A/N: Well, this is finally it… the end. Sorry it took me seven months to get the final chapter out. This would have been posted sooner, but my computer lost some of my files and I was pretty discouraged at having to rewrite everything again. Then writer's block hit. I had the last chapter completely outlined, and found that I hated every bit of it. There were times when I thought I would never finish this story and I'm sure you all did as well. Fortunately a moment of inspiration hit, and it all poured out of me. I can't say that I love this last chapter, but it is what it is… an epilogue that attempts to tie up loose ends and highlight once again all of the bonds that have been created between the main characters.
A/N2: Quick Recap: Death Eaters attacked the Order's Headquarters and the gang barely escaped with their lives. Some were injured more severely than others, but all were traumatized in some way. Draco dealt with the betrayal of his mother and his acceptance into in his new family. Oh yeah… and there was quite a bit about Sirius learning about Harry's past now that he was brought back from beyond the veil. And that episode with Vernon… can't forget that. Okay, that's about it, I think. If you're still confused, you'll probably need to do another quick read though. Sorry about that, I know it's been a while.
A/N3: Just a warning… this chapter is very slashy! Hence the mature rating. Well, enjoy!
Chapter 28- Somewhere I Belong (Epilogue)
I can't believe I'll be returning to Hogwarts tomorrow. This has felt like the longest summer of my life, which is really saying something considering all the endless chores I used to do at the… but it doesn't really matter, I guess. It has been in some ways, the best and worst summer of my life. I got to be a normal kid for once- though I suppose I'm technically an adult- and I have a real home and a real family. I've wanted these things for so long I can hardly believe it's finally happened.
But as with everything in my life, good things don't last very long. The run in with my uncle in London really did a number on me emotionally. I started cutting again, despite the promises I made to everyone, and as a result Sirius found out every last horrid detail of my childhood. I guess I wanted him to know it all eventually, but I never expected for it to come out like that. He has taken it a lot better than I expected, which is a huge relief.
And just when I finish dealing with all of that, the Death Eaters come knocking on our door. Well, not our door exactly. It was the Order's headquarters, and they really didn't knock, I guess. They portkeyed in… Merlin, I'm rambling…
"Yes?" Harry replied, hearing Remus calling him from downstairs.
"We really should be going. Molly is expecting us," Remus shouted up.
"Alright," Harry replied with a huge sigh. He had wanted to finish his journal entry before they had to leave, but it didn't look as if that was going to happen now.
It had been a long while since Harry had written anything and he was in the mood to get some things off his chest. Strangely, despite his need for something cathartic, it had still taken him the better part of the afternoon to work up the courage to write anything at all. The words simply wouldn't come to him and it looked as though he had lost track of the time as a result. Looking back at what he actually had penned, he realized that it sounded like random nonsense. Why was this so hard? Finishing his entry would have to wait until later it seemed. They were expected at the Burrow.
He sat up from where he was lying across his bed and marked his place in his journal using the blue Muggle pen he always wrote with. His poor journal had really taken a beating this summer and was looking a little worse for wear. Pages had been torn out, many had been crinkled so that they no longer lay flat, others were embossed with heavy X's from when he tried to get out his frustration to avoid cutting, and the only thing holding the broken binding of the spine together was a few loose reparo spells. Despite its dilapidated appearance, Harry couldn't bear to part with it. The journal had helped him through a lot this past year and held a history of what had happened to him.
He then tossed the journal into his school bag, which was neatly resting atop his trunk, where most of his belongings were packed for his return to Hogwarts. They would be catching the train in morning and Harry was fairly certain he wouldn't get another chance to write until then. He quickly surveyed the room, checking to see if he had forgotten to pack anything. He marveled at the fact that he actually had stuff that he was leaving behind. When he had lived with the Dursleys, he hadn't dared to leave anything for fear that it would be burned, which had actually become a reality the summer after his fifth year. Now he had a loving family with a room of his own that he could do whatever he pleased with. His posters that adorned his yellow walls would stay, as well as the picture frames that covered his night stand. Some of his clothes and various other odds and ends would stay as well.
Harry checked his appearance in his mirror before heading downstairs. He had to admit, he finally liked what he saw. Gone was the short, scrawny kid, wearing hand-me downs that were several sizes too large for him. Before him stood a young man, who had grown lean and tan over the summer, wearing a pair of dark wash jeans and a faded blue graphic t-shirt. He was still a bit short, but he could handle that. And although he had been through a lot these past few years, he felt more confident than ever before. He knew now that he had survived things that would cripple most people, and he had come out the better for it.
He smiled at his reflection, and straightened the shirt he was wearing. He tried to run a hand through his hair to flatten it a bit, but it was no use. It seemed he would never outgrow his untidy hair or the needed for glasses for that matter, but that didn't bother him so much anymore.
"Harry?" Remus called again, sounding a little impatient now.
"Coming!" he called as he opened the door and jogged down the stairs. He found Remus waiting for him at the bottom.
"Ah, there you are…" Remus replied, with a smile. "I was beginning to wonder if you had forgotten about your barbeque."
"Nope," he replied, with a sheepish smile.
It had originally been Harry's idea to have a late summer barbeque, celebrating their last day of summer before they had to return to school. He had been excited at the prospect of having his friends and their families come to Villa de Luna for a traditional family gathering. It was something he had always wanted to do and had been deprived of at the Dursleys.
But a change of venue had occurred instead. In light of the recent events in London at the Order of the Headquarters, the Weasleys had decided that they no longer felt safe there, despite Dumbledore's assurances that the Fidelius Charm was still in place. There had been much discussion as to where the family should go and if the Order would continue to meet at Number 12 Grimmauld Place. Some of the Order members had argued whether or not the portkey that had brought the Death Eaters there could have been duplicated before it was used or if it was even possible to do so. Others wondered about Draco's decision to allow his mother to go free and the possible information that could be leaked if she was recaptured. Clearly the breech in security had everyone on edge.
