Chapter 28 - Celebrations

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A/N: Apologies for this being a day late - I managed to screw up my timings :)

"Where do you think we'll be staying?" Ron asked as he, Hermione, Draco and Harry walked towards the Great Hall for the final meal of the summer holidays.

"No doubt Dumbledore has something planned," Hermione said and Harry nodded.

"Since everyone is on the train back to London tomorrow I doubt we'll know before we come back," he added.

"I doubt it will be house based," Draco added his own opinion on the matter. "I'm not even sure where there is room to put us all up."

"Hogwarts will make room," Harry said and smiled.

At the back of his mind, Draco could feel Harry kind of exchanging a polite hello with the school as he spoke about it. It was something he'd noticed Harry doing since he had put the new ward in place. Draco wasn't even sure his soulmate was aware he did it, but something about it felt right, so Draco wasn't about to argue.

"I don't want anyone to ever try and explain how," Ron said before Hermione could so much as open her mouth.

"I'm not really sure anyone quite knows," was Hermione's surprising admission and Draco had to agree.

There were so many things about Hogwarts that were lost to the mists of time. The Founders had done some remarkable things with their school.

"Don't even think about making it a side project," Draco said before Harry could get any ideas.

"I'm not that bonkers," Harry replied as they walked into the Great Hall.

As a group they stopped.

It wasn't that the Great Hall was decorated with summer greenery and flowers, or that the sky in the ceiling was a lovely blue with bright sunshine, even though it was a bit of a grey day outside. It was the arrangement of the tables.

"Talking of Hogwarts changing things," Draco commented.

There were no longer four tables and benches. Two of the tables were gone and the other two, just enough to seat all the summer students, were now curved into half circles, facing each other with about two metres between each end.

"Looks like Dumbledore is making a thing of house unity," Ron said.

"Yeah," Harry agreed.

[Nothing subtle about this one,] Draco commented silently.

[I bet everyone will be talking about this for weeks,] Harry replied.

"Where shall we sit?" Hermione asked.

"Let's grab the far end," Harry suggested, "no one's sitting there yet."

Even though the tables were no longer straight it appeared as if those who had already arrived were still congregating in year groups. Some habits would never die, it seemed. Draco suspected that one day Albus would do away with house restricted seating altogether, except for feasts, and everybody would have to like it or lump it.

* * *

As usual there were some stragglers rushing into the Great Hall at the last minute, but everyone was sat down before Dumbledore stood up at the High Table. It was crowded up the teacher's end because all the summer instructors were there as well. Harry wasn't actually sure everyone should have fitted, and the whole area glimmered if he lowered his shields a little, so he was pretty sure there was magic involved.

"Welcome everyone," the Headmaster said as a hush fell over those gathered. "First I would like to say how proud you have all made me over this summer holiday, students and teachers alike. There were those who expressed great doubt that our endeavours were even possible, yet every person here has exceeded all expectations.

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