Author's notes: Beginning with Draco's unexpected arrival at the Dursleys, Harry's summer after sixth year becomes filled with activity and many secrets. As his summer progresses, Harry generates several unexpected allies as he finds himself actively becoming the leader of the Light side. H/D, post-HBP, WIP
Disclaimer: Harry Potter and company are property of J.K. Rowling.
Beta: An extra special thank you to Bookgirl who has been with me on this fic since September. And to Gestaltrose and Lucie who have also provided invaluable support and suggestions over the last few months. Thank you, ladies, for everything!
“Victoria!” Harry exclaimed in exasperation.
She ignored him, happily splashing more water.
Harry sat back on his heels in resignation. At least he’d managed to get her clean. He’d even got her hair washed. He looked down at himself. He might not be clean, but he was certainly wet enough.
“You look like you were in the tub with her,” Draco drawled.
Glancing over his shoulder, he sneered at Draco, who was casually leaning against the doorframe.
“You knew this would happen,” he retorted. “You’re the one who bought her the new –,” he waved his hand expansively over the tub, “– whatever this bloody thing is that sprays water everywhere.”
“It’s called a whale,” Draco supplied helpfully.
“I know it’s a whale,” Harry said, wishing Draco was close enough so he could smack him. “But I have a hard time calling this thing a toy. Toys aren’t this real. They don’t spray water at random moments because they’re coming to the surface to breathe!”
“It is not my fault that you are poorly educated in the matter of magical toys,” Draco said.
“Victoria, I think your daddy should come over here so we can educate him in the matter of whales,” Harry said conversationally.
“Fis!” Victoria said proudly, lifting the toy out of the water, just in time for it to spray more water over Harry. Harry spluttered. Victoria giggled. Draco doubled over with laughter from the safety of the doorway.
“All right, you’re done,” Harry declared. “With both the fish and the bath.”
He got Victoria out of the tub and wrapped her in a fluffy towel before plopping her into Draco’s arms. “You can get her dressed. I quit.”
He could hear Draco’s sniggers all the way up the stairs. Drying off and changing into pyjama pants, he headed back downstairs to the nursery where it was his turn to lean against the doorframe. Draco was rocking Victoria as he read to her. She was almost asleep and it wasn’t long before Draco was laying her in her cot.
“She went to sleep extra fast tonight,” Harry observed.
Draco shrugged. “She had a busy day,” he said, tucking her in. “I think she had a nice birthday, though, even if it was a day early.”
Harry snorted softly. “She’s certainly got enough new toys and clothes to last her for the next year,” he said.
“And it appears she likes her new bath toys,” Draco said innocently.
“You will teach me the charm to turn the bloody thing off,” Harry retorted. “I’m certain you know it.”
“Maybe,” Draco said, smirking. It was a direct admission as far as Harry was concerned, but he was sidetracked by a different thought.
“Do you think she’ll have trouble adjusting to being at Hogwarts?” he asked, looking at her sleeping peacefully. “This is our last night here, after all.”
“I think she’ll be fine,” Draco said. “She adjusted well enough from your relatives’ house to here, didn’t she?”
Harry blinked, trying to remember. It felt like an entire lifetime had passed since then and he’d been so busy that it was all rather a blur now.
“She’ll be fine, Harry,” Draco reassured when he didn’t say anything. “We’re going to be the ones having trouble adjusting,” he added ruefully.
Sighing, Harry could only agree.
“No depressing thoughts,” Draco ordered. “I can hear them forming in your head.”
“You can hear them?” Harry questioned, arching a brow.
“Yes, I can,” Draco declared haughtily. “I’m also becoming quite proficient at recognizing your ‘depressing thoughts forming’ expression.”
Harry shook his head in exasperation, but he was actually pleased that Draco knew him that well. Depressing thoughts formed quite frequently in his head recently and he wasn’t sure where he’d be without Draco. Draco wouldn’t allow him to be depressed for long.
“Come on,” Draco said, taking his hand and squeezing lightly in reassurance. “Let’s go see what the others are doing.”
