Disclaimer: The characters and their world are the property of J.K. Rowling, various publishers and Warner Bros. No money is being made and no copyright infringement is intended.
Note to Readers: Please forgive me for the delay in posting this chapter; but it has gone through several revisions before arriving in its present form. Without the guidance and support of my wonderful Beta reader, John Adams, this chapter would not have been nearly as effective. I consider her the joint author of this chapter.
CHAPTER 18: NOW AND FOREVER
By Luckner and John Adams
The teens saw very little of Professor Dumbledore during the two weeks that followed their return from Maes Howe; and when they did see him, he seemed rather preoccupied. Actually he was struggling with a very troubling decision. He had learned to love the two children over the past year, and now he was faced with the most difficult decision of his life. Finally he resigned himself to the fact that the only possible course was to tell them the truth.
Professor McGonagall quietly entered the Gryffindor common room on a chilly March evening. She looked around and observed happy students busily studying, or talking, or playing games; but she herself felt no happiness. Finally she saw the two students that were the object of her visit. Harry Potter and Luna Lovegood were sitting close together on the sofa in front of the blazing fireplace; talking and laughing quietly. This was something that she didn't want to do, but she knew she must; the Headmaster had made the request and she was obliged to carry it out. She walked over to stand at the side of the sofa, and she suddenly realized that she didn't have the slightest idea how to begin.
"Good evening, Professor. Are you all right?" Harry asked, noticing the troubled expression on the old woman's face.
"No, Harry. I'm not feeling well at all." She responded. And that was the truth, because she never felt worse in her life. "The Headmaster would like to speak to both of you. Would you please go and see him?" The strain in her voice was evident to both of them. As the teens stood to leave, Professor McGonagall added in a barely controlled voice that he would be waiting for them at the top of the Astronomy Tower.
They looked at her rather strangely, but turned and left the room without questioning her further. She sadly watched them go; she had long dreaded the coming of this night, though she knew all along that it must come. Lavender Brown, who was passing through the common room at that moment, was shocked to see tears running down the face of the indomitable head of Gryffindor house
As Harry and Luna climbed the steps that led to the top of the Astronomy Tower they both wondered about the strange location that Professor Dumbledore had chosen for a meeting. Coming out into the clear, starlit night, they saw the Headmaster standing over by the stone battlements, looking up at the stars.
Without turning around the old man began to speak. "The stars," he said wistfully, "they're so beautiful aren't they; so peaceful and untroubled?" The two teens could hear the sadness in his voice as he slowly turned to face them. He looked so very old, like he had aged a hundred years in just the last two weeks.
"There is something that I need to tell you," he said with a sigh. "I suppose that it's something that I should have told you long ago; but I didn't feel that I had the right, and also I didn't want to. It was important that the two of you have this time together, free from worry. I…I wanted to give you this." He said his voice breaking.
Harry realized at that moment that whatever the old man was trying to say was not going to be good, and he reached over and took Luna's hand in his.
"You've both had such lonely lives; it's only been with each other that you've been able to find any real happiness. I wanted you to have that happiness for as long as possible. But the time grows short, and you both have a right to know the whole truth." The old man then paused for a long moment, his own feelings of despair threatening to overwhelm him. From somewhere deep within himself he gathered the strength to go on with what he was saying. "Almost two years ago I told you Rowena Ravenclaw's prophecy concerning yourselves and the Dark Lord. But what I didn't tell you was that there was a fourth line to the prophecy. I didn't want you to know it then; I wanted you to be happy and find your love together. I hope you can forgive me for that."
"Then tell us now, Professor." Harry said in a determined voice.
The old man looked at the two young students standing before him and wished with all his heart that there was some other way, and then he drew a deep breath and began to speak. "The final line of the prophecy states that: 'after the evil one is vanquished the chosen one, and she who loves him most, must die together.'"
There was a long silence as his words sank in, and then Luna spoke softly. "That's what you meant when you told us that 'there was always a price to be paid when evil is vanquished.' Our lives are the price that must be paid, aren't they?"
"Yes… they are," the Headmaster answered sadly.
