Chapter Thirty One

The Promise

Cursed since your birth dear
And your worst fears have all come true
Baby you're not the first here on earth clear
Cause I'm still here and I'm cursed too
Cursed like you

Harry and Dumbledore were walking down a hill, mist swirling about them as he clasped his cloak tighter to him to ward of the chill. It was late into the night and he had just had the oddest encounter he'd experienced for a long while. Harry was still trying to marshal his thoughts when Dumbledore spoke.

"Well done Harry," he said.

"I didn't do anything," said Harry in surprise.

"Oh yes you did. You showed Horace exactly how much he stands to gain by returning to Hogwarts. Do you like him?"

"Er…"

Harry thought back to the larger than life character they'd left behind in the old ladies home. He wasn't sure whether he had liked Horace Slughorn or not. He supposed he had been pleasant in his way, but he had also seemed vain, and whatever he said to contrary, much too surprised that a muggle born should make a good witch. He remembered the mans reaction to what Harry had told hr about Hermione with a slight frown.

"Horace," said Dumbledore, relieving Harry of the responsibility to say any of this, "likes his comfort. He also likes the company of the famous, the successful and the powerful. He enjoys the feeling that he influences these people. He has never wanted to occupy the throne himself; he prefers the back seat - more room to spread out, you see."

Harry had a sudden and vivid mental image of a great swollen spider spinning a web around him, twitching a thread here and there to bring large and juicy flies a little closer.

"I tell you all this," Dumbledore continued, "not to turn you against Horace - or as we must now call him, Professor Slughorn - but to put you on your guard. He will undoubtedly try and collect you, Harry.f You would be the jewel of his collection, the Boy Who Lived…or, as they call you these days, the Chosen One."

At these words, a chill that had nothing to do with the surrounding mist stole over Harry. He was reminded of words he had heard months ago, words that had a horrible and particular meaning to him:

Neither can live while the other survives.

Dumbledore had stopped walking, level with a church they had passed on the trip towards Horace Slughorn's hideaway

"This will do, Harry. If you will grasp my arm."

Braced this time, Harry was ready for the sudden suffocating feeling of apparation, but still found it unpleasant. When the pressure disappeared and he found himself able to breathe again, he found himself standing in the overgrown park flanking the front of 12 Grimmauld Place.

"Before we enter Harry, I must tell you that it is my wish that you take private lessons with me this year."

"Private - with you?" said Harry, surprised at the sudden introduction of the topic.

"Yes, I think it's time I took a greater hand in your education."

"What will you be teaching me, Sir?"

"Oh a little of this, a little of that," said Dumbledore airily.

Harry waited hopefully, but Dumbledore did not elaborate.

"Sir," said Harry tentatively, "does what you're going to teach me have anything to do with the prophecy? Will it help me … survive?"

"It has a very great deal to do with the prophecy," said Dumbledore, as casually as if Harry had asked him about the next day's weather, "and I certainly hope that it will help you to survive."

"Right…" he said, letting out the unsteady breath he hadn't been aware of holding.

His eyes drifted back to Grimmauld Place and he asked something else that had been creeping about in his mind since setting eyes on the house.

"Sir, is everything going to be alright, for Kitty?"

"Tonks has been working very hard in securing her protection," Dumbledore said gently, pushing the creaking gate to the park open and leading Harry to the front door, "she will have the best protection we can afford her, and if I may say so, she has an uncanny knack for survival herself. You're quite well suited in that way."

Harry blushed slightly and looked away as Dumbledore rapped on the door.

It was Bill who opened the door, ushering them both in quickly and shutting the door tightly. He muttered something to Dumbledore, who turned to Harry with a paternal smile.

"No rest for the wicked," he said, motioning to the kitchen where Harry guessed a meeting was forming.

Harry glanced at the ugly grandfather clock propped in an alcove - it was nearly 11.30 already, late meeting indeed. He wondered whether Kitty was in bed yet, before scoffing at his own thought - Kitty have an early night?

"Well, see you at Hogwarts, sir," said Harry.

"Yes. Thank you Harry," he said, momentarily resting a hand on his shoulder before sweeping down the corridor.

Harry climbed the stairs quickly and knocked on the door to the girls room. Hermione's voice called for him to enter and he stuck his head around the door.

"Harry!" she said in relief, "I'm so glad you're back safe - where did you go?"