In the end, it was decided that for everyone's safety, the Order would secretly meet at Hogwarts and that Draco and the Weasleys would return home to Ottery St. Catchpole. It had taken several days to strengthen and extend the wards around the Burrow, but the Weasleys were finally able to return the house they had not set eyes on since Christmas.
After seeing the excitement in all of the red head's eyes, Harry simply couldn't deny them when Molly offered to host the barbeque instead in celebration of their return.
"Well, come help me pack some of this food in the basket," said Remus, leading Harry towards their kitchen.
"Sure," Harry replied. He knew that Remus could have simply packed the basket with magic, but he didn't comment. His guardian often preferred to do things the Muggle way, especially if he was fishing to ask Harry a question, which it seemed he was doing now.
"Are you doing okay?" Remus finally asked, his face betraying that he was still concerned about Harry.
Seeing the look that Remus was still giving him, he quickly added, "I promise," as he placed the plate of homemade biscuits on top of the large bowl of pasta salad. He then neatly tucked the bowl of baked beans, which had been charmed to keep warm, next to it.
He had admitted to Remus during one of their private "conversations" that he had been rubbing at his arms before the attack had occurred. Draco had stopped him once he realized what was happening, but it had alarmed Harry that he had been doing it subconsciously. Since then he had struggled with that "itchy" sensation, usually when he woke up from a dream about the attack. He knew that his therapy sessions with Remus were far from over and knew that he expected to see Harry at least twice a week for a session while they were at school.
The Death Eater attack had occurred not even a week ago and the memory of it was still fresh in his mind. It was all Harry could do to not rub or scratch at his arms, or grab a blade for that matter after the nightmares. He wished he knew when he would finally overcome the addiction, if ever.
Harry also knew that Remus still felt guilty that he hadn't been able to come to his rescue during the attack. Actually, Remus hadn't even realized that it had occurred until after they had all safely arrived at Hogwarts. The werewolf had been in the hospital wing, himself, recovering from his latest transformation. Remus had been a little more than surprised when he had finally awakened to see the small group occupying the beds around him looking pretty banged up.
Since then Remus had made it his priority to know Harry's whereabouts at all times and even made him check in with him frequently, every hour sometimes. Sirius was just as bad about it too. Harry had tolerated this over protective streak, but knew that it would have to be confronted if it continued much longer, especially when they had to return back to school.
Remus stepped towards him and wrapped an arm around his shoulders affectionately. "I don't know if I have told you lately, but I'm proud of how you've handled all of this Harry. You're stronger than you give yourself credit for," he said.
"Yes, you've told me, but thanks," Harry replied, hugging Remus awkwardly. "What else do you need me to do?" he finally asked, hoping to change the subject. He really didn't feel like dwelling on all of that today. The party was supposed to be there last bit of summer fun before they all returned to school.
"I think that's about it," he commented, eyeing the basket. "Molly said she would take care of the rest. We're almost ready to leave."
"Almost? What are we missing?"
Remus gave him a knowing look.
"Never mind, I'll get him," Harry replied good-naturedly.
Harry went back up stairs calling his godfather's name. He had just come up to Sirius's door and was about to knock when it opened abruptly.
"I'm coming, I'm coming," Sirius muttered, quickly slipping past Harry and walking down the hallway.
Harry stood there momentarily and eyed his godfather's retreating form in shock. He looked… well… good. Not that Sirius wasn't good looking to begin with, especially after his rebirth from beyond the veil, but he was looking especially handsome tonight.
Harry followed him downstairs, still surprised by his godfather's appearance. It looked as though Sirius had opted for a clean shaven face, instead of donning the five o'clock shadow that seemed to cover his face no matter the time of day. He had recently showered, leaving his black locks wet and glossy, and he looked less tired for once. Harry wondered if the nightmares about Limbo that had usually plagued him were finally held at bay. Dressed in a dark of jeans and a black muscle t-shirt he looked… cool.
Poor Remus with this graying hair, faded jeans and plain button-down shirt, wouldn't have stood a chance if they were going for a night on the town. Sirius was most certainly the ladies man of the pair.
Realizing that he had just checked out his guardian and godfather, Harry felt an overwhelming sense of revulsion and had to give himself a mental shake to rid any lingering thoughts. He found that he was still coming to understand his sexuality and all of these feelings were very confusing. Was it okay to check out other men, even though he was with Draco? What did that say about him? Was it normal? What was normal exactly?
Harry must have had a funny look on his face because Sirius suddenly laughed aloud at him. "Are you okay? You look like you swallowed a flobberworm!"
"Yeah, sorry. Just remembered I forgot to do some homework is all," Harry lied easily. "Are we ready to go?"
"Sure, let me just grab the basket," Remus replied. "Are we Flooing or Apparating?"
"Apparating," Sirius and Harry both replied. They both shared a mutual dislike of traveling though fireplaces.
The threesome walked through the woods to the edge of the property, past the wards, and to the Apparition point. Within seconds they had arrived outside the wards of the Burrow and quickly began to walk towards the house.
Anxious to see Draco and his friends, Harry began to jog, only to notice a large black dog keeping up beside him. Laughing at his godfather's antics, Harry picked up the pace until he was in an all out sprint. As fast as he was, he couldn't beat Sirius's animagus form.
"Hey, no fair!" Harry shouted, as a black blur sped ahead of him and began running circles around the picnic tables set up outside the Burrow.
As Harry came near, he could see how alarmed Mrs. Weasley had become, who seemed to be the only who had not instantly recognized Sirius. Snuffles was barking playfully, despite the attempts she made to kick the unknown beast away. When it looked as though the food she was carrying was going to topple to the ground, Sirius quickly transformed back to his human form.
