A/N: This is it, folks. Thanks for reading! A special thank you to Mark Darcy and Verity Brown for helping me with suggestions as I was writing this. Revisions to come after thanksgiving…and I'll add something about our favorite werewolf and his beloved…
Chapter 38- Debello (Epilogue)
Children are the only form of immortality that we can be sure of.- Peter Ustinov
It had been five years since that bright day in March when Harry, Draco and Severus defeated the man once known as Tom Riddle, forever immortalized as Lord Voldemort. The grass where his blood had been spilt was still charred black, evidence of the lengths to which Riddle went in order to gain everlasting life. The grounds were just as quiet as they had been on that morning as Samantha walked up the path from Hogsmeade, holding the hand of what looked to be her replica in miniature, except for the dark obsidian eyes that sparkled out from the child's face.
"Mummy, I'm hungry," said Rebekkah. Samantha sighed as she shifted the strap of the bag on her shoulder.
"Bekkah, you just ate a snack before we left the house, love," said Samantha. "We'll have lunch when Daddy gets out of his meeting with Headmistress McGonagall, alright?"
"Okay," said Rebekkah sullenly. The gravel crunched under her small feet as they ambled up the path. As they approached the front steps, the castle door swung open, revealing a tall man dressed in black teaching robes, his long, blond hair pulled back from his smiling face.
"Uncle Elias!" cried Rebekkah as she broke free from Samantha's hand and ran towards him as he descended the steps. He swept her up into his arms, twirling her around in the air.
"Hello ma petit ange," said Draco as he kissed Rebekkah's cheek. He perched her on his hip as Samantha caught up with them. Draco gave Samantha a kiss on the cheek as they walked inside the castle.
"Where's Rachel?" asked Samantha. "I wanted to give her Bekkah's things for tonight. I don't know when we'll be through with our meetings after the Feast, so I wanted to do it before I forgot."
"She's in our chambers napping for a bit," said Draco. "Is Dad still in his meeting?"
"I think so," said Samantha. "You and Rachel are welcome to eat with us whenever he gets through."
"Which would be now," said Severus as he came down the grand staircase. Rebekkah squirmed out of Draco's arms and ran over to Severus, who lifted her gently into his arms. He walked over and gave Samantha a kiss. "Sorry, Sam. The meeting went a little longer than I thought it would. Minister Dawlish wanted to talk about getting funding for a new Quidditch stadium."
"Why in the world would we need a new Quidditch stadium?" asked Samantha. Severus looked sternly at Draco, who began whistling distractedly.
"Apparently," said Severus, still glaring at Draco. "Some alumni of the school claim that the current stadium is inadequate for the needs of today's young Quidditch player." Rebekkah looked from Draco to Severus and back again.
"Uh oh," said Rebekkah with a grin. "You're in trouble now, Uncle Elias." Samantha burst out laughing at Draco's frown. Severus chuckled as he kissed Rebekkah's forehead. Draco took Rebekkah's bag from Samantha.
"I'll just go get Rachel," said Draco. "I think we will join you guys for lunch since James and Ginny won't be here until this evening. Ginny refused to floo over here, so she and James are on the Express."
"Floo travel makes the morning sickness worse," said Samantha. "Poor Ginny is sick enough without spinning around in the network." Draco shrugged.
"It doesn't bother Rachel, so I can't really relate," said Draco with a grin. "We'll see you in a few minutes for lunch. I'm sure Rachel will be starving when I wake her up."
The Hogwarts Express pulled into the darkened station right on time. Billows of steam rolled onto the platform as the doors opened and the students poured out of the compartments. Hagrid stood waiting for them, swinging a large lantern in his hand.
"Firs' years, this way," he bellowed. He paused beside the door of one compartment, holding his lantern above a dark-haired man helping a noticeably pregnant woman down the steps and onto the platform.
"Thanks, Hagrid," said Harry as Ginny reached the platform.
"Sure thin', Harry," said Hagrid as he continued down the platform, shouting for the first years to follow him. A large group of students gathered around Harry and Ginny, chattering at them excitedly as they all walked slowly towards the carriages.
"Professor Potter!" cried a tall boy in Slytherin robes, his silver prefect badge glinting in the station light as he made his way through the crowd. Harry turned as the boy reached where he was standing. "I just caught Dylan Godfrey with some Wheezes, sir. I know you're not his Head of House, but, um…" He held out a huge bag, full to the brim with Weasley's Wizard Wheezes. Ginny chuckled to herself as Harry took it with wide eyes.
"Bloody hell," whispered Harry. Ginny hit his arm, frowning at him. Harry shied away from her glare, clearing his throat. "Thank you, Mr. Riley. I will make sure that Professor Sinistra is alerted to Mr. Godfrey's – ah – well, yes. I'll let her know. Thank you." The boy nodded and headed off in another direction. Harry looked down at the bag, shaking his head as he and Ginny continued walking.
"You know," he said thoughtfully. "I think there are a few new ones in here. Elias and I may have to test these to see what the effects are."
"Harry," said Ginny warningly. "You know how McGonagall feels about you and Draco 'researching' Fred and George's stuff. I don't think she was kidding when she said she'd give you both detention with her if she caught testing them again."
"Well, then how does she expect us to know when students are using them to get out of class, hm?" asked Harry, a satisfied look on his face. Ginny shook her head as Harry helped her into a carriage.
The Great Hall was riotous as the students finished eating their fill of the desserts on the table. The staff watched on silently in amusement, sitting in a food-induced daze. The only conversation at the High Table came from the left side of the Headmistress's chair.
"The Cup is ours this year," said Harry vehemently, pointing a chocolate-covered fork at Draco. "Slytherin's got no chance. Your entire Chaser core graduated last year. McWilliams will have his hands full trying to hold tryouts for three new Chasers, plus a reserve player or two."
"Oh really?" said Draco. "What makes you so sure that Kirkfield will be successful in his recruiting? As I recall, the Gryffindor team is lacking a set of beaters at the moment."
"You'll see," said Harry. "Gryffindor will cream Slytherin in November." He took a drink of pumpkin juice as McGonagall stood up from her chair, tapping the edge of her glass. The Hall fell silent as they all focused their attention on her.
"Welcome to another year here at Hogwarts," she said happily. "I just have a few announcements. I would like to remind everyone that the Forbidden Forest is just that – forbidden. Any student caught within the boundaries of the Forest without proper permission will be severely reprimanded." She eyed a pair of twin boys at the Slytherin table.
"Also," she continued, "our caretaker, Mr. Filch, would like for me to remind everyone that all items purchased from Weasley's Wizard Wheezes are banned from the grounds. If you are caught with these items in your possession, you will be serving detention with either Professor Potter or Professor Malfoy for as long as they deem necessary. I shouldn't have to remind you how well acquainted they are with each and every product from the Weasley brothers's shop nor the nature of said detentions." A few members of the Gryffindor and Slytherin tables went deathly pale at the mention of punishment with the professors, who were currently staring at select students around the hall.
"Quidditch tryouts will be held the third week of September," said McGonagall. "Your captains will place sign-up sheets in the commons rooms. Your Heads of House can arrange times for you to have the pitch reserved. And captains, please try to keep your Heads of House from participating. While I'm sure you all enjoyed seeing Professors Potter and Malfoy relive their days as Seekers, Madam Pomfrey doesn't want to see them in the hospital wing again." The Hall broke out in muffled laughter as Harry and Draco nudged each other none too subtly.
"And with that," said McGonagall with a smile. "Prefects, please lead the first-years to the dormitories. Sleep well. We'll see everyone tomorrow morning."