"And you allowed Luna to fall in love with me, knowing that this was my destiny?! Why didn't you tell her? Why didn't you give her a choice?" Harry shouted.
"No, Harry," Luna said, gently laying a hand on his arm. "This is my destiny as well, and my choice. I told you once that when the time came we would face him together. I think all along I knew that it would come to this; and I'm not a bit sorry. I think I'm the luckiest girl in the world." Then she walked over to the headmaster and kissed him gently on the cheek. "Thank you, Albus, for giving us this time. I'm very grateful. And when the time comes, we'll be ready."
Then she turned to Harry and smiled. "It's such a lovely night. Why don't we go for a walk down by the lake?"
He looked at her a bit sheepishly, embarrassed by his angry outburst. He took a deep breath, and then another, and then said sincerely, "I'd like that very much."
As the two teens were about to leave, Harry turned back to the old headmaster. "I'm sorry, Sir, for loosing my temper. I also want to thank you for giving us this time. I would have liked our daughter to have come to Hogwarts and to have played Quidditch, but then…" As his remarks trailed off, Luna took him by the hand and led him down the stairs and out to the lake.
A few minutes later Professor McGonagall joined the Headmaster. From the top of the tower they watched as two figures moving along the path far below. "How did they take it?" She asked in a whisper.
"Like I knew they would," he replied with a hint of pride, "with courage. They are two very courageous people, Minerva. I'm glad they have each other."
As they walked around the lake under the bright spring stars, Luna asked Harry the question that had been on her mind since they had talked with Professor Dumbledore. "Harry, do you think it would be all right if we went home for Easter?"
She didn't have to say why, he already knew. She wanted a chance to say goodbye to her Father, Grimmy and her forest; and Harry wanted it as well. 'Everyone should have a chance to say goodbye,' he thought. He pulled her into his arms and said, "Yes, I would like to go home as well."
He saw the expression on her face turn briefly to one of regret, and knew without words that she was thinking of Lizzie and Jamie. "You would have been a wonderful Mother," he said sincerely.
"And you a wonderful Father. But it's alright Harry, as long as I have you."
"And you always will," Harry replied fiercely. He knew that the two of them would need to talk about this, but now wasn't the time.
- o -
The next day was Saturday, and Harry had an early meeting scheduled with Professor Lupin to discuss the progress of some of his students. After all that had happened, Harry wanted to cancel the meeting and spend the entire day with Luna; but she insisted that he needed to go. He went, but was distracted the whole time. He just couldn't get Luna out of his mind. He knew how much she wanted to someday hold her very own child in her arms, and now that could never be. He understood that Luna had willingly chosen to share his destiny, but his feelings of guilt still threatened to overwhelm him.
After the meeting he went looking for Luna, and found her sitting beneath an oak tree next to the lake. He knew that she must be thinking about everything that she had lost. He knelt down beside her and took her hand. "I'm so sorry, Luna," he managed to choke out.
She looked up at him in absolute shock. "Harry, what's the matter?" She asked urgently, as she noticed tears on his face.
"I'm just so sorry that I've dragged you into all this. I know how much you wanted Lizzie and Jamie, and now that can't happen."
"You wanted them too, Harry, as much as I did." She said in a whisper. "But that just doesn't happen for everyone. I wasn't thinking about what I've lost, I was thinking about all I've gained. I was thinking about what a miracle it was that I found you, and that you love me."
"How could I not love you? You're everything that I've ever wanted. But still, you might have led a more normal life without me."
"Me? Loony Lovegood? Normal? Well I highly doubt that; and besides, I wouldn't trade my life for anything in the world."
"Merlin, how I love you," Harry said, and took her into his arms.
- o -
As the Easter holidays moved closer, Harry and Luna eagerly anticipated their return to "The Meadows." The cottage in the woods had become his home now as well, the only real home that he had ever known; and he was looking forward to spending the Easter holidays there. The two teens had elected not to tell their other friends about the prophecy, fearing that the others would never let them out of their sight. The two of them could do what needed to be done, and pay the price that needed to be paid. They wanted their friends to have happy lives together.
