"It is my pleasure to welcome you all back to a new year at Hogwarts, and a new chapter in the history of this institution," McGonagall said in her crisp, clear Scottish brogue."This has been a difficult time for everyone in the British Wizarding world, but thanks to the dedication, perseverance, and sacrifice of certain individuals…" Her eyes roamed to Harry sitting with Ginny, Ron, and Hermione at the Gryffindor table inside the Great Hall. "…we can all put the past behind us and look to the future."
Her eyes searched for and sought out every individual in the room."That is not to say that we will ever forget," she said sternly."The world has changed.Today, more than ever, we must have tolerance for each other and our differences.We must celebrate each other's uniqueness's, but never turn a blind eye to the potential of even one individual to create mayhem and harm by their actions.This war is your legacy.Remember it, children, and do not repeat the mistakes of your elders.Never forget the lessons we have learned in the past few years... the people who gave their lives to fight a great evil."
She raised her arms, indicating for the students to stand.There was a rustling of robes and scraping of benches as the population of the Great Hall stood sombrely."A moment of silence, if you please, for those who were lost."
The room was silent as each contemplated the people who had fallen, some in this very room.Finally McGonagall lifted her head and picked up her glass of pumpkin juice, raising it in the air.
"To Hogwarts," she said in a clipped, grave voice.Harry could see, even from a distance, that the Headmistresses eyes were moist with unshed tears.His own throat felt tight and a knot was forming in his stomach, but he raised his glass proudly with the others.
"To Hogwarts!" the room replied as one.
Harry drank along with them, feeling the impact of Professor McGonagall's words keenly.He not only understood them, he had lived them.Next to Ron and Hermione, he was the oldest student in residence and, at the moment, he felt ages older than the oldest teacher in the room.Being here was important on so many levels, but for some reason he couldn't bring himself to care whether he passed a single NEWT.Marks were pointless compared to the past few years.Part of him yearned to be out there tracking down renegade Death Eaters and conspirators of Voldemort's – those who had escaped justice.Like Draco Malfoy, for instance.Instead, he had a year of boring lessons and endless revision to look forward to, then the NEWTS.
After the Great Hall had settled itself once again, Harry listened with half an ear as the Headmistress introduced her staff, many of them new.Among the new teachers were Professor Remus J. Lupin for DADA; Professor Tonks-Lupin as the new transfiguration professor; Professor Charles Weasley for Care of Magical Creatures (Hagrid had decided to give up teaching and focus on "other things", which Harry presumed to be the restoration effort, but he still held his original job as Keeper of Grounds and Keys, allowing him to stay in his cabin and tend to Grawp and the Enchanted Forest); and Charlie's new wife, Professor Amanda Weasley, for potions.Professor Slughorn had gone back to retirement and the leisurely life he preferred, far away from Hogwarts and his tumultuous past with Tom Riddle.
Firenze had taken over the Divination position fulltime after Sybil Trelawney's death.He was still not welcome back in the forest and had grown quite fond of the stables where he had moved to after Hogwarts collapsed.Anyone taking Divination – which Harry was not – would have to trek to the adjacent classroom that had been built off the stables.It was rumoured that classes would be held at night to study the patterns of the stars more fully.No one could seem to master the replication of the night sky with all its nuances quite as well as Dumbledore had, so they had built an observatory into the new classroom ceiling and charmed the glass roof to stay free of snow and frost.
Professors Vector, Sinistra, Flitwick, and the others would all keep their positions and classrooms.The magic of the castle had helped them tremendously by remembering most of what it had contained and either repairing what it could or replicating it, so furnishings, portraits, suits of armour, trophies, and in some cases even the personal items of the professors had mysteriously appeared in their same places once the structure of the building had been restored.The one exception was the magic of the ceiling in the Great Hall.A special team of spell casters had been called in to work on the problem and it, too, had finally been fixed to the satisfaction of everyone.
Harry's article in the Daily Prophet concerning his return to Hogwarts had the desired effect on the public.Parents had responded by entrusting their children once again to the magic of HogwartsSchool for Witchcraft and Wizardry under the watchful eye of the young war hero.The tables, while not quite full, were littered with students, old and new alike.Classes had to be rearranged to compensate for a very large group of first years, since several years had to be combined into one.But, all in all, everything was going rather smoothly in Harry's opinion.