"Dumbledore had me helping recruit the new Defence teacher," he explained, causing her eyes to light up in interest.

Harry swept his gaze across the room as she questioned him. Both her and Ginny were already in pyjamas and in their beds, obviously they'd been chatting over the candlelight. Oddly, Kitty's camp bed lay empty and undisturbed. When he thought he'd been polite long enough he motioned to the camp bed.

"Seen Kitty?"

"Haven't seen her for a while," shrugged Hermione, "she was with Tonks in the library earlier."

"Oh right," he said frowning, already turning to leave "night guys."

"Night Harry," called Hermione and Ginny in unison.

Harry climbed to the next floor. The library must have been exterminated since he'd last visited because it had always been out of bounds before. He remembered Sirius nursing a particularly bad book bite and scowling as he recounted the literary ambush. When he reached the door he found it slightly ajar, firelight flickering through the cracks. He pushed it open and poked his head in.

He felt his spirits sink slightly as he saw Kitty wasn't in there, the only occupant was Tonks, who was sat on a sofa, head turned away from him as she flicked restlessly through a book.

"Hey Tonks," he said, voice sounding loud in the quiet room, "seen Kitty?"

She jumped when he spoke and looked around, brown hair swishing across her face.

"Yeah," she laughed.

"Where?" he asked impatiently, distracted slightly by a large ugly statue of a haughty wizards propped up against the wall scowling at him and muttering.

Tonks climbed to her feet and turned to Harry, spreading her arms wide, "Here."

"Wh-" he began before his voice died in his throat.

It wasn't Tonks after all, the voice should have given it away. He merely stared at Kitty for a moment, who raised a self conscious hand to her shorter, sleeker hair.

"Well," she asked nervously when he didn't speak, giving a twirl to show off her new clothes, "what do you think?"

Harry shook his head slightly and walked over to her as she gave another spin, new hair flicking across her face as she came to a halt. He felt an irresistible urge to run his fingers through the shiny hair and found moments later that his hand was already doing it.

"Wow," he said stupidly, "you look…"

"Different?" she asked worriedly, bright blue eyes pleading.

He was momentarily distracted by them - had they always been that blue or had she changed that too? Then he realised she didn't have those dark black rings painted around her eyes. It made her look younger and, he thought with a silent snigger, more innocent.

"You don't like it," she stated, pouting and making her sudden youthful look even more obvious.

"I…I love it," he said, shaking his head and returning to the here and now, "I'm just surprised, you look so different."

"Weird huh?" she laughed, looking relieved at his words, "I'm still trying to get used to it."

He agreed, stepping closer and studying her intently in the firelight. He ran his fingers through her hair again - on closer inspection it was brown with flecks of red and gold, Gryffindor colours. He grinned to himself, before noticing the piercings had gone and ran a thumb across the spots they'd vacated. It was odd, it was definitely Kitty staring back at him, but not at the same time.

"You look…so different," he murmured, hands sliding to her neck and tilting her face up to his.

"Still me though," she promised.

He grinned slightly, before leaning down and sharing a long slow kiss. He couldn't help running his fingers through her hair at the same time and she grinned into the kiss, moulding her body against his.

"Yep, definitely still the same you," he agreed as they broke apart briefly.

She merely laughed and leaned forward, catching his lips with another kiss. He held onto her tightly, relishing the closeness they both knew would soon be denied them. After what seemed like hours Harry gave her a little push so they were stumbling backwards towards the sofa, laughing and whispering to each other. As the back of her legs hit the edge of the sofa, both he and Kitty fell back onto it.

"Why Mr Potter," she breathed jokingly, looking up at him, blue eyes glittering, "is this entirely appropriate?"

"Not at all," he grinned, straddled over her as he looked down at her, heart hammering pleasantly.

"Just so we know where we stand," she laughed, leaning up to catch his kiss and pulling him down on top of her.

Harry's mind went strangely blank of all thought, focussed on nothing but Kitty, right there and then. He felt her hands trailing across his back and his own pressed against her warm body.

"Hem hem."

The alien voice startled both of them, not least Harry because a sudden toad face flashed across his mind and with a yelp he tumbled off Kitty and onto the floor. Scrambling to his feet he looked over to the door to see Ron, shadowing the doorway awkwardly.

