Chapter Thirty Two
You touched my heart, you touched my soul
You changed my life and all my goals
I've kissed your lips and held your hand
Shared your dreams and shared your bed
I know you well, I know your smell
I've been addicted to you
Goodbye my lover, Goodbye my friend
You have been the one, You have been the one for me
Wormwood Scrubs, as even Remus knew, was an infamous muggle prison in London. Nothing to rival the scale and architecture of Azkaban perhaps, but impressive in its own permanent way. Not the usual place then, to be taken to for a day trip and he remarked as much to Tonks.
"I find it…reassuring," she suggested, smiling across at it faintly, "nice to know they're in there, and we're out here!"
He thought back to her time spent as a sentinel at Azkaban and wondered whether she was getting sentimental for her old haunt. Then again, he reasoned as they skirted the impressively solid looking perimeter wall, he guessed Aurors had a different view on prisons to the general population. To them they were almost a trophy case, proudly displaying their successes.
"Anyway," she said excitedly, "we're not here to sightsee. We're here to make a house call."
"Who to?" he asked curiously, allowing her to lead him across the road now and away from the prison.
She merely tapped her nose secretively, before slipping her hand into his. They were walking for another five minutes, chatting away on inconsequential topics as Tonks' excitement level rose. They entered a bustling market square and had to raise voices against the shouts of the sellers, all hawking their wares.
"What's the rush?" he asked, noticing she was practically skipping ahead now.
"We don't want to be late, hurry up!" said Tonks impatiently, practically dragging Remus by the shirt sleeve towards the large multi-storey building on the other side of the square.
She paused dramatically, and with much arm waving and gusto proclaimed, "Da daaaa!"
Remus looked at the house feeling slightly unsure.
"What do you think?" she asked him anxiously when she noticed his doubtful expression.
"A block of flats?" he asked.
"Not just any old block of flats," she said, waggling her finger at him and giving a booming guffaw, "Ho no! This is much more than that…"
She darted forwards excitedly and he had to practically jog to keep up as she moved towards the building. He finally caught up with her standing impatiently in the lobby.
"What are we doing here?" he laughed, her good mood infectious, "Visiting someone?"
"Yup," she said with a wide grin, pulling him towards the lifts.
"Who?" he asked, but she merely laughed mysteriously.
Once the metal doors slid shut she pointed to the panel at the side which had a row of shiny brass buttons.
"Floor 13 please," she said with a secret smile on her lips.
"Buildings never have a 13th floor," he told her, rolling his eyes, "muggle superstition…"
He trailed off when his eyes caught a shiny brass 13 screwed in next to one of the buttons, sandwiched directly between floors 12 and 14.
"Oh," he merely said, pressing it.
Tonks was practically bouncing around the cabin now, impossibly excited. Remus merely grinned at her before watching the flashing lights counting upwards.
"Ten…eleven," said Tonks with an excited squeal, "twelve…Thirteen!"
The lift slid to a halt and the doors opened with a friendly ping. Remus was greeted by a long corridor, decorated with a deep, plush blue carpet, wooden panels along the walls and paintings dotted along it at every few paces. They were magical; in fact a lot of them were pointing and waving at them. Tonks waved happily to one of them, before pointing down the corridor. There were a few doors on the floor, but
the one they were heading to was made of heavy oak with a brass question mark screwed onto it. They both paused in front of it and she looked at him expectantly.
"Who lives here?" he asked her.
Tonks held up a key.
Remus stared at her in shock as she put the key in a turned the lock – sure enough the door swung open and Tonks did another drum roll.
"Da daaaaa!" she proclaimed, jumping in and turning to him expectantly, "What do you think?"
"You got a place?" he said, sounding slightly dumbfounded, "Already?"
"I got a place!" she grinned, throwing her arms around his neck and giving him a quick kiss, "Come on, tell me what you think?"
She took his hand and led him from room to room. The first, the one they'd walked into was a small living room, complete with two sofas, a small television on a coffee table next to the obligatory fireplace. There was a large bookcase that was already half full of books, overshadowing Tonks' guitar case, which was surrounded by various cardboard box's that had her untidy scrawl across them with unintelligible commands such as Not in here and Odd things with no home.
"And look at the view," she said, pulling him over to the window and pulling back one of the heavy blue curtains, "isn't it breath-taking?"
He murmured with agreement, the view from the place was amazing, looking across the bustling market and down the twisting alleyways of the London suburb, prison looming on the horizon. The streets were thronged with muggles going about their daily lives, completely unaware that if they only looked up they could have glimpsed into a world of magic.
"And the kitchen," she said suddenly, yanking him through an archway next to the bookcase.
They emerged into another small room, boasting all the muggle appliances as well as a few magical mod-cons. Next to the kitchen counter was a small breakfast table with three chairs set around it, all of which were covered in more boxes that had more slightly understandable labels such as Spoons and Mum's crocks scrawled across them.
"What do you think?" she repeated anxiously.
"It's very nice," he nodded appreciatively, looking around the space that already seemed to possess Tonks' personality.
She gave a huge grin, looking mightily pleased with herself.
"When did you find the time to move all this in?" he asked her in amazement, she'd hardly left Grimauld Place for days.
"A woman has her ways," she said secretively, before giving another infectious laugh, "plus Bill and Charlie are easily susceptible to the old fluttering eyelashes."
He grinned and gazed around the small kitchen once more.
"When do you move in?" he asked her, looking around at the boxes.
"Tomorrow. I'll bring Kitty as soon as Harry and the others catch the Hogwarts Express," she told him, "give her something to focus on."
Remus nodded to himself before one of the boxes caught his eye.
"Just one question?" he said, moving over to the breakfast bar, "How is it possible to have a whole box full of spoons?"
He peered under the lid to see that indeed, it was a box of spoons of all different shapes and sizes. He looked across to her to see a sheepish look on her face and the beginning of a blush. He began to laugh and eventually she joined in as he began to sort through the collection.
"I collect them," she said with a self-depreciating shrug, "mum said I've done it forever - don't laugh!"
"I'm not laughing," he said, tried to keep a straight face and failing miserably.
She poked her tongue out at him and looked in the box too, sorting through a few, "You're right, it really is strange isn't it?"
"Sign of a quirky personality," he said and she smiled.
"Quirky eh?" she asked, wrapping her arms around his neck.
"Mmm hmm," he agreed, placing his arms around her waist.
"Do we like quirky?" she asked him playfully.
"Oh, we love quirky," he replied as she gave a chuckle, before leaning forwards and kissing him.
When they broke apart, Tonks grinned mischievously wrapping her arms around Remus tightly.
"You haven't seen the best part yet," she told him in a sing-song voice.
"What is it?"
"My bedroom," she said innocently.
Remus gave a laugh and allowed Tonks to take his hand and pull him out of the kitchen. She weaved them both through the living room, manoeuvring around the boxes without tripping once. She reached the door and pushed it open, revealing a bare room with nothing in except a few boxes stacked up against one wall and a freshly made double bed.