The day after they returned home Harry and Luna went for long walk in the woods, and a visit to the Rain Cave. As they walked along the tree shaded path, Harry glanced over at Luna.
"Did you tell him? Your Father." He asked carefully.
Luna looked sad for a moment. "No…but he knows. I know by the way he talks to me."
"I don't know. Maybe Professor Dumbledore told him, or maybe it's because we're so close. But he knows."
"You really should talk to him, Luna."
"I love him, Harry. I love him as much as I love you. I can't talk to him about this, but he understands. I wrote him a letter telling him how much I love the two of you, and that this is what I want. I asked him not to be sad, because we'll be waiting for him on the other side of the veil when his time comes."
They walked along in silence, holding hands, and Harry wondered how he had ever been lucky enough to find her. As they crested the trail leading down into the Valley of the Roses, Harry looked up into the clear blue sky. He wished that it was raining, for their visit to the cave; but there wasn't a cloud in the sky.
They spent most of the day simply enjoying the peace and tranquility of that very special place; as Grimmy lay by the entrance, protecting her two young charges.
"Why doesn't Grimmy have a pack of her own," Harry asked casually. "I would have thought your Father would have settled other wolves here; then Grimmy could have had pups of her own."
Luna looked sad for a moment, and then spoke slowly. "He wanted to settle a pack here. That's why we first went to Sweden; when I was a little girl. But we were too late, Grimmy was the only one left alive."
"I don't think I understand. There must be hundreds of wolves in Norway and Northern Sweden, not to mention Russia."
"Yes, that's true. But you see they wouldn't do. Those are Timber Wolves, and Grimmy is a Salter Wolf. They are really quite different, you know," she explained patiently. "Everyone thought Salter Wolves were extinct, but Dad found one last pack in Northern Sweden. But we just didn't get there in time."
Harry could see how the memory hurt her, and he reached over and laid a gentle hand on her cheek. "I'm sorry," he said sincerely.
"Yes, so am I."
- o -
As they walked away from the cave, Harry suggested that they gather a bouquet of wild roses for their room at home. Luna loved the idea, and she promptly transformed them two baskets. Using their wands to clip the stems, they set about gathering the flowers.
At that moment they heard someone call "Accio wands," and they felt the wands being ripped out of their hands. Spinning about they saw the dark form of Voldemort standing a few meters away, a smile of triumph on his face. Draco Malfoy suddenly appeared a few meters to his left and Wormtail a few meters to his right; both were wearing the black robes of Death Eaters, and had satisfied smiles on their faces.
"Well, Harry, we meet again. This is a meeting that I have long anticipated. And you brought Miss Lovegood with you; most accommodating." Voldemort said in a gloating tone.
The two teens were separated by several meters, and Luna immediately began to edge over in Harry's direction. She saw that he was doing the same thing. If only they could link hands the 'Shield of Selena' would protect them both.
"No further, young lady," Voldemort said in a honey-sweet voice. "One more step and Potter dies." And to back up his threat the Dark Lord raised his wand and aimed it at Harry's heart. "You see I know about the protective necklace that you wear, but Potter has no such protection."
Luna froze in her tracks and looked over at Harry sadly. And then with quiet resolve she reached behind her neck and undid the clasp on her necklace. She removed it and let it fall to the ground. Then she walked over and stood by Harry's side, slipping her hand into his.
"Foolish child, now I'll simply kill the two of you. But I have waited too long to rush this moment, and instead I intend to savor it. I promise that your end will not be quick, and you will plead for death before I'm done with you."
But as Voldemort rambled on, Harry caught Luna's eye and nodded towards the Phoenix Pin that she was wearing on her sweatshirt. In a flash she remembered that the pin could be used as an emergency portkey. The two teens cautiously reached up and pressed on the Phoenix to activate the pin. But nothing happened.
Voldemort saw their movement and noticed the pin that both teens were wearing. Smirking, he withdrew a small, orange globe from the pocket of his robes and showed it to them. "Very clever, Harry; to wear a portkey for when you might need it. You have learned a few things since our last meeting. Unfortunately, this little charm prevents anyone from Apparating or using a portkey in its vicinity. Now I have waited long enough; its time for both of you to feel what real pain is." And with that Voldemort raised his wand to cast the spell.
