Author's Note: This is officially the last chapter of Harry Potter and the Past's Forgotten Mysteries. There will be a huge A/N at the end, so stay with me! Enjoy!
Epilogue: Of Hags and Haggis
"Hey, Professor Potter, where are you going?"
"Professor, the Great Hall's that way."
"You're going to miss the leaving feast!"
Harry just smiled and waved as he pushed past the students flooding into the Great Hall, many giving him odd looks as he passed it up. Ignoring the comments from the more outspoken students, he walked across the entrance hall and pushed open one of the huge oak doors and stepped outside onto the grounds.
Taking a deep breath of fresh summer air, Harry headed toward the lake. He could hear the crickets chirping in the grass and the rustle in the trees that could either be the wind or some mysterious creature of the Forbidden Forest. He watched his surroundings, noting the ripples in the water from the carefree giant squid and the smoke billowing merrily from Hagrid's hut.
Upon reaching the lake, Harry picked up a small, flat rock and analyzed it for a moment before raising his arm above his head and swinging it forward with all his might, releasing it to the lake. The rock flew out incredibly far, but Harry watched in disappointment as it dropped into the water suddenly, causing a rather large splash.
"That was pathetic."
Harry jumped and looked around, smiling as he saw Ginny walking toward him. "You're late," he said.
Ginny ignored that comment and bent down to pick up a rock. "See, it should not only be flat, but long. You put your hand on it like this…" She put her index finger at the top of the rock and allowed her thumb to curl around the bottom. "Then when you throw it, you do it sideways so the rock can skip on the water." To demonstrate, she pulled her arm back at about waist level and twisted her whole body sideways. Then she brought her arm forward quickly, unwinding her body with it, and released the rock. Harry watched as it went almost parallel to the water before skimming the surface one, two, three…
"Nine skips," said Ginny with a smile. "Still doesn't beat Ron's seventeen, but I think he used magic for that."
Harry rolled his eyes at her and slipped his hand around her waist. "So what are you going to do now that you're finally done with your seventh year?" he asked as she laid her head on his shoulder and they both gazed out at the lake.
"I believe my boyfriend is going to take me out tonight," Ginny said playfully.
"Hmm, sounds like a nice bloke," Harry said, smiling.
"Yeah, well I would force him out at wand point whether he liked it or not. He's much too tense these days, and he's getting rather boring, always teaching classes and grading papers-"
Her voice was muffled for a moment and then she fell silent as Harry kissed her, effectively ending her teasing.
"Is he still boring?" Harry asked with a raised eyebrow.
"Er… not quite as boring, but definitely still not ready to go out," she replied, she said with a mock frown.
Harry shrugged his shoulders in defeat. "Well, if I can't convince you, I'll go meet Ron and Hermione by myself." He started to pull away from her, but she grabbed his hand. "Don't you dare," she said quickly. "Let's go."
Harry smiled and held her hand tightly, walking toward the winged boars. Ginny stayed right next to him and they bantered back and forth before reaching the gates. A chain was wrapped around it, preventing anyone from going in or out. Harry muttered a quick unlocking spell and they waited for the chain to slowly unhook from the gate before Harry opened the door and held it open for Ginny to walk through.
"After you," Harry said smugly, and Ginny rolled her eyes and slugged him before walking through. Harry walked through after her, rubbing his arm and glaring at her playfully. Ginny just smiled sweetly and linked arms with him.
"You do realize that you can apparate on your own now, right?" Harry asked.
"Yes, but I haven't taken the test yet," Ginny explained. "I, unlike you, do not break all the rules."
Harry laughed at that and received another punch in the arm for it. It didn't hurt at all, but Harry decided to let Ginny feel like she was in charge for a little while.
Harry closed his eyes tightly and focused on his destination. Turning sharply on the spot and pulling Ginny with him, he suddenly felt all encompassing, yet familiar blackness seeming to push in on him from all sides. When he could no longer feel the pressure around him, he opened his eyes.
