HARRY POTTER AND ICE CREAM DELIGHTS
Disclaimer: The characters and their world are the property of J.K. Rowling, various publishers and Warner Bros. No money is being made and no copyright infringement is intended.
Author's Note: Thanks to all of the readers who have stayed with me from the beginning, and to the new readers as well; it's been a very long process. Now I move on to correcting the spelling errors that have crept into this long story. The last time I tried this, readers received notification that a new chapter had been posted. I intend to be more careful this time, but if I make another mistake please just delete the notice without clicking on the link. And now the final chapter.
CHAPTER 25: THE END AND THE BEGINNING
As Albus Dumbledore looked out from the balcony of his hotel room he couldn't help but smile; but strangely it wasn't the beauty of Athens at sunset that caused his response. The source of his amusement was the reaction of his Deputy Headmistress to some of the basic elements of muggle technology. The Headmaster had traveled extensively over the years and had always tried to stay at muggle establishments; he found muggle technology almost as fascinating as Arthur Weasley did. The old man never ceased to be amazed at everything muggles could accomplish without the aid of magic. But Minerva McGonagall, in spite of dealing with so many muggle-born students, had led a more cloistered life and had limited contact with muggle culture.
They had only been in their hotel for fifteen minutes, but Minerva had already knocked on his door a half-dozen times. At one point the bellboy had attempted to show the woman how to use the remote control for the television, and had he not intervened the Headmaster was quite certain that his colleague would have hexed the noisy box into the next century.
The bellboy was so shocked by her reaction that he even forgot to ask for a tip, and had fled the room in panic. Her latest inquiry concerned the strange porcelain basin that she found in her bathroom. It sat beside the toilet, and Minerva assumed that it was intended for washing out articles of clothing. Albus Dumbledore thought for several moments about a diplomatic way to explain the function of a bidet to the elderly woman. He finally concluded that there was simply no diplomatic way to describe it, and he suggested that Minerva consult with her maid.
It had been a long time since Dumbledore took a holiday, and this promised to be a good one. The sights and sounds of muggle Athens, and the excitement of the Quidditch World Cup, promised a wonderful end to the summer. And he needed a little rest and relaxation, for what he had learned from Charlie Weasley was bad news indeed. It appeared that the Dark Lord had joined forces with another equally powerful dark wizard, and that together they were spreading their poison over much of Eastern Europe. In spite of this, Albus Dumbledore had no doubts that the conquest of England was still first in Lord Voldemort's mind. He would have to inform Harry and Luna about all of this when they returned to school in September. Fortunately they were far to the north, enjoying the beauties of a Swedish summer.
But this was to be a brief holiday away from such worries, and Dumbledore intended to enjoy it. Almost as amusing as Minerva McGonagall's reaction to the muggle world, was the reaction of the muggles to him. Although he dressed in a conservative business suit, there was little Albus could do about concealing his long white hair and beard.
He heard one little muggle girl ask her mother if the strange man was Santa Claus, which Albus knew was the American version of Father Christmas.
"No dear," he said gently as he knelt down in front of the child, "I'm just one of his helpers."
"You're an elf?" The little girl asked doubtfully.
"You might say that I am," he answered with a twinkle in his eye, and pulled a large red lollypop out of what seemed to be thin air.
The little girl and her mother walked away with equal looks of amazement on their faces, but the seven-year-olds belief in Santa Claus and his elves was confirmed.
Minerva McGonagall was somehow even more conspicuous than the Headmaster. Something just didn't seem right about the woman's attempt to dress in muggle attire. Although she had guided literally thousands of muggle-born students in their first taste of magic, she had very little contact with the muggle world in general. That fact showed up most dramatically in her fashion sense, which almost matched that of Luna Lovegood. Albus had suggested that the full-length dress, in her family's Scottish tartan, might not be appropriate for Athens in the summertime; but Minerva insisted on wearing it anyway. Several cooling charms later Minerva returned to the hotel to change into something lighter.
The old headmaster was rather looking forward to taking his colleague out to an authentic Greek dinner later that evening, and he wondered what her reaction would be to the smashing of plates at the restaurant that he had chosen. He thought for a moment about asking her to leave her wand behind for the evening, but then realized that it might be asking too much.