But Harry wasn't finished quite yet; not with 'The Wrekin' hanging around his neck and the obsidian dagger hanging from his belt. He slipped his hand beneath his shirt and grasped the pendant tightly, feeling it warm to his touch.
Voldemort aimed his wand at the two teens and cast the Cruciatus Curse, focusing all of his hatred into the curse. The two children should have been suffering from excruciating pain at that moment, but they showed no reaction at all. Voldemort cast the curse a second time, but still there was no effect. He looked at the silver necklace, still lying on the ground where Luna had dropped it, and knew it wasn't the cause of his failure. At that moment Harry withdrew the smoky-gray pendant from his shirt and looked at the Dark Lord with a grim smile.
In a rage Voldemort spat out one word, "Laxsor!" But then, a moment later, his rage melted away and he said grimly to Harry. "Laxsor will feel my wrath later for this; but I don't need magic to kill you and your little friend." And with that he nodded to Draco and Wormtail. The three dark wizards withdrew daggers from their robes and formed a circle around the two teens. "It will be more pleasurable to kill you this way," he said with a smirk.
Harry withdrew his own blade from its sheath and prepared for the final battle, stepping protectively in front of Luna. He knew that he had little chance in this fight, but he was determined to take Voldemort down with him.
But while all this was going on, something very strange was happening. The clear, blue sky had suddenly changed to a dark and threatening gray; and the day had become almost as dark as night. The wind ripped at the tree tops, and sent leaves swirling about the shallow valley. While Harry and Voldemort failed to notice it, Draco and Wormtail were trembling at the power of the almost supernatural storm. Suddenly, there was a deafening crack of thunder directly above them, and lightening shot down to the earth all around. All five became suddenly aware that something extraordinary was happening; something not of this earth.
And as quickly as it had started, the wind and thunder died away to an unearthly silence. Not a sound could be heard; but a strange presence could be felt by all of them. And then there was the gentle and reassuring murmuring of soft voices; the voices that Harry and Luna knew well from the Rain Cave. The gentle sounds made both children feel safe and secure. But Harry and Luna could see that Voldemort and his Death Eaters didn't find the sound either gentle or reassuring, for the three dark wizards looked absolutely terrified. And indeed, it was a far different and more terrifying sound that they heard.
"They're here." Luna whispered in Harry's ear. "They've come to help us." The two teens could sense that the valley was coming alive around them, and they realized that they had some very powerful allies.
As the sound of the murmuring voices rose to a deafening crescendo, Voldemort, Draco and Wormtail fell screaming to their knees. "What magic is this?" Voldemort screamed out in pain; holding his ears in a vain attempt to stem the terrible sound. Draco and Wormtail were screaming also; but only for a second, and then they were dead.
Then the sound died away, and the warm sun broke its way through the dark clouds. Draco and Wormtail were sprawled on the ground where they had died, but Voldemort was still alive, though obviously badly shaken. He struggled to his feet, still clutching the dagger in his hand. He reached into his robes and pulled forth a large copper-colored medallion, and then he smiled grimly at the two teenagers. "This is the Shield of Astragal!" he declared triumphantly. "I cannot be killed by any force either muggle or magical, and that includes whatever magic there is protecting this forest. And now, Harry Potter, I will have my revenge!" The Dark Lord moved determinedly forward, and Harry prepared to meet him.
From the first thrust and parry it was painfully clear that this was a battle that Harry Potter was unlikely to win. Harry knew nothing about daggers, let alone how to handle them in deadly combat; but it became clear that Voldemort was a master at the art. Foot by foot the Dark Lord forced Harry down the trail, as the two grappled in a deadly dance of death. Only Harry's courage, and his extraordinary Quidditch reflexes, saved him from a number of deadly thrusts by the Dark Lord. But it seemed that the inevitable was only being postponed, as Harry was forced to retreat step by step.