They were standing in the middle of Diagon Alley. Harry and Ginny were standing in front of a trendy new restaurant, "Of Hags and Haggis," which Harry had been reluctant to try at first, but once he was assured that it had nothing to do with hags or haggis, he agreed. It was a crowded Friday evening and many people were rushing about carrying packages, bags, and little children. Some were heading out of Madam Malkins, carrying large bags full of summer robes, whereas many more were filtering out of Weasley's Wizard Wheezes (one of five in the country) with all sorts of mischievous products. There were lots of people standing outside of Florean Fortesque's, getting large scoops of ice cream. Harry had been very pleased to find out last July that Mr. Fortesque had simply gone into hiding when he had been threatened by Death Eaters a couple years back, and had returned soon after Voldemort's fall. It appeared that Ron and Hermione hadn't shown up yet, even with Harry and Ginny arriving late. Harry started to turn to Ginny, taking a breath to speak, but suddenly got it knocked out of him as he was hugged tightly by a beaming Hermione.
"It's so good to see you!" she squealed loudly.
Harry patted her on the back. "It's great to see you too, Hermione. But you're sort of crushing me," he said in a strained voice.
Ron had been hugging his sister and came over to pry Hermione off of him, grinning and clapping Harry on the back. "How've you been, mate?"
Harry shrugged. "Pretty good. You?"
"Good. I haven't seen much of anyone but Hermione, what with all the traveling for work." Ron had immediately accepted the offer to be a keeper for the Chudley Canons the previous October and traveled around often for games. He alternated with Oliver Wood, who'd switched the last August from Puddlemere United.
"You know, it's funny," said Ginny. "I had always thought you would be playing for the Canons, even when you said you were going to be an Auror."
"Did not," Ron retorted.
"Did too," said Hermione. "I remember her telling me a couple of years ago."
Ron glared at Hermione and Ginny smiled. "I'm telling you, it was little sister intuition."
"Right, are we going to go inside, or what?" Harry asked quickly, trying to prevent a Weasley explosion.
"Yeah, let's go," Ron said quickly. "I'm starving."
They all laughed and started heading into the restaurant, waiting in line to put in their names with the hostess.
The restaurant was decorated quite creatively with statues of hags lining the walls which occasionally jumped out on people, baring their teeth and long nails. The lanterns about the room looked like oddly colored and shaped sacs that Hermione explained were imitation sheep stomachs, which haggis is made from. The music playing was interrupted randomly every once in a while with screeching and wailing. Harry thought the place might get a bit annoying, but everyone there seemed to be enjoying it immensely.
As a large group of elderly wizards put in their names and sat down, Harry, Ron, Hermione, and Ginny moved forward.
"How may I help you?" the hostess asked with a warm smile when they reached her; she couldn't have been much older than Harry.
"Yes, I have a reservation," Harry said.
"Okay, and what's your name?" she asked politely, taking out her quill and list of names.
"Er, Potter. It's under Potter."
The woman dropped her quill and stared at him in shock. "Potter?" she whispered in shock. "As in Harry Potter?"
Harry gulped. "Yeah," he said hesitantly.
The hostess continued to stare, and Harry thought she might do it all night – or until Ginny yelled at her, at least – but then an older witch walked by bearing the name tag "Manager," and the hostess quickly snapped back into reality.
"Right. Potter..." She ran her quill down the list until she reached his name. "Potter, reservation for four. All right, I'll call your name when the next table becomes available." She scratched off his name and smiled again, but this time she looked a bit more nervous.
Ginny rolled her eyes and steered him away to find a bench to sit and wait. Ron had a hand over his mouth, trying really hard not to laugh. Hermione was looking at him somewhat sympathetically, but Harry felt it didn't have quite the desired effect because of the amused look in her eyes. Harry ignored them all and was about to state plainly that he was hungry just for a change of subject, when a particularly loud wail emitted from a hag statue a few feet away. Harry watched as one of the elderly wizards appeared to be having a heart attack (though the man quickly recovered) and wondered who on earth would want to eat at a place where really ugly ladies with huge noses shriek loudly at any given moment.
"Maybe the cooks put something in their food," Ginny whispered conspiratorially, apparently thinking the same thing.
"If we go back now, we might be able to sneak out undetected," Harry whispered back, looking over his shoulder as if he'd heard something.
Ron laughed at their antics and Hermione rolled her eyes.
"Honestly, you two, I would think you would mature more, not digress five years," she said with an impatient air, but Harry saw the corners of her mouth twitch.
"Well, I've been at Hogwarts teaching little first and second years, what do you expect?" Harry asked.
"I would expect you to learn responsibility and-"
"Potter, party of four?" the hostess called. "Potter?"
Harry groaned and looked at Ginny despairingly before heading up to the hostess, trying hard to not listen to the whispers following in his wake.
"Did they say Potter?"
"Harry Potter? The one who killed You-Know-Who?"
