The Harry Potter universe and all the characters in it belong to J. K. Rowling. I get nothing out of this except enjoyment.
Preliminary Author's Comments – Here it is, the final chapter of the 'real story', along with the requisite happy ending. It is also my final opportunity for a rant … er, diatribe … um no, let's call it sharing my thoughts.
This story is, at its essence, a love story, and I would argue that JKR's story is as well. And love stories don't always have satisfying endings – for example the movie that was the inspiration for the plot twist that caused such a stir in my story, The Notebook., which movingly depicts the love shown by a husband for his wife who suffers from Alzheimer's and doesn't even remember him. It's a heartbreaking story, and the happiest moment in the movie is followed seconds later by the saddest, as the true horror of the situation is revealed to the viewer. But it is an example of the most selfless kind of love I can imagine. Those who find themselves in this tragic circumstance in real life have my utmost respect.
Getting back to the Harry Potter story, the books contain several great examples of love, as well as some examples of what love is not. Unfortunately, I think that many people don't truly understand what love is. Love does not manifest itself simply by warm fuzzy feelings. It is not conveyed by what you say. The words, 'I love you' mean nothing without being confirmed by actions. The true evidence of love is how you treat another person, your behavior. You show love by what you do, not by what you feel or by what you say.
Love is patient and kind. Love is not envious, proud, or boastful. It is not rude or self-seeking or easily angered. It does not keep a record of wrongs, but rather rejoices in another's triumph. In other words, you're happy when good things happen to a loved one, not jealous because they got something you didn't. Love is wanting and doing the best thing for another person, thinking of them rather than yourself.
The obvious first example of love is Lily's sacrificing her life for Harry. Love, pure and simple. Another is Harry's 'saving people thing' which culminates in him giving himself up to Voldemort in the hope that his friends might survive the battle.
In my opinion, the most dominant, recurring example of love in the books is Hermione's love for Harry. Over and over again, from the first book to the last, she shows her love for him by her actions. She repeatedly puts his interests ahead of her own, acting completely contrary to her nature, breaking rules, flouting authority, even lying to teachers. Always because she's trying to help Harry. She abandons her parents, leaving in the middle of a skiing vacation to rush to Harry's aid when she learns of his distress after Nagini's attack on Arthur. She shows up at his room without even having removed her coat. And she ultimately gives up her family entirely, sending them off to Australia with all memories of herself erased.
Even her conflicts with Harry stem from actions she takes which are motivated by her concern for him – turning in the Firebolt, and objecting to his use of the potions book primarily because she thinks it's dangerous. She's not perfect, as her jealousy of his doing better than her in potions was an additional motivation for her disapproval of the book, but overall her primary concern throughout all seven years of the story is his welfare.
I will admit that there is little evidence in the books that Hermione's feelings for Harry are anything other than platonic, but that doesn't mean it's not complete and unreserved love. However, writers of fanfiction who want to develop a love interest between Harry and Hermione (like me) don't have to add anything to Hermione's character, and can easily extrapolate from what is written.
Harry is a different story, as he is rarely shown to respond in kind. There are a few instances, but not many, the best being his concern that she doesn't know about the troll and rushing off to find (and ultimately save) her and his seeking her out after Ron has upset her on two occasions in Book 6. But for the most part, Harry is pretty self-centered. That was definitely the most frustrating thing for me when I read the books, and the characteristic of his that I always change in my stories.
Prime examples in the books of what is NOT love include Snape's feelings for Lily, and Ron and Hermione's relationship. In every memory we see of Snape's interactions with Lily, he's always concerned about his own interests, never about what's best for her. He lies to her about the nature of Slytherin House, hoping she'll be sorted there – for his benefit, not hers. The ultimate evidence that what he feels for her is not love is when he's willing to allow Voldemort to kill her husband and son, if only the dark lord will let her survive (so Snape can have her to himself).
Ron's behavior toward Hermione in the books consistently and thoroughly illustrates what love is not. Anger, jealousy, resentment, putting her down, intentionally making her cry (I'm talking about Book 6, not Book 1). Snogging Lavender to even the score when he's told she snogged Krum two years before! (Hermione does the same thing, to a lesser extent, when she dates McLaggen for the specifically stated, sole reason that it will irritate Ron.) And finally, even though he's supposed turned over a new leaf and trying to win her affections, deserting her and Harry, and accusing her of choosing Harry over him.
It's the nightmare of parents of teenage girls everywhere. Why on earth would she want to be with a guy who treats her so badly? (Note that I am not speaking from personal experience here – none of my daughters have acted so foolishly, thank God.)
Time to get off my soap box and get on with the story. Thank you for your patience.
Final Year, Chapter 15 – Rosie's Plan
Rose Potter was a girl on a mission. After hearing the entire story, she was determined to find a way to get her parents back together. The relationship they'd had, and the degree to which they'd loved each other, made her heart ache. She knew that her mother had searched relentlessly for a cure, but perhaps there was something else she could try.
Ever since she'd received her Hogwarts letter, an idea had been forming in the back of her mind, and now was the time to try to make it happen. But it had to be presented just right.
The next Saturday she hurried her father away into another room as soon as they'd arrived, only letting her mother introduce herself to him twice. Meanwhile, Hermione stayed a few minutes to talk with Harry's nurse.
"Daddy," Rose began after they'd chatted a bit about their activities of the week, and how they wanted to spend the day. "I've been thinking about boyfriends."
Harry's head snapped back and his eyes widened. "You're too young for a boyfriend," he blurted out immediately.
Rose lifted her chin and cocked her head. "I'm eleven years old and I'm going off to boarding school in the fall. In two years I'll be a teenager. Maybe not right now, but pretty soon …"
Harry just shook his head. How was his little girl growing up so fast?
"When do you think you had your first girlfriend?" the young girl asked with an impish grin.
Harry shrugged. "I have no idea. I don't even know how many girlfriends I had."
"What about dating?" Rose persisted. "Or maybe even kissing a girl?" She had this romantic notion of how he might be cured by 'true love's kiss', and wanted to set some groundwork.
"No, not really," Harry mused, trying to navigate the large empty spaces in his memory. "Although …"
"Yes?" Rose asked eagerly.
"I think I remember my first kiss," Harry offered. "At least I suppose it was. It was pretty embarassing."
"Go on," his daughter urged.
"Well," he continued, rubbing his temples in concentration. "She had long black hair … oriental, Chinese, I think … Cho was her name … Oh!" His face reddened as the image became clearer. "I don't think I can tell you the rest."
Rose suddenly figured out what incident her father was recalling and gasped. Harry heard her and immediately panicked about what his daughter might think had happened. "No, no, it wasn't … I mean, she, erm, did something uh, inappropriate, and I ran out of the room."
Rose giggled at her father's discomfort. "What did she do, take off all of her clothes?"
Harry just stared at the young girl who was much too mature for her age, then realized that she must already know the story. But if that were the case …
"Oh my, was … was that your mother?" he stammered. "But … no, it couldn't be. You don't look anything like her." Rose quickly reassured him that Cho was most certainly not her mother, and after a while the two were able to joke about the incident.
Meanwhile, in an adjoining room, behind a one-way mirror, Hermione's shoulders slumped as she turned away from the picture and shut off the sound feed. "Oh, Susan, it's just not fair!" she protested. "That he remembers kissing Cho but not me!"
Susan hugged her friend and commiserated with her. "You know why, Hermione. It's because he never loved her, not a bit."
"I know," Hermione sniffed. "It's just so hard. Sometimes I don't know how much longer I can take it."