“Why are you already in pyjamas?” Remus asked Harry curiously as they entered the drawing room. “Or do I dare ask?” he said warily as Harry scowled and Draco started laughing again.
“I had to change and, since I’ll be going to bed soon, it made sense to put on pyjamas,” Harry said.
“What a fine Slytherin he’s turning out to be,” Lucius drawled in amusement. “Did you notice that he answered the question, and yet, conveniently sidestepped the reason he had to change in the first place?”
Rolling his eyes, Harry flopped onto the couch and propped his feet up on the coffee table. Draco sat beside him and explained the fiasco with the whale.
“I am pleased she’s enjoying her gifts,” Narcissa said.
“We’ll have to make sure the whale gets packed,” Draco drawled, earning himself a smack on the thigh from Harry.
“Are all of you packed?” Severus asked, a warning in his voice suggesting that it was in their best interests to answer yes.
Crabbe and Goyle nodded. Blaise wasn’t there, as he’d gone home for the few days before term started to spend some time with his mother. Harry didn’t particularly want to answer.
Draco glanced at him knowingly before answering Severus. “Yes, we’re both packed,” he said. “There’s just a few things that I can’t pack until morning.”
Harry looked at him in surprise. “I’m packed?”
“Yes, you are,” Draco said. “While you were busy fighting the whale, I finished getting everything into our trunks.”
“Oh. Thank you,” Harry said. “I hate packing.”
“I’ve noticed,” Draco said dryly.
“We’ll take your things to Hogwarts in the morning,” Narcissa said. “I know you wish to take the train for your last year, but there’s no sense in your luggage making the trip as well.”
“We’ve got too many trunks to take on the train anyway,” Draco said.
“We do?” Harry asked.
“We’ve got clothes in one, books and school supplies in another, and a third trunk for everything else,” Draco said. “Your pet supplies alone will take up half the space in that one.”
“They can’t take up that much space,” Harry protested.
“I can’t actually pack them until in the morning, but Fawkes’ perch, even shrunk, takes up room,” Draco said. “So does the snake tank. We’re not carrying the bloody thing, so we’re just going to have to wear the snakes tomorrow. Supplies for their tank plus the birds’ treats are already packed, though.”
“Good thing you’ve got all this organized,” Harry said, his face twisting.
Draco snorted. “I know,” he said. “If it was left up to you, we’d never make it to the station in time.”
“I am pleased you’ve decided to take the train,” Remus said. “It’s somehow such an integral part of going to Hogwarts.”
“It wouldn’t feel right to simply Apparate or Floo there,” Harry admitted. “Besides, Draco should be on the train anyway since he’s Head Boy.”
“I wonder how many of the first years I can terrify this year,” Draco mused.
Harry rolled his eyes. “You’ll be terrifying more than just the first years, simply by being on the train,” he said. “Now, if you had Victoria with you, then you might be less frightening.”
“Good thing she won’t be with us then, isn’t it,” Draco drawled, smirking.
Laughing, Harry looked over at Crabbe and Goyle. “I don’t want to see you two helping him terrorize everyone,” he said, shaking a finger at them.
“We’ll be busy guarding you,” Crabbe said with a grin.
Harry threw his hands up in the air in resignation, but he was smiling as he enjoyed the sound of the laughter in the room.
“I find myself relieved that Victoria will not be with you tomorrow,” Narcissa said, shaking her head.
“Yeah, me, too,” Harry admitted. “I doubt we’d be allowed to take her on the train anyway, but we have no idea what to expect and I don’t want her in the middle of it.”
“She’ll be much safer with me at Hogwarts,” Narcissa agreed. “Winky has already prepared her nursery and she’ll be comfortable. It will be enough excitement for her to attend the welcoming feast with you tomorrow night.”
“She’ll be with me?” Harry asked, glancing at Draco. “At the Gryffindor table?”
“Yes,” Draco said with a grimace. “Not that I’m fond of her sitting there, but I don’t know that it’ll be safe for her at the Slytherin table.”
