Disclaimer: Everything is J.K. Rowling's. I'm only borrowing for my own enjoyment and the enjoyment of others. Only anything unfamiliar belongs to me, along with the plot.
Author's Note: (I originally wrote this author's note for and thought it applies here as well. A couple comments about the delay don't apply but everything else does...) Oh my…after over three years of writing this story and dealing with long delays, I can officially say that this story is FINISHED. Wow, I can't believe I can actually say that now! I've enjoyed this story so much, but I must admit it's a weight off of my shoulders to know that it's finally completed. I have no great excuse for the long wait for this chapter, but I hope all of you are understanding and I'm so so grateful for your wonderful patience and sticking with me for as long as you have. I appreciate that so much. I've meant to have this chapter completed for months and I wrote a huge portion of it one night several months ago, but real life got in the way and by the time I returned to it, the inspiration had left me and I was clueless as to how to wrap this story up. I think I finally got it though and I hope all of you are pleased with the results. This is a very long chapter and I hope I concluded everything in a way that all of you will like. Again, my deepest apologies for making all of you wait for three years for this ending, but fan fiction writing for me is secondary to the rest of my life, as much as I do enjoy it. I thank you all so much for reviewing constantly and reminding me not to forget the story. All of you are the reason this story can now be called complete.
Now I know this author's note is long, but I have to address some things and then I'll let you enjoy the chapter. I know I said I have three sequels planned to "Heirs," and I still do, but when those sequels will be written and released is completely up in the air. My inspiration to write Harry Potter stories has long since left me and I've been struggling to get it back. I still love Harry Potter and I love writing, but my writer's block for it is intense and I've decided to step back from it for a while before jumping into a new story and knowing I'll be forcing it the whole way. Please don't be angry with me. I want the sequels to be even better than the original and I don't know any other way to go about it then to take a small break from the HP fan fiction world. I'll be back though, I can promise you that. Until then, my attention has been completely caught by another fandom I just got into and I'll be hopefully writing some stories for that instead. If you want to check any of my other work out, please just check out my profile on this site.
Thank you to all the wonderful fans of this story and to the friends I've made along the way because of it. You all have been amazing; from the comments and e-mails I've received, to the support you've shown in the face of horrible delays, bad moments in my life, and nasty reviewers. I hope you enjoyed every bit of this story and hopefully you'll remember me and pick up on the sequels when I finally do post them. Until that moment, I'm adding the summary to the sequel at the very end of this chapter, just enough to give you an idea of what is in store for the Heirs. Thank you for putting up with my slowness and for loving this story so much. So, good-bye for now and enjoy the last chapter of "The Heirs of Hogwarts."
The Heirs of Hogwarts
Chapter Fifty – A New Beginning
The Great Hall at Hogwarts was decorated with banners representing the Four Houses at the end of the year feast, a symbol of recognition and thanks to the Heirs, who had led the victory for the Light. The colorful banners for Gryffindor, Slytherin, Hufflepuff, and Ravenclaw were swinging gently above the house tables, where chattering students were seated, eagerly eating the meal that was laid out before them. The only difference in color from the red, blue, green, and yellow was the black banners hanging behind the high table where the professors sat, a small note of acknowledgment for the grief everyone still felt for the loss of the brave people who gave their life in the Final Battle.
Another difference that many noticed was the fact that the amount of students filling the Great Hall was significantly lower. Large spaces were unoccupied along the benches, another painful reminder of just how many young witches and wizards had died just so Voldemort could not regain power once more. A few of the girls were crying, but other than that, only slightly somber looks graced everyone's faces, showing they were trying to move on yet never forget.
Up along the high table, the gaps were noticeable also, though a few were filled by the presence of Remus Lupin, Nymphadora Tonks, Kingsley Shacklebolt, and other various Order members who had been invited by Dumbledore to join in the feast. Professor Dumbledore sat in the middle as usual, hands folded together under his chin as he gazed at the student body. His eyes flickered to the Four Heirs and their friends, talking softly with occasional glances over their shoulders.
The Heirs were seated together at the Gryffindor table, unusual in it self because Draco, Blaise, and Luna were there as well. No one argued the point though, since every person knew how close the Heirs and their companions were, separation from each other a rare event to behold. A slight gap was visibly seen between them and the others seated at the table, not because their Housemates didn't like them, but simply because a sort of fear and awe hung over them every time they looked at the Heirs. Even Neville, for all that he had done in the Final Battle, was nervous around them, not knowing what to say or how to act.
The Heirs visibly despised how their fellow classmates looked at them now. All they wanted to do was return to Hogwarts and the life they had known before, trying to bring as much normalcy to their lives as possible. They knew eventually the awe would die down, but the path to getting there was frustrating and slow.
Harry, who had felt singled out his entire life, desperately ached for the hero worship to end. He simply wanted to be a normal teenage boy, something he had fought to attain for so long now. Voldemort's hold over him was now gone and he wanted to enjoy the time he had left at Hogwarts, a hopefully mild final year ahead of him. His thoughts consumed with this, Harry picked at his food with disinterest.
A hand coming to lie gently over his finally brought him out of his reverie. Looking up, he found the deep brown eyes of Hermione staring back him, her gaze filled with worry.
"Are you all right, love?" she asked quietly, squeezing his fingers.
Clasping her hand back, he gave her a sad smile.
"I'm fine. Just thinking about how I wish things could return to normal."
She sighed; worry being replaced by understanding now.
"I know what you mean. The way they look at us is so…maddening. It's still us, our personalities haven't changed, I just wish they would see that and quit acting so fearful. I know they don't truly fear us, but the pedestal they've raised us on is ridiculous. We may have defeated Voldemort, but my concern for N.E.W.T.s next year has not swayed one bit."
Harry couldn't help but chuckle at her words and tone.
"Still the same Hermione," he said. "No wonder I love you so much; you've never changed."
A soft blush spread across her cheeks as she lightly shoved his shoulder.
"Oh honestly," she huffed in mock annoyance before leaning over and kissing his cheek. "And I love you as well, despite that comment."
Harry grinned shyly and pulled her closer to him. It was wonderful having Hermione there with him, loving and supporting him like always. Their friendship had only grown with their new found love, a love that had taken so many years to fully blossom and be recognized. Knowing that he would be having her at his side in this way next year made his heart swell until he was almost giddy. Hermione would be the reason his scars from the War would heal faster. Like always, she would be his salvation.