She turned back to him and wrapped her arms back round his waist.
"What do you think?"
"I approve," he laughed, "so does inner Remus."
Tonks grinned and he caught her lips with a passionate kiss, culminating in him bodily lifting her up and dropping her on the bed. She reached up and pulled him down by the front of his robes, so that he was straddling over her, a decidedly un-Remus like expression on his face.
She stared at him for a moment, as if she couldn't quite believe that they were both there, together and happy.
"Do you know how long I've been waiting for this?" she told him in a low voice, "For us?"
He gave a twisted grin, "I never thought you'd look twice at me."
She gave a brief smile, "Ditto."
Remus didn't say anything more, but merely bent down and kissed her.
Grimmauld Place, like any other magical home in England on August 31st, was full of preparations for the coming school year. As the Weasley's would be taking Harry to Kings Cross and they had been attending Order meetings, they had been staying in the house over most of the summer. Now, the entire house was bowing to the will of Mrs Weasley as she discovered socks that needed darning, robes that needed altering and other such motherly tasks.
Harry and the others were quite happy to stay out of her way and contented themselves to sitting in the living room, enjoying each others company. He was sat on the sofa, Kitty lying against his chest as they watched Hermione and Ron once again warring, this time via the chessboard. Ginny was amusing Crookshanks by conjuring ribbons out of her wand and trailing them in front of the cats face.
A battered radio was sat in the corner, the warbling sounds of the singer contending with the crackling logs on the fire.
Harry had his arms wrapped around Kitty's stomach, fingers entwined with hers and they sat in silence. He couldn't help fiddling with the ring on her finger, as if by letting it go would suddenly risk Kitty's disappearance. They were both only too aware that this was the last day and that tomorrow they would be parted until probably Christmas.
"Pops told me I've been accepted by an art college in London," she told him as Ron's bishop mercilessly attacked Hermione's pawn with his crook.
Harry grinned at her affectionate nickname for Dumbledore, "That's fantastic! When do you start?"
"Monday," she said in a faraway voice.
His heart gave another unpleasant lurch at another reminder of their impending split. He continued to play with her ring, thinking of the future.
"Tonks said she's got us a place too," Kitty told him, "we move in tomorrow. After your train."
"Where is it?"
"Wormwood Scrubs, in Hammersmith?" she asked him, "I've got my own room and everything. Really close to the college too."
"That's great," he told her, feeling intensely relieved that what had seemed like an impossible situation only a week ago now had such a neat ending, "are you looking forward to it?"
"Kind of," she said, pulling his arms around her tighter, "do you think I'm making a mistake though, with art college?"
"No! What do you mean?" he exclaimed.
"What if I'm not good enough? What if everyone is better than me?" she asked in a rush.
"I bet you anything you'll be a million times better than everyone else there," he told her, nestling his cheek against her hair, "I've got faith in you."
He realised she must have believed him because he felt her swell with pride slightly and she gave a low laugh.
"I've got faith in you too," she replied, lifting up the entwined hands and giving his knuckles a kiss, "you wouldn't dare make me a widow before you make me a bride would you?
"Of course not," he told her, "you'd kill me if I did."
They both gave a laugh at this, before jumping unpleasantly as the clock chimed 6pm.
"It's getting faster," Kitty complained.
Mrs Weasley's voice came sailing down the corridor, calling everyone to dinner. Harry gave a deep sigh, the day was being frittered away. All he wanted was to be alone with Kitty, yet suddenly the echoing, empty halls of Grimmauld Place were bursting with people.
However Mrs Weasley had, Harry had to grudgingly admit, outdone herself for their leaving feast. The dining table had been lengthened and was now bowing under the weight of the dishes that covered it, promising a delicious dinner.
Weasley's of all ages were already seating themselves, Fred and George next to Bill and Fleur, who in turn were next to Remus, who was deep in conversation with Tonks. Harry grinned to himself, remembering catching his ex-professor and the Auror in the library at Hogwarts; he guessed nobody else knew about them.
"Look cosy don't they?" whispered Harry into Kitty's ear.
She shot Remus and Tonks a glance and turned back to him with a smirk on her face, "They're so obvious!"
Harry laughed and slid into his seat between Kitty and Ron. She reached under the table and took his hand whilst they waited for everyone to seat themselves and pour drinks.
"What do you want?" he asked Kitty, glancing at the array of bottles and jugs covering the table.
"What's good?" she asked, peering at the labels in interest.
"Pumpkin juice?" he offered.
"Pumpkin juice?" she laughed, taking the bottle and giving it an experimental sniff, "Yuck…do you really drink this stuff?"
Harry grinned and surveyed the rest of the drinks before Remus leaned over with a thick green glass bottle.
"Remus," scolded Mrs Weasley with a frown, "they're underage."
"It's only a glass Molly," he told her calmly, filling theirs despite her annoyance, "and tonight's a special occasion."
"Hmmf," was his only reply and the bottle was soon passed down the line so that Ron, Hermione and Ginny all had glasses of the ruby red wine.
Everyone was settled down and after a moment, Remus cleared his throat and stood up, "Can I say a few words before we start?"
Both Mrs and Mrs Weasley nodded their head as if giving their permission and Harry saw Tonks staring up at him intently.
"Well, as we all know it's been a long summer, filled with many events, as usual."
Harry gave an uncomfortable squirm, hoping sincerely he wasn't about to be reprimanded for running away again in front of everyone. Kitty must have felt the same too because she squeezed his hand under the table for strength.
"In times like these, it's very easy to get overtaken by the darkness and uncertainty, but we should take comfort from the fact that there are always those around to help us. So I'd just like to make a toast. To remember good friends lost, honour our friends for their support, and to welcome new friends to us."
He smiled at Kitty.
"To friendship," murmured everyone raising their glasses.
Many of them, Harry noticed with a fierce glow of pride in his stomach directed their toast to Kitty, who took a deep drink from her glass, avoiding their eyes. Everyone began to reach for the food before Kitty suddenly spoke up.
"Can I say something too?" she asked and after a blank look of surprise from Remus, he nodded his head encouragingly.
"Ok, I'm not actually very good a public speaking um…but I just wanted to say thank you I guess, for saving Harry, for saving both of us…" she trailed off, flushing under the silent stares from everyone, "and I'm sorry too…for all the fuss. So, um, thanks. It means a lot."
"No problem," quipped Tonks in a bright voice, "what's a typical summer without a bit of danger and intrigue?"
Everyone sniggered and finally helped themselves to the food. Harry gave Kitty's fingers a squeeze,
"The delivery left a little to be desired," she joked, reaching for the bowl of mashed potato.
Harry grinned and took another sip of the wine.
Meanwhile on the other side of the table Remus and Tonks delved right back into their conversation, automatically excluding the rest of the world.
"Good speech," Tonks told him, giving him a quizzical look, "very meaningful."
"Well, I think it's time to get over the past and look towards the future," he told her, before glancing over at Kitty, "I think hers was perhaps more significant."
