I do not own Harry Potter or any recognised characters, places etc. they deservedly belong to J. K. Rowling.
-Chapter One -
It's the first day of term for the students attending Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. For some of these students it's their first year attending the great school however, most are returning from their summer holidays.
Harry Potter, Hermione Granger and Ronald Weasley are among those students returning to the famous school for their fifth year, a year they were sure, judging how their term started, would not be like any other they had experienced yet. Quite an achievement based on their previous years.
For Harry Potter the realisation happened during his stay in Little Whinging after a Dementor attack. After using magic to defend himself and his cousin, Dudley Dursley, Harry soon found out he was to attend a hearing to find out whether he would still be allowed to attend school, the first place he could really call home. He'd also had to explain to his muggle aunt and uncle that the wizard Lord Voldemort, who killed his parents, had returned. A rather eventful end to his somewhat subdued summer.
This is how he ended up in Diagon Alley on the first day of term with his friends beside him. He had thought about Hogwarts since his departure from Grimmauld Place. Though Albus Dumbledore was in the courtroom defending Harry, he would not be at school. For their beloved headmaster had been taken from his dutiful role for claiming the Dark Lord has indeed risen and will, in time, wreak his terror on the magical community once more.
"So, tell us again what she's like?" Ronald Weasley asked his best friend.
Ron asked this question over and over, ever since they found out who would be replacing Albus Dumbledore, for the woman replacing him, Dolores Jane Umbridge, Senior Undersecretary to the Minister, was at his hearing.
"I told you, she's a toad. She couldn't wait to see me chucked out of school"
"Well, she didn't get what she wanted, did she?" Hermione stated "You're still here and she-"
"Will make life a living hell for me while I'm there, I'm sure"
"You're life's already a living hell, mate" Ron said, as if he needed reminding.
If his life had not been some resemblance of hell before, the Daily Prophet had seen to it that Harry be plunged further into its fiery depths. Though the wizarding newspaper did not have Rita Skeeter writing for it any longer (Hermione Granger had seen to that), they are now under the total control of the Ministry. Meaning that, although Harry Potter and Albus Dumbledore - wizarding heroes - state He Who Must Not Be Named has returned, Minister Fudge uses all that is at his disposal to discredit them.
"We've been through worse" Harry reminded them.
"What I don't understand" started Ron "Is if this ministry don't believe 'You-Know-Who' has really returned, why in the name of Merlin's most baggy Y-fronts have we been ordered to buy our school things on the day we leave for school?"
"My only guess is that they want to run the school entirely differently from Professor Dumbledore" Hermione answered.
"Let's not worry about that now" Harry said, not wanting to hear about Dumbledore, though Harry would miss him at school he was still infuriated with the man who had ensured almost no wizarding contact over the summer. "Let's buy our things and find the others" he said, referring to the rest of the Weasley clan. Ron and Hermione nodded in agreement with this plan. Ron had his supplies already, passed down from one of his older brothers, but he accompanied his friends nonetheless.
As they entered Flourish and Blotts Hermione instantly picked up the 'Standard Book of Spells: Grade Five' by Miranda Goshawk. "The spells here look very complex this year, it will be very interesting to try them" she told her friends, who, judging by their demeanour, weren't entirely interested one way or the other.
"Well, well, well if it isn't the three who started all those nasty rumours of the Dark Lords return. I must say you've caused quite the panic in our community. So 'The Boy Who Lived' becomes 'The Boy Who Lies'"
"I am not a liar" he glared at Lucius Malfoy
Lucius smirked "Take my advice, Potter and stay out of the limelight this year"
"And why would he take advice from a Death Eater, of all people?" Hermione questioned, glaring at the man in front of her.
Lucius turned to face her, a sneer marking his features "How dare you speak to me in that tone, how dare you speak to me at all. You need to learn your place in our society, you filthy little mu-"
"Father" hissed Draco Malfoy, from the second floor of the shop.
"Draco" the older man replied to his son, with strained civility.
Even if the trio had never met either of the Malfoy's before the resemblance between them was undeniable. Platinum blond hair, pale complexion and their sharp features quite clearly made them father and son.
"I'm almost finished here, wait outside until I'm done" Draco ordered, sparing a glance at the trio before walking away.
Lucius looked furious and humiliated however, glared at the three young students before walking out of the shop himself, leaving the three wide-eyed and in shock.
"What do you suppose that was about?" Harry asked.
"No idea. The git's lucky we're all leaving today" Ron commented.
"It does seem they've had a falling out of some kind" Hermione observed.