"Hermione, you're the strongest person I know," Susan replied encouragingly. "It's just amazing to see how you've handled it all these years. And everything you've done, all the potions and mental exercises you've come up with for us to try with him have been incredible. And you know what the experts you've been working with tell us. It could happen. Something could trigger it, and he could break free. We just have to keep trying and have faith."
"I know, Susan, I know," Hermione sighed. "It's just that … every time I see him and introduce myself again I'm hoping that this will be the time, that something inside him will click and he'll recognize me. But each time I look into his eyes there's no hint that he has any idea who I am. And now, with Rose going off to Hogwarts in the fall there won't be any regular opportunities to come into contact with him. I'm just not sure what we'll do then."
Susan hugged her again. "We'll work something out. You'll see."
In the next room, Rose had also directed the conversation with her father in another, though related, direction.
"Dad, I'm worried about Mum," she confessed. "You know I'm leaving for boarding school in the fall, and I think she'll be really lonely when I'm gone."
Harry put an arm around her and hugged her to himself. "I expect you're right. I'll really miss you too. Are you sure you have to go?"
Rose nodded. She couldn't explain just why she had to leave, since her father didn't know about magic, or Hogwarts. It was something he'd have to accept without understanding, but he was well aware that there were many things in his life like that, and was used to it by now.
She took a deep breath and continued. "I want Mum to have another baby."
Harry's eyes widened again and his jaw dropped. It took him several seconds to respond to this bombshell. "You mean she … with … who? No … no, that's not what you're saying. You want me … you think I should …?"
Amazingly, Rose followed this ramble perfectly. "Exactly. Then you'd both have another child to care for and I'd have a baby brother or sister. It would be perfect."
"But … but I don't even know your mother!" Harry pointed out. "Obviously, I don't even know what she looks like," he added, referring to their earlier conversation.
"You see her every week, Dad," Rose countered, while managing to refrain from rolling her eyes. "She's the woman who brings me over here."
Harry frowned, trying to recall the woman in question. He knew that an adult had accompanied his daughter on her visits, but anything else about her escaped his memory. "So, it's always the same person, then?" he asked.
"Yes, Dad, and you always ask her name and she always tells you," Rose replied, deciding not to go into detail about the whole 'pretty name' bit.
"See, I can't even remember her name." Harry slumped back dejectedly. He wanted so much to solve this mystery, not only for Rose's sake, but also her mother's, not to mention his own.
"Look," Rose responded, trying another approach. "Can you remember the names of your helpers?"
"You mean like Nurse Bones?" he asked. "Sure." Rose's eyes widened. Bones! Could it be?
Harry misinterpreted her reaction. "Yeah, I think it's pretty funny, too. Nurse Bones. I've told her she should have been an orthopedic surgeon instead of a nurse. That would be even more ironic."
"So," Rose wondered, thinking fast, "How much do you know about her?"
Harry shrugged. "Not much. She and the other nurses keep things pretty professional. She's not married, and she hired on here shortly after she left school. The early years are kinda fuzzy for me, you know."
Rose's mind was running in overdrive. This might be another angle she could try; if her father could establish a new relationship with someone he'd known before, it might also work with her mother. "Well, how about if you just think of my mother as 'Rose's mum'?"
Harry cocked his head and gave her a quizzical look. "I suppose it's worth a try."
That afternoon as Harry and Rose returned to the front room where Hermione and Susan waited for them Harry caught Rose's eye and she gave a slight nod. Harry took a deep breath, and noted that his pulse rate had sped up. "Hi Nurse Bones," he greeted his 'keeper', "Hi Rosie's mum."
Hermione could only stand open-mouthed as Rose chimed in briskly. "Hi Mum. Nurse Bones, can I talk with you for a bit?" Susan nodded in surprise and allowed herself to be led away.
As soon as they were alone, Rose blurted out, "Are you Susan Bones, who was with Mum and Dad at school?"
Susan blinked several times, still not quite sure what had just happened. This was quite possibly the bossiest little girl she'd ever met. That thought generated a chuckle. Actually, it was a probably a tie between the girl and her mother. She looked down into Rose's intent gaze and smiled.
"Yes, I am. I assumed you already knew that, but I guess I was wrong," she answered.
"So, are all of Dad's other nurses magical too?" Rose wondered.
"Yes, we all are," Susan confirmed. "Your mum decided that she needed someone watching him all the time, especially in the beginning as he adjusted. We were worried that he might become suicidal, and being magical we could easily stop him, or heal him if anything happened, even less serious stuff. There were times, I'm sure, when he wanted to bang his head on the wall in frustration."
"That's really nice of all of you to do that for all these years," Rose commented.
Susan waved it off. "It's the least we could do for your mum and dad after all they did for us. And with the rotation it's not really that bad – only one day a week. And if there's something else going on that we really want to do, well, you know that your mum has an in with the Department of Mysteries, right?" Rose contemplated what the significance of that might be for a few seconds, then grinned, recalling where the Ministry of Magic stored timeturners.
Then another thought hit her. This was certainly a loyal group of friends, even so. "Are all of you Hufflepuffs? Are there any others I might have heard of?"
Susan laughed. "You're as clever as your mum. Nearly all of us are. Let's see – I'm the only one from your parents' and my year, so you probably haven't. Hannah Abbott was part of the group in the early years, before she left to get married. She married Ernie Macmillan in case you didn't know. We think he's in line to be Minister of Magic someday. Oh, there's also Sally-Anne Dubois, who used to be Sally-Anne Perks. She transferred to Beauxbatons after second year, but your mum met her there again later on."
Rose confirmed that she had indeed heard about Sally from her mum, and also realized another consequence of this arrangement, which followed logically from her father's earlier comment about their professionalism. There was no way her dad could have developed any romantic feelings for any of his nurses, which might have been a possibility otherwise. They were all completely loyal to her mother, and would have made certain that nothing of the sort ever happened.
This line of thought eventually led to another question. "But what about Neville? Didn't you and he get married?"
Susan's head jerked back in surprise. "Why no, not at all. Why would you …?" She paused for a moment then smiled. "Oh, you mean because he and I dated for two years at Hogwarts. No, it's not really that common to marry the first person you date when you're a teenager. Your parents are the exception. Even Hannah and Ernie got together a few years after graduation." She noticed a worried expression on Rose's face, and realized what the problem was.
"Don't worry about me," she reassured the girl. "I haven't given up marriage to be here. I'm only thirty years old – there's plenty of time for me. Witches and wizards live a long time, you know." Rose smiled and nodded, somewhat relieved, and Susan continued on to share a few other interesting items from the wizarding world.
Back in the front room, the scene was rather awkward as the estranged couple attempted to make small talk. "I …" Harry began nervously as Hermione tried to gather her wits about her. "Erm … Rose wants us to … well, she wants me to get to know you better." Hermione managed a nod, wondering why Harry had turned bright red with that last statement. "And since I don't seem to be able to remember your name, we decided that I should call you Rosie's mum. Is that all right?" Harry asked anxiously.
Hermione couldn't help but smile at the earnest look on her husband's face – he was as concerned about others' feelings as ever. "No, that's fine," she replied softly, as if she might scare him away by acting too eager. "I'd like very much for you to get to know me better."
"So, uh, when's your birthday?" Harry asked, mentally chiding himself for sounding so lame.
"September 19th," she answered with a bigger smile, trying to put him at ease. "And I already know yours, and Rosie's of course – July 31st and December 22nd." She'd often thought that it was significant that the day he'd lost his last memory of her had been the first day of winter.
