A New Beginning
"The end," Harry heard from out in the Hallway when he and Sirius approached the Great Hall. "Of another year."
Harry stopped to listen. He didn't want to interrupt Dumbledore's speech. Sirius stopped too and looked down at Harry.
"As you know," Dumbledore went on, "Lord Voldemort has been subdued and imprisoned. Once again due to the courage and perseverance of Harry Potter, who I now owe my life."
Harry took a step back. He didn't want to go in now. It would be too embarrassing.
"Come on," said Sirius. "Show them what you're made of." He moved to the opening into the Hall.
"There is a great fear for-" Dumbledore cut himself off. "Sirius?"
Harry heard the scrapes of chairs from the staff table.
"Oh, good heavens," said Prof. McGonagall.
Harry saw Sirius turn his head to look from the staff table to the room.
Harry heard Hermione. What? Had they thought Sirius was there to tell them that Harry had died?
Sirius looked at Harry. He took a few steps into the doorway. The Hall went silent.
"Sorry, Professor," said Harry self-consciously. He dared a glance up at the staff table. Dumbledore smiled at him. Then he looked at the Gryffindor table and met Ron's gaze. He shrugged. "I'm hungry," said Harry.
The hall exploded with cheers as Sirius dragged Harry to staff table.
"Welcome back, Harry," said Dumbledore.
Professor McGonagall actually hugged him. Then Hagrid nearly broke him in half.
"Easy Hagrid," said Sirius. "He's still very weak."
"Sorry, Harry," Hagrid sniffled.
The rest of the teachers shook his hand and when he looked up at Snape, there was a very stern look on the potion master's face.
"So, what have you got to say for yourself, Potter?" said Snape, crossing his arms.
"Um." Harry thought hard. "Fifty points from Gryffindor because famous Harry Potter managed to stay alive – again?" said Harry.
Severus Snape laughed, then reached out and ruffled Harry's already untidy hair. "Go and eat, Potter. You've earned it."
Harry turned to the room and the cheering started again. Ron and Hermione hit him at top speed and if Sirius hadn't been with him they would have knocked him down.
"I knew you wouldn't die," cried Hermione. "I just knew it." She was crying all over Harry's shoulder.
"Mental," muttered Ron. He squeezed Harry's shoulder then grabbed his arm and dragged him over to the Gryffindor table where Harry received more back slapping and hugs then he could recall ever getting in his life.
"Can I eat now?" said Harry. He sat down and started piling food onto his plate.
Someone held a plate out to him. "Canary Cream, Harry?"
Harry looked up at Fred. He had an ear to ear grin on his face. Harry reached toward the platter. "Yeah, I think I'm brave enough to try one of those."
The table laughed but it wasn't one of the twins' trick candies so nothing happened when Harry took a bite.
The weather was near perfect as Harry, Hermione, Ginny and Ron settled into a compartment on the Hogwarts Express. Sirius had assured him that he would meet Harry at Kings Cross so Harry could ride home with his friends. They settled their assorted pets around the compartment and sat down. Rowan was still giving Harry chastising looks, but Harry tried to ignore them.
For the first time in his life, Harry was happy leaving Hogwarts. He would have a completely Dursley free summer.
"He'll be back you know, Harry."
It was Malfoy. He didn't have his thugs with him but he was standing in the doorway with a very serious look on his face.
"They can't cage him and they won't be able to kill him," said Draco.
Draco didn't sound like he was being nasty or harsh or even taunting.
"Why do you think so?" said Harry.
"Because my father said that no one has enough power to kill him now that he's been feeding power off you," said Draco. "My father thinks that you're the only one who will be strong enough to kill him."
"Do you believe that, Draco?" said Harry.
"Yeah, Harry," said Draco. "I'm afraid I do believe it."
Draco left and Harry turned to Ron.
"Well, that was weird," said Ron.
Harry shrugged. He didn't care. For now, Harry was free. He had no Voldemort to worry about, a home with Sirius for the entire summer and days of playing quidditch with the Weasleys. Harry smiled.
"Why are you smiling, Harry?" said Hermione with a grin of her own.
Harry leaned back into the cushion and closed his eyes.
"My life doesn't feel like a nightmare, right now," said Harry.
TBC in Harry Potter and The Unexpected Inheritance