A/N: Okay... I was semi-expecting a bigger turn out for reviews on chapter 23.
I love all of you who reviewed and those of you who just read and didn't drop a word or two..... you can go get stuffed! ::joking:: ::half anyway....::
Harry woke up in the infirmary. He felt someone on the bed beside him. He opened his eyes and glanced around. He saw a lock of red hair resting on his chest. He smiled and put his bandaged hand on her head, caressing Ginny's cheek.
He laid his head back onto his pillow and closed his eyes. In a few minutes he would wake her up. At the moment, he wanted to enjoy this feeling. He was alive. He had a pretty girl sleeping on his chest. It was all too perfect. Nothing could ruin it.
Astra's snapped open. She had been dreaming. She felt someone's head next to her left hand. She sat up and felt the cold metal around her neck. She was wearing the necklace.
She looked at her hand and found Draco. He was sleeping with his back against the bed for support. She smiled and wrapped her arms around his neck and nuzzled. He was warm and smelled like expensive men's perfume.
She felt him twitch and heard him breath in deeply. He turned his head and she beamed at him. "Good morning sleepy head...." she whispered cheerfully.
"You're awake...." he said as he gave a big yawn and stretched. "I finally had the chance to come down here and you were asleep on this bed... so I decided to wait...."
"Thank you....." she said. She kissed him on his cheek.
Harry felt Ginny finally stirring. He opened his eyes and gazed down at her as best as he could without moving too much. Her brown eyes fluttered open. She breathed in deeply as she nuzzled against him. "Good morning, Gin...." he whispered to her.
She rested her chin on his chest and smiled down at him. "Good morning. Madame Pomfrey didn't make too much of a fuss last night, did she...."
"After checking you over, she had a few more people to take care of besides me and Astra...." He said.
Harry replayed the previous night's events in his head. He still couldn't believe it. It was all over. He had defeated Voldemort at last.
After he, Astra and Ginny walked into the infirmary, Madame Pomfrey started getting more people in the infirmary. He was sure that the poor woman would have a nervous breakdown from so much stress. She was practically shaking with anxiety as she treated Harry's wounds.
Snape had looked the worse for wear, as did Professor McGonagall. She was sipping tea nervously when Madame Pomfrey insisted that he and Astra take a sleeping drought.
He sat up and looked around. He saw Astra was awake and teasing Draco as usual. "You know you were worried.... come on! You can admit it!" she giggled.
Draco's cheeks went pink. "I was not worried! I came down here because you were here...."
"So you were worried about me!" she beamed at him.
McGonagall was sleeping in a chair near the entrance with Professor Snape in the chair beside her. Her hand was in his. As much as it was a bit disturbing to see, he smiled at it.
Then, he looked beside the bed. He was startled to see that the sword was gone. He remembered placing it there before the drought had a chance to work on him. "Wh-What happened to the sword?" he stammered.
Ginny stared at the spot where the sword was, as well. Then, she slapped her head as if she just remembered something. "Oops..." she said.
"I just remembered what happened to the sword. When you went to sleep, the sword disappeared. Sorry..." she said sheepishly.
"It's okay..." Harry sighed. He kissed Ginny on her forehead and nuzzled her nose with his. "I'm just happy right now...."
A shaking Madame Pomfrey walked in and started looking Harry over. "There a good boy.... you'll be fine..." she said shakily as she prodded his still sore wounds.
"Are you alright, Madame Pomfrey? You're really pale..." said Ginny as she looked up at Madame Pomfrey from the floor.
"I most certainly am!" she growled indignantly.
The doors to the infirmary opened and in walked a couple of kids covered in dirt and bruised, probably from debris falling from the ceiling the previous night. "Madame Pomfrey! Can you help us?" one of them said.
Madame Pomfrey suddenly did something very unexpected. She turned white and collapsed. "Look at what you did, Peter! You killed her!" said the girl of the pair.