"Well, what other Potter would it be? It has to be him!"
"Do you think he'll sign my hat?"
"Where's he sitting? I want to sit by him!"
"Oh, I knew I should have brought my camera!"
Ginny pulled Harry away from the crowd - which consisted mostly of girls, much to her aggravation - and they followed the hostess quickly past a screaming hag and under a few sheep stomach lanterns until they reached a nice booth in one of the corners.
"Is this table all right?" the hostess asked worriedly.
Harry nodded, noting that they couldn't hear the screaming hags and it was far enough away that people wouldn't notice him. "It's perfect," he said politely, making her blush.
She looked immensely relieved. "I'm glad." She waited for the four to slide into their seats before handing them each a menu. "Your server will be right with you," she said, and returned to the front.
Finally Ron couldn't take it anymore and burst with laughter. "I don't know how you do it, Harry," he said through his sniggers.
"Well, at least with you being in Quidditch, you'll get to know a bit of what I have to go through," Harry said, grinning evilly as Ron suddenly gulped and quieted.
"Well," Ginny said brightly, "at least you work as Hogwarts, so you don't have to deal with it much."
Harry snorted at that. "Ah yes, I won't have to worry about it at all when they're all scared of me and whisper behind my back constantly. I can barely teach!"
"Have you ever… you know… done that thing?" Ron asked, leaning forward.
Harry grinned. "What? You mean this?" He closed his eyes for a moment and when he opened them, Ron drew back and Hermione gasped, while Ginny just laughed.
"Don't do that!" Hermione scolded, and Harry just laughed, picking up a spoon to look at his reflection. Sure enough, his eyes were glowing bright green. He watched as it slowly dimmed until his eyes turned back to normal. Ron and Hermione sighed with relief.
"How long have you been able to do that so easily?" Hermione asked curiously.
"Oh, about six months. Not long," Harry said airily.
"Can you do anything else?" Ron asked eagerly. Harry felt like he was putting on a show, but he didn't mind, seeing as it was just him and his best friends.
"Yeah, it was the oddest thing," Harry said, trying not to smile as he improvised. "The other day as I was kissing Ginny-"
"Okay, never mind. I don't want to know," said Ron, making a face. "I don't care if you've been dating for years. Best friend and sister… it's just wrong to think about that."
"Anyway," Hermione said. "Speaking of teaching, how's it going?"
Harry smiled. "It's been great. I can't believe I have already been teaching for two years, counting seventh year, of course."
"I guess there really was a curse on the job," Ron said with a laugh.
"Yeah," Harry replied. "No one could hold it down for more than a year after Tom was refused the position and now that he's gone, I've kept it for two."
"And still going strong," Ginny added. Harry smiled and squeezed her hand.
"Hey, Ginny," Ron said curiously, "what are you going to do for a job?"
Harry smiled, already knowing the answer. She had already told him a while ago because she'd needed a bit of help, but he supposed she hadn't told anyone else to keep it a surprise.
"I've already got a job set up with the Daily Prophet," Ginny said. "I've got my own column."
"Really!" Hermione said with pleased surprise. "And how did you land that?"
Ginny smiled. "Dating 'the Chosen One' has its advantages," she replied, giving Harry an affectionate kiss on the cheek, which caused both Harry and Ron to blush.
At that point the server came up to the table, pulling an everlasting ink-filled quill and a pad of parchment out of his pocket.
"Hello, my name's Tim and I'll be your server this evening. What can I get for you?" he asked pleasantly.
They all looked at each other and smiled embarrassedly. None of them had even opened their menus.
"I'll come back in a few minutes." He put the quill and pad away. "Do you want something to drink?"
Harry looked around at his friends and asked, "Four butterbeers?" They all nodded.
Tim smiled. "Accio butterbeers!" he said, pointing his wand toward a door a few feet away. Four bottles of butterbeer came rushing out, and he slowed them down before catching them and placing them on the table.
They all muttered their thanks and opened their menus as Tim walked over to attend to another table nearby.
"Well, I guess you were right, Hermione," Ginny commented. "The food does seem to be pretty normal."
"Roasted horse meat? Fried pig hooves? This isn't exactly kosher," Harry said skeptically.
Ron laughed. "Looks like you got the fake menu, mate. They do that with all their customers – give one of them a fake menu and see if they try to actually order it." Harry sighed with relief.
"Hmm," Ginny said thoughtfully. "Sounds very… Fred and George-ish."
