Jacques', 2 May 2013, 7pm
Jacques' was jumping. The restaurant had earned two Michelin Stars in as many years and expectations were running high for a third star in the New Year. This almost unprecedented occurrence left the owner, Jacques Roberts, with a well deserved sense of satisfaction. Even on a Thursday night in early May, the tables were full while his wait staff miraculously kept the turnaround time on schedule.
A few minutes earlier, he'd been joined at the back of the dining room by his Executive Chef and reason for his success, the brilliant and totally enigmatic Charles. Jacques blessed the day when a skinny, bespectacled teen had applied for a commis chef position.
At the time, Jacques' had been a run-of-the-mill French restaurant, in all honesty, indistinguishable from the hundreds in the metropolitan area. But, as Charles had gained experience and position, Jacques' became known for its food and gained first local, then national stars, which were happily accepted, though only Michelin stars really mattered. Jacques found he had to stay on his toes to ensure that the front of the house kept pace with the back. It had been a hard job, but well worth it as the staff pulled together. Now, Jacques' was a complete restaurant, although no one was blind to the fact that everything began and ended with Charles.
By the time he became Sous-Chef, Jacques' was already among the finest restaurants of any type in Britain. The then Executive Chef knew he was only a place holder for the real chef, and resigned at the end of 2010. Then came the two stars. Even though there were four three star restaurants in the UK, Jacques' had become the place to dine and all because of Charles.
The man was an enigma. Even after 15 years, he merely had a cordial working relationship with Jacques and the rest of the staff. Charles was friendly and supportive to everyone at work, but no one could claim him as a friend. What he did in his few off hours wasn't known, or who he associated with. Even where his address was unknown; all they had was a phone number at which he was always available.
Charles seemed married to his work and the restaurant. He'd had scads of opportunities to make himself enormously wealthy by changing jobs, endorsing products, or becoming a celebrity chef on the telly. He'd turned down all offers, some directly, but most by simply acting as if they'd not been made.
He never groomed important people or networked. Charles never accepted offers to do private dinners, only cooking for Jacques' and nowhere else. He kept as completely out of the spotlight as was humanly possible and regularly disappointed those who wanted to know him. There were rumors that he'd even turned down the Royal Family but no one outside of Charles and Buckingham Palace knew the truth.
He made a better that adequate salary, but lived, it seemed, as if he were poor. His attire was always comme il faut; aside from that all he ever spent his money on seemed to be the special stores he kept for the comp dishes that went to particularly loyal or important guests, and a new set of top of the line knives, bought every couple of years. In both cases, these things were bought anonymously. He wore no jewelry and his watch was a cheap Timex-type. His mobile was never more than the basic model and the concept of a smart phone apparently passed him by.
He knew computers well enough to handle the tasks he needed to do for work. But he never used email, or any social media. To protect his reputation Jacques' kept a firm of lawyers on retainer, to close down the pirate accounts and sites others had put up. He simply seemed to have found a life with which he was content, and never found a reason to change.
Together, they looked out on the dining room at the happy dinner crowd. Suddenly, Charles stiffened. Jacques looked at where Charles stared, hoping to find the cause of his chef's reaction. Three women were being seated at a four spot. Two of the three were clearly related. They shared the same beautiful faces and dark, red hair, though the elder's had begun to grey. The third was also lovely, with long, wavy brown hair and a trim figure.
Charles seemed to be shocked. He stood transfixed with his eyes locked on the three women. He then lurched back into motion.
"Jacques" he said to his boss. "Please go over to that party of three and tell those ladies that their money is not good here tonight. Tell them that I will cook for them and will assume the costs, including the gratuity."
"Are you sure Charles?" Jacques asked in confusion. "You've never done anything like this before."
"Yes, I'm certain. Now let them know and please send the sommelier to my station."
Jacques strode to the table. "Chère ladies, you are in great luck tonight. Chef Charles wishes you to know that he is preparing your meal tonight, at no cost to you, you do not even have to attend to the gratuities."The brown haired woman gave him a sharp, considering look.
"From your tone, this is not usual."
Jacques bobbed his head. "Honestly, it is unprecedented. He's done single complimentary dishes on a fairly regular basis, but never an entire meal. You are quite fortunate tonight." He was skewered by three sets of skeptical looks before they nodded in assent.
Before he could leave, the brunette caught his attention. "If you would, Monsieur Roberts, please keep the fourth place at the table set, as if another would come. For us, this is an anniversary and remembrance of one we've not seen, nor heard from for too many years."