"OK," he said, nodding while trying to think of something else to ask. "Do you have any other kids?" he blurted out.
Hermione's eyes widened, and began to tear up slightly before she clamped down on her emotions. He hadn't meant anything negative about the question, after all. He had no way of knowing if she'd been married either before or after she'd been with him. "No, no, just Rose. There's never been anyone else in my life," she assured him, realizing that her statement could be taken two ways, referring both to Rose and to him.
"None for me either," Harry responded quickly. "At least, not that I know of." He managed a small grin and she smiled back fondly, thinking about how much she missed seeing that grin on his face.
"No, you don't," she confirmed.
"What do you do? I mean, for a living," Harry asked next.
Hermione decided it wasn't the time to tell him how wealthy they were. "Oh, besides spending a lot of time with Rose I'm, well, a researcher. I work for the government." She thought a moment, and then decided to explain a bit more. "I spend a lot of time trying to find a cure for you."
"I'm sorry." The apology was automatic for Harry. He knew that he could scarcely imagine what this unknown woman must have gone through for him. "I must be a terrible burden on you."
"Oh no, don't feel that way," she protested, reaching out automatically to take his hand. It felt so natural, comforting him like this, even if she hadn't done it for more than ten years. "It's something I have to do – you see, learning things is what I do, it's what I enjoy."
"Well, if you're anywhere near as clever as Rose I imagine you're quite good at it," Harry declared, smiling as she blushed slightly at his compliment. After a brief pause he continued. "You've done an incredible job of raising her, you know."
"Don't sell yourself short Harry, you've been a big help," Hermione stated firmly as she gave his hand a squeeze. "She lives for these weekends."
"I'm really sorry I haven't been there for you," Harry said softly, his own eyes tearing up slightly.
"I know," Hermione replied simply. She dearly wanted to add, 'and I love you so much' but held herself back.
Harry coughed to break up the uncomfortable moment that they suddenly found themselves in, and cast about for another subject.
"What about any hobbies?" he inquired. "Do you like to read?" At that, her eyes lit up and he knew he'd hit the jackpot.
When Rose and Susan returned to the room neither Harry nor Hermione could believe they'd been talking with each other for more than half an hour. As Hermione got up to join her daughter and head for the door she told him she'd send over that book she'd been describing.
"Bye Daddy!" Rose called out happily, ecstatic that her plan seemed to be working.
"Bye Rosie. Bye Rosie's mum," Harry returned, grinning at the look of surprise in the woman's pretty brown eyes. "See you next week."
Three different people anxiously awaited Rose's visit with her father the following Saturday, all of them wondering if Harry would remember the woman who accompanied her this time. For his part, Harry decided that if he didn't recognize her, he'd glance at his daughter, hoping she'd give him an indication so he wouldn't make a fool out of himself. It turned out not to be necessary, as he did in fact recall the brown-eyed curly-haired woman who entered the room with Rose, noting that he could see a definite resemblance between the two of them. Putting aside the question of why he'd never noticed that before, he smiled and welcomed them, even as the young girl jumped into his arms.
"Hi sweetie," he greeted her with a hug before turning his attention to the nervously smiling woman. "Hi Rosie's mum." Both of the females' smiles broadened considerably at this encouraging sign.
"So, Rosie, are you ready to boldly go where no man has gone before?" Harry asked with a grin. She immediately nodded eagerly and took his hand, heading for the family room and the telly. Before they left, though, she turned back.
"How about if Mum and Nurse Bones join us?" she suggested.
"Sure," Harry agreed. "Come on back." He and Rose disappeared through the door.
Hermione pulled Susan aside before they followed. "What's this all about?" she asked.
"Harry has a collection of old episodes of a muggle show called Star Trek," she revealed. "He and Rose like to watch them, and he just got another one this week."
"Which Star Trek?" Hermione asked. Susan's puzzled expression prompted her to elaborate. "There was the original Star Trek, then one called The Next Generation, then another called Star Trek Voyager. I think there was at least one other one too."
"Oh. Well, the ones they watch have a heroic captain, a guy with pointy ears who's always really serious, and another guy who's Scottish," Susan responded. "He's Rose's favorite.
Hermione smiled. "That's the original then. Let's join them and see what happens."
They all enjoyed the classic Star Trek shows so much that they watched several of them. Afterwards, Harry and Rose began to mimic the themes that seemed to occur in nearly every episode.
"Mr. Scott, I need a damage report!" Harry demanded.
"I dunna think the shields can take another hit like that one, Cap'n," Rose responded immediately.
"I need all the power you can give me Scotty!"
"Aye, Cap'n. We're doin the best we can, but the dilithium crystals are just too unstable. If we push the engines too hard they could blow sky-high!"
Rose and Harry laughed together, then she turned to the two women who were watching with amusement. "You two can play too! Mummy, you can be Mr. Spock and Nurse Bones can be Dr. McCoy." She found this uproariously funny and fell into a giggling fit.
Hermione raised an eyebrow, which Harry noticed, responding with a smile and a nod of satisfaction. Keeping a straight face, Hermione raised her hand, separating her middle two fingers. "Live long and prosper," she intoned in a deep voice, causing his smile to widen.
"Mr. Scott, I need those engines now. Prepare to jump to warp speed!" he snapped at Rose.
Hermione leaned over and whispered something to Susan, who gave her an odd look, then shrugged. "Are you mad, Jim?" she shouted at Harry. "You'll get us all killed!"
Rose clapped her hands with delight, then shouted, "Look out, the Klingons are firing again!"
She and Harry made loud explosion noises, then staggered back and forth, grabbing Susan and Hermione in a convincing portrayal of a starship bridge rocking from the blast of enemy fire.
"The shields are down, Cap'n!" Rose called out.
Hermione moved close to Harry and leaned in, murmuring a suggestion into his ear. Harry's eyes widened and he shot her an amazed look of admiration.
"Excellent, Mr. Spock," he stated authoritatively. "Mr. Scott, cut the engines and divert all power from the shields to the phasers." While he was saying this, Hermione whispered more instructions to Susan.
"Are you insane!" Susan shouted to Hermione. "Have you got any brains at all between those pointy ears of yours?"
Hermione merely arched her eyebrows again and answered calmly. "Indeed, my good doctor. I believe it is best to remain unemotional in situations such as this and attempt to analyze the situation logically. The Klingons will likely move in closer to investigate, and this may put them off their guard."
Harry nodded approvingly. "Mr. Chekov, prepare to fire on my command," he instructed. Rose quickly changed characters and sat down in front of him.
"Ready, Captain!" she informed her father, now affecting a Russian accent.
"Harry peered intently at the imaginary viewscreen in front of him. "Steady … steady …" he instructed. "Fire!"
"Direct hit!" Rose cried out. "We got him!"
"Well done, my captain," Hermione congratulated Harry with a grin.
"All thanks to you, Mr. Spock," he returned with a grin of his own.
She shrugged modestly. "It was only logical."
"Perfect!" Rose shouted happily, hugging first her dad and then her mum. "But we still have to do the final scene," she informed them with a gleam in her eye. "Where Captain Kirk kisses the pretty girl."
Harry had been looking at Hermione admiringly, but this declaration turned his attention back to his daughter. "I see," he smiled. "I suppose you'll have to play the part of the pretty girl, then."
"No, no," Rose insisted with a sly smile. "I think it should be Mum."
Hermione's eyes went wide and her heart started beating rapidly. She tried to protest but Rose was having none of it. Harry's embarrassed objections similarly were turned aside.