Their conversation was halted as Dumbledore stood up, the Great Hall becoming silent as the students waited to hear the Headmaster speak.
"Another year has ended," he spoke, his quiet voice reaching every ear. "This has been a year unlike any other. Together, Hogwarts has faced many hardships and difficulties, coming out only stronger and more united in the end. We have faced war, death, and division together, not one of us here backing down or giving in to the evil that stared us in the face. I can hardly express how proud I am of every person here, how grateful and pleased I am with each of you. And no matter how sad some of you may be now, remember that a time of peace has come and that memories shall never be forgotten. I want to bid you all a safe and happy trip home, and I hope that everyone has a wonderful summer. To our seventh years, I am sad to bid you a final farewell, but I know you will make Hogwarts proud and carry your name well in whatever jobs you undertake. To returning students next year, I look forward to seeing you once more for what I am sure will be our best year yet. Enjoy the last of the feast and your night here at Hogwarts."
He took his seat once more, turning to Severus Snape as he reached for his goblet. The students remained silent for several seconds before turning back to their plates as dessert appeared on the tables before them. As the last of the dessert was cleared away a half hour later and students began to make their way back to their Common Rooms, Remus came down from his seat at the high table and approached the Heirs.
"Professor Dumbledore would like to speak with all of you in his office once you are finished," he said, looking at the Heirs and their companions. "He has some matters concerning this summer and next year to discuss."
"Of course, Professor," Ginny said immediately, standing up, her plate already cleaned off.
Remus smiled and left them. Draco stood up as well, wrapping an arm around Ginny's waist as they waited for everyone else. He had been unnaturally quiet during the feast, but Ginny had not questioned why. She knew he was still plagued by thoughts of his father and sister, and she knew him well enough to let matters such as those to lie dormant until he was ready to talk about them. She leaned her head against his shoulder, simply letting him know that she was there. He squeezed her side in response, appreciating the gesture.
Ron watched them, his face a mixture of disgust and amusement. He knew how much Draco loved his sister, but the red-head still couldn't help but feel a bit weird about the relationship between the two. He was shocked when the rest of his family took the news fairly well, everyone seeing the obvious change in Draco and how good he was now. What was more, they all trusted Ginny and her judgment, something he knew his sister cherished deeply. Ron trusted her has well, but after everything Draco had done to him in the past years, he still felt weary. He was slowly warming up to the blonde though, knowing how much Harry and Hermione liked him now. They would never be great friends, but he knew a level of respect lay between them that had never been there before. With a nod to Draco, Ron slung his arm across Luna's shoulders and followed the others out of the Great Hall.
The seven quietly made their way down the corridors of the first floor until they reached the stone gargoyle that guarded the entrance to Dumbledore's office. With a whisper of the phrase "Acid pop" from Hermione, the gargoyle jumped aside to reveal the staircase which they all quickly ascended. When they reached the large door, it swung open of its own accord and they all entered the brightly lit room, which contained several other people. Remus and Tonks were standing off to the right, talking in hushed tones; to the left Professors McGonagall and Snape along with Kingsley Shacklebolt were seated, all seeming to be lost in their own thoughts. What surprised the students the most was seeing Arthur and Molly Weasley sitting in two chairs before Dumbledore's desk.
"Mum! Dad!" Ginny cried, releasing herself from Draco's arms and launching across the room to hug her parents, who had both stood up with bright smiles on their faces.
"Ginny dear!" Molly exclaimed, wrapping her daughter in a hug.
Ron went over to his parents as well, hugging them and blushing furiously as his mother fussed over him before moving on to Harry and Hermione.
Dumbledore sat behind him desk, smiling in amusement and gently stroking Fawkes as he looked up at his seven students.
"Welcome," he said with a smile. "Have a seat, we have much to discuss."
With a wave of his wand, many more plush seats were conjured and the occupants of the room were all made comfortable. Dumbledore removed his hand from Fawkes and regarded them all over his glasses. He noticed that the Heirs and their friends seemed confused and almost nervous. He smiled gently at them in reassurance, hoping to alleviate whatever it was they were feeling.
"I probably have the seven of you wondering why I summoned you here," the wise wizard began, "but I assure you it is not for ill reasons, so you may relax. I know that all of you, especially the Heirs, are feeling a bit uncomfortable here at Hogwarts as of late. Your fellow classmates live in a sort of awe and fear of you because of the way you brought about the destruction of Voldemort. You are feeling a bit unsure, am I right?"
"Yes, sir," Harry responded softly. "Its…annoying really. We haven't changed really. I mean, we have, but nothing about our inner selves is different. I know that all of us wish they would stop treating us as if we're about to explode. Everyone's even looking at Ron, Luna, and Blaise differently; it's maddening."
Dumbledore nodded slowly.
"I see where you are coming from, Harry, and that is why I wished to speak to you about your plans for next year. The seven of you are incredibly powerful now, well beyond the level of what most almost seventh and sixth years should be at. If you were to take your N.E.W.T.s tomorrow, I am sure all of you would pass with flying colors. The rest of the teachers and me though would like to see you all return next year. We understand though that if that is too much trouble and if you would rather not deal with the issues that might come with next year, we will respect your decisions to not return."
Looks of shock came over all of their faces at his words. Even Draco, who would have jumped at the chance to not return to Hogwarts if asked a year earlier, desperately wanted to come back now and complete his schooling. The old school and some of the people within it were warming up to him and he didn't want to say good-bye just yet. The thought made him smile slightly; this year really had changed him for the better.
"Oh no, Professor!" Hermione cried out sharply before covering her hand over her mouth in embarrassment.
Harry quickly took her hand and smiled at her before gazing at Dumbledore.
"I don't know about everyone else here, but it was my entire intention to return next year. I want to finish all my necessary schooling properly and then go on with my life."
"I agree with Potter here," Draco spoke up, startling the adults. "I may not have always enjoyed my time here, but I want to make the best of my final year. I'll return as well."
Ginny flashed him a brilliant smile as Dumbledore's eyes conveyed clear pleasure at the blonde's words. Snape also showed the closest amount of happiness he could muster at the comment; his favorite student would be returning.