"I know…would you ever have thought when we first met her she'd be publically thanking us?" Tonks asked incredulously, shaking her head, "She's certainly changed."
"Harry wasn't around then though was he?" Remus noted.
"They're certainly very cosy tonight," she said to him, and they both watched them for a moment, noting how closely they were sitting together, eyes only for each other.
"Well it's their last night for a while, they're bound to want to be close," he said, sighing heavily, "can you imagine…"
Tonks understood what he was saying; could she imagine not seeing Remus for untold months?
"I think I'd go mad," she replied honestly, "I'm surprised they're taking it so well. Being stuck here surrounded by people, not sure when they're going to see-"
Tonks stopped abruptly and Remus, who was mid-sip of his wine, looked over to her curiously.
"What is it Tonks?" he asked, following her gaze over to Kitty.
Tonks however didn't reply, she merely stared at Kitty as if trying to work something out, frown plastered across her face.
"Tonks?" prompted Remus again.
"A Thought just occurred…" she said in a faraway voice.
"Did it hurt?" he joked, before noticing she looked extremely pensive, "What is it?"
"Look at Kitty's hand."
Remus glanced over at Kitty and saw at once what she was referring too. There, on Kitty's finger was a small gold ring. It flashed in the candle light and seemed to shine like a beacon for a moment.
"Is that what I think it is?" asked Tonks in a hushed whisper.
"They wouldn't," Remus said sensibly, before watching Harry's fingers brush the ring lightly and deliberately, "would they?"
"After what they've been through," Tonks said urgently, "why wouldn't they?"
"But they're only 16!" Remus said incredulously.
"Exactly, they're young and in love," she replied, "it's the sort of thing I'd have done, did do in fact…"
"With Charlie," Remus reminded her, unable to keep an accusatory note out of his voice.
"Ooh, was that a hint of jealousy there?" Tonks asked with a laugh.
"No! Anyway, that's not the point," he said hurriedly, "what are we going to do about that?"
He motioned to the couple opposite them.
"We don't know for certain it's an engagement ring Remus," she said sensibly, "and even if it was – what can we do about it? It's their decision."
"I know that…" said Remus, struggling with the concept, "but it's a big commitment, they should properly think about this, plan for the future."
"I think they're past the big commitment stage Remus," Tonks reminded him, "How many times has Kitty saved his life? Remember what they've been through? Besides, we don't know what they've been getting up to during all those weeks they were missing."
"You don't think they've been sleeping together?" asked Remus in an anxious whisper.
"Who knows?" shrugged Tonks, "It's not really any of our business is it?"
"Not really any of our business?" demanded Remus, "They're 16! For all we know she could be pregnant! And Harry's never had a father to sit down and give him the birds and the bees talk has he?"
"I'm sure he's probably picked up more than enough from being in a boy's dorm most of the year," she told him with a laugh, "don't you remember Gryffindor Tower?"
"Well, yes, but," struggled Remus, cheeks flushing slightly, "I still think you should talk to them."
"Why me?" demanded Tonks with a laugh, "You're the one who wants to give him The Talk."
"Well, somebody has to!" he insisted.
"It's not my issue," she said, holding her hands up, "it's yours."
"Well, I feel it's my duty now," he told her firmly, "It should have been James, or at least Sirius. I think I'll talk to him tonight."
"Bit late now," giggled Tonks.
"You're not taking this seriously are you?" he demanded of her.
"On the contrary," she replied sweetly, "I think you're really sexy when you get all intense like this."
This was distracting enough for Remus to halt in his tracks, grinning happily to himself.
"Oh very," she nodded, "so much so that I'm most looking forward to you finishing your talk with Harry so I can get you back to mine."
He was so busy congratulating himself on this that it took him a long time to realise Tonks had successfully distracted him from his anxious thoughts about Harry's future.
"You're a wiley old thing Nymphadora," he told her, shaking his head.
She merely bobbed her tongue out at him and said, "Speak to him if you want, and don't call me Nymphadora!"
That evening dinner took a lot longer than it usually did at Grimauld Place. The Elvish wine, despite Remus' previous promises, made several more passes round the table and everyone was chatting and laughing with increasingly loud voices. Even Mrs Weasley was to be seen faintly flushed and giggling girlishly with Mr Weasley. Ron pointed this out to Harry with a sickened smirk.
Kitty, whom Harry now knew to have reservations about both Ginny and Hermione, didn't seem to remember this because she too was chatting with low, giggly voices with the two. Harry felt vaguely uncomfortable about the sort of things they could be talking about; namely him. Both Kitty and Hermione had enough blackmail material now to make his life uncomfortable.
"Professor Lupin and Tonks seem cosy," Ron remarked to him, nodding meaningfully across the table.
Harry glanced over, grinning to himself as they watched Tonks whispering something in Remus' ear. They were sitting rather close.
"That's because they're a couple," Harry told him in undertones, "me and Kitty caught them in the library at Hogwarts."
"No way!" Ron exclaimed, so loudly that the three girls paused their mysterious discussions and looked at him suspiciously.
"You serious?" Ro whispered back.
"Always," said Harry, "they're trying to keep it a secret."
"Unsuccessfully by the look of things," he replied, giving twisted grin, "good on Professor Lupin, to get a stunner like Tonks."
Harry snorted loudly with laughter, quickly trying to cover it with a cough as both Tonks and Remus glanced at him briefly. He merely turned to Ron with a curious expression on his face.
"You think Tonks is a 'stunner'?" he laughed, watching the tip of his friends ears turn red.
"Well she is," said Ron defensively, "don't tell me you haven't thought about it!"
"Hey, I'm taken," Harry replied, "and I didn't think she was your type."
"And what's my 'type'?" asked Ron peevishly, stung now at Harry's teasing.
"Oh you know, bookish brunettes," he said airily.
Ron spluttered on the wine he was just gulping down and gave Harry a wild look of apprehension.
"What are you two whispering about?"
Both Harry and Ron looked across to the three girls with rather guilty expressions on their faces. Harry caught Kitty' eye with a grin.
"Just talking about Ron's ideal woman," he told them.
"No we weren't," said Ron, shoving Harry in the arm a little more forcefully than the situation required.
"Oh really?" demanded Kitty with a gleam in her eye, "What did you come up with?"
"We weren't talking about that," Ron said stoutly, looking rather red in the face altogether now.
"Yeah we were," Harry continued, enjoying watching his friend squirm and even more the look on Hermione's face, "what was it we said Ron? B-"
"Stop ganging up on him you two," cut in Hermione imperiously before Harry could continue, causing Kitty to grin even wider.
"We weren't!" replied Kitty and Harry in unison.
They looked at each other for a moment before laughing loudly. Ron's complexion slowly returned to normal and Hermione busied herself with spreading cheese onto her biscuits.
"Actually," said Harry when the laughter had subsided, "we were talking about Lupin's ideal woman."
"Why?" asked Ginny with a bemused look on her face, she'd obviously noticed her brothers crush.