Not able to see where he was going, Harry tripped over a tree root that was showing above the ground. Unable to regain his balance, he fell backwards wildly, and hit the ground with a sickening thud. The force of the impact knocked the dagger from his hand and temporarily stunned him. Luna, who was standing behind Harry, rushed forward and snatched the dagger up off the ground. Kneeling down beside the boy she loved, she held the dagger out defensively against the Dark Lord.
Voldemort threw back his head and laughed; a cold, cruel laugh. "You think you have the power to defeat me, little girl? Not very likely. It's time to put an end to this." And with those words he advanced to stand over the two children, his dagger clenched in his hand.
But at that moment they all heard a low, guttural growl, which came from behind them. Turning his head, Voldemort saw the form of a large black wolf standing on the low bluff above him. It was Grimmy; but it was not the sweet and affectionate pet that the two teens knew. This animal's eyes flashed red with savage ferocity as it prepared to defend those it loved. The hackles on the back of its neck were standing straight up, and every muscle in its body was stretched tight as it prepared to attack. Voldemort looked into the savage eyes of the wolf and for the first time showed real fear; for what he saw in those eyes was death.
Taking advantage of the momentary distraction, Harry snatched the dagger from Luna's hand and slashed out at his enemy, hoping to disarm him. The sharp blade sliced deep into the Dark Lord's arm just above the wrist. He grabbed his arm with his left hand and let out a scream of pain and rage; it was an unearthly sound that was neither animal nor human, and one that the two teens would never forget. From the deep wound spurted a dark, opaque liquid; something that might once have been blood.
But through all of this the Dark Lord never lost his grip on his dagger; and then, with an all consuming hate, he took the blade into his left hand. He could feel the poison coursing through his veins, but was nevertheless determined to strike down the boy with his last breath. He raised the dagger to strike, but it was at that moment that the great wolf leaped forward. The force of the impact knocked the Dark Lord several meters away from the teens, where he lay sprawled on the ground dead. Harry was never certain whether it was the poison from the dagger or Grimmy's ferocious attack that ended Voldemort's life; but he was most certainly dead.
Grimmy then trotted over to Harry and Luna and lay down submissively at their feet; as if asking approval for her actions. The two children were quick to praise their faithful pet; and then they sat down on the ground with Grimmy and waited for the fulfillment of the second prophecy. When an hour had passed, and nothing had happened, they decided that perhaps they should return to the cottage and notify Professor Dumbledore of the death of the Dark Lord. So the two teens and their faithful pet followed the winding trail that led out of the forest.
- o -
Within a few seconds of their floo call, the Lovegood cottage was crowded with members of the Order. These including Albus Dumbledore, Luna's Father and the Minister of Magic himself. Professor Dumbledore was completely at a loss when he discovered that the two teens were alive and well, and that the threat was apparently over. Harry and Luna explained that Voldemort and his remaining Death Eaters had been killed in the forest, and tried their best to explain the strange circumstances that led to their demise. Ron and Ginny Weasley were badgering Harry and Luna for still more details of the battle, but first the Headmaster needed to be sure that Voldemort was really dead.
"Before we go into any more details, will you please show us where all this happened?" He said, ending the questions for the moment.
Harry and Luna led the large group out into the forest, Grimmy running ahead to lead the way. The large wolf was delighted at all the company, thinking she was going for a playful romp. But the business they were on was deadly serious.
Reaching the shallow valley, Professor Dumbledore surveyed the remains of Voldemort and his henchmen and confirmed that they were indeed dead. He ordered the immediate removal of all three bodies, and directed that Voldemort be immediately cremated and that the ashes be delivered to him. The Headmaster intended on taking no chances that the evil wizard might somehow be resurrected.
Then they all returned to the cottage for an explanation of all that had happened. When they came to explain how Draco and Wormtail were killed, a satisfied smile appeared on Edward Lovegood's face.
"Do I understand you to mean that the spirits of Wood Nymphs killed them; Wood Nymphs that died over eight hundred years ago?" The headmaster asked in disbelief.
"That's exactly what they mean, Albus." Edward Lovegood interjected. "It's part of Shaw family legend that the spirits of the Nymphs protect the valley against all those who would do harm to any creature that lives here. Apparently those spirits came forth when Harry and Luna needed them most."
