Chapter 26 - New Beginnings

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They were a diverse group and, as such, they gravitated towards the Great Hall rather than a particular common room. Not that it was unusual to find other houses visiting each other after the summer classes. The hall was almost empty with only a small group of younger students chatting at the door end of what was usually the Hufflepuff table. Harry noted the curious glances their way as they all headed for the far end of the Slytherin table and sat down.

"That was unexpected," Pansy was the first to speak and she fixed Draco with a very particular stare.

"The headmaster swore us to secrecy," Draco said, not bothered in the slightest. "He didn't want anyone to know until he had made his decision."

"So this summer was a test?" Susan asked.

"No," Harry put in his own opinion, "it was mostly to prepare everyone for what is coming."

He couldn't help feeling a little guilty.

[Not your fault you've been targeted by a madman since you were a baby,] Draco said all but instantly.

"But it was probably useful to help the staff choose who they wanted," Harry continued out loud while sending back a mental hug of thanks for Draco's affirmation.

"Did you help them decide?" that came from Neville.

"We had nothing to do with it," Draco replied for them both. "This was all Dumbledore and the rest of the teachers and staff."

"I had an internship lined up," Anthony Goldstein said as he looked at his scroll, "I guess I will have to postpone that."

"It's not compulsory to say yes," Harry felt he had to point out.

Thirteen faces looked at him in exactly the same way and he felt Draco's mental eye roll.

"Like 'no' is an option," Seamus said.

"Actually it is," Draco said and surprised Harry. "You all have to think about this very carefully. Dumbledore thinks you're the best for the roles, the rest of the staff think so too and, if it helps, Harry and I can't find fault with their choices, but this has to be each of your decision."

[You rolled your eyes at me, I felt you,] Harry silently complained.

[Because you felt the need to say it so earnestly,] Draco replied, [but I accept the sentiment.]

"Personally I can't think of a better first entry for a CV," Michael Corner said. "Anyone have a quill?"

"Me Ma might expire of happiness," Seamus agreed.

Of course Hermione had a quill, although Harry had no idea where she had been keeping it, and one by one the members of the group used it. Every time someone put their name to paper, Harry felt a small tremor in the magic around him. Of course he shared it with Draco.

[Hogwarts is accepting them,] Draco said and sounded just a little bit in awe even though it didn't remotely show on the outside.

Pansy was last and made a show of reading her scroll carefully first, but she still signed it. As soon as she did Harry felt more than a slight tremor in the power of the school. What came at him was a rush of warmth that made his skin tingle.

"Hogwarts says thank you," he said and beamed at his friends.

"You're weird," Justin commented and made everyone laugh.

As if on cue a house elf popped into existence just beside Harry, who was sitting on the end of the bench with Draco between him and the rest of the group.

"Would the masters and mistresses be wanting Milly to be taking the scrolls to Headmaster Dumbledore?" the small elf asked politely.

Harry looked around the table and everyone gave a small nod.

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