Harry sipped his champagne and savoured its sweet taste. He had been asked to dance for four consecutive times now and he was respectfully declining any more requests for the time.
"It would've been so good if I had the same response from ladies at the Yule Ball" Harry thought, smiling.
He recalled how he and Ron had to go through a harrowing time asking a girl out for the Yule Ball in his fourth year at Hogwarts. Harry looked around. Everyone was waltzing slowly to the country music, as the lead singer of Bent-Winged Snitches, Alfred Sleepwalker, sung in his melodious voice.
Ron and Hermione were dancing on the dance floor. They gazed into each other's eyes lovingly. A faint smile hinted their faces as they recalled their romantic days at Hogwarts. Neville Longbottom was at the far end, talking and joking with some friends.
"Let's go meet Neville" Harry told Ginny, who was sitting at the table.
"Yeah" Ginny said getting up. Both went to Neville.
"Oh, Harry!" Neville shouted as Harry and Ginny approached him.
He went ahead and hugged Harry.
"Congratulations, buddy" Harry said hugging him back.
"Thank you!" Neville said beaming.
"Ginny" Neville said and hugged her.
"Congratulations 'headmaster'!" Ginny said.
"Oh, thank you! The headmaster at your service, mademoiselle..." Neville said, giving a slight bow.
Everyone chuckled. There were many old friends standing there; Padma Patil, Seamus Finnigan, Luna Lovegood and many more. Almost the entire "Dumbledore's Army" seemed to have been gathered. Harry hugged them all.
"So how does it feel to be the headmaster?" Harry asked Neville.
"I pity Dumbledore NOW" Neville said, and everyone chuckled.
"How is life as an Auror?" Neville asked.
"Can't say you'll survive the day. Already made my will" Harry said.
"Yeah" Neville agreed.
"I saw Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows part 2 yesterday!" Seamus chimed in.
"Oh nice" Harry said amusedly.
"Yeah, ever since the Ministry put an imperious curse on a muggle woman named J. K. Rowling, and made her write novels on the entire chronicles of our adventures at Hogwarts, it has been a joyride! What's more? Some Hollywood production house made movies on it and they went blockbusters!" Luna said enthusiastically.
"I loved them too" Harry said agreeing.
He really did enjoy watching every single movie in a muggle cinema. (People in the cinema hall kept commenting that he looked like an older Daniel Radcliffe. Who was that guy?)
"So you're not dancing?" Neville asked.
"Oh, I was searching for my childhood date but couldn't find her" Harry said.
"Who?" everyone asked in unison.
"Cho Chang" Harry said, winking at Ginny. Ginny made an angry pout at Harry which made everyone laugh.
"Will you dance with me?" Seamus asked Ginny, holding a hand out for her. Ginny accepted his hand, smiling at Harry.
"Will you dance with me?" a lady's voice came from behind.
Harry turned around to see Astoria Malfoy holding out her hand for him. She had worn a black party dress and matching nail polish.
"Sure" Harry smiled. He took her hand and walked onto the dance floor.
He took her waist and started waltzing with the slow rhythm. Harry noticed that Astoria had maintained her beauty. Her red lipstick and low cut blouse gave her a somewhat voluptuous look.
"You look the same in those glasses" she said.
"Thank you, and you look beautiful" Harry said.
"Thank you" Astoria said.
The singer sang "Every night in my dreams…" It was a romantic muggle song. Astoria wrapped both her arms around Harry's shoulder and kept dancing.
"Uhmm..." Harry coughed uncomfortably and averted his gaze, but Astoria looked directly into his eyes.
Harry knew that Astoria was about to cross a line. He knew that this was the right time to back off from drunken women in order to avoid a war with his wife. And after all, Astoria was married to his colleague Draco Malfoy (who lived in the US for the better part of the year.)
"I think Ginny is calling me" Harry faked a smile, as he gently tried to take his hand off her shoulder.
"Stay" she simply said.
"I am sorry. No" Harry said firmly. He took her hands off and went out of the hall, into the courtyard.
Neville stood at the end of the courtyard, looking down at the valley, sipping his champagne. Harry lit a Cuban cigar and joined Neville. Far across, there was a light in Hagrid's hut. Neville looked at Harry and said nothing. Harry knew something was bothering Neville, but he didn't ask, fearing it might ruin Neville's mood.
"Harry?" Neville finally said.
"Yeah?" Harry said.
"Have you heard from Cho Chang lately?" Neville asked.
"Umm, no. Why?" Harry asked.
Neville didn't say anything.
"Maybe I should tell you" Neville said, gesturing Harry to follow him.
Harry put out his cigar as they entered the other tower of Hogwarts. Their footsteps echoed as they passed through a maze of corridors. Harry looked around as he followed Neville. There were photographs of the winning Quidditch teams of every year on the wall. Harry spotted himself waving in a few of them.
At the end of the corridor was an area which was burnt black. It was cordoned off. Above it was a large photograph of Fred and George Weasley, waving.
Harry remembered how those brothers had wreaked havoc in the OWL exams in his fifth year of Hogwarts. This burnt area was a loving memoir of that incident. They started climbing the staircase and finally reached the headmaster's office.
Neville opened the door for Harry.
"After you" he said.
Harry walked in. Neville looked around for any stalkers and locked the door behind him.
If there was any part of Hogwarts that remained unchanged, it was the headmaster's office. Harry recalled the many adventures he'd had with the headmaster of his time, Albus Dumbledore. While Harry was admiring the vintage look of the office, Neville took out a sleek box. Harry looked at it and recognized it.
It was the "Faraway Talker" machine. This machine would give a three-dimensional holographic projection of the person you're talking with. It had replaced every other communication device among the wizards. It was a modification in the "Webcam" technology of the muggles, or at least, that's what the Daily Prophet said.
Neville opened a pre-recorded message.
"I had tried to contact Cho several times in order to invite her to the reunion" he explained.
"But either I couldn't contact her or she would never reply. Then finally, two weeks ago, I received her call." Neville said.
He pressed the play button and a 3 dimensional form of Cho's face appeared on the surface of the sleek box. She looked older, her face wrinkled. The communication line was weak, so her image kept blurring.
"Hey, Cho! Where are you? I tried reaching out to you a lot of times, but you never replied" Neville's voice said.
"I am not available right now" Cho said.
"Okay, how are..." Neville started to say but Cho cut him.
"Listen, Neville." Cho said looking around as if she was expecting someone to come.
"I can't tell you where I am. Just make sure Harry has the owl" she said and hung up, leaving nothing but a blue trail of light.
Harry and Neville sat in silence for some time.
"Harry has the message? What does that mean? Did she mean that she had sent you an owl with a message?" Neville said.
"I don't know. But I don't think I've received an owl from Cho recently." Harry said dubiously.
"Yeah, even I was surprised by her tone. Her voice seemed to be panicky, almost as if she's afraid of something... or someone." Neville said grimly.
"Do you think she's okay?" Harry asked.
"I hope so." Neville said. They both sat silently for a while, mulling over the cryptic message.
"We need to get back to the party before everyone starts missing us' Neville said, breaking the silence.
"Yeah" Harry said getting up, still pondering about Cho.
The party at the hall was at its peak now. The music had changed from country music to boy band songs. The singer was singing "Live while we're young" (a muggle song from the famous band One Direction). And people were ecstatic!
"Who says muggles and wizards don't get along?" Neville said and Harry chuckled.
The chilling air outside mingled with the moonlight as the final beats of the grand Hogwarts reunion reverberated through the night air...