As the train drew out of sight, Harry again locked eyes with Draco. Ron nodded to Harry and the quartet made their way over to the couple. They were unfamiliar with Draco's wife and were quick to try and introduce themselves.
"Draco." Harry nodded curtly.
"Harry, Ron, Hermione, Ginny." Draco Malfoy nodded to each of them in turn. "May I introduce my wife, Astoria?"
The woman smiled. She was the same height as Malfoy with long, wavy brown hair that was shoulder length. Her eyes were a dazzling green that rivalled Harry's in its closeness to blue.
"What a pleasure to meet you all."
"Likewise." Ron nodded, shaking her hand. "I don't seem to remember you –"
"I was three years below you, the same year as Dennis Creevey. You may remember my sister Daphne in your year."
"Yes, she was in Hufflepuff, wasn't she?" Hermione asked. They all expected to hear the same answer however it was not to be.
"Yes, I was placed in Ravenclaw. She has always envied me for that fact. Draco and I met at your first reunion 14 years ago, Daphne dragged me along and we were introduced."
"I take it that Scorpius is just starting this year." Ginny inquired politely.
"yes." Was Draco's short reply.
Noticing the lack of friendliness in his voice, Astoria rolled her eyes and motioned that the others should go. Nodding to each without saying a word, the foursome left Draco and Astoria at the platform and made their way towards where they had come from. Ron was confused.
"What's up with Draco?"
Harry shrugged. "Who knows?"
As they progressed back down the platform, Lily turned to Ginny.
"Mummy, why wasn't that man very nice to you?"
Ginny smiled and Harry felt a pang of guilt at not introducing Lily and Hugo, as once again his curiosity had got the better of him. "Because darling, that was Draco Malfoy. He, your parents and your Uncle Ron and Aunt Hermione were on very bad terms at their time at Hogwarts. In fact your father saved his life twice but at the same time, also almost killed him on several occasions."
"Oh," was all the reply Lily could think of. She decided to talk it over with Hugo as Harry set up two Portkeys to transport them back home. It was a subject that had never come up in the family home and the idea of her father almost killing another man was a nasty thought for a nine year old girl. Ron, however, was staring wistfully down the platform where the train had gone out of sight not two minutes ago. Hermione tugged at his sleeve and pulled him away. Clearly Ron was in a 'going back to Hogwarts' mood that Hermione knew so well. Of the three of them, she had been the only person to return to Hogwarts to complete her education with Ginny's year. Thanks to Kingsley Shacklebolt, Harry and Ron were not required to get the NEWT grades they needed to become Aurors but Hermione had bought them the set books anyway. Harry and Ron had always wished that they had gone back to Hogwarts, Harry sometimes went to give lectures on the dark arts to students but the last one was three years ago and it wasn't as fun as being a student. Hermione, however, was brewing up a plan.
"Let us know when Albus gets his house letter. We are as eager to find out which house he is in as you are." Hermione said to Ginny.
"Of course, why wouldn't we? The same likewise with Rose?"
"We would all like to think we know where our children will be headed, but you can never be sure." Harry said deeply.
There was an awkward silence followed only by coughing as Hugo noticed the Portkeys suddenly turning blue. There was a quick flurry as the families arranged themselves around their respective Portkeys before the familiar naval-jerk-sensation was felt and soon enough the Potter family were safely back at 12 Grimmauld Place, the home Sirius Black, Harry's godfather had left him.
Harry looked down the hallway with a certain fondness. It had taken several Aurors, but now, as Lily rushed up the corridor and into the kitchen, there was no painting of Mrs Black hanging in the hallway. After hours of trying and giving up, it had transpired by proving that there were no Black members left to own Grimmauld Place, she had willingly let her painting been taken down and thrown away. The shame had clearly been far too much to bear. The rest of the house had been easier to sort out then. The family tree had been restored with the names of Sirius, Andromeda and all the other names that had been blasted off were restored to their original condition. It was now also home to the Potter and Weasley family trees which had been erected by Harry and Ginny to make the room feel a little bit more homely. Harry wondered through the house, memories flooding in. The kitchen, where Kreacher, who had died of old age a year after the Battle of Hogwarts, had willingly served Harry, Ron and Hermione food before they attempted to break into the Ministry. The room full of family trees was where Sirius had told him of his true meaning why he was good and not evil by having a connection with Lord Voldemort.
As Harry reached the first floor landing and the first set of rooms, he paused. The entire summer before his fifth year had been spent cleaning them. It had made moving in a lot easier with a four and two year old and a heavily pregnant wife. The windows took less than a minute to clean with his wand and it had given him great pleasure to change the curtains. Opposite the main guest bedroom was the living space. Harry and Ginny had decided not to spoil the children but to introduce them into the Muggle world. For Ron and Ginny, it had been quite a shock, living in the Muggle world by themselves and not dependent on their family. Like many other Muggle families, they had board games and a computer which allowed Harry to do a lot of his work. Although this was no longer very much work, it allowed him to communicate with his father-in-law, Arthur Weasley.
