Author's Notes: As the chapter title will tell anyone who recognises the reference, it's Time to be Closing our story. (Forgive me the terrible joke; I couldn't resist it.) But yes, this is the final chapter of Alternate History, the end of this "little" tale. I have tried to tie up as much as possible in these last two chapters, but I'm sure I haven't managed to resolve everything of interest to my readers. I apologise for that, and hope that the ending is satisfying nonetheless.

I would like to thank everyone who has reviewed or followed this story. Your interest and encouragement is the main reason that I managed to finish this at all. I appreciate your support, really and truly.

And finally: I dedicate this story to my friend Annette, who refuses to read WIPs but who I hope will like this when she finally sees it. I'm sorry that it took so long! And that I wouldn't shut up about it while I was writing it!


32. Some Other Beginning's End

Consciousness crept back in slowly, bringing with it muted sounds and the sensation of cool sheets against her skin. Even before she was fully aware, Hermione knew that she had to be in the hospital wing; no other place in the school had quite the same feel to it. Still, she did open her eyes – if nothing else, she needed to check that they still worked – and when she did, she saw Harry sitting beside her bed. His expression betrayed his anxiety, though it melted into a smile the moment he saw she was awake.

It took some effort, but she managed to smile back. "You know, this seems familiar somehow."

He laughed, and she heard relief in the sound. "I wonder why that might be."

"I have no idea," she said, dryly, aware of both the outward familiarity of the situation and her very different feelings about it this time around. "This is... I mean, things are still the same, right? That spell didn't... do anything, did it?"

"Knocked you clean out." Harry saw her feeble attempt at a glare and held his hands up in mock surrender. "Okay, okay, I get what you mean. Everything's still the same. Except that... well, now Voldemort is dead."

It was downright strange to hear him say that aloud. She'd been thinking of Voldemort as the great enemy for so long that she found the truth hard to fathom. He was actually gone. Forever. "So I didn't dream that, then?" Harry looked amused and shook his head. Hermione frowned. "But you... I thought you were dead."

He winced. "I was. Well, kind of."

Because that explained everything. "Kind of? What do you mean? How can anyone be kind of dead?"

"It's complicated." Harry laughed ruefully and shook his head. "Which I'm sure only makes even more keen to hear about it."

"You could say that." Hermione had never been one to shy away from complicated problems, after all.

"Thought so." He sighed. "It began with the idea that I might be an accidentally created Horcrux. I met Dumbledore for other meetings, not with the rest of you, and he figured out that there was a piece of the Dark Lord's soul inside me. So we had to form a plan to deal with that."

"So you really did plan to die?"

"Yeah. I did. The resurrection part was as much of a surprise to me as to you." Harry's eyes were wide as he spoke about this miracle, and Hermione could well imagine the wonder and amazement he must feel. "Before I... died, I had used the Resurrection Stone to summon my father's spirit."

"So there were two of you," Hermione breathed.

Harry startled. "You could see him? I didn't realise that anyone else would be able to."

She nodded. "I could see something. With the fog getting in the way, I couldn't be sure what it was." Then she remembered something; a tense discussion between the Headmaster and Professor Snape. "Wait, though. The Resurrection Stone? I thought that was destroyed!"

"The Horcrux was destroyed." Harry smiled slightly. "Somehow Dumbledore managed to leave the Stone intact, and extract it from the Ring."

"Oh." Hermione frowned. "Did he tell you to use it that way?"

"No. He told me that I'd know what to do with it when the time came. And I did." Harry sat in silence for a moment, and then shrugged. "I mean, no thanks to him, but whatever. That was only the start of it. Then, of course, I got hit by the Killing Curse, and I didn't expect to wake up ever again. Except that I did – and when I did, I found myself in this strange white place. It was... a manor house, I think. A house like Malfoy's, big and grand and full of rooms – except that it wasn't nearly so cold." He grinned suddenly. "Strange that the Malfoy Manor should be colder than death, don't you think?"

Hermione's only response was to snort.

"Well, anyway, I was alone in this house as far as I could tell, so I kept walking through the rooms. After a while I came to a door that was locked, and I could hear something moving behind it. I wanted to open the door, but when I tried my father appeared from nowhere and told me that I shouldn't look at it. The beast would soon be gone, and the house would be mine completely."

"Was that... what was that?" She couldn't even think of a sensible suggestion. It sounded like a surreal dream.