After that, it only took a few minutes for the others to quickly speak up and say that they would be returning to Hogwarts in the fall. The seven still seemed a little stunned, not understanding why the adults had so doubted their intentions.
Dumbledore clapped his hands; a bright twinkle could be seen in his blue eyes.
"Splendid news!" he exclaimed. "You have made me very happy, for I would have been saddened to lose some of our best students. Now that that matter has been settled. I have a couple other issues to discuss. Concerning this summer, I ask that all of you keep a little low and as safe as possible. I realize that the Death Eaters have either been destroyed or arrested, but I warn you that there are many followers of Voldemort who were not his Death Eaters and kept more of a low profile. They will be greatly angered that their Lord has been destroyed and will look for any chance to take one of you out. I will have Order members and Aurors watching the seven of you during your time away from Hogwarts. This is not because I do not think any of you weak or defenseless, but as a precautionary. Do you agree to this?"
The seven looked at each other for a moment before Blaise answered.
"Yes, sir, I think that's a great idea. It will help protect our families and friends as well."
"Another reason why I wanted to have the guards stationed," Dumbledore acknowledged. "The Order members and Aurors will be rotated, but I made sure it was only the most trusted wizards and witches along with being ones you seven already know. The people you see standing before you will be a small part of this number when they are not attending to their other duties in the Wizarding world. I will also be keeping an eye on all of you, but in a different way. Once a week I will be sending a letter to each of you informing you of different events taking place. The letters will not be able to be traced in any way I assure you, but I will know whether you receive them or not. I am also going to give you each a medallion to wear around your neck that has different properties to it that I shall explain a little later. Is everything clear so far?"
The students all nodded, allowing Dumbledore to continue.
"Now, on to your living arrangements for this summer, one of the reasons I requested Arthur and Molly to be here. Hermione, I realize that you are without a home now and the Weasley's have so graciously offered their home to you. If you accept, you shall move in with them once you leave Hogwarts."
Tears welled up in Hermione's brown eyes at the kind gesture. Arthur and Molly watched her uncertainly, not knowing how to interpret her express.
"Hermione, you are like a second daughter to us and we love you dearly," Molly said. "We would love to have you stay with us, but if you would rather…"
"I'd love to!" she interrupted, a large smile gracing her features and she rose from her seat and hugged the two. Tears of joy streamed down her face. "Thank you."
"It is our pleasure, Hermione," Arthur said, patting her back gently as she squeezed him tightly to her.
Hermione pulled back and gave them a watery smile before flushing and scampering back to her seat. She flung her arms around Harry's neck, who peered over her shoulder and mouthed a "thank you" to the Weasley parents. He would forever be in their debt for their ultimate show of kindness to his amazing girlfriend. Ginny let out a squeal of happiness at the news; her sister in all but blood would be with her for the whole summer. The young girl glanced at Ron and saw he looked happy as well, his blue eyes gazing at Hermione with a brotherly affection lighting them.
"Well, that is settled. Harry, the Weasley's offered their home to you as well and I want so much to place you in their hands, but at this moment I can not."
Harry face fell as he pulled away from Hermione, who looked just as sad.
"Why, Professor?" he asked quietly.
Dumbledore sighed deeply and clasped his hands together.
"You are not seventeen yet so that blood protection that lays over you when you are at the Dursley's is still in affect. I know," he quickly raised his hand to stop Harry's protests, "that Voldemort is long dead, but you must trust that I know what I am doing, Harry. I just told you of the believers of Voldemort that are still out there. Many of them are just waiting to kill you. You are the one they want dead the most. The blood protection will keep you safe for the time being. Once you are of age, you will be more capable and legally able to protect yourself. I am very sorry to tell you this, Harry. Know that I wanted to remove you from there, but please trust me."
Harry could see the regret in his mentor's eyes and he knew just how sorry he was. Sighing deeply, Harry nodded slowly.
"I understand, Professor. I trust you."
"Thank you, Harry," the Headmaster responded softly.
"Oh, Harry," Hermione said, biting her lip. "I wish I could stay with you there."
Harry glanced over her, opening his mouth to reply when Remus cut in.
"Out of the question. I don't believe that is the answer, especially since you two are in a relationship."
Draco smirked as Harry couldn't help but feel a twinge of annoyance at Remus's words. Dumbledore ended what could have been an argument though.
"Enough, Remus," he said sternly. "Hermione's place has already been settled. I understand your feelings, Miss Granger, but I do not believe it would be proper. Besides, I already have other arrangements for someone to stay with Harry."
Surprise registered over Harry's face.
The Headmaster's gaze flickered to a few seats over and as Harry turned his jaw dropped.
"Draco?" he said in disbelief.
Draco's eyes went wide as he locked onto Dumbledore.
"But…but I have a home!" he said loudly. "My mother…she…" his voice trailed off uncertainly as dawning comprehension fell over him. "She's not there is she?" He finished, looking down.
"I'm sorry, Draco," Dumbledore answered gently. "Your mother has not been seen for weeks now, she simply vanished. I have a team of Aurors looking for her because I believe she is still alive, but they have yet to find her. I can not have you return to your home at this time partly because of that and partly because the followers of Voldemort will know to look for you there. But they will not guess you to be staying with Harry."
Even though Harry and Draco were now friends, Draco couldn't help but feel a little uneasy at spending the summer with the Gryffindor. They weren't the best of mates yet, even though they had a bond, and spending an excessive amount of time with him with no one else around would be interesting.
"Do you think this…wise…Albus?" Snape asked, his lip curling.
"They are Heirs and they are bonded," Dumbledore replied swiftly. "This arrangement will be good for them and I believe it will strengthen ties much better. Harry, is this all right with you?"
Harry shrugged, not looking upset.
"It will be nice not having to deal with the Dursley's by myself. I don't think Draco and I are at the stage of wanting to kill each other any more either."
Harry shot a look over at Draco, raising his eyebrows. The Slytherin couldn't help but chuckle and shake his head.
"Not exactly, Potter. But watch yourself in your sleep."
Harry snorted and laughed, the tension in the room easing as the adults realized that the two were friends now.
"I'll do it, Professor," Draco finally said, "but please find my mother. She's all that I have left now."
Ginny took his hand at his words as Dumbledore nodded in sympathy.
"I will do all I can."