Harry merely shrugged enigmatically and nodded over to Tonks, who had chosen that moment to once again whisper something in Remus' ear.
"No way!" exclaimed Ginny, sounding remarkably like Ron.
"Professor Lupin and Tonks?" asked Hermione, sounding shocked.
Harry merely shrugged as if to say, 'I'm not saying anything, but…'
"Well…" she said, seemingly struggling for words, "good for them."
"Huh?" demanded Ron.
"Well, I think it's nice that they've both managed to find someone to make them happy," said Hermione firmly, "they deserve it."
"Plus," pointed out Harry, emphasising his opinion with a cheese stick, "Tonks is a stunner."
Ron gave Harry a swift smack on the arm and Kitty gave him a sweet and deadly smile.
"Say that again Potter," she threatened.
"Ooh, back on the last name insult, Earl?" teased Harry, too merry on Elvish wine to fall for her tricks.
"Actually, that's not my name anymore," she said airily, as the others watched their discussion as one would follow a tennis match, gazing from right to left.
"Since yesterday," she reminded him, "can't go around being Catherine Earl anymore can I, not with scary Death Eaters after me. Had to enrol in college and all that under a new name. My secret identity!"
Harry stared at her in surprise, not only because of the blasé way she described being hunted by a band of murderous psychopaths, but also because it had never occurred to him that she would have to change her name.
"What are down as then?" he demanded, feeling annoyed at himself for not finding out more about her new muggle life.
"Kaitlyn Connor," she told him, measuring his reaction closely, "moved to London from the Midlands to go to college and living with my cousin Natalie Tonks, a policewoman, in Wormwood Scrubs."
"Kaitlyn Connor," repeated Harry, testing the name to see if it suited her, before deciding swiftly it did.
More so strangely enough, than her real name. Perhaps it was because Kaitlyn was closer to Kitty than it was to Catherine. Or maybe it was because there wasn't much of the old Catherine left in her to recognise. For a fleeting moment he remembered the first time he'd met her and how they'd come to run away together, everything had changed so much since those early days. Hard to believe it was only a matter of weeks really.
"It's a good name," Ron was commenting, the others nodding in agreement.
"Sounds perfect," added Hermione warmly.
Kitty merely shared a grin with Harry, before looking back over to them.
"You can call me Kitty for short," she said with a smile.
Harry knew at that moment that she finally liked, and trusted, his friends.
Soon the last of the wine had been drunk, the final slices of cheese and crackers consumed and all that was left was for Mrs Weasley to usher them off to bed, tottering slightly and grinning to herself.
Everyone at the table one by one rose to their feet and Harry took hold of Kitty's hand, following Hermione and Ginny out of the kitchen. Just as they got to the foot of the stairs he quickly pulled her into the adjoining lounge that was mercilessly free of people.
Almost as soon as the door was closed he leant forward and kissed her almost desperately, as if he'd wanted to do it all night. She returned the kiss passionately, moulding her body against his and running her fingers through his hair.
When they broke apart she gave him a weak grin.
"Wanted to do that all night," she said breathlessly, arms still wrapped around his neck.
"Ditto," he said, giving her a swift kiss, "I really don't want to go to bed yet."
"I'm not tired at all," she said, grinning mischievously.
"Well, I think I'm well within my rights to keep my fiancé occupied, how about we-"
A sudden knock at the door startled them and a moment later Remus walked in. Harry stared at him in surprise as they both unconsciously shuffled apart, resorting to just holding hands.
"Sir?" asked Harry uncertainly, blushing faintly at having been caught by his ex-teacher.
"Kitty, you wouldn't mind if I had a word with Harry, would you?" Remus asked her politely, "Privately?"
She gave Harry the slightest of surprised looks.
"Er no, of course not," she said, releasing Harry's hand unwillingly, "I might go a get a book to read in bed, I'm not really feeling too tired yet. Good night."
She gave Harry a meaningful look and slipped out of the room. Harry watched her go sadly before realising that Remus was watching him closely. He focussed on his ex-professor, trying not to appear as uncomfortable as he looked.
"I realise this must be very hard for you Harry," he said, motioning for Harry to join him on the sofa, "being separated like this, having to say goodbye."
"It's not goodbye," Harry shrugged awkwardly, dropping on the sofa next to him.
He wondered desperately what Remus could possibly want to talk to him about at this time of night.
"No, you're right, it's not," said Remus encouragingly, "and Tonks will look after her well, we all will."
Harry merely nodded, he realised that couldn't possibly be what Remus had wanted to talk to him about and so waited to see what would come next.
"You're very lucky to have found somebody you want to be with for the rest of your life so early."
Of all the things Harry had been expecting him to say, that wasn't it. He shot the man a swift, searching look.
"I saw Cathy's ring," he explained.
"Oh. Right," said Harry blankly.
"Her engagement ring?" he guessed.
Harry shrugged noncommittally. At least he knew what the talk was about now; Remus was going to tell him how stupid and childish he was being.
"Was that a yes?" asked Remus, obviously not letting Harry off lightly.
"Yeah," muttered Harry, refusing to look his way.
"Congratulations," he replied calmly.
"Thank you," Harry said sarcastically.
Remus merely cocked an eyebrow at him and waited for Harry to explain himself but he wasn't going to dig himself into a hole. If Remus wanted to say something he'd just have to find the guts to say it.
"Are you really still angry at me?" Remus asked, taking Harry by surprise for the second time that night.
"Before you ran away, when we argued, it sounded like you really, truly hated me," he said in his usual measured, even tones, "and now…now you sound like you're waiting for me to start shouting at you."
Harry felt slightly ashamed, but not enough to admit it.
"I am expecting you to start shouting at me."
"Why?" demanded Remus, "When I have I ever shouted at you?"
"If you're not going to shout at me what are you doing here?" Harry asked him.
The man regarded Harry with an unreadable expression on his face. As ever, Harry couldn't tell what he was thinking and this always made him so much more on guard.
"To talk to you," shrugged Remus, sitting back in his chair finally and continuing to regard Harry, "you've obviously just proposed to Kitty and I thought, maybe you'd want to share it with somebody. It doesn't have to be a big secret. I'm happy for you both."
"I don't reckon Mrs Weasley would say the same," Harry said, shocked at Remus' words.
"Well, Mrs Weasley isn't your mother," said Remus sharply, causing Harry to grin appreciatively – he sounded like Sirius, "and I'm not you father and I know I'm not Sirius. But I hope I'm a friend and I'd hope that you'd trust me enough to respect your decisions. If you think Cathy is the one for you, then who am I to say she isn't?"
"I – well…thank you," Harry managed, shooting the man a curious look, "and you are…a friend I mean."
Remus gave a pleased look that managed to slip past his usual guard and Harry couldn't help but grin again.
"That means a lot to me Harry," he said, leaning back into the sofa now and looking much more relaxed, "Now tell me, when did you decide to ask her?"
