~Fifteen

Ariana

For a second, I thought I was in limbo again; I was waking up the exact same way. Madam Pompfrey had tucked me in the bed, but one arm was out in the air. Two much firmer hands were clasped around it, and they felt warm compared to my hand. The hands worked light swirling patterns with their thumbs on my skin. The clock ticked farther down the ward, but other than that, there was only silence.

My body felt much more rested now, I felt better than I had in years. For all my complaining, Madam Pompfrey had done an amazing job. I congratulated her sleepily in my head as I woke up further. Too tired to open my eyes quickly, they slowly drifted open and focused. Harry was looking out the window at a fiery orange sun as it set. He looked happier and calmer than I had ever seen him. I closed my eyes to memorize the image, and then looked up again. He seemed deep in thought, his eyes a million miles away from Hogwarts.

I watched the light change the shadows on his face as the sun set lower and lower. Then I looked around the ward again. It was empty, Ron and Hermione were gone. I felt a smidge of happiness, I hoped they were together. "You're awake." Harry's voice made me start, and I turned my head hastily to meet his gaze. He had sounded relieved, and it made my heart swell. I couldn't help but feel relived too; I was awake, and he was here.

"How long was it this time?" I asked, and he frowned.

"Two days," He tried to say it offhandedly, but I could tell he was upset. I quickly sat up, making him jump in surprise.

"Two days?!" I said hoarsely. If I hadn't slept enough for Madam Pompfrey, I was going to run away down the ward. Harry nodded and I swore softly and laid back down, my long hair spilling out on the pillow. I closed my eyes again, and asked the question I was dreading the answer to. "How long were you out?" The longer he had been awake and I hadn't, the more worried he would be.

"Five hours." Harry's voice was flat, and I swore again under my breath, and we spent a moment in silence. "Can you…open your eyes? I'm sorry, but I've seen them closed for so long," Harry added quickly, like he was defending himself. I smiled, thinking back to what Hermione had said and obeyed. We watched each other for a moment more.

"Now what? You killed Voldemort, what are you going to do with yourself? Your schooling is done with." Harry frowned once more.

"I was thinking about that. I'm going to have to find a job. Grimmalaud Place is open for me to use, now that the Death Eaters no longer control the ministry." He sighed.

"Oh, the horror of having a job. You could always write a book or something, you'd make tons of money." I suggested, and he laughed, making me smile.

"What like a memoir? No way. I'm not a sap." He chuckled, and raised his eyebrows at me. "What are you going to do?" It seemed like he had been waiting for the opportunity to ask me.

"I'll probably live with Aberforth. He's been so lonely. I could always be a little bar wench and pass out the drinks." The look on Harry's face at my last sentence made me laugh loudly, and as my chuckles died away, his face broke into a smile.

"I can't see you doing that. But I can see you writing the memoir instead of me, you'd make tons of money." He quoted, and I laughed again.

"Most of the wizarding world is still under the impression that I'm dead, I don't think that's going to work." He squeezed my hand in his, and then his face flushed as he realized he was still holding it. As he started to let go, I squeezed back, making him stop. "But we'll have to spend time together all the time; I'm going to miss you. You'll have to come to the pub every night for a drink." Harry hesitated.

"Why don't you stay at Grimmalaud Place?" He asked in a rush. "I mean, you don't have to, I can understand if you'd want to stay with family-never mind." He ended hastily, releasing my hand.

"Harry, I would love to stay with you. We can always visit Aberforth, and the Weasley's, Hermione will be there all the time too." I said firmly. His relief was immediate, quickly crossing his face. "You are so uptight," I said under my breath, but he heard me.

"Uptight, really?" He asked, looking worried, and I laughed.

"You are more ridiculous than uptight. Why in the world would I not want to stay with you? I've stayed with you for what has it been, a year?" I sat up slowly, and like so many times before, he helped me up, till I was sitting nicely upright. He then muttered a pathetic answer I didn't hear. "Oh, Harry." I said, and then laughed; he watched me, looking a strange mix of happy and embarrassed. "Besides, I'll keep you out of trouble." He snorted before he could stop himself.

"Sorry? Did you just say keep me out of trouble? You're the one that needs looking after." He argued. I took his right hand and ran my finger over his scars. I must not tell lies. His face hardened.

"I would have kept you out of detention. I would have distracted you easily." I smirked, and he rolled his eyes again.

"Yeah…doubtful." He said sarcastically, and I leaned forward, forcing my face to stay serious.

"Are you doubting my extreme skills of distraction?" I asked gravely, and he laughed.

"I'd say yes." He chuckled. Watching him chuckle made warmth build up inside me. I leaned over and took his face in my hand and kissed him. After a moment, I backed up only a little, so we were nose to nose, and smiled. He was totally shocked, his face blank as he tried to think.

"Are you distracted now?" I whispered. He blinked, coming back to life.

"Um, yes?" He breathed, looking dazed.

"Excellent," I whispered, and kissed him again. He put his arms around me and shifted closer, returning it. His hands drifted down to the blankets, essentially around my waist as I moved my hand to just under his jaw. I broke away only when I needed oxygen, and rested my head on his shoulder, putting my arms loosely around his neck. He wrapped his arms around me.

"I guess that settles things," He said laughingly, kissing the top of my head. He sounded thrilled, and a happiness I had never known sprung up inside me where the magic had vanished.

"I guess so." I said, and the doors opened. Harry hastily let go and I quickly moved back to the center of the bed, then reclined. Ron and Hermione were coming down the ward, hands clasped. I felt a smile coming over my face, and Hermione turned a slight shade of pink when she saw me grinning at her.

