"So, what are you going to do now?"
Draco Malfoy shrugged, "Don't know. You?"
Theodore Nott returned the shrug with a grimace.
The future seemed bleak for both of them. The Second Wizarding War had officially ended that morning—well, it was actually yesterday morning, since Astoria Greengrass was pretty sure it was currently after midnight. Less than twenty-four hours ago, Harry Potter had defeated the Dark Lord Voldemort, and much of the Wizarding World was celebrating. At the top of the Astronomy Tower at Hogwarts, however, the mood was not very celebratory. Astoria, her sister Daphne, Theodore, and Draco were currently drinking some Firewhiskey pilfered from the celebration downstairs. Theodore's father, a Death Eater, had fled when the tide of the battle turned against them just before dawn. Draco was a Death Eater himself, as was his father, and if the rumors were true, then the Dark Lord had actually had his headquarters in Malfoy Manor. He was probably going to Azkaban for life, with his entire family, and he knew it, Astoria thought, looking at the unnatural paleness of Draco's face and noting that he had been quieter than usual this evening. Perhaps he was planning to leave the country before the new government got organized enough to capture him and his family. Daphne and Astoria didn't have any Death Eaters as close relatives, and although their family sympathized with the Dark Lord's aims, Astoria was pretty sure her family could easily explain away any financial support they might have given to the Dark Lord. However, they were both Slytherin—their entire family had been Slytherin—and that was enough to garner hatred among the victors.
The four of them sat in silence for a while, passing the bottle of Firewhiskey and looking at the half moon and the stars. Astoria wasn't sure if she had dozed off or not when she was awoken by footsteps coming up the stairs to the tower. Everyone froze, and Astoria noticed Theo slowly pull his wand out of his pocket. Anybody currently coming up the stairs was probably not friendly.
The person who appeared was the one of the last people Astoria would expect to see climbing the stairs to the Astronomy Tower at this time. Harry Potter was supposed to be downstairs in the Great Hall celebrating with everybody else, or else at the Ministry with the new Minister, figuring out how to rebuild after the war. He was not supposed to be alone at the top of the Astronomy Tower, leaning against the rails and looking at the stars.
With a long sigh, Harry Potter slid down and leaned against one of the posts. Something glinted on His cheeks—were those tears? Draco looked uncomfortable, and scuffed his trainer against the floor. Harry Potter's wand was facing them in a heartbeat. He hastily wiped his eyes—He was crying. Why? And why, oh why did Draco have to get His attention? Didn't he know that Harry Potter was the person who had the most right to hate them all, and also that He could probably get away with murdering them all if He felt like it? Not that Astoria thought He would, but still.
Astoria saw Him look at her, and stiffened. She felt Daphne stiffen beside her, and Theodore also looked tense. Draco, on the other hand, didn't. He took a sip of the Firewhiskey, and held it out to Harry Potter, "Want some, Potter?"
Harry Potter still had His wand pointed at them all. He turned to Draco, "The night that Dumbledore died . . ." Now Draco stiffened. ". . . when you told him how you got the idea to poison the mead, what did he say?"
Draco grimaced, "He told me not to call Granger a Mudblood." Harry Potter lowered His wand. Draco smirked, "So now that I've proven my identity, you trust me?"
Harry Potter grinned slightly, but ignored the question. "I'll leave. Sorry to have bothered you." He nodded at them and turned to go.
Astoria gave a soft sigh of relief. That went better than she had expected. Daphne and Theodore also relaxed slightly, although Theodore still had his wand pointing at Harry Potter. Draco, on the other hand, said, "Come on, have a bit of Firewhiskey. I thought you said you trusted me." He took another sip, as if to emphasize that it wasn't poisoned. Astoria wondered what Draco was thinking. Maybe he had had more Firewhiskey than they thought he had. He should just let Harry Potter leave before the situation got even tenser. Harry Potter stood, indecisive, watching Draco. Then he seemed to come to a decision, grabbing the Firewhiskey and taking a swig. He nodded his thanks, and Draco motioned for Him to sit down, which He did.
Draco introduced them all, "Theodore Nott." Harry Potter nodded at Theodore. Theodore just barely nodded back. He still had his wand out, and seemed just as confused about the situation as Astoria. "Daphne Greengrass." Daphne smiled at Harry Potter, although Astoria noticed it was a little strained. "Astoria Greengrass." Astoria nodded at Him. She wasn't sure she trusted herself to smile. He smiled at her, though, and nodded back.
Harry Potter looked back at Draco, and then reached in His pocket for His wand. Everyone tensed again, even Draco. Harry Potter pulled out His wand, and turned it so the handle was facing Draco, and pushed it into his hand. "Here Dr . . . Malfoy. It's yours."
Astoria had never seen Draco look so surprised. She was pretty sure her own jaw had dropped to the floor and rolled off the Astronomy Tower, all the way to the grounds below. Draco stuttered, "Wh . . . What?" Harry Potter was smirking, and seeing this, Draco visibly pulled himself together. "First of all, were you just about to call me Draco, Potter?" Harry Potter shifted uncomfortably, and Draco smirked. "And why in Merlin's name are you giving me my wand back?" He looked almost as confused as before.