"My father explained that I was somewhere between life and death, and that the Killing Curse had purged the fragment of Voldemort's soul within me, the monster in the locked room. But, because he had taken some of my blood into his body, and because I was the holder of the Resurrection Stone, I could decide not to die." He paused, then shrugged. "I wish I could explain this – and of it – better, but this is as much as I know myself. I don't know why the Stone was important, or how Dumbledore knew it would be."

"It's okay. I think I follow the logic." Hermione wondered if this had ever happened before, or if Harry was once again an exception to the rule. "Well, mostly, anyway. I suppose the important thing is that you had a choice, and you chose to live."

"Yes." Harry looked away from her, out of the window of the hospital wing. "It was a difficult decision. My father was... I never knew him, and I've always wished that I could've. He wasn't anything like my mother's stories, not really. I liked him." He gave a sad little sigh. "But, in the end, I had to go back. There was too much to do in the world of the living. I knew I would have to kill Voldemort, not because I'm special or powerful, but because I'd brought a secret weapon to the fight."

"The Priori Incantatem?"

Harry nodded. "Yeah. That wand, the holly wand – it isn't mine. It never was mine. But somehow Snape managed to get hold of it for me. How, I don't know, but he did. And he told me how to trigger the cage effect, and that I should use the time it gave me to strike and finish Voldemort for good." There was irony in his voice as he added, "Obviously Snape didn't know that I was marked for death, and I didn't tell him. I just took the wand and thanked him. I was going to give it to you before we took the Cup – but Crouch derailed our plan."

"Lucius Malfoy." The name left a bitter taste in her mouth. "He wasn't Crouch at all."

"Oh." Harry frowned at this. "Malfoy – Draco, I mean – did say something about that, but he was kind of hysterical about you being injured, so I couldn't get him to tell me what had actually happened."

"Draco?" Hermione was ashamed to realise that, faced with her formerly dead friend, she'd forgotten to worry about the fate of her boyfriend. "Where is he? Is he alright?" She struggled into a sitting position and looked around, only to discover that there was a screen around her bed.

Harry laughed, softly. "Relax, he's fine. He was here not long ago, actually, but then Snape and his dad forced him to go downstairs and eat something. I think he was afraid that you'd wake up and not remember anything about this past year."

"And you weren't?"

"No." Harry shook his head and gave her a wry smile. "Because, see, after I spoke to my father and chose to live, I left the... well, the place that was like a house and started walking through the fog. And while I was there I met some people. Well, sort of." He frowned. "It's hard to explain. I met the other you, the one I knew until this summer. And I met the 'original' version of myself, even though I suppose with one thing and another he never actually existed."

"You met them?" Hermione wanted to believe this but struggled to understand how it could be so. "In the mists of... what, the afterlife? Was that... I mean, it couldn't have been real, could it? Wasn't it all just some sort of dying hallucination?"

"I think it was all in my head, yes." He grinned at her. "But why should that mean that it was not real?"

It sounded as if he was quoting someone, but she couldn't for the life of her think who. "So... what did they tell you? The others?"

"You need to stop feeling guilty." Harry gave her a meaningful nod. "That's what she said – the other you, that is . You didn't steal her life. Not on purpose. There's nothing you can do to change what happened or bring her back, and you need to stop blaming yourself for something you didn't even choose to do." He paused for a moment, looking at her as if he could make her understand through intensity alone. "That's what she told me. You need to let go. Live the best life you can, for her sake as well as your own. That's how you can make it up to her, if you feel you need to."

"Oh." Hermione thought she might cry, and she wasn't sure if it was the tragedy of her counterpart's fate or from relief that she had been forgiven. Perhaps it was both. She could be touched and relieved and grief-stricken and liberated at the same time, not having the emotional range of a teaspoon. Ron... she thought, but ruthlessly squashed it before those emotions could join the crowd threatening to overwhelm her. She shook her head, tried to smile, and changed the subject. "So, what did you say to yourself?"

Harry laughed. "I like the way you put that. He told me that he was impressed; I was in a position to defeat Voldemort once and for all, and I'd managed it much quicker than he had. So of course he had to admit that Slytherin would've been the better choice all along."

"He did not!" She couldn't help but snicker a little at the thought.

"Alright, yeah, I made that bit up." Harry seemed unrepentant. "The rest was true though. It was... weird. Even considering all of the other strange things that happened while I was – while I was dead. Which sounds pretty weird on its own."

