When Something Finally Happens
None of these characters from Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Harry Potter belong to me; I’m just using them to hopefully write an entertaining story.Author’s Note:
Once again, sorry it’s taken so long, but it seems like every time I thought I was getting close to finishing, something would drag me away from the computer! Well, that’s Christmas for you.
Speaking of Christmas, this chapter is my present to all of you – it’s slightly longer than normal too! I really hope everyone has a fantastic Christmas and New Year (amazingly, this chapter is well timed to be posted around New Year, not on purpose I can assure you, lol). Anyway, I will be quite busy in between Christmas and New Year and might not have much time to write, and then I’m on a holiday for just over a week (but may have some time to laze around by the beach and write then!) but won’t be back until mid-January.
Thanks for reading and all your support so far, hope you all have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!
*****Chapter Eighteen – When Something Finally Happens
“We’ve got a lot to talk about.”
Harry certainly thought the fact that she’d admitted that they needed to talk was a good sign. Still not having said anything since Hermione had left the room, he found himself nodding in response, whilst Dawn stared at him as if waiting for him to start the dialogue. He was never really good at this sort of thing, especially around women, and never found the right words and ended up sounding like a bumbling idiot. Then again, even though things had been so complicated with Dawn, he somehow found himself more comfortable than he’d ever been around Cho, or even Ginny.
“Uh, what was Hermione helping you with?” he asked curiously, using this as a good opportunity to start the conversation rolling without having to jump right into the deep end straight away.
“Oh,” she replied, turning to pick up a pair of jeans from the bed and holding them up. “She used her wand to alter some of my clothes,” she paused for a moment, he could see some sadness flash across her face. “It’s not as if I’m gonna be going to the mall anytime soon... How do you do it?”
“Do what?” Harry frowned with confusion, as Dawn placed the jeans back down.
“How do you deal with everything?” She began, still staring down at the jeans, and then finally looking up to meet his eyes. “I mean, you’ve had to put up with that snake-face trying to kill you for the last seven years... but it’s not just that, it’s all the people you care about, they’re in danger just ‘coz they know you. I’ve only had to handle this crap for a few months and sometimes I think I’m just gonna completely lose it.”
She wasn’t crying at all, yet Harry could distinctly hear the sorrow behind her words, and he would be lying if he said didn’t say he knew exactly what she was going through or had those exact same thoughts from time to time. He stepped over and pulled her into a comforting hug, in which she quickly returned, she was only a couple of inches shorter than him so she rested her cheek on his shoulder.
“I really don’t know how I manage it either,” he spoke softly, not knowing what to say at first while they both stood there together. “Actually... it’s probably because I have all those people who care about me; I’m stronger because of them. Voldemort probably would have finished me a long time ago, if it hadn’t been for all of them.”
For that moment that Harry stood there with Dawn in his arms, everything felt right and it was if the world outside and all its troubles didn’t exist while they were together. He was disappointed when she pulled away and made no hesitation in distancing herself from him by going to sit over on the edge of the bed.
“I don’t want anyone to die ‘coz of me,” she said quietly.
Harry immediately thought of all the people who had died trying to because of him – Cedric, Sirius, Moody, Hedwig... He still felt responsible for all of their deaths and he didn’t know if that was something that ever went away, he certainly wouldn’t wish that particular burden upon somebody else. As he was deep in thought, he moved to sit down, choosing to sit over in the chair in the corner instead since Dawn had made such a quick move to get away from him moments earlier. In the end, his thoughts weren’t going to be at all comforting or insightful to Dawn, so he didn’t say anything, and when he glanced over at her, she had a look on her face that he couldn’t quite read.
They’d both spoken at the exact same time, stopping abruptly when they had noticed the other wanted to speak as well. Dawn put her hand up and pointed at him.
“You go,” she simply said.
He sighed and sat forward in the chair, his forearms resting on his legs. “I, I wanted to talk about earlier,” he could see that she looked more and more apprehensive as he spoke. “I know it hasn’t even been a week since I came back... But, uh,” he began stumbling over his words, unsure of what to say, almost thinking that he should just go and kiss her if he didn’t fear that there was going to be another awkward interruption. No, he needed to talk to her.
Dawn must have seen his hesitation, because she jumped in to do the talking instead. “Harry, I know we almost kissed... twice, but maybe it’s a good idea we didn’t,” Harry immediately felt his heart drop. “This whole thing is insane! With the prophecy and everything, I don’t know what to believe is real anymore. Of course, I feel attracted to you, Harry – it feels like there’s something there,” she paused. “But what if it’s the prophecy controlling us again? I can’t do it.”