Meanwhile, Harry and his friends were also playing the role of tourists, and were having a wonderful time. It was fortunate that Frank and Alice Longbottom had an extensive knowledge of muggle culture, because Philus Lovegood had an endless list of questions. Fortunately he directed most of his questions at the senior Longbottoms, leaving Harry, Luna, Ginny and Neville free to play the part of normal teenagers on summer vacation. They all seemed drawn to the ancient parts of the city; rather than the busy, modern districts. The wonders of the Acropolis captured their imaginations.
"And the really amazing part is that muggle and magical folk created it together; working without fearing each other. If only we could be as open with each other today," Luna said wistfully.
Harry reached over and gave her a one-armed hug. He loved the way her mind worked and knew that life would never be boring with Luna. Once again his thoughts drifted forward to the future that the two were destined to share.
"Indeed it would make things so much simpler," said a familiar voice from behind them. Harry spun around and was surprised to see none other than Albus Dumbledore.
"Professor Dumbledore! What are you doing here?" Harry asked in wonder.
"I was just about to ask you the same question; I thought that you and Miss Lovegood were in Sweden," Dumbledore said with a smile.
"Frank and Alice have asked us to watch the Quidditch World Cup with them," Philus Lovegood explained as he joined the three.
"That is the reason that Minerva and I are here; a little holiday before the start of next term," Dumbledore said. But under the smile and twinkling eyes the old man was a bit concerned that Lord Voldemort was so close to the two teens. "Perhaps we could join you?" He suggested hopefully.
As the two parties joined to explore the city, Harry was once again reminded that wizards had no idea how to dress for the muggle world. Even compared to American tourists they stood out as odd. There was something very wrong about seeing Albus Dumbledore in a pair of shorts and a tee shirt with the message 'I Love Athens.'
However, looking over at his girlfriend, Harry thought that Luna looked rather fetching in her bright yellow sundress and floppy orange and purple hat. At that moment she snapped yet another picture of him with her magical camera, which was getting a real workout.
Two days later, as the sun was just rising in the east, Harry and his friends portkeyed to a grassy slope just north-east of the city. Frank Longbottom had invited Albus Dumbledore and Minerva McGonagall to join their party, and the old Headmaster had graciously accepted. It was here that the Quidditch World Cup would be held, and excited witches and wizards were arriving from all corners of the world. The slopes around the shallow valley were already crowded with magical folk who were arriving to view the most important sporting event on the wizarding calendar.
As his feet hit the sloping ground Harry felt himself sliding forward on the slippery grass. A moment before he fell he felt two hands grabbed his arm and steady him.
"Thanks Lu," the boy responded without even looking at his rescuer. He always knew she would be close by when he needed her.
"Always Harry; I wouldn't want you sliding down the hill in front of all of these people," she said with a smirk.
"It might be fun if you did it with me," the boy responded with a smirk of his own.
"Ah, if you two want to be alone you can join us later for the game," Ginny said with a grin that the other members of the party shared.
Harry looked embarrassed for a moment, but he did give her suggestion some consideration. But then he shrugged his shoulders sheepishly and, taking his girlfriend by the hand, led her down the slope towards an enormous stadium that gleamed in the morning sunlight. Two days before the valley had been empty, but with the help of a little magic the structure now towered above them. Around the base of the stadium a huge tent city had been created in which many of the spectators had spent the previous night.
Harry looked up at the clear blue sky, with the bright Greek sun shining brightly, and knew that it would be a perfect day for Quidditch.
"You would like to be up there with them, wouldn't you?" Luna asked knowingly.
"No, not at all" Harry responded with a wide smile. "I'd rather be down here with you."
"Right answer, Mr. Potter," Luna answered as she gave him a hug.
Ginny Weasley, who was walking behind the two, couldn't help but be surprised by Harry's words; there had been a time not so long before when the boy dreamed about flying above all else. But now his thoughts centered almost exclusively on a certain silver-eyed girl. As Ginny glanced over at Neville Longbottom, who was walking beside her, she realized that it had been a year of change for all of them. Perhaps these feelings were what it felt like to change from a child into an adult.
