This is it. The big one. The one we've all been waiting for…
Three weeks after the death of Lord Voldemort and the official end of the Second Wizarding War, Harry and his friends returned to Hogwarts.
They had taken a well-deserved break from school work and probably should have spent the holiday on a sunny beach in Australia, but instead they had spent most of their downtime helping to rebuild Malfoy Manor. The mansion wasn't quite restored to its former glory, but the walls and the furniture had been put back together at least; Draco said the remaining damage gave the place some character.
They spent a few days in Saint Mungos, trying to work out what they could do for Draco's leg. The Healers confirmed that it could not be grown back, but Augustus Pye (official expert in the merging of the Muggle and magical Healing arts) came up with a spelled wheelchair that could levitate over uneven ground and ascend staircases. Draco had been quietly disappointed that he would no longer be able to play Quidditch, but Ron thought on the problem and later presented him with a broom that had been fitted with safety straps and a counter-weight. Draco thanked him by inviting them all to play Quidditch on the Malfoy Pitch and securing a ten-point victory for the RonCos.
Dumbledore's trial was expedited thanks to extreme pressures from the parents of Hogwarts students who had been horrified to discover (through an anonymous tip Hermione had left on Rita Skeeter's desk, which led to a front-page article the very next day) that the Headmaster of the school, and Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot besides, had attempted to murder one of his students. Draco, Harry and Snape all testified at the hearing, and their stories were corroborated by the Pensieve memories of more than half a dozen others who had been present at the time. Dumbledore was indicted for the attempted murder of a minor, complicity in child abuse, withholding information pertinent to the allied war efforts and half a dozen other charges. Draco had already bound his magic, but Dumbledore was also sentenced to life in Azkaban.
While they were at the Ministry, Harry told the Minister that Narcissa Malfoy had played a crucial role in the war effort and made the strong suggestion that she and her husband both be pardoned for their involvement with the Death Eaters. While Scrimgeour did not submit entirely, Lucius had his sentenced reduced and Narcissa was exonerated, which Draco said was about as much as they could have hoped for.
Professor McGonagall was instated as the new Headmistress at Hogwarts. Professor Tonks took over her position as the Transfiguration teacher (given it was a particular speciality of hers), while Remus Lupin stepped back into his role as the Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher (and since he was a veteran of the Final Battle no one contested the appointment). As promised, Harry passed on his Dad's message to Remus which made him blush furiously and mutter something about Prongs sticking his nose into other people's business even from beyond the grave, but a few days later Tonks was proudly showing off her engagement ring and Remus looked happier than he had ever been. Finally setting aside old family prejudices, Narcissa reconciled with her sister Andromeda and passed on her congratulations to her niece.
With romance in the air, Ron finally got his act together and officially asked Hermione to be his girlfriend. Harry wasn't sure he was quite ready to take such a bold step, but Ginny had approached him to give her blessing to him and Luna, saying she thought they would make a cute couple, and Harry knew that when he was finally comfortable enough to ask Luna she would say yes. Meanwhile, Astoria Greengrass had taken matters into her own hands and asked Draco out herself.
The students of Hogwarts were quite accustomed to having celebrities in their midst by now, so while there had been a giant party on their first night back and a deluge of congratulations over the next few days, life at Hogwarts soon settled back into a normal routine.
Two weeks in, Draco woke up early in a blissfully quiet dorm room. He no longer had to ward his bed at night; Crabbe and Goyle had been expelled and sent to a Young Wizards Correctional Facility. But old habits die hard – most days he was still waking up before the crack of dawn.
Draco manoeuvred himself into his chair, casting a silencing charm on the wheels so he would not wake anyone else, and made his way up to the Great Hall. He found Potter already there, munching on an enormous breakfast (no doubt delivered by Dobby who had been overjoyed to learn that Master Harry Potter sir was alive and well and had been spoiling him rotten ever since).
"Trouble sleeping?" Draco asked, immediately concerned. If the scar was hurting him again-
As though reading his thoughts, Potter reached up to trace the lightning bolt on his forehead. "No, nothing like that. I just thought it would be nice to watch the sunrise this morning."
"Well you're not going to get the best view in here," Draco said. "Come on."
He led Potter up to the Astronomy Tower. It was slower going in the chair, but he activated the levitation charm and Potter guided him carefully up the long flight of stairs. They arrived just in time to see the first rays of sunshine spill over the horizon.
"Would you look at that," Potter breathed. Brilliant colours spread across the sky and the Great Lake was bathed in a golden light that reflected off the ripples in the water, appearing to set the entire world aflame. As they watched, the Giant Squid burst through the surface of the lake, spraying droplets like liquid gold in all directions.
It was truly a sight to behold, more beautiful than anything that man or magic could create. But to Draco it held a special meaning. He could remember the day he had cursed the sunrise for beginning Potter's torment anew. He remembered how tired and broken Potter had been, how dull and lifeless his eyes were.
But now Potter's eyes sparkled with joy and wonder as he gazed out at nature's beauty. He was free, unburdened, happy.
Draco couldn't help but grin. "It's the start of a new day, Potter," he said.
Potter smiled back at him. "Yes it is."
Author's Note: On the 27th of February 2011 I began writing this story with the simple premise that Draco was going to live at Privet Drive for the summer. I had no idea what the story would turn into or how insanely long it would become! I had no idea how many times I would get extreme writers' block or that when I hit a 2-year dry spell I would fear that the inspiration would never return to me. But thanks to the prompting of my dear friend Calypso Jackson I was able to begin writing again. Now here we are, at the end of a long, LONG journey. Thank you all so much for coming along for the ride. I would especially like to thank everyone who has reviewed this story – you have been such an encouragement and I am just blown away that we are nearly at *400* reviews! Thank you all so, so much!