Even if Harry could see some reasoning in her thoughts, he couldn’t believe what he was hearing; somehow he was unprepared for this twist in the conversation. “So what? We just ignore all of this?” he asked disbelievingly.
Dawn slowly nodded, although he could see she looked slightly uncertain. “I think it’s best.”
Harry gave a frustrated sigh and fell back against the chair. “What if this has absolutely nothing to do with the prophecy, Dawn?” he asked, his voice rising in volume slightly.
“I,” she began, standing up to move over to the window, while Harry hung waiting on every word. “Please, Harry, just drop it.”
“I can’t just ‘drop it’!” he stood up and found himself yelling. “I... I care about you, Dawn.” And you’re having my baby
, he finished in his head, though not wanting to throw that into the conversation, he wanted his feelings to stand alone without that fact.
Dawn turned from the window, Harry could see that her eyes were narrow and her lips were pressed together in anger, she threw her hands on her hips. “HEY! I HAVEN’T HAD CONTROL OVER A SINGLE FREAKIN’ THING IN MY PATHETIC, STUPID LIFE!” she screamed, stopping to take a deep breath. “I didn’t choose to be ‘the Key’, I didn’t choose for Buffy to sacrifice herself for me, I didn’t choose to for mom to die and I didn’t choose this fucking prophecy! I... I don’t
wanna start anything if I don’t know if it’s gonna actually be my choice
Apart from being unprepared for all the screaming, he realised that he didn’t really have any idea about half of what Dawn had said. Nevertheless, he was too caught up in his conflicting emotions to ponder it further – unfortunately, he did understand where Dawn was coming from, to have given up control back on that night was a terrifying thing and the foundations on which they were building a relationship were highly unusual. However, Dawn was unlike anyone Harry had ever met and in the very short time they’d known each other, he had already started to develop significant feelings for her. He just knew that it wasn’t because of the prophecy, they had to be real. Why couldn’t she see that?
He thought in frustration.
“What about the baby?” he asked stiffly, deciding to finally throw that into the mix, while cursing himself for even thinking for a moment that the conversation would have gone smoothly and she would have just come running into his arms.
She threw her hands up in frustration, still enraged. “I DON’T KNOW! But... but I don’t need you doing this ‘coz of the baby either,” she looked thoughtful. “I mean, I know that no guy will want a seventeen year-old with a baby, especially one like this,” she put her hand on her stomach. “But that’s no reason to jump into something we don’t understand!”
Harry was about to argue back, when there was a sudden creak of the door and Lupin appeared looking alarmed. He looked between both of them, and it was easy to see that there was tension between the teenagers.
“I was just downstairs and I thought I heard some shouting – is everything alright?” the older man asked them both.
Dawn had simply crossed her arms in a huff, while Harry felt a mixture of anger, sadness and embarrassment, and right at that moment, wanted to be as far away from this room as possible. Since Dawn wasn’t offering any form of a response, Harry found himself give a stiff nod just to appease Lupin, who in turn eyed both of them suspiciously, knowing that in fact everything wasn’t alright.
“Well,” Lupin continued softly. “Now that I’m up here, I may as well let you both know that Fleur is just putting the finishing touches on dinner now and it will be ready in a matter of minutes-“
Harry felt too crestfallen to even want to continue his conversation with Dawn at that particular point in time, so he seized the opportunity to excuse himself. “Great, I’m starving,” he hurriedly managed before racing towards the door without as much as a second glance back towards the other two.
Once he was the other side of the door, he paused at the top of the stairs and leant against the balustrade, dropping his head. What was he supposed to do now? He’d put his feelings on the line and Dawn was being so... well, it wasn’t as if she was being irrational, there was conviction behind her fears, that was the most frustrating part. But what exactly could he do to reassure her that the prophecy had nothing to do with the connection between them now?
He could hear the muffled voices over on the other side of the door and decided to discreetly descend the staircase, which lead down into a small entrance hall with the sitting room on the right and small kitchen on the left. He could hear several voices talking animatedly in the kitchen, so he opted for the sitting room, hoping that it was deserted. Unfortunately, it wasn’t empty like he’d hoped – Bill was sitting in an armchair reading the Daily Prophet, which boasted another horrendous front-page article about Harry, like the day before. The oldest Weasley lowered the paper as he entered, throwing Harry a smile.