"Ron!? What the hell was that for?" gasped Harry, cheeks flaming as he caught sight of Kitty hastily tidying her shirt and new hair.

"Mum's on the way up," Ron told him urgently.

No sooner had he said this than Mrs Weasley appeared behind Ron, eyes narrowed in motherly suspicion.

"Time for bed, all of you," she snapped, holding the door open for them, "off you go Cathy."

Kitty, who had sat up and given the appearance of nothing untoward happening in record time, climbed to her feet and smiled her goodbye's to everyone. Harry felt her fingers brush his as she walked past him.

"On you go Ron," Mrs Weasley flapped and Harry felt his stomach drop - he was trapped alone with her now.

"Is the meeting over already Mrs Weasley?" Harry asked in an attempt to appear normal.

"Yes it is Harry," she said, nostrils flaring for a moment as she seemed to consider her options, "don't let me catch you sneaking off again."

"I wasn't," he replied instantly, "I was…looking for a book."

Mrs Weasley merely raised a suggestive eyebrow.

"Sorry Mrs Weasley," he said quietly, studying his shoes intently.

"I'd have expected better of you Harry," she said firmly, holding the door open, "off to bed with you now."

"G'night," he mumbled, hurrying out of the library, cheeks still aflame.

It was worth it though, said a rebellious voice in his head.

Definitely.


Kitty was crouched in front of a rain soaked grave stone, fingers tearing into the dirt in front of it as she dug a small hollow. Into it she was stuffing clumps of hair and other various items which clinked metallically. The more she put in, the lighter she became until she was floating high above the graveyard.

Just then Tonks' voice suddenly issued from her wrist, begging her to come down, pleading for help. Suddenly she was falling, landing with a sickening crunch back on the floor of the graveyard.

But this time the shapes were indistinct and blurred at edges, now the scene in front of her was in glorious Technicolor and surround sound. A certainty entered her mind that before she was dreaming and now she was somewhere else, somewhere more…real.

She looked up to see cracked headstones all around and only had a moment to take in the names before rough hands grabbed her from behind and she was dragged kicking and screaming into the nearby church. In an odd flicker suddenly she was lying on the floor on the church, man straddled across her stomach.

She couldn't see his face, it was hidden by the now familiar mask, but he was gripping her wrists roughly and she could smell his stale breath on her face. She was yelling and shouting, but couldn't make out the words, only feel the very real, familiar, terror in her heart. Suddenly, the scene switched again and she was back outside in the graveyard, crouched down in the wet grass.

There was a hoarse yell ahead of her and she turned to see Harry being thrown through the air, as if my magic, watched by the tall, skeletal Tom Riddle. Again the screams from herself seemed lost in air, only the sound of Harry crying out and the cold laughter of the surrounding spectators filling her mind.

Again and again Harry fell until he lay still, breath rattling in his throat as she looked into his bloodied eyes, screaming for him to get up. The image shifted again and her head reeled as she relived what seemed like a random chain of events; fighting against a cloaked man in the grass, dodging graves as she ran to the church, explosions of light all around her. Building dread gathered in her stomach as she reached the church and saw the vicar, waking brain catching up with the slumbering subconscious.

Not the vicar.

She tried to shout her warning, the same she'd shouted all those weeks ago. But again he didn't reply, and again the cloaked figures surrounded him. She was fighting against the nightmare now, trying to will herself to wake up before-

There was a flash of green light and a dull thump ahead of her.

She looked up to see the dead mans eyes staring at her accusingly.

But it wasn't the vicar this time, it was Harry.

Kitty screamed.

She lashed out, struggling wildly against whatever was binding her arms to her sides, screaming and yelling for help.

"Cathy!" cried a voice.

"Get off me! GET OFF ME!" Kitty screamed even louder, wrenching at her bindings, before toppling off something suddenly and hitting a wooden floor.

"Cathy, it's me! Hermione!" the voice said urgently, "You're just having a nightmare - you're ok now!"

Something of the authoritative voice must have worked on her because Kitty lessened her thrashing, pulling at her quilt covers now and trying to scramble to her feet. She was taking deep, shuddering breaths, trying to steady her nerves and rid her vision of those dead, green eyes.

"Cathy? You ok?" asked Hermione in a calming voice, "Should I get someone?"

"N - no" Kitty stammered, clambering to her feet unsteadily, "I'm fine."