"Here, let me help you with that," he said breathlessly, as he grabbed the plate of chicken and set it with the rest of the food on one of the tables.
"Sirius! Honestly! You gave me a fright!" Mrs. Weasley shouted, slapping the man on the arm.
"Sorry, I couldn't help myself," Sirius replied sheepishly, as he pushed one of his stray locks behind his ear.
"Well, I'd appreciate if you didn't do it again," she replied before turning back to the house. "Honestly…"
Harry smiled at the pair and quickly looked around for his friends. Almost of all of the Weasley's were present today. Mr. Weasley was helping his wife with bringing out the food. Ron and Bill were talking quietly with Percy, who was looking more comfortable around his family than he had in a long time. And the twins and Ginny were standing under the old oak tree off to the side. Only Charlie was missing because he couldn't afford to take time off work right now.
Hermione must have arrived with her parents shortly after they had and was introducing them to Sirius and Remus, who had finally reached the house. Crookshanks, Hermione's overly large cat, was walking circles around them looking uncharacteristically excited about something. Harry looked around for Draco and found the blond to be missing.
"Hey mate! How are you?" Harry asked, taking a seat beside Ron.
"Alright," Ron replied quietly, still looking a little peaked. "I just wished I didn't still feel so damned tired all the time."
"Sorry about that. I'm sure these things just take time."
Ron only shrugged in response.
"So where's Draco?"
Ron gave him an amused expression and glanced down at his watch. Turning to Bill and Percy, he shouted "I win! I told you it would take less than a minute before he started asking about blondie. Pay up!"
Bill and Percy both shook their heads and handed Ron a Knut each.
"You are making bets about me?" Harry asked incredulously. "I'd expect it from the twins or Ron, but you two?"
"Where did you think they learned it?" said Percy.
Both Ron and Bill laughed at that. "C'mon Perce, you're as straight as they come. That is probably the first bet you've ever made," said Ron.
Harry just huffed and crossed his arms over his chest trying to look cross, though he honestly wasn't.
"Don't sweat it, Harry. It's all in good fun," Bill replied. "Besides, there's lover boy now."
Harry looked towards the direction Bill was pointing and saw Draco and Snape approaching. Giving the three Weasley boys a withering glare, he rose from his seat to greet them.
Harry was unable to hide the smile that spread across his face at the sight of his boyfriend. Draco looked absolutely beautiful, sporting a causal pair of pants and a faded green t-shirt, likely borrowed from one of the Weasley boys, seeing how his once extravagant wardrobe was dwindling. His silky hair looked even lighter than usual in the warm sunlight and his grey blue eyes shone birghtly. In his arms was his pet Kneazle, Jinx, who squirmed to get away as soon as she saw her feline friend was also in presence today.
Mrs. Weasley, on one of her return trips to the house gather more food, reached Draco first. She reached out and kissed the man on the forehead, greeting him like a long lost son. "Ah, there you are. I was wondering when you two would show up. Just in time too," she said with a smile. Patting his shoulder she left to go back into the house. Draco always allowed her to shower him with affection, and Harry knew that he secretly loved every bit of it having been deprived of such displays as a child with his real mother.
Finally catching sight of Harry, Draco returned the warm smile and quickly crossed the short distance to envelope Harry in a quick embrace. Their lips met, but before they could even greet one another properly the sound of someone loudly clearing their throat halted them.
"Enough already," Draco's godfather said huffily, clearly not amused. The pair had become more demonstrative in his presence as they became more comfortable with their affection and Snape found it all to be a very effusive, as he liked to put it. Harry and Draco grinned at him knowing that he meant no harm.
Giving the boys a wry look, Snape stalked past them, his black robes billowing slightly behind him. The effect wasn't as menacing in the brightness of the summer sun. He looked rather ridiculous wearing those heavy robes in this heat and Harry wondered if he used cooling charms or something.
"Sorry, I'm late. I spent the day with Sev," said Draco. "Since we moved back home I haven't been able to see him much."
It warmed Harry's heart that Draco considered the Burrow his home and the Weasleys his family, especially after the heart wrenching betrayal he had suffered from his own mother.
"Really? How'd that go?" Harry asked, knowing that Draco's relationship with his godfather could be rather tense at times.
"Not bad. We spent some time talking… after I got caught up on my potions homework, of course," Draco said with a smile.
Harry couldn't imagine spending any length of time talking with Snape. He was a rather complicated and intimidating man.
Knowing that the dinner would be ready shortly, they walked over to the picnic table. Hermione, Ginny, and the twins had already joined the other Weasley siblings at one end. Draco and Harry squeezed in beside them and found that the table magically lengthened itself to accommodate all of them. Sirius, Remus, and Snape had found a seat with the Grangers at the other end of the table.
Despite the bright, sunny day, the mood was somewhat somber. They were all trying to be cheerful, but it was rather obvious that they all had a lot on their minds. It was hard to focus on the last day of their summer vacation with the memory of the attack still so fresh. The knowledge that Voldemort was still out there probably planning his next attack was rather humbling as well. The small group commiserated about how they were all doing since that fateful encounter.
It had only been a few days since the attack at Headquarters and they all looked like they were faring well. Hermione and Ginny had been both emotionally distraught from the ordeal, but had thankfully suffered no major injuries from the attack. Neville, who had yet to arrive, had suffered a mild concussion from his run in with Buckbeak and had been quickly healed. Harry still had some lingering effects from the stinging hexes and the cruciatus curse he had suffered, but had immediately felt better as soon as he had been administered a healing potion from the school nurse.