“It’s going to be odd having us split up all over the Great Hall,” Harry said.
Draco shrugged, not looking happy about it, either.
“Things will settle into new routines soon enough and it’ll get easier,” Remus said reassuringly.
Discussion turned to the upcoming year, but Harry found himself thinking about the past week. It had been wonderful, overall. He smiled a little as he thought about Draco’s promise of sex, Quidditch and sleep. That had been fulfilled. The sleep part had become a bit of an issue as Draco had forced a discussion with Severus which led to a meeting with Madam Pomfrey.
His sleep patterns, and his nightmares, were now being carefully monitored before they could become a bigger issue. Severus had not been amused when Madam Pomfrey put him on the same monitoring status. She’d been smart, though, and bypassed the two of them, giving her orders to Draco and Remus. The two had assured her that if there were any problems, they would be certain to inform her immediately.
They hadn’t played as much Quidditch during the latter half of the week, with everyone spending more time with their families before school started. Harry and Draco were bringing their family with them, so it wasn’t as much of a concern, but Harry enjoyed the long hours simply playing with Victoria or talking with the others.
Mostly, he’d enjoyed his time with Draco. The sex had been brilliant, and they certainly made plenty of time for that activity, but they’d also spent hours and hours just talking. About everything. With the exception of the Horcruxes, there were no taboo subjects. Although some topics were still difficult for them to talk about, they didn’t avoid them altogether.
Harry was more confident in his relationship and he was certain that Draco was as well. The upcoming year would not be easy, but they were both more prepared to face it.
Draco put an arm around his shoulders and pulled him closer. “All right?” he asked quietly.
“Yeah, I am,” Harry said, realizing that he meant it.
* * * * *
“Happy birthday, Victoria!”
“Blow out the candle,” Harry encouraged.
He’d been working with her, and she’d had practice at her party the day before. She filled her cheeks full of air and puffed a small breath in the general direction of the candle. Harry wasn’t sure who did it, but someone cast a spell to extinguish the flame for her. He clapped along with her, though, as she delighted in her success.
Narcissa served Victoria a slice of the pink birthday cake before serving the others. It felt odd to be eating cake right after breakfast, but it worked.
“Didn’t this child have her party yesterday?” Severus muttered.
“Today is her actual birthday, Severus,” Narcissa said mildly. “As you very well know. We are only having a bit of cake and Draco has one gift for her. Then we can finish preparing to leave for Hogwarts.”
Harry looked at Draco in surprise. This was news to him. He caught the scowling expression on Severus’ face. He clearly knew about it, whatever it was.
“Didn’t we give her all her presents yesterday?” Harry asked.
“Most of them,” Draco said. “But she has to receive something on her actual birthday as well.”
“What is it?” Harry asked curiously.
“You’ll see,” Draco said, refusing to say anymore, a smirk tugging at his lips.
Recognizing that Draco wasn’t going to budge, Harry dutifully ate his cake, enjoying it as much as Victoria was enjoying hers, but he got his into his mouth. She was an absolute mess, with pink icing everywhere.
Draco disappeared upstairs while Harry cleaned her up with some judicious usage of charms. They didn’t have time to give her a bath now. She was sitting on his lap, happily playing a clapping game when Draco returned.
Harry stared at him. Blinked. Stared some more, until Draco started laughing at his reaction.
“You’re petting a kitten?” Harry asked in disbelief.
“Yes, and you didn’t think I even knew what one was,” Draco drawled.
Harry darted a glance at Crabbe and Goyle, remembering the conversation about puppies and kittens. Looking back at Draco, he still felt it was more shocking to see Draco petting a kitten than it had been to learn he’d been kicking puppies.
Draco brought the kitten over and crouched down in front of him and Victoria. She was squealing excitedly, and Harry automatically reminded her to be gentle as Draco set the kitten in her lap. In Harry’s lap.
He stared down at the white pile of fluff that had bright green eyes and a pink nose.
“This is her birthday present?” he asked.