Ron, who still seemed to be processing the fact that Draco and Harry would be spending the summer together in the same house, shook his head ruefully.
"This is going to be one odd summer," he spoke up, noticing that Blaise and Luna were nodding in agreement.
"Ronald!" Molly admonished sharply.
Ron ignored her as Dumbledore waved his hand to calm the older woman down. The truth was, the red-head couldn't help but feel a stab of jealousy that Draco would be staying with his best friend for several months, talking and hanging out with him while he was shoved to the sidelines and wouldn't be there. Sure, he would have Hermione at the Burrow, but that wasn't the same as his best mate. He didn't want to become second fiddle to Draco. Ron had been there, as Harry's friend, since first year, and now he was scared to lose that closeness.
Feeling eyes on him, Ron looked up to see Dumbledore watching him, understanding in his gaze. Feeling ashamed, the red-head looked away and down to the floor, ignoring Luna, who had laid a gentle hand on his shoulder.
Not wanting to bring Ron's predicament to the forefront, Dumbledore moved his eyes away and cleared his throat to gain everyone's attention once more. They all watched as his hand reached into a drawer of his desk before coming back out and holding up a handful of silver chains.
Seven bright silver necklaces were clasped in Dumbledore's hand. From each chain swung a medium sized solid silver circle. On the one side, a colored gem flashed in the light, a different color on each medallion. On the opposite side, a small mirror could be seen. Four tiny little runes were inscribed along the edge of the medallion that held the gem, like compass points.
"These were the medallions I mentioned earlier," the wizard said. "I have assigned one to each of you as is appropriate. They have several different properties so let me explain each of them to you. The four runes each mean something different and will perform differently when you touch them. The one at the top is meant for communication. As you can see, a mirror is on the opposite side. Simply touch the top rune, then the gem, and then speak the name of whoever you wish to contact clearly and they will appear in the mirror. Only you seven and myself have these medallions so those are the only ones you can contact. The bottom rune is meant to turn the medallion into a Portkey. Touch it and then the gem and you will be Portkeyed to the place you are thinking of. The rune to the right is to signal for help. Touch it and then the gem and all other medallions will grow warm and turn red. Your medallion will immediately link to and track to wherever you are located so the others can Portkey over and aide you. For the final rune, the one to the left, this is a blocking devise. If any outside force, besides the ones with a medallion themselves, try to search your mind through Legilimency or through any other source, they will immediately be blocked and you will not be found. The only way to lift this block is to touch the rune and then the gem. It can be reactivated the same way. Is this all clear?"
The students nodded. Hermione had been listening in rapt attention and was very excited about the medallion. There were powerful spells placed upon it and she knew the item would be very useful in the future.
"I also placed a ward detector and an apparition field on the medallions. No matter where you are, even in Hogwarts, you can apparate out if need be. It was a tricky spell that took a lot of work, but I believe it to be necessary. Please do not abuse the privilege though, and do not, under any circumstances, let this fall into the wrong hands. If any of you wish to place a concealing charm on it, you are more then welcome to. I have allowed for that, but besides that charm, do not place much else on it for the spells already placed could be altered or deactivated. Understood?"
There was again a nod from the seven before Dumbledore motioned them forward to receive the medallions. The color of the gem corresponded with the House they were a part of, excluding the Heirs, whose gems were the color of the House they were an Heir to. Harry slipped the chain around his neck immediately, the red gem flashing in the candlelight briefly before he slipped it under his shirt, the cool metal an odd comfort to him.
"I would recommend taking them off minimally," Dumbledore continued once they were reseated. "They are extremely important or else I would not have gone through the trouble to make them. Remember, I have my own so this is my way to stay in contact with all of you."
The old wizard lifted a chain out from under his robes, revealing the silver medallion identical to all of theirs except for the opal stone in the center. Hermione couldn't help but smile at his choice of stone.
Of course opal, she thought. He can not choose just one House to show favor for.
"Now I believe that is all. Do any of you have questions or does anyone wish to say anything further?" Dumbledore asked, looking around the room.
No one said a word so Dumbledore clapped his hands once more, smiling broadly.
"Wonderful! Do not forget my instructions to you and I wish you all a safe and happy summer. I believe it may be a tad more relaxing and enjoyable then previous ones." His blue eyes twinkled in amusement. "I'll send the seven of you off now, you have had a long day and deserve some rest before the train heads off tomorrow. Like I mentioned before, stay low and keep out of trouble, though I believe I can trust all of you. Ah yes, and Harry, I sent a letter to the Dursley's informing them of your guest. They are, shall we say, interested in meeting him."
"More like wondering whether they can put him to work as well," Harry muttered darkly.
Dumbledore hid a smile as Draco suddenly looked slightly worried and Hermione was patting Harry's arm in comfort.
"Off you go now," he said, shooing them out of his office. "Expect my letters and I shall see you all in the fall."
The seven stood up, saying their good-byes to everyone else before finally leaving. As the door swung shut behind Luna, the swell of chatter could be heard from the adults as they started questioning Dumbledore about various things he had just spoken about. Exchanging glances, the group of students slowly descended the spiraling staircase, the gargoyle leaping back into place once they were all back in the corridor.
"Well, that was an interesting meeting," Blaise said, looking at the others.
"I agree," Ginny said, her red hair shimmering in the light as she nodded her head. "I don't understand why they doubted our return though."
"I'm not sure either," Hermione responded thoughtfully, placing a finger on her chin. "I can only guess its because all of that's occurred this past week. What with the memorial service and the fact that everyone is treating us differently."
"That's nothing new for me, I've been dealing with that since first year. I guess they were all just worried in general. A lot has happened and I know I've thought of not returning at times, especially after fifth year. I'm happiest here though and I want to finish up and take N.E.W.T.s. Defeating Voldemort doesn't make me any better then anyone else here, I still have a lot to learn."
"Ah, Potter," Draco said, pretending to wipe a tear away, "so noble."
"Oh, sod off, Malfoy," Harry snapped, though he smiled afterwards. "How I'm going to put up with you for the next coming months is beyond me."
At Harry's words, an odd flicker of jealousy, much like the one Ron had felt earlier, surged through Hermione against her will. With a sharp intake of breath, she stepped away from Harry, trying to desperately calm her emotions so the other Heirs wouldn't feel it through their bond. Both Ron and Ginny saw her look, concern filling them as Ron stepped forward and placed a hand on Hermione's arm.
