(A/N: It's the final chapter, and it's a bit of a tear jerker. Just a warning. Hope you enjoy it.)
Disclaimer: You know it, I know it, everyone knows it. I own nothing.
Chapter 23: True Love
It had been a little over a month since Voldemort had truly been defeated. Harry was once again the hero of the wizarding world, although he never stopped in the first place. It had been just like last time. The celebrating, the excited reporters, the thanking, etc. Harry almost had to get a magical restraining order to keep some reporters away. But now, things were slowly beginning to die down.
It was Saturday. Ginny was out running an errand, no longer worried about being attacked, Michelle was over her grandparents, who were taking her to a wizard zoo, and Harry was in the kitchen, reading the Daily Prophet that was reviewing the outcome of the Death Eaters trials.
Harry finished reading and folded the Prophet and went into his room. He took a trunk out of the closet and opened it. Inside were news reports, articles, and interviews. All had to do with the war. Harry placed the Prophet in with the others. Something caught his attention. It was a magazine. The title read:
HARRY POTTER SPEAKS OUT AT LAST:
THE TRUTH ABOUT HE-WHO-MUST-NOT-BE-NAMED
AND THE NIGHT I SAW HIM RETURN
Harry smiled at the copy of The Quibbler. He remembered giving that interview many years ago. Boy had he made Umbridge mad. Setting the magazine down, Harry saw something else that caught his attention. It was a letter. Harry picked it up and looked at it. It had never been opened. Suddenly realization dawned on Harry, as he realized what he was holding. It was Dumbledore's letter for McGonagall. Harry had put it in here for safe keeping, but with the war ending, the reporters, and everything, he completely forgot.
"Oh my… I didn't… oops. Better deliver this now."
Harry was going to use Snow, but decided it would be better if he personally gave it to McGonagall, and apologize for the delay.
Heading over to the fireplace, Harry threw some Floo Powder into the fire and called out "Hogwarts!"
Stumbling out of the fire, Harry made his way to McGonagall's office, meeting Peeves along the way, who was writing nasty words on the wall.
"Oy Potty!" he cried. "What's the almighty Boy-Who-Lived doing here?"
"Peeves, stop that right now." Harry ordered, referring to what he was writing.
"Sorry, Potty." Peeves sneered. "But you're not working today, so you can't tell me what to do."
He stuck his tongue out at Harry, who pointed his wand and Peeves. Peeves' tongue began to swell until it was too big to fit in his mouth again. Growling angrily, the poltergeist flew off making rude gestures at Harry.
Harry waved his wand again and Peeves' writing vanished, then he continued his way towards McGonagall's office. He was surprised to find Ginny and Luna coming down the stairs of McGonagall's office.
"Harry, what are you doing here?" asked Ginny in surprise.
Harry showed her the letter. "Just delivering this to Minerva."
Ginny's eyes widened in realization. "Harry James Potter is that Dumbedore's letter."
Harry gave her an apologetic smile and nodded.
"Harry that could be something important for the Order."
"I know, Gin." said Harry. "I just forgot. I'm sorry. I'm giving it to her… wait, what are you two doing here."
Ginny and Luna looked at each other, then turned back to Harry.
"Well Harry, we were going to surprise you, Ron, Hermione, and Neville, but…" Ginny grinned. "We've been given job offers."
"Job offers?" Harry was confused. "But Ginny, you're a Curse Breaker. And Luna, you're the editor of The Quibbler. You two have jobs."
"Yes, we know." said Luna. "Daddy easily worked two jobs when he was the editor. So, I'm going to also."
"And I'm going to quit being a Curse Breaker and get a knew job." said Ginny.
"What jobs?" asked Harry.
Ginny and Luna laughed. "Oh Harry, we're going to work here." said Ginny.
"That's right." said Luna. "With Professor Binns gone, there's a new opening here. I'm going to take over History of Magic."
"Really?" said Harry. "Wow that's great. In fact I can't think of anyone better for the job. What about you, Gin."
"Well, Michelle comes here in two years." said Ginny. "That's the same year Slughorn retires. So I'm going to take over Potions."
"Ginny that's wonderful! You would make an excellent teacher. I wish I would have had someone like you instead of Snape."
Ginny blushed. "Thanks Harry. I really wanted to work here in the first place, but there were no positions open. Plus, someone had to take care of Michelle."
Harry kissed her. "I'm so happy for you. You too Luna. When are you planning on telling Ron, Hermione, and Neville?"