Draco's right shoulder, which had been injured by a rebounding curse, had also been healed as soon as they had arrived at Hogwarts. Unfortunately they later found out that there was some lasting damage in the muscle tissue and the joint. He will have to have some physical therapy to regain the strength in his right arm, but he should be okay otherwise. His wand casting was still a little uncoordinated, but Madam Pomfrey assured him that it would improve over time.
Sirius and Molly, on the other had both been admitted to the hospital for their wounds, but were only required to stay over night with assurance that they would both take it easy for the next few days. Harry had later discovered that Sirius and Molly had been taken by surprise when the Death Eaters had attacked. The plan to have Neville warn them had unfortunately failed and they were lucky to have overcome their attackers the way that they did.
Ron looked a bit uncomfortable, still suffering from some residual pains from the hex he had received, but overall his health seemed much improved. The most grievously injured of the group, Ron had been released from the hospital only yesterday. Harry was relieved to see his friend doing so much better. Ironically, he had been hit with the very same curse that Hermione had been hit with at the Department of Mysteries last year.
Noticing Ginny was sitting slightly apart from them looking sad, Harry reached across the table to take her hand and looked her in the eye. "Alright?" he whispered.
"I guess…" she replied quietly.
"Is it Neville?" he asked intuitively, having already noticed that their friend had yet to arrive.
Ginny nodded and sniffled. "He's not coming. His grandmother is trying to prevent us from seeing each other again. She blames my family for involving him in the attack."
"But that's ridiculous!" Harry shouted, jumping to her defense.
Ginny held up her hand to stop him. "Save it. I know all of that. And she can't really keep us apart. Not really. We'll be leaving for Hogwarts tomorrow and we can be together as much as we want. And after Neville graduates this year… well, we'll have to see then. The point is I'm trying not to dwell on all of that right now."
Harry nodded, trying to understand. "And sitting here quietly and not talking to the rest of us is your way of not dwelling on it?" he asked sarcastically. "It all makes sense to me. Your plan is brilliant!"
Ginny grinned at his attempt at humor knowing she didn't have a good reply.
"I thought so," Harry said matter-of-factly. He let go of her hand and gave her a smile. He then made a point of including her in the rest of the conversation, which thankfully had switched to Quidditch.
A short while later Molly and Arthur had finally finished bringing out all of the food. The food table was filled with barbeque chicken, steaks, salads, fresh breads, beans, corn on the cob, as wells as many other lovely things to eat. The hot air was heavy with all of the heavenly smells, and they quickly took turns in line getting their food.
It was then they noticed the young man coming down the steps of the Burrow, dusting off the soot from his clothes.
"Neville!" Ginny shouted, running to her boyfriend and tackling him with a hug. "You came!"
"Of course I did. Nothing can stop me from seeing you, love," Neville replied, his eyes filled with admiration for his girlfriend.
"Why did you Floo?" she asked, helping to brush the soot from his clothing.
"I don't know… still leery of Apparating, I guess, after what happened and all," said Neville, obviously remembering his failed attempt to Apparate during the attack. "Sorry I'm late. Had to wait until Gran went down for her nap so she wouldn't know I'd left."
"Oh that's alright, Neville! C'mon join us deary," called Mrs. Weasley.
Neville quickly obliged and began loading his plate with food as he talked merrily to the others. Then the friends, both young and old, gathered around the large picnic table that had been transfigured to accommodate their sizable group and seated themselves. Because of its magical length, it closely resembled the tables that could be found in the Great Hall of Hogwarts. Pitchers of Butterbeer, pumpkin juice, and ale appeared on the main table and they each filled their glasses.
"A toast…" Sirius began loudly, raising his glass in the air. He waited for the others to do the same. "To the ones who saved me from beyond the Veil and made it possible that I am even standing here today. To the brightest, most courageous, and most fiercely loyal friends I have ever seen…" Sirius's voice trailed off, his eyes glittering. "These young people are our hope and our future. May their days filled with much love and much laughter so that they may continue to fight any darkness that dares to shadow their lives."
"Here, here," was the response as they each took a drink.
"And to our fallen hero…to Buckbeak!" Sirius added.
None of them would ever forget the Hippogriff that had somehow befriended them all and saved their lives that fateful day. If it were not for the distraction, they may have been overcome by the Death Eaters before help could arrive.
There was a loud clatter of forks against plates and the din of several conversations rose once more. For this small brief moment in time, all seemed right in the world.
After several helpings of food, several rounds of Quidditch, and a dip in the swimming hole, the day finally began to wind down. Feeling the need to be alone with his love, Draco grabbed their brooms and steeled Harry away from the others.
"Where are we going?" Harry asked.
"Nowhere… just felt like being alone with you. Thought we'd go for a fly together. We've never done that before," Draco replied with a shrug.
"Sounds perfect," he replied, grabbing his broom from Draco. He had soon mounted it and taken off to the air, patiently waiting for Draco.
The pair flew lazily around the Burrow, then past the orchard, through the woods, and out onto an open field. Long blades of grass, looking brown and quite parched, waved in the hot summer breeze. They both hovered there for a moment looking wide eyed out onto the expanse of open land. Past the edge of the woods, only a few trees dotted the skyline. It was late in the day and the sun was low in the sky. They watched for a few minutes the sun began to set, turning the sky first orange and then red. Because of the heat, it seemed to sizzle like an egg in a frying pan as it finally began to dip below the horizon. The sight was truly remarkable to behold.
Then, as if sensing what the other was about to do, they both broke out of their trance with a burst of speed. They soon found themselves racing one another, the long grasses parting in their wake. They flew as far as they dared, before sensing the edge of the wards and circled back on each other skillfully flying figure eights.