Draco nodded, smiling at Victoria. “She likes it,” he said.
“Of course she does,” Harry said. “It’s a cute, adorable, fluffy little animal. But the last I checked, you didn’t like cute, adorable, fluffy little animals.”
“True,” Draco agreed. “But you do, so you can help her take care of it.”
“Draco!” Harry exclaimed. “What if I don’t want to take care of a cat?”
“You don’t have to,” Draco said casually. “I can always take it back.”
Harry didn’t like his tone of voice. “Take it back where?” he asked suspiciously.
“Oh, the matching pair found her wandering in Knockturn Alley a couple weeks ago,” Draco said dismissively. “Probably ran away from someone intending to use her for potions ingredients.”
“You’re not serious?!” Harry exclaimed, horrified.
Draco gazed at him steadily. Harry looked down at the pile of fluff. He wasn’t entirely certain Draco wasn’t making up some story, but the results were the same whether he was lying or telling the truth. They now had a cat.
“Are you telling me that my friends are picking up strays for me now?” he asked in resignation.
“Unfortunately, yes,” Draco drawled, amused. “But I admit that I’m not as upset about this one as you might think. I’m still not fond of Victoria playing with a poisonous snake.”
“Victoria will still play with Lissa,” Harry warned. “They’re practically best friends.”
“I know,” Draco said, rolling his eyes. “But she can play with a fluffy kitten even when you’re not around.”
Harry was willing to concede that point. He smiled, watching Victoria. The kitten seemed content to simply lie there being petted. Victoria was only a year old, but she was already pretty good around animals. Certainly much better than her father. Although, Draco deserved credit for encouraging her fondness of creatures.
“So, Victoria,” Harry said, getting her attention. “What are we going to name your kitten?”
“Just what we need,” Severus said snidely. “A blasted cat.”
“Blas!” Victoria squealed.
Harry stared at Victoria for a moment then glanced at Severus before exchanging glances with Draco. They burst out laughing.
“I think you’ve got your answer,” Remus said, chuckling at Severus’ surprised expression.
Narcissa was amused as well, but she gave the boys a warning. “I think this is your sign that it is time to start watching your language, boys,” she said.
They nodded in acknowledgement, but they were still sniggering.
“So, Severus and Victoria have decided on what exactly?” Harry asked. “Blast?”
“Blas!” Victoria exclaimed.
“It would appear so,” Draco drawled.
“I think it sounds close enough to bath,” Harry said. “And that’s why she picked up on it.”
“Ba?” Victoria asked, looking up at him hopefully with wide grey eyes.
Draco started laughing all over again.
“No, you’re not getting a bath right now,” Harry told Victoria ruefully.
“It does remind me that I’ve got a whale to go pack, though,” Draco said, smirking at Harry as he stood.
“You boys need to hurry and finish any packing,” Lucius said. “There is not much time left before we leave.”
“And you’re not coming back here if you forget something,” Severus warned.
“Aside from the whale, everything is packed except for Harry’s magical menagerie,” Draco said.
Harry glanced down at the kitten. “She’s not magical, is she?” he asked.
“I don’t think so,” Draco said. “But she’s still a part of your pet collection.”
“She’s Victoria’s birthday present,” Harry protested. “I had nothing to do with her.”
“You can argue about it later,” Narcissa said, plucking Victoria from Harry’s arms. “I will see to this one. You two see to all the animals and finish getting ready to go.”
Harry cuddled the kitten to his chest, petting her soft fur and listening to the rumble of her purring. “What do I do with this?” he asked.
He looked up to see Draco gazing at him knowingly with a smile playing at his lips. “I knew you’d like her as much as Victoria does,” he said.
Harry thought about denying it, but decided it would be a waste of time. “What do I do with her?” he asked again.
“There’s a basket for her upstairs,” Draco said. “She’s going on the train with us, as Mum refuses to deal with any of the pets and Winky will be too busy to deal with a new kitten on top of everything else. You need to send Fawkes on to Hogwarts so I can get his perch. I don’t know that Hedwig will fly there. She usually goes on the train with you, doesn’t she?”
