Disclaimer: Harry Potter and all related plot events and characters are the property of JK Rowling.
Summary: PostHogwarts. Harry must deal with the horrors of war, and in doing so he will embrace his heritage and leave a lasting legacy on the world.
A/N: Thank you all for reading and staying with me during the long journey of this story. I don't plan on writing any more fanfiction, but if I do, you will be the first to know. Thanks again, and enjoy the epilogue (don't forget to review!).
Epilogue: The Next Great Adventure
"Hasn't changed much, has it?" Harry asked, his voice light and breathy. He leaned gently back against the wall of villa, and swept his slightly clouded green eyes over the beach before him. His wife, Hermione Potter, shook her head beside him.
"No, it hasn't. I like that, though," she said. They were sitting out on the veranda of their villa on a patio couch, leaning back against the house, facing the wide clear waters of the Mediterranean. A hot breeze flitted around their bodies, and Harry smiled as the warm currents caressed his white hair.
"Me too," Harry said, softly, and closed his eyes. It felt so nice to just sit there in the sun, with the warmth on his wrinkled cheeks.
"Our great-grandson starts at Hogwarts this year, Harry," Hermione said. He cracked open his eyes and saw her turn her head toward him slightly. She had aged beautifully, and although she was one hundred thirty, she was still gorgeous in his eyes.
"I'm sure James will love it," Harry responded, and closed his eyes. He was tired, all the time now, and there was nothing better than relaxing some.
"And this will be your…what? Hundredth year as Headmaster?"
Harry nodded. "It's been quite a run."
Hermione was silent for a moment, and Harry thought she was probably considering the tense he used. He knew it, and had known for a long time, but he doubted anyone else suspected. He was an old man, and he was dying. There was nothing he could do to stop it, and he didn't want to. He believed the words that his mentor had spoken to him so long ago: 'To the well organized mind, death is but the next great adventure.'
"Is there something you want to tell me?" Hermione asked, quietly.
Harry didn't answer immediately. He didn't want to upset her, but it was inevitable. They had both lived long, full lives; complete with the greatest happiness they could have asked for—each other.
"I'm an old man, Hermione. That's all I was saying."
"But you think you're at the end of the journey, don't you?"
Harry just nodded, not opening his eyes. He felt sleep coming on, and he wasn't going to fight it. Maybe it would refresh him a bit.
"Is that why you wanted to stay here longer this year?"
He nodded again. "You've made this feel more like home than Britain," he said, and he felt her lean her head on his shoulder. He slowly slipped an arm around her shoulder, being careful not to jar any old injuries. "Helen, too," he added.
Hermione lifted her head slightly. "Speaking of Helen, where did that old witch get off to?"
Harry smiled into the sun, stretching the crinkled corners of his mouth. "Probably got into some shenanigans with Paul."
"She never did grow up," Hermione said.
Harry chuckled. "Did we?" he asked, and he felt Hermione laugh slightly against his side.
"No…no, I suppose not."
"I think our eight kids will agree with that sentiment," Harry said, thinking of his five sons and three daughters. Hermione and him had been busy for about fifteen years…
"And the twenty-two grandkids."
"Yeah, and you can't forget the fourteen great-grandkids, so far."
"I don't think the world will be able to handle so many Potters," Hermione said, and laid her head back on his shoulder.
"I think we've done alright so far," Harry responded.
A simple silence settled over the pair for a few minutes, and Harry felt the soft touch of sleep again. It was slowly pulling him away, making him drowsier and drowsier.
"What's the one thing you wished you could have done?" Hermione asked. Harry noticed that she was more and more often looking with hindsight, and he thought she knew she was getting near the end as well.
"Integrate magical and Muggle societies," he responded, immediately. It was something he had always wanted to achieve, but there were just far too many roadblocks and ingrained prejudices, going both ways. Most magical people considered Muggles inferior and most Muggles were horribly afraid of magic.
"I thought you'd say that."
"What about you?" Harry asked her, in turn.
"Stayed in Britain," she responded, also immediately.
Harry nodded against her hair, and leaned his head more onto the top of hers. "Well, I'm glad you decided to come back," he said. "I don't know where I would be right now without you."
"I'm sure you would have done just fine, Harry."
"You don't give yourself enough credit, love. You've always been there for me, since then, through everything."
"And I can say the same thing about you."
"Then I guess we're perfect for each other?" Harry asked, rhetorically.
"I guess so," she responded, lightly. A stronger breeze blew up around them, bringing along its currents the sound of the waves crashing onto the beach. Harry breathed deeply and slowly, enjoying the scent of the water.
"This will never get old," Hermione said.
"Sitting on this veranda with you, in the sun, with the Mediterranean spread out before us like some surreal sky."
"When did you become poetic?" Harry asked, with some amusement evident in his voice. She hit his arm lightly.
"About the same time you became a giant prat."
Harry shrugged. "What can I say? It's one of my many shortcomings."
"I think you can include 'self-deprecating' on that list—you don't have many shortcomings at all."
"Oh, stop it…" he said. "Now you're just trying to flatter me." He felt her lift her head and press her lips briefly against his cheek. He squeezed her shoulder.
"You know, when we were younger, we probably would have thought that was disgusting."
"What? Old people snogging?" she asked, laughing and sitting up.