"It does." Hermione smiled. "But, you know, I'm glad you're not dead any more."

He snorted. "So am I." Just then, the door to the hospital wing opened and she heard some very familiar voices. Harry froze and went pale. "I... he – the other me – told me something else. Quite forcefully, actually. Which means... there are things I really ought to do. I'd better go. And, you know. Do them."

She watched with some amusement as he moved the screen aside and walked across the hospital wing towards Draco, Sirius and Professor Snape, who had just come in. They all stared in surprise as he approached Sirius and started to say something that she couldn't hear. He wasn't allowed to finish whatever it was, though; before he could get through more than two sentences, Sirius pulled him into one of his rib-crushing bear hugs. Harry seemed to tense up a little at this, but he didn't push his godfather away.

Hermione rolled her eyes at the heartwarming scene, though she felt a telltale pricking of tears at the corners of them. "Finally."

Her reaction was not dissimilar to Professor Snape's, who had to turn away to hide either tears or a smile. Draco, on the other hand, merely snorted, then stepped past their emotional reconciliation and approached Hermione's bed. She sat up a little straighter as he came near, as much to make sure she got a good view of him as to reassure him that she was okay. He sat in the chair beside her bed and for a moment simply looked at her as if trying to reassure himself that she was real.

"You would wake up the one time I actually left the hospital wing," he said, with a cheerful pretence at exasperation. Then he reached over and squeezed her hand. Her fingers closed around his, twining them together as they had during the battle. "I'm glad you're awake, even if Potter did get to talk to you before I did."

She gave a wheezing laugh. "How sweet of you to say so." Then, more seriously: "You're not jealous?"

"No; just disappointed that I didn't get to see you wake up." He glanced over his shoulder at Sirius and Harry, who were now sitting on one of the few unused beds and talking intently. "I think I'm over being jealous of Potter. About anything."

"Good." She smiled. "Because I think I prefer that it happened this way. At least now I won't have to interrupt my time with you so I can ask Harry what it was like to be dead."

"Did he tell you about the house and the mist?" Draco asked. She nodded. "Huh. Yeah, he told us that story, too, but I didn't know what to make of it. I mean, I suppose most people believe that something will happen to our souls when we die, but I don't think I've ever seen it described that way. It wasn't... well, wasn't quite what I'd always imagined." He shrugged. "Still, he's the only one of us who's ever died, so I suppose he knows more about it than I do."

"Would you want to know more?" She laughed as Draco shook his head, but then said, very seriously: "I wouldn't want to spend even a minute thinking you were dead. That would be even worse." It didn't even bear thinking about.

"Worse than thinking the same of Harry, one of your best friends?" Draco seemed surprised, and she wasn't sure why he should be.

"Of course. Harry is a good friend, a very good friend, but I love you." Hermione said the words very simply, and found she rather liked the stunned look they brought to Draco's face. "What? I'm sure I've told you that before."

"You have." His voice sounded suspiciously choked. "It's just... I thought I'd lost you. This spell hit something near me, and then all of a sudden you were visible and on the ground. First I thought you were dead, and even when I realised that you weren't, I thought... I thought..."

She took pity on him. "I know what you must have thought." Harry had told her, after all – though she saw no need to mention that. "It's okay." Her fingers tightened around his. "We're both okay. You're alive, I'm alive, and I'm still... me."

"I know." He smiled and stroked the back of her hand with his thumb. "We were lucky." The smile wavered but didn't disappear completely.

"Other people weren't, I'm sure." Hermione wasn't a fool; she knew that during such a battle it was unlikely that everyone would have walked away, or even been carried alive to the hospital wing. And then there was that dull leaden weight in her stomach, the pang in her heart, the memory of Crouch's face twisted in Malfoy's mockery. "I... oh, no. What happened to Kingsley?"

Draco winced and shook his head. "Yeah, my – I mean, Crouch wasn't lying about that. I'm sorry."

Hermione shook her head. "I'm not... that is, I don't..." She sighed. "I didn't ever really know him, and for a lot of the year I thought he was an enemy. It's more just that... well, he got killed trying to help us, and I wish... I wish..."

Draco let go of her hand, leaned over and hugged her tightly. "I know."