After they finished their story, Albus Dumbledore appeared more perplexed than Harry had even seen him. None of this made any logical sense to him. Rowena Ravenclaw's prophecy said that the two young people would die together after the Dark Lord's demise, and yet they were apparently quite healthy and happy. The headmaster could see a dark shadow briefly cross Harry's face as well, and knew that the boy must be thinking along the same lines as he.
"Well, it looks like everything has turned out for the best," Dumbledore declared rather abruptly. "I must return to Hogwarts to deal with some further detail."
"But could we speak to you in private first?" Harry asked, holding Luna's hand.
"I don't have the answers you seek at present, but perhaps if I could join you for breakfast in the morning I might be able to shed some further light on these strange events?"
"Of course, Albus; you're always welcome," Edward Lovegood replied with a smile.
- o -
That evening Albus Dumbledore sat in his office at Hogwarts School, a faded sheet of parchment in his hand. The whole wizarding world was in celebration, the Dark Lord was dead and the threat to peace was gone. But while the world celebrated, the old headmaster studied the yellowed prophecy of Rowena Ravenclaw. The first three lines had come to pass, but what of the fourth line; that was what troubled him.
It was at that moment that he heard a soft knock on the door, and Minerva McGonagall entered with a wide smile on her face.
"Those students, I think the school may never be the same again," she said.
"They have good reason to celebrate, as do we all."
Seeing the yellowed parchment in the headmaster's hand, she decided to ask the question that had been troubling her all evening, "I just don't understand, Albus. What does it all mean?"
"I wish I knew, Minerva." He replied. "We all assumed that Harry and Luna would fall in the final battle against Voldemort. It just doesn't make any sense, unless…" And then the headmaster went silent, in deep thought.
"Unless what, Albus?"
"Unless…," Albus Dumbledore began slowly, 'the prophecy regarding our two young friends wasn't a curse at all, but instead a blessing."
"A blessing? I don't understand. The prophecy said that they would die together after the defeat of Voldemort."
"Yes, Minerva. That is exactly what the prophecy does say….But it didn't say when. Harry and Luna have bound their hearts and their souls together; can you imagine either of them going on alone after the death of the other? Both of them would be completely lost if they were alone. But if, when the time comes, they were to pass through the veil together it would be very different. It would mean that from now until the end of time they would never be alone again. Both a blessing and a reward."
"But how much longer do they have?" Minerva asked, still not willing to accept the prophecy for what it really was.
"You know that Divination was always my worst subject," the old man said smiling. "But I should guess about 140 to 150 years."
"Then that means…" Professor McGonagall began.
"…That means that Lizzie Potter will be coming to Hogwarts in about twelve years. You had better get prepared, Minerva. I have a feeling that Miss Potter may be even more of a challenge than her Father has been."
"I can hardly wait," Minerva said with a wide grin.
- o -
The next morning, Professors Dumbledore arrived at the Lovegood cottage for an early breakfast. Harry and Luna were happily working away in the kitchen, and Grimmy was lurking underfoot waiting for the stray piece of bacon to fall; and there seemed to be quite a few of them falling. The Headmaster settled in a comfortable chair by the fireplace, and laid a gentle hand on the wolf's head. They had a nice breakfast, after which Professor Dumbledore asked Luna if he might have her recipe for Blueberry Waffles for the House Elves back at Hogwarts. Then they all adjourned to the living room where Professor Dumbledore explained his new interpretation of Rowena Ravenclaw's prophecy, much to the delight of all present.
Harry took this opportunity to ask Luna a question that he had been thinking a great deal about. "Ah, Luna….How do you know that Grimmy is the last Salter Wolf?"
"What?" Luna replied, a bit confused.
"How do you know that Grimmy is the last Salter Wolf? " He repeated, and without waiting for an answer he continued. "How many years did you and your Father spend looking for the Crumple Horned Snorkacks?" Harry asked with a strange smile on his face.
"Daddy looked for almost ten years."