"I suppose we'd best do it then," he suggested, swallowing hard. "She's pretty stubborn when she gets an idea in her mind like this."
"Don't I know it," she agreed with a nervous laugh. Harry stepped forward and put his hands on her shoulders, as her arms automatically wrapped around his waist. She closed her eyes as he lowered his head to hers.
He'd intended it to be just a friendly peck, but his body had other ideas, and didn't let him pull away as quickly as he'd planned. Hermione's tight grip wasn't helping either, and the feel of her soft lips on his eliminated the last of his resistance. For her part, Hermione's mind was overwhelmed by how much she'd yearned for this over the past decade, and she found herself responding like a drowning man to a life preserver.
Rose just stood there with her hands clasped together, her eyes shining with hope, while Susan also held her breath in anticipation.
But it was not to be. Harry finally realized what he was doing and pulled back in alarm. "I'm … I'm sorry!" he gasped. "I don't know what came over me! Please forgive me. That was completely inappropriate."
Hermione was still in a bit of a daze, but could hear the panic in his voice. "No, no … it's all right. You don't have to apologize."
"But I hardly know you!" he protested. "I shouldn't have …"
Hermione cut him off. "Harry! It's OK! I … I enjoyed it. Really." Harry didn't look convinced, but this managed to calm him down. There had been … something … that tickled in the back of his mind but it seemed to have subsided now. He glanced away, still embarrassed, and took a few deep breaths. Then he turned back with a shy smile.
"I guess we both just got a bit carried away," he suggested. By now Hermione had managed to get her own runaway emotions back under control and she agreed with a nod and a smile. Reaching out a hand to his, she inclined her head toward the television.
"So, what else to you have to watch?"
Harry took her hand and allowed himself to be led over to the sofa, but arranged it so Rose was sitting between them. For her part, his daughter was trying hard not to let her dejection show, as what she was hoping for hadn't happened.
"Well, Rosie's mum, what would you like to see?" Harry asked.
Hermione grinned. "How about Masterpiece Theater?"
At the end of the visit, Rose suggested that if the weather was nice the following weekend, the four of them could go for a picnic in the park. She was disappointed that 'true love's kiss' hadn't awakened her father's memories of her mother, but they were still making progress. There was no reason why he couldn't still get to know her better, and, if everything went as it should, fall in love with her all over again.
The weather cooperated, and they had a nice walk down to the park, with Rose holding both of her parents' hands, delighted to have the family together for an outing for the first time in her life. Both Harry and Hermione had fretted throughout the intervening week about how things would go, and both had put that nervous energy into making preparations. As a result, they were both dressed a bit more nicely than one would ordinarily be for a picnic, and they had more than enough food, drinks and snacks on hand.
It only took a short while to settle down once they arrived at the park. Rose dragged them over to the playground and Harry pushed both her and her mother on the swings, which gave them the opportunity to relax around each other. The two adults stood side by side they watched their daughter play on the other rides, and soon fell into comfortable conversation.
Harry was fascinated by this woman, who was both warm and caring as well as intelligent and witty. After they finished eating neither of them even noticed when Susan took Rose for a walk, engrossed as they were with each other. On the walk back home Rose manuevered it so that Harry walked in the middle, and he shyly took Hermione's hand as she blushed, but did nothing to discourage him. By the time they reached his house and said their goodbyes Rose was over the moon. She also noticed that her mother had a smile on her face that just wouldn't quit.
Rose's plan continued to develop on the next week's visit. This time she requested that they all watch a movie together. Somehow it turned out that the sofa in front of the telly was big enough for all four of them to squeeze into together, and the clever young girl promptly claimed the end seat, insisting that her father sit beside her. That left Hermione next to Harry and Susan on the opposite end, just as she'd intended. The movie – Titanic.
As their daughter had hoped, by the end of the film Harry's arm was across Hermione's shoulders while her head was leaned up against him. When the lights came back up as the credits rolled, she was unsuccessfully fighting back her tears.
Harry struggled with what to say to the weeping woman nestled up against him. He rather liked the position they were in, and she also showed no inclination to move, even though the movie was over. "So, you're one of those girls who cry at sad movies, then?" he asked half teasingly, half sympathetically.
"No, just this one," Hermione sniffed as she wiped her face with a tissue he quickly produced. "It … it has special memories for me. Perhaps we should try a comedy next time." She sent her daughter an 'I'll deal with you when we get home' look, but Rose was entirely unrepentant, as she began making suggestions for what they'd do the following week. Every one of the four people in the room was by now well aware that these weekends were becoming nothing less than dating opportunities for the adult Potters, even though none of them would admit this out loud.
On their fourth weekend together, after an outing to the British Museum, Rose decided it was time to move on to the next phase, proposing that they all go to the beach during the upcoming Easter holidays.
"I think April's a bit too early for a beach trip," Harry laughed. "Unless you fancy being bundled up in a heavy jumper while you walk along the sand.
"We could go to the beach near my friend Tori's house in Cornwall," Rose suggested eagerly. "It's warm all the time there."
"Hmm, I didn't think even Cornwall was warm enough for swimming this time of year," Harry mused. He missed the look that Hermione shot at Rose to shut her up. "Where exactly is this beach?"
"Oh, it's a private beach near their house, and there are some unusually warm currents nearby," Hermione replied, quickly coming up with a plausible cover story. "It's a closely guarded secret in their family."
"OK," Harry responded thoughtfully. He was becoming more enthusiastic about the whole idea of spending more than a day with his daughter and her charming and enchanting mother. "But I like the idea in general. Why don't I ring up a travel agent and see if we can put something together?"
Any reservations Hermione had about the idea were washed away by the enthusiasm pouring from her daughter. Besides, she was pretty excited herself by the prospect of going on a holiday with Harry. She could scarcely believe what had happened to them in the span of a month.
Hermione was positively stunned that things had moved so far so quickly. Harry had sent word home with Rose a few days later that he'd made reservations for four at a two bedroom villa in the Canary Islands for a 5 day 4 night trip starting the day after Easter. It had been the best deal still available on short notice, and they'd be staying at the south end of the island of Lanzarote, where there were several relatively uncrowded beaches. The villa included kitchen facilities and a living/dining room, with two beds in each bedroom. Harry's plan was that he and Rose would share one bedroom while Rose's mum and whichever nurse accompanied them would share the other. After some discussion, it was decided that Susan wasn't very comfortable with the exclusively muggle environment, so Sally-Anne Dubois (nee Perks), who was muggleborn, would join them on the trip.
At the moment Hermione was trying to decide what to pack, with her daughter's enthusiastic assistance. Frustrated with her mother's overly conservative choices, Rose had called in Sally-Anne to back her up. She knew that the former Hufflepuff had attended Beauxbatons for five years, and had moved to France with her family for a few years as well, and so was rather more open-minded about revealing clothing.
"Mum, you have to take these!" Rose insisted, holding two bikinis in her hand, one bright red and one pale blue. Hermione immediately recognized the two swimsuits she'd worn during her time in France with Harry prior to sixth year, and wondered how her daughter had found them. She hadn't given them a thought for years.
"Honestly, Rose, I can't wear those!" Hermione protested. "They probably don't even fit anymore." But the young girl was insistent and she finally relented and agreed to try one on. It was even more bare than she remembered. She only just managed to get the side strings of the bottom tied, as they had to stretch across an additional inch of flesh on each side, and the top didn't cover her as well as it had previously. But Rose insisted that her father would love it.