Harry Potter shrugged, "I fixed mine, so I don't need yours anymore."
"You know that's not what I meant, Potter," Draco said. "Wait, what? Why would you fix your old wand? Didn't you say that the Deathstick is yours?"
Harry Potter shrugged again, "I don't want it. I like my wand better. I used the Elder Wand to repair my wand, and . . ." He shrugged yet again.
Draco was gaping at Harry Potter. "You mean to tell me that the most powerful wand in the world is yours, and you don't want it?"
Daphne joined the conversation. "Well, it's not like he needs it. I mean, he just defeated the darkest Dark Lord ever with an Expelliarmus, didn't he?" That was what the rumors were saying, but Astoria wasn't sure whether to believe it. "Wait a second," Daphne turned to Harry Potter, "If your wand was broken, what did you use to fight the Dark Lord? Draco's wand?"
He nodded. Draco dropped the wand as if it had bitten him. Daphne laughed, "No way. You used Draco's wand to fight the Dark Lord?"
It was pretty amusing, but Astoria was still wondering the same thing Draco asked, "That still doesn't explain why you're giving me my wand back."
Harry Potter took a while to answer, "I don't really know." He shrugged. "Nobody in your family has a wand anymore, and you probably want one." He smirked. "Maybe I do trust you." He grinned. Draco grinned a little back, then slowly reached out and picked up the wand, staring at it. He put it away, and then looked up.
"How do you know nobody in my family has a wand? Come to think of it, you always seem to know things that you shouldn't. Like fifth year, how did you know to go to the Department of Mysteries? Or yesterday—two days ago—whenever, you knew that the Dark Lord was attacking Hogwarts before He announced it. Although I assume the Carrows or Professor Snape found you and called Him, so I guess that would be a logical assumption to make . . ." He trailed off, looking at Harry curiously.
Harry seemed to debate how best to answer, but then he said, "When Voldemort . . ." everyone flinched, "Sorry . . . when he attacked me when I was one, he made a connection between us, so I could get into his head."
"What? You could possess the Dark Lord?" Theodore asked.
"No. I couldn't control what he was thinking or doing or anything, but I could feel and see and hear what he could feel and see and hear."
"You could feel what the Dark Lord felt?" Draco looked horrified, "That must have been . . ." He seemed scared to finish the sentence, as if the Dark Lord would find out about the conversation. Astoria felt the same way. She wished they could talk about something other than the Dark Lord. It gave her the shivers. Draco continued, though, "So whenever you wanted to find out what the Dark Lord was doing, you just entered His mind?"
"I couldn't do it whenever I wanted to, only when he was really happy or really angry and wasn't using Occlumency against me. I was supposed to learn Occlumency, too, but I just recently got it a bit, so whenever he was extremely angry I would just collapse and kind of become him for a while. It was horrible, but it did come in useful. Other times I just felt his emotions without collapsing."
"You became Him? How is that different from possessing Him?" Daphne asked.
"When someone is possessed, they don't remember what happened while they were possessed, and they can be forced to do whatever the possessor wants them to do."
"How do you know all that about possession?" Draco asked. "You weren't ever possessed, were you?"
"No, but I know someone who was."
"Me." Harry had jumped up and fiercely hugged the newcomer before Astoria could figure out who it was. Ginny Weasley and Harry Potter were so closely entwined Astoria wasn't sure which legs belonged to whom. The two of them were murmuring to each other, and then pulled apart just enough to start a long slow kiss. It was obvious they hadn't seen each other in a long long time, and that they desperately loved each other. It was one of the most beautiful things she had ever seen.
Draco, though, didn't seem to think so. "That is absolutely disgusting, Potter. Please desist immediately."
Harry Potter and Ginny Weasley made identical rude gestures towards Draco, but otherwise didn't change anything. Astoria giggled at the offended look on Draco's face. Eventually, the two of them stopped kissing, but continued hugging. "Marry me, Ginny."
They pulled apart slightly, and looked at each other. Harry looked shocked, as if he couldn't believe he had just done that. "Sorry. . . . I'll get you a ring and everything, and ask you in a more . . . romantic . . . way and . . ." But Weasley interrupted him.
"More romantic than the top of the Astronomy Tower in the middle of the night right after the end of a bloody war with the moon and the stars shining down on us? And I don't really need a ring." She grinned. "But I think you should probably get me one before we tell my parents."
"So you two actually just got . . . engaged?" Draco asked.
The two of them looked at each other as if they weren't sure, but then said, "Yes," with identical smiles blossoming on their faces.
"Well, congratulations." Draco raised the Firewhiskey bottle. "You two deserve each other."
Harry grinned as he sat down, "I think I'm going to take that as a compliment."
Weasley sat down next to him. "He doesn't mean it as one, though, does he?" she asked wryly.
"Wow, look at that! Potter's fiancé . . ." Harry and Weasley grinned at the word, ". . . is actually semi-intelligent! Who would have thought?"
"Wow, look at that!" Weasley countered. "A Malfoy admitted a Weasley was intelligent!"