He opened his eyes to look at her; he saw the humor reflected in her beautifully speckled brown eyes.
"That wasn't snogging, my dear," he said, and smiled. "We haven't snogged in years—that's alright, though. I like sitting here by your side just fine."
She leaned into him so their upper arms were touching. "I like it, too."
They heard the villa's front door open and close just then, and Hermione briefly glanced back through the glass door. "That'll be Helen."
"Yeah," Harry breathed. He felt his eyes drooping once again.
"Hey, you want anything to drink?" she asked.
"Sure…" he trailed off. "Some cold Coke would be nice…"
"Be right back," she said, and he closed his eyes and leaned his head back against the house. He heard the door slide open and then closed, and then all was silent save for the sounds of the wind and the waves.
He heard some gulls wheeling overhead, and he turned his face upward a little more, so that all of it would get the sun. His hair was blowing lazily around his forehead, but he didn't move to knock it away. A smile curved his lips as a feeling of serenity came over him.
His breathing slowed, and he felt like sleep was coming on. Hermione would have to wake him up when she came back with that drink. He settled a little deeper into the couch.
Harry listened to the crash of a wave on the shore—Quirrell and the mirror; Hermione petrified; the Grim; the World Cup with Hermione and the Weasleys; Hagrid; Voldemort; Helen; Hermione; Arthur and Molly; Albus; Hogwarts; the villa—and his head drooped.
"Here we are, Harry," Hermione said as she backed out the glass door with the two drinks in her hand. She turned around when no response came.
"Harry?" He had fallen sleep, it seemed. She set the drinks down on the table and sat next to him. She placed a hand on his shoulder and gently shook him. His head lolled strangely.
"Harry?" she asked again. She shook a little harder, and he leaned over into her; she had to brace herself from being knocked over. His nose and mouth were right by her cheek…but…she couldn't feel any warmth or moisture. She leaned him back up into his former position and scrutinized him.
She brought a hand up to her mouth when she realized that his chest wasn't moving. She looked to his face, and her heart panged painfully. There was a tranquil smile across his features.
"Harry…?" she asked again, quite a bit more softly. No response came.
"Oh…Harry…" she breathed, and got down on her knees in front of him. She took his face in her hands and kissed his forehead. The moisture from her lips glistened in the sun when she leaned back.
A tear escaped her eye, but she had a feeling that was all that would come. Harry would have wanted her to celebrate his existence, not mourn his death.
"Pax tecum," she whispered, and stood to bring the Helen the news.
August 15th, 2110
Hermione's eyes swept the beach, taking in the multitudes that had shown up for the funeral of her husband. Their entire family…all of Helen's…many of the students and their parents…former students and their families…Ministry personnel from all over the world…
Harry probably would have scoffed at such pomp and ceremony, but could it really be helped? He was the most celebrated wizard in history—yes, he had surpassed Merlin in notoriety—so it had to be expected. She shifted the small ceramic jar from one hand to another, and began to descend the stairs to the beach, where everyone was waiting. She had purposely avoided wearing black, and had instructed everyone to tell their friends and family not to, because this wasn't really a sad occasion. She was a little upset, but she was happy that Harry had finally found the ultimate peace.
She reached the sand and started across it toward the water where they were all gathered, and saw most of them turn to look at her. They parted as she came near, and she stopped by the water's edge. She turned around to look at them all. Helen was near the front with Paul; he had one of his grandchildren in his arms.
"I'm honored that you all came today, although I know Harry would want to know what the big deal was." This got some laughs from them, and Hermione instantly the mood lighten a little. That was good.
"Of course, we all know exactly what that 'bid deal' is," she continued, getting nods from most of them. "I don't think we need to elaborate, but I'm just going to say: Thank you, Harry. For everything."
"Thank you," most of them repeated. She turned around, facing the Mediterranean, and took the lid off the jar. A strong breeze picked up then, as if on cue, and she slowly tilted the jar in the direction the wind was blowing. A fine string of gray dust—ash—came out of the end and was picked up by the wind, blown out to the Sea.
"Goodbye, Harry," she whispered, and watched as the last particles were swept away.
September 11th, 2112
The Headmistress descended the steps from the castle, stepped out onto the grounds, and turned right. She had four deep pink roses in her hand, which was swinging lightly with her steps. As she rounded the corner of the castle, a familiar and slightly overgrown path came into view. Up ahead she could see her destination, and she increased her pace.
As she passed over the plaque set in the ground, she looked to the right, and saw the four headstones she was looking for. She stopped in front of them for a moment, and then placed one rose on top of each. She bent and traced the lines of her father's with her fingers, and then stood. Her eyes passed over Ginny's, Albus's, her father's, and Hermione's, and then she turned back to the castle. The afternoon was completely still, so there was no sound.
"Thanks Dad, and thank you all." She stared at the tallest turret for a moment, and then started back toward the castle. As her footsteps were receding with a light whisper of the grass, an easy breeze blew across grounds, rustling the petals of the four roses, which were sitting atop headstones that read:
Ginevra Weasley Potter
August 11, 1981 – December 25, 1998
puella cum magna vita
Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore
March 12, 1846 – April 23, 2010
vir cum magna sapientia
Harry James Potter
July 31, 1980 – August 12, 2110
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Hermione Granger Potter
September 19, 1979 – September 11, 2111
femina cum magna scientia