everyone but the Slytherins were former DA members, half of whom were Gryffindors. This is it? This is everyone left that didn't get killed or transfer or luck out and withdraw early enough? They numbered at almost 40 back in fifth year. "Come, gather around everyone." She stood between the two centermost tables. There was a scrambling of feet and scraping of shoes on mahogany wood benches for a minute.

"Thank you all for returning, I'm very proud of all of you. Welcome back to Hogwarts." She looked meaningfully at all of them, even him and Draco. "Now, there have been a few changes this year, most importantly being your housing arrangements. We have constructed one new tower and repaired and expanded another this year, one to house the new medical wing staff, and another to house you seventh years. It will be renamed the Tower of Unity. Starting next year, it will house guest lecturers and administrative staff from the Department of Education for their annual inspection of our staff." She paused for a moment, letting the information sink in. They're really pushing this unity thing.

"Furthermore, as you are all 18 or 19 years of age, you will be given certain privileges I would normally not allow. This year you will not have a curfew, all I ask is that you do not act obnoxiously. I do not want to receive noise complaints from the professors sleeping on either side of your common room. You will also be allowed to go down to Hogsmeade village any day of the week, provided it is not during classtime. Also, as you are all of age and do not share a common room with anyone underage, you may drink in your dormitories and common room. Sober-up potions will be available in the hospital wing without question. However, be warned that if too many of you miss class because you are hungover or walk into class drunk, I will take it away."

Another pause. The Headmistress looked at them all, her expression serious and stern. "Several students looked thrilled at the idea, and he wondered which house would organize a party first. "I trust that you will all be responsible. Do not take advantage of these special privileges. I expect you to be a good example to the younger students and to the Ministry. They are watching our every move, this year. Do you understand?" Nods and various mutters of an affirmative around the group.

"Good. Now, let me show you your new dormitory." She walked through the crowd and out the doors, and everyone followed her quietly. Dormitory? Why did she just use that in the singular? A sense of dread came over him as they walked through the doors of the Great Hall. The small, narrow corridor a few meters and a right turn away led to the Slytherin dormitories. Directly beyond the Great Hall was the Entrance Courtyard that led to the docks and the boathouse. Going left from the Great Hall as they were took them past the Great Tower Staircase, up from which most of the classrooms were, and into the half of the castle known as The Quad. Gryffindor was in one tower, Divination in the other at the top, and the tower above the bridge leading to the second half of the castle led to the owlery. On one side of the Quad, there was the Clocktower Courtyard where the Battle of Hogwarts was fought, and the other side was the more unused half of the castle, home to the Astronomy Tower, and Herbology on the far corner by the greenhouses along with the Hufflepuff dorms, and Defense in the opposite corner in Ravenclaw Tower. The middle courtyard in between was a popular rest area same as the quad courtyard.

Their dormitories would be in first and second floors of the mostly unused Divination Tower. On either side of the tower on both floors were the professors now greatly expanded living arrangements. Directly inside the newly-minted Tower of Unity, there was a staircase to the right leading all the way up to Divination class and Professor Trelawney's quarters on the top floor. Directly in front of them was a brand new painting of a red phoenix he didn't recognize. "Its Fawkes…" The boy who lived again breathed, shocked and surprised. Who?

"Correct, Mr. Potter." Headmistress McGonagall congratulated. "This is Albus' old familiar, Fawkes the phoenix. Your password for this semester will be amicitia vincit salvis." Friendship conquers prejudice. At the phrase, the phoenix let out a trill, a beautiful, relaxing melody, and the portrait swung open. Everyone followed her into the brand new common room. It was a lot more bright and airy than the Slytherin common room, with light flooding in through set of windows, flanking the fireplace directly across from them on the far side, lined on either side by tapestries bearing the Hogwarts crest. A large clock hung via a sticking charm on the wall above the fireplace mantle. In front of the fireplace there were several expensive looking leather sofas and a few comfortable looking armchairs. The coffee and end tables were mahogany, with several torches around for light.

The left and right sides of the room were filled with a collection of different table sets. Small, two-seater sets were pushed up against the wall near the wall torches, and in between were a collection of 3 to 6 seater table sets with torch centerpieces for light. There was not a single picture or individual house sigil, such as a snake or lion bust, in the whole room. On either side of the fireplace below the two large Hogwarts crest tapestries were two staircases leading to the second floor. "Your dormitories are up those staircases. Ladies on the right, and gentlemen on the left. In order to promote unity, I have not divided you by houses. There is a single girls dorm room and two boys dorm rooms. You will find your names listed on the door of your assigned room and your timetables on top of your trunks inside."

Groans and voices of complaint ran through the crowd at this.

"Professor, you can't be serious!"

"I'm not sleeping with death eaters!"

"They'll hex me in my sleep!"

"Okay, that's it I'm warding my curtains tonight."

"Silence!" Everyone shut up. "This is part of the reason why we have arranged your dormitories like this. I said it earlier, I will not tolerate any hexing or bullying or prejudice remarks this year. One more word out of you, and you will be receiving detention before you've even had time to sleep in your beds. Do I make myself clear? I expect you all to get along and be an example to everyone." She paused, before continuing. "A house elf has been assigned to this tower, her name is Holly. She will be serving as a butler to our guests starting next year. If you need food or drink after hours, or if something is wrong and you need a professor, just call her name and she will come to assist you."

Another pause. "Does anyone have any questions?" A few students looked relieved, curious, or excited at the idea of having their own assigned house elf.

A boy in Hufflepuff colors raised his hand. "Professor, er, Headmistres…can I switch rooms if I want?"

"Yes and no, Mr. Boot." The Headmistress replied. "I will give you a week to adjust and beginning next Monday you may speak with your heads of houses if there is a problem that warrants a room change request. A request will be granted for serious matters only, after an attempt at reconciliation with your house heads – not because you want to sleep with only your housemates."

"Headmistress McGonagall?" The boy who lived spoke up. "Am I still the Gryffindor Quidditch captain?"

"No, Mr. Potter. I have made Ms. Weasley the Gryffindor team captain, this year." She replied, "Unfortunately, though, Mr. Potter, it has been decided that you seventh years will not be permitted to play quidditch. However, you will not be rewarded or deducted house points either. The governors want you all to have every opportunity to recover and do well on your NEWTS in June. You may play for leisure during free time on the pitch with everyone else as always, of course."

The Headmistress looked around at everyone. "Any last questions? Alright then, go on up to your rooms. Have a good evening. And remember, sign up in the Hospital Wing for an appointment with your mind healer, her name is Madame Rose Centruary."

Author's Note: Chapter two's done. Sorry its mostly boring set up. I'm not naming everyone new to staff cause that's just too many OCs that probably won't appear again in the story. Any recommendations or things you want to see with the chapters and/or characters? Anything you want me to avoid doing at all costs? I'm trying to put a lot of my own ideas and headcanons in here. And solve some plot holes, like how to several hundred kids get a good education with such a small staff…

I think the only class I will pay attention to at any length is Muggle Studies, because it's a new requirement. And other reasons.

Also, just because I'm not doing romance doesn't mean I'm not open to a crush or two or a present but not focused on relationship. I just think that after the war, surely there's more you can work with than just romance. I have my own headcanons for the Slytherins, but anything you wanna see with the Ravenclaws and Hufflepuffs? I admit I haven't paid them much attention.