“Yeah, but I reckon she can fly if she wants to,” Harry said. He glanced down at the kitten with a grimace. “I’m not sure how she’s going to take to Blast.”
“I’ve introduced them, but she turned her beak up at me,” Draco admitted.
“Cats, snakes and birds,” Harry said. “Aren’t they all natural enemies?”
“Even enemies can learn to get along,” Draco said. He bent over and gave Harry a kiss. “Some can learn to do more than tolerate each other.”
* * * * *
“Harry!” Draco shouted.
“I’m coming!” Harry shouted back, bounding down the stairs. He dropped into the front hallway in the middle of the group waiting for him.
“I just had to send Hedwig off,” he said.
“I thought you did that twenty minutes ago,” Draco said.
Harry shrugged, not particularly willing to admit that he’d been talking with Hedwig for almost that entire twenty minutes. He wasn’t certain he’d been completely forgiven yet, but she was happier with him than she had been. She’d still elected to fly to Hogwarts, though, rather than travel with him on the train. He didn’t blame her.
Draco was gazing at him knowingly as he held his arm out, allowing two of the snakes to transfer to Harry. They’d already talked about it earlier and Lissa and Gryff had been waiting for him. They happily slithered up the sleeves of his robes and wrapped themselves around his upper arms. Salz and Rave were staying with Draco.
“At least you’ve got your robes on,” Draco said.
Looking down at himself, Harry felt funny to be back in school robes at home. They wouldn’t have their trunks with them, though, and had to put them on before they left. Draco looked proud to be wearing his, but that probably had more to do with the gleaming Head Boy badge pinned to them than anything else.
“Isn’t it going to look rather odd with us walking around in robes?” Harry asked.
“You will be Apparating, not walking,” Severus said.
“Wait,” Harry said, staring at them in astonishment. “You’re telling me that we can simply Apparate to King’s Cross?”
“Of course we can,” Draco said, rolling his eyes at Harry’s idiocy. “We’re Apparating directly to Platform Nine and Three-Quarters.”
“Then, why hasn’t anyone ever done a Side-Along Apparition with me before?” Harry asked. “Why the bodyguards and the Ministry cars and –” And risking Sirius’ life by walking to the station, he added silently.
Remus and Severus exchanged glances.
“Why all the fuss?” Harry asked.
“Albus Dumbledore made some choices that perhaps none of us will ever understand,” Severus finally said. “Come, it is time for us to leave.”
“You’re coming with us?” Harry asked, surprised once again. He was further bemused by the expression on Remus’ face, clearly attempting to suppress a wide smile. He wasn’t succeeding very well, his eyes crinkling in amusement. Severus’ face remained impassive, though, giving nothing away.
“You don’t have to come with us, do you?” he asked. “Not if we can Apparate.”
“It is customary for parents to see their children off at the station,” Lucius drawled.
Harry gaped at him. “Parents?” he mouthed, unable to get the actual sound out.
“It is also customary for Potter to have an escort so that he does not get himself into trouble,” Severus said smoothly. “As there are no other Order members present, the task is left to Remus and myself.”
Blinking slowly, Harry stared at him. The conversation they’d just had, made Severus’ statements blatantly invalid. Harry had always been escorted to the station, not on the platform itself. The ability to Apparate directly bypassed the need for escorts.
Draco’s arm slid around his waist and Harry turned his head to look at him.
“Ready?” Draco asked nonchalantly.
A grin slowly forming, Harry nodded. He had parents to see him off this year. It was beside the point that they weren’t officially his parents and he’d be seeing them on the other end of the trip.
Apparating to the station was ridiculously easy and Harry wondered again why there’d been so much fuss in the past. Then again, he was only holding a basket with a kitten this year and didn’t have to worry about his trunk. It was the only explanation he could come up with that made any sense.
He forgot about the issue entirely as they stepped out of the Apparition area onto the main platform. Narcissa had kept Victoria at Grimmauld Place, unsure of what kind of reception they would have, but Crabbe and Goyle stood on either side of Harry and Draco with Severus, Remus and Lucius right behind them.
