Disclaimer: Nothing belongs to me, everything belongs to JK Rowling
'I will pick you up from Mandy's tomorrow,' Severus told his son as students milled around them to get on the Hogwarts Express.
'Yes, Father,' Harry said.
'Have a safe trip,' Severus said, before scowling at himself. Too paternal he thought disgustedly.
Harry gave a small out of sight grin before climbing on board. He went to his compartment and sat down just as the train started to move.
'What a year,' said Daphne with a sigh.
'I know,' said Mandy. 'Who would have thought a magical school would be so demanding!'
There was silence then they all started laughing. This continued for a few minutes before they lapsed into silence again.
'I wonder what next year will bring?' Mandy said suddenly.
Harry gave a sudden huge grin. 'What Voldemort has planned, do you mean?' he asked.
Mandy grinned back. 'And Granger and Weasley.'
'Not to mention Malfoy and his cronies,' added Daphne.
And Dumbledore and McGonagall, Harry added silently. I wonder what they will cook up next year.
Harry gazed at his friends thoughtfully as they settled into favourite pastimes. Daphne and Mandy bent over a book together, furiously learning more spells before the "no underage magic during the holidays" restriction came into effect; Crabbe and Goyle labouring through a game of Exploding Snap. Watching them, Harry realised he'd become incredibly fond of them all and rather attached. He'd hate to lose any of them now, not that he would admit such a thing to any of them. Not even Daphne.
Harry was a new person now. He wasn't as cold and detached as he used to be; that was just a mask now. He'd finally learnt how to be an eleven-year-old boy and he'd discovered he rather liked himself the way he was.
Daphne looked up, feeling Harry's intense gaze focused on her. She raised an elegant eyebrow and Harry inclined his head. Their silent communication of "are you alright?" and "yes, thank you".
His thoughts happily settled, Harry took out his Chemistry book and buried his nose in it.
Halfway through the journey a knock on the compartment door signalled the arrival of Longbottom.
'Snape,' Longbottom said evenly. 'May I have a word?'
Harry stood and followed the boy into the corridor.
'Your Alliance proposal,' Longbottom began.
'You haven't yet come to a decision,' Harry interrupted.
Longbottom bravely stared directly into Harry's eyes. 'No, I have not,' he agreed calmly. 'There's something about you I don't trust, Snape,' he said honestly. 'Yet, there's also something about you that I do trust. I'm going to need a lot more time to think this through. In the meantime, I will be watching your every move.'
Harry inclined his head. 'Indeed, Heir Longbottom,' he said. 'Take as long as you need.'
Longbottom nodded once. 'My apologies, Heir Snape,' he said before walking away. Harry watched him go before going back into his compartment.
'What was that about?' Daphne asked curiously.
'A matter of an Alliance between the Ancient House of Longbottom and the House of Snape,' Harry said. 'Longbottom would, despite his ineptitude, be a useful Ally in a time of war.'
Daphne looked thoughtful. 'Indeed he would,' she eventually agreed.
Towards the end of their journey they started discussing their holiday plans.
'Mummy and Daddy are planning on a holiday to the south of France,' Mandy said. 'It should be really interesting. I'm hoping to visit some French wizarding places.'
'I'll send you a list of the best places to go,' Daphne promised. 'Mother and Father are taking me to Greece. I can hardly wait.'
Crabbe and Goyle wouldn't be going anywhere unless the Snapes gave them express permission to take a holiday.
'Father has not mentioned a holiday to me,' Harry confessed. 'I don't expect one, though, never having been on one before.'
'Your father's been great though, Harry,' Mandy said. 'If you told him, I'm sure he'd take you somewhere for a week or so.'
Harry shrugged. 'I guess,' he said.
As they neared London, they eagerly changed into Muggle clothing and stuffed their uniforms into their trunks with a cheer. Those hated things would not see the light of day until the 1st September.
As the train pulled into the platform, students began hanging out of the windows and shouting greetings to their parents and siblings. Suddenly, the train was much noisier than it had been and Harry had to shout to make himself heard.
'Mandy, I expect regular Owls from you. Daphne, you will see me on most days. Crabbe, Goyle, you will Floo-call me on a regular basis and I will Floo you if your assistance is required.'
'Yes, Harry,' Mandy and Daphne chorused with smiles.
'Yes, Boss,' Crabbe and Goyle grunted.
'I guess this is goodbye then,' Harry said rather awkwardly.
'Only for the summer,' said Mandy with a grin. 'And not even the whole summer. I'm sure we'll meet up at some point. We simply have to.'
Harry grinned back. 'Too right,' he declared, heaving his trunk off the train. 'Friends for life, that's us, right?'
'Right!' the others agreed.
So it was with smiles and laughter that the gang parted for the summer.
A/N: *sob* it's finished! Now I've got to start on the next book. It might take a while as I have other projects to work on as well but it will get done. I promise!
Many thanks to iGymnast for all her hardwork in betaing this for me. You're the best, sweetie!