Hermione snorted at that idea, but had to agree. He'd nearly drooled over it back then, and with even more of her on display now he'd likely be even worse this time. "Rose, a suit like this is fine for a sixteen year old, but I'm thirty now," she tried to explain.
Rose would not be deterred. "Mum, you've told me more than once how you admire women who don't let society force them into a mold. You've even pointed out older women on the beaches we've been to in France and commented on how great it was that they continued to wear what they wanted to." Hermione scowled. She hated it when her daughter used her own arguments against her! She turned to Sally-Anne for support, but the other witch just shrugged.
"I wear suits like that," she confessed. "And remember where we're going. You'll see a lot less than that worn on the beaches in the Canary Islands. Half of the women will probably be topless, and most of those are over thirty." Eventually Hermione gave in, and even let Rose talk her into buying a few new sundresses with bare backs and low cut tops.
Just as Hermione had feared (or hoped?), once on the beach Harry couldn't take his eyes off her. Seeing this, Rose shared a smirk with Sally-Anne and asked cheekily, "Hey Dad, how do you like Mum's red bikini?"
"Crimson," he found himself correcting. He had no idea why he'd said that; it just came to him. He also didn't understand the look that came into Hermione's eyes upon hearing it, or why Rose was practically jumping up and down with excitement. For his part, Harry felt his chest constricting, almost like something was clawing at his insides. He knew very well what it was – desire. Over the past few weeks he'd come to admire this woman's breadth of knowledge, her cleverness, her caring personality, her sense of humor. Now this admiration extended to her body. He found himself clenching his hands and realized he wanted nothing more than to touch her, run his hands over those soft curves. And it also seemed evident from the way she was blushing that she'd worn such a skimpy suit precisely in order to generate such a reaction in him. He also realized that he needed to lie down before his appreciation of her physical assets became too apparent.
"Mum, Dad, we're going to head down to the water now," Rose announced. "Don't forget to put sunscreen on each other."
Hermione lay down on her stomach next to Harry and gave him a shy look before reaching behind her and untying her bikini strings. Harry swallowed hard and sat up, reaching for the sunscreen. Now it was Hermione's turn to hide her physical reaction, as she felt his strong hands caress her back, something that had happened only in her dreams for so many years. She closed her eyes and was unable to stifle a moan as waves of pleasure shot up and down her body, especially when he moved down to the back of her legs just below the bottom of her suit. Come on Hermione, control yourself, she mentally berated. You can't have an orgasm right here on the beach!
Her moans did nothing for Harry's self control either. He was very glad that her eyes were closed, and that his daughter was off splashing in the water. He playfully gave her bum a slap, signifying that he was finished, and was rewarded by a squeak of indignation. Then he stretched out beside her while she returned the favor.
When she returned to her prone position they simply lay there, staring into each other's eyes, neither daring to say anything about what they were feeling. But the looks in their eyes told them everything they needed to know.
The five days passed all too quickly, as far as Harry and Hermione were concerned. For Hermione, after eleven years of him not even knowing who she was, to be able to spend all this time in his company was sheer bliss. And the looks he gave her reawakened long buried physical sensations that kept her feeling tingly for hours at a time. For Harry, it seemed as though he'd discovered the woman of his dreams. In an incredibly short time he'd traveled from admiring her, to becoming enamoured with her, to being completely smitten by her.
By the end of the holiday, Harry was seriously considering suggesting that Rose and her mum swap rooms, he was that strongly attracted to this amazing woman. But he held back, feeling that the rather obvious reason for this request would embarrass his daughter, plus he didn't want to put her mother on the spot if she didn't feel the same way. But he determined to bring up the possibility with her in private, and got his chance when Rose and Sally-Anne urged the two of them to spend an evening by themselves.
Once again, Harry's throat tightened up at the sight of her in a royal blue halter dress, and they spent a good part of their time together gazing at each other in amazement at what was happening to them. After dinner he took her out to the porch of their villa where they sat on the porch swing, looking out at the moon shining over the ocean.
He stretched out his arm and she immediately snuggled into him and rested her head on his shoulder, remembering all the times that they used to sit in this exact position. Sensing his nervousness, she turned her head up to look into his eyes and gave him a comforting smile.
"Uh … I was wondering …" he began timidly. "Do you know … I mean are you aware of Rosie's plan?" Hermione's answering blush, which filled her face and crept down her torso, confirmed her knowledge even before she managed an embarrassed nod.
"Oh, I know what she's hoping for, but it's silly," she proclaimed when she could find her voice. "Just a daydream from a little girl's romantic imagination."
"Well, I don't know about that," Harry replied in a low voice. "It doesn't seem like such a bad idea from where I'm sitting." Hermione's eyes widened and then she quickly glanced away, her heart pounding so hard she thought she might pass out. "I mean it," he insisted, giving her shoulder a squeeze and hugging her to himself a bit more closely. "I'm unbelievably attracted to you. I'm really falling for you, Rosie's mum."
Hermione didn't say anything for a long while, but reached out and took his other hand in hers while trying to sort out her racing thoughts. Eventually she was able to respond.
"Do you really mean it?"
"I don't see why not," Harry answered. "I mean, sure, I'm still getting to know you, but I reckon we must be compatible, since we had Rosie together. That is, assuming you still feel the same way about me," he finished with a worried questioning tone in his voice.
"Oh yes, of course I do," she reassured him quickly, squeezing his hand tightly to emphasize her earnestness. "That's never changed."
"All right then," Harry smiled broadly. "Let's do it." Hermione couldn't hold her emotions in any longer and buried her face into his chest, tears flowing from her eyes, as Harry softly stroked her bare back and shoulders.
After several minutes he had another thought. "But I want to get married first."
Hermione raised her head from his chest and looked at him, amusement glistening through her tears, then laughed. "That's the same thing you said when I told you I wanted a baby the last time," she told him happily. "We are married."
"Well, yeah, I guess that makes sense," he allowed. "So what was the wedding like?"
Hermione had to think for a moment about how to answer that, since he wouldn't understand about magical vows. "Well, it was actually just a civil ceremony. We were in a war."
"Against Voldemort," Harry filled in. All of the bad parts of his memories were still intact after all, although to his mind Voldemort was the name of a vicious terrorist who had targeted him and his loved ones.
"Right," Hermione confirmed. "And we weren't sure you'd survive, and I wanted a baby if I couldn't have you." This brought on more tears, and Harry hugged her tightly.
"Well, we should have a real ceremony now, then," he suggested. "We could say we're renewing our vows if anyone asks why we're going through it when we're already married." Hermione nodded, a beaming smile on her face once again.
"I also think we should live together this time," Harry declared.
"Oh Harry, I love you," Hermione cried, attacking his lips with a passionate kiss.
"I love you too, Rosie's mum," he declared fervently when they broke apart. Something inside him made him shudder as a result of their kiss and these words. He tried to get hold of it, but once more it evaded his grasp. He gave up and focused again on the warm woman in his arms.
After a bit Hermione grinned up at him. "There's one more thing we have to decide tonight. Who gets to tell Rose?"
Harry chuckled. "That girl is going to be so excited she'll be able to fly home without an airplane."
The next few weeks passed by in a blur as they scurried about making all the arrangements. Harry and Hermione each separately confided to Rose during this time that they were worried that the whole thing was a dream and that they would wake up at any moment. Rose, of course, was on cloud nine.
