Author's Note: So, here's chapter 30. Not finished with the story, but I think I'm coming close to it. And since I spent so much time without updating this story, I feel like I need to make up for lost time, so chapters may come with more frequency. Anyways, here's Chapter 30. Read, Review, & Enjoy!

"I can't be any clearer about how crystal clear I am," Draco said, "I did it to save her life."

"Draco, nobody is disputing that," Sirius said, "But you could have gone about it a different way. The ministry is considering locking you up in Azkaban for what you did."

"Fuck the ministry," Draco said sharply, "They need me. You all need me. And frankly, I'm starting to feel unappreciated for the lengths I have gone to in the name of freedom."

"The lengths you have gone to?" Sirius asked, snatching Draco by the collar of his shirt, "I've been to hell and back, literally, for the sake of defending Harry and fighting Voldemort. Can you say the same?"

"I was in his very presence," Draco said, shoving Sirius off of him, "I sat and watched his eyes burn my very soul and leave me tainted. I may not have died, but it sure felt like it. You think I enjoyed using the Imperius Curse on my fiancée? You think it brought me pleasure? It didn't! I hated the fact. As soon as I said the words, I prayed to take them back. But I couldn't, not if I wanted Ginny to live. They'd have captured her, tortured her, and done Merlin knows what else to her before finally killing her. It was an awful thing for me to do and nobody hates me for it more than me, but I did it because it was the right thing to do!"

Sirius and Draco stood in silence for what seemed like ages, glaring at each other. Sirius sat down in a nearby chair and motioned for Draco to do the same. Draco sat, not breaking his glare.

"I had to know for myself," Sirius said, "I've trusted men in the past that I shouldn't have trusted and paid dearly for it. I had to know for certain that you could be trusted to return to Hogwarts."

"I'm not so sure I want to," Draco said.

"What do you mean?" Sirius asked.

"My last name is Malfoy," Draco said, "I'm a Slytherin. Nobody is going to trust me if I go back. My father's a Death Eater. Before all this nonsense, I was supposed to be a Death Eater. I'll never be trusted by anyone, least of all Ginny. Not after what I did has no doubt made its way around Hogwarts. I can't go back, I can't face them, and I won't."

"Draco, I hope you'll reconsider," Sirius said.

"Perhaps in time," Draco said, "For now, I think I'll stay here."

"Do you have any messages you'd like me to bring back?" Sirius asked, prompting Draco to shake his head, "Not even for Ginny?"

Draco choked down his own sorrow and slowly shook his head. Sirius nodded and left the room. Draco stared into the fireplace of his room, still fighting back the tears he knew were coming. He may never see the woman he loved again. And if he did, would she still love him?

"I need a drink," Draco said as he stood up, leaving his room.

Sirius strolled quietly through Hogwarts. He made his way to McGonagall's office and stepped inside. McGonagall and Mad-Eye Moody were waiting for him.

"How did it go?" McGonagall asked.

"Not well," Sirius replied, "For the moment, he's not returning."

"Boy doesn't want to face his peers," Mad-Eye said, "Don't blame him. I wouldn't want to face them either after news got out that I used an unforgivable."

"That's quite enough, Alastor," Sirius said, "He feels bad enough about it as it is."

"He has good reason to," Mad-Eye said, "He shows his face and he's liable to get locked up in Azkaban. I mean to do something like that…"

"Were you there?" Sirius asked angrily, "Was it your life on the line? Was it the life of the one you love on the line? We sent him there at his own peril, knowing what lied in store for him."

"He was supposed to spy and report back," Mad-Eye said, "Not use dark curses for his own personal means."

"Enough," McGonagall said, "This is not about whether or not he was right. This is about whether or not he's still with us."

"I believe he is," Sirius said, "His words seem too sincere to be false. It may just take time for him to return."

"Has there been word from any of the others?" McGonagall asked.

"Weasley and the Saint girl are on their way here from Beauxbatons," Mad-Eye said, "And word has arrived this morning that Potter and Chang are on their way back. No word from Granger and Saint as of yet."

"Very well," McGonagall said, "When they return, I want them debriefed and put in charge of organizing a defensive."

"Am I to assume that the curriculum at Hogwarts is about to change?" Sirius asked.

"War is coming, Sirius" McGonagall said, "I fear we will be on the frontline of it. I'll not have these students unprepared."

"What of the younger students?" Mad-Eye asked, "The fifth, sixth, and seventh years might be prepared with enough training, but the younger years would not last in a fight, regardless of training."

"Death Eaters will more than likely have the Hogwarts Express scouted," Sirius said, "So, it would be unwise to use that to evacuate the students."

"I am entertaining many options," McGonagall said, "When all the scouts return, we shall formulate a strategy. In the meantime, return to your posts."

Mad-Eye and Sirius nodded as they turned and exited the room, leaving McGonagall to her thoughts.

Tsunami burst forth from the water and circled around the ship as Choukichi dropped a rope ladder off the side. Tsunami opened her jaws as Harry and Cho climbed out. They ascended the ladder, followed by the Burning Lotus students.