"Hermione," he said gently, a knowing tone laced into his voice.
The brown haired witch yanked her arm away and backed up slowly. The others watched her in surprise, an unreadable look crossing Harry's features. She didn't dare look at any of them, still trying to squash her feelings that she knew shouldn't be going through her.
"I got to go…pack…and read," she said quickly. "Yes…yes, good-night everyone. See you all on the train."
Before the others could say a word, Hermione kissed Harry on the cheek and then made a dash for Gryffindor Tower. Bewildered, Harry looked over at Ron, who was gazing sharply at him. Crossing his arms across his chest, the red-head arched an eyebrow before jerking his head in the direction Hermione had just disappeared.
"Well, go after her, you daft git," he said.
Harry scowled at his best mate before nodding. Glancing quickly at the others, he bid them all a good-night and ran after his girlfriend. Draco, who was looking completely lost, stared at Ron and Ginny in disbelief.
"What the bloody hell was that all about?"
Ginny sighed and shook her head before wrapping her arms around her boyfriend's waist.
"Hermione's just upset that you'll be spending most of the summer with Harry while she'll be away from him. She'll be okay though; they just need to talk it out."
If it had been earlier in the year, Draco would have smirked and made an endless string of jokes about Hermione and her obsession for Harry. But now, months later and feeling older, Draco only frowned in thought, a twinge of sympathy for the two filling him as he stared blankly down the dark corridor.
Several minutes later, Harry found himself at Gryffindor Tower, breathing hard and choking out the password to the annoyed Fat Lady, who swung forward with a grumble. The Common Room was dark except for the light coming from the newly lit fire. The crackling flames cast dark shadows across the room along with illuminating the scattered pieces of parchment and forgotten books on the couches and tables.
At first Harry thought he was alone in the silent room, thinking that Hermione had fled to the safety of the girl's room until he saw a small figure hunched over on the couch before the fire. Stepping further forward, his eyes took in the sight of his girlfriend.
Her knees were tucked up to her chest and she was resting her chin on them. Her gaze on the fire was unwavering, as if it held the answer to her problem. His heart sank when he saw a few tear marks trailing down her cheeks, her eyes red and puffy from crying. Her hair looked frizzier than usual, obviously from Hermione running her hand through it one too many times. Anyone else would have thought she looked a mess, but to Harry she was beautiful.
"Hey," he said softly, making his way over to the couch and sitting beside her.
Hermione didn't respond, but her eyes flicked over to him, acknowledging his presence. Not another word was spoken between the two, only the snapping of the flames breaking the heavy silence. Finally, Hermione uncurled her legs and scooted closer to Harry, laying her head on his shoulder. Smiling briefly, he wrapped his arm around her waist and hugged her to him.
"I'm being silly, aren't I?" she spoke up, still watching the fire.
"Why would you say that?" Harry answered, still not fully understanding why she was so upset.
"Oh, Harry!" she cried, pulling away from him. "You don't know what I'm on about, do you?"
"Erm…well…" he fumbled, not looking at her. "All I know is that you seemed pretty upset when the arrangement with Draco was made."
Hermione sighed deeply and twisted her hands nervously in her lap, peering up at him through her lashes.
"Oh, I'm being stupid actually. I'm jealous."
Harry started and turned wide eyes to her. Hermione blushed furiously and looked down at her lap.
"Jealous? Of Malfoy?" he said in shock. "What on earth do you have to be jealous of him about?"
She let out a nervous laugh next to him and turned back to the fire.
"Silly, stupid me," she muttered as if she hadn't heard Harry. "Jealous of Malfoy! It's not like he's one of your fan girls ready to steal you away from me."
"Fan…girls?" Harry spluttered, turning red himself.
Hermione waved her hand impatiently.
"Yes, yes, you heard me. Fan girls. You are Harry Potter and one of the defeaters of Voldemort so you're one of the most eligible and fanciable bachelors at Hogwarts now. But that's not my point since I have nothing to worry about concerning Draco in that area, unless there's something he isn't telling us."
She grinned wickedly at this while Harry, who was redder than he had ever been before, shot her an indignant look.
"That's not very nice, 'Mione."
Again she sighed, her face turning serious once more as her chocolate colored eyes locked onto Harry's bright emerald ones.
"I want to be the one with you this summer," she whispered, reaching for his hand and clasping it in her own. "I want to be the one with you those months, fighting off the Dursley's and just being together. But I won't be, Draco will. He's the one spending time with you away from Hogwarts, living with you and seeing you every day. That should be me. I'm your best friend; I'm your girlfriend. I want to be with you. Why won't they let me?"
A few more tears slipped down her face as she bit her lip and threw herself at Harry, practically climbing in his lap. And suddenly Harry understood why she was so upset and jealous. It wasn't that it was Draco; she would have been acting the same way if it was Ron. It was that she wouldn't be by his side, the one place she wanted to remain forever.
"Oh, Hermione," he whispered, rubbing her back soothingly and kissing the top of her head. "Please don't think like that. I would like nothing more than for you to spend the summer with me instead of Draco. We may be friends now, but he doesn't compare to having you with me. I think Ginny would love to have him at the Burrow anyways, but you know we can't, Dumbledore would never allow it. I want you there too, but this is the way it must be. Shh, love. It will be all right."
"I'm sorry," her response muffled because her face was currently buried in his neck. "I shouldn't feel this way, but I couldn't help it. I know none of this is Draco's fault and deep down I'm not really upset with him, but I was just so disappointed. It just didn't seem fair to me. After all we've been through; they don't trust us enough to be able to spend the summer together."
Harry sighed and pulled away from her, running a hand through his hair.
"Hermione, look at me," he said, tilting her head upward until her eyes met his again. "It has nothing to do with whether or not they trust us; I know they do. They're only looking out for us, doing what's best for us. I don't like it any more than you do, but please understand. I promise to contact you every day though, either through a letter or the medallion. You'll never be far from my thoughts and as soon as my birthday comes, Draco and I will make our way to the Burrow. All right, love?"
Hermione sniffed one last time and wiped the remnants of tears off her cheek before giving Harry a shy smile.
"All right," she answered. "I'm sorry; I shouldn't have acted like that. I'm just going to miss you."
