Title: Story of a Life

Author: Nyoka Li

Rating: T

Pairings: H/Several, eventual H/S

Notes: Totally ignores DH. Not because I didn't like it, but I want Severus alive. And if I'm going to throw out some of DH, I might as well throw out the whole thing. So its canon until the end of HBP.

Also, I need a new Beta-Reader is anyone is interested. Just so you know, this story will be a long one.

"Harry, you need to eat something. You'll need your strength for today". Hermione fussed over Harry as usual. He sat with his head in his arms, resting on the table. His breakfast remained untouched in from of hi . He lifted his head to respond, still bleary-eyed from a lack of sleep.

"You know what 'Mione? I'm really just not hungry right now. I had a long night".

Hermione sighed, but looked sympathetic. "Ginny or graduation?" she asks, eager as always for answers. A sharp laugh is her reply.

Harry smiled, "Bit of both really. Ginny wanted to spend 'our last night' together. I don't get her. It's not like I'm leaving her or something. I'm just graduating." Ginny is his on and off girlfriend of over a year now. While he loved her deeply, she harbours a deep insecurity, a fear that at any moment, she will lose Harry.

She paused, like she was choosing her next words carefully. "She's just worried, it'll pass. Are you all ready for tonight? The ceremony?"

He laughed again, not with happiness, but with nervousness. "I'm terrified. I haven't a clue what I'm going to do with my life. Hogwarts has always been my life. What now?" What now indeed, he thought. Where next?

"You just have to take it day by day I guess. " was her cryptic reply. Why did he always come to Hermione for advice? He advice either consisted of riddles or the infamous 'lets go to the library'. Sometime, he thought wryly, the library doesn't help.

"Did you read the paper?" Oh good, a changed subject. Ginny was a difficult topic for him, and Hogwarts more so. He didn't want to think about his depressing future or lack there-of, anymore. Hogwarts was his home. After tonight, he wouldn't have a home. The Dursley's would never take him back. Nor would he want to go back. Sirius was dead and Remus had more than enough on his plate with Tonks and everything. Besides, he was a grownup now. He ought to be living on his own, making a living.

She's looking at him, waiting for an answer. What did she ask about? Oh right, the paper. Yeah, I saw it.

"Sure did. Tell Dean that I'd appreciate it if he kept his mouth shut in the future. But be nicer about it."

Breakfast is over, people are steadily streaming out. Classes are done. Most of the students are staying behind for the graduation ceremony tonight, but some have left. Security for tonight, the Headmistress had said last night, would be tripled. This is still not good enough for some parents. The world is still scared, and will be for a long time.

The flash of the photographers camera went off, temporarily blinding the students. They all stand in neat little rows, clad in their graduation gowns and smiling for the camera. Harry is in the front row. He's the only reason this picture will make the Daily Prophet tomorrow. He's the only reason people care about this particular graduating class. He smiles at the camera, just like anyone else.

"Come on Harry," urges Hermione, Ron at her side, "You have to mingle. The Minster of Magic came just to see you! You should at least say hi. And talk to McGonagall and Snape too. You owe them that much."

"Jeez 'Mione, you aren't his mother. Give the guy a break". Ron attempts to defend Harry, smiling at his best friend. "Besides, who wants to talk to Snape? That would be just awkward."

Harry returns the smile, noting inwardly just how awkward it would be. The two had a secret truce, almost friendship that had erupted into something more the night be The Final Battle. That simple release of frustration and fear, while wonderful at the time, made it difficult for Harry to look his professor in the eyes anymore. A one night stand really does mess everything up, he thought.

Still, the man had at least earned his respect, and deserved a farewell. It was hard to say when they would meet again.

"Okay Hermione. I'll talk to both of them. But I'm still not packed, so I'll do that right afterwards." Hermione nodded, placated. Ron, on the other hand, was not.

"But mate, what about the after party? You gotta go to that, it's the big celebration!"

Harry shook his head as he walked away. Ron would never understand that he simply didn't want to celebrate. In his mind, this event was more deserving of a funeral then a party. It wasn't a happy occasion. Not for him. But Ron couldn't possibly understand that. Ron had family, options after school. He had a plan.

Harry's aimless wandering had taken him to Minerva McGonagall, the Headmistress since Dumbledor's murder last year and Harry's Head of House before in the 6 years before that. She was extremely capable of the position. Harry walked closer, wanted to bid her farewell. She had done so much for him, and deserved that much.

He waited patiently as she spoke with the family of another student. He wasn't sure who they were exactly. The large group was clustered around the Headmistress, except for one girl. She looked to be about his age, and she smiled at him. He smiled back, just to be polite.

The Headmistress turned to Harry. She smiled sadly, knowing how he felt about this night. She was fond of him, he was a good kid. He had fought so valiantly, she thought sadly, and lost so much. Still, she consoled herself, he was alive, which was more than many others were able to say.

"Harry," she greeted warmly, hugging him briefly. "How are you holding up?"

She knew the answer, he mused.

"Not too badly Professor. It's not the end after all," he was friendly and chipper tonight on the outside, "You can't get rid of me that easily. I'll be back."

She laughed. "Well I certainly hope so. You are always welcome here Harry, you know this."

Relief flooded his mind. He could always come back. "I just wanted to thank you. For everything. And say goodbye."

She was sad to see him go. But like he said, he'd be back. "You're welcome Harry. And as for goodbyes...I'm sure you'll be back soon enough."