Jacques looked carefully at the trio and saw that, underneath their surface good spirits was a sadness, even a mourning. He simply nodded, before going off for a word with their server.
Of all the bistros, in all the towns, in all the world, they had to walk into mine. Just as Charles channeled his inner Rick Blaine, his more sardonic, cynical side answered. Sure champ, that all four of you live and work in the same city has nothingto do with it. Just as the fact we're the hottest food ticket and it's May 2 doesn't either! He sighed. He hated losing arguments, especially with himself.
He took a couple minutes of thought to plan this repast, to ensure they would talk and remember this meal all the days of their lives. Then, rapidly, he opened his special pantry, removing a bottle of 1998 vintage champagne, various charcuteries and several small loaves of crusty bread. Cutting swiftly, he dissected the bread into rounds of optimal thickness and arranged them along two sides of a round platter. In the middle, he portioned four of the pâtés, terrines, and gras. Just as the Sommelier came around."Gaston, kindly serve this bottle, with the special champagne glasses. Nothing but the special glasses at that table all night. Turning to the waiter, he said "Jean, give the ladies a minute or so with the wine before serving the platter. The brunette lady is very likely to object to the gras, be sure to explain the difference between foie gras and our faux gras."
At the table, the three women sipped appreciatively at the champagne. They could tell it was a famous vintage, but from a producer unknown to them. The bubbly held nuances and flavors they'd never tasted before. When the platter came, the brunette did object to the foie gras, because of the inhumane way the geese were treated. She was derailed by the waiter.
"We at Jacques' agree fully with you mademoiselle. Chef Charles formulates a substitute that tastes indistinguishable from the traditional foie gras. Pray taste it and give us your opinion." The woman did so, and a look of rapture overtook her face.
"Please compliment the chef for me." As the server left, the other two made their essays, with the same reactions.
"So, Hermione the Crusader, what do you think it's made of?" The younger red headed woman asked with a sly look. She loved her friend of close to 23 years, but had to admit it was fun anytime someone cut off one of her rants.
"You know what it's likely to be," the older redhead said, her voice changing to sotto voce, "House Elves!"
The younger brunette woman made a face of mock disgust and lightly slapped her shoulder. "Amelia! That's just cruel. I maybe onto other things, Minister, but I'll never stop fighting for their rights; to be happy, if not free. And you, Susan," turning to the younger woman "didn't help at all. But this is the way to start a meal." The others agreed and they toasted themselves with the champagne.
Meanwhile, Charles set a saucepan of beef stock and cider to a high simmer and added a generous amount of onions that had been cooked down to a deep, deep brown. Taking out rounds of bread from one of his special suppliers, he toasted one side in a salamander. He made up a salad of microgreens and dressed them with a special olive oil, salt, pepper and a touch of insanely long aged balsamic vinegar. He selected a red wine to accompany this course and summoned Gaston who poured three small glasses. Charles had Jean serve the finished soup and the salad, while the sommelier served the wine. The earlier platter and champagne remained at the table.
While his table rhapsodized over the soup, salad and the remaining charcuteries, Charles pulled out the ingredients for the entrées. Two boned squabs and a savory rice stuffing joined two huge diver caught sea scallops and the makings for a blanquette de veau. With a practiced ease, he assembled the dishes and placed them in their ovens so that they could be served in 30 minutes time
At the table, the three women ate and talked about everything and nothing, with the easy camaraderie stemming from their near lifelong association.
"So, here we all are, three old maids," chortled Amelia.
"True, boss, but we're also the three most eligible witches in Britain, at least according to Witch Weekly," said the brunette. This sort of talk should have been strictly verboten, considering where they were, but a couple of surreptitious charms she cast ensured that their conversation sounded innocuous to other ears.
"Careful there, Missy, even being my Undersecretary doesn't let you sass me!" The older woman said with a smile.
"Hate to tell you this boss, but it does!" and the three laughed.
"But seriously, any and all of us could and probably ought to be married. We're the Minister, her Undersecretary and the Head of the DMLE after all. It's not that we haven't had offers." The younger redhead's voice held a note of wistfulness.
"That's true Sue, so whyever are you not Mrs. Zabini, or Finch-Fletchley, or Corner." teased the brunette.
"Most likely the same reason your last name isn't Krum, or Weasley, or Morgana forbid, Malfoy, Hermione!" Amelia almost laughed at the look on Hermione's face at the mention of that final name.
