A/N: And here we are for the conclusion of my little effort. It's been a long journey to get this story told, and I'm profoundly grateful for everyone who has been with me along the road. All the reviews, favorites, and alerts have been the impetus to keep me going. Thank you so much for the warm reception!
I'm back from our family vacation to Universal Studios in Orlando. Now I'm refreshed, finally off my butterbeer high, and inspired by the amazing details of Diagon Alley, Hogsmeade, Hogwarts, and the Wizarding World.
As always, no beta sullied their good name by associating with my scribbles. All mistakes are mine, but I own nothing else you recognize.
September 25, 1999
Four Years Later
"So, are you ready for all of this?" Amelia asked her niece as she helped the girl put the finishing touches on her hair.
The redhead didn't roll her eyes at her aunt, but it was a close thing. "Auntie, I love you, but please. We've been ready for this for years now. It's time. I'm ready to get married."
Amelia smiled, feeling the now-familiar sensation of her eyes watering in sheer happiness. "I never realized how taking in Harry Potter as my adopted son would change our lives, but it turned out to be one of my best decisions ever, hasn't it?"
"It was a little hairy there in the beginning, but once we got here, it became perfect. I wouldn't change a thing," the redhead said.
"Then let's go get you married. Your loves are waiting," Amelia said, giving her niece a kiss and helping the girl get to her feet.
In another room, Mary was performing the same duty for Hermione. "What do you think the future has for you three?"
"Exploring this country, visiting the Pacific islands, having kids…I don't know for sure, but I do know we're going to be together," her daughter answered as her face lit up with the smile she always got when she talked about her loves, "Besides, life is so much calmer now. Australia isn't what I expected, but it's been amazing."
Mary chuckled as she helped Hermione finish the last braid in her hair. "Sirius is still mad at you for scheduling your wedding on the same Saturday as the Grand Final."
Hermione returned the laugh as she donned her veil. "Serves him right. He's obsessed with the football here. For a muggle game, I'm really surprised how much the magicals in our extended family have become obsessed it. Harry loves it too, but Sirius and the others have taken it to an entirely new level. At least his beloved Hawks aren't playing. Professor McGonagall was bad enough when the Kangaroos took out her Lions," she paused and let out a laugh, "It actually worked out fairly well for her that there's a team called the Lions with red and gold colors, same as Professor Flitwick becoming a fan of the yellow and blue Eagles. When those two play each other, things get a bit tense."
"I never thought Susan would be such a fan either, but she stayed with Hufflepuff colors, too, when she picked the Tigers," Mary agreed, sharing the chuckle.
"It makes football season interesting around here, that's for sure. I enjoy the sport, but like Quidditch it's not my life."
Mary wrapped her arm around her daughter's shoulder. "It never will be. You've never been wired that way. I think that's one of the advantages of your unique relationship: Harry and Susan can share an interest that you don't and still have someone to enjoy events with. I've seen how often you and Susan go to cultural events together, and the cooking classes you and Harry take. It's not really something I ever considered about your relationship, but seeing it in action has been wonderful."
"Thanks, Mum," Hermione choked out. Her parents had always been supportive of her relationship, but hearing it so clearly brought a lump to her throat.
With another smile, Mary took in the sight of her soon-to-be-married daughter and found her eyes watering. "I've waited for this day for so long. Every parent tries to imagine at one point or another what it will be like, and we were no different. No matter what we pictured for you, who was waiting for you, or where you'd be getting married, the one constant thing was the smile of pure happiness and joy on your face. It makes me happier than I can even begin to say that you've found such happiness," she said, enjoying the breaking of the sun-like smile on her daughter's face.
Hermione decided to let her actions speak for her and wrapped her arms around her mother.
A knock at the door brought them out of their moment. Dabbing at her eyes, Mary turned to the door. "Come on in, Mike. She's ready."
Greeting her father with the same dazzling smile, Hermione had to bite back a laugh at his gobsmacked expression.
"You look beautiful, sweetheart," he said in a heavy voice, eyes glistening with emotion, "Just like the princess you've always been to me."
"Thanks, Dad," she answered with a watery smile of her own.
"Are you ready to go?"
"I've been ready for this for years," Hermione grinned back at him.
"Is your surprise ready?"
Her triumphant smirk made both her parents chuckle. It was going to be a wedding no one would ever forget.
"You all set, pup?" Sirius asked as the younger wizard fixed his tie.
Harry grinned at himself in the mirror. "I figure that no one could ever really be ready to marry one woman, let alone two. Best I can do is try to make them happy and hope they bring me along for the ride."
"A remarkably wise attitude," Mike complimented with a grin of his own, throwing his arm around Harry's shoulders, "And the words that every father wants to hear from his prospective son-in-law."