"Having a good time," Neville asked her softly.
"The best ever," she answered with a winning smile, and hugged his arm tightly.
Neville's parents noticed the interaction between the two teens and exchanged knowing looks. They had themselves married immediately after graduation, as was the custom with most old wizarding families, and they had never regretted it. Now they saw their son and Ginny Weasley moving in the same direction, and they were happy for them. With luck they might be grandparents in a few years.
Frank Longbottom presented their tickets to the witch at the reception desk, and a formally dressed usher escorted them to their box. Harry was surprised when the man led them through a door labeled 'VIP,' and to very luxurious box seats. Their seats were located midway between the two goals, and just at the height where the two teams of chasers would fight out their battle. Surrounding their box were other elite viewing boxes containing heads of state and other VIP's of the wizarding world. All had come to Athens to see the Quidditch World Cup.
As Harry gazed around the crowded stadium he was surprised to see someone waving at him from a nearby box. Looking closer he realized that it was Susan Bones and her aunt, the British Minister of Magic. Also waving was Fred Weasley, who was seated next to Susan.
"Ginny, look!" Harry exclaimed as he pointed across the gulf that separated the two boxes.
"Fred! I didn't know he was going to be here," Ginny responded in surprise as she waved back.
Seated behind the trio was Percy Weasley, the personal assistant to the Minister, and two men that Harry thought were aurors. Percy seemed less than happy to see Harry sitting across from him, and he frowned slightly.
At that moment the Greek Minister of Magic rose to his feet on the opposite side of the stadium. Holding his wand against his neck, his voice boomed out over the crowd as he welcomed them to the Quidditch World Cup. By the wonders of magic his words were translated into the languages of all of those present.
At that moment the English team flew into the stadium, trailing long streams of red, blue and white smoke. A moment later the Bulgarian team entered accompanied by a dramatic display of fireworks and colored streamers.
The fourteen players flew down into the center of the stadium where the referee told them what he expected in the game. Then they rose into the air to their starting positions, and moments later the game began in a blur of movement.
Harry looked up to see the two opposing Seekers circling the stadium high above him, each searching for the elusive Golden Snitch. As he studied how the professionals played the position, he hoped that he might learn something that would help when he returned to school. The upcoming year would be his last playing for Gryffindor, and he had already promised himself it would be his best. Glancing over at Luna he knew that it would be; as his girlfriend had told him that she was going out for the open Chaser position on the team. He had seen Luna fly many times, and he was sure that she would take the position with ease.
While Harry was studying the Seekers, Luna was concentrating her attention on the Chasers. The two teams battled back and forth at breakneck speeds, but the British team seemed a bit better. After thirty minutes of play they had forged a 90 to 70 lead, and were about to score yet another goal.
At that moment a dark cloud passed in front of the sun and a distant rumble of thunder was heard. Some of those in the stadium began preparing themselves for one of the fierce thunderstorms that sometimes struck Southern Greece during the summer months, but most people were too involved in the game to be overly concerned. As the sky grew darker, powerful bolts of lightning began to flash above the stadium and the thunder became an almost unending cacophony. No one present had ever seen a storm like this before, and even the players slowed their play to watch the spectacular light show.
Suddenly the noise stopped entirely, and a deafening silence overtook the entire stadium. It took only seconds for the spectators to realize with shock that the two teams were frozen in midair. After several seconds the fourteen players began to fall earthwards, and screams and gasps of the spectators broke the silence in the stadium. The doomed players appeared to be trying to use their brooms, but without any success.
Harry, Luna and several others reacted immediately, and used their magic to try and save the players. By some miracle their decent began to slow and all of them reached the ground safely, with the exception of a few cuts and bruises. Harry glanced over at Albus Dumbledore and realized that the old man had lost none of his speed, and had also helped prevent the disaster.
But what had caused the near disaster? That question was on the lips of all of those present. What power could freeze fourteen Quidditch players in mid-air, and nullify the charms and enchantments on their brooms. Suddenly a voice like thunder echoed around the stadium and provided an answer.