“Everything okay there, Harry?” Harry was really beginning to tire of this question; however he tried not to show it because he knew they were only trying to help. “Thought I heard a something that sounded like a row.”
Harry quickly shook his head. “It’s fine,” he replied quietly.
Bill threw him another smile. “Alright then, I had better go and help my wife finish setting up for dinner,” he said before standing up and leaving the room.
He promptly flopped into the armchair Bill had been sitting in moments ago, and threw his head in his hands. His disastrous conversation with Dawn was stuck on replay in his head and he couldn’t stop it if he tried. Although, whilst the words replayed through his head he was able to notice something that Dawn had said that he hadn’t necessarily thought much about at the time. Dawn had mentioned ‘the Key’ and he suddenly also remembered that the prophecy had referred to her as that, yet he still had no idea what it meant. Furthermore, he had heard that Buffy had died and been brought back, but what was this about Buffy sacrificing herself for Dawn?
“Oh, hi there,” a voice appeared in the doorway, he lifted his head to see the redhead American, who he’d remembered had briefly introduced herself to him a couple of days ago but being so caught up in everything meant that he couldn’t quite remember her name. “You look like you wanna be alone, I’ll just...” she trailed off, turning to leave.
Harry started to re-think the wanting to be alone; he was actually tiring of being left alone to his thoughts when all they did was torture him over and over again. “No, wait!” he called out, stopping her in her tracks. “S’okay, you can come in here if you want.”
She turned and threw him a smile and immediately went to stand in front of the fireplace opposite him, which now had a roaring fire thanks to his and Ron’s efforts from earlier. She rubbed her hands together and held them out towards the fire. Suddenly, Harry remembered the woman’s name was Willow and also that Lupin had once mentioned that she was a witch, however able to perform a different type of magic from his.
“Brrr,” Willow began, visibly shivering. “That’s what you get for growing up in California – it’s freezing here,” she was obviously just trying to make awkward conversation but Harry actually didn’t mind.
He decided to politely return the gesture. “It’s generally quite warm over there, isn’t it?” he asked to which the redhead nodded. “Well then I’m sure I’d be the same if the roles were reversed... So, uh, Lupin mentioned that you’re a witch, well, a different kind of witch.”
She nodded with another smile. “Yep, no wand. There are a few differences but quite a few similarities too,” she explained. “Being at Hogwarts was cool, to see how you guys did it - I noticed that your magic isn’t a physical draining as mine can be, probably a good thing.”
“I wonder what would happen if you tried to use one of our wands,” Harry said curiously, noticing that his anger and misery from his previous conversation was rapidly subsiding the more he talked about something else.
Willow looked thoughtful for a moment. “Not sure, I might not have that sort of magic in me... But now that you mention it, Lupin thinks it might be good if me and Buffy tried to teach you some of our skills though.”
Harry blinked in surprise; that was something he and Dawn definitely had in common - other people talking and making decisions about them when they weren’t around, it was actually quite annoying. “Wait a minute, so I should be able to perform some of your magic?” he asked, to which Willow shrugged and then nodded as if to say ‘I don’t see why not’.
“I would be teaching Dawn too, she’s managed the odd spell or two before,” Willow revealed, Dawn had never mentioned this to Harry, making him realise there was still much to discover about her – if she’d let him. “But with the baby and everything, we don’t want to risk it until after the baby’s born,” he nodded in agreement. “The more prepared you and Dawn are about what’s to come, the better.”
The more he thought about it, he began to realise that Willow had an extremely good point. They didn’t know how far into the future it was until the prophecy was supposed to be fulfilled and whether or not Voldemort or his Death Eaters would find them before that time. If he learnt from Willow and had some of her surprise ‘tricks’ up his sleeve, it could mean the difference between life and death for him, Dawn or the baby. Not to mention, if he paired that with whatever he learnt from the slayer, it definitely could also have its advantages in a wandless situation.
“When can we start?” Harry asked eagerly.
“I’m glad to see you’re awake,” Lupin said with a genuine smile after Harry had stormed out of the room, Dawn sighed and managed to return the smile. “However, I’m sure both Poppy and Buffy would agree that you need to be careful of stressful situations, especially not long after the whole ordeal back at Hogwarts,” he sounded almost fatherly to Dawn, something that she obviously didn’t experience very often, apart from with Giles every now and then. “Although, I’m not sure what I was hearing from downstairs... Should I go down and talk to Harry?”