With that Harry and Hermione bought the books they would need for that year and hurried out to get the rest of their equipment.
Once they had finished they were walking and talking when they bumped, quite literally, into Hagrid, who was more than pleased to see them. After the typical conversation starter closed the friendly giant informed them that everyone was at the Leaky Cauldron.
"Harry!" Fred and George called upon his arrival.
"Nice to see you survived the hour, mate" teased George.
"And it's not 'You-Know-Who' we're taking about" Fred continued
"That's quite enough!" Mrs Weasley, stopped the pair before they could continue.
Harry laughed though. When he'd first escaped the Dursley's and went to spend the rest of the summer in Grimmauld Place, with his Godfather Sirius Black and the Order of the Phoenix, Fred and George Weasley had an interesting greeting for him.
"Harry" Fred and George called upon his arrival.
"Nice to see you survived the summer, mate" teased George
"And it's not 'You-Know-Who' we're taking about' Fred continued
"It's those Muggles you live with' they finished together.
Harry found this highly amusing, so this was how they greeted him when entering any room Fred and George occupied. Harry himself was amazed at how many variations to the rhyme they came up with.
"Now, have you all got your books? Equipment?" Mrs Weasley asked.
"Yes, we've just bought everything"
"Good boy" she praised, patting his cheek lightly.
All too soon the conversation turned to the new Headmistress who would be replacing Albus Dumbledore at Hogwarts.
"An absolou' joke if you ask me, Hogwarts won' survive wi'out Dumbledore, an' now 'You-Know-Who' 'as returned, the Ministry couldn've picked a worse time or made a bigger mistake" Everyone knew Hagrid wasn't one who could phrase his thoughts clearly however, all could understand where he was coming from "Great man, Dumbledore" he finished, feeling the need to defend the man he greatly respected and admired.
"I fear I must agree with you there, Hagrid" Mr Weasley spoke "She'll be acting as the Ministry's eyes and ears. Changing the rules as she sees fit, which is why ask you all, please be careful this year" he pleaded, eyeing his troublemaker children specifically, and their friends.
"As long as they all come back in one piece" Mrs Weasley reasoned.
After a little more conversation everyone decided it would be best to leave early to ensure they made the train on time. Bidding goodbye to Hagrid, they walked out of the Leaky Cauldron and into muggle London so they could get to Kings Cross Station. Once they arrived they said goodbye to Mr and Mrs Weasley.
"Please be good this year, try not to get into too much trouble" Mrs Weasley pleaded with her children. Each of them nodded, all thinking of their fruitless attempts.
Once on board the train Hermione told Harry, Ron and the others she'd catch up with them, wanting to look in her bag for something. Suddenly searching frantically as she couldn't find her Ancient Runes textbook.
"Looking for something, Granger?" she heard behind her, recognising the voice immediately.
"Malfoy" she acknowledged, shortly.
"Could it be this?" he asked, holding her missing textbook "You left it on the counter in Madame Malkin's" he explained. Hermione stood there staring for a moment before gathering her wits.
"Hold the book out" she demanded. Draco cocked an eyebrow at her attitude, letting her know if she wanted something, that wasn't the way to get it. "Please" she added, begrudgingly. Draco smirked and, surprisingly, complied with her wishes.
"Vomica quaero" she cast over the book. A spell designed to search for any curses placed upon an object. Draco's smirk grew wider, knowing the spell. If the book glowed red there were curses on it however, it glowed white, signifying it was safe.
Hermione took the book from his hands, unsure of what to say.
"You're welcome" Draco said, in a tone that suggested she was being very impolite.
"Why?" Hermione asked, not needing to explain further.
"Consider it my way of apologising for my father's behaviour earlier today"
Hermione did not bother to hide her surprise, that being the last thing she expected him to say. Finally she nodded, as Draco turned to walk away he heard "Thank you" from the girl behind him. Turning back he nodded his acknowledgement and carried on walking. Hermione walked the other way, intent on finding Harry and Ron.
"Hermione! What took you so long?" Ron asked, as she found them.
"Oh I ran into someone" she told them.
"Are you OK? You look distracted" Harry told her.
Hermione smiled at her friends concern. "Yes, I just have my own personal mystery to solve this year" she told them, unconsciously clutching her Ancient Runes book closer to her. The boys chuckled, noticing the action.
"Honestly Hermione, only you would give yourself homework before we've even set foot on school grounds" Ron joked.
Hermione smiled, playing along, tuning them out as their conversation turned to Quidditch and wondered just how much this year was going to change.