"I am Lord Voldemort," the voice declared harshly.
At that moment, on the turf on the northern side of the stadium, a small blue flame appeared. It grew taller and wider as it twisted upwards into a towering whirlwind; and eventually reached high above the lower rows of seats. Those nearest the flames tried to flee the inferno, but found that they were frozen to their seats.
"Harry Potter, face me now or a thousand innocents shall parish in agony! It is time we ended this," the voice boomed out cruelly.
"I will face you!" Harry yelled grimly as the whirlwind began to move toward the helpless people.
The fire ceased its movement, and two figures, clad entirely in black, appeared on the pitch in front of it.
"Only you Harry, and she who has chosen to share your fate. If anyone else interferes I will incinerate a thousand souls without a thought," Voldemort declared.
Harry turned to those sitting with him. "I must go," the boy said sadly, but those present could see the courage in his eyes.
"No Harry, we must go," Luna said firmly. Then turning to her Father she laid a gentle hand on his cheek. "I love you Daddy," she said lovingly. Then she stepped to the boy's side and took his hand.
"I will be waiting for your return, my children," Philus said as his emotions threatened to overwhelm him. He had already come to regard Harry as a son, and the only man who was good enough for his daughter.
"Do what must be done Harry, only you have the power," Albus Dumbledore said fiercely.
Smiling at their friends the two teens disappeared, and a moment later they reappeared at the opposite end of the pitch from Dark Lord.
"Now end the fire, and we will finish this," Harry ordered.
"Of course Harry, these people mean nothing to me. Your concern for these pathetic creatures is your greatest weakness, and will allow me to triumph." With that the fiery inferno vanished and a deadly silence returned.
While Harry and Voldemort were exchanging words, Bellatrix was trying to get a feel for her chosen opponent. From what she had seen during the Battle of Hogwarts the girl must have considerable power, but she certainly didn't look it. The girl barely looked to have the concentration for the simplest of spells, and yet her silver eyes didn't seem to miss the subtlest movement by Bellatrix.
"Has wittle baby Loony come to see her baby Potter die today?" Bellatrix asked, carefully observing Luna's reaction to her mockery.
"Harry will not die," the girl responded firmly, and Bellatrix was momentarily taken aback by the strength in her voice.
"Did you see any of your make-believe animals this summer?" Bellatrix asked, hoping to shake the girl's concentration.
"As a matter of fact I did," Luna answered honestly. "By the way, did you know that you hair has a serious infestation of Norwegian Natwinders. I could suggest something if you like," Luna offered with a dreamy smile.
The girl's apparent sincerity was thoroughly confusing to Bellatrix, and she momentarily touched a lock of her black hair. Didn't the girl realize that this would be a fight to the death? Where was the fear that Bellatrix enjoyed so much?
As Harry listened he couldn't help but smile; Luna could even lighten the worst situations. 'Perhaps the same approach will work with Voldie,' the boy thought.
"This moment is long overdue, Harry," Voldemort said menacingly.
"Yes it is Tom, but I do wish that you could have waited until after the game. Team England was just beginning to make its move, and your appearance threw everything off. We could have watched the game in peace and settled our…err, disagreement afterwards," the boy responded casually.
The Dark Lord didn't like the flippant way that the boy was handling all of this, it made Voldemort wonder if his opponent might know something that he didn't. He looked towards Bellatrix Lestrange and nodded his head slightly before turning his gaze back to the young man facing him.
Without warning Voldemort cast the Killing Curse wordlessly, and a beam of green light streaked across the pitch at the boy. But Harry knew his opponent all too well; and he instantly conjured a heavy slab of marble to block the spell. What Harry didn't realize was that the attack was to be a two-pronged affair. A second after Voldemort launched his attack, Bellatrix launched the same curse; also at Harry.
Luna instantly realized the plan. She was merely a distraction so that Voldemort and Bellatrix could both concentrate on Harry. Voldemort's spell struck the marble slab and exploded, reducing the slab to powder; but the second spell passed through unhindered. But Luna had already cast her own spell. It connected with the green-colored curse a few meters away from the boy and exploded with a sound like thunder. Without missing a beat the young girl fired a Reductor Curse at Lestrange. The surprised witch threw up every shield that she could think of, but all to no avail. The curse impacted on her shields, and the force of the impact threw Bellatrix backwards more than a dozen meters. She landed in a heap on the ground, too stunned to realize what had happened.
