The Horrors of War
Chapter 25 (FINAL)
The next few days went by in a flash. It seemed like every wizard or witch that Harry had ever met had come to the hospital to visit. Thankfully, Remus, Ginny and the twins had taken up guard duty to ensure that Harry would be able to get at least a small bit of rest.
His recovery went faster then anyone had expected and five days later, when the doctors felt that he was fully healed, Harry left St. Mungo's with Hermione at his side. At first, the young couple wasn't sure where they were going to stay when they left. Harry said he'd rather stay locked up in St. Mungo's then return to the Dursley's and Hermione refused to leave his side. They considered staying at the Granger's but Arthur and Molly had insisted they come back to the Burrow until they could get a place of their own.
Hermione was thrilled to learn that she'd be sharing a room with Ginny because, as she told Harry, "It would be rather… uncomfortable if we were to share a room, don't you think?"
The first night back, Molly made a huge dinner and everyone ate together in the back yard. It was very hard to explain what was different but the general atmosphere around the table was somehow lighter then it'd seemed in years. Everyone seemed a bit quicker to laugh or to tell a joke. It was a nearly perfect night. Voldemort was dead. There'd been no sign of the Death Eaters since they'd disappeared that fateful night. There was just one thing missing. There was just one thing that could have made the night complete. If only Ron was still alive, everything would have been perfect because tonight Harry and Hermione were announcing their engagement to their friends.
Dinner ended and everyone lingered around the table talking idly about their plans for the future when Harry's eyes met Hermione's across the table. He saw a blush spread into her cheeks but she slightly nodded her head and Harry took that as his signal to tell the Weasley's the good news.
"Umm… There is something that Hermione and I wanted to tell all of you," he said loud enough to get everyone's attention. As every red head at the table turned to him, he suddenly began to feel nervous. Deep down, he knew that they'd be happy but he was still nervous.
Harry didn't realize how long he'd been stalling until Fred spoke up loudly, "Are you going to make us sit out here all night waiting?"
"No, sorry," he muttered, his face growing hot as Hermione and Ginny both began to giggle. "We, uh, wanted to tell you thatweregettingmarried."
"I'm sorry, come again?" George said but from the big smile on his face, Harry was sure he'd made out every word.
"I said, Hermione and I are going to be getting married."
The reaction was instantaneous. Hermione and Harry were suddenly attacked with hugs and kisses from everyone. Ginny jumped up from her seat, which was next to Hermione, ran all the way around the table and jumped into Harry's arms before anyone else was even halfway out of their chair.
The sole Weasley daughter gave him a big kiss on the cheek and looked up at him with a huge smile. "Oh, I knew you could do it, Harry! Brilliant! I guess you won't be needing my help now."
Next Molly threw herself onto Harry and cried into his shoulder for a long while until Arthur pulled her off and shook his hand tightly.
Meanwhile, Hermione was being attacked by the remaining four Weasley's that were present. Bill was the first to give her a quick kiss on the cheek while offering his sincere congratulations. Charlie was next, giving her a hug before the twins quite thoroughly glomped her. Hermione found herself sandwiched between the twins who were cheering wildly.
"We knew it! We knew it!" They both kissed her cheeks which made her blush but it was when they began to beg about being in charge of the wedding party favors that she began to worry.
"No. You can help with anything but not the favor."
"Oh Please, Hermione. We'll do a brilliant job, promise!" George said with a mischievous grin.
"No, George. I do not want my wedding reception to be an ad for your shop," she said trying to sound angry but failing miserably.
"Come on, Hermione. We won't do anything too awful," Fred jumped in with an equally shifty grin.
"Leave her alone of I'll curse you both!" Ginny said, as she came around the table to Hermione rescue. Her wand was pointed right at them while a big smile graced her face.
"Party pooper," George muttered before turning towards Harry to congratulate him.
"Honestly, they're never going to grow up, are they?" Hermione said the Ginny when they were out of earshot.
"Probably not," she replied dryly before both girls burst into laughter.
Over the next few days, Molly must have owled every single member of the Order because countless people came by the house to visit but it was when Remus came by at the end of the week that really stuck out in Harry's mind.
The former Marauder had dinner with the family and even joined into a large game of exploding snaps before pulling Harry aside. The two men went into the deserted living room and sat down before Lupin began to speak.
"I'm happy for you and Hermione, I really am," he spoke softly but Harry could see a hint of sadness in his eyes.
"Thank you. You'll be coming, right?"
The smile that lit up Remus' face was rare and welcome. "I wouldn't miss it for the world."
"What's wrong?" Harry said with a serious tone.
"Nothing's wrong, Harry. Why would something be wrong?" the older man asked trying to sound confused.
"Don't lie. I can tell something is wrong."
"I don't really think that now is the time to talk about it," Remus whispered not meeting Harry's eyes.
"Now is the perfect time," Harry answered seriously as worry began to creep into his mind.
"It's just that you and Hermione remind me so much of James and Lily. He looked just as happy as you do now when he told Sirius and I that they were engaged. It just makes me think a little too much sometimes, I guess."