She knew something, he thought as he bid her goodnight and went to do the same for his potions professor and current Deputy Headmaster. He was not difficult to find. A dour man, he was not usually approached by students or parents. Only the families of his Slytherins came to see him, and they had all retired to their own after-party, free of the formality of the reception. He was likely surprised to see Harry Potter standing before him, shifting his weight uncomfortably while awaiting acknowledgment.

"Ah, Mister Potter," he drawled. Severus looked around briefly to ensure that they were alone. They were. A little teasing would not be out of place. Indeed, it was probably expected. "Back for more are we?"

Harry blushed, knowing exactly to what he referred to.

"Umm... no. I have a girlfriend now, remember?" Severus did remember. He had seen the Weasley girl hanging off of Potter all night. Disgraceful, though he didn't see her now.

"Still, if you ever want round two, I'm always available." He was enjoying this way too much, Harry could tell.

"I'll keep that in mind. Look, I actually wanted to talk to you about that. We're good right? I mean no awkwardness or anything, right? Cause let's face it, when it happened, I don't think either of us had anticipated being alive to have to discuss it." This was true, they both reasoned.

Severus gave Harry Potter one of his rare half-smiles. "Surely you don't believe I was serious? I assure you Potter, the though repulses me. Is that all?"

Harry looked at him. He hadn't been joking, he knew he hadn't. He bid his professor goodnight, promised to drop by for tea sometime and left to pack his belongings.

It's been a long day. You walk into your room, swaying a little with exhaustion. You're tired, and want nothing more than to sleep. But there is something you need to do first.

Today was the first day you saw him. Of course you've seen his picture before, read about his adventures at Hogwarts, but you've never really seen him. Face to face, so close you could feel his warm breath hit your face. He's beautiful, even when his face is scrunched up with stress, anxiety at leaving his beloved home. It must be hard, you think, he must feel so alone. And really, you understand, if only because you know that you will also be leaving your home in another year. Your chest hurts just thinking about it.

But you have that in common with Harry Potter. So can it really be such a bad thing?

You're in your kitchen now, sorting through the morning's trash. Your mother moves on the couch, turning to see you. She asks what you are doing.

'Nothing', you reply. She is not convinced, and asks what you are looking for.

'Nothing', is your reply yet again. Why does she not leave you alone? Can't she see you are busy?

She's stopped caring, turning back to your father, speaking in quiet tones to your father. They speak of the ceremony today. Wasn't it just lovely that your cousin invited the family? What a sweet girl she is, and so beautiful today.

You are beginning to think they threw it out already. After all, what purpose could you possibly have for—

Found it.

He looks up at you from the picture on the second page. Him and those friends of his. The redhead and the bushy girl. But you don't care about them. You only care about him. It's an article from this morning's paper, accompanied by a picture of the trio on the front steps of Hogwarts. They look so happy, so carefree. And they should, since Voldemort is dead and no longer a shadow hanging over them. Still...his eyes look haunted. He sits slightly farther away from the camera, yet looking right at it. There is a cold look in his eyes, it's not inviting in the slightest. Not like he was today at the ceremony. Strange, you think as you wander back to your room and sit on your bed.

You reach into the nightstand drawer, feeling your fingers grasp on the handle of the scissors. You make the first cut, carefully framing the picture. You are nearly done when she appears. The redheaded whore that was hanging off of him today. Your eyes narrow as she sits down next to him, kissing him chastely on the cheek. He doesn't like the camera, and refuses to play for it. Still, you hate her. The scissors make a decisive cut, severing her from the picture. You hear the scream and smile.

The picture has been cut perfectly, framing beautiful Harry in all his glory. The article falls to the ground, precariously connected by a thin piece of unused paper to the picture of the severed girl, who bawls at being separated from Harry. You look at the article briefly, debating as to whether it is important enough. You decide it is not. It goes into the trashcan, along with the rest of the paper.

The picture is placed very carefully in the folder on your desk. Normally, the folder carries your notes, but this is more important. The folder is the placed in your nightstand, scissors on top of it.

Perfect. Now you can get some sleep.

The article sits on top of the trashcan. Why you felt it was unimportant, we will never know. In fact, there is not much that you've done tonight that is easily understood. The article is short one, from the Daily Prophet, but important to Harry, if only because it chronicles one of the most important moments of his life so far. He has finally graduated.

Boy-Who-Lived Graduated from Hogwarts

June 26, 1998

Howarts legendary graduation ceremony is set for tonight, and there will be a star-studded affair. Harry Potter, the Boy-Who-Lived, will finally graduate tonight, though it will not be the joyous event it ought to be.

"Harry is really nervous about leaving Hogwarts," an anonymous source told the Prophet. "Frankly, I don't think he's got a clue what he's gonna do next."

Other sources in the famed school, where Potter, 17, has been attending for 7 years confirm this.

"He's never really had anywhere else to go, you see," Dean Thomas, 17, of Gryffindor claims. "His family isn't too fond of him, so I'm pretty sure he thinks of Hogwarts as his home. No idea where he's going to go now. Poor Bloke."

It is a known fact that Potter wished at one point to join the Aurors, but none could verify that this is still the case. Draco Malfoy, of the Wiltshire Malfoys, provided some insight.

"Wouldn't surprise me. Saint Potter always wanted to be a hero. Probably isn't enough for him to have taken down You-Know-Who. Wants to be an even bigger hero I bet, wants people to worship him even more."

Harry Potter himself was unavailable for comment.

The ceremony will begin tonight at 7pm in the Great Hall of Hogwarts. Attendance is by invitation only.

Daily Prophet

Rebecca Wormwood