“No... uh, it’s all good,” Dawn was quick to protest, she somehow knew that Harry wouldn’t be in the mood for talking at that point in time anyway.
She moved tiredly to sit back down on the bed. Lupin was right, she was starting to feel quite drained from doing too much too fast, that and all the quarrelling with Harry. Furthermore, she was just so confused about it all, how quickly things were developing between her and Harry. However, they were having a child together.Everything’s a total mess!
A voice resonated loudly in her head. Why was she finding every excuse to push him away? She felt like a stranger to herself, that the person she was six months ago wouldn’t recognise what she’d become now. And she was supposed to become someone’s mother in just over three month’s time?
“Dawn?” Lupin’s quizzical voice drew her from her musings.
Dawn brought curled her legs up into the foetal position, so that her arms enveloped her legs, which were pressing up against her slightly-protruding stomach. “Oh god, I don’t know what I’m doing!” she suddenly cried out with distress, tucking her chin down to rest her face against her knees.
Knowing that he was your stereotypical British man, who kept his emotions in check and rarely displayed physical affection, Dawn was surprised when she felt the lightest pressure of his hand on her back, in an attempt to comfort her from his now seated position nearby. By now she could definitely consider the older man a friend, and so she took this as an invitation to scoot over and bury her face in his shoulder. Although, she felt him stiffen slightly in discomfort when she did this, she still felt like Lupin seemed like the right person for her to lay all her troubles on, she knew that he would give his advice only when required, otherwise just staying there listening to her silently. This was something that she knew she would never get if she’d opened up to Buffy. Furthermore, he’d done such a good job handling her problems since they’d met, she trusted him.
With tears running down her cheeks, her mouth just began to speak and she suddenly found herself beginning to spill on all her confusing predicaments, particularly what had happened between her and Harry and how the reality of everything was starting to hit her. She realised that a breakdown, like the one she was having, was bound to happen at sometime - what she was going through was too much for one person to bear.
She also told him about how it had suddenly dawned on her that she would almost be like one of those damsels in a fairytale, locked up in a tower away from the world. Except, she didn’t see any fairytale ending on the horizon, this prophecy meant that she would most likely never have a normal life again. Well, what constituted as normal in her life. And then there was Harry. She didn’t know why, maybe it was everything that had happened so quickly, but she was absolutely terrified of letting him in. Then again, when she thought about it, she didn’t exactly have the ideal relationship role models in her life, with both her parents and Buffy, or even Willow or Xander’s relationships – it seemed like every relationship was doomed to fail or be torn apart by death. Throwing Voldemort into the equation of her and Harry, she could see anything they started heading down that path too.
She felt like she had talked for hours before Lupin had even spoke up, at this point she had managed to calm down enough to sit back up and look him in the eye, apologetically leaving Lupin with a very tear-stained jacket. He gave an understanding shake of his head to dismiss her apology.
“I know that it is an extremely complicated situation, but you shouldn’t have to feel like you’re imprisoned, Dawn,” he finally said softly. “We can organise for you to go somewhere else that is safe and of your choosing-“
“No, it’s not this place,” Dawn quickly interrupted with a shake of her head. “’Coz I’ve barely seen outside this room, so I don’t know what it’s like... But it doesn’t matter where we go, ‘coz I’m stuck there... and with Harry too. Oh god, after I went all postal on him, what do I say to him?”
Lupin sighed, looking away for a moment before meeting her eyes once more. “Dawn, after all that has happened, I’m sure you can appreciate an honest reply,” she nodded. “Well... from what you’ve told me, it appears to me that you are finding as many excuses as you can to not act on your feelings for Harry,” he began, this stirred something up inside her and she opened her mouth to retort back, however he quickly held up a hand to prevent her. “I’m not saying that there isn’t any validity to these excuses, however from seeing both you and Harry over these past few days... just because you are forced to sacrifice many things for this prophecy and the baby, it shouldn’t mean that you should sacrifice any chance at happiness.”
Although this didn’t magically make all her fears suddenly vanish into thin air, she knew that Lupin was right; being with Harry and the feelings she got when she was around him seemed like one of the only lights in the dark and difficult place she had found herself in. However, there was still one particular dread that was in the forefront of her mind.