For a moment they stayed like that, each taking comfort and strength from the warmth and nearness of the other. Hermione almost didn't want him to let go—ever—but the sad reality of short breath and sore ribs forced her to detach herself gently from his embrace. They looked at one another, the intensity in his eyes almost certainly making her blush, and then he coughed and settled himself once more in the chair.

"Sorry," he said, after a not entirely comfortable pause. "I didn't mean to... Did I hurt you?"

Memory made those words funnier than they had any right to be, and she had to control her inconvenient laughter before she could reply. "Not really. It was whoever cursed me in the first place who caused the pain." Seeing his doubt, she forced a straight face and patted his hand. "I'm fine, Draco, really." He smiled gratefully at this assurance. There was a short and much more companionable silence, during which Hermione worked up the courage to ask: "And... well, what about Professor Dumbledore?"

The smile vanished entirely. "That is... I mean, he was... I think that was why things seemed so bad when we reached the centre of the maze. From what I've been told, he and Fawkes – the phoenix, you know – saved Dad and Severus, but the Headmaster was killed, while Fawkes burned and was reborn." He shook his head, sadly. "It's a shame that only a phoenix can do that."

"Well, Voldemort managed something like it." Hermione knew it wasn't really the same – Voldemort and his evil rituals bore little resemblance to the renewing flame of a phoenix – but she didn't think that immortal humans could ever be a good thing. "I don't think we want to encourage that."

He laughed, the sound a little dry and stilted. "No, maybe not."

"It's hard to think of the Headmaster being gone," Hermione said, after another pause. "He seemed such a fixture of Hogwarts. More fixed than some of the actual fixtures, even." She thought of the moving stairs and the doors that opened into different rooms on different days, and despite the grim conversation she had to stifle a smile. It didn't even feel disrespectful; she couldn't imagine that the Headmaster would have minded.

"Fawkes was very distraught," Draco said, not commenting on her probably very inappropriate demeanour. "I think Hagrid has been working with him, but... if he doesn't find another human to bond with, once he's back to his adult form I suppose he'll leave."

"You'd think Hagrid would be perfect for him." It was only as she said it that she realised she believed it. Hagrid wasn't a good teacher and never would be, but he was a good person. Whether he really was perfect for a phoenix was for Fawkes to decide, but to her it seemed somehow fitting.

"Yeah. A real Warrior of Light, Hagrid is. Still, we can only wait and see what happens."

A noise from the doorway caused both Draco and Hermione to look in that direction. It was Tonks, complete with soft lilac hair, and after clapping Sirius on the back she crossed to sit beside a particular bed. After a few moments of craning her neck, she gave in and asked: "Who's she visiting?"

Draco laughed. "Professor Lupin, if you can believe it. The first time she was here she scolded him for getting hurt, which I thought was a bit unfair, though he didn't really seem to mind. Since then she's mostly come by to argue with him, as far as I can tell. Sort of weird, but then Tonks is pretty weird."

"Hm." Hermione thought about that for a minute. "They say that bickering can be a sign of romantic interest." She remembered her friendship with Ron and what she'd hoped would come of that. At this distance from the event, and in the presence of a boy who actually did love her, she couldn't feel too unhappy that it hadn't worked out. Though she could hope that Tonks would be more fortunate. "It's not always true," she added, as Draco was giving her a rather doubtful look.

"It's as good an explanation as any." He shrugged. "She was pretty upset about him being injured so badly, though she did say that if he hadn't been so stupid it would never have happened. But that's Tonks for you."

"Heh." There were other questions Hermione could ask, should ask, but wasn't sure she could face the answers if the news was bad. She sighed and finally forced the words out. "I... so, did anyone else – our friends, are they... alright?"

Draco nodded. "Honestly, I don't think all that many people died, though there were a lot of injuries. Apparently the 'old crowd' were prepared to deal with Voldemort, just as much as Harry was." He paused for a moment, looking down at his hands, and then fixed her with a very earnest stare. "It's all down to you, do you realise that? Without your knowledge of another timeline, none of that preparation would have happened. We'd have been taken by surprise. Maybe we'd all be dead."

Hermione shook her head, dumbstruck. "But I didn't do anything! It was just... I don't even know, a weird fluke or something."

"You used your knowledge for good," Draco said, with a crooked little grin. "That's not nothing."

"I... suppose not." It still seemed wrong, to be praised or celebrated for something that had been outside of her control. Thinking about the lives saved did help her feel less guilty about taking someone else's, but it was too strange to think of herself as a hero.