"Actually," Hermione spoke up, "they did help fund the place."
Ginny and Harry looked at her quizzically. "How do you know that?" Ginny asked.
"Well, a few people complained against this restaurant as being discriminatory toward hags, so they sent me out here to view their whole premises and all their records," Hermione explained. "I found some paperwork involving donations to the owner from Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes. Once I saw that it was satisfactory, and actually quite interesting, I dragged Ron over here, and we quite liked it."
"What's the title of your job again, Hermione?" Harry asked, ignoring Ron's desperate warning look.
"Official Inspector and Regulator for Discriminated and Abused Creatures," Hermione said proudly, and Harry decided that he would never be able to remember that. "It's a lovely job. I get to travel and make protect creatures who aren't treated very nicely. My pay check is more than enough, and of course, there's all the benefits..."
Harry and Ginny nodded politely before turning back to Ginny's menu (Harry had set his down, lest he loose his appetite).
When they finally decided on what they wanted to eat, they waited for the server to come for a few moments, sipping their butterbeers and talking about nothing in particular. Finally the server arrived, taking their orders and leaving to tell the cooks.
"So," Ginny said as she and Harry looked between Ron and Hermione. They looked like an old couple. "How long have you two been dating, again?"
"Twenty three months," Hermione immediately answered. Harry smiled upon seeing Ron shrug his shoulders and shake his head disgustedly.
"You think too much," he said simply.
They laughed and talked until the food arrived. Then they fell silent, as they were all very hungry and the food had turned out to be very good. Harry had ordered a Cordon Bleu, which he had never tried, since they didn't serve it at Hogwarts, he didn't know how to make it when he was at his flat during holiday, and the Dursleys certainly never let him have any. He was enjoying it immensely, and so was Ginny, actually, who had liked his food better than her steak and kidney pie. "It just isn't like Mum made it," she had said simply, and promptly took half of Harry's food. Harry didn't say anything and didn't really care. He wouldn't have been able to finish it even if he'd tried.
Hermione had chosen to play it safe and go with the salad bar, but Harry thought she might have been having second thoughts when she saw that there really were fried pig hooves sitting inconspicuously next to the carrots.
Ron had dove right in to his beef stew the moment he'd gotten it, and had also eaten four rolls, an extra side of potatoes, and a slice of cheesecake by the time Harry, Ginny, and Hermione had had their fill of their meals.
"I wouldn't be surprised if he swallowed his fork," Ginny whispered in Harry's ear and they both laughed, stopping quickly when Ron asked him what was so funny.
They talked amiably for a while, waiting for a bill. Harry insisted he pay for it, using the rather feeble excuse that he had made the reservations, so he should deal with it. Ron, Hermione, and Ginny agreed anyway, wanting to leave before the server tempted them further with desert.
Once they'd gotten outside, Diagon Alley was considerably quieter, with noise only coming from the few pubs and restaurants, and a few wanderers who'd had a bit too much firewhisky.
"Well, I've got to get back to the Burrow. Dad threatened that if I didn't come home and clean my room before midnight, he'd kick me out," Ron explained sadly.
"Mate, why are you still living at home?" Harry asked. "I've told you countless times that you can stay in my flat. There's an extra room, and it's pretty nice…"
"I'll think about it," Ron said with a shrug. Harry let it drop, not wanting to pester him.
"Well, I've got some paperwork to do back at my cottage. I'll see you later, Ron," Hermione said, giving Ron a quick kiss. "And I'd better be seeing you two soon as well," she added sternly.
"Yeah, if you ever stop working!" Ginny said with a grin.
They all laughed and said their goodbyes. Hermione apparated away quickly, whereas Ron looked a bit reluctant to leave, but left with a CRACK all the same. Harry took Ginny's hand and they disapparated, appearing in front of the Hogwarts gates.
The castle stood majestically on top of the hill, many of the windows twinkling brightly with firelight, while others lay dormant. The grounds were quiet and calm, and Harry couldn't help but think that the timing couldn't be more perfect as he opened the gate and followed her onto the grounds.
"Well, that was a fun evening," Ginny said with a pleasant sigh. "You weren't boring at all. I commend you." She curtsied slightly, holding her robes out to the sides like a dress.
"Thanks," Harry said nervously. Ginny looked at him with concern.
"Harry, are you okay?" she asked, taking his hand and looking at him closely.