Hermione shook off her horror, while Sue picked up the theme. "What about you, auntie? Why aren't you Amelia Shaklebolt? He's been pining for you for a good twenty-five years by now."
Hermione answered for them all. "None of their eyes are green." And they all looked at the empty place at the table, wistfully and sorrowfully.
At that moment, Jean arrived with the entrées, followed by Gaston, with their wines; a fine aged red Burgundy for Amelia's squabs, an opulent white wine, a Rhône Roussannes with Hermione's Cocquilles St. Jacques and a rich buttery white Burgundy to match her blanquette de veau. Before they began, they took their goblets, luxuriated in the bouquet of their wines, then looking sadly at the empty place setting, lifted their glasses in salute and said
"To Harry." they toasted. They drank and started to eat, wrapped in the same memory.
It was a week since the Battle of Hogwarts and to the veterans of that fight this was a flashback. They saw the smoking remains of the Order of Merlin, First Class which lay on the floor of the Ministry's Atrium and saw instead the ruins of Hogwarts Castle. The shock they felt was mirrored in the faces of all those present. The interim Minister, Kingsley Shacklebolt, stared at the young wizard in horror. Harry stood there, clearly in a froth, his magic seemingly glowing.
"I reject such an honor, for it is offered by a disgusting and unworthy people. I'm not counting you in their number, Kingsley, neither the Order, nor the DA, nor the brave citizens of Hogsmeade who joined us in the Final Battle. Those who risked their lives for freedom from the terror of Voldemort and his DeathEaters have nothing but my respect and thanks.
"But for you, the mindless, spineless ruck of British magicals, you who lauded me one moment and hated me the next, I have nothing but disdain. What did any of you do to help me, your so-called hero, your so-called chosen one? What did you do when Voldemort took the Ministry? Did you cast protective spells for the non-magicals who the DeathEaters tortured for fun? Did you harbor the muggleborn witches and wizards from Umbridge's concentration camps?
"No, you did nothing, nothing at all. Edmund Burke had all of you characterized, more than two hundred years ago. 'The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.' That is exactly what you did, nothing. Lives were lost, people suffered for your inaction.
"Well, my choice is easy. As much as I respect, even love those who accepted the risks to support our freedoms and support me, my choice is simple. I cannot abide you and I will not associate with you ever again. You are lower than the dust beneath my feet and I am shot of you!
"There are, though, three people who stand out in my short and painful life, three people who made the demons retreat, who accepted me for me, Harry James Potter, not any inane sobriquet. To me, they are as far above me as you are below me.
"My only regret is that, I, in leaving this world will leave them." Then he approached Amelia, Susan and Hermione and took each into his arms in turn and kissed them tenderly. The kisses told them of his feelings, the feelings he had for them that had never been shown in his words. The feelings his actions heretofore had only given hints.
He then stepped away and smiled sadly. "I'll always remember you, every single moment we've been together." He straightened and barked out, "Engage!" and vanished, leaving a still as death Atrium in his wake.
The three witches broke out of their reveries, almost simultaneously. Susan wiped away a tear and whispered, "I miss him so much!"
Amelia squeezed her hand. "We all do love." They drank to him once more and ate their meals.
"There is something amiss here. How is it that this Chef Charles gave each of us our favourite foods; squab for you, Amelia, scallops for me, veal for Susan. We even have our favourite vegetables on the side. Doesn't that seem odd to you?
"These scallops are huge, but they're perfectly cooked, not one spot over nor undercooked. My favorite asparagus, with a hint of garlic. I'll bet anything that your squab's stuffing has a hint of saffron in it and your veal Susan tastes as if it fed on wild thyme." Their incredulous looks confirmed her surmises.
"This is Chef Charles. Really? Could it be that someone assumed an altered form of Charlus?" Susan and Amelia looked on, stunned. The implications were huge, but maybe. . . "Do either of you doubt that, no matter how he looks to his coworkers, his eyes are emerald green?" they nodded.
The trio finished their entrées in a daze, but not so insensibly as to not savor every single bite. They tried each other's wine and found them exquisite, as they thought it would be. When finished, their plates were removed and the table cloth whisked away and replaced. Within five minutes, an opulent cheese platter arrived complete with edges of a triple crème cheese, a Brillat Savarin; an insanely aged and nutty Gouda and an intense, sharp and salty Roquefort. These were accompanied by apple slices, enormous almonds and walnuts. To drink, there were glasses of a twenty-five year old tawny port and pots of their favorite teas.