Harry thought about the question for a moment. In his heart he'd always known he was going to ask her, but events had overtaken them and pulled control of his life back out of his hands. This was probably the only decision he could make without consulting anyone – his decision.
"Maybe a long time," he shrugged, "but probably yesterday, when I bought the ring."
"Oh a whim?" smiled Remus.
"Sort of," he laughed, "to be honest I think she's mad for still wanting to be involved with us lot.
"If she's come this far and still stood by you, I'd say that's a pretty good indication," Remus told him, "she's definitely one in a million."
"She'd love that description of her."
"Did you know that your father proposed to your mother when they were just finishing sixth year?" Remus asked suddenly, "everyone thought they were mad, especially as she'd hated him for almost the entire time they'd known each other. But they knew, as I guess you do, that when it's right, it's right, and nothing will change that."
Harry gazed avidly at Remus, he loved hearing any connection that brought him closer to his parents. It was comforting to know, as he'd told himself this morning, that his parents probably would have supported him.
"Of course, your mum would be absolutely thrilled she was a muggle," Remus said, warming to his subject now, "and that she had a temper to match her own."
Harry laughed appreciatively, "You haven't even heard Kitty in full swing, we've had some real, horrible blazing rows."
"Sounds familiar," he replied, gazing off into the near distance thoughtfully, "I guess if its not hard work sometimes, it's probably not worth it."
"Hard works a good description of it," Harry agreed, "but definitely worth it."
This seemed to bring Remus back to the present because he fixed Harry with a sudden, penetrating look, as if he'd reminded him of something.
"It's a big commitment Harry," Remus told him, "you do realise that don't you?"
"And you do realise that you're going to have to protect her and support her, no matter what?"
"Yes," said Harry seriously.
"And that one day you'll have a family, and you'll have to protect them too?"
"If I live that long, yes."
Remus' eyes widened in shock, as if his blunt words had physically struck him.
"Is that why you're doing this Harry? Rushing into things because you think your time is numbered?" he asked quietly.
"No," said Harry honestly, "I know my time is numbered – everybody's is. And we're not rushing into things – we won't get married until a year after the war's over. I'm doing this because I love her and I promised I'd be with her for the rest of my life – no matter how long or short that is."
"Harry…" began Remus, at a loss of what to say, "you're not going to die…"
"Neither can live whilst the other survives," quoted Harry, "Kitty knows that as well as I do. We just want whatever time we have to be worthwhile."
"And look at that…" Remus said, gazing at Harry.
"Look at what?" Harry asked nonplussed.
"Just then…you turned from a boy into a man, right in front of my eyes," he said in surprise.
Harry felt like he still had enough boy left in him to blush at these words and looked down at his hands for a moment.
"You're parents would be so proud of you Harry," he said in a soft voice, "they'd be so happy to know you turned out like them, despite the Dursley's best efforts."
Harry smiled. It wasn't a happy smile or a sad one, just the smile of longing. Of wishing the same words were coming out of different mouths.
"I hope they would be."
"I know they would be," he said firmly, "and do you know what? The real reason I wanted to talk to you was to give you the whole birds and the bees sex talk. But I reckon you've got a sensible head on your shoulders and it'd be demeaning for me to lecture you."
"And embarrassing," added Harry, cheeks flushing darkly.
"I wasn't looking forward to it much either," admitted Remus, "but you will, be careful I mean, won't you?"
"Good, because if things went wrong now, you'd only hurt each other, but in the future, there'd be a child to consider."
"Good," he repeated, looking very much like he was about to elaborate.
Suddenly Harry wanted to be out of the conversation, he couldn't stand the thought of Remus trying to lecture him on this of all things.
"Is that it Remus?" he asked, already making to stand up, "only I want to say goodnight to Kitty before she goes to bed."
"Oh. Well, yes of course," he said in a faraway voice, mind obviously dwelling on something.
Harry stood up and before leaving the room he looked down at his ex-professor. He guessed he'd just struck a chord with him because he looked as if he'd just had a revelation. He bade him goodnight and headed towards the door, before checking himself.
"I guess congratulations are in order for you too?" he said, pausing at the door handle.
"Hmmm….What?" asked Remus, looking over to him.
"You and Tonks," he explained with a grin.
"How did you-" he began, before realising he'd just admitted it.
Harry gave a shrug, "You're a bit obvious. But I'm happy for you both…you deserve it."
"I – thank you Harry," said Remus in amazement.
Harry grinned to himself, taking the stairs two at a time until he reached his floor and slipped into the room he was sharing with Ron. He was still up and sitting on the floor rummaging around in his trunk.
"You took your time," he said, voice muffled.
"Lupin just tried to give me The Talk," he explained out, before laughing to himself and sinking onto his bed.
"The Talk?" Ron demanded, face appearing over the lid of his trunk looking aghast.
"Yeah!" he laughed, trying not to recall the gut-wrenching embarrassment of it which he'd hoped he'd covered with his calm responses.
"My dad tried that one on me this summer too," Ron said in sympathy, "it was awful. A whole hour of euphemisms and vague hand gestures…honestly, he tried to draw diagrams!"
Harry really did howl with laughter now and Ron soon joined in, giving some amusing descriptions of some of the things Mr Weasley had tried to convey with his stick drawings.
"In the end I told him Charlie had done it for him last year and he got all offended and took the sketches away…thank Merlin," Ron chuckled, "what is it with adults these day, is it written onto some calendar that it's August, sex-talk time!"
"Dunno," shrugged Harry, pulling a tee-shirt over his head, "I guess Lupin did it because I proposed to Kitty and he thinks-"
Ron actually fell off his bed. He grasped the lid of his trunk and pulled himself upright, gazing at Harry in horror.
"WHAT?" he repeated hoarsely.
"Who else would I propose to?" Harry demanded incredulously.
"Last night!" Harry told him, smiling bemusedly at his friend's violent reaction, "are you going to stop shouting or am I going to have to stun you?"
"Because I felt like having a laugh," mocked Harry sarcastically, "why do you think I did Ron?"
"Because you're mad!" he spluttered.
"Because you are! Mad! You proposed to her, you've only known her a few weeks! You're only 16!"
"Ron," said Harry calmly, "you're not taking this very well, calm down."
"Calm down?" he said incredulously, "My best friends gone mad and you want me to calm down!"
"Why is this such a big deal?" asked Harry, watching Ron in the mirror reflection as he tried to tame his hair.
"Big deal…?" repeated Ron faintly, before jumping to his feet and standing behind him, "Big deal Harry? You proposed to her!"
"I know, I was there," Harry said, knowing he was infuriating Ron with his calmness and enjoying himself immensely.
"But what?" Harry asked, inspecting his teeth in the mirror now, "I love her, she loves me. It's not going to change, so I thought, why the hell not?"
"Why the hell not…" repeated Ron faintly, looking at Harry as if he really had gone mad.
"If it makes you feel any better its not like we're rushing down the aisle tomorrow," Harry said, going back to messing with his hair.
"But…" tried Ron again, before suddenly seeming to see Harry clearly for the first time and asking suspiciously, "why are you doing that?"
