Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter. None of the FanFiction writers do. J.K. Rowling, in her great and infinite wisdom, she who paired him with Ginny, does, though she is unworthy of it, in my humble opinion.
Author's Note: I was greatly heartened by the trickle of reviews that came through, despite my long delay in updating. It's always nice to know that there are always people out there reading my work.
For SwishAndFlick31, pstibbons, MiKaYGiRl and ProperT. Thanks for hanging in there every step of the way. I would have abandoned this story long ago if it wasn't for your support and encouragement.
The first thing Harry did after leaving Hermione's cottage was to go back to the park bench and thank the elderly gentleman warmly. He was astonished initially, to say the least, but a smile did spread across his face. As Harry left to return to the guesthouse, a sad look flickered in the man's eyes, one that spoke of deep regret and loss. He still missed his wife.
The burly Scot was in the lounge, smoking a vile, obviously hand-rolled cigar of the kind usually found in rural Scotland when Harry entered. He didn't linger, proceeding straight up the stairs into his room, missing out on overhearing the Scot's conversation with a sceptical Japanese boarder about a rogue owl hooting in the guesthouse. It would certainly have brought a smile to Harry's lips, if he wasn't already grinning from ear to ear.
Harry packed his things with a speed that was remarkable, even for magic. He was hurrying downstairs with his suitcases in less than five minutes after he came through the front door.
His Scottish friend spotted him as Harry dragged the last of his stuff down the stairs. "Are you leaving already?" he asked, wrinkling his brow.
"Yes," he replied, dropping his case with a thud in front of the reception desk, "I've got things to do back home in London."
The Scot extended a brawny hand genially and Harry clasped it. The two men shook hands heartily and the Scot clapped him on the back.
"Nice knowing you, mon. Visit me if you ever drop by fine old Edinburgh, alright?"
"If you'll look me up in London."
Just then, Mrs Thomas came back from her grocery shopping. Harry was eager to check out as quickly as he could and with a last nod to his friend, walked back to the reception desk.
"Bide a wee!" called a thickly-accented voice. "We never exchanged names, now, did we? I'm Robert McGonagall!"
Harry stopped short and turned to face him. "You wouldn't be related to Minerva McGonagall by any chance, would you?"
"She's my aunt. I really don't know very much about her, my mum hardly mentions her. Why?"
Harry suppressed a grin at the bewildered look on Robert's face.
"I think we'll be meeting very soon, Robert."
Leaving it at that, he strode across the room and placed both hands on the desk. Mrs Thomas appeared a second later, emerging from the kitchen with a rather harassed look on her face which became more pronounced when she saw who was standing there.
"Checking out already, Mr Potter? You've only been here a few days!"
"I'm feeling much better now, Mrs Thomas," he said, grinning. "Thanks so much for your hospitality over my stay."
Without warning, he suddenly leaned over the desk and engulfed her in a massive bear hug.
Mrs Thomas was shocked, to say the least. She was even more astonished when he released her with a quick peck on the cheek.
"My goodness," she muttered, two spots of colour forming high on her face. Busying herself with the logbook, she made a show of not meeting Harry's eyes, which were undoubtedly dancing with mischief. "I can certainly see that your stay here has…invigorated you."
Filling in a few more lines of text in her spidery handwriting, she closed the heavy book with a snap.
"That will be all, Mr Potter. Thank you for patronising my little guesthouse." The last words were delivered in a dreamy tone, most unlike the brisk little woman's demeanour.
Harry paused, halfway through fumbling with a wad of pound notes. "What?"
"You heard me," she snapped abruptly, reverting back to her normal tone of voice. "Now get out before I throw you out!" Much to his relief, the last sentence was delivered with a wink.
"Don't I have to pay?" he asked, confusion furrowing his brow.
"No, consider it as staying with your aunt or something. Always glad to help out friends of Dean."
A warm smile lit up Harry's face. "Then please do me the honour of coming to my wedding."