One of the things to be decided was which house they would live in. For the time being they stayed in their separate houses, while spending most of their days together. Harry pointed out that if he moved in with them only one person would need to move. Hermione was concerned that with his partial amnesia Harry would have more trouble adapting to change, and so he should stay in familiar surroundings. Rose noted that she would be going off to school in a few months, so that it didn't matter that much to her. She also declared that her mother and father ought to have a couple of weeks by themselves without her around. Given that, Hermione decided that she'd move in with Harry right after the ceremony, and they'd sort out the rest later.
Hermione managed to book the small chapel in the church that she and Rose attended for the afternoon of Saturday, May 1. They didn't need much space, since it would just be the three of them, the minister, and the seven nurses in attendance. They planned to have Rose participate in the ceremony, which positively delighted the young girl.
On Rose's suggestion, Hermione had a dress made in the same style and color as her Yule Ball gown, periwinkle blue in color with spaghetti straps, a satiny underdress and a sheer overlay. Rose would have a preteen girl's version of the dress using the same material, and Harry would wear a snappy looking navy blue suit.
On the day of the ceremony Hermione was shocked to see her parents walk into the chapel while she was getting ready!
"Mum! Dad! What are you doing here?" she gasped.
"You should know that your daughter can be very persuasive," Emma answered with tears in her eyes. "Somewhat like another young girl I remember. We received a rather strongly worded letter from her, pointing out a few things she thought we should know and, well, here we are." Suddenly both women were hugging each other while Dan wrapped his arm around his granddaughter, waiting his turn.
During the tearful reunion both of the Grangers repeatedly told their daughter how sorry they were about the way the situation had developed and how impressed they were with how she'd handled the misfortune in her life. They also acknowledged that they understood that Harry wouldn't remember them, but were eager to get to know him again. When Rose took them out to introduce them to her father, he greeted them politely; as far as he was concerned they were just two more people from his past that he didn't remember, and he wasn't at all aware of the strain in their relationship with Hermione.
Finally the ceremony began, and they each held one of Rose's hands while facing each other. To hide the fact that Harry didn't know Hermione's name, both of them referred to their daughter in their vows.
"I take you Rose's mum, to be my wedded wife. To have and to hold from this day forward. For better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health. To love and to cherish till death do us part."
As Harry spoke these words and looked into his wife's shining eyes, he reflected on how true she had been to their literal meaning – better or worse, in sickness and in health – and that it was time for him to live up to his part of the bargain. As they concluded the vows and he drew her into a kiss, he felt once more the pressure in his chest, but it was accompanied for a brief moment by an additional pressure in his head, as though something was trying to break out. Putting the sensation down to nervous excitement, he wrapped his arm around his re-affirmed wife and joined their happy guests.
After a celebratory meal, Hermione's parents assured her that they would see to their granddaughter so that she and Harry could focus on themselves for the next few days. Hermione good-naturedly informed the smiling nurses that their services would no longer be required, as she would be assuming their duties in the future, and the happy couple departed for the luxury suite they'd booked at a local hotel.
The pair of lovers approached each other with the nervousness typical of newlyweds, and in fact as far as Harry was concerned it was his first time. Shy smiles were exchanged as they disrobed, but soon passion took over.
Hermione's body responded fiercely to Harry's touch, which had been denied to her for so long, and waves of desire coursed through her. Even though he had no memory of her, his hands unerringly found her most sensitive spots. By the time he entered her she was ready to explode, and her climax hit almost instantly.
"Someone was pretty eager," Harry teased once Hermione had opened her eyes again.
"Oh Harry, you have no idea how long I've been waiting for this," she gasped as she wrapped her legs around his to draw him in as tightly as possible. "Now it's your turn."
Harry didn't last much longer. But as his arousal grew, the pressure in his chest and in his head swelled anew, even greater than before. But his thoughts were only on the deep brown eyes before him, radiating her love for him. As he approached his peak, he blurted out, "I love you Rosie's mum!"
"It's Hermione!" she gasped as she felt him swell within her.
"I love you Hermione!" he cried out, just at the moment of his release.
It was like a dam breaking, both physical and mental, as somewhere deep inside a long buried part of him burst free. A flood of emotions welled up inside him, so intense that tears filled his eyes and he began sobbing.
Hermione felt a wave of magic course through him and into her, and instantly sensed his distress. As he stopped moving and collapsed onto her she hugged him even more closely. "Harry! What is it? What happened? Are you all right?"
He opened his eyes and stared at her in sheer wonder. "Hermione! I remember you!"
Sept 1, 2010
The mother, father, and eleven year old daughter made their way through Kings Cross station and up to the wall between Platforms 9 and 10, the daughter bubbling with excitement, the mother beaming with pride, and the father wide-eyed with amazement. The daughter gleefully pushed the luggage cart with her trunk through the barrier with the two adults following more carefully, the husband holding the hand of his four-months-pregnant-and-just-starting-to-show wife. On the other side the young girl ran off to find her friends Tori and Teddy, while the mother greeted familiar faces and the father hung back out of sight, aided by a notice-me-not compulsion charm cast by the most powerful wand in existence.
After the breathtaking, dramatic discovery on their 'wedding' night, Harry and Hermione had held each other closely and talked for hours before finally falling asleep. The next morning they had made love again, this time slowly and tenderly, before eventually getting up and calling Rose to tell her the exciting news.
It turned out though, that Harry's memories did not return all at once, instead popping up gradually, just as he had originally lost them. Some even came and went several times before becoming permanently fixed in his mind. Initially, the only parts he remembered were of Hermione, bits and pieces of special moments out of context, and they had worked for the past four months to sort them out into a comprehensible whole. Most of the background detail was still missing, as in a dream, and included many unknown characters with blank faces. It had only been since his birthday that he'd even been aware of the existence of magic. Today was to be his first foray into the wizarding world in twelve years, and they were being cautious about keeping him from being overwhelmed.
The crowds were heavier than usual, as this was the first class of the post-war baby boom. An astonishing number of wizarding children had been born in Britain in December, 1998 and early 1999, including Rose Potter, Victoire Weasley, and Theodore Lupin. The overall scene was one of pandemonium, with excited children everywhere one looked trying to haul their trunks onto the train, which had even added two extra cars to accommodate the suddenly expanded student body.
Eventually the couple joined up with the Lupins and Weasleys. They had been previously alerted to the situation and so didn't make a big scene about the return of the savior of the wizarding world, but concentrated on saying their goodbyes and getting the kids on board the train. Once the Hogwarts Express had pulled out of the station and the platform cleared, the six adults lingered behind for introductions.
The first to step up was a tall, red-haired man whose good looks were slightly marred by a scar on his face. "Hi, I'm Bill Weasley," he announced. "It's so good to see you again." Harry shook his hand and frowned in concentration, trying to weave some loose strands of memory together.
"The red hair is familiar somehow," he mused as Hermione squeezed his other hand encouragingly. "There are a lot of you, right?"
"You could say that," Bill chuckled pleasantly. "I come from a big family. My youngest brother was your best friend."
Harry thought hard. "Yeah. Tall like you. Name starts with R …" Bill was about to help him out by providing his brother's name when he caught Hermione's slight shake of her head. They had discovered that Harry remembered things better when he recalled them himself, rather than being prompted. "Ron, right?" Harry finally determined, clearly pleased with himself. Bill nodded and smiled. "Big chess fan." Another squeeze from Hermione and broad smiles from the others confirmed that he was on the right track. Harry closed his eyes.
"There was also a pair of twins, I think. Always joking around and finishing each others' sentences. Liked to play pranks."
"Very good," Bill responded. "They're still like that. Terrible influence on the kids." The two other mothers nodded vigorously in agreement. "They even turned it into a business – started a joke shop. In fact, you're a part owner."