“Well, this is different,” Draco drawled sarcastically.
Harry looked around the platform. People were staring at him with fear, anger and awe. And Draco Malfoy was scowling.
“Looks like normal to me,” he said dryly.
“People often come to a standstill in your presence, do they?” Draco asked.
“It’s been known to happen, but I don’t think it’s ever happened here before,” Harry admitted.
“You lot do know how to make an entrance,” Blaise said as he approached.
“I don’t even have to try,” Harry said, shrugging.
Draco and Blaise raised incredulous eyebrows. “Only you could say that so casually, Harry,” Draco drawled.
“It’s true,” Harry said. “It’s not like I actually want to make an entrance. It just happens.”
He changed the subject. “The Weasleys aren’t here yet?” he asked Blaise.
“I haven’t seen them,” Blaise said. “But I got here early just so I could see the reactions to the arrival of you two.”
Harry waved his arm expansively. “Shock, disapproval, awe, terror. Which reaction were you most wanting to see?” he asked sarcastically. “You’ve got your pick.”
He narrowed his eyes as he caught sight of Nott and Pansy. “You can add hatred to that list,” he said.
“They’ve already tried grilling me for information,” Blaise admitted, following his gaze. “I have to agree with your impression that they seem to think Draco is simply putting on an act.”
“Did they say anything specific?” Draco asked sharply.
“Of course not,” Blaise answered. “Pansy’s a stupid bitch, but Nott is too clever to say anything and tip his hand.”
“Not clever enough,” Harry muttered.
“A vague impression doesn’t give us anything,” Blaise said. “And Nott knows that.”
“He will be observed closely,” Severus said. “For now, it is time to get on the train.”
Harry turned around, knowing he probably had a stupid grin on his face but he couldn’t help himself. He’d worry about Nott and Pansy later, as right now he had parents to see him off to school.
He hugged Remus tightly, relieved that he wasn’t actually saying goodbye. He was happy that he’d finally been given an opportunity to spend more time with Remus and didn’t want to give that up again so soon.
“I’ll see you at Hogwarts, Harry,” Remus reassured and Harry reluctantly let him go.
He didn’t dare try to give Severus a hug in front of all the other students. He didn’t particularly want detention before they’d even arrived back at school. Or rather, any more detentions, as he already had to brew potions for the hospital wing.
“What?” he asked warily as he registered Draco staring at him expectantly.
“I was just waiting to see if you truly had a death wish or not,” Draco drawled.
Harry shrugged uncomfortably. “No, not particularly,” he admitted.
“Need I point out that I am not your professor here?” Severus questioned.
Did that mean it was all right to give him a hug? Professor Snape, definitely not. But even Severus was extremely prickly about those sorts of things. He didn’t look approachable at the moment with his teaching robes on and the stoic expression.
Severus arched a brow and Harry smiled, stepping forward to give Severus a quick hug.
“Thanks,” he whispered.
“Thank you, Harry,” Severus murmured.
Maybe Severus wanted confirmation of their relationship as well.
Loud gasps had been heard on the platform. Harry turned to look, sharing amused smirks with Draco, Blaise, Crabbe and Goyle at the gobsmacked expressions of students and parents alike.
“This was more the type of reaction I was looking for,” Blaise said.
“We should’ve brought some popcorn,” Draco drawled.
Harry burst out laughing, feeling far lighter than he’d expected to feel going back to school.
“Severus, you are turning soft,” Lucius drawled.
“I weighed the risks, and I do not believe it will compromise my reputation,” Severus said dryly.
Glancing over his shoulder, Harry smirked at him. “Everyone’s certain to still think you’re a mean bastard,” he agreed.
“That’s because he is,” Draco said, side-stepping to move away from Severus.
He spotted his friends. “I’ll be right back,” he said.
Draco nodded, taking the opportunity to talk to his father.