"I don't think Madame Pomfrey will be wanting to be a nurse for much longer...." said Ginny.
"I agree....I think the attack last night undid her last nerve...." Harry said.
Breakfast was a feast. It was almost like it was in his second year when he came out of the Chamber of Secrets, except then, it had been dinner instead. Harry was so happy to be alive, that he didn't mind Draco sitting across from him and making snide remarks at him.
Everyone cheered him and Astra. The Hufflepuffs, more to the point, Ernie McMillen, had apologized to them both about their fellow Hufflepuff's behavior. Professor McGonagall called everyone's attention at once. Everyone went suddenly very silent. Harry knew what would be coming.
"Due to recent events, I must say that I will cancel all the school's exams." She said. Hermione sulked slightly as Ron grinned widely. McGonagall continued. "We will be losing our school nurse, due to her sudden nervous breakdown from last night's events."
Harry saw realized that Madame Pomfrey wasn't at the table. He figured that she was in the infirmary checking herself out for any unknown bugs.
McGonagall suddenly became very solemn. "I am sorry to say this.... but our dear Headmaster, Professor Dumbledore is no longer with us....." Her lips thinned in what looked to be an attempt to keep herself from crying. "For now... I am the Headmistress...."
She picked up her glass and raised it. "Let us raise our glasses to the best Headmaster in Hogwarts history....." Everyone did so. It was very quiet for about ten minutes until everyone began talking and eating.
Harry rode out the rest of final term happily. On one day, Hermione surprised Harry and Ginny in the library by slinging a book onto his hands. Lucky for him, he had quick reflexes and he took his hands away before the book landed.
"Hullo, Hermione..." said Ginny cheerfully.
"I totally forgot about this book, but I found it!" Hermione said excitedly.
"So what's in it?" Harry asked.
She opened the book and flipped the pages around. "It concerns that sword you had..." She flipped around some more as she talked. "I found out what it was..... and how it was formed....."
Harry was interested. "So...? What did you find?"
She stopped on a page and turned the book around. Harry saw a picture of the sword. It had the triangular knot on the hilt. "It's the Eternius..... It comes only in great need...." Hermione said.
She turned the book around to read. "The Eternius is only formed when the three stones of light come together. They form a triangle, like the symbol on the hilt, and create a special necklace that creates the sword."
Harry started thinking. When he was in the in-between place, He saw Astra formed out of the three stones. "The sword resides in the person who bears the Eternius.... it says, though, that once the sword has been used, it can't be summoned again until there's another bearer."
"Who gave you the sword, Harry?" Ginny asked.
Harry was wrapped up in his own thoughts. The woman with the red eyes had told him that he had the key and that the key was the ring Ginny had given him. "What about the key....." His mind was racing. He had to know.
"Key? It says nothing here....." Hermione said. She bit her bottom lip. "Is something wrong, Harry?"
Harry shook his head. "I'm fine.... I... I found the sword, is all... I found it when I was hit with that killing curse...."
"Interesting... it says nothing in here about it being able to be found anywhere...." Hermione said as she consulted the large book in her hands.
Ginny wrapped her arms around Harry's neck. Harry smiled at her. She kissed his lips gently. "Maybe when he was hit with the curse it caused a strange reaction and let him have the ability to find the sword like that...." Ginny said as she gave Harry a knowing look. Harry felt a little uncomfortable with her gazing at him like that. She smiled at him.
"Yes, well..." Hermione closed the book. "At least you two are all right..." she smiled at the two of them. "And Astra has that neat Eternius symbol necklace that Draco gave her... It suits her quite well...."
"Yes..." Harry said as he gave a glance over at a set of book shelves behind Hermione. "It does, doesn't it...."
Astra stood behind one massive bookshelf, hiding from Hermione's view. She knew Harry saw her there, but she didn't mind. She now knew what she had on her. It gave her comfort. She wouldn't be able to summon the sword again, but she knew that it would give her protection.