"Doing what?" Harry asked, pausing.
"Preening yourself in front of the mirror," he said accusingly.
"I'm not preening," laughed Harry, "I'm making myself presentable – you should try it sometime."
"Why?" demanded Ron, rising above the goading, "You're just going to bed now."
"Am I?" asked Harry, looking around for his socks now.
"Aren't you?" Ron asked.
"No," said Harry simply, locating his socks and pulling them on in an awkward one-footed hop.
"Where are you going?" he prompted.
"Got a study date," he grinned, picking up his wand, "in the library."
"What, now?" Ron asked, looking anxious, "you can't – they'll kill you if they find you sneaking about."
"They can't kill me, I'm The Chosen One remember?" said Harry with a twisted smile, "Oh come on Ron, it's my last night with Kitty before we go back to Hogwarts, does it look like I care about being caught?"
"But…" spluttered Ron, looking entirely wrong-footed by Harry's revelations.
"Don't worry about me Ron," said Harry cheerfully, clapping Ron's cheek.
He reached into his own trunk and pulled out a small wooden box.
"What's that?" Ron asked suspiciously.
"Spy snitch," said Harry, flicking the lid open and showing Ron the small snitch that doubled as a spy camera, "Fred and George gave it to me at the beginning of the summer. It's a lookout."
"And they couldn't give me one?" muttered Ron testily, "You're gonna get into so much trouble if you're caught."
"That's what the spy snitch is for," Harry grinned, "don't wait up."
He slipped out of the room and commanded the spy snitch to watch the corridor for him, lighting his wand and creeping silently towards the library. The knowledge that this was probably his last chance to be alone with Kitty before he left for Hogwarts was at the forefront of his mind as he slipped through into the dusty room. The fire was low in the grate and at first he thought he'd been wrong in thinking Kitty had meant for him to come to the library after her, perhaps she really had wanted to get a book before bed?
"Oi speccy," whispered a voice.
Harry turned around to find Kitty sitting up on the high windowsill, wrapped in a thick blanket.
"Hah, you looked round when I called you speccy," she laughed, swinging her feet happily.
"You're so immature," Harry told her, holding his wand higher so he cast a bit more light on her, "what are you doing up there?"
"Admiring the view," she told him, "come see."
Harry put his wand between his teeth and attempted to climb up, using the bookshelves as a purchase and taking Kitty's hand. He finally swung himself onto the windowsill and she threw the blanket around his shoulders too, tucking it in carefully. He watched her bemusedly, before she caught him and gave him a playful shove, causing him to fumble with his wand for a moment.
"Let's have a look then," she said, holding out her hand.
He passed her his wand, the tip of which dimmed and went out as it left his grasp. She studied it in the gloom before passing it back to him.
"Lumos," he muttered and once again they were bathed in light.
"It won't work for me?" she asked him, still staring at it.
"No," he told her. "The wand chooses the wizard…and anyway, even Hermione would have difficulty using it, we find it really hard to use any wand but our own…But muggles…can't. Sorry."
"Don't apologise," she shrugged, "I just wondered…when we were in the graveyard I got one of the Death Eaters wands. It wouldn't work for me then either."
Harry nodded, unconsciously twirling his wand between his fingers.
"Show us what you can do then," she challenged him.
"You want to see magic?" he asked in surprise.
"Hey, if you're sticking around I better get used to it," she joked, "anyway I trust you…"
Harry smiled at her before looking around for inspiration – what to show her…He wondered what he'd most like to see, if he were secretly scared of what magic could do, before the perfect spell came into his mind. He gave a sidelong look at Kitty and realised he was going to spend the rest of his life with her.
The silvery stag leapt out of the end of his wand, looking brighter and more real than he'd ever seen it before. Kitty gasped in amazement as it fell lightly and soundlessly to the floor of the library and cantered around, filling the entire room with a warm glow. Unthinkingly, Harry gave a low whistle and was as surprised as Kitty when the stag immediately trotted over to them as if answering his masters' call.
"It's a patronus," Harry told her in a low voice, "it protects you from bad things."
It was a simplified explanation, but an accurate one, and Harry watched Kitty as she stared at it in awe reaching out her hand as if to stroke it's head before pausing and drawing back slightly.
"Can I?" she asked him.
"Go ahead," he told her.
She reached out with a trembling hand to where the stags' antlers nested between its ears. However, Harry was surprised to see her hand pass right through the silvery form and Kitty looked slightly disappointed.
"But it looks so real," she whispered.
"It is," he told her, reaching out and ran a hand down the stags' neck. It felt warm and very real beneath his fingers.
Kitty watched this with a faint trace of envy crossing her features for a moment.
"What's it made out of?" she asked him.
"Positive thoughts and happy memories," he told her, before dropping his hand and letting the patronus canter away again, "you can only produce one if you're really focussed and think of only good and happy things. That's why they're so difficult because when you really need to make one of these, you're definitely not capable of thinking happy, positive thoughts."
"It's beautiful," Kitty told him, "do they all look like that?"
"No, everyone's is individual to them. Ron's is this little yapping dog and Hermione's is a gambolling otter. It generally takes the shape of something important to you or something you associate with protection."
"Why's yours a stag then? Why's that important to you?"
Harry gave a laugh, where to begin with a question like that? So he started at the beginning, with the Marauders, how they found out that one them was a werewolf and their plan to keep him company. Before he knew it he'd been talking for half an hour, answering all her questions about his father, everything he knew as well as everything else he'd guessed or surmised.
"I wonder what mine would be?" she mused out loud, "If I could make one, I mean."
"What would make you feel safe?" he asked her.
"I don't know, I've never felt safe," she said before she could stop herself and trying to cover it with a laugh, "maybe a really vicious dog?"
Harry gave a slight laugh, busying himself with wrapping the blanket back around them tighter and snaking his arm around her waist. He pulled her closer and with a sigh she leant her head on his shoulder.
"What do you think is going to happen now Harry?" she asked him in a muffled voice, "With Riddle still out there?"
"Well, now the Ministry knows about Voldemort they'll be on the lookout for the Death Eaters. Voldemort will want to gather more troops together I guess, take over the Ministry in the end. He'll try and find me and the rest of the Order, get rid of any resistance," he told her, not even bothering to pretend the world would be full of happiness and roses, "when he's in power it'll be the muggle-borns and muggle families that'll be targeted first, then half-bloods and blood-traitors next…"
"How can you say all that so calmly?" she asked him quietly, "That's your friends you're talking about, and yourself."
Harry shrugged, "No point in worrying about what the future might bring, we're all here now aren't we?"
"For now," she told him, "but you're forgetting that Malfoy guy's up to something – what if Riddle's given him a job he can only do at school? Like getting to you."
"At least I'm forewarned," Harry told her, "I'll keep my eye on him, try and find out what he's up to, and I'll tell everyone and anyone I can so they can keep an eye out too. But I'll find out what he's doing, I can promise you that."