“W-what if...” she took a deep breath. “Voldemort is never gonna stop, the odds tell me that we’re not all gonna make it through this, I can’t-“
Lupin stood up and put a hand on her shoulder. “Regardless of Voldemort, there is a risk of loss of life in everyday life, in anything we do, and yet we don’t use this as an excuse not to live. We don’t know what’s going to happen, Dawn, but we can’t dwell on it,” he glanced down at his watch and his eyes widened when he realised how much time had passed. “I’m sorry, but we are surely missing dinner by now, and after all the recent ordeals, I’m sure you’re in need of a decent meal.”
The idea of food was highly appealing, however going downstairs meant facing Harry, and so she hesitated for a moment. Then again, Ron’s brother, whose name she had forgotten, and his wife had most graciously given up their home for both her and Harry, the two most wanted people on Voldemort’s list. She knew it would be extremely rude to barricade herself up here, just because she was too gutless to face her problems and fears. She sighed and moved to follow the werewolf downstairs, only to hesitate again as a thought crossed her mind.
“Just give me a sec.”
As Shell Cottage was, in fact, a cottage, it meant that dinner for a larger group than what Bill and Fleur were usually accustomed to made for a particularly cramped dining experience. Fleur had gone to the trouble of somehow finding room for nine at their small, round table in the kitchen, even if two seats were currently vacant, including one between Harry and Buffy. Harry gazed around at the festive decorations around the kitchen, with tinsel and cut-out snowflakes dangling from the low ceiling, which he assumed was also Fleur’s doing. He then proceeded to turn his attention back to silently push his mashed potato around on his plate, not bothering to make any effort to participate in the current conversation. Bill was filling Ron in on all the quidditch action that he’d missed while the three teenagers had been gone, whilst Hermione seemed to be completely enthralled in a conversation with Willow, who was sitting the other side of Buffy and next to the brunette witch.
“Where are the hell they? Their dinner is gonna freeze over if they don’t come soon,” Harry heard Buffy say from around the table, he looked up to see her making a move from the table, the sound of her chair squealing on the floor hurt his ears. “I should go and check.”
“That isn’t necessary,” Lupin’s voice appeared from the doorway behind Harry, causing everyone, including Harry, to turn and look.
Harry’s breath caught in his throat for a moment, as Dawn entered the kitchen behind Lupin. He had only ever seen her in jeans or pants in the short time he’d known her, and now she stood there wearing a somewhat figure-hugging red dress that cradled her small baby bump and flared out at the bottom to finish just above her knees with a small white cardigan over the top. Harry thought that he’d never seen anyone look as beautiful as the young woman standing before him.
Meanwhile, a short silence had fallen over the room, before Buffy had jumped up to embrace her sister, obviously excited to see that she was feeling better. Lupin had not dithered in choosing the spare seat at the far side of the table in between Fleur and Hermione, in fact, it almost appeared to Harry as if he had made sure that he got to that particular seat first, and this confused him as to why. However, he then saw Dawn throw Lupin a glare from across the table, as she occupied the seat next to Harry and her sister. Did he just make sure Dawn had to sit next to me?
He thought to himself, he didn’t know the werewolf was capable of being so scheming. Then again, he was a Marauder.
Suddenly, Harry heard a whisper in his left ear. “You might want to close your mouth, mate. You’re catching flies,” Ron said in a thoroughly amused voice.
Harry retaliated with a good-humoured shove of his elbow into Ron’s arm next to him; the redhead just simply chuckled quietly to himself.
“‘ow are you feeling now, Dawn?” Fleur asked, as Dawn promptly piled her plate with various dishes on the table in front of them. “Oh, and I am sorry about what ‘appened earlier,” the part-Veela said, looking between both Harry and Dawn, out of the corner of his eye Harry could see Dawn shift uncomfortably in her seat. “I am Fleur, by ze way, and this is my ‘usband, Bill.”
Dawn smiled. “Nice to meet you both, thanks so much for letting us all stay here,” she replied genuinely. “And I’m feeling a lot better, thanks.” She then began to tuck into her dinner.
“What happened earlier?” Buffy’s inquisitive voice suddenly cut in. Obviously never misses a trick,
Harry thought to himself. Between her and Hermione, he just knew that nothing was going to remain sacred from now on. Harry felt his face heat up, while Dawn had been halfway through a mouthful of roast beef, only to cough and splutter a little.
“Oh, I just interrupted zem while zey were talking,” Fleur came to their rescue; Harry looked over to see the blonde throw him a knowing look, he tried his best to ignore it.