Already knowing what Harry was going to do, Draco found himself chasing him at break neck speeds. Draco knew Harry was fast, having spent several Quidditch matches as seeker against him, but he still marveled at his boyfriend's ability. He used to be jealous, now he was just in awe. Draco tried desperately to catch up to Harry, but he was always seemed just out of reach.Something familiar was stirring deep inside of Draco, but he couldn't pinpoint what he was feeling.
Harry began performing some rather bold maneuvers in an attempt to lose Draco off his tail. He looped and dived and spiraled, daring Draco to follow him each time. For a while it seemed as if Draco would never over take him, but then he saw his opening and he formed a plan. He waited, knowing that Harry would have to eventually pull out of his current dive. He maneuvered himself closer to the ground instead of chasing Harry directly and pulled out his wand.
Just as he expected, Harry pulled out of the dive and slowed his broom when he didn't sense Draco behind him and began to look around. Seeing his opportunity, Draco made a beeline to Harry and caught up to him before he could take off once more. He tackled Harry to the ground, remembering to cast a cushioning charm before they fell.
They bounced harmlessly off the ground and rolled a few feet towards the shadows of a tall tree. Still startled by the sudden attack, Harry was completely at Draco's mercy when the blond began tickling him. He tried to get Draco back, but he couldn't stop laughing or squirming to get away.
After a short while, the laughter died, but their embrace did not. They held each other tightly and Draco stared down into Harry's emerald eyes. They were both hot and sticky from their little adventure but none of that mattered. He began to stroke Harry's messy locks, which now had pieces of grass in it, and leaned forward for a kiss.
Harry's soft lips captured his own and nothing ever felt so right in his life. Suddenly, Draco realized that this was his dream… the dream that he had had on oh so many lonely nights… and it was actually coming true. He could only hope that things progressed the way that he had always wanted them to and that he didn't suddenly wake up unexpectedly. He pulled back momentarily to contemplate what to do next.
Lying on top of Harry like this, Draco couldn't help but feel himself become slightly aroused as he gazed down at the man he loved. Even in the dying light, Draco could see how beautiful he was. Harry had grown incredibly tan this summer and he looked healthier than Draco had ever known him.
"So beautiful…" he whispered.
Draco captured Harry's mouth with his own once more and began sucking on his bottom lip. Knowing what his love liked, Draco moved his mouth to nip Harry's ears and then suckled at the soft sweaty skin at the base of his neck. Harry moaned in delight and turned his head to the side to allow Draco easier access. He moved his lips towards a sensitive spot licked the area gently. Harry moaned in appreciation and Draco deepened his ministrations. He felt Harry arch his body upwards and realized that he was just as turned on as Draco was. He repositioned himself so that his thigh was pressing against Harry's straining groin. He was pleased that he had gotten such a response from him and returned to kissing Harry's mouth as he stroked the skin beneath his shirt.
Their hands began exploring each other's bodies, rubbing at the sweaty skin beneath their clothes, desperately trying to get closer to one another, if it was even possible. Draco hesitantly allowed one of his hands to slip inside the waist band of Harry's pants, causing him to squirm with pleasure.
"Draco," Harry whispered.
"I want this… more than anything else. Please?" he asked plaintively.
He could hardly believe what Harry was asking. Draco understood what his uncle had done to him would always be a part of Harry, but a small part of him still hoped that they could take their relationship to the next level when Harry was ready. He had fantasized about this moment for so long, but he had never dared to expect that they would have sex any time soon.
"Are you sure?" Draco asked breathlessly.
"I have never been more sure about anything in my life," Harry replied confidently. "You make me feel special… safe…"
Draco smiled and then leaned forward and kissed Harry more deeply. Pulling back he sat up and said, "If we're going to do this. Then we should do make ourselves more comfortable."
He quickly rose to his feet and pulled Harry up beside him. Then he pointed his wand towards the base of the tree and conjured a couple of large blankets and cast a strong cushioning charm. He guided Harry over to the blankets and gently sat him down. He helped Harry take off his shirt, before removing his own and then knelt down before him.
"Are you still sure?" he asked once more.
His only response was Harry pulling him close and tearing at the belt on Draco's pants. He moaned as Harry kissed his mouth once more and their tongues slid back and forth against one another. Hands pulled at his pants and underwear and soon Draco was deprived of every piece of clothing. Feeling quite vulnerable like this out the open, Draco quickly did the same to Harry and pulled him beneath one of the blankets.
They kissed each other passionately, exploring each other's mouths. It had been so long since they had been like this together. Their heated passion began to mount as they both grew more aroused. Unsure if what he was doing was going to upset Harry or not, he decided to restrain himself a bit. Draco was used to letting Harry take the lead because he never wanted to push him any farther than he was willing to go, knowing how much he had overcome just to get here. He didn't want to move too fast, or scare Harry in anyway.
So Draco's heart beat quickened as Harry grasped his hardening flesh in his hand, realizing that Harry was quite serious about all of this. They had never really gone much farther than heavy petting before this and he was feeling nervous about what might happen next. Draco wondered briefly how this was going to work, when he felt a sudden wave of pleasure. Harry had quickened his strokes down below as he continued to kiss him. As the wonderful sensation began to build in Draco's groin, he remembered that he should be pleasuring Harry as well.
Stilling Harry's hand, Draco whispered, "Slow down…"
Feeling that Harry was ready for more, Draco allowed his hands and mouth to roam uninhibited and Harry did the same. They explored each other's bodies in ways they never had before. Their actions were inexperienced and clumsy, but also amazingly sweet. Both were hesitant to do anything that might hurt the other, but they also wanted to experience the joy of true intimacy.
Somehow or another, they silently agreed that Harry would be on top tonight. Draco would have much preferred it the other way around, but in light of what Harry had already been through this seemed like an important first step. Draco showed Harry a spell that he had found, just in case of course, and after being thoroughly prepared, Harry entered him.