Before the server, left, Hermione asked, "Jean, would you ask Monsieur Roberts to come by for a word, after we've finished?" The server nodded. They took their time, to give full honors to the afters they were served. Eventually, they were done and they signaled the server. A few minutes later, Jacques was at tableside.
"Monsieur Roberts," Hermione said. "We do not have the words to do justice to the meal we've enjoyed. We would like to give Chef Charles our compliments in person. Would you please take us back to him?"
Jacques looked compassionately at the three women. Plainly, Charles and they had a history and they cared for him as deeply as did he for them. Even as aloof as he was, he could read him at least that well.
"I'm sorry, but he left after completing your dessert. But," he hoped to avoid the tears he could see in their eyes from being shed, "he asked me to give this to Hermione Granger." He produced an envelope, the woman in question virtually snatched from him. "Ladies" he continued, "You should know, I have told him he must take a month off. I have known him fifteen years and he doesn't let anyone close. I can see that you three can break down his walls. For his sake and yours, demolish them!" He bowed and left them.
They left the restaurant and read the address under a streetlamp, the wording told them his abode was under the Fidelius charm. They found a secluded spot and apparated to the address. They knocked and were greeted by a familiar house elf.
"Kreacher," they all cried at once.
The old elf bowed. "Miss Hermione, Miss Susan, Madam Amelia, welcome. Master Harry is in the sitting room." He took their cloaks and led them to a room where they could hear cello music. Before ushering them in, he spoke to them in a low voice. "Master Harry has been empty since he left. Kreacher can tell you have been too. Go to him and fill him. Don't let him leave again."
They entered the room and saw a messy-haired man staring at the picture on the wall, swaying slightly to the music. He turned and they gasped, for the face and hair were completely different from the Harry they knew. Only the eyes were familiar.
Seeing their shocked expressions, he smiled wryly. "Kreacher." he said and his features morphed into those which were so familiar to them. "Sorry for that, I forgot to have him remove the glamour. That was the face of Chef Charles. Please sit." Placing the glass on the table, he enveloped each in a long, strong hug, than seated them on the divan with himself on a chair in front of them.
He toasted them with his half full glass. "May I get you anything to drink? This port you had tonight is my favorite when I drink, which is rather rare." When they declined, he sighed. "I've lived here since I left. When I found a job at Jacques', I felt just content enough to manage. Then came tonight and I saw you three. I had to cook for you. I knew I'd likely blow my cover, but I found I didn't mind that. I'll bet Hermione figured it all out, and well before dessert." Hermione blushed scarlet, and Harry chuckled. "Thought so."
"I owe you all an explanation for why I left the three of you. I feel the same as I ever did about the sheep of magical Britain. I ofttimes mourn not seeing people like Neville, Bill, Fleur, Luna, Oliver, Lavender, Justin, Hannah, and many others who fought with us, but I'd never have asked them to share my exile.
"You though are different. I owe so much to you, ever since a boy who knew of magic for a month met a redhead and a bushy-haired bookworm on the Express. I got on that train alone but I got off with two friends, even if it took two months and a Troll to beat that fact into my skull!" They all had a quiet laugh and eyes grew distant as they looked back on their memories. "We didn't know that was the start of a trio, and when you wrote your aunt, Sue, the trio became a quartet. What we survived and overcame bound us in ways we don't quite understand still. I know we could have lived together and you could have shielded me from the rest but the truth is that I never had, and still don't deserve what you feel for me.
He waved aside their shocked protests, "No, hear me out. The Dursleys" and there was still a snarl in his voice as he said that hated name, "did their damnedest to beat, starve and generally abuse the magic out of me. They couldn't do that, but what they could do was to blast all knowledge of the positive emotions out of me. By the time I learned about the other world, I had only an abstract knowledge of happiness, or friendship, or joy, or. . .love.