"You think he really is a Death Eater?" she asked him anxiously.
"Well he's definitely got the Dark Mark," he replied, "but Malfoy's no problem, he's not particularly talented or smart, he'll make a mistake."
"You don't have to be talented or smart to cause a lot of damage," she warned him, "he sounds like he's a cunning, evil little bastard too, he might not care if he makes a mistake or who he hurts in the process."
Harry wondered if she was right, did he really underestimate Malfoy? Probably, he answered himself honestly. He'd known him for a while now and knew he wasn't brilliant but maybe Kitty was right, Malfoy probably wouldn't care who he hurt along the way if he was jumping to Voldemort's orders. If Harry knew Voldemort, he'd set Malfoy something impossible, just to see him fail and to be able to punish him. If Malfoy knew that, he'd be more dangerous than Harry had previously given him credit for.
"I'll be careful," Harry promised him, "but I'm more worried about you."
"Why?" she asked blankly
"Because I won't be around to look out for you, because I'm abandoning you," he told her.
"First of all matey, I'm quite capable of looking after myself. Who was it that walked away from the graveyard without a scratch and who was in a coma?"
"Voldemort underestimated you then," Harry replied earnestly, thinking she wasn't taking him seriously, "he won't make the same mistake twice."
"I'm a stupid muggle remember?" she told him with a grin, "of course he'll underestimate me again, I don't fit in with his ideology."
Now he knew she wasn't taking him seriously.
"Kitty, I'm being serious now," he told her, twisting around to face her properly, "don't do anything stupid because you think he won't be looking for you."
"Harry I know he'll be looking for me ok? Do you think I don't know that?" she snapped suddenly.
He regarded her silently for a moment. He realised he'd been reading her wrong, she wasn't being blasé at all, she was just trying to be stoic.
"Sorry, you're right," he admitted, "I just want you to be carful. Don't trust anybody, especially if they start asking prying questions or seem a little off. Don't mention me to anyone and don't go off with any strangers and-"
"You sound like a nagging parent," she cut in, sounding offended.
"I'm not trying to," he pleaded with her, "I just don't want you to be caught out…He plays mind tricks on you, you know – makes you think things that aren't real. He did it to me, made me think Sirius was captured…If you ever think something's happened to me, don't do anything until somebody you really trust tells you it's true."
"I mean it Kitty! There's nothing you could do anyway and you could be walking right into a trap."
"Oh I see, so just because I'm a muggle I wouldn't be able to do anything, help?" she demanded, "I'll remind you of that next time you decide to try to bleed all across the floor or get poisoned."
"I didn't mean it like that," Harry sighed.
"How did you mean it?"
"I don't want to argue now, it's our last night," he said.
"I'm not arguing!" she told him, "I just want to know what you meant by that?"
"I meant that if Voldemort really did have me, chances are I'd be dead long before you could get there to do anything."
She regarded him for a long moment, eyes searching his before looking away. Harry knew he'd probably been a little too blunt, he was just trying to appear calm for her sake and thought he might have gone overboard.
"Kitty-" he began with a sigh, already constructing an apology.
"No you're right," she said in a far off voice, "I promise not to interfere, not until I know for sure something's happening. If Riddle does get you though, there's not really any point to all of this is there? What would I have left?"
"Don't talk like that," Harry said, wrapping an arm around her and gathering the blankets, "you've got a whole, long life to lead. Away from everything and everyone right? A fresh start? I want to see you getting old and wrinkly."
"I will if you will," she suggested, before squeezing his hand under the blanket, "don't worry…How many times have they tried to break us apart, and how many times have we just been brought closer together? Fate can't cheat us, we're fated to be together."
"A regular Romeo and Juliet?" he asked, remembering her words all those weeks ago in the Hospital Wing.
"No not like them at all," she told him firmly, "we'll get our happy ever after."
As they sat there in the cold library, counting down the hours before they'd be parted, they reflected on what shape this happy ever after would take. They planned for the future, laughed at each others silly or romantic thoughts, never once voicing their deepest fears. Why would they, Harry asked himself as the sun crept up, there'd be months, maybe even years to do that, alone.
Morning came too soon. Noises from beyond the library door indicated the house was awakening and Kitty and Harry were now sat on the sofa, blanket wrapped around the two of them as they occasionally swapped an odd comment.
His eyes were itching now from staying up all night and a horrible feeling of panic and dread was growing in his stomach. Not long now, not even hours to go…
"What time is it?" mumbled Kitty, head buried into her shoulder.
"Nearly seven," Harry said, feeling another lurch of nerves, "breakfast time."
She hitched her breath and he wrapped his arm around her tighter.
"This feels really weird," she admitted, sounding almost frightened, "I can't believe you'll be gone soon…we've spent nearly every minute together for months…What am I going to do without you?"
"I know," was all he could say, not able to think of anything more comforting.
"I feel sick," Kitty said flatly, "this is wrong."
"It is!" said Harry fiercely, feeling the unfairness of it all wash over him suddenly, "I wish you could come to Hogwarts with me."
"Do you wish I was magical?"
"I didn't mean it like that," he said hastily, "I wish you could just come with me…not study or anything."
"I sometimes wish I could be magical," she admitted in a small voice, "I keep imagining what it would be like, living in Hogwarts, going to classes with you, finding out all the cool stuff you can do."
"It's dangerous," Harry told her, "and nothing would change if you were magical…I like how normal you are."
"Gee thanks Harry," she said sarcastically, "a girl could do a lot with a compliment like that."
"You know I didn't mean it like that," he told her, not even taking her bait, "unique's a better word…you're unique."
She smiled faintly, "That's better."
Before they could continue their conversation they heard voices approaching the library doors; two very familiar voices that could bicker like no one else.
"-knock first is all I'm saying,"
The door swung open to reveal Hermione, already dressed and wide awake, Ron trailing behind her looking sheepish.
"Morning guys," Harry said, managing only to flick his wrist towards them as his other arm was still wrapped around Kitty.
Hermione however was on a mission. She strode over until she was standing in front of them, strange mixtures of emotions flittering across her face, obviously she was undecided as to which one to embrace.
"Is it true?" she demanded of Harry, looking every bit the domineering professor.
Ah, that was it, Ron had told him about proposing to Kitty. He shot Ron an annoyed look, who merely stared at his feet, tips of his ears betraying his feelings.
"Is what true?" Harry asked innocently.
"Ron told me," she began, before taking a steadying breath, "that you proposed to Cath- to Kitty."
"He did, did he?" he said, as Ron jigged from foot to foot.
He could feel Kitty's shoulders shaking with silent laughter and after a moment she pulled herself out of his arms to sit up properly and regard the girl.
"So is it true?" Hermione demanded quickly.
Hermione actually reeled back in shock.
"And you said yes?" she exclaimed, looking at Kitty now.
She merely ran her fingers through her slightly matted hair before holding up her hand; gold ring glinting in the early morning light. Hermione stared at it for much longer than was necessary or polite, a range of emotions flickering across her face; disbelief, amazement, annoyance before finally settling on shock and outrage.