Harry's eyes widened. "Really?" He turned to Hermione. "I own a joke shop and you didn't tell me?" Hermione just rolled her eyes while the others laughed.
"Honestly, Harry, I didn't think that was one of the more important details." Seeing his mock pout she reached up and smacked him on the shoulder in feigned exasperation. "Oh all right, we'll move that up on our list of places to take you to." Harry grinned at this and she smiled in return. "I'm sure Rose snuck a whole pile of their pranks into her trunk while I wasn't looking."
"Oh, you mean those packages with WWW stamped on the outside?" Harry asked innocently. Hermione folded her arms and huffed while the other four adults roared with laughter. Once they'd calmed down he turned back to Bill.
"There was also a sister, right? Real pretty?" Bill nodded again while Harry tried to put a name to her face. "Jen … Gina … Ginny!" Hermione wrapped her arm around his waist for a quick hug. He was doing so well! "We all were on some sort of team together. An athletic activity, but there was something strange about it."
"Quidditch," Bill confirmed.
Harry turned to Hermione and grinned. "OK, there's a word that's going to take me several tries to remember," he joked good-naturedly. "So, what's it like?"
"Well, for one thing it's played on brooms," Bill explained.
"You're kidding!" Harry exclaimed. "You mean you witches really do fly on brooms?" he asked Hermione.
"Not just witches but wizards too," she replied. "Do you remember anything else about it?"
Harry scrunched up his face again. "Something with catching and throwing a ball, I think," he decided. "But there were different kinds of balls."
"Right!" Bill confirmed again.
"And I played too, didn't I?" Harry asked. When everyone nodded he asked what he thought was an obvious followup. "Was I any good?" This generated more laughter and Hermione hugged him again and leaned up close to his ear.
"You were the best in the school," she whispered with pride. Harry turned to look down into her smiling face, making another connection.
"And you came to every one of my games and cheered me on," he recalled. Her smile broadened and she nodded happily.
"Ron and Ginny both play professionally," Bill added. "Well, Ron's a coach now but Ginny still plays. We'll take you to one of her games sometime." Harry eagerly agreed, then asked more about Ron.
"He and Luna are back together again," the woman next to Bill announced, to Hermione as well as to Harry. Hermione grinned. Ron and Luna had had an on-again off-again relationship for the past dozen years. A couple of times the subject of marriage had come up and Ron had gotten cold feet and backed off. Then when Ron was ready to get serious Luna would disappear for months on an expedition to search for some magical creature or other. It was generally agreed by the Weasley family and friends that this would go on until Luna decided that she wanted a baby, and then Ron would suddenly find himself married with a child on the way and wonder what had happened. Perhaps this would be the time.
Ginny, on the other hand, had dated a number of men over the years but never got serious with any of them. The closest had been Viktor Krum, before she broke it off deciding that his ideas on relationships were just too out of date. Hermione personally thought that her problem was that she was looking for another Harry Potter, and none of the guys she met ever measured up to that impossible standard.
"Luna?" Harry asked, interrupting this train of thought. "Did I know her?" Hermione assured him that he did, so he closed his eyes and concentrated once again. "Blonde hair," he finally decided, opening his eyes to look at Fleur. "Long and straight like yours, but not as light." Fleur's nod confirmed this analysis. Harry cocked his head to the side. "Kind of on the spacey side?" Another round of laughter affirmed that Luna still matched that description.
Now that he was looking at Fleur, Harry focused on anything he could remember about her. It seemed hard to imagine that he could forget such a beautiful woman. Then a stray thought floated into his head and he snatched at it. "We were in a competition together." Fleur nodded enthusiastically as Harry tried to make another connection. "Something about fighting dragons."
Fleur beamed at him. "Yes, and you were the best," she claimed. "You beat yours by flying on your broomstick." Harry nodded, starting to recall small glimpses of the sensation of flight, and turned to Hermione again.
"Do we still have my broomstick?" Hermione's answering smile told him that it was still packed away somewhere in the house. "Maybe you could teach me to fly again." The laughter this time, along with a few comments, indicated that the idea of his wife teaching him anything about flying was hilarious.
Hermione stomped her foot and feigned indignation. "I'm not that bad!" This protest generated even more mirth.
"According to what I heard, the first time you touched a broomstick at Hogwarts you were an expert," Bill declared. "The most natural flyer any of my brothers had ever seen. I always thought they were having us on, but the story goes that you went into a fifty foot power dive and pulled up a foot off the ground without giving it a second thought."
"It's true!" Hermione confirmed. "I was there. You gave me such a fright – scared me out of my wits!" Harry wrapped his arm around her and pulled her to himself, comforting her and apologizing for that long ago distress. Hermione leaned her head against his chest and smiled, then looked up and promised to take him flying as soon as they got home.
Once everyone had settled down again, Harry turned to the other couple who'd been patiently awaiting his attention – Teddy's parents. They were both older than he was, the man considerably so, judging by his gray hair and lined face. He'd apparently had a hard life. The woman grinned at him and suddenly her hair turned purple!
"Wotcher Harry!" she exclaimed. That triggered another memory flash.
"I do remember you," he announced excitedly. "Tonks, right? I can't remember your first name, but I do remember that you don't like it. Nympho something or other." Bill snorted at this and Tonks's hair changed from purple to bright red, her face matching it in color, as laughter rang out once more.
After a half-hearted attempt at a glare, Tonks gave up and joined the laughter, and assured Harry that that her first name was one memory he could leave buried, as far as she was concerned. After a few ribald jokes and the threat of a hexing for Bill, things quieted down as Harry studied the face of the older man.
"Hello Harry," he said softly. "I was a good friend of your parents. It's so wonderful to see you again after all these years."
"Moony," Harry almost whispered. And then suddenly the two of them were embracing in a tight hug, crying freely, and everyone joined in the happy tears. Hermione wrapped her arms around Harry from behind, letting her emotions out fully for the first time in months. This had been the big test that they'd been pointing toward, and Harry had passed with flying colors. She knew now that they would beat this evil curse, and her husband would eventually be able to recall everything that he needed to.
They would raise this new child together, and perhaps one or two more besides. The future was limitless. Yes they had lost all those years, but they had possibly another hundred years or more to look forward to, and they would live them side by side, relishing every minute.
The long, dark, bitter winter was over. Spring had finally come.
Epilogue – Twelve Years Later
Rose Weasley hurried through the station toward the platforms, hoping she wasn't going to be late. Somehow things always took longer when you had a baby to deal with. She smiled at the beautiful red-haired, green-eyed infant in the baby carrier strapped to her chest and her precious daughter gazed contentedly back at her.
It was the first time she'd been to Kings Cross since her own last year at Hogwarts five years previously. It had been a wonderful seven years, as she and her best friends Tori and Ted had become a new incarnation of the famous Gryffindor trio, this time with the genders reversed. The threesome had gained well-deserved reputations for both academic brilliance and mischief making in equal measure (her father had bequeathed her the Marauder's Map prior to her third year), and she and Ted had also played on their house quidditch team, developing into passable chasers by their seventh year.
As had also happened with the previous trio, two of them had paired up, in this case Ted and Tori, who had been inseparable even before they'd entered Hogwarts. But Rose didn't begrudge them their romantic relationship one bit – when the time came that she was ready to think about boys that way she had fallen for Tori's younger brother Arthur. The fact that he was a year younger than her hadn't bothered her in the least – after all her mother had been ten months older than her father and they'd got on all right. Over their years at Hogwarts he had gone from being an annoying younger brother to an engaging and likable guy (and handsome!), and her affection for him had steadily grown. He'd finally got up the nerve to ask her out in his fourth year (her fifth) and by the time she graduated they were in love.