"You've arisen!" Ron said, swinging over the end of the bed to sit at the foot of it. Hermione perched lightly on his knee. "We thought you'd never wake up, I swear Madam Pompfrey seriously over-drugged you," he complained.

"I woke up a couple minutes ago," I replied. "What did I miss?"

"Besides the whole wizarding world celebrating Voldemort's death and the fact that everyone suddenly heard that you're alive? Nothing much. Poor Aberforth has been stalked by reporters." Hermione said, and Ron took her hand. I raised my eyebrows.

"And I take it you two are…?" I let it drop as Hermione nodded, turning a nice red that matched Ron's hair. After a moment of silence, I swept back the covers and got out of bed, and relished the feeling of standing. "Oh, where is Madam Pompfrey?" I asked quickly, looking up towards her office.

"She left an hour ago…if you want to escape, I'd do it now." Harry said, so I leaned across him and picked up my wand from the end table and transfigured the pajamas to a pair of plain, soft pants and a blouse. After looking around the ward and not finding my shoes, I decided to just leave it be and stuck my wand up my sleeve.

"Shall we?" I asked, holding out my arm to Harry, but he took my hand instead, making Hermione's grin suddenly expand across her face. At the sound of footsteps, I looked up to see Madam Pompfrey coming down the ward.

"Why are you out of bed, Ms. Dumbledore?" She said, shocked, her hands fluttering until she came up to us.

"I'm better, Madam Pompfrey. I'm feeling better than I have my whole life." It wasn't a lie, the attacks were gone, and I was actually well rested. Madam Pompfrey blustered something I couldn't hear and turned a light shade of pink. "Thank you, for everything, but it's about time I was getting around." She smiled warmly at me.

"As long as you visit the kitchens for some real food." She insisted, and I nodded, to please her, and my stomach. After some slightly awkward goodbyes, we left the Hospital Wing.

"I don't know how you did that, but you are a genius! I wish I had been able to do that when I was here," Ron exclaimed, and I laughed. As we descended the marble staircase, I had a sudden thought.

"Can we go to the Headmaster's Office? I'd like to see Albus's portrait." I said earnestly, and Harry immediately turned around.

"We'll see you later," Hermione said, and her and Ron continued to the Great Hall.

"What is the school being used for now?" I asked Harry as we walked calmly through the school. He slung his arm around my waist, and I put my arm around his shoulders.

"After it was repaired, and all the dead buried…it's mostly just reporter's around. Everyone went home. Now that you're better, Madam Pompfrey will probably leave, and the house elves will clean the place for school next year." Harry said, and then added, "Dumbledore," to the gargoyle, and we went up the staircase again. The office had been cleared out of Snape's possessions, and had a more homey feel to it. I turned my attention to the portrait behind the chair and felt a smile immediately come over my face as Albus stopped straightening something in his portrait to see who had come in, and beamed at us.

"Albus," I greeted him, and walked around the desk to stand closer to his portrait. Harry loitered in front of the desk, giving us some space.

"It's good to see you recovered." Albus said, seating himself in his squashy chair. I could still remember the moment where we had embraced, and I had the sudden urge to do it again. The overwhelming feeling of loss and almost unfairness came back. I should have been able to spend time with him.

"It's good to be recovered. And it's great to see you again." I added, leaning against the back of his chair.

"Have you had any visions since we last met?" Albus asked, and I shook my head. "I have a favor to ask of you…would you get word to me somehow when you have one? I'm still very inclined to look after you." He said, and I laughed, drawing Harry over.

"Of course! And one more thing…do you approve?" I asked quickly, taking Harry's hand. Albus smiled.

"It was about time, Harry. I could tell after you gave yourself up to Voldemort, and when she was the first thing you mentioned. I give you my full acceptance, and my blessing, although, since I am deceased, it's not the strongest of blessings." He said, but I stood up on my tippy toes and kissed the frame of his portrait.

"Thank you!" I said gratefully and suddenly the room swam into a pinwheel and then re-righted itself into a vision.

I was seated on a silver chair, Harry beside me. I was standing next to myself. I was dressed in a sky blue fitted dress, and Harry was in a suit. Confused, I looked up, and saw Hermione in a white dress, facing Ron in a tuxedo. A minister stood behind them, and he was speaking. "Do you, Hermione Jean Granger, take Ronald Billius Weasley to be your husband?" The minister asked her.

"Oh," I said slowly in my surprise, as the scene vanished, and my vision focused to see Albus looking apprehensive, and Harry in front of me looking anxious. "No pain," I said quickly as Harry took my hands, worried that I would have an attack now that the vision had ended.

"None? Excellent." Albus looked pleased. Harry sighed with relief and moved back to my side. "Care to share, Ariana?" Albus said after a moment. I grinned.

"Not yet. It would mess things up," I said. "Trust me on this," I added, seeing Albus frown. Then he thought about it, and nodded. After goodbyes, and promises to be back, we left the office.

"Are you sure I can't know?" Harry asked, putting his arm casually around my waist again as we walked away from the Headmaster's Office.

"I think it would scare you, to be honest. All I'm saying is that you were in a suit, but it wasn't a funeral." I said, and Harry stared at me, and then nodded vigorously.

"You're right…I don't want to know. Not yet, anyway." I laughed and kissed his cheek.

Thanks guys! I know I ended kind of soon, without many answers given, but I based this story off of the Deathly Hallows, and that's how J.K. Rowling ended DH so…Speaking of the brilliant author, all of Harry's world belongs to her. My slightly altered plot is all mine, but I didn't make a new character this time. Sorry about that.

If you read and reviewed this story, thanks a million to you. Ariana as a character had fascinated me for awhile, and I'm glad my weak story about her was read and enjoyed.

blackorchestrafreak