"You're getting married?" asked Mrs Thomas eagerly. "To whom, may I enquire?"
Harry flashed her his most devilish smile. "You'll see when you get there. I'll send you a formal invitation."
Much to his surprise, she flashed back an equally wicked smile. "I'll be waiting. Goodbye for now, Mr Potter. Oh, and by the way, you look cute when you're confused, you know."
Smirking all over, she swept back into the kitchen, leaving a slack-jawed, shocked Harry Potter standing there. Did Dean's aunt just flirt with me?
Eventually, he recovered sufficiently to grab his suitcases and make his way back to Hermione's cottage. The lingering hint of a smile still remained. This town really is full of surprises.
Hermione and Jessie had already packed their things and were ready to move when he arrived. The little girl was sulking, even when Harry picked her up and kissed her on the cheek.
"I don't see why we have to move…all my friends are here in the town…my room is just the way I like it…" she mumbled, clutching a well-worn stuffed Hippogriff.
Harry picked up a kettle from the kitchen, murmuring "Portus," and setting it down onto the grass as it shimmered and hummed.
Hermione eyed the kettle with some degree of apprehension. "So where are we going, Harry?" she asked casually.
"It's a surprise," he told her, wrapping his arm around her waist and pulling her closer. "You'll see when we get there."
Giggling in a most un-Hermione fashion, she pecked him on the cheek. "I don't like surprises."
He laughed and kissed her back. "This is a good one, trust me."
Hermione went to collect Jessie from where she had been roaming morosely around the house, bidding a private farewell to it.
They gathered around the kettle Portkey, Hermione making sure no Muggles saw them as Harry checked his watch. "One more minute," he muttered, tugging on the leather strap binding one of the suitcases. "Ten – Jessie, don't move! 'Mione, hold her hand…Five, four, three, two, one."
He felt the familiar, irresistible jerk in the region of his navel almost immediately as he watched his family swirl around him. Almost as instantaneously as it dissolved, the environment reformed and solidified.
They were standing in front of a house, a three-storey structure with beautiful stone carvings adorning the window sills. The words 'Godric's Hollow' were engraved in curling Victorian script on a brass nameplate hanging outside.
"It's…This is…" Hermione was speechless for a moment, transfixed by the house, before she turned back to Harry.
Tears were forming in his eyes, blurring their brilliant green colour. "I bought back the plot before the War and had the house rebuilt. It was supposed to be a surprise for you after we killed Voldemort."
She leaned her head on his chest, feeling the steady rhythm of his heartbeat. "I'm sorry," she whispered.
Hermione felt his hand moving up her back, coming to rest on her head, fingers twirling and tangling themselves in her hair. "Don't be. It was my fault as well. I shouldn't have gotten angry at you."
She tilted her head upwards, losing herself in his emerald eyes even as her hands slid around his neck. Drawing her into the comforting circle of his embrace, they touched foreheads, breaths intermingling, feeling the warmth of each other.
Harry and Hermione remained locked in their embrace, neither wanting to break the spell that had been weaved mysteriously over them. Jessie impatiently plopped herself down onto a suitcase, bored of waiting but too well-behaved to interrupt her parents. Finally, her five-year-old patience worn thin, she crawled under the gate and ran inside the garden to explore her new home.
"We had better go in," smiled Harry, kissing the tip of Hermione's nose. "Our future is waiting."
The wedding of Harry Potter and Hermione Granger less than two weeks later sent shockwaves through the wizarding world, particularly for single witches still holding out for Britain's most eligible bachelor. On the other hand, it sent Rita Skeeter's Quick Quotes Quill absolutely wild, churning out article after article filled with speculations and so-called 'exclusive interviews'.
All of the couple's friends and their respective families from their Hogwarts days were invited, naturally. Skeeter tried to infiltrate the wedding reception in her Animagus form but was comically chased away by an aging Crookshanks who had been adopted by the Weasley family when Hermione disappeared.