"You see? I..." The door to the office opened and Draco's head snapped around. "That's Madam Pomfrey come to make her evening rounds." He laughed as Tonks' dismay became audible. "My cousin has the worst timing, seriously. I suppose I'd better be going." He pulled a face. "But, don't worry, I'll see you tomorrow. And so will Lavender; she stopped by for a bit before dinner today, but you were still out then. I'm sure she'll be happy to see you awake."

"Yeah." The idea that someone would be happy to see her still had the power to warm her insides, even though it was no longer a novelty. Or shouldn't be one, at least. "I get that. I want to see her, too. It feels like it's been way too long."

"Well, you were unconscious for quite a while. We were all worried." He got to his feet with every appearance of reluctance keeping a wary eye on Madam Pomfrey's progress. "Alright, I really have to go now, before she kicks me out."

"Okay." She smiled as warmly as she could, and was rewarded by the beginnings of a blush as he turned away. Once he was gone and replaced by the brisk efficiency of Madam Pomfrey, she said, "You know, I wasn't exactly planning to end up in here again."

The mediwitch clucked her tongue. "No one ever plans to, but after what happened here I'm surprised I didn't end up with even more to do." She sighed, and Hermione could hear the sorrow hidden under her exasperation. A school nurse shouldn't have to deal with the bloody aftermath of a battle.

"It was all over so fast," Hermione said, softly, thinking of those few desperate minutes in which she'd thought that Harry was dead and the war had been lost. They'd seemed like years at the time, but looking back it was all a blur. "I can hardly even tell you what happened."

"People died." Madam Pomfrey spoke bluntly, though it was clear that she was not unaffected by the words. "But not as many as I'd feared. There were some truly horrific injuries, but almost everyone has been stabilised now. We were very fortunate, though it's hard to feel that way."

"It is." Hermione bowed her head for a moment, listening to the soft sound of her own breathing.

"Ah, but we should count our blessings, I suppose." The mediwitch flicked her wand and cast a number of unidentifiable diagnostic spells, eventually remarking, "You most of all, Miss Granger. All that worry, and there's nothing wrong with you."

"Good. I... thank you." The words seemed inadequate, but what else was there?

Madam Pomfrey chuckled. "You're welcome, dear." She busied herself with tidying the table by the bed, pouring out a glass of water. "You've missed dinner, but I can get you some soup now that you're awake."

"Thanks." Hermione was more restless than hungry, but she appreciated the thought. "Um... will I be able to go outside soon, do you think?"

"You should be allowed to leave here by tomorrow," the mediwitch said. "Though the grounds outside are still in rather a state, or so I've gathered from Mr. Filch's mutterings on the subject."

"I suppose they would be." Hermione thought about the battle, that brief spike of chaos that had all but destroyed the maze and had ended with Voldemort's defeat and death. "Still, I'd like to go out."

"I imagine you would, dear." Madam Pomfrey smiled kindly and went to move away. Instead, she nearly ran into Professor Snape, who had presumably approached so quietly that neither of them had heard. "I believe that I have been quite clear on the subject of visiting hours, Severus."

He grimaced. "You have, Poppy. Regardless, I would like to speak to Miss Granger, if only briefly. I was intending to do so earlier, but there were... distractions."

The mediwitch looked up at him for a moment, and whatever she saw in his face made her sigh and step around him. "You have until I return with the soup. No more than that."

"That will be enough, thank you." He gave a respectful nod and then stepped closer to Hermione's bed. Though he looked at the chair, he didn't sit down. "Miss Granger... Hermione. We owe you a lot..."

Hermione cut him off. "Don't. Draco already tried to tell me something like this. I don't need to hear it. I did what I had to, just like everyone else. You duelled Voldemort when you must have known it was pointless, just because you couldn't stand to give up. How's that any less significant?"

Professor Snape opened his mouth, closed it again, then let out an undignified snort. "I suppose that's true. We never think much of our own acts of heroism, do we? Even Mr. Potter seemed more embarrassed than proud of all the acclaim he got for killing Voldemort."

"Harry isn't as terrible as all that, you know," Hermione remarked. "And I don't think he has a high opinion of 'heroes'."

"Well, he is one, now, so I suppose he will just have to deal with it." He gave a wry smile. "But you are right, Miss Granger; I find I have a new appreciation for Mr. Potter now that he has made his peace with my – with Sirius. I'm not surprised it took dying and coming back to life to make him take such a step; they are each as stubborn as the other, and it was always going to require some drastic circumstance to cause one of them to reach out again."