"And I'll miss you," Harry responded softly before leaning forward and wrapping his arms back around her.
She easily fell into his embrace, her chin on his shoulder. Her eyes closed, a feeling of bliss running through her just like every other time he held her.
"I love you," she whispered into his ear, tightening her arms around him.
"I know. I love you as well, more than you can ever imagine."
Hermione lifted her head slightly, their lips automatically drawn to each other as she stared into his eyes. The kiss was slow and passionate, filled with their emotions and a show of exactly how much they were going to miss the other. Neither wanted the moment to end, they simply wanted to be wrapped up in each other for eternity.
The need to breathe eventually came though and they slowly pulled apart, faces flushed and breathing ragged. Harry leaned his forehead against Hermione's before giving her another quick kiss on the lips.
"We'll get through this," he said quietly, rubbing her cheek with the back of his hand.
"We always do," she responded, smiling again.
And then they fell silent, curling up on the couch and in each other's arms to enjoy their last night together before returning home. The flames of the fire slowly began to die away, but neither noticed, for they had fallen asleep, finding comfort in the other and not wanting to separate.
A little while later, Ron and Ginny entered the Common Room, having said good night to the others a few minutes earlier. Identical grins graced their faces when they saw the sleeping couple.
"How adorable," Ginny whispered.
"Should we wake them up?" Ron asked, looking at her.
Ginny simply shook her head.
"No, let them be. They'll be away from each other most of the summer, let them have this time together. Besides, they sleep better when they're next to each other. We'll wake them in the morning."
They watched quietly for a few more minutes before Ron spoke again.
"They really are great together, aren't they?"
"Yes, they are," Ginny said. "It's too bad they didn't see it sooner, but we were all in denial about things for a while. At least they have now, that's all that matters."
"When did you get so wise, Gin?" Ron said with amusement in his tone.
She simply shrugged.
"I grew up," she answered softly. "Come on, we should sleep as well. Good night, Ron."
She stretched upwards and gave him a kiss on the cheek before scampering up the girl's staircase. Ron gave his best friends one last look before follow his sister's lead and going up the boy's staircase. Morning was approaching much faster than any of them wanted it to.
The next morning was witness to a flurry of activity and chaos. Harry and Hermione had been violently awoken by the crashing of a series of trunks down the stone stairs, coming most expectedly from Ron, Neville, and Seamus. The couple had fallen to the floor in a tangle of limbs before lifting off of each other, still slightly dazed from sleep. With wide eyes, both had muttered quick good mornings and exchanged kisses before dashing off to their rooms; neither had packed the night before.
Hermione muttered angrily to herself as she burst into her room, startling Lavender, before flicking her wand around the room, causing her personal items to zoom into her open trunk. The witch was never one to put things off and something as important as packing should have been done days before.
As the last of her books fell neatly into place on top of her clothes, Lavender came up and lightly touched Hermione's shoulder.
"Have you taken a shower yet?" she asked quietly.
Hermione turned to her, a wave of sadness overcoming her when she saw the look in Lavender's blue eyes. Parvati's deaths had truly changed the gossipy and carefree girl from before. In her place stood a somber and mature young woman, one who had seen too much and had grown because of it. Hermione's heart went out to her, but she was also proud of Lavender for handling everything so well.
"No," she replied with a shake of her head, "I haven't yet. I slept in as you can tell."
"I know. I saw you in the Common Room with Harry," Lavender said, a very slight note of teasing in her tone. "What do you say I finish putting your things in your trunk and you take a quick shower? I'm almost done packing anyways and it will give you a bit more time."
A grateful smile graced Hermione's face as she gave Lavender a quick hug.
"Thanks, Lav," she said. "I really appreciate that. I don't have much left either, just some more clothes in my drawers and other various items."
Lavender nodded as she pulled her wand out and flicked it around the room. Hermione dashed over to her dresser to retrieve a few shower supplies before locking herself in the bathroom. She only had an hour to do everything before the train would start loading down in Hogsmeade.
Lavender watched the door silently for a few moments before returning back to her task. A wave of guilt fell over her as she realized how many times she had ignored Hermione and not really been a friend to her over their school years. It was sad that it took something as dramatic as Parvati's death to make the blonde finally notice this. Hermione really was a sweet person, a bit obsessed with studying, but a good and caring girl who only wanted the best for others. The young witch made a promise to herself that she would do everything in her power to get to know the Heir better and truly be a friend to her.
With the last of Hermione's packing done, Lavender returned to her own. As the final book was levitated and set down neatly into place, the door to the bathroom opened, emitting a thick cloud of steam. Hermione emerged, fully dressed and looking ready to leave. Both girls snapped their trunks closed and took a last glance around the room.
"Ready to leave?" Hermione asked, tucking her wand in her back pocket as she shooed Crookshanks into his crate.
"Yeah, I need to get away from this place for a while," Lavender responded, staring at the floor.
As tears began to blur her vision, a pair of arms wrapped around her shoulders and hugged her. With this small gesture, Lavender broke down completely and started sobbing on Hermione's shoulder. The Ravenclaw Heir said nothing, simply hugged her tighter and let her cry. She knew Lavender needed this; everyone had been keeping emotions bottled up inside since the Final Battle, emotions that needed to be let loose.
Hermione, because of her Empathic ability, was more susceptible to sensing them and had felt both students and teachers' unvoiced grief as the days had dragged on after the memorial service. Despite being able to block such feelings at will, the immensity of the pain and because she had let some of her defenses down, Hermione had shared the agony with all. Now as Lavender continued to cry, Hermione sent as much comfort to her as was possible.
Several minutes passed like this until Lavender's flow of tears stopped and she was reduced to a few small sniffles. The blonde pulled gently away from Hermione and regarded her with red eyes and a shy smile.
"Thank you, Hermione," Lavender whispered. "I just…I needed to get that out. It's just been so hard since the battle, since Parvati died. We were best friends and it's just so hard to believe that she's gone, really gone. It's hard to believe so many of them are gone."
"But it's over," Hermione answered quietly. "Voldemort is dead and almost all of his followers have been taken care of as well, the most dangerous ones included. Parvati didn't die in vain, none of them died in vain. I'm not saying don't grieve, but you have to remember that none of them would want us to grieve forever. Remember the good times and the good memories. Then in that way, none of them will ever be forgotten."
