Disclaimer: Not Mine
Author's Note: Well, here is the epilogue for your enjoyment. I hope you like reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. Thanks to everyone for their support with reviews and such I have loved every one of them.
Issues of a future.
They say that you can never really know a person until you have lived a life in their shoes. Perhaps they're right – whoever 'they' are. I do know one thing, though, and that is, if someone gives you their all - all the time - if they let you see their soul in each word and tender touch and with every breath they take, you can learn to believe you know who they are and you can begin to trust again.
That's what Harry has done for me.
He deserves so much of my respect for insisting that we take things slowly, even after I overcame my reservations. Or thought I had anyway. Once I was free, it felt like so much baggage just dropped away and disappeared, I think I felt healed. And I tested him. Pushed him to consummate our relationship properly. In some way I thought if I could possess him in the most intimate way possible, then he wouldn't leave me behind; wouldn't forget me.
During those few weeks of incarceration I was either living on the edge of death or flying jubilantly, victorious, and all through it he was the one thing I clung to. But he knew that there'd be scars and, whilst I may have been able to hide them, afterwards I don't think I would have been able to sort through my feelings enough to continue loving him. There would have been too many similarities, too many associations between forced sex and sex I'd forced myself to have before I was ready. It would have broken us apart.
He'd always been this larger than life figure – even when I taunted him mercilessly at school there was an overriding grasping quality to it, like I was trying to raise myself to be seen in the sun alongside him. Even though ultimately all I was doing was being a contrast. Light and dark, good and evil. And until sixth year, I never completely saw the chasm of difference between the two. We were kids. Just kids.
We still are kids, though right now, watching Ron and Hermione take their vows, the world agrees we've grown up. Never thought I'd ever see the day when I'd happily attend a Weasley wedding. And be welcomed at it.
Surrounded by Harry's family – they're worming their way into becoming mine, too, - I can watch him in his comfort zone. He's so strong; he stands by Ron, dressed in a gorgeous tuxedo, solid like a rock. He's their rock as much as they are his. Family. That's what it's all about. Being welcomed into the bosom of this one took a lot of getting used to but I have to say it's more rewarding than I could have imagined, even if red hair in my nightmares still gives me the vapours. Harry takes care of me, though, and has slowly but surely integrated me into his life.
Life. What a wondrous word. Believe me, when you think it's gone, you realise how much you didn't get to live it. Given a second chance you grasp it to yourself with every finger and toe, just so nothing slips past you ever again.
After the trial – which seems like a dim memory now, even though it was only a year ago – Harry showed that characteristic bravery and defended me. Although his 'jump in without thinking and then work out how to escape' attitude sometimes caused more problems than there should have been, I never ever doubted that he would stand by me. The press hounded us for weeks, months really. They still take every opportunity to harass him when they catch him in public but at least they're not camped on the doorstep anymore. But Harry steadfastly refused to speak about our relationship. Told them that it was his own business and he deserved some privacy.
After he'd hexed a couple of reporters for insulting me, that is. Oh, come on, they were harmless hexes that only cracked the camera lenses. I love that he was angry enough to stand up for me. He's my hero.
I say that in all sincerity actually, even though it sounds like I was being facetious. I can honestly say he saved my life. I know everyone helped and I think they're all heroes but if you tell any of them I said that I will deny it vehemently and then claim revenge by making good use of one of the twins' new inventions.
Those two are too clever for their own good sometimes but now I've finished the last year of school, they've hired me as a special adviser to check over their products to ensure that they don't cross the line into Dark Arts. So, I feel useful and I am earning my own living. I help out in their workshop, too. There are a lot of hush-hush projects on the go for the new 'corruption-free' Ministry. Kingsley has contacts within the Unspeakables and he is sounding out the viability of a position for me with them. Father would roll over in his grave.
I'm not in a rush though. I am still heady from the brilliance that is Harry. Getting to know him properly and having him wrap himself around me at night to keep me safe is one of the most challenging yet ultimately rewarding experiences of my life. And I say that without a trace of sarcasm.
He wakes me every morning with a kiss, like Sleeping Beauty. He is Prince Charming extraordinaire. He personifies it.
Oh, don't get me wrong, he's not perfect; he farts like an old dog if he eats too much meat. He still leaves his clothes lying about the room like he has a phobia of closets. And combs too, because his hair refuses to budge for one, so I think he just gives up most days and leaves it messy. The shower looks like a whole horde of people have been through it when he's finished; water and wet towels everywhere. When he heads off to Auror training it takes me half an hour to clean up after him. If only he would allow house-elves.
Small price to pay I guess.
We've discussed whether or not to tell my story in the hope that it might help someone else, but I can't do it. That was my private hell. Harry's been in there through a few Pensieve memories I extracted for him and the first thing he did when he returned was to take me in his arms and promise me that nothing would ever hurt me again. Silly, really, when you think about it logically. Something is bound to hurt me sooner or later but, wrapped up in those arms of his, I believe him. I feel safe and cherished and protected.
I love him for more than that, though.
He continued on with his campaign of stopping the forced use of Veritaserum even though, when my brush with it became public knowledge, the fight was almost won. Nothing like being an example, I say. But he pressed on, encouraged the Prophet to keep printing Sully's stories, harassed Scrimgeour and whoever else would listen until the full bench of the Wizengamot agreed to sit and debate the matter. Close run things are a Potter specialty I've learned, but he won with a narrow majority four months after the trial.
We celebrated with a quiet weekend at home.
And by making love for the first time.
Talk about not easing up on the tension. All strung out by the victory we almost stumbled into it, but it felt right, even though my whole body was shaking, trying not to have flashbacks. That night is another story and is so close to my heart that I'll not share. I'm selfish like that. Too many people know too much about our lives as it is.
The vicar is reading out the vows and had this been a couple of years ago it would have made me sick to my stomach, but now…
"To love, honour and cherish for as long as you both shall live…"
Trust Hermione to insist on a Muggle service. Wizards don't generally use that wording but it's really profound. Who knew that they were capable of such depth? It's almost like an Unbreakable vow. I wonder how Ron will cope with those vows when Hermione has spent the last five days on a mission for the Freedom Press and hasn't slept or showered and her frizzy hair is like a bird's nest around her head.
Looking at him, I don't think he cares terribly much. Love really is blind. He'd better find his sight though because I have charged him with looking after my Harry while they are on the job. I want Harry to return home to me each night and look at me the way Ron looks at Hermione.
Harry turns his gaze on me now as if he can hear my thoughts. There's deep affection in his eyes and I know I am glowing under his regard. It sounds really quite sappy but I've learned Harry likes me to be open about my feelings for him.
Of course, if he's making me so sappy that my stomach rolls over in fright, then I lace his pumpkin juice with a laxative. That soon wipes the sappy grin off his face.
But then I miss the grin and feel guilty - not that I'd tell him that - and so I take care of him until he's well enough to punish me. I've discovered that a light spanking is most pleasurable when it's Harry's hand. He caresses my skin as much as reddens it. It's different than…before. It's my choice now.
We still have a long way to go to being healed. Both of us still have nightmares, but there's company for our fright and misery and neither of us would have it any other way. We both rely on each other and trust is a given.
He follows the wedding party out of the chapel and I realise that I missed the rest of the service just thinking about Harry. My Harry. Mine.
As he passes me by, his hand reaches for my face. He leans in and whispers softly against my cheek, "It will be our turn one day."
I think I break the sun with my smile.