"Got any real plans for after the honeymoon?" Sirius wondered with a little waggle of his eyebrows.
"Not really. I mean, there are enough people fleeing from Britain that we're talking about setting up some kind of foundation or facility to get them educated. Susan even threw out the idea of setting up a school of our own for the younger years."
"I think you and Susan would be a great teacher, Harry," his godfather nodded, "And Merlin knows that Hermione was almost born to be an administrator."
Mike agreed. "I think Sirius is right. That's a nice, peaceful existence you can be proud of. You've already fought too many battles. Concentrate on your family, and growing that family," he finished with a grin."
"Isn't that supposed to be Mary's and Amelia's job?" Sirius smirked as he teased the other man.
Harry shot a frustrated glare at his shaking hands.
"All right there, Harry?" Neville asked from behind him.
"I don't get it. We've known this was coming for a long time. Why am I still so nervous?" he responded, trying to keep the whine out of his voice as he waited for the girls to appear.
The uniqueness of their three-way relationship wasn't recognized as a legal status under any magical or mundane law in Australia. Rather than try to change the law in their adopted country, Harry, Hermione, and Susan decided to just have a simple promise ceremony that incorporated elements from muggle weddings for Hermione and Harry and magical weddings for Susan.
Harry waited on the raised dais that Dobby had created, looking out over the group of their extended friends and family. They sat in rows like at church weddings he'd seen on the television, but on two sets of comfortable couches divided by the larger-than-usual center aisle instead of hard wooden pews. The Grangers along with empty spaces for Sirius and Amelia were across the front of one, while Hannah and her parents took another. The rest of their friends sat behind the family but in front of the former Hogwarts professors who sat behind them all.
It wasn't the most formal setting in the New Potter Manor ballroom, but it was perfect for their family.
The local Australian aboriginal elder who was acting as magic's witness to their vows to each other was standing at the center of the aisle between the two sets of couches while Neville as best man stood just behind him. Luna and Hannah were waiting across from them as Maids of Honor.
The rustling of everyone getting to their feet drew his attention to the opening of the doors at the back of the ballroom. That was the last coherent thought Harry had for a long time. As they'd agreed beforehand, the girls walked up together, arms linked. They'd been remarkably secretive about their dresses, even hinting to Sirius about the possible use of a Fidelius charm.
He honestly wouldn't have put it past them.
The first thing he noticed was their hair. For Hermione's notoriously undisciplined locks to be tamed into the complex arrangement of knots and loops must have required beyond NEWT-level magic. She wore glittering earrings hanging from each ear, matching a heart pendant that hung dangerously close to her cleavage.
Her dress was somehow innocent and sensual at the same time. Straps that were a couple inches wide went up and over her shoulders, providing eye-catching support to her bust. A floral pattern draped its way around the bodice and down her legs, but not entirely covering the area, giving her the appearance of not wearing anything underneath. The entire dress trailed its way to a short train that lightly swept the carpet behind her as she walked.
Susan's auburn tresses were entwined in an arrangement similar to Hermione's, but she decided to leave a few stray tendrils hanging down to frame her face. She had pearl earrings matching a necklace. Her dress was strapless, highlighting her own impressive chest on its figure-hugging way down her body. Like Hermione's, it wasn't covered in lace, but had a lace pattern tracing its way down the dress and around her legs, where it flared out to another small train.
They were breathtaking.
To show the equality in their relationship, the girls walked up the large aisle arm in arm, with Amelia and Mike escorting them on the outside. At least, that was the plan, Harry vaguely remembered. Once the girls walked in, he couldn't see anyone or anything else.
Hermione saw his gaze lock onto them and nudged Susan with a grin. The redhead matched it with one of her own as they walked up the aisle to Wagner's Bridal Chorus.
With each step they took closer to him, Harry's heart beat faster until it felt like it was ready to burst from his chest. The smiles on his loves' faces would have outshone the most powerful lumos charm as they finally reached his position and Amelia and Mike rejoined the family.
As the three faced the elder, he smiled at them and started the ceremony. "This family is gathered here today to witness the promise of love between these three individuals…"
"Excuse me," Hermione apologized, "But we're not all here yet."
As confusion swept through the room, Hermione stepped back and looked at Susan and Harry. "There are four people missing who really should be here today for the most special day of our lives."
Four eyes widened as Hermione extended her hand, revealing the Resurrection Stone. Twin gasps sounded on the dais as she spun the Stone in her hand.
Keeping her eyes fixed on her soon-to-be spouses, Hermione was almost successful at stifling her smile at the exclamations from their family as James and Lily Potter and Thomas and Stella Bones appeared behind her.