"Oh god… yes…." Harry groaned, raising his hips slightly to increase the friction.
Draco groaned in response. It had been painful at first, which he found rather surprising, but after a few minutes the pain gave way to ultimate pleasure and he moaned some more.
"Are you okay?" Harry asked worriedly.
"Yes… are you?" Draco responded, unsure of what Harry was thinking right now.
"Yeah. Do you want me to keep going?"
"Yes… don't stop…" he pleaded.
Harry rocked his hips against him and moaned above. Having never had such an erotic experience before, Draco knew he couldn't hold out much longer. He felt himself release, moaning into Harry's shoulder as waves of pleasure rolled down his body, somehow realizing that Harry had found release at the same time. Afterwards, Harry laid on top of him limply, waiting for his heartbeat and breath to return to normal.
"Was that okay?" Draco asked. He wanted nothing more than to have a healthy sexual relationship with the man he loved and this moment seemed like a big turning point for him.
"That was bloody amazing," Harry replied. "Thank you for that. You don't know how much that meant to me."
Draco sighed in relief and kissed him affectionately. "I think I do," Draco replied, kissing Harry's temple.
"I love you so much…" Harry whispered.
"I love you too."
They repositioned themselves so that Harry's head was lying on Draco's shoulder and his body was draped over him. They laid there a long while, snuggling beneath the blanket, feeling rather hot and sweaty. With the hot summer temperature they knew they probably didn't need the blanket, but neither one of them were daring enough to toss aside the only thing covering their nakedness. They were fairly certain of their continued privacy, but there was still a certain vulnerability you feel when you were outdoors without a scrap of clothing between you and the nighttime air.
As they lay there, the sky continued to darken and the stars came out. Insects began to softly hum and frogs could be heard calling all the way from the swimming hole. Fire flies slowly made themselves known, blinking on, blinking off. They swooped low over the dying grass silently calling out to one another like miniature lighthouses calling out to a lost ship.
Harry made a soft keening sound, like he was rather content and Draco kissed his forehead.
"It's beautiful tonight, isn't it?" Draco asked.
"Yes, it is. A perfect night."
Feeling rather emotional after such an encounter, Draco decided to reveal a little secret. "Did I ever tell you that I knew I was in love with you before we even got together?"
"What? Really? C'mon… you're just saying that," said Harry, a look of disbelief crossing his face.
Draco nodded and pulled Harry closer. "Really. I used to dream about you and me flying across a field like this. In my dreams, at least in the beginning, you were always just out of reach."
"That's amazing. Why didn't you ever tell me?" Harry asked, looking quite awed.
"I told you before about my recurring dreams," he insisted.
"But you didn't tell me you loved me before we were together."
"I didn't really understand it then, not like I do now. Everything was so confusing. You were my school rival, after all. I was supposed to hate you, not fall in love with you," Draco responded.
"It does seem strange when you look back at our history, doesn't it?"
"Does it still feel strange?"
Harry sighed contentedly again, snuggling his face into Draco's shoulder. Draco must have grimaced when his felt a twinge in his shoulder because Harry pulled back.
"Are you alright? Is your shoulder bothering you?" he asked, concern written all over his face.
"It's fine. Just a twinge," Draco insisted, pulling him back again.
Harry snuggled into him once more and their legs wrapped around each other. Draco buried his nose in Harry's hair, loving the scent of his shampoo, sweat, dirt, and something he could only describe as simply "Harry" all mixed together. It was Draco's turn to sigh contentedly.
"I can't wait until we're married some day and we can do this every night."
"Married?" Harry inquired.
"Sure, why not?"
"I love the idea, I just didn't think you thought about things like that."
"Of course I do, I think about a lot of things."
They lay quietly for a few moments, watching as the first stars began to shimmer in the darkening sky.
"It's so peaceful here," Harry commented, as he gently twirled the silver dragon ring around Draco's finger. He wore an identical one around his own finger, which also matched the charmed pendant he wore.
"Mhm," Draco agreed feeling sleepy.
"Do you think our life could ever be really like this. You know… normal…"
"I hope so."
They were quiet for a few moments as they listened to all the sounds around them. Draco nearly startled when he heard Harry laughing softly beside him.
"What is it?"
"No tell me."
"It's just… do you realize all of our encounters have been outdoors?" Harry finally said.
"Really? I never really thought about it like that. I guess you're right."
"Next time, can we make love in a bed?"
"Sure," he said laughing slightly.
Nothing ever seemed so right.
The next day found Ron and his friends at the Kings Cross Station saying goodbye to their families. This year was especially bittersweet, knowing that for all but Ginny, this would be their last year at Hogwarts.
"Are you sure you don't want to stay home for a few days?" asked his mum again, taking Ron's face in her hands. "You still look poorly."
"I'm fine, Mum. Really!" he pleaded, trying to pull away without making a scene. He hated it when she fussed over him. He was a grown man now. He didn't need his mother still chasing him about as if he were a toddler.
"I know, but…" she began, but her voice trailed off as she saw the determined look in his eye. She sighed deeply as she rubbed the pads of her thumbs over his cheeks, still gently cupping his face. "Take care of yourself."
She then kissed him firmly on the forehead before turning her attention to Ginny and Draco, who received much the same treatment. They didn't look so thrilled with it either, especially in front of all of their classmates.
Ron turned away only to find Hermione, slipping her arm around his waist. "Ready to go?"
"Sure, just gotta drag Harry away from the dog folk," said Ron.
"Ron! That's not nice!" Hermione scolded.
"What?" he asked innocently, earning himself a slap on the arm.
Stealing himself away from Hermione's disapproving glare, he grabbed his friend by the elbow in an attempt to pull him away. "C'mon mate. It's now or never. The train is leaving soon."