Harry hurried over to meet them and Hermione caught him in a hug first. She tilted her head curiously as she studied him. “You look incredibly happy,” she observed.
“I am,” he managed to say before he was swept into a round of Weasley hugs.
“What’s that?” Ron asked.
Harry looked down at the basket he’d been keeping close to him since he’d arrived at the station.
“Er, well, it’s Blast,” he reluctantly admitted.
“What’s a Blast?” Ron asked curiously.
“Blast is her name,” Harry said, picking up the basket and lifting the lid to reveal the bit of fluff tucked cosily inside.
“A kitten?!” Ron exclaimed loudly.
“Oh, she’s adorable,” Ginny cooed, reaching in to pet Blast. “Very manly, Harry.”
Harry scowled at her, snapping the basket lid on her arm. She grinned at him unrepentantly.
“I think Blaise is looking for you,” he said.
“That’s not going to get rid of me, you know,” she said. “You’ll be sitting with us, as Malfoy will be busy with Head Boy duties.”
“Why do you have a kitten?” Hermione interrupted, peeking into the basket.
“Draco gave it to Victoria for her birthday,” Harry said.
They stared at him incredulously and he shook his head. “I’ll explain later.”
The train whistle blew loudly in warning.
“You lot are to stay out of trouble this year,” Mrs. Weasley said sternly.
“We will,” they chorused, simply causing her to sigh in resignation.
“Just do your best, dears,” she said. “Now, hurry along. The train will be leaving soon.”
“I’ll see you later,” Harry said to Ron and Hermione, knowing they had Prefect and Head Girl responsibilities. He wanted to catch Draco before he left for the same duties.
“C’mon, Ginny,” he said, grabbing one end of her trunk. “Blaise is with Draco.”
He turned and just about ran into Goyle. He blinked up at him and Crabbe in surprise before glancing around them. There was probably a reason no one else had approached him. Crabbe and Goyle took their self-appointed duties seriously.
“I’ll take the trunk,” Goyle said, not bothering to wait for a reply as he took Ginny’s trunk off Harry’s hands.
“Er,” Harry said, nonplussed.
“Thank you, Goyle,” Ginny said graciously. “Hurry up, Harry.”
Shaking off the encounter, Harry swiftly weaved his way through the throng of parents and younger siblings, realizing most of the students were already on the train. He skidded to a halt in front of Draco.
“Late, as usual,” Severus sneered.
“I’m here, aren’t I?” Harry protested. “Besides, we’ve probably got two minutes still before the train starts moving.”
“And you actually know this?” Draco exclaimed. “Do you always cut it this close?”
“Er, usually, yeah,” Harry admitted, hearing Ginny giggling behind him. He cast a glance over his shoulder. Ginny and Blaise were already boarding the train with Crabbe and Goyle right behind them.
“Let’s go,” Draco said, heading towards the train.
“Watch yourselves,” Severus warned.
Harry nodded, waving to Remus and smirking at Lucius.
“Harry! We’re going to miss the bloody train if you don’t hurry up,” Draco said.
“I’m coming!” Harry exclaimed. “The train hasn’t left yet, you know.”
He caught up with Draco, grabbing hold of his hand and giving him a quick kiss.
“I’m here now,” he said.
Considering that Draco had been in a rush before, they simply stood together for a few moments looking at the train.
“I can’t believe I’m actually going back,” Draco said.
“It’s going to be all right,” Harry said softly, knowing Draco was extremely nervous and he hadn’t been helping by making them almost miss the train.
Draco cast a sidelong glance at him, quirking a half-smile. “Simply the beginning of a new adventure?” he asked.
“We conquered the Dark Lord,” Harry said, shrugging. “Surely we can conquer Hogwarts.”
The train whistle blew a final warning as its wheels started to slowly turn.
Exchanging smirks, they made a run for the steps. Draco hopped up, taking the basket from Harry so he could jump on board. As the train picked up speed, they looked back at Severus, Remus and Lucius, who were still standing on the platform and shaking their heads.
Harry waved to them. “See you at Hogwarts!”