Taking in the wide eyes of her beloveds, Hermione took a breath. "Think of this as my first wedding present to you two. I've been working on it for a while now."
Unable to form coherent responses to her words, Harry and Susan thanked her with their eyes as they reached out for their parents. "Mum, Dad," Harry choked out with tears running down his face, echoed and mirrored by Susan.
James and Lily smiled at him. "You've grown so much, Harry," his mother's shade said, love shining in her eyes.
"We're so proud of you, Harry," James said in his turn, putting his arm around Lily's waist, "You made a life for yourself away from Dumbledore and Voldemort and saved your family in the process. You couldn't have picked better partners if you'd tried, son."
Turning to the adults, he regarded his longtime friend. "Thank you for helping protect them, Padfoot. You really stepped up."
"Only now. I missed the first fourteen years because I was a damn fool," the Marauder answered through the tears streaming down his face.
"You paid a steep price for that, and then you made up for it," Lily answered him, "And you've done wonderful taking care of our son since then. Thank you, Sirius. Speaking of," she paused, turning to Amelia, "Words cannot express how grateful to you we are for saving our boy and taking him in. You're a good woman, Amelia Bones."
Choked up with emotion, Amelia nodded. "It's been my pleasure, Lily."
Susan's mother and father sort of…glided over to where Harry, Hermione, and Susan were standing. "We need to express our own thanks for how you've taken care of our daughter," Stella said to Harry and Hermione.
"It was our pleasure, ma'am," Hermione smiled, "You have a wonderful daughter, and we love her very much."
The two shades smiled in return.
Harry turned back to his two loves and smiled at the witness. "Let's do this."
The three of them faced the Aboriginal elder, who had stood silent through the entire event, watching with amazement. When they looked at him, he cleared his throat and began the ceremony.
Despite Sibyl Trelawney's questionable abilities, there are indeed true seers in the world; those who can look into the future and make clear predictions.
None of them could have foreseen what happened to magical Britain after the events of July and August of 1995.
The deaths of Albus Dumbledore and Tom Riddle, the great opponents of the late twentieth century, created a power vacuum. With neither the Dark nor the Light having a clear leader, to say nothing of the muggleborns, the old-money purebloods consolidated their power.
Whoever has the gold makes the rules, after all.
Law after law passed the Wizengamot placing more and more restrictions and taxes on half-bloods and muggleborns. The beleaguered group saw their rights slashed on virtually everything. From their vote in elections being counted as a group and given less worth than other blood classes, more and more Ministry jobs becoming reserved for purebloods, restrictions and higher taxes on opening their own businesses and higher fees at Diagon Alley stores, and even the enactment of a restriction on the amount of muggleborns that could be accepted to Hogwarts, the newcomers to the magical world were told in no uncertain terms that they were unwelcome.
It didn't take long for them to respond.
As pureblood families selectively bred themselves virtually out of existence over the centuries, they had become the smallest blood faction in the country. Their money gave them an edge and a greater voice, but they were still the fewest by number. Half-bloods were more numerous, but as purebloods consolidated and muggleborns reacted, half-bloods were caught in the middle and largely ignored. A foot in both worlds and wanted by neither, they typically ended up finding small groups of like-minded individuals and carving out quiet lives for themselves.
The purebloods ended up getting their wish: muggleborns and half-bloods left Britain in floods reminiscent of the Irish fleeing the Potato Famine.
Fifteen years after Riddle and Dumbledore died, Hogwarts was a shell of its former glory. Not only had the faculty undergone a complete overhaul, the leadership was entirely changed. Former Headmistress McGonagall, along with Professors Flitwick and Sprout and Madam Pomfrey had all seen the writing on the wall and pulled up stakes in the years immediately following the deaths of Dumbledore and Riddle. With very little fanfare, they'd all joined The Clan, as they'd taken to calling the extended Potter family and friend circle, in Australia, receiving a warm welcome in their sunny new home.
Fed up with years of difficulty compelling a certain Hogwarts Headmaster to toe the Ministry line, the current Minister was able to force through a policy that made naming the Hogwarts Headmaster the responsibility of the Education Department of the Ministry, and thus of the Minister. A series of toadies with little leadership and less vision paraded through the once-hallowed halls, leading to a turnover rate among the faculty that had never before been seen at the school.
The nearly-constant changeover of almost all the teacher positions had an understandably detrimental effect on the student body, but with all the other changes going on in society, no one really noticed.
The Hogwarts incoming first year class in 2010 was a paltry ten purebloods and three half-bloods.