"I can't believe you two!" she exclaimed, "Of all the stupid things you've done Harry this ranks right up there!"
"Hey!" he said angrily, feeling stung by her tone, "This is probably the smartest thing I've done actually!"
"And you!" she merely said, rounding on Kitty, "You know how impulsive he is, you shouldn't encourage him!"
"He didn't need any encouragement from me," replied Kitty, far from being angry her voice was full of humour.
Harry however was still annoyed at Hermione's reaction; if Remus had accepted Harry's decision like an adult, then why couldn't she?
"What's your problem Hermione?" he demanded.
"I – well…" she spluttered, obviously rendered speechless, "You're only 16! Only just 16 too! I understand you've been through a lot together this summer, but marriage? That's a massive commitment! You're only known each other less than two months!"
"We're only engaged Hermione," Kitty said, speaking before Harry could retort angrily, "it's not like we're rushing down the aisle tomorrow. And besides, we'll have years to reconsider, right Harry?"
He could help but grin at her joke, despite his annoyance.
"Well…good…" said Hermione uncertainly, "and of course, you know I am happy for you…it's just, rather sudden and unexpected…"
"You don't sound happy for us," Harry said, watching her closely.
He could see how much of an internal struggle this was for Hermione; fighting between supporting him and disapproving on moral grounds. He knew how much his friend hated breaking any rules or behaving differently in any way and it was quite intriguing to watch this personal struggle happening before his eyes.
"Of course I'm happy for you," she said finally, in a soft voice, "just, a little shocked I guess."
"Not completely shocked to be honest," said Ron, speaking for the first time now he'd sensed the danger had passed.
"Not completely shocked?" scoffed Harry, "Who was it that was shouting at a hundred decibels last night and falling of his bed?"
"You caught me off guard," muttered his friend sullenly.
Kitty laughed quietly and Harry caught her glancing at the clock, shadow pass over her expression when she caught sight of the time.
"We're going for breakfast now," Hermione said, catching this interchange, "coming?"
"I might skip it," Harry said, glancing at Kitty for confirmation.
"We'll be leaving soon," she cautioned tentatively, as if trying to measure what reaction this news would arouse in Kitty and himself.
"Exactly," he replied.
Hermione and Ron got the message and left. He turned to Kitty, who seemed to be a mirror for the expression he knew he had on his face now.
"Not long at all," she said uneasily, "I thought this summer would never end…"
"It wasn't meant too," he said, reaching up and tucking a lock of her new hair behind her ears, "I'm sorry all this happened…Sorry I didn't turn about to be the normal guy you were looking for."
"What's so good about being normal?" she asked him, looking suddenly very coy, "Anyway, it feels like my life didn't even start until that day on the bus you sat next to me."
"I know what you mean…I'm glad I caught the same bus as you," Harry told her, picking up her hands and intertwining his fingers with hers.
"I'm glad my stepdad was a bastard and we ran away together," she countered.
"Well I'm glad you came back when we had that horrible row, I'm glad you trusted me with your secrets."
"Well I'm glad that you didn't die."
"I'm glad you saved me."
"I think the magic potion probably saved you…"
"Not just for then Kitty, for saving me over and over again. For saving me from myself. For always being the one that will save me."
Kitty nodded heavily, eyes glistening now, showing the same emotion that was squeezing Harry's' heart, making it difficult to breath.
"You saved me too Harry," she managed, placing a hand over his heart, "in every possible way…"
There was a knock at the door and they both jumped. Harry's heart felt like a rolling drumbeat now.
Remus pushed opened the door and stood on the threshold.
"Time to go Harry," he said, looking as if he were delivering a death sentence.
He could only nod mutely, before turning back to Kitty. The door clicked shut behind him.
"I guess this is it," she said with some difficulty, tears shining in her eyes.
"I guess," he said weakly.
"You will write to me, won't you?" she demanded quickly, seconds numbered and limited now.
"Every day, I promise," he told her, feeling his heart squeezing painfully.
She couldn't reply, and he couldn't think of anything to say. A million and one things he should tell her were running through his mind now, all of which seemed equally important, all of which he'd never got around to saying. The long months of their summer had seemed endless, they'd wasted so much time, so much time they could have used better.
Tears were sliding freely down her cheeks now and Harry raised his hands to her face, brushing them aside with his thumbs. Far from helping, this made her even sadder and she reached out to pull him closer.
It was a bittersweet kiss. Full of love and longing, pain and sorrow. It promised so much but also marked the end. Their summer was now over, from this moment they were walking down separate paths.
As Harry pulled Kitty closer to her, he felt her tears wetting his own cheeks and he couldn't help imagining them stepping into a dark forest. He could see her setting of on a different path, running alongside his, but hidden from him. Occasional glimpses of her figure could be seen through the trees and he had no idea how long it would take for their paths to rejoin.
If they ever did.
When she pulled away she merely rested her forehead against his, noses still touching. It was a familiar position from hundreds of summer kisses, and here was the last. She gave him another swift, brief kiss before staring him firmly in the eye.
"Come back to me," she commanded fiercely.
"I will," he promised.
"Always come back to me."
Behind them the door opened again and Remus and Tonks walked in. They were both silent, but it was not the time for words. Harry thought that if he didn't leave now, he never would.
He leaned forward and placed his final kiss to his Catherine Earl, his Cathy, Caz and Kitty on her forehead.
Then he got to his feet quickly and strode from the room, knowing that if he looked back or hesitated, his resolve would break and he'd never leave her side again. The only consolation, he told himself as he marched through to house to the waiting car, was that she would be safer without him around.
He furiously wiped his eyes before stepping out into the sunshine.
Meanwhile Tonks and Kitty were left in the library. Kitty had begun to sob, not caring that everyone could see her and probably hear her; no one could understand the heart breaking despair she felt at that moment.
Distantly she heard the car pulling away, taking her Harry further and further away from her with every second. She could almost feel the hole in her soul growing.
When the tears finally ran out she'd sat for what felt like an eternity, just staring into the middle distance. Then she became aware once again that other people were in the room, and she felt strangely glad that Tonks hadn't tried to comfort her.
She looked over to her friend, whose hair was a sombre black shade to suit the occasion. She gave a small nod, hoping it would explain.
"Ok?" was all she asked.
"Ok…" Kitty replied hoarsely.
"Right then. Time for your new life too, Kaitlyn Connor," Tonks proclaimed, holding out her rucksack.
Kitty took it, hoisted it over her shoulder and wiped the tears from her face. The path ahead was dark and uncertain and she didn't know where it would lead or when it would end. All she knew was that she was going to end it as she started it; with hope, and Harry in her arms.
AN/ Two more chapters to go till the end, they're almost finished so you'll get to see how their stories end. I could have written a whole life for Kitty during book 6 and 7, but don't have the time now! I'll leave it up to you to imagine it, and let you read the upcoming Chapter 33 and the Epilogue, which should fill in the blanks!