"Are you sure?" asked Ginny, looking pale-faced in the candlelight that had magically appeared.

"I'm fine…" Kitty told them, already gathering her old jumper and pulling it on.

The worn fluffy inside instantly began to work against the violent goosebumps that had arisen. All she wanted to do now was get away from the girls, go somewhere to think, make sure Harry was ok.

"Just need water…" she told them, staggering towards the door and out into the corridor.

Grimmauld Place at night was a million times spookier than it was during the day and Kitty crept down the stairs quietly, trying to ignore the odd shrunken heads that adorned the walls. She was still shaking from her nightmares and tried to pull her hooded top around her tighter to ward off the chill.

It was so dark she was re-tracing her steps to the bathroom almost from memory. She finally found it, creeping in and leaning heavily against the sink for a moment. She looked into her reflection - she looked pale and sickly in the greenish glow that came from another of those magically lighting candles.

After a moment she turned the tap on with a shaking hand and bent down to drink greedily from the cool dribble of water, turning the nightmare over again in her mind. It was more reliving a memory, she told herself, it was the night in the graveyard again, the same set of events she dreamed most nights.

But she'd never seen Harry dead before.

"You're just worried," she whispered at her reflection, trying to believe herself, "that's all…Harry's fine…he's going to be fine."

She stared at herself for a long moment, aware of the lack of conviction in her voice. Tears began to gather in her eyes and after a moment of trying to fight against them, she let them come. She screwed her eyes up, gripping tightly to the edge of the sink as the salty tears splashed down onto chipped porcelain.

"We're going to b-be fine…" she sobbed to herself, furiously scrubbing her face with the cuff of her jumper.

Just fine.


Harry wasn't sleeping well. He kept waking up from scrambled dreams, tossing and turning to get comfy again before slipping back into unconsciousness. One such time of trying to find a comfy spot on the ancient mattress he heard the door to his and Ron's room creek open quietly.

He reached for his wand unconsciously, propping himself up on is elbow to survey the dark shape in the doorway.

"You awake Harry?" the whispered was so low he hardly heard it.

"Hermione?" he asked in an equally low voice, "What's wrong?"

"Cathy had a nightmare and she's been gone for ages and I – well, I thought she might be with you…"

Harry quickly and silently crawled out of bed and crept over to the door, sliding through and closing it with a click. Hermione was bundled up in a red dressing gown, bushy hair dishevelled with sleep and an anxious expression plastered across her face.

"She had a nightmare?" he demanded quietly.

"Yeah, she woke up screaming and shouting about half an hour ago," she told him, "she went to get a glass of water but hasn't come back."

"Right," Harry said, looking down the dark corridors, "I'll go find her."

"But-"

"Thanks for telling me Hermione, she'll be back in a bit," he promised, already making his way back into the bedroom and feeling around for his own dressing gown.

He heard Hermione give a sigh and wander back, presumably, to her own room.

He dislodged the bag of items he'd bought from Diagon Alley that day and heard a dull thud of something falling out of the bag onto the wooden floor. Bending down and feeling around in the dark, his fingers closed around a small box. He gave a smile of recognition at his most recent purchase and slipped it into his pocket.

Moving back into the hall and closing the door with a click, he lit his wand and decided to start at the top and work his way down, knowing Kitty she'd gone somewhere to gather herself and think. He was about to climb the stairs to the next level up when he remembered finding her in the library earlier. He had thought it was an odd choice of hideaway for her but then remembered the big fire and comfy sofas - and solitude.

He stepped back off the step and wandered down to the end of the long, twisting corridor. Sure enough, a chink of reddish light marked the doorway to the library. Lowering his wand and pushing the door open slowly, he entered the library, looking around for her. At first glance the room seemed to be empty, but as he rounded the sofa he found her stretched out on the sofa, hugging a pillow to her chest.

Her eyes were rimmed red.

Harry sat down on the sofa and looked down at her wordlessly, reached out and tucking her new fringe behind her ear. After a long minute of silence, Kitty gave a sniff.

"I keep dreaming about the graveyard," she told him, eyes never straying from the dancing flames of the fire.

Harry nodded heavily.

"Me too."

"Its ok, usually, I just accept that it happened, you know?" she said, voice sounding gravelly.

"What was different this time?" he said, impressed at her apparently practical view of the situation.