"But, I know, feel, and understand anger, disgust, disdain, and hate like no other person does or ever will – or so I hope. It would be terrible to think someone had to share anything of what I am." His self-loathing came through to them like a slap. "You all heard Dumbledore blather on about love being my 'power he knows not'. That was a load of dung! It was my hate for him and his deeds that threw him out of my head when he possessed me at the Ministry. When he possessed me, it gave me a window into his mind and memories, if only for a short while. What I saw increased my anger and hatred for him ten-fold. He was a pussy! He became a dark lord because he was teased in the normal way all children get teased! He was so weak he turned dark from what any of you would have shrugged off, treatment that wouldn't have even registered to me. He condemned Susan and me to be orphans, and me to years of abuse, torture and emotional crippling for NOTHING!" He screamed out that last. "It was hatred and anger at him that fueled my spells in the Last Battle. That kept the Killing Curse from killing me a second time, not love. And that's the secret of the Man Who Conquered." His voice carried a terrible bitterness.
By then, the three witches had silent tears running down their cheeks; they wanted to sob, but feared to do so and risk his stopping a story, a story he'd clearly had bottled up inside for so long. "Susan, do I love you?" She couldn't find the words to reply such an unbelievable question and simply inclined her head. "Amelia, Hermione?" Both affirmed the statement, equally non-verbally. "How can you tell? I've never said those words and wouldn't know when or if I could say them either."
"Harry" Sue said very softly. "I knew then, and I know now by your actions, the look in your eyes, and the nuances in your voice. In the way you'd do things for me, or comfort me when I was sad or upset. I know in your grins or your smiles that told me my being there made a difference for you. Even though I know you said you don't know what happiness is, I know that is what you were feeling. I daresay Auntie and Hermione would tell you the same." A look at them saw them nodding.
He sighed, then a look of anguish suffused his gaze. "Do any of you love me, are any of you in love with me? That's how disabled I am. I have to ask you something I should be able to know without asking."
Hermione's laughter held only tenderness, even Harry knew that. "Dear Harry, even when one knows and feels love, they can't answer those questions without asking, so don't feel bad about that! My answer to you is that I have loved you since I was 12. Since the Troll I think, but I didn't realize it until I lit Snape on fire. I've been in love with you since fourth year. I knew it when I hugged you before you faced the dragon.
"The three of us have talked about you for years and we know all about our feelings for you and I can tell you that Susan and Amelia both love and are in love with you and have been for a long time." Susan then told Harry she'd loved him since they rescued Hermione from the Troll. She fell in love with Harry watching him hold Hermione's hand when the Basilisk petrified her. Amelia's tale was that she knew she loved Harry from his second year, when she'd investigated the Basilisk attacks, but she'd fallen in love during the TriWizard tournament and realized it during the staged trial the next August. She had wanted to tell on the entire Wizengamot then and there and was floored when she figured out why.
"I think I've felt your feelings," Harry pondered. "But with my handicap, it felt like the demons retreated and I felt relief. So now, we're together again. Where do we go from here?"
Amelia got up, pulled Harry from his chair and entwined her arms about his neck. He saw the light in her eyes, the one he would learn was the love light. She drew his mouth to hers and slowly kissed him. He was in shock. He'd wondered what it would be like to kiss any of them, and now he wasn't quite sure what to do. He found his male instincts as Amelia's kiss grew deeper and became open mouthed. Soon, he reciprocated and they kissed for an eternity. When they finally stopped, she gave him a lazy smile.
"You have a month off. The Ministry doesn't know it yet, but the Minister," she tapped her chest, "her Senior Undersecretary," she nodded at Hermione, "and the Director of the DMLE," nodding to Susan, "are taking this same month off too. We are going to exorcise those demons, dear one and make sure they'll never come back."
Harry smiled, the most genuine smile any of them had ever seen from him. "I'd like that very much." He then drew Susan to himself and taught her what he learned from Amelia. An eon later, he did the same for Hermione. Then he had Kreacher show them to the guest rooms where they showered and donned night clothes. Kreacher led them to the master bedroom in which they found Harry, prepared like them, waiting on a gigantic bed. After good night kisses, they lay down, Amelia in his arms, Hermione spooned behind him and Susan curled up on him, head resting just under his breastbone. They all had the best night's sleep any had had for many years.
Over the next week the close rapport they had in the past returned and very few areas of any of their lives were not revealed. At night, they slowly, then more rapidly became physically intimate. Harry soon learned that he did not want to have orgies with them, to their relief. By the last three days of the second week they all wished to lose their respective virginities. His witches drew lots and Susan, then Hermione and finally Amelia spent a night giving and receiving love and passion with Harry.
By the start of the third week, Harry told them he wished to marry each of them. They discussed the possibilities and decided Hermione would become Mrs. Harry Potter, Susan would become Mrs. Harry Black, yielding her claim to Head of House Bones. Harry would wed Amelia as her consort and their children would repopulate House Bones.