"We're not." said Luna smiling. "They'll find out about me next year when I start, and they'll find out about Ginny when she starts."
"Wow, this is great." said Harry. "All six of us, working at Hogwarts together. That's going to be… oh damn, I forgot about the letter again. Better do that now."
"Mind if I join you?" asked Ginny.
"No, not at all. Luna?"
"I'll wait for you two out here." she said.
"Alright. Be out in a bit."
Harry and Ginny walked up the marble stairs and knocked on McGonagall's door.
Harry came in followed by Ginny.
"Harry, Ginny. What brings you here? Or really Harry, what brings you here, and Ginny back here?"
"I have something for you." said Harry.
"It's, uh, a letter from Albus."
McGonagall's eyes widened as she took the letter.
"Would you like us to leave?" asked Ginny.
"No, that won't be necessary." McGonagall replied, opening the letter.
Harry and Ginny watched her face as she read. Several emotions passed over it. Sadness, joy, loss, humor, sadness again, and finally regret.
If Harry and Ginny hadn't been witnessing it, they never would have believed it if anyone told them that Minerva McGonagall was crying.
Setting down the letter McGonagall dried her eyes. "I suppose you want to know what that was about.
"No, that's ok." Harry replied quickly. "It's between you and Albus."
"No Harry. I feel that you have a right to know." said McGonagall. "There's something between me and Albus that hardly anyone knew. Just before Voldemort came to power, Albus and I were engaged to be married."
Both Harry and Ginny's mouths dropped open. They looked at each other with open shock. Harry knew McGonagall was loyal to Dumbledore, but he never would have guessed this.
"What happened?" asked Ginny.
McGonagall took a deep breath. "He proposed to me a few short days before Voldemort came out into the open. We were going to announce our engagement when the Dark Lord declared war.
"It was terrible. He struck so suddenly. People were dieing left and right. Albus knew that Voldemort wanted him dead. That he would do whatever it took to kill him. He knew he used those closest to his enemies to get to them. And so Albus, being his noble self did something that you should know all too well, Harry."
Now Harry was catching on. Dumbledore did the same thing Harry had done with Ginny years ago. Broken up with the one he loved to protect them.
"Albus was afraid Voldemort would come after me to get to him." said McGonagall. Tears were pouring down her cheeks again. "He told me, he didn't want me to get hurt because of him. He wanted to hold off our wedding, and keep our engagement a secret until Voldemort was dealt with. He told me he loved me too much for me to get hurt, and he didn't want to risk it, no matter how much he wanted to be with me.
"I knew why he was doing it. But that didn't mean I wanted it to happen. I told him that I was willing to take the risks to be with him. That I loved him enough to put myself in danger. But Albus wouldn't let it be so. He cared too deeply for me. But he said that once this war was over, he would return to me, if I would still have him.
"I told him I would wait for him forever. I gave him my engagement ring and told him to keep it safe until he returned to me."
She picked up the envelope the letter was in and turned it over. A diamond ring tumbled out. McGonagall picked it up and stared at it. She began crying even harder. Harry wasn't surprised to find tears in his eyes too. He looked at Ginny and saw she was crying as well. He reached for her hand and interlocked their fingers as McGonagall continued.
"That day, when you stopped Voldemort, I thought Albus and I could finally be together again. That was the real reason I was at your aunt and uncle's house that night when Albus left you there. But Albus didn't think the danger was over. He knew Voldemort would return. He wasn't willing to risk being with me again. Just like he wasn't willing to risk you being out of your mother's protection.
"The day that Albus died was the worst day of my life. I felt my only chance for happiness die with him. And then I watched as you left Ginny for the same reason Albus left me. I wanted to stop you. To let you know that you should not let go of what you love, for it will only make things worse. But I couldn't, because I knew why you were doing it."
She sighed and wiped her eyes again. "You and Ginny are very lucky. A love like yours is a true love. Never let it go. I am glad you could have what Albus and I could not. This letter was Albus's apology and way of letting me know he stilled loved me. Even death can't separate our love. Even now, I am willing to wait for him. I know we will be together again. Until then," she put the ring on her finger, "all I have is our memories, and our love. Thank you Harry."
Harry and Ginny saw that it was time to leave. Slowly they exited the office, leaving McGonagall lost deep in thought.
Luna was waiting for them outside. Neville and Ron were there talking with her. They looked up when Harry and Ginny came down.