Harry smiled. Merlin, he loved this girl! Yeah, I'm fine. I just wanted to… to talk to you about something."
"Okay, go on," she prodded curiously.
"Well, it's been a year since Voldemort fell," Harry said awkwardly, watching as Ginny nodded, "and I have a steady job, and you are legally an adult, and you're out of Hogwarts tomorrow…"
"Yes?" said Ginny when he was silent for a moment.
"Yes, well, I was wondering…" Wondering, Potter? More like hoping against hope! "if you would be willing to… er… marry me."
Harry stared at him as if she hadn't heard him. He didn't know if he could bring himself to repeat it, though, so he waited with baited breath.
Ginny looked at him thoughtfully. "Well, before I answer, I have to ask you a few questions."
Harry's heart sank. "Okay?" he asked in a higher voice than normal.
"First, have you asked my dad?"
Harry sighed with relief. "Yeah, I have."
"Alright, and do you know what this commitment entails?" Ginny continued.
"Er… yeah." Why was she asking him this? He wasn't an idiot! Not usually, anyway.
"Do you have plans for a family?"
Harry nodded firmly. They had already talked about that man times, and they both wanted lots of kids.
"Do you have a ring?"
Harry's eyes widened and he quickly shoved his hand into his pocket, withdrawing a simple, but dazzling gold ring with a small floating ruby and two diamonds set in it. He held it out to her, feeling like a three year old revealing a stolen cookie, but she just continued to look at him, the corners of her mouth twitching.
"Are you going to get down on your knee?" she asked amusedly.
Oh, Harry thought stupidly. Merlin, she got me good. Well, he could play this game too.
"No," he said plainly, smiling slightly.
"Why not?" she asked, looking a bit disappointed.
"Because the grass is wet."
"Prat," she muttered to herself, though she knew full well he could hear her.
"Hey, I'm not the one leaving you hanging," Harry said sternly. "Are you going to answer or not?"
"Well," Ginny said dramatically, "I guess I might be 'willing' to marry you."
"Good," Harry said before grabbing her around the waist and kissing her soundly. Ginny placed a hand on his shoulder and pulled him closer. He didn't think anything could go wrong with the world – nothing that he couldn't handle with Ginny by his side. Harry smiled inwardly, deciding that if he had used this memory when fighting Voldemort…
Well, let's just say that love conquers all.
Author's Note (the last one for this story! -tear-) : So, how'd ya like it? If you have an answer to that question, please review! I'm considering writing a sequel in like August or something. Just a long one-shot to explain in further detail a few things, like the eyes! If you're curious about Harry's glowing eyes, you'll wanna keep track of my fics! CHECK MY PROFILE IF YOU WANNA KNOW ABOUT THAT SORT OF THING!
Until then, I'd like to express my thanks.
Special Thanks to : HoofsTails Gal, who has been my beta through this whole story, encoutaged me to keep writing it in the first place, introduced me to and is my one of my bestest friends! Thank you so much, Melissa!
Another special thanks to inky1216 who beta-ed the last two chapters on an emergency basis, making it possible for me to post everything on time rather than next Monday! -claps- Thanks Nikki!
Now, for my anonymous reviewers, I couldn't possibly reply to all your reviews here, but I'm gonna list your names, because I couldn't reply to your reviews! Unless you left an e-mil, but I'm putting your name down anyway if you did.
Thank you to-
daniherself, Melissa, Kayle/Grizgirl, like whoa, coley, jayley, Me, Kate, bug8, aardvark, lily 101, Chocolatier, Mary,Emily, Pooja (that was your name at one time, anyway!), Joanna, lil' lu lu, eeek, and sari.
There are SO many of you regular reviewers that I couldn't possibly list you all, but thank you so much! And thanks particularly to Wolf's scream, who wasn't afraid to question everything andmake me actually thin about what I was writing, even if I sometimes didn't seem to caretoo much for it!
Also, ifyou didn't see on my profile at some point, I have started a C2 called "Good Clean HarryGinny", which is basically good HPGW fics that don't have too much swearing or alcohol, and NO sex (unless they're married and it doesn't actuallytalk about it, except for in a joking manner very briefly.Graphic stuff is... EEEEWWW!). Click on the "C2" tab on my profile page to check it out! Anyway, thank you to:
They help me staff the C2, which I am forever grateful for! If any of you are interested in helping out, feel free to send me a message!
Okay, I really ought to be going now, but let me just say one last thing.
Please review and CHECK MY PROFILE!