She gave a heavy sigh and turned slightly to look up at him, "You died this time."

Harry tried to stop the hitch of breath and repeated the motion with her hair.

"I'm fine," he told her, "it was just a nightmare."

"This time you were just fine!" she said in a thick voice, "But what about next time?"

"I'll be fine," he repeated, hoping he sounded more convincing than he felt.

Kitty didn't say anything, instead she looked away quickly, back to the fire and with a sigh Harry watched her shaking shoulders. Wordlessly he gathered her into a hug and she clung onto him tightly, burying her head into his shoulder.

"We're going to make it, you know," he told her quietly.

"How do you know?" she cried, voice thick with tears.

Harry was silent for a moment.

"Because Dumbledore said so," he replied finally, wondering if Kitty could understand this.

She didn't reply, and stared into the dancing flames for so long that Harry thought perhaps she had forgotten him entirely. Silent tears were still sliding down her cheeks and Harry had a sudden memory of a time before all this began, back when she'd been so strong that the first time he'd seen her cry he'd thought she was laughing. Once again the thought that he'd broken her returned – what had happened to that strong, fierce Kitty?

"Do you really believe Dumbledore though?" she asked with some difficulty, as if merely saying it would jinx them.

Harry frowned and in a sudden moment took hold of her shoulder and rolled her back so she lay flat on the sofa. He stared at her, trying to decide what to say. She'd given him a look of surprise but didn't say a word and merely waited.

"Maybe not," he said finally, "but if I die then at least it'll be for something I believe in."

The short tone of his voice must have stirred something because in a sudden movement of her own she pushed herself up onto her elbows. She regarded him with reddened eyes.

"And you're ok with that?" she demanded harshly, "dying?"

"Of course not!" he scoffed, "I'm terrified. But I'd rather die on my feet than live my life on my knees."

Again, her stare went on for far too long. Harry wondered for a moment whether she'd developed some kind of psychic powers - she seemed to be trying to read his mind through the intensity of the stares. He thought that if ever she could do magic, she'd be a fantastic legillimens.

"I know you would," she said finally, "That's one of the things I love about you Harry. But please don't do anything stupid. Don't leave me. Don't forget that you're got an incredibly selfish girlfriend waiting for you to come back."

"You're not selfish," he said, stomach growing cold at her heartfelt plea.

"Of course I am," she told him with a watery smile, "I'd give anything for us to be in Cornwall now, in our tent, surfing and having barbeques – like we planned. I hate having to share you with anyone. I don't care about anyone or anything but you."

Harry gave her a lopsided grin. He'd never convince her he was going to make it; he couldn't even convince himself. But he knew that if, somehow, they made it out of the war, she'd be there waiting.

He picked up her hands, threading his fingers in with hers.

"Do you know, before I met you I used to think, deep down in my heart, that it wouldn't be so bad to die. I thought, it'd be like going home, and I'd see my mum and dad, see Sirius…"

Kitty breath hitched slightly and her eyes widened in alarm.

"But then," he insisted, shuffling towards her, "I happened to catch the same bus as this amazingly strong, funny and beautiful girl-"

"-Harry-" she interjected, blushing.

"-Amazingly strong, funny and beautiful girl," he continued regardless, "and I fell in love with her. And I just knew I'd spend the rest of my life with, no matter how long or short that was going to be."

"And now, do you know what? I'm terrified of dying…because then I wouldn't get to do all those things with you that I'd planned."

"What like?" she asked breathlessly.

"Normal things, like Cornwall," he laughed, "like finding a place for us to live…like never having to be apart…like waking up together every morning…"

She laughed and bashfully lowered her gaze for a moment, cheeks tinged with pink. The sight of an embarrassed Kitty was so novel that he couldn't help but laugh happily.

"I'll make it Kitty – we'll make it."

"There will be a future," she whispered, almost to herself.

"What's that?"

"It's what I kept telling myself that night in the graveyard. I was dragging you through that wood thinking there would be a future. I kept telling myself we had a future, that this couldn't be it, a horrible end to a shitty life. That I'd have a future with you, that we'd see the sun rising the next day, that we'd be safe."

"And we will be," Harry told her seriously, face pale at her words, "there will be a future."