She felt a tingling on her back. It went up her spine to her neck in a seductive crawl. "Hello, Draco...." she said with a smile. She turned around. Draco came around the corner of the bookshelf with a seductive smile.
"You knew I was there....? How interesting...." he said as he came up to her, placing his hands on her waist. He kissed her nose, his eyes twinkling at her.
"I felt you were here...." she corrected him. "You give off a particular vibe..." she said. "Not that I mind...." she grinned at him.
He waggled his eyebrows at her a couple of times and grinned. "Not that I mind either...."
"Oh, get off it... Is that all you can think about?" Astra said.
"No..." Draco kissed Astra on her forehead. "Not all...." He traced a finger over her right arm to her hand, bringing it into view. "That ring.... It'll be replaced....." He said mildly.
She stared at him, wide eyed and her mouth hung open. Draco seemed to take it as an invitation and he closed his mouth over hers. She gave a startled squeak as he pressed her up against the bookcase. He broke away and gazed at her startled expression. "Will you marry me when we leave?"
She smiled up at him. "Of course...."
Soon, too soon, the time to leave came. Harry was about half depressed about leaving and half consumed with joy for his accomplishment. At the train station, he walked with Ginny around a bit.
"It won't be the same here without you, Harry.... I'll miss you when I go back for my final year...." Ginny held his hand as they walked. Her red hair swirled in the breeze.
Harry kissed her hand and smiled at her. "I'll miss you too.... but it won't be forever.... You just promise me that you'll come home for Christmas."
She smiled up at him. "I promise....."
Then, they came upon Professor Snape and McGonagall talking to each other. Harry grabbed Ginny and they hid behind a wall. Snape looked a little bit nervous. "With the headmaster gone.... you'll be up for the job, Minerva...."
"I'll probably only have it for a year or two.... until they find someone else for the job... I could never take Albus's place...." she sighed.
"You'll still teach though, won't you?" Snape asked in a hopeful sort of voice. It was hard to tell whether he was hopeful or not, really.
"I'll still teach.... why....?" McGonagall turned to Snape. He made a gulping sound and Harry saw that he was as white as a sheet. "What's the matter, Severus? You're so pale and shaky.... are you ill?" She said as she graced her hand across his white forehead.
He grabbed her hand and made that gulping sound again. "Min-Minerva... er..." He seemed to have trouble breathing as well. Ginny was having trouble trying not to giggle. Harry was having some of the same difficulty.
"He really is rather adorable right now, isn't he..." Ginny whispered to Harry.
"This is Snape we're talking about.... If he's adorable, I'd hate to meet what you call drop dead gorgeous..." Harry whispered at her. Ginny slapped him on his shoulder while still trying not to laugh. "Maybe I'm ugly to you then, eh?"
"S-Stop it! I want to listen to what he's stumbling over himself to say!"
Snape was holding McGonagall's hands in his and looked very nervous. Minerva suddenly took notice of something. "Great Merlin, Severus... how much clothing do you wear, anyway!"
Harry and Ginny were on the ground now, holding their sides in silent laughter. McGonagall was prodding Snape with her fingers as she started poking through his clothing. "A coat.... a shirt.... another shirt.... your robe.... Boy, you really don't want your skin revealed to the sun, do you..."
She started digging further. Then, her hand disappeared into Snape's shirt. "Ah ha! I hath found your skin!"
Snape looked about ready to lose his composure. Ginny waggled her eyebrows at Harry. "Hey! You actually have chest hair!"
"Back you vixen!" Snape said as he grabbed McGonagall's hand and took it out of his shirt.
"Oh? Odd... I've never been called a ...." McGonagall blushed furiously. "A vixen...."
Snape was giving McGonagall's blush a run for it's money. Harry had rarely seen Snape lose his composure like this. He coughed to clear his throat and spoke calmly this time. "I.... er..." He botched it up yet again.
Snape gulped and breathed in deeply. "I.... was asking because I plan on staying on as Potions Master at Hogwarts and.... Head of Slytherin house..... I.... have no other place to go, really..."