Lavender's smile turned a little brighter as she hugged Hermione again.
"Thanks," she said softly. "I needed to hear that, even though it was said at the memorial service."
"Any time, Lav. Now why don't we get our things downstairs and meet up with everyone else? Oh, and you're sitting with us on the train."
With those words, the two girls levitated their trunks and sent them soaring out the door before them.
A few hours later, the Hogwarts Express was loaded and ready to leave Hogsmeade. Students pressed their faces to the windows, catching one last glimpse of the castle until their return the next fall. Harry was among them, a slight sadness in his eyes as he realized how much he had missed being at Hogwarts that year. He was just grateful he had one more year to enjoy, one more year before he began adulthood.
With a sigh he sat back in his seat and smiled at Hermione, who had placed a comforting hand on his arm before kissing his cheek. He put his hand over hers as the final whistle blew and the train began to move forward. Professor McGonagall waved them away from the platform, a strange sight to see after so many years of seeing Hagrid in that position. Harry sucked in a sharp breath at the thought and Hermione tightened her grip on his arm, simply knowing exactly what he was feeling.
"Strange, isn't it?" Draco voice filtered over to them from the other side of the compartment.
"What's strange?" Ron asked in confusion, a Chocolate Frog half-way to his mouth.
"Leaving, and knowing that we're coming back after all we've done this year," he replied with a shrug. "It just seems strange is all."
Ron still looked puzzled, but Harry was nodding his head in agreement with Draco.
"I know what you mean," he said quietly.
"This whole year was just plain strange," Ginny piped up, a sadness etched in her brown eyes. "After everything that happened in the Department of Mysteries, I didn't think things could get any more out of the ordinary and I must say I was hoping for a quiet year at Hogwarts. Didn't quite happen though, did it?"
"Nothing in life ever goes as you plan it though," Hermione pointed out wisely.
Draco sighed dramatically.
"Sometimes I wish you weren't always so right, Granger," he answered in mock annoyance.
That comment got a laugh out of everyone and the tension that had been building for the past several weeks gradually drifted away for the few hours they spent on the train. The Four Heirs and their friends conversed and joked around with each other, enjoying their last bit of freedom before reality struck and they would be forced to separate.
True to her word, Hermione had Lavender in the compartment with them, who now looked much more relaxed and kept giggling at the silly banter between Ginny and Draco. No matter how much they loved each other, the young couple could never stop teasing each other. Ron watched them with careful eyes, but even he admitted to himself that the fiery young pair was perfect together.
Harry and Hermione kept fairly quiet, simply cherishing their last bit of time together, wrapped up in each other and their own thoughts. The thought of not seeing each other for just a couple of months was torturous and neither wanted to let go.
But all too soon it seemed the Hogwarts Express began slowing down, finally entering King's Cross. With slow movements and much sighing, the group began putting their things away and grabbing any bags they had brought into the compartment. A screeching whistle and a slight jerk announced the halt of the train and Harry watched as students began filing out into the aisle and heading out of the train onto Platform 9 and ¾.
"Well, I guess we better get out there," Blaise said, voicing what no one wanted to say.
Finding no response to his statement, the Slytherin slid the door open and they all made their way out. Excited shrieks of students finding their parents and loud chattering as good-byes were made reached their ears as they pushed through the crowded platform. Ron raised himself up to his full height and peered over the crowd, looking for his family.
"Oy! Ron! Over here!" a voice shouted from their right.
They all turned to see Fred and George Weasley waving furiously to them, the remaining members of the Weasley clan standing just behind them. As the small group of students approached the family, all noticed that though the Weasley's were smiling, a hint of deep sadness still echoed in their eyes for the sons and brothers they had lost. The wounds would probably never fully heal.
"Hello, dears," Molly said, wrapping Ron and Ginny in a hug before moving on to the others. "How was the train ride?"
"Fine, as always," Harry replied after she pulled away from him. "But how are all of you doing?"
The concern was evident in his eyes and Molly paused, her arms falling to her side before she could warp them around Hermione. A shadow passed over her face before Arthur came up and rested a gentle hand on his wife's shoulder.
"We're good, Harry," he said. "We're dealing with our grief as best as possible. I know Molly and I are just relieved to know that all of you survived. Losing Bill, Percy, and Charlie was a hard blow to our family, but we'll survive and come out stronger in the end." He shrugged his shoulders and gripped Molly tighter to him. "It's the way war works."
"Unfortunately," Hermione responded in a near whisper.
A heavy silence descended on the group before Molly seemed to snap out her reverie and lifted her arms toward Draco.
"Draco, dear, I'm so glad to see you again," she said, pulling him into a hug and kissing his cheek.
The blonde blushed before nodding quickly.
"Same to you, Missus Weasley."
"Molly, dear, call me Molly. Are you holding up all right?"
"Yes," he said, fidgeting under her watchful gaze. "I'm...I'm looking forward to spending the summer with Harry. I…I guess I won't be as lonely that way."
His revealing sentence seemed to take a lot out of him, since Draco was so unused to speaking his feelings. Ginny realized this and took his hand in her own, squeezing it gently. He smiled down at her, causing Molly to smile at the young couple.
"I'm glad for that, Draco," Molly said. "And I'm glad Ginny has you. I never mentioned that before because I doubted you, but not any more. I see how much you love her and I'm thankful my little girl has found such a wonderful man to be with."
Ginny and Draco were both bright red by now as the others tried to hide their smiles.
"Thanks, Mum," Ginny said softly.
Molly hugged the two again before releasing them and letting her eyes wander over the group.
"Is everyone here? Are you all ready to return home?"
"Ahh…home sweet home," George said, nudging his brother. "Ready to get back to that room of ours, Fred. I think we have a few more items to test."
"That we do, dear brother, that we do," Fred replied. "Come on, ladies and gents. Off to the Muggle world we go."
Linking arms, the twins led the way to the wall that would take them back to the area between Platforms 9 and 10. Both had agreed to move back into the Burrow to help in relieving the grief of their parents. All three of the oldest sons were now dead and the twins wanted to be there for their parents as much as possible. Moving back into the Burrow wasn't a horrible decision and Molly and Arthur, though never saying it in words, appreciated the twins concern and decision very much.