"Your things are waiting for you in your quarters," Choukichi said, "We'll find accommodations for the rest of you."

"Thank you," Harry said.

Choukichi turned and walked off, followed by the Burning Lotus students. Harry turned to Cho and put an arm around her.

"I could use a nap," he said, "Care to join me?"

Cho nodded and walked with him to their quarters. Once inside, Harry fell onto the bed. Cho closed the door behind them and laid down next to him.

"Harry, do you think we'll be able to face Voldemort's army?" Cho asked, "Even with the help of the other schools?"

"We have to," Harry replied, "There is no choice. We are the last hope for defeating Voldemort. But we'll have to trust in each other."

"I trust you," Cho said, curling into his chest.

"I trust you, too," Harry said, running his fingers through Cho's hair.

Cho drifted off to sleep, but Harry couldn't. His mind was racing as it always was. Voldemort was planning something big, that much he was certain of. But, what he couldn't figure out was how it involved Jason. He knew there was a reason the Spiritusectum curse was used on Jason, but that reason was eluding Harry. Voldemort never did anything without purpose, but to split a powerful telepath in two and goad his darker side into…

"Of course," Harry thought, "That's the reason." It seemed so clear to him now, he'd wonder why he, much less anyone else, hadn't seen it before. "I'll have to tell Moody and Lupin as soon as I get back," he thought, "I only hope I'll arrive in time." Harry continued to stare at the ceiling as his journey neared its end.

Ron and Alice didn't speak a word on their trip home. Alice knew Ron had heard her conversation with Bill, but couldn't confess to him the details of what was wrong with her. Every attempt to read Ron's thoughts was met with great resistance on Ron's part. Ron had even gone as far as to request a second bed, refusing to share one with Alice. It was the last night of their trip and Alice refused to return to Hogwarts with this distance between them. Ron was packing his bags to prepare for tomorrow. Alice was sitting cross-legged on her bed.

"Ron, talk to me," she said. Ron said nothing.

Alice took a deep breath and exhaled. "Ron," she thought, "I want you to talk to me." Ron again said nothing.

Alice stood up, walked, over to Ron, and placed a hand on his shoulder, trying to access his mind. "Ron," she thought.

All at once, Ron's mind opened, showing her the part of her conversation with Bill that Ron had seen. Ron's shoulder lit ablaze, scorching Alice's hand enough for her to retract it.

"Ron, that wasn't what it looked like," Alice said.

"Please don't tell Ron, Bill," Ron said, "Those were your words."

"I didn't think you would understand," Alice said.

"What wouldn't I understand, Alice?" Ron asked, "You've been secret about it since we left."

"It's hard to explain," Alice said, "It was a moment of carelessness."

"And somehow you think I would look down on you for it?" Ron asked, "For Merlin's sake, I'm your bloody husband. You could tell me anything and I wouldn't judge you for it. But, you didn't think of that, did you?"

Alice fell silent. In her fear over what had happened to her, she didn't take into account that Ron was her husband for a reason.

"I'm sorry, Ron," Alice said.

"I'm going for a walk," Ron said, moving toward the door, "We'll finish this discussion later."

Ron opened the door to their quarters and stepped out, slamming the door shut behind them. Alice laid down on the bed, tears streaming down her face.

Hermione wandered into the kitchen to find Melanie cooking. "Morning, Hermione," Melanie said, "Sleep well?"

"Yes I did," Hermione answered, "Where's Jason? He wasn't around when I woke up."

"He and Harold left early this morning," Melanie replied, "It was their first time getting to spend quality time together. But, lunch is almost ready, so I suppose we should go at get them."

"Where did they go?" Hermione asked. "There's a path out back. Leads down to a private spot on the coast."

Hermione and Melanie left the house and walked down the dirt path. As they walked, they exchanged stories about Jason and got to know each other. They finally ascended a hill on the path and looked down to see Jason and Harold on the beach. They were sparring in martial arts.

"Harold gets his memory back for one day and he thinks he's the fighting master he used to be," Melanie said.

"I'm sure Jason put him up to it," Hermione said, "Jason never turns down a good fight."

"He's been that way since he was a child," Melanie said. With a chuckle, Hermione and Melanie began walking down the hill towards them.

Jason and Harold sat down from their sparring session. "You've got some moves, kid," Harold said, "You make an old man proud."

"Thanks, grandpa," Jason said, "I haven't had a fight like that in a long time."

"Your discipline is strong," Harold said, "It's the only reason that you haven't succumbed to madness with what's been done to you."

"That and Hermione," Jason said, "She's stuck by me through everything and, despite everything, loves me for who I am."

"A woman like that is a rare find," Harold said, "Be sure to hold onto her."

Jason nodded as he reached for his guitar. "I see you've taken great care of my guitar," Harold said.

"Your guitar?" Jason asked, "Grandpa, for years you forgot you even had a guitar."

"Yes," Harold said, "And now that I remembered, it's my damn guitar."

Harold and Jason shared a chuckle as Jason plucked the strings on his guitar. Out of the corner of his eye, Jason could see Hermione and Melanie walking towards them. Jason cracked a smile and began strumming the strings on his guitar.