Hogsmeade was the first to crumble. With such small classes at Hogwarts, business on Hogsmeade weekends dwindled to almost nothing. Scrivenshaft's, Honeydukes, Zonko's, and the rest all shut down their locations over the course of just three years.
Diagon Alley's descent was slower, but all the more impactful for the size of its collapse. Business after business started closing as the flow from Hogwarts students dried up and the magical community shrunk. There are only so many things that one pureblood family needs, after all.
With the exodus of muggleborn witches and wizards leading the half-bloods out of Britain as purebloods worked harder to consolidate their power, business died off. One by one, the venerable institutions that had stood in Diagon Alley for decades and centuries left. There was so little commerce being conducted that none even moved in to replace them.
The Ministry itself remained, but the level of control it had over individual lives faded with time and distance.
Families began isolating themselves, teaching children magic at home and ignoring the events of the wider world.
Magical Britain had crumbled.
October 15, 2001
"Yes, yes, Padfoot, I promise we're relaxing," Harry said with fond exasperation.
"I just wanted to make sure you're taking care of those ladies," his godfather persisted over the mirror.
"I promise I am. You're one to talk. Have you even left Cassie's side since you put that bun in her oven?"
Sirius's face softened into his happiest smile, as it always did whenever he thought of his wife. He met her in Melbourne's magical district the year before, but it was far from love at first sight. His brash manner had put her off and her sarcasm rubbed him the wrong way, but something about each other had kept them coming back. A tempestuous courtship ensued, but in the end, they decided they were happier together than apart. They were married a bare six months after he proposed and Cassie fell pregnant on their honeymoon.
"Yeah, you're probably right, pup. Anyway, just have fun and make sure the girls are, too."
"Of course, Padfoot. Just make sure you get the tickets for the Hawks-Lions game. You know McGonagall and Ginny are going to be eager to go."
"You got it. Padfoot out."
The mirror went dark as Hermione and Susan came out from the villa in their bikinis. No matter how long they'd been together, the sight of their beauty never failed to take his breath away, but in this case he felt a twinge of annoyance for his dogfather. They'd been getting ready to spend the evening on the beach on his island, celebrating their relationship where it began, and his fingers were practically tingling at the thought of massaging sunscreen lotion onto his loves when the mirror activated.
"I know that look," Hermione grinned as they waddled – not that he would ever use that word aloud – over to where he was lying on the sand.
"What look?" he asked, feigning innocence.
"You're in your happy place. Probably thinking about all the things you want to do to us while we're here."
"Can you blame me? I'm never happier than when we're all together," Harry chuckled.
"No, I can't say as I do," Susan agreed, kneeling next to him and taking his left hand. Hermione mirrored her action and took his right hand.
As the girls leaned in over his chest, and brought their lips together, the setting sun backlit them so that when they kissed, their rounded bellies full of his growing children brushed together as well, almost as if the babies were trying to embrace at the same time.
They were together, their family was growing, and they were happy.
All was well.
A/N: Thanks for coming along on this ride with me. I wish I had more time to delve more into this story, but life and its vagaries conspired against me. If I had it to do over again, I probably would have kept them in school for the fifth year, but my original idea was to get them out of Britain as fast as I could.
Alas, I didn't end up having as much time or effort to devote to this story as I'd originally envisioned. Starting in July, life took a hard left turn with my wife's health issues flaring up. Things are better now, but we've come to the understanding that since her cancer is genetic, life is most likely going to be periods of relative health with episodes of the disease flaring up and more chemo and radiation. That's going to put a serious crimp in the time and energy that I can devote to writing, unfortunately.
I had to put the bit about the AFL Grand Final in. I'm a huge fan, despite being an American and only coming across it a few years ago. For me, it's the most entertaining sport to watch on the planet; how can a sport have the tackling of American football, the nonstop pace of soccer, and the scoring potential of basketball all at once? It's just utterly amazing. I also had to make Sirius's favorite team my own, as well. Can't wait to see how Hawthorn bounces back this year.
If anyone reading this is a writer themselves, feel free to take the concept and run with it! I'd love to see a story like this taking place during Harry's fourth year, where Amelia finds out about his life before the year, and is on his side during the Tri-Wizard Tournament. There are a few stories like that out there, but with close to a million stories on the various fanfiction sites, it's hard to do something completely new anyway.
As before, thank you to everyone who has taken the time to review, favorite, and alert on my story. When I started it, my goal was to get a few good reviews and not bomb on a new fandom too badly. Finishing this story at almost two thousand reviews blew away even my wildest dreams. I truly love this fandom!
Whatever holiday you choose to celebrate, I hope the season is wonderful for you and yours, and if you don't celebrate at all, I hope you still enjoy the time with those you hold dear.