He leant down and planted a kiss on her lips, fingers already weaving into her unfamiliar, straightened hair. The kiss had a bittersweet quality, tinged with salty tears but full of the promise of many more years to come. When they broke apart, Kitty merely leaned her forehead against his and there they sat, for how long he didn't know.

And in the briefest of moments, he made a massive decision, a life changing one. His heart was hammering against his ribs as he watched her.

"I've got something to ask you," he said in a low voice.

She pulled her eyes open and gazed into his, only centimetres away, bright green against vivid blue.

"What?" she asked.

"Well actually I've got something I want to give you…to prove that I'm serious when I tell you there will be a future."

"What?" she repeated, puzzled frown crossing her features.

Harry pulled away from her and plunged his hand into his dressing gown pocket. In one sudden motion he pulled a small box out and moved off the sofa, sinking to his knees in front of her.

"Harry, what-"

"Kitty. You know that I can't make you any promises, but if it were up to me, you know I'd promise to be with you forever, until we were old and wrinkly-"

"Harry…"

"Don't interrupt!" he laughed, as she gaped between him and the box in his hands in front of her.

"But what I can promise you is that I will love you forever. And I can promise that I want to be with you for the rest of my life, no matter how long or short that's going to be. So…will you marry me?"

Kitty seemed absolutely lost for words and all Harry could do was hold open the box and stare at her, holding his breath with what seemed the entire world as he waited for her answer. He knew that this moment was the most important in his whole life, he could hardly think straight.

"Kitty…" he prompted in a whisper when she hadn't replied.

She hadn't taken her eyes off the box since he'd produced it and Harry found that as ever her expression was unreadable. What it shock, fear, happiness? As she raised her eyes to his the horrible unthinkable thought struck him, that she'd say no, that his request was completely ludicrous.

"Kitty – I know it's not much of an offer," the words came tumbling out of his mouth before he knew what he was saying, "but I love you, more than anything and-"

"Yes."

He almost didn't hear her, lost in his own maddened world of fear and anxiety as he tried to convince her. But something must have registered because suddenly the world was holding its breath again and everything was silent.

"What?" he asked, daring not to believe.

"I'd said yes!" she exclaimed suddenly, dropping down off the sofa onto her knees in front of him, "more than anything in the world! Yes!"

The world sighed and Harry thought suddenly he'd burst with happiness. Vaguely aware they were both laughing wildly he pulled the small, gold band out of box and took the hand Kitty offered. It slipped down and nestled against her white skin, gleaming in the firelight. She stared at it a moment before throwing her arms around his neck and embracing him tightly.

"Did you ever think I'd say no?" she demanded ecstatically.

Harry didn't answer, he thought the relief coursing through his veins prevented any coherent speech at all. He was saved the trouble of having to reply however when she pulled out of the embrace and leant forward and kissed him.

He lost himself in it, feeling somehow that now everything would be ok; suddenly the war, his destiny, their future didn't seem that big or scary. Because he knew she'd always be there for him. He deepened the kiss and she ran her hands down his back and under his shirt, pulling him closer.

Her body moulded against his as he ran his fingers through her hair, kissing her more and more intensely until he began to feel light headed and she broke away with a gasp. Her eyes were oddly unfocussed and her cheeks were flushed and red. The image of her sitting there breathless was one he knew he'd recall forever more when he thought about her.

Silently she pulled him back to her and kissed him once more.

"I love you Harry," she murmured into his lips desperately.

As one, they pulled each other back onto the sofa and Harry found himself straddling over her, her new brown and gold hair fanned out across the cushion, seemingly dancing in the firelight.

"I love you too."

The voice hardly sounded like his and he realised as he bent don't to kiss her once more, he'd never believed in anything more deeply than that in his whole life.


The pale white light of dawn approaching was already highlighting the dust motes in the air in the library as Harry awoke groggily. At first he was unaware of what had caused him to awake but then he heard the birds beginning to sing and he gave a shiver of cold.

He peeled his eyes open and found his vision was completely blocked by Kitty's sleeping face. She was stretched out alongside the length of him, her legs entwined with his. He watched her sleep for some time, taking in every detail of her face, from the faint scar of unknown origin he noticed on her forehead, to the faint curve of her lips into a curious grin.

He was finding it difficult to believe that he had asked her to marry him, at only 16 years old, and not only that but she had yes and here they were. The future Mr and Mrs Potter. He guessed the reason he hadn't thought about it, and had bought the ring on a whim and proposed unexpectedly, was that it didn't seem odd. It seemed like the perfect thing to do, the only thing he could do.