She and Arthur had married two years after graduation and now had a darling little girl who had inherited one grandfather's red hair and the other's green eyes, making her the spitting image of her great-grandmother Lily. Accordingly she had been christened Lily Rose, the very name that Harry had used to tease Rose herself with back when she was a young girl.
Those dark days were long gone now, though, and her parents were living the life they'd dreamed of. Three more children had graced their home, and it was the first of those children, her brother Jamie, whose first trip on the Hogwarts Express Rose was hastening to witness. As she pushed through the barrier she searched through the throng of excited children and worried parents until she spotted them. Her father was kneeling down speaking earnestly to his son, most likely reassuring him that he and his mother would be proud of him no matter which house he was sorted into, while his nine year old brother Danny was no doubt teasing him that he'd make a perfect Slytherin.
Her sister Emily spotted her first, and came running over. "Rosie, you made it!" she shouted. "And you brought Lily! Can I hold her?"
"Of course I came," Rose smiled while her mother came up and gave her a hug. "I wouldn't miss Jamie's first trip on the Express, would I?" She carefully removed her daughter from the baby carrier and handed her to the eager seven-year-old, noting that her mother cast a discreet sticking charm along with a stabilizing charm to make certain that her daughter could manage with her adorable granddaughter.
"Rose, how have you been?" Hermione asked with a smile. "Is the little one letting you get enough sleep?"
Rose grinned back at her mother. "Not too bad, she's sleeping six hours a night now. How are you coping with sending Jamie off to Hogwarts?"
Hermione shrugged. "We're managing. It's not as hard as it was twelve years ago with you, that's for sure. Of course there was a lot more stress in our lives at the time."
Rose gave her mother a one-armed hug as they walked back toward her father and brothers. "How's Dad taking it?"
"Oh, he's as excited as Jamie is," Hermione smiled fondly. I swear there's still a little boy in him that hasn't grown up. He's convinced that Jamie will be the second youngest seeker in the past century. And I'm not sure he isn't right. Watching that boy on a broom scares me almost as much as watching your father did. But I know that Harry would never let him fall."
Rose laughed. "Now you know why I never tried out for seeker. Too much of a legacy to live up to. It was bad enough having a mother who was the most brilliant witch of the age," she teased.
Hermione tried to brush it off, but both women knew it was true. Hermione had become the most admired witch of her generation. It started when Harry made his return to the wizarding world and the story broke about what the two of them had gone through for eleven years, then was boosted when Hermione made her mark in the field of spell design. She specialized in creating spells and magical objects to accomplish the things that modern muggle technology could do. Her communication devices, beginning with mass-produced versions of the mirrors they'd used to keep in touch during their travels and continuing with magical versions of fax, text messaging, and computers had revolutionized wizarding society. Owl post and floo calls had become obsolete.
Harry's prestige as the conqueror of the dark lord, as well as his status as the head of two old line families, the Blacks and the Potters, combined with the fanatical loyalty of the former DA members, had broken down any barriers that might have existed because of her muggleborn status. The collective guilt of the British wizarding population over the imprisonment of muggleborns during that last year of the war hadn't hurt either.
Harry had been content to stay in the background, lending his support whenever necessary while being a stay at home dad. He'd also been in demand as a private defense instructor as a result of the glowing testimonials from the DA, who were still remembered for their amazing victory over the invading Death Eaters at Hogwarts in the spring of 1997. It was an ongoing debate in wizarding circles over which Potter was more powerful, but when they spoke, people listened. They had no intention of following Dumbledore's footsteps, having experienced his manipulations first hand, even though the wizarding population had expected Harry to do so. Instead, they made their opinions publicly known only on issues that they felt strongly about, foremost being equal treatment for everyone without regard to blood status.
The two of them had also championed the rights of other magical beings, leading to some significant changes in the relationships of wizards with goblins, centaurs, and house elves. The Fountain of Magical Brethren in the Ministry of Magic was a long way from becoming reality, but things were moving in the right direction. After all, Harry and Hermione were only in their early 40's. They still had most of their lives ahead of them.
Rose stopped to give her brother Danny a hug before repeating the gesture with Jamie, and taking him aside to offer some sisterly advice. She had been a combination older sister and young aunt to them while they were growing up, being so much older, and they looked up to her with a respect bordering on reverence. She had made Head Girl in her last year, and it was agreed among all three of the younger Potters that they would strive mightily to match her example.
Harry and Hermione just stood there contentedly watching their four children and new grandchild. They had been so blessed in their lives, first to have found love with each other, then to have regained it once it had been taken from them, to have had an amazing daughter to hold them together during the lonely times, and finally to top it off with three more wonderful children. Their lives were so full of love they could scarcely believe their good fortune.
Indeed, all was well.
A/N 1 Before anyone tries to second guess Hermione for not figuring out how to get back together with Harry sooner, I'll just say that no one's perfect. She was single-mindedly focused on finding a cure, and the possibility of having him get to know her without remembering who she was wouldn't have occurred to her. Rose, on the other hand, was in a position to think outside the box. Also, the timing was right – the status quo had to change when Rose went off to Hogwarts.
A/N 2 My wife wants me to point out that not only can thirty year old women wear bikinis, so can sixty year olds (an age that is rapidly approaching for us!). The red string bikini described in this story is identical to one that she owns. Other articles of Hermione's clothing are similarly modeled after her wardrobe.
A/N 3 In case anyone's interested, Hermione had Rose at the age of 19, and her other children at 31, 33, and 35. Thus, Rose is 16 years older than her youngest sibling.
A/N 4 I really hope no one was expecting Albus Severus in the epilogue, given how things with Snape and Dumbledore turned out in this story. One may note a few similarities between my epilogue and the published version, however. Harry is at the station with three children, one of whom is named James, and there is in fact a Rose Weasley present (with her mother, Hermione), albeit in considerably different circumstances. We could even speculate that somewhere Teddy might be snogging Victoire.
Final Remarks – I'm again amazed at how long this story ended up being, given how much I tried to condense scenes and leave out a lot of detail. On the other hand, even at nearly 300,000 words it's still less than half the length of the final three books.
As I've mentioned before at the conclusion of previous stories, it's an odd feeling when you finish a story. Partly relief and partly a sense of loss, of 'now what am I going to do with my spare time?' For more than a year I've focused my thoughts on this activity, literally day and night. While I'm worn out with writing at the moment, I expect that soon I'll start to miss it. I'm pretty certain, though, that this is my last novel length story. I have several ideas for one-shots but those will not appear on any fixed schedule. They'll happen whenever they happen.
I'm pleased to note that some new fanfic authors have appeared on the scene during the past year, and I'm encouraged at what they've written so far. Examples are AndrewsQuill (Dark Lord Rising, in progress), hlpur (After Sunrise and Breach of Trust, both in progress), Librarywitch (Harry Potter and the Warrior's Path, in progress), muggledad (To Stand Against the Darkness, in progress), robst (A Kiss Can Save The World, complete; and Knowledge Is Power, in progress), Rohata (Enlightenment, in progress; several short stories complete), Rihaan (multiple stories in progress) and Seel'vor (The Real Us, complete; multiple stories in progress). All of them can be found here on fanfiction dot net. The best part is that most of them tend to update frequently! Every week at least one new chapter from one or more of these authors appears. I recommend that readers check out the work of these writers, and if any of them are reading this - keep up the good work!