Chapter 33

Late summer 1996

Harry sipped at his butterbeer and felt how the high spirits of the celebrating people gradually infected him. But his thoughtful mood didn't want to leave him. He looked over to Caro who had put her arms around Charlie and was whispering something to him. Her face shone with a softness he had rarely seen on her.

He smiled as he remembered how happy she had looked as she had told him the previous weekend that she had got engaged to Charlie Weasely and that they wanted to marry next year as soon as she would be finished with her last school year. Charlie's parents hadn't been very delighted about the news but all their attempts to persuade them to think it still over had been useless. Charlie and Caro had got their way and their engagement party promised to become a great success. Even Mrs. Weasley seemed to have resigned herself to it.

Harry riveted his gaze on the ocean and felt how the sight of the foaming waves was capturing him again. As they had returned to Hogwarts with their real names the truth about their identity had been found out quickly. They had warded off the curious questions; as well the hostility which had went out to them as they had reacted dismissively and coldly. It had been good that only a few had known the truth of what had happened in Arreton Castle and above all that he was Voldemort's grandson, Harry thought. So Harry, Caro and Draco had kept to themselves until he had met Ginny in the library.

They had stared at each other and Harry had seen that she still was wearing his bracelet and his ring and something had brought him to grasp her hand, to lead her up to one of the towers of the castle and to tell her everything. Since then he had often sneaked away from the common room of the Slytherins and had met with Ginny and one day Caro had had to begin to meet with Charlie in secret as well, Harry thought smiling and looked again over to his friend. Laughing Caro was whirling around in circles with Charlie. Glad about her happiness, his gaze wandered further to Draco who was talking to Hermione to his surprise and Harry wondered once again if he was right with his assumption that Draco had fallen in love with Hermione.

Well, time would it surely show. Noticing the look which Caro, who was also gazing in the direction of Draco and Hermione now, cast at the two, Harry sighed. Caro and Hermione would definitely never become close friends, too much hate stood between them but at least they had come to a truce for the time being.

Harry sauntered to one of the little tables which stood scattered around in the garden and put his glass down he had drunk out in the meantime. Turning around again his eyes fell on Sirius who was watching Jamie. The little boy whirled Lizzie so fiercely around on the dance floor that all other couples had to avoid them. Suddenly as if his godfather had felt that he was watched, turned his head and met Harry's gaze. One moment they looked at each other. Then Sirius lifted his glass to a salutation and smiled at him. Since their quarrel they hadn't spoken to each other anymore, Harry's attempts to apologize had failed. As Harry surprised returned Sirius's smile, he draw new hope that Sirius would forgive him one day. Sirius turned to Remus and Emily and Harry dwelled on his thoughts.

Perhaps everything had been predestined exactly like this and he wouldn't have been able to change all of theirs destiny, even if he had made other decisions.

But if he would have never left Arreton Castle then war would surely still rage. This thought comforted him and for the first time he awaited his future not anxious and scared but expectantly and joyful. Who know what his future would still have in store for him.

While he didn't know yet what he wanted to do after school, Caro had decided and wanted to become a healer after she had spent a few hours with Poppy Pompfrey, completely out of character for her.

Harry shook his head. Her choice of career seemed to not fit Caro at all. Her mother had been shocked but Caro didn't speak with Bella anymore anyway. The news that her daughter had engaged herself with Charlie Weasley had separated the two once and for all. His former teacher seemed to blame him for this since her eyebrows twitched disastrously every time they met.

But Harry couldn't care less about this. Draco wanted to go into Politics and had decided to become the Minister of Magic one day. Harry grinned as he imagined this. Well, Draco would surely manage it, Harry thought. Looking around he smiled happily as he finally spotted Ginny. He nodded towards Albus Dumbledore as he went past him and reaching the red-haired girl who had always believed in him, he asked her for a dance and stopped to think about the past and his future; only the present time was now important.

The old headmaster gazed after Harry and his eyes sparkled. He was happy that everything had turned out right in the end. Now, two years after the war had ended, life had returned back to normal. The ministry of Magic had been built up again and the Minister was busy with governing the country full of enthusiasm. Only the fact that Voldemort and his closest followers were still at large disturbed the peace. Albus' eyes wandered involuntarily to the castle and he sighed while asking himself whether his decision to trust Harry wouldn't lead to a catastrophe one day.

Far up at one of the windows, unnoticed by all guests, a shadowy figure was standing and was watching the sociable goings-on. His red, snakelike eyes wandered around and fell on Dumbledore who seemed to be regarding the castle. If Dumbledore suspected that he was here? If they all knew that I am standing here and watching them they wouldn't be celebrate so cheerful anymore, he thought. In the last months as his strengths had slowly returned back to him, he had often enough toyed with the idea and as Lucius and Bella had suggested it, to try again to gain his power again.

He also wouldn't have minded it, if there hadn't been Harry. If Harry had known which thoughts kept him busy, he would be shocked and knowing that his grandson would try everything to prevent his plans, he knew as well that he would lose Harry, should he indeed try to free his captured followers out of Askaban and to rule the world again with Lucius and Bella. But what was more important to him? His eyes riveted on Harry and Ginny who were dancing, snuggled close to each other, to the lovely music and it seemed to him as he would see himself together with his Cathy.

Suddenly a hardly noticeable beaming smile passed over Tom Riddle's pale face and while deep peace filled him, Alison bent down to Severus who, apart from the guests, was sitting apathetically and tightly packed in a warm blanket in an armchair and gave him a kiss. Even if Harry had said to her then that no charm would help him, she knew that she would never give up hope. Sadly she stroked him over his black hair in which so many grey strains were mixed and wanted already turn away, as a hand closed around her wrist. Severus' black eyes looked at her:

"Alison," he said.

A/N: Hardly to believe but the story is finally finished! It was great fun writing it, at least if I wasn't shortly before throwing it away.

Many thanks to all those who reviewed! Opinions, reviews and whatever else would be of course still very great!