As everyone else begin to disappear through the wall and reappear back into the Muggle world, Harry suddenly halted, the other three Heirs coming to a stop beside him. Hermione looked over at her boyfriend in concern, lightly touching his hand with her own.
"Harry?" she questioned. "Are you all right?"
"Yeah," he answered back in a soft voice. "It's just…after everything that's happened…its weird going back to the Dursley's. I…I just get the feeling something interesting is going to take place this summer."
Draco let out an abrupt laugh.
"Yeah, you're taking me home with you. That's what's weird."
Ginny smacked him on his arm for ruining the serious moment, but Harry didn't look offended by the comment. He started laughing as well and just shook his head as if to shake something from his mind.
"That's it! My worst enemy at school up until this year is coming to live with me. If someone would have told me that at this time last year I would have laughed in their face."
Draco tried to look hurt, but failed miserably.
"You wound me, Potter. To know I meant so little to you is a true stab to my heart."
Ginny rolled her eyes in exasperation.
"Now really," she said, tapping her foot and trying to look serious, "are we finished?"
"Yes, dear," Draco said with a small smirk before giving the red-head a kiss on the cheek. "I'm anxious to meet these relatives of yours, Harry."
"Don't get your hopes up," Hermione muttered darkly, taking Harry's hand in her own and moving forward once more.
The four quickly stepped through the barrier together, squinting against the bright sunlight filtering into the station. A bustling mass of people surged into their path before the way was made clear and the rest of the Weasley's could be seen several feet away. Standing at a good distance away from the large family and eyeing them suspiciously were the Dursley's, looking as if they wanted to leave the station as quickly as possible. Dudley was nervously dancing on his feet, his hands twitching and his eyes locked onto the twins, who were sharing identical smirks and making odd faces at the large boy.
As soon as Vernon Dursley caught sight of Harry, he made a quick motion with his head, the look in his eyes clearly conveying that the dark haired wizard was to make hasty good-byes so they could go. Harry gave him a sharp nod before heading over to the Weasley's, moving slightly closer to Hermione to enjoy his last few minutes with her.
Draco followed Harry's line of vision before grimacing and making his way after the other couple. He glanced over at Ginny, catching her eye and bending a little closer to her.
"I can tell I'm going to be in for a wonderful summer holiday."
Ginny sighed deeply.
"I'm sure you and Harry will handle yourselves just fine. There are two of you taking them on now; they won't be as keen to make a scene with two wizards present in their home."
He fell silent, watching as Molly gave Harry a fierce hug good-bye before the Gryffindor Heir received a handshake and hug from Arthur. Draco then found himself engulfed in a bear hug by Molly, effectively blocking his view of Harry and Hermione moving off to the side to say their good-byes.
"I'll keep in touch. Hedwig will be sick of sending my letters by the time summer wraps up," Harry said quietly.
"Yeah, and we'll see each other before then. As soon as your birthday arrives, we're bringing both of you to the Burrow." Hermione looked down, refusing to meet his intense green eyes.
"Hey, look at me," he whispered, lifting her chin up with his finger. "It'll be okay. We've been apart before."
"I know," she whispered back, eyes shining with unshed tears. "But I'm going to miss you all the same."
Then he leaned down and kissed her deeply, a mixture of longing and sadness being held within their kiss. It was to be their last kiss until the next couple months passed by and they wanted it to be a memorable one. They finally pulled apart; breathing hard and staring into each other's eyes before Harry again leaned forward and put a gentle kiss on her forehead. Hermione closed her eyes and hugged him to her, willing herself not to cry because she knew she was stronger than that.
"I love you," she said quietly in his ear.
"And I love you," he said back before breaking away from her hug and stepping back, forcing himself not to kiss her again or else he would never be able to walk away.
They laced their fingers loosely together and returned to the group. Ginny and Draco were saying their own good-byes, no tears being shed by them either, but a lingering that meant they hated saying good-bye as much as Harry and Hermione.
Ginny wrapped her arms around Draco's neck and pulled him down a bit.
"I'm going to miss you," she said.
"It won't be for long though, remember that," he said, trying to reassure her though he felt the same exact way.
"Love you," she replied as she leaned back and tilted her head up to kiss him.
He gladly returned the kiss and gripped her to him, loving the way she felt against him and hating to relinquish his hold. But walking away was necessary and he broke away from her, whispering the same words to her before stepping back and going to Harry's side.
"Ready, Potter?" the blonde asked, nudging the other boy's shoulder with his own and indicating toward the Dursley's, who were beginning to look very impatient.
Harry sighed and rubbed the bridge of his nose in irritation.
"No," he responded, "but that doesn't matter. Let's go."
He gave Hermione one last kiss on the cheek and squeezed her hand before letting go. He and Draco turned to leave as the Weasley's ushered Hermione and the others in the opposite direction. Their steps were slow and forced, none of the Heirs wanting to end the year just yet but knowing how inevitable it was.
Harry and Draco reached the Dursley's, who all eyed the Slytherin warily before Vernon turned his beady eyes to Harry.
"Are you finally ready, boy?" he snapped, his pudgy hands clenching into fists.
With one last wistful glance over his shoulder, Harry's eyes locked onto Hermione's, who smiled at him, nothing but love for him coming from her gaze. He visibly relaxed and smiled back, grateful for her affection and knowing now that everything would be all right.
"Yeah," he said, turning back around. "I think I am."
And as I promised, here is the summary of the sequel to this story:
The Heirs of Hogwarts: The Sphere of Life
After an incredibly chaotic previous year, the Four Heirs return to Hogwarts, three of them entering their seventh and final year, while the last of them becomes a sixth year. With the events of before still on their minds, the Heirs are looking forward to a more relaxing year, filled with N.E.W.T.s, unlikely friendships, and no Dark Lord tracking their every move. Unfortunately though, life is never easy for the Heirs of Hogwarts. A startling article in the Daily Prophet sets in motion a series of events which leads the Heirs to discover information about a mysterious and powerful object that has been missing for centuries: the Sphere of Life. The Sphere brings eternal and everlasting life to whomever holds it, forever binding one's soul in its walls and making them immortal. When loyal followers of the vanquished Dark Lord and his cause begin a ruthless search for the Sphere, the Heirs are called upon once more to save the Wizarding world. Their mission is to destroy the Sphere of Life, and the rising of another Dark Lord.