"Well, we aren't going to give up after just one trip, are we? I think that we owe Grimmy a family of her own kind; so I guess that settles where we're going on our honeymoon. And something else, we're not coming back until we find a pack of Salter Wolves to share this forest with Grimmy." Harry said with determination.
"Honeymoon?" Luna said mischievously. "It's customary to ask the girl before you start planning the honeymoon, don't you think?"
Harry looked at her a little sheepishly. "I forgot," he said blushing. Taking her hand in his, he asked, "Luna, will you marry me?"
"I would love to," she answered sweetly. And then she hastily added, "If Professor Dumbledore will marry us."
"I would be deeply honored," the old headmaster said sincerely.
- o -
The Daily Prophet took great pleasure in reporting that Harry Potter and Luna Lovegood would be married in the Great Hall at Hogwarts, and that dignitaries from all parts of the world would be in attendance. Further, it reported that Luna would be wearing wedding robes specially designed by Claude Le Saire, the leading fashion designer in the wizarding world.
As usual, the Daily Prophet was completely wrong. Harry and Luna had decided that they wanted their wedding to take place in the Valley of the Wild Roses. The friends closest to them understood that the two wished to be married in the presence of the spirits who had so recently come to their rescue.
As for her wedding dress, Luna chose to wear her Grandmother's wedding robes; just as twenty years later her daughter would wear the same robes at her own wedding. Professor Albus Dumbledore took great pride in officiating at the ceremony, to which only family and close friends were invited.
But in reality the wedding was merely a formality. Their friends and their family already regarded the two as married, ever since the night that they had pledged each other. Ron and Neville stood with Harry as his best men, and Ginny and Hermione served as Luna's maids of honor
Harry and Luna left on a honeymoon to Sweden almost immediately after the ceremony. Actually, it was both a honeymoon and a search expedition. Within three months, with the assistance of Grimmy, they had successfully located the last pack of Salter Wolves, and had returned with them to the Lovegood forest. They returned just in time to stand up with their friends at the double wedding of Ron and Hermione and Neville and Ginny.
- o -
Just before Christmas of that year Harry and Luna lay on the soft moss of the Rain Cave, watching as Grimmy nursed her new litter of Salter puppies.
"I think they would be pleased," Luna said dreamily.
"The Wood Nymphs. I think they would be pleased…"
"…and proud," Harry finished. "And they will be more proud, because this summer there will be more litters of puppies born in the Rain Cave."
"I think I'll be having other plans for the Rain Cave this summer," Luna said with a mysterious smile.
At first Harry looked confused, but then a smile appeared on his face. "Lizzie? When?"
"July, I think," Luna replied happily. "It's a special birthday present for the man I love." And then she snuggled in closer to the man that she would love until the end of time.
Luna would have a total of five children in the Rain Cave, and Harry would be by her side every time. All grew up to be happy and successful people, but even their best friends considered them to be a bit odd; but in the best possible way. Harry and Luna would live out their lives at the cottage in the woods, for nothing could ever draw them away. Harry went on to become the greatest headmaster that Hogwarts School had ever known; even greater than his mentor, Albus Dumbledore. Luna Lovegood Potter would become almost legendary as the founding spirit behind the magical environmental movement; and she lived to see the day when man cared for the earth, and all the creatures that lived on it.
In the end the prophecy held true, and Harry and Luna passed from this life in their sleep, after 152 years of marriage. They were laid to rest next to their parents in the Hero's Cemetery at Hogwarts. And then the cemetery was closed, for they were the last heroes of that terrible war. Their grandchildren wished for the old couple to rest in peace. But their grandchildren were wrong; Harry and Luna were having far too much fun to rest. They had passed through the veil together and had started a series of adventures that those they left behind could not even begin to imagine.
Author's Note: I hope you enjoyed the story as much as I enjoyed writing it. After a little bit of R & R, I'm going to start on a sequel titled Lizzie's First Year. Lizzie Potter goes to Hogwarts and finds that being a bit odd can be a real advantage, especially if your Father is Headmaster and there are still wizards determined to follow the dark path. Please be patient with me, I enjoy writing too much to rush it.