"Your fight is with me, Bella," Luna said with a grim expression.
Voldemort looked at his colleague with disgust as she struggled to regain her feet.
Bellatrix was furious now; the child had made her look foolish in front of her Master and all those present. There would be no mercy now; nothing but hatred.
The spectators in the stands were no longer struggling to escape, but were strangely mesmerized by the remarkable contest. They watched in awe and disbelief as the two teens fought off the first attack by two of the most powerful, and evil people in the world. But what was to come next, and who was this remarkable young woman fighting beside Harry Potter.
Voldemort quickly covered the surprise and disappointment that he felt, and plastered a fake smile on his face.
"You and your friend are indeed worthy opponents, Harry. May I ask where you learned it; certainly not at Hogwarts?" Voldemort asked, genuinely curious.
"We have a remarkable friend who has shown us much," Harry answered causally.
And then the spells began to fly, lighting the interior of the stadium with a deadly light show the like of which had never been seen by wizard or muggle before. The Dark Lord used lightening combined with dark curses to try to overwhelm his opponent by sheer force of magic. But Harry's ability to instantly disappear from one location and appear in another served him in good stead. Upon appearing he would fire a blanket of ball lightening at the Dark Lord, then disappear again and fire the same spells from a different angle. The Dark Lord was kept continuously on the move dodging attacks, and the turf was soon ripped and torn like the battlefield that it was.
The battle between Luna and Lestrange showed less raw power, but a good deal more imagination. Bellatrix was a master of trickery and cunning, but in Luna Lovegood she had apparently met her match. The two witches battled back and forth as they called upon their power to perform feats of magic that most people thought was impossible. Luna briefly caged Lestrange as roots shot out of the ground and wrapped her mummy-like in a dark cocoon. But then the cocoon was transfigured into a hundred razor-sharp spears that were sent speeding across the pitch at the young girl. In response Luna threw up a pink cloud, and when the spears emerged they had turned into savage Griffins that wheeled back to attack Lestrange.
And so the battle went, for more than an hour, with neither side able to gain an advantage over the other. And yet it became clear to those watching that of the four combatants, Bellatrix Lestrange was clearly weakening. That fact was also clear to the Dark Lord. Should she fail, as now appeared likely, he would have to apparate away or face two powerful opponents at the same time. Neither alternative was acceptable. It was time for the Dark Lord to use the boy's own courage against him.
"Enough!" Voldemort shouted, and he lowered his wand to a neutral position. "It's clear that you and your friend can defend yourselves; but can you defend the thousands of people sitting behind you? Would you save yourselves and allow them to die? We shall see," Voldemort said smugly.
Voldemort and Bellatrix raised their wands from the ground to over their heads, and simultaneously a curtain of fire rose high into the sky. Higher and higher the flames rose in red and orange intensity.
"Slowly Bella, slowly; let Harry and his friend see death approaching," the spectators heard the Dark Lord say from behind the curtain of flame. "Let us see if they are willing to save themselves and allow innocent people to parish." With that the curtain of crackling flame began to move slowly forward towards the two teens.
Harry looked over at Luna hopelessly; he knew that even the most powerful of water spells would do little against such an inferno. In his heart he knew that both of them were going to die, because to leave the others to their fate was unthinkable. As he looked into Luna's eyes he knew that she felt the same; but whatever Fate had in store for him he was proud to face it by her side.
And then in his head he heard a familiar voice; it was not Luna's, but the voice of a long forgotten Celtic goddess. "Water kills fire; trust to your powers," the voice said. He looked at his girlfriend and realized that she had heard it as well; and suddenly both of them knew exactly what to do.
The two teens grinned at each other, and then began to raise their arms skyward. At first it seemed like a summer shower, only in reverse. Droplets of water were being pulled from the earth and up into the sky, to hang suspended in a small floating pool high above. Almost immediately the droplets became a steady upward falling rain, and then a stream, and finally a geyser of water. The turf around the two teens had literally become a reverse waterfall, as thousands of gallons of water shot upwards. The pool in the sky had become a great suspended lake of water, far above the heads of the amazed spectators.