"Well, you're not as bad as your buffoon of a brother," Draco admitted.
"Which buffoon of a brother are you talking about? I have a bunch."
Draco grinned and offered Ginny the Firewhiskey, which she drank without hesitation, even though Astoria knew she couldn't be seventeen yet. Seeing Astoria's surprised look, she said, "I've had plenty of Firewhiskey before. With all those buffoons, I tended to sneakily learn things that they were learning."
"Like flying," Draco said.
"Yes, exactly," she smirked. Ginny and Draco had been captains of the Gryffindor and Slytherin Quidditch teams, respectively, and everyone knew that Ginny Weasley was the reason Gryffindor had scraped so many wins, even with Snape and the Carrows doing everything in their power to ensure a Slytherin victory. In one memorable game, Draco had been forced to catch the snitch to keep it from the Gryffindor seeker, yet Gryffindor had still won 220 to 190, all because of Ginny's spectacular goals. Gryffindor had barely been allowed on the pitch for practices after that, but Ginny had been the talk of the school for months afterwards.
"So anyway," Daphne said, clearly trying to steer the conversation away from Quidditch, which she hated, "If you two are engaged, I suppose that whole thing about you two having broken up was fake?"
"Not really," Harry answered.
"Basically," Ginny interrupted, "He broke up with me only because he figured it would be safer for me." She sounded disdainful.
"Which it was," Draco muttered.
Harry and Ginny looked at him curiously.
"It was," Draco said. "If we had thought you were still Potter's girlfriend, . . ." He shrugged. "It was a good move."
"That doesn't mean I liked it," Ginny said. Then she turned to Harry, "So all we need to do now is get Ron and Hermione together . . ."
"Yeah, right in the middle of the battle, Hermione flings herself at Ron, and they snog right in front of me as spells are flying all around them and we have to go find . . . something . . ." He stopped.
"Wait, you're telling me that the three of you were off all by yourselves for months, and nothing happened, and then the two of them start snogging in the middle of the battle? Yesterday?"
"Oh come on, we had more important things to do! Like helping Harry!" Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger appeared on the tower, hand in hand.
"Which is also what you were supposed to be doing when you two decided to jump each other in the middle of a battle!" Harry grumbled, but he was smiling.
Ron Weasley grinned, "Sorry." He and Granger came closer. "What are you doing telling all about our love lives to Slytherins?"
"Actually, I was telling Ginny, and they just happened to be there." Harry shrugged dismissively.
Granger jumped in, "What's happened?"
"You and Ginny. You both look . . . happy. Happier than . . ." She didn't seem to know how to explain herself. Harry and Ginny looked at each other.
"We're engaged," Harry told Granger, but he was looking at his other friend.
Granger squealed and leaned down to hug the two of them, while Weasley said, "Congratulations mate." Then he got a wicked grin. "So for the placemats for your wedding dinner, can you use all the pictures Ginny drew as a kid—the ones she signed, 'Ginny Potter'?"
Ginny shrieked and attacked Weasley, while Harry and Granger laughed. Draco and Theodore looked disdainful. "I guess she's a buffoon, too," said Draco, loud enough so Harry could hear. He glared. Draco was unrepentant.
Ginny eventually sat down again, and offered the Firewhiskey to her brother. Granger looked disapproving, but she drank some too, when Weasley offered it to her. They sat down, but Astoria noticed that they were careful not to sit near Draco, instead sitting between Ginny and Theodore, with Granger in between the two Weasleys. "What did Draco do? Why are you sitting so far away from him?" Astoria immediately realized that she probably should not have asked that. A more appropriate question would probably have been, 'What didn't Draco do?' What was amazing was that Potter was sitting next to Draco, not that Weasley and Granger were avoiding him.
Nobody answered. "Sorry," she said.
Granger spoke up, "I was tortured. It's no big deal really. Lots of people have been tortured."
But clearly it was a big deal. Draco had been studiously avoiding looking at anyone after Astoria asked the question, but now he looked up and spoke, "Not a big deal?! I was honestly surprised to see you were still alive yesterday. When they said Potter and two accomplices broke into Gringotts, I thought the third person was Thomas, or maybe Lovegood. Not you. And then you fought her, less than a month after she had almost tortured you to death. People always say you should have been in Ravenclaw." He looked her in the eye, "I usually don't mean this as a compliment, but you really are a Gryffindor through and through." He looked away again, as the light from the rising sun hit him in the face.
Granger looked stunned, but pleased. Her boyfriend's mouth had fallen open unflatteringly, and Theo and Daphne also looked extremely surprised. Ginny was watching Harry, who was looking at the sunrise with a smile on his face. Last sunrise had marked the end of a war. This sunrise seemed to mark a future of peace. Four Slytherins and four Gryffindors were sitting together, sharing a drink and talking. Draco Malfoy, Slytherin prince with parents of the purest blood, had just complimented Hermione Granger, Mudblood (Muggle-born) witch and the pride of Gryffindor. There was hope in everyone's eyes. Astoria took Draco's hand and raised the bottle: "To the Future."
"To the Future."