The second floor housed James, Harry and Ginny's bedrooms. Harry had refused flat out to change Sirius's room and after a while had consented to let Ginny clean it of dust. Harry pushed open the door and the same feeling of pleasure struck him. Emblazoned with Gryffindor colours, it was the only room in the house that didn't need changing in Harry's eyes. The only person allowed to sleep in here was Teddy, Harry's godson. Feeling duty-bound, Harry felt it right to let his godson sleep in his godfather's room. Despite being placed, to genuine surprise, in Ravenclaw, Teddy had not objected to the Gryffindor colours and had once confided in Harry that he had wished he had been put in Gryffindor. Harry had put this down immediately saying that he was in Ravenclaw for a reason. Teddy had felt much more at home with this but Harry still noticed a slight look of discomfort in Teddy's eyes whenever he came for dinner, surrounded by Gryffindors, so he often invited Luna, his close friend and another ex-Ravenclaw around to make him feel at ease.
One of the first rooms to have been changed was Regulus's room. To respect his memory and help in Voldemort's downfall, Harry and Ginny had left Regulus's plaque but had placed beneath it a different plaque which read: 'this room belongs to James Sirius Potter. Please knock before entering'. The blazing Slytherin hangings had been quickly demolished and replaced with brighter colours that had soon turned into red and gold, when James came home from his first term at Hogwarts. Harry pushed open the door. The room was now bare and the spot where James's owl, Colin, normally stood was now empty. Having done plenty of research and in honour to their parents, James, Albus and Lily had agreed between themselves to name their animals after people who had died during the years 1997-1998. James had taken it quite far and had called his tawny owl: Colin Tom (after Lord Voldemort but James insisted that he wanted to call him by his proper name) Frederick Stan Antonin Potter. James had a thing about the Death Eaters and had been keen to find out about them. Albus had obtained a beautiful snowy owl and named her Nymphadora (though known as Tonks) Hedwig Potter. Lily was torn between her names as she was yet to have an animal, but she adored both Colin and Tonks. James's walls were scattered with photos from his first year and Harry smiled as he matched them in his memory to the letters James had sent. Although not quite as eventful, James did seem to have had a quite full-on first year. Harry thought and marvelled now at the amount of children he knew attending Hogwarts. Harry paused by the room that he and Ginny occupied. It was the largest bedroom in the house, opposite Sirius's room and was ornately furnished like the rest of the house.
With a pang of sadness, Harry continued up the stairs to where Albus and Lily's rooms were. These rooms too, were considerably large and spacious. Albus was a great thinker like his namesake and his room was lined with bookshelves, now a quarter empty. He had asked Hermione to put an Undetectable Extension charm on the suitcase and she had willingly obliged. Only after casting the spell, did she reveal to Harry and Ginny what she had done and Albus had not been sorry. They had put their foot down on how many books Albus could take but that hadn't stopped him from taking as many as he could. His room was a piercing blue with streaks of black. Albus had insisted on this as he wanted his bedroom to reflect the eyes of his two namesakes. Harry had thought this an odd choice at first, but the black streaks really worked and almost looked like they were moving. Harry again felt a pang of sadness. Now there were no boys to stop shouting to stop running around and cause havoc. Now he couldn't have in-depth conversations with Albus about the things that worried him. Taking his mind off the subject, Harry looked across into Lily's room. She was a great fan of the Holyhead Harpies, and had lots of posters of her mother and the team in their various robes each season. A board on the side represented all the tickets to the games Lily had attended and it was getting more and more full every month. Photos of the family on holiday, the Leaky Cauldron, letters from James from Hogwarts and a quick and slightly blurred picture from James's first day at Hogwarts also made up the walls that were now a pleasant shade of light purple.
"Harry, food's ready." Ginny called.
Harry stood at the top of the staircase and felt a huge surge of guilt wash over him. So many people had apparated up and down these stairs that would never do it again. He would never get to hug Sirius by the kitchen door every morning. He would never see Tonks knocking over the umbrella stand and Lupin would never cross the threshold where he had 19 years ago and Harry had called him a coward. He felt a fresh surge of guilt. He had never said sorry for that, he wished he had. Remus Lupin was one of the bravest men that Harry had ever known. He would never hear the stumping of Mad-Eye Moody's false leg and wooden stick clunking down the hallway and there would be no more peals of laughter as Fred and George try to entertain the family with the latest range from Weasley Wizard Wheezes.
Almost in a way to say thank you to all those people who had sacrificed their lives, Harry decided not to use magic. Feeling childish, Harry couldn't help himself as he raced down the stairs. He could have easily apparated but he didn't feel like it. He wanted to feel the sensation that the boys had as they raced each other down the stair at eight o'clock in the morning. He wanted to remember how it felt when he was last here and unable to apparate inside the house, having to make those long flights of stairs seem really quick. As he reached the bottom, he smiled and knew that all was well.