"Severus..... oh...." McGonagall tisked. "You came to us like this before.... well... sort of...."
He seemed to have gained his composure back. He leaned down and kissed McGonagall very gently. "Will you marry me...." Harry barely heard Snape whisper.
McGonagall blushed and smiled. "Y-yes...." she said. Snape leaned down again and kissed McGonagall again.
Ginny tugged on Harry's arm and she took him out of the area, back toward the train. "They make a cute couple, don't they.... I hope we are just as cute...."
Harry's heart stopped for a moment before he breathed in and smiled down at her. "I'm sure we are...." he said. She smiled knowingly at him.
"Ginny... about the ring you gave me... where did you get it?" Harry asked.
"Oh that? That's something from the attic.... I don't go up there often because the house ghoul scares me a little, but it was my great grandfather's.... Why?" she said.
"Nothing... I was just curious....."
On the train ride, they played exploding snap and enjoyed their ability to use magic. They were out of school now and they could use magic, except for Ginny who would have to go back for her seventh year.
Ginny nudged Ron in his ribs for the fourth time during the train ride. Harry knew why. It gave him a smile just to watch. Ron's ears went pink as he gave Ginny a scowl and inched closer to Hermione.
Hermione glanced up. "Ron... are you trying to read my cards?" she said in a voice that was edging on irritation.
"Then, why do you keep edging over like that....?" she said impatiently.
"Er....." Ron looked at Harry for help. Harry shrugged and grinned at him. He turned back to Hermione again. "I er.....I...." He gulped.
"I ask you... how precious is this gonna get...." Astra whispered to Nevaeh.
Ron took a small dusty box out of his jeans pocket. It looked like it had been in use for a few too many years. "I mailed mum a couple of weeks ago to send me this.... er..."
Hermione's brown eyes grew wide as she saw the box. She gazed up at Ron. He cleared his throat and got down on one knee. Nevaeh leaned into Astra and whispered into her ear. "And the pitch....."
Ron too a deep breath. "Will you marry me, Hermione...." he said clearly enough. Hermione looked too stunned to say a word. Ron was turning as red as his hair. Ron closed his eyes tightly and he was shaking visibly.
"R-Ron.... I...." Hermione's mouth opened and closed, but nothing came out. Then, she smiled. She leaned forward and kissed Ron lightly on his lips. He froze. His eyes snapped open and he gazed up at Hermione. She smiled down at him. "Yes...." she said softly.
Ron looked like his birthday had come early. He grabbed Hermione around her shoulders and hugged her. "I love you...." He whispered fervently into her ear.
Appearently, Ron was holding her too tightly. "Ron...", she said in a strangled sort of voice, "I can't breath."
"And it's a home run.... thank you for joining us for a game of Wedding Plans, here at Hogwarts Diamond....." Astra said with a smirk.
"You two just shut up!" Ron growled.
Soon, the train stopped and they had to retrieve their trunks. Harry saw Sirius and Remus get off of the train. Sirius had out the car he had been working on during the summer. Harry ran over to them both and hugged them.
"Well, well, well.... you're out at last, huh? Any plans?" Sirius said with a smirk.
Harry blushed slightly. "Not as of yet...." He glanced at Ginny as she met up with the rest of her family. He smiled at her and she smiled back. "But I'm sure everything will turn out for the best in the end...."
Remus smiled. "As am I, Harry...."
Sirius put Harry's trunk in the back end of the car. "Come on, Harry... You'll get to see them in due time..." said Remus.
"Let's go!" Sirius called to them both as he got into the driver's side.
"I know I will.... and I'll forever be with them...." Harry said. He smiled knowing about his time at Hogwarts. Feeling the warmth of being with Sirius and Remus. Knowing that he, Harry Potter, defeated a great wizard. He smiled knowing that Lord Voldemort had finally been destroyed by the boy with the lightning bolt scar.