"I suppose you're right," Harry replied dejectedly. "I guess it's time for me to go."
"Don't look so sad, kiddo. I'll be seeing you soon," said Sirius, his arm wrapped around Harry's shoulder.
"Really? When?" Harry asked excitedly.
"Well, I don't know when exactly. But with the Order's meetings moved to our new location, I'm sure I can steal myself away to come say hello," Sirius explained.
"Yeah, it's not like he's a wanted man any more," added Ron.
Harry smiled at that. Ron was right. Sirius was free to do whatever he wished now that he had a full pardon from the Ministry. Never again would he have to face persecution for crimes he didn't commit.
"And you got ol' Moony hear to look after you when I'm not around," Sirius added, playfully nudging his friend's arm.
"I know," Harry replied, beaming up at his guardian.
"Well, come on then, the rest of your friends are waiting and the train is about to leave," said Lupin, directing Harry and Ron towards the steps to the nearest car. "I'll see you at school."
Ron and Harry climbed the steps and boarded the train, where the rest of the gang was waiting. Holding onto the railing, the pair turned back to face the two men down below.
"Not riding the train this year?" Ron shouted over the engine, realizing that he had always assumed that Lupin would.
"Not this year, no. I have some things I need to pick up for our classes on my way to Hogwarts, but I promise to see you at the Welcoming Feast," his professor explained quickly.
"Alright," shouted Harry. "See you soon. Bye Sirius."
His godfather waved goodbye to him, but was soon lost in the crowd of families waving goodbye and hoping to get one last glimpse of their children before the train whisked them away. The Grangers and Weasleys could barely be seen now as well, but they knew they were there waving them off.
"C'mon mate," said Ron, spotting their friends, who had moved off farther down the train.
"Where should we sit?" Ron asked, reaching Hermione's side.
"I'm not sure," Hermione said softly. Her face was a mixture of emotions, none of them readable.
"What is it?" asked Harry, now seeing the anger his boyfriend's face.
Draco merely shook his head and crossed his arms, seemingly not in the mood to discuss it. He looked away, his eyes blazing and his lips pursed in frustration.
"What happened?" Harry asked Hermione.
She looked hesitant to respond and as she was just about to answer, they heard a couple of rude voices carry above the others.
"There's Potter. Do you think he's still suicidal?"
"I heard that he begged Malfoy to come back to him."
Ron turned to glare at them and the two girls spying on them hurried back into their train compartment. "C'mon let's go," he said, grabbing Harry and Draco by the arms and leading them away from the gossiping crowd.
Unfortunately, their journey down the train to look for a place to sit away from spying eyes wasn't much better. It appeared that Harry and Draco had once again become the object of whispered remarks from their peers. It seemed no one had forgotten that the two were dating or that Harry had nearly killed himself last year when he sliced his arms open in the showers. Some students were just curious about their relationship, but others were just down right rude.
Seeking refuge from the way everyone was looking at them, the foursome moved to the very last train car. Ginny and Neville had opted instead to find a compartment with some of Ginny's sixth year friends, who she had not seen since the end of the school year.
The four friends tried to make themselves more comfortable and had spread out across the seats. The task was nearly impossible for Ron. His abdomen still ached from where he was hit with the curse so he couldn't really lounge. He was forced to sit as upright as possible. He was doing much better than he was before, but the train ride was uncomfortable to sit through, especially with the constant motion.
After a while, Ron felt himself become thoroughly bored. He had managed to convince Draco to play a few rounds of chess, but the blonde had given up after losing three times in a row. No one else seemed interested in a game of chess. The train ride had been rather uneventful, and no one seemed to have much to say. Hermione and Draco were both reading quietly, while Ron stared out the window. He simply couldn't bring himself to read anything before he actually had to at school.
Harry seemed to be in a world all to himself. He was furiously writing in that ratty looking journal he kept. Harry had started writing in at the beginning the trip and hadn't really stopped since. Ron couldn't imagine what he was writing about and wondered how his hand wasn't cramping yet, especially using that Muggle self-refilling ink pen contraption he insisted on writing with. The look on his face was intense, and some part of Ron knew that he probably didn't want to know what Harry was writing about.
Occasionally Harry would rub or itch one of his arms, which didn't seem strange to Ron until he did a few more times. Draco seemed to notice it to, though neither of them said anything about it. Ron made a mental note to keep an eye on his best mate once they were at Hogwarts. The last thing he wanted was a repeat of last year.
Feeling hopelessly bored, Ron sighed heavily, staring at the rain pouring outside, wishing that weather didn't have to be so gloomy. His mood was already rather somber, and grey skies did nothing to improve it.
Draco had glanced up at him and had smirked when he saw the boredom on his face. He shrugged, appearing to be quite bored himself now. He set aside his textbook and proceeded to stretch lazily. Ron then noticed Draco twist his head to the side as he glanced over at Hermione's book.
"What are you reading? That doesn't look like a school book?" Draco asked.
For lack of anything better to do, Ron peered curiously over Hermione's shoulder, suddenly intrigued. "And its not even Hogwarts a History," Ron added. "I've seen it enough times, so I should know."
Hermione smirked at them both and then clutched the book to her chest. "I've read most of our texts for this year already, if you must know. I'm reading Pride and Prejudice instead. You know I do occasionally read for pleasure."
"I thought homework was pleasure for you," Ron replied.
Hermione proceeded to glare at him in mock annoyance. "I can't help it if some people's minds enjoy taking in knowledge. You should try it sometime."
Draco scoffed at the notion and took up his book once more.
"Nah… that's alright," Ron replied, a look of distaste crossing his face. "That's why I have you."
"Why you-" Hermione looked as though she wanted to hit him over the head with her book so he kissed her on the cheek, hoping to placate at her. It seemed to have worked because she went back to her reading, leaving him alone in his thoughts once more.