"What's up guys, we… are you two crying?" said Ron.
"It's nothing." said Harry. "Don't worry about it."
"How did it go?" asked Luna.
Harry and Ginny shrugged.
"Well we were talking about all of us going out tonight." said Ron. "What do you say?"
Harry and Ginny smiled. "That sounds great." said Ginny.
"Alright, then lets go get Hermione and we'll be off." said Ron. "She'll be in her classroom. She said something important for her classroom was coming today."
"Probably an new book." said Harry, as they walked towards Hermione's classroom.
They opened the door to find Hermione fusing over a giant silver mirror.
"What's that?" asked Ron.
Hermione turned excitedly to Ron. "Oh Ron I'm glad you're… oh, hello everyone." she said, noticing the others.
"What's up?" said Ginny. "And what is that?"
"This is what I've been waiting for." said Hermione excitedly. "It's for my Transfiguration class. It's an Animagus Mirror."
"A what?" asked Harry, Ron, Ginny, and Neville.
"An Animagus Mirror." said Luna. "I've heard of them. They're extremely rare. When you look into them, they show your Animagus form. Oh, let me see."
"Me too." cried Ginny.
"And me." said Ron.
The six of them crowded around the mirror and gasped at their reflections. Hermione was a brown owl with rather bushy feathers, symbolizing her hair. Ron was a fox, whose fur was as red as his hair. Neville, surprisingly, was a lion, its mane as dark as his hair. Luna was a unicorn, with bright white fur and dirty blond hair on her back and tail. Ginny was a cat, similar to Crookshanks, but her fur was more red. And Harry was a bright red phoenix, with a black beak. The end of his tail, wings, and back of his head feathers were a golden yellow, and just above his emerald green eyes was a dark blue lightning bolt.
"Wicked." said Ron. "This must have been expensive."
"It's school property, Ron." said Hermione. "The school paid for it."
"This is awesome." said Neville. "Do you think we could try to become Animaguses? Could you teach us Hermione?"
"Sure. We could work on it over the summer." said Hermione, sounding even more excited. "We would need to get ministry approval first."
"Oh, I don't think that will be a problem. Seeing that Dad is the minister." said Ginny.
"Then we'll start once school lets out." said Hermione beaming. Suddenly she seemed to realize that everyone, besides Ron, were never here on weekends. "Wait a minute. What are you all doing here anyway?"
"Yeah, I was wondering that too." said Ron.
Ginny and Luna turned to each other and gave each other the same look that they did when Harry first found them.
"It's a surprise." they said together.
Harry laughed. "Come on, Hermione, we're all going out tonight. Just the six of us."
"Oh, that sounds great." cried Hermione. "Lets go."
"Ginny, can you stay behind a moment?" asked Harry.
"Of course." she replied, a little confused.
The others left the room, leaving Harry and Ginny behind.
"What's wrong?" asked Ginny.
"Nothing." said Harry. "I was just thinking, about Albus and Minerva."
"I never would have thought that him and her…"
"I know. It's quite a shock. But I guess that's what the point was. I feel so bad for them."
"I know. And I almost made the same mistake." He took Ginny's hands in his. "I love you Ginny, I don't want to lose you."
Ginny laughed. "Harry, you'll never lose me. You're the best thing that ever happened to me. I remember the day you asked Mum how to get on the platform, I had a crush on you immediately. And after you saved me from the Chamber of Secrets I was completely in love with you. And I am even more now. It seems that Minerva and I have something in common. She was willing to wait forever for Albus and I was willing to wait forever for you. I would even wait for you in death, just like Minerva." She leaned forward and kissed him. "I know we've been through a lot together, but it was worth it in the end. It's finally over. Voldemort and his remaining Death Eaters are finished. This time for good." She kissed him again with more passion this time.
"Thank you Ginny." said Harry.
"For making my life complete."
Ginny laughed. "You're welcome. And thank you for making mine complete. Now come on, lets not keep the others waiting."
Harry smiled. Hand in hand, they walked into the world free of darkness.
(A/N: Well that ends my story. Voldemort and his followers have been vanquished for good and peace has been returned to the wizarding world. But how long will it last? There is still more to come. I have one final story to write before my Harry Potter saga is over. More twists, more danger, more answers to unanswered questions. If you liked this story, check out my last and final Harry Potter story. "Harry Potter and Azkaban's Oldest Prisoner", coming soon to a computer near you.)