Dawn hurriedly swallowed her food and was fast to change the subject. “So, is this everyone that’s here? Where’s Giles... or Xander and Faith?”
Harry noticed that Buffy, Lupin and Willow had all briefly shared a look, before the slayer turned to her younger sister. “Oh, about that – they didn’t come with, they’re still at Hogwarts. It’s not like there’s any more room here anyway.”
Dawn frowned in confusion, although she wasn’t the only one. “How come... did they find the slayer?”
Willow nodded. “They stayed behind to train her up and everything.”
“Who is it?” Harry spoke up for the first time since dinner had begun; he knew that he would probably know whoever it was and this stirred his curiousity. Dawn had turned to look at him when he spoke and they awkwardly met eyes for a moment, before she quickly looked back at Buffy.
Harry was even more curious when Buffy nonchalantly glanced over at Bill, who gave her such a tiny nod that it could have easily gone unnoticed, however Ron apparently also noticed this.
“What’s going on, Bill?” he asked his eldest brother.
Meanwhile, Hermione had silently watched the whole exchange, and as ever she was right on the money. “It’s... it’s Ginny, isn’t it?” she said, sounding more like it was a statement than a question; both Buffy and Bill nodded in the affirmative.Ginny’s... a slayer?!
Harry thought in surprise, he certainly didn’t see this one coming. Ironically, that important piece of information almost made his reason for breaking up with her, earlier in the year, redundant. Not that he had any ounce of regret, they weren’t right for each other anyway and now he had Dawn. Well, no you don’t, actually,
a voice teased.
“Shut up!” Dawn exclaimed in disbelief, apparently just as flabbergasted, although she then got a pensive expression. “Hey, that actually makes a lot of sense,” this earned curious looks from the others at the table, including Harry. “It’s a long story...”
“Sod off - Ginny can’t be a slayer!” Ron said with a shake of his head. “No, she’s not going to be putting herself in any more danger. If we ignore it, it’ll just go away, won’t it?”
Buffy gave a thoroughly amused laugh, looking at the young redhead as if he’d grown another head. “You’re kidding, right?”
“Don’t worry, Ron,” Hermione reassured. “Surely you know by now that Ginny can take care of herself, and especially with both magical and
Harry noticed that Ron still looked somewhat unconvinced and seemed slightly annoyed that Hermione hadn’t taken his view as well, as if he just expected Hermione to go along with him just because something had happened between them.
“Besides,” Willow piped up. “She’s got Giles and Faith training her, I can’t think of two better people for the job.”
“They’re right, Ron,” Bill said, placing a comforting hand on his brother’s shoulder from the seat next to him. “She is in good hands. Mum was a bit apprehensive at first too, but she’s coming around.”
The conversations slowly began to start up again; Buffy was getting questions thrown at her from all around the table, especially by Dawn, who was wondering about when she would be able to see those missing at Shell Cottage, and both Ron and Hermione, wanting to know more about the slayer situation with Ginny. Meanwhile, Bill directed a question towards Lupin. “Remus, I didn’t know that you were staying for dinner,” he said with a surprise tone. “Surely you’d want to be at home with Tonks on New Year’s Eve.”
“Oh no, if anything she is happy for me to be here for a while,” Lupin replied in an amused voice. “With the hormones and being in the final stages of pregnancy, she is starting to become quite annoyed at me if I am around all the time. She was happy to have the space for a little while.”
“Well, every bloke knows, you don’t argue with a pregnant woman, do you?” Bill responded with a laugh, also earning a small one from Lupin.
“Hey!” Although Dawn was in mid-sentence with her sister, she had heard this and called out in mock-offence.
All of a sudden, there was a great atmosphere in the air; Harry always appreciated being a part of a large group or family, never having known that growing up with the Dursley’s. He was starting to feel better, aside from the fact that the last conversation he and Dawn had had was quite a heated discussion, and that they had yet to say another word to each other since. Although, he was actually quite irritated that Dawn had barely acknowledged him since she’d taken her seat at the table, so he sighed in frustration and tried his best to become engrossed in a random conversation with Ron instead.
Just after Fleur, with Hermione and Willow’s assistance, had served them all a chocolate pudding for dessert, she had taken her seat back at the table next Bill, who had raised his glass of wine in the air and cleared his throat to capture the attention of the table.