At the start of their fourth week there were three weddings. Neville Longbottom had an emotional reunion with his friend and god brother and served as Best Man all three times. Minerva McGonagall officiated thrice and Hermione's parents were their non-magical witnesses. There were weddings on that Monday, Wednesday and Friday, followed by one day honeymoons.
The associates of the four were astounded at their coworkers'/bosses'/employees' new outlooks and stunned to see wedding rings. They had carefully decided on simple stories, containing just enough of the truth to satisfy while leaving them their privacy too. In the magical world, the witches simply gave the truth; they had found Harry in the non-magical world, and had all confessed their love. Harry had married Hermione, the new Mrs. Potter. Susan was the new Mrs. Black and Harry was now Amelia's husband and consort for House Bones. They stated that all four were delighted and that they hoped that the repopulating of the three houses would commence soon. As all three began to show in a few months, their world had to acquiesce and accept the new reality.
Harry became startlingly more open and friendly with his coworkers. After a long consultation with his wives, Harry brought Jacques to his home, on one of his weekends off. Roberts had told him he still had better than two years' worth of leave accumulated and any time off within reason would be granted. There, he and his wives gave him an edited version of their reality, with spells to ensure he wouldn't be able to tell others. He revealed his true form, telling his boss that Hermione and her parents would be his family in the non-magical world and when they ate at the restaurant, one of his elves would act as Chef Charles in his stead. He was told there would be certain days he'd have off to be with all his family. Jacques readily agreed with this situation.
So things went. Harry continued to have minimal contact with the other world, with only a few outside the family having access. Beginning in 2024, Platform 9 3/4 was inaccessible on 1 September from 9:45 to 10:00, to allow Harry to see off his children and eventually his grandchildren privately. As time went on, his circle expanded to include the in-laws of his children and then grandchildren. They were from old magical families in part, but most of his progeny had married and reared families with 'newbloods', those like Hermione (newblood being a better term than muggleborn). None of these families ever betrayed Harry's trust in them.
At sixty-one, Chef Charles retired. The reason he gave for such an early ending to his career was his wish to spend more time with his family. Of course, few non-magicals knew of the true extent of his family. The year before Susan bore the last of his children, Thaddeus Black. His retirement was peaceful and for him, joyful, surrounded by children, grandchildren and finally great-grandchildren. Shortly after his seventy-ninth birthday, he received some news which he'd half suspected at times. He accepted the news, but disliked having to tell his loved ones'. Still, shortly before that year's trip to the platform, he gathered all his family old enough to understand and spoke to them.
Hogwarts, Thursday 31 October 2059 12:30 am
Headmaster Neville Longbottom woke Thaddeus Black, Head Boy and his niece Violetta Zabini (daughter of Sarah Potter and the son of Daphne and Baise Zabini), Head Girl. "I have bad news."
Violetta didn't let him finish. "Grandpa Harry passed away." It was not a question. The headmaster simply nodded and the Head students embraced, tears in their eyes. They then hugged the headmaster, whose daughter and a granddaughter from a different child had married into Harry's family, before going to dress.
Shortly after, they came down into the Great Hall to find the adults and the grand and great-grandchildren too young for Hogwarts already assembled. They watched as the other ten in the family at Hogwarts came in, rubbing sleep from their eyes. In the center of the hall stood a bier on which laid the body of Harry Potter in state. The family gathered around and paid their last respects. Some bowed and spoke quiet words of goodbye, others kissed his cheek while his wives kissed his lips one last time. They sat together and told stories about their patriarch. When the sky began to lighten, Thaddeus the youngest son and Charles Remus Potter, the oldest son left the castle and went to the graveyard of those who fell in the Battle of Hogwarts. They excavated a grave and set the headstone, prepared by Harry years ago, in its place.
When the rest of the students entered the hall that morning, they found their tables rearranged somewhat, with tiered tables on which the family of Harry Potter sat. The hall was decked in banners of scarlet and gold, with black piping. At the center of hall was the bier, decked in the same colors.
After a quiet and rather swift meal, the Headmaster rose and spoke. "You know by now that we have experienced a great loss in our world in the death of Harry James Potter. I knew Harry better than most. He was my god brother, my friend, and one of my daughters and a granddaughter married into his, our family. However, his eulogy is not mine to give. Thaddeus Black, Harry's youngest son and our Head Boy has that honor. After that, we will gather at the memorial park and commit him to the earth. There will be no classes today. Rather, we will commemorate his life with each other and with his family. Head Boy, the podium is yours."