"I was glad, too." Hermione had noticed the slip – if it was a slip – but chose not to make anything of it. After all, what business was it of hers what the relationship between Sirius and the Professor was? "It seemed wrong for them to be at odds."

"Comparing this world to the previous one again?" Professor Snape raised an eyebrow, but it was not quite the targeted weapon that it sometimes could be. He seemed more amused than anything else.

"Perhaps." She smirked. "But... now that we've defeated Voldemort in this timeline, I don't think the old one will ever be able to compare."

To her surprise, Professor Snape's first response was to laugh. "That, Miss Granger," he said, after a moment, "is a very good point."


She drifted in and out of sleep for what must have been several hours, only waking fully when she became aware of someone else moving in the hospital wing. At first she froze, her mind conjuring a variety of scenarios, each more horrific than the last – but then she heard a suspiciously familiar voice whispering in the darkness. Narrowing her eyes slightly, she struggled upright and looked around. There was no longer a screen blocking her off from the rest of the hospital wing, but there were still some around other beds – and she judged that the whispering was coming from behind one of these.

It wasn't really her place to investigate, but her curiosity wouldn't let her rest. She slid softly out of bed and padded quietly across the floor towards the source of the sound, edging carefully around the screen to see...

"Harry."

He spun around so fast that he nearly fell out of his chair. "God, Hermione, what are you...? I nearly had a heart attack!"

"You did not." She looked at the bed next to him, and with a heavy heart saw that Nadya lay there, as motionless as she had been on the field. "I – has she not woken up yet?"

"No." Harry's reply was short, almost snappish, but then he sighed and ran a hand through his hair. "I'm sorry. It's not your fault, just... Madam Pomfrey doesn't know what's wrong with her, but she still won't wake up. I can't... I've got to keep hoping, though, you know? I mean, you were out for a while before you came round."

"Yeah." And yet Nadya was so still, so quiet, such a contrast from the bright and confident young woman she had been before that it made Hermione want to cry just looking at her. How could Harry stand it? "I'm sure she'll be fine." The lie was like ashes in her mouth.

"Just... I wish I'd given her some of the lucky potion." Harry sighed. "Maybe she'd be... not like this now, if I had."

"The Felix Felicis?" Hermione frowned. "You drank it?"

"Yeah, before we came down for the Third Task." Seeing her disapproving look, he protested, "It's not as if that was ever going to be a fair contest anyway, and I thought I might need it. And I did; I wouldn't have known to use the Stone if I hadn't. But I didn't need as much as I drank. I should've given some to the people I cared about. You and Nadya were both injured when I might have been able to spare you that, and I..." Harry grimaced. "I'm not used to thinking about other people."

"There's no way of knowing whether it would have made a difference." Hermione said it because it was true, and because Harry needed to hear it. "And she might still be okay anyway."

"I hope so." He didn't sound hopeful. "I... really liked her."

"I know." Hermione held out a hand. Harry looked at it for a moment before taking it. "I'm sorry."

They sat for a long time in silence, and she hoped that her presence brought him some measure of comfort despite her lack of words. After a while – she had no way to tell exactly how much time had passed – the woman in the bed stirred slightly, and Hermione could feel Harry's fingers tighten around her hand.

"...Nadya?" His plaintive whisper nearly broke Hermione's heart.

"Has she not done that before?"

"Not when I've been looking." Harry sounded suddenly almost cheerful. "Maybe she'll wake up now. Or soon, at least." He looked at her now, his eyes intense and serious. "She will, you know."

And, under that gaze, what else could Hermione do but believe it? "Yeah. You're right. Maybe it'll even be tomorrow."

"Tomorrow," Harry said, and it sounded like a promise. Then: "I suppose we'll see when it gets here."

"Yes," Hermione said – because, after all, wasn't that all anyone could ever do? And who ever really knew what the future would bring? "Tomorrow is another day."

Harry quirked an eyebrow in her direction. "The first day of the rest of our lives?" His tone was more than a little mocking. "I'm sorry, it's just... a little trite, don't you think?"

"Oh, I know it is." She looked from Harry to Nadya and then back again. "But why should that mean it's not true?"

Their eyes met for a moment and then, despite the situation, they both laughed.

Tomorrow would come, and they would be ready to meet it when it did.