A heavy silence fell over the men. Remus thinking about his fallen friends and Harry thinking about his parents. Harry once again began to think about how his father must have felt all those years ago. His parents couldn't have known that their days were numbered and even now, Harry couldn't help but wonder if his were too but he knew now that Hermione was his life. No matter what the outcome, he was going to spend his remaining time at her side whether he had one day or a hundred years.
A week after Harry's release from St. Mungo's, the couple made their way onto Diagon Alley to find Hermione "the perfect ring." Even going very early in the morning, they found it hard to go more then ten feet without getting stopped by eager wizards who wished to offer their thanks for the downfall of the Dark Lord.
When things began to get out of hand, the owner of the jewelry store locked his doors so they could look through the rings in peace. They'd expected to be looking all day but after only a couple of minutes, Hermione let out a gasp. At first, Harry thought that something was wrong but when he saw the look on her face he knew that she'd already made her decision. Before he even looked, he knew he'd buy her the ring. Money was no object for something as important as this.
The storeowner, a man in his sixties with white hair and a pleasant smile, had already pulled the ring out of the case before Harry had a chance to have a look but when he did finally see what had caused such a reaction in Hermione, he understood. The ring was simple, classic and beautiful. It was perfect.
The band was white gold with a round ½ carat diamond in the center. That diamond was surround by two smaller ones on either side. The diamonds were so bright and they reflected such color that Harry could hardly believe the ring was real. He wouldn't have been surprised if it was enchanted but he didn't think it was really a good time to ask.
"Well, take it," He said suddenly, taking the ring from Hermione's hands.
"Harry, wait. You don't even know how much it is!" She said with a horrified look on her face but Harry wasn't so dense that he'd miss the look of longing in her eyes.
"It doesn't matter."
"Hermione, do you like this ring?" He asked her with a knowing expression.
"Would you like to have this ring?"
"Well, yes, but-"
Without letting her finish, he turned to the owner. "We'll take this one. Just withdraw the money from my account."
"No problem, Mr. Potter."
"Harry, wait!" Hermione yelled as Harry walked out of the store with the ring held tightly in his hand. She wanted to stop him but instead found following him all the way outside and into the streets of Diagon Alley.
Harry walked for a long time without looking back to see if she followed. He knew she would. In fact, he didn't stop until he reached the middle of the road and when he did, he faced her with a big smile on his face.
Realization dawned on Hermione and a look of shock and horror spread across her face. "Oh, no. Not here."
Harry must have gone deaf because he completely ignored her request and instead got down on one knee and held the ring out to Hermione. Ever single person shopping stopped in their tracks to watch the famous Harry Potter formally propose.
"Hermione Granger, will you marry me?"
Her face turned beet red as she looked down at Harry in shock. She couldn't ignore that hundreds of people were holding their breath, waiting for her response. For a brief moment, she thought about saying no just to get him back for embarrassing her in front of strangers but even in jest, she knew there was only one answer.
"Yes, Harry, of course," she said softly.
An even larger smile spread on Harry's face as he stood up and slipped the ring on her finger before kissing her thoroughly for everyone to see. When they broke apart, both were laughing hard because people everywhere had begun to cheer.
It took them a long time to break free but finally, two hours later, they escaped from the crowds and made their way into Muggle London for some space.
"I can't believe you did that!" Hermione said but the big smile on her face gave her away.
"Well, I figured the Daily Prophet would get news of the story soon enough so I thought we'd make the news on our own terms."
They had a quiet lunch at a café that Hermione's parents had taken to her a few years back before strolling through some shops that littered the city. It was a peaceful day full of smiles and brief kisses. Harry couldn't help but notice that Hermione's eyes kept darting down to her ring and the following smile that spread across her lips made his spirit soar.
They had just set off towards the Burrow when a scream rang out across the street. Everyone in the vicinity looked over and saw that people were pointing into the sky somewhere behind where Harry and Hermione stood. For the longest time, Harry watched the faces of people surrounding them but it was when he heard Hermione gasp that he realized how bad it truly was.
"Oh my God, Harry. Look!"
Slowly he turned, not wanting to see what it was but knowing he couldn't avoid it. Then he saw it. The Dark Mark was shining high in the sky over Muggle London. Harry felt like he was stuck in a nightmare. He didn't want to believe it. He didn't want to think that this could be happening, yet he knew the truth.
It was the Death Eaters. It had to be. The Death Eaters were still out there and they were as dangerous as ever. The mark proved it. To make matters worse, the sign was shining over Muggle London. They were still targeting Muggles.
Much to Harry's dismay, a horrible thought flooded his mind. The war isn't over. In fact he began to wonder if it'd only just begun.
Okay everyone… this is the end of ThoW. I really hope that you enjoyed it and I love all of you who stuck through with me to the end. A sequel will be coming really soon so keep on close eye on my livejournal -
Also, nevermore is going to help me put all of ThoW with the matching fanart into an adobe acrobat file! I will pass on updates of that soon too.
Thanks again so much to all of you. Your words of support seriously make my day! ^_^