Thaddeus stood and looked out at his family and fellow students. "We are not here to mourn my father. Dad would object to that, and loudly!" A current of mirth ran throughout the hall. "There, that's better. Today, we will celebrate his life, as he wished us to do. My dad was many things to many people but to us he was a husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, in-law, and friend. None of us in his family were ever in doubt that he loved us and in turn, we made certain that he never doubted that he was loved.
"We will tell many stories about dad today. For me, they're not heroic, other than he was always my hero. They're about things like his teaching me about cooking and how he coached me through making mummy Susan's birthday breakfast when I was ten, just as we all learned; the twenty-four of us who called him dad and the seventy-two grandkids – so far!" And there was more mirth at that, "and as will his great-grandkids as they grow older. That is our heritage.
"I remember his teaching me to fly a broom and play Quidditch, the pick-up games we played and the ones he refereed. He would read to us all when we were young and help us with our studies. He always reminded us how smart our three mums were – and they all were equally our mums; he always taught us that, and we felt so lucky to have them. . .and him.
"He had a rough side to his tongue when we goofed up, but even that made us love him more. He somehow always had time for us kids and he'd make us feel as if we were the most important person in his life; we were too, every one of us."
He grew somber. "Last August, shortly after his birthday, he gathered us all, all of us old enough to understand and had the most serious talk any of us ever had with him. He told us that ever since he finished Voldemort, there were times when his magic would go haywire. He told us he was lucky to have elves who loved him and made sure neither he, nor others were harmed at those times. We bless Kreacher and all the rest of our elves for loving him so. He said these spells would come at odd times, worse when he worked and his coworkers and patrons might be at risk."
"As time went by, the incidents became more frequent and extreme. That was one of the reasons he retired when he did. It was funny, none of us ever knew before he told us. Not even mummy Amelia, or mummy Susan or mummy Hermione, the three people closest to him, who knew him best. He told us that when he started to have entire weeks where his magic went south, he went to St. Mungo's. The doctors, after a while, said his magic was collapsing and he would soon die from it. He told us that he and they finally found it was because of the toll that having been hit by the Killing Curse twice had on him. He survived it twice, but it finally caught up and ended him" This news caused a wave of wondering and sad murmurs to run through the audience.
"We were shocked and saddened; with more than a few tears, as you can guess. But daddy dried our tears and told us he'd be scouting ahead for our Next Great Adventure. He said he'd find grandmum and granddad Potter and the Grangers, mummy Hermione's parents and Edgar and Alexandra Bones, mummy Susan's parents, and Edmund and Rose Bones, mummy Amelia's parents. He said when we got there we'd have a big party and he'd cook.
"So now, we'll go out and put him where he wished, among those who fought by him all those years ago."
Amelia, Susan and Hermione waved their wands and the bier transfigured into a casket. Harry's oldest and youngest Potter, Black and Bones sons lifted the casket and slowly, carefully carried it to the grave site and lowered it into the ground. Six grandchildren covered the grave. The headmaster, a Herbology master covered the site with grass and his widows conjured flowers. The headstone read:
Harry James Potter
I have fought the good fight,
I have finished the race,
I have kept the faith.
A/N: This story had a long and bumpy gestation before a single word reached my computer's screen. It started as a somewhat conventional, 'Harry and Hermione meet a different redhead on the Express, 1 September 1991' story, but I could never gain the traction to write a multi-chapter story. Various starting places, with various degrees of angst and confrontation were considered and rejected.
When I read the story, The Lily Potter Foundation, I found the angle I needed. Normally, I'd put this in The Powder Room, but my muse says to post this as a standalone.
Grateful thanks to my beta on this venture, theflyinfoote.
No bistros or geese were harmed in the writing of this story. The meal comes from my own eating, drinking and cooking, aided by a bit of fancy and a smidge of research.
A word about Amelia and Harry. I have an admitted 'jones for the Bones'. I tend to follow a fan fiction trope that has Amelia 2-3 years older than Harry and Susan's parents. Even if you don't agree and have her an additional 15-20 older than that, the increased life spans of magicals makes their marrying and having children not unreasonable to me.
The epitaph is 2 Timothy 4:7, New International Version (NIV).
Story recommendation: The Lily Potter Foundation by theflyinfoote, id: 10536445
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