“Despite the circumstances,” he began, his voice not having to project far for everyone to hear. “Fleur and I would just like to say that it is an honour to spend New Year’s Eve with the present company, and that you all welcome to stay here at Shell Cottage as long as you wish and are welcome anytime. In any case... Happy New Year!”
Everyone else, including Harry, cheerfully echoed the eldest Weasley’s sentiments and proceeded to clang their glasses together, in the spirit of the occasion their fears and apprehensions were momentarily forgotten. Out of the corner of his eye, Harry saw Dawn clumsily drop her glass onto the table, pumpkin juice spilling out across the table; however she didn’t seem to take much notice, as there was a distant expression on her features. This immediately raised an alarm inside Harry – something was wrong!
Everyone else had turned their attention towards the pregnant teenager in concern, while she placed a hand to her stomach. “Holy crap!” she began, her eyes never leaving her abdomen. “I- I think it’s kicking!”
“Oh my god, Dawnie. Really?” Buffy was first to place her glass down and swivelled around to face her sister.
Completely unexpected to Harry, instead of fussing over the experience with Buffy, Dawn turned towards him and before he knew it, she’d taken his hand and placed it half-way down her slightly protruding stomach. It only took a second, and there it was - it felt like something was tapping from the inside of Dawn’s stomach right underneath his hand! He was completely lost for words, and just stared down at his hand in bewilderment. Less than a week ago, he didn’t even know that this baby existed and now here he was, feeling proof of the existence of life he had helped create. Even though he was still so young, in that moment, he really couldn’t imagine doing this with anyone else but Dawn.
“It feels weird, doesn’t it?” she said softly, he realised that her hand hadn’t moved from his.
All he could manage was a shaky nod, imagining that he looked like a complete bumbling idiot at the present moment from the shock.
“Ooh, is it still kicking? Can I?” Buffy suddenly said, causing both teenagers to twitch in surprise, Harry had almost forgotten that there was anyone else in the room for a moment there.
Much to Harry’s disappointment, Dawn quickly removed her hand from his, and in turn he removed his from her stomach. She gave him a shy smile before pivoting in her seat to face Buffy, who didn’t hesitate in trying to feel the baby’s kicking as well. Fleur, Hermione and Willow had also gathered around in curiousity and excitement, causing the men at the table to shake their heads and chuckle at their antics.
Still feeling somewhat awestruck, Harry felt Ron give him a nudge from beside him. When Harry looked over, his friend hadn’t even bothered to say anything and simply looked at him with raised eyebrows.
With everyone extremely well fed and the excitement from the baby’s first kick, the New Year’s celebrations were soon in full swing. They had all relocated to the sitting room opposite the kitchen, excluding Lupin who had insisted that he go home to his wife, and had departed immediately. Thankfully, in the sitting room they had slightly more room to sit around comfortably and talk; Dawn was sitting with Ron and Harry by the fireplace, they were just letting the conversation take them wherever it wanted. Meanwhile, Bill was sitting by the door, introducing Buffy and Willow to something called ‘firewhiskey’, while Hermione and Fleur had been in the kitchen cleaning up after dinner. After they had finally finished, the French woman had put some music on that Dawn didn’t know, assuming it probably was something popular in the Wizarding Community, and joined her husband, while Hermione sat down with the other three teenager by the fireplace.
As they sat there for a while, Dawn was relieved to see that Harry, who she’d noticed had been withdrawn all through dinner, had finally began to interact with everyone again, although she definitely thought that he was avoiding looking her in the eye. When their discussion naturally progressed into something about magic that Dawn didn’t understand, she just sat back and watched the three friends chatter and laugh, in particular she silently and subtly tried to observe Harry.
She admired him for managing to be so humble and kind-hearted despite his horrible upbringing, and not to mention how much attention he got due to his distinction amongst the Wizarding Community. Dawn really wished that their baby would follow in its father’s footsteps in that respect, because of who its father and with what it was prophesised to do, it was surely going to get just as much attention over the years. Now that she was thinking about it, she really did hope that it would also inherit Harry’s amazing green eyes, Dawn’s favourite feature of his.
Whoa, get a grip, Dawn, she told herself, trying to shake away her dreamy musings and taking a deep breath to slow down her rising heart rate caused by the thoughts. Those fears she had revealed to Lupin were still there, and she told herself that she had to discourage any further stray thoughts or feelings for Harry; it would just cause more heartache in the long run.