With the beginning of a new school year, it was hard not to reflect on that happened this year. They had all changed so much. Ron guessed that fighting Death Eaters can do that to you.
Ginny had grown up so much that Ron barely recognized her, and Hermione wasn't nearly so focused on her studies anymore. If anything, she dedicated herself even more so to helping the Order. Her idea to surveillance Muggle news stations as a way to detect Death Eater activity had allowed them to narrow down Voldemort's next attack. Too bad they hadn't realized that the attack would be on them.
But no one had changed more than Harry, Draco, and Sirius. The changes in them were remarkable. They were all lost before, each in their own way. Each one existing, but not really living.
Harry had overcome horrific childhood and found family. Draco had denounced his family and had been betrayed by his own mother to turn out to be a pretty decent bloke. He and Ron still had their share of problems, but brothers still fight occasionally.
Ron smiled at that, thinking of Draco as his surrogate brother. Who would have ever thought the Weasleys would have a blonde son? They never adopted him officially, but none of that mattered to them, especially since Draco was now of age. All that mattered was that he would always have a family that would love and understand him.
And Sirius had been rescued from the Beyond, to find a new life and purpose. Their perilous journey through the wild and across the sea had certainly been worth it when they discovered they were able to resurrect their lost friend. Sirius had his share of problems when he had finally awoken, but had worked through each of them to finally lead a normal life.
Most surprisingly, each of the three men had to come to terms that they were not at fault for anything that had happened to them and that there were people out there that loved and cared about them. They didn't have to exist in the nothingness they felt inside or hold onto the pain any longer. They had each found somewhere to belong.
Thinking about all of these weighty subjects was making Ron's head hurt. He rubbed his temples, hoping to ease the tension, realizing he wasn't one to dwell on such things. It was then that Ron suddenly became aware of Hermione tearing up beside him.
"What's wrong?" he asked in concern.
"Don't mind me," she said, wiping away a few stray tears. "I just finished the book is all."
"Was it sad?" he asked.
"No," she said, shaking her head. "It actually had a very happy ending."
"So what's wrong then? I never took you to be so sappy."
"I know. I'm not. It's just…. I started thinking. So much has happened this past year, and we still have another year at Hogwarts to go. And who knows what will become of us after we graduate with the war and everything…"
Draco and Harry both looked at each other solemnly and then to Hermione, listening intently. It seemed as though they were thinking the same thing.
"And I was wondering," Hermione continued. "Will we ever have a happy ending?"
"Of course we will," Ron replied quickly.
"You really think so?" Hermione asked tearfully.
"Sure," Harry added, reaching for Draco's hand. "Our futures may not be what we expect of it but after all that has happened we deserve a happy ending. Don't we?"
"Sure we do," said Ron, relieved that everyone finally seemed interested in some conversation. "But we have more important things to worry about than happy endings."
"Like what?" asked Hermione.
"Like trying to survive our seventh year," he replied with a grown. "I'm not looking forward to studying for our N.E.W.T.S."
"Don't worry. I'll help you study," said Hermione.
Ron rolled his eyes "That's what I'm worried about."
"At least you don't have to worry about Snape and Potions like I do," said Harry. "I don't even want to think about how hard this year is going to be."
"Hey, I quite like Potions, thank you very much," said Draco defensively. "And that's my godfather you're talking about."
"I'm lucky I didn't make it into Potions this year. Can you imagine how hard he would be on me after this summer?" Ron shuddered at the thought.
"You mean the ball incident?" Hermione asked.
"Yes," Ron said, shuddering once more.
"I thought you said it was the happiest moment of your life?" asked Harry.
"And the scariest," said Ron. "Can't forget that."
"Well, I for one am looking forward to finishing school. I can't wait to get out of there," said Draco.
Ron knew Draco was thinking of having to face his house again. Something he had barely survived last year. Knowing that his friend needed some reassurance, Ron decided to lighten up the conversation. "Aw cheer up. This year won't be too bad… as long as Harry doesn't find his way into trouble again!"
"Hey I don't find trouble. Trouble finds me," Harry protested.
"Sure, if you want to believe that."
"Thanks a lot!"
"You're welcome," said Ron with a smile. "Just trying to put things in perspective."
"Well, even if does Harry find himself in some sort of mess, at least he'll have us to help him through it," said Hermione, with a sad smile on his face. Ron and Draco both nodded as well.
"Thanks you guys," said Harry. "That means a lot."
Although they were only joking about all the "trouble" he gets into each year, they knew it was inevitable that Harry would have to face Voldemort again.
No matter what would happen this year or any of the coming years, they knew they would always have each other.
A/N: So what did you think? I'm always self conscious of sex scenes, but I felt that I owed it to the boys to finally let them take their intimacy to the next level, now that they are actually adults. Obviously, the title of this story and this chapter was taken from Linkin Park's song. I borrowed some of the themes in that song as well. I decided that it was important to end the story with Harry, Draco and Ron's point of view since these were the narrators for most of this series. The ending was also overly sappy, but I could think of another way to end this story.
I can't believe the trilogy is finally done! It has been four years in the making! I have cherished all of your lovely reviews and I only ask that you check out my other stories as well. I don't know if I will continue to write for this series or not, but I have a lot of material to work with that I couldn't find a way resolve yet in these stories. Maybe someday I will do a seventh year fic for the series… If you haven't reviewed by now or if it's been a while I would appreciate any comment you have.
For those of you who are curious…now that this fic is finished, I will be working on Shattered Illusions once again. Keep an eye out for occasional updates. I also have a few one-shots in the works.
A BIG thank you to my beta Drae. This series would have never come together without you.
Thanks once again! Don't forget to review!