Ron and Luna arrived the day before the actual wedding, bringing the oddest wedding present in wizarding history: a wedding carriage covered in Icelandic motifs, drawn by a team of Crumple-horned Snorkacks.
"I couldn't believe those ruddy things actually existed," commented Ron after he had clapped Harry on the back and whirled Hermione about. "The carriage was Luna's idea too. That woman comes up with the strangest ideas," he added, a fond look in his eye.
Jessie enjoyed herself immensely. She was spoilt rotten by everybody, especially Mr and Mrs Weasley, with constant attention and affection. Even more exciting was the bridesmaid's dress being hand-sewn for her by the Weasley women. Not many kids could boast of being the bridesmaid at their parents' wedding.
When Dean arrived, Lavender Brown on his arm, he got the shock of his life when he saw his aunt proudly sitting in the guest of honour's seat, wearing a smart lavender outfit.
"Aunt Rachel?!" he gasped, mouth opening and closing in astonishment. "What in Merlin's name are you doing here?"
"Attending Mr Potter's wedding to Jane Granger, as are you," snapped the elderly lady briskly.
"You are aware that this is a magical wedding?"
"It's a magical day for all young couples," she said icily.
"Magical as in wizarding, I mean."
"Of course I do. You don't think that my own sister wouldn't tell me that my nephew is a wizard?"
Dean's jaw dropped lower than before, if that was even possible.
The irrepressible old lady winked salaciously at him. "I know a lot of things, sweetie. Though discovering Jane Granger was actually Hermione Granger was a surprise for me too."
"You know who Hermione Granger is??" Dean was beyond astonished now. Flabbergasted was probably closer, but still a long way off from describing his reaction accurately.
Mrs Thomas shrugged. "Who wouldn't know the hero of the wizarding world and his brilliant best friend? Minerva McGonagall is a good friend of mine, after all. Her nephew was also briefly staying at my guesthouse with Mr Potter." Her eyes narrowed, piercing her nephew's. "I don't have to let everyone know what I know, after all. They'd be shocked beyond belief."
His mind had completely shut down now, totally incapable of absorbing new information. He tottered over to his seat and collapsed heavily, Lavender supporting him as he went.
The instant he sat down, music began playing and the carriage pulled up outside the hall.
It was the fairy-tale wedding of the century, attended by wizard and Muggle alike. Rubeus Hagrid sat at the back with Grawp, dabbing his eyes with a tablecloth-sized handkerchief and occasionally blowing his nose with a deafening blast.
At Hermione's explicit request, the house elves of each attending family were seated in front. Led by Dobby, they managed to enjoy their temporary freedom for the day, even Winky.
The Daily Prophet featured a massive front page article covering the wedding, which had been mysteriously written by Skeeter. As it turned out, she'd been chased into a bouquet of flowers and stayed there, rather than risk being squashed by Crookshanks, an experience she never recounted. For the rest of her life after that, Skeeter developed a fear of cats, especially large orange tiger-like ones.
Harry and Hermione were too happy to care, away on their honeymoon around the world while Jessie stayed with the Weasleys, getting to know her new extended family.
Seven months after they returned and settled down comfortably in Godric's Hollow and much to Jessie's delight, a baby boy they named James Ronald was born. He was quickly followed by Elizabeth Ginevra, Andrew Brian, and Emily Kathleen, giving Harry the large and loving family he'd always dreamed of.
Harry got a job as an Auror with the Ministry while Hermione applied for and got a position as a Healer. Meanwhile, Dobby insisted on becoming the Potters' house elf despite strong protests from Hermione. He ended up being the most well-paid and the only elf in history to have medical insurance.
And of course, they lived happily ever after.
Author's Note: Sorry for the rushed ending. I was trying to finish this by midnight. Hope you enjoyed the update and thank you for supporting me every step of the way. Until next time.