Midnight grew nearer and nearer, by which point Dawn had been almost driven insane by her over-active mind, she couldn’t seem to turn it off. She quickly excused herself from the others and went to help herself to some more water in the kitchen. When she returned a few minutes later, she noticed Willow was sitting over in the corner by herself, looking slightly wobbly from all the firewhiskey, and not to mention particularly glum, so she went over to sit by the redhead.
“Hey, Will,” she greeted. “What’s the deal with all the Angel-broodiness?”
Willow shrugged, this threw her off balance and almost over to one side, however Dawn gave her a steadying hand. “I-I was just thinkin’ about Tara,” her voice was slurring slightly and Dawn could definitely smell the alcohol on her breath. “She used to love New Year’s Eve...”
Dawn felt a slight pang of sadness at the mention of Tara’s name. When she thought about, if she still missed the witch after all this time, she couldn’t begin to imagine what emotions Willow was still experiencing from it all. However, she also had a question she had wanted to ask the redheaded witch for quite some time, particularly with her current dilemma, wondering whether it would be insensitive to seize this opportunity to ask it. She certainly didn’t want to cause her any further misery.
“Yep,” Willow continued on. “And she would’ve loved seeing Hogwarts...”
Dawn gave an empathetic smile, briefly rubbing her hand across the older woman’s back in an attempt to comfort her. “If you had of known, would you’ve changed things?” Before she knew it, the question burning in her mind had spilled out and there was no stopping it.
“Changed what?” Willow slurred, looking interested.
Dawn sighed, trying to think of a way to sound considerate but there was no easy way around this now that she’d started. “Well... say, like, you knew from the beginning that you were gonna lose Tara eventually. Would you’ve stopped yourself from starting anything... just to protect yourself from the pain?”
At this question, Willow suddenly stopped swaying and was able to look her directly in the face, and she knew that despite the alcohol, she was getting an honest, unbiased answer.
“Nope,” she replied, popping the ‘p’ sound and shaking her head. “Rather have those amazing memories with Tara than nothing at all... it was the best time of my life.”‘Just because you are forced to sacrifice many things for this prophecy and the baby, it shouldn’t mean that you should sacrifice any chance at happiness...’
Lupin’s words from earlier unexpectedly echoed in Dawn’s head, which paired with Willow’s response, had her suddenly questioning her reasoning for pushing Harry away. Yes, something could happen to either one of them at any moment, but if she didn’t act on her feelings and something did happen, would the regret be too much to live with?
“Hey, everyone!” Ron suddenly exclaimed, drawing the attention of the room. “It’s only a minute until midnight!”
To Dawn it had seemed like one big, fast blur, in which everyone had jumped, or stumbled, out of their seats and before she knew it, they were counting down the final ten seconds of the year.
The cries of “HAPPY NEW YEAR!!” easily filled the small cottage from one end to the other, reverberating off the walls. Dawn gazed around to see that Bill and Fleur were embracing and enjoying a private, married-couple moment, so she redirected her eye sight and wasn’t completely surprised when she saw Ron stealing a chaste kiss from Hermione, especially after the witches’ reaction from their talk earlier. She then noticed that Willow had moved over towards Buffy and both had slung their arms over each other’s shoulders and were singing an extremely bad rendition of ‘Auld Lang Syne’. In that moment, it seemed to Dawn like everyone else was happy in their company, and then finally, her eyes linked with the only other lone person in the room, standing over by the fireplace.
Harry had a troubled expression as he looked over her way, Dawn had just opened her mouth to say something, when he swiftly turned and headed for the door. She didn’t falter in pursuing him and was not very far behind when he made it out towards the foot of the stairs.
“Harry, wait!” she called out, a hint of desperation in her tone.
She was relieved when he actually stopped and silently turned to face her, without saying another word she closed the space between them across the entry hall and placed her lips on his. It felt like her heart had stopped in that moment, knowing full well what had happened last time they had kissed, but then her anxiety feeling quickly faded when she realised that she was still in control.
Meanwhile, Harry hadn’t moved for a moment, slightly shocked by the suddenness of it all, however it wasn’t long before he responded back. Right at that moment, Dawn thought that her knees might give way from underneath her, while her heart was beating rapidly in her chest. She’d never experienced anything like this, but it felt right. After a few moments, they both reluctantly pulled away and Dawn looked him directly in the eyes, to see they had softened in comparison with before.
“Happy New Year!” she said softly with a smile