"I remember that song," Harold said, "I use to sing it to you kids when you were little."

"And I still remember every word."

"Oh do you?" Harold asked. Jason grinned as he opened his mouth to sing.

Gonna put the world away for a minute
Pretend I don't live in it
Sunshine gonna wash my blues away
Had sweet love but I lost it
She got too close so I fought her
Now I'm lost in the world trying to find me a better way

Wishing I was knee deep in the water somewhere
Got the blue sky breeze and it don't seem fair
Only worry in the world is the tide gonna reach my chair
Sunrise there's a fire in the sky
Never been so happy never felt so high
And I think I might have found me my own kind of paradise

Jason continued to strum as Hermione and Melanie sat down. "Why don't you sing, grandpa?" Jason asked. Harold chuckled, and then nodded as he sang.

Wrote a note said be back in a minute
Bought a boat and I sailed off in it
Don't think anybody's gonna miss me anyway
Mind on a permanent vacation
The ocean is my only medication
Wishing my condition ain't ever gonna go away

Cause now I'm knee deep in the water somewhere
Got the blue sky breeze blowing wind through my hair
Only worry in the world is the tide gonna reach my chair
Sunrise there's a fire in the sky
Never been so happy never felt so high
And I think I might have found me my own kind of paradise

This champagne shore washing over me
It's a sweet sweet life living by the salty sea
One day you could be as lost as me
Change you're geography
Maybe you might be

Knee deep in the water somewhere
Got the blue sky breeze blowing wind through my hair
Only worry in the world is the tide gonna reach my chair
Sunrise there's a fire in the sky
Never been so happy
Never felt so high
And I think I might have found me my own kind of paradise

Come on in the water it's nice
Find yourself a little slice
Grab a bag pack it light
You never know until you try
When you lose yourself
You find the key to paradise

Jason started whistling as he continued playing. He finally finished and set the guitar down. "You have no idea how long I've been waiting to do that," Jason said.

"You've grown up so much, Jason," Harold said, "But, you can't stay here forever. You have a big journey ahead of you."

"I know," Jason said, "But it was nice to get away from it for a moment. Take a step back and remind myself of why I'm doing this."

"Our things are packed and ready," Hermione said, "We can leave after lunch."

Jason nodded and started to get up when Harold cleared his throat. "You know," Harold began, "I've had a thought. You see, I've heard a great deal about you, Hermione, and from what I hear, my grandson is head-over-heels for you. Reminds me of when I first began seeing my Melanie."

Melanie and Hermione both smiled. Harold leaned over to Jason and whispered something. Jason thought for a moment, and then nodded as he positioned his guitar again and started strumming.

"Harold, what's going on that mind of yours?" Melanie said. Harold simply smiled and winked at her, then nodded to Jason, who began to sing.

You may think that I'm talking foolish
You've heard that I'm wild and I'm free
You may wonder how I can promise you now
This love that I feel for you always will be

You're not just time that I'm killing
I'm no longer one of those guys
As sure as I live this love that I give
Is gonna be yours till the day that I die

Oh baby I'm gonna love you forever
Forever and ever amen
As long as old men sit and talk about the weather
As long as old women sit and talk about old men
If you wonder how long I'll be faithful
I'll be happy to tell you again
I'm gonna love you forever and ever
Forever and ever Amen

Jason played on, staring into Hermione's eyes as she blushed and smiled back. Harold stared at Melanie, casting eyes on the woman he'd missed for so long.

They say that time takes its toll on a body
Makes the young girls brown hair turn grey
But honey I don't care I ain't in love with your hair
And if it all fell out well I'd love you anyway

They say that time can play tricks on a memory
Make people forget things they knew
But it's easy to see it's happening to me
I've already forgotten every woman but you

Oh darling I'm gonna love you forever
Forever and ever amen
As long as old men sit and talk about the weather
As long as old women sit and talk about old men
If you wonder how long I'll be faithful
Just listen to how this song ends
I'm gonna love you forever and ever
Forever and ever Amen

I'm gonna love you forever and ever
Forever and ever
Forever and ever
Forever and ever

Jason trailed off the last note as he and Harold harmonized the last of the song. Hermione stood up and pulled Jason to his feet, wrapping her arms around him and kissing him.

"How is it that you're the only one who can make me feel like a giddy schoolgirl?" Hermione asked.

"I guess I'm just lucky like that," Jason replied, prompting another kiss.

Hermione, Jason, Harold, and Melanie all walked back to the house for lunch. Afterwards, Hermione and Jason said their good-byes to Harold and Melanie walked out to the road to call the Spirit Express. Dragonfire was waiting for them and beyond that, Hogwarts and the final phase of the Hogwarts Accord.

A/N: So that's Chapter 30. Things are about to go sideways for our heroes in upcoming chapters, so stay tuned. The songs were "Knee Deep" by Zac Brown Band feat. Jimmy Buffet and "Forever And Ever Amen" by Randy Travis feat. Zac Brown Band. Another chapter will be up in a week or two. For now, leave a review, any feedback is welcome.