Disclaimer: They belong to J.K.Rowling.

Finally Home

Slowly, he made his way yo the gravel strewn path, relishing in every bite of the stones through his threadbare boots. He moved slowly, his right foot dragging only slightly behind his left, an action so minute that it had to be known to be seen. It had been so long, too long, since he had made the trek up the slopes toward his home, his Hogwarts. The castle was just becoming visible above the swells of the hills, giving him the first sense of peace in two long years.

The torrents still stood tall, forever watchful, vigilant. Flags of every color fluttered in the breeze, a sure sign that classes had begun, just as they were meant to. With every crunch and scrape of his feet he came closer and closer. A gentle breeze sprung up, brining the smells of fresh bread and lavender floating through the air, surrounding him. He stopped and froze in his place, simply inhaling the smell and remembering better times and preparing for those still to come.

Laughter and a loud splash echoed in the distance, and he was sure the students were enjoying the warm weather, perhaps entertaining the Giant Squid for an afternoon. His feet, still remembering every step, stopped at an imperceptible line along the ground, a single row of small pebbles. Reaching out a tired and wavering hand, he pushed forward and was elated to find no resistance. The castle could still recognize him, his power, and he again started up the steep slopes of the beloved grounds.

He moved through the grass, watching it sway in the wind, an entity all its own. It always amazed him at just how alive everything could be. Even a rock, when thrown across the still water, could exude spirit with every ripple it created across the glassy surface. He reached across with his other hand and wrapped it firmly across his middle, the walk creating a stitch in his side. It had been far too long since he was able to move freely, and the lack of exercise had caught up with him.

Deciding to rest, he came to rest against a large tree, taking simple pleasure in the cool shade and gentle breeze brushing against his face. He could just see the two great doors from his position, elegant in their simplicity.

Letting his mind wander, he saw every time in his long life that he walked through those very doors. He was young lad running to catch his friends, only slightly older and chasing after Elizabeth Townsend, his first year as a professor, the first trip to see the governors as Deputy Headmaster, and the first time they walked arm in arm to Hogsmeade.

He sighed in remembrance and shut his eyes tightly, unwilling to allow a single detail to slip past him. It was her second year as a professor, her first from September, and she had lost a bet. To this very day he wasn't sure the exact nature of the wager, but by the fierce blush the had occupied her porcelain cheeks the entire afternoon, he had a few ideas.

It was the first weekend of November, the students were still snuggled soundly in their beds, dreaming of ill professors and cancelled exam, and they were walking toward the village. She had worn a set of burgundy robes that showed her figure magnificently, torturing him with every sway of her hips and twirl of her skirts.

They spent hours upon hours walking, talking about everything and anything, and only enjoying the other's company. It was a rare treat for professors to leave the castle during term, and they took full advantage of it. They had stumbled up the castle's steps long after nightfall, giddy and slightly tipsy from their visit to the Three Broomsticks for dinner.

Gallantly, he had accompanied her to her chambers, and, for his efforts, he was rewarded with a kiss the likes neither had ever known before. The earth had shook, time had stopped, and he wouldn't have been surprised to see a chorus of angels singing overhead.

Somehow, he had managed to pull himself away, saying goodnight before things could progress any farther and endanger the new ground they found themselves on. He crawled into bed that evening, his dreams haunted not only with the sweet taste of vanilla from her lips, but by the single flash of calf he had seen as she turned and closed the door. From then on, things progressed quickly, at least by his generations standards.

Quiet dinners and dancing in the moonlight led to heated embraces and gentle caresses beside the fire. He could never forget the feel of her supple skin beneath his finger tips, or the way his name fell from his swollen lips as they moved together. The trust and love that shone through her eyes from that moment on had sustained him, feeding his emaciated soul like no meal could. The way her lips had parted and almost breathed, "I love you," before searing his with a kiss still caused his heart to swell and his breath to hitch.

Those eyes, those lips had spurred him on, pushed him to complete every task that had seemed insurmountable. His need to hold her again, taste her again, smell her hair, had driven him home when even his own will failed. It had brought him here, and it would see him the short distance that remained.

Pushing away from the tree, he didn't get two steps before the doors before him swung open and a graceful figure straight from his dreams stepped into the sunlight. His heart stopped as he watched her descend the steps, never looking around, and begin a slow walk away from him.

She looked older, a touch of grey beginning to invade the night of her hair, but she still glided across the grass. His eyes followed her, even has his feet began to trail along behind. She came to rest before a giant white tomb, and his heart ripped and swore.

She had been through so much pain, so much heartache. He came to a stop silently behind her, not daring to speak as her tears began to fall. He could make out sobs mingled with his name slipping from between those beloved lips. Her soul screamed for relief, destruction, anything that could end the torment. "If only you were here," carried to his ears, and he could remain silent no longer.

"I would take you in my arms and whisper all the things not meant to be spoken aloud. I would hold you, rock you, ravage you," his voice became huskier, his whisper rough "until time ceased to exist and I was yours again."

He watched her freeze, her entire body preparing to fight of flee. Slowly, so slowly, she turned and faced him, and he had to reach out to steady her as he knees buckled. She stared into his blue eyes, still familiar, with a mixture of shock, rage, and something he could not identify.

She hadn't spoken, but she hadn't embraced him either, and he could feel a slow chill begin to creep into his soul. What if he was too late? What if she had found another? He had been so sure, so certain, but the look she held was nothing he could ever remember before. "You're dead," she said, definite, exact.

His eyes bored into hers, searching for the connection long ago established. "And from the ashes, it is reborn anew, whole and free of constraint, simply waiting to be called again," he said softly, daring to bring a hand to her hair, tucking a stray lock behind her ear.

In a flash, his world was alight, and his hand moved to his own cheek, shocked at the sting. Her eyes were blazing, rivaling the sun in their intensity, and tears of rage and pain streamed down her cheeks. "You bastard!" She screamed, her voice unnaturally high. "You left me alone, left Harry alone, and then you walk back here as if nothing is wrong!" S

he reached out and began pounding against his chest, trying to make him suffer, all the while venting her frustrations. He heard every hateful utterance, every spiteful slander, and he simply couldn't take another word.

He wrapped his arms around her, holding her tightly against his chest, pinning her arms between them. Leaning down, he captured her lips in a kiss of desperation, longing. After only a moments hesitation, she returned it with equal intensity.

He could feel the hurt wash away as they battled for supremacy, before he gave in. She still tasted like vanilla, he idly wondered. When they finally pulled apart, only separating enough to breath, fresh tears were streaming down her cheeks, mingling with those he hadn't realized were escaping from his own eyes. "Albus," she croaked, before pulling his lips down for another kiss.

That was where the students found them, reuniting as only they could, the sun setting behind them, the light reflecting from the empty marble beside them. They never heard the cheers, never saw the other professors looks of shock before they ushered the students inside for dinner. All they saw was the light in the other's eyes, and a new beginning.