He wondered if his dad had been so certain when he proposed to his mother and quickly decided he must have been. The thought made him happy and made his desire to see his father and speak to him return all the more stronger. But now he felt like for the first time, that his parents could wait, he had a whole, long life to live first.

With Kitty.

Unconsciously, he reached out and brushed her new fringe out of her face, trailing his fingers down her face, determined to remember not only what she looked like, but how she felt too. Her eyes moved slightly beneath her lids and after a moment she gave a slight murmur and moved her cheek into Harry's hand.

Sleeping eyes opened and focussed upon Harry's.

"Morning," he said quietly.

Harry watched as she recognised him and gave a long smile, pecking him on the lips before settling back down.

"Sleep well?" she murmured teasingly.

He gave a grin, slipping his arm around her bare waist in answer. She gave him a cheeky grin and after a moment, reached around and took hold of the offending arm, twining her fingers in with his. The small gold ring shone out and she studied it for some time.

"When d'you get it?" she asked him.

"Yesterday. I saw it in the window as we walked past and convinced Ron he needed to go in and buy Hermione some nice jewellery for her birthday."

Kitty smiled almost dreamily to herself and studied it intently, turning her hand this way and that as if admiring it from all angles. It was a plain gold band with no stone or engravings, but somehow it had spoken out to Harry when he'd caught sight of it. Before that moment the idea of marriage was a million miles away from him.

"You approve?" he guessed with a grin.

"It's perfect," she told him, giving him another quick kiss, "everything's perfect now."

Harry wrapped his arm back around her waist and pulled her on top of him. She gave a yelp of surprise before grinning bemusedly at him and bending down to exchange and long slow kiss.

"Why Mr Potter," she exclaimed, slightly breathlessly when they finally pulled apart, "I do believe you're becoming quite the best kisser in all of England."

"Well future-Mrs Potter," he retorted, "it takes one to know one."

She pulled back, looking momentarily surprised.

"What?" he asked with a laugh.

"Nothing, I've just realised I'll be a Mrs…makes me sound so old!" she gave a sudden burst of happy laughter, "Mrs Potter? Kitty Potter?"

"Sounds perfect to me," he told her, "but I guess it won't be for a few years yet."

"Suppose not," she said, face falling at the thought, "when do you think? When will all this be over?"

"Why don't we say," began Harry thoughtfully, "that we'll get married exactly one year after the war finishes? Give us something to look forward to and time to decide where to go on our honeymoon."

"Oh yeah, honeymoon too! But we already know where we're going," she told him, "Cornwall remember? You promised! Car, tent, barbeque and surfing. I'll take nothing more or less."

"Deal," he laughed.

A sudden peal of arthritic sounding chimes issued from a dusty clock on the mantelpiece and Harry saw Kitty glance over to it.

"It's 6am," she informed him, "reckon we should get back to our rooms?"

"Better had, I don't want another lecture from Mr Weasley about sneaking off," he grumbled as Kitty sat up, dragging the blanket with her.

Harry shivered and Kitty threw his t-shirt to him, "Better get dressed then before she has a real reason to lecture you."

She gave him a cheeky grin and Harry pulled it on, amusing himself with watching Kitty trying to pull her own t-shirt on whilst still trying to hold up the blanket.

"Why the sudden burst of modesty?" he teased, giving the blanket a sudden tug, "I've seen it all before you know."

"Girls got to have some standards you know," she retorted, faint blush on her cheeks.

Harry rolled his eyes and when Kitty finished, he got up off the sofa too, holding out his hand to hers before they walked to the door.

"You better go first," he told her, "just in case anyone's about. I'll see you at breakfast?"

She nodded and he caught her lips with a brief, intense kiss before she slipped out the door. He sighed happily to himself and leant back against the door for a good five minutes before he followed suit. Ron was still fast asleep, snoring loudly when he got back to his room and jumped under the covers of his bed, thinking about nothing except Kitty.

A/N

Just a little chapter, hope you liked it! I realise how long its been since i updated and i'm very sorry - life ctaches up with you a little! I've nearly finished the last chapter and epilogue now, so it should only be a few weeks to the ending! If you've got something you want to see in this, or ideas - i'm always open to suggestion!