Only Albus Dumbledore seemed to understand what Harry and Luna were doing, and even he found it hard to believe the incredible power required to accomplish such a feat. They were literally drawing up every drop of ground water from miles around, and concentrating it in one enormous floating lake. And they were doing it in seconds!
Behind the wall of fire, Voldemort and Bellatrix had no idea of what was happening. Both were smug in the belief that their adversaries would never abandon the worthless people in the stadium, and that their victory was assured.
Then the wall of water began to sweep forward towards the fire in an enormous wave. The water struck the fire and swept past, leaving a massive cloud of steam that made the stadium briefly appear to be a volcano, with white steam spreading in all directions. Voldemort and Bellatrix got a brief look at the terrible wave before it came crashing down on them. In those brief seconds they threw up every shield that they could think of. The wave smashed to the ground and the water immediately disappeared back into the soil, leaving the Dark Lord and Bellatrix lying prostrate on the ground.
Those viewing from the stadium had gone completely silent. Even in the magical world some things were impossible, and this was one of them. Most were too shocked to utter a single word, and watched in silent awe.
"Now Harry," Luna shouted, and placed an idea in the boy's mind.
The two teens fired twin gold-colored spells at their two adversaries, who were just beginning to regain their wits. Voldemort was struck as he struggled to regain his feet, but Bellatrix was still on the ground when Luna's spell hit her.
The spell felt like nothing that Voldemort had ever experienced before, and made him feel quite warm and peaceful. He felt a strange tingling in his arms, and looked down to discover that they were covered with long, black feathers; as was the rest of his body. His thoughts seemed to simplify, and he had the strangest desire to spread his arms and fly. Harry Potter no longer mattered, only the need to feel the air currents under his wings. That was the last human thought that the Dark Lord ever had, as the transformation overtook him. Where wizard and witch once stood there now stumbled about two large and rather ugly black birds. While clumsy on ground, the two birds looked impressive as they rose from the turf on powerful, black wings. The spectators thought they looked like some kind of large vulture, but no one was sure what kind. They circled higher and higher, looking at each other in confusion, and finally flew off to the north. A few months later a muggle bird watcher would be laughed at when he reported seeing a pair of giant Condors in the mountains of Northern Greece.
Those in the stadium found themselves released from the Dark Lord's spell, and after a minute of absolute silence, erupted in a tremendous cheer that echoed around the stadium and indeed the entire valley. Harry and Luna threw their arms around each other and hugged tightly. The nightmare was finally over.
Professor Dumbledore appeared on the pitch next to the two teens and quickly whisked them away from all of the noise and confusion. A few minutes later, in a quiet room near the stadium security office, they were joined by their friends and family. Also present was Minister Bones, her party, and the Greek Minister of Magic.
"Are you two alright?" Ginny said, asking the question that was on the minds of all.
"Oh yes, quite well," Luna responded brightly.
"That was really amazing, Harry. I've never seen anything like it," Neville said in awe.
"Would I be correct in assuming that the powers you just demonstrated were part of the gift that you received from a certain friend?" Madam Bones asked diplomatically.
Harry glanced at the two aurors, and then over to Luna in hopes of getting some direction.
Madam Bones seemed to sense the concern of the young man and turned to the two men. "Would you gentlemen please wait outside?" She didn't feel that she could ask the Greek Minister of Magic to leave, considering it was his own country, and Percy Weasley was standing in the background outside of the Minister's sight. The two aurors left the room and closed the door quietly behind them.
If Percy were to be honest with himself, he would have admitted that he never liked Harry Potter. Fame had come too easily to the boy; while others, like himself, struggled and never seemed to get anywhere. And now the boy was destined to gain additional fame and recognition; it just wasn't right.
"The Lady taught us," Luna admitted.
"Lady?" Frank Longbottom couldn't help himself from asking.
"Oh yes, she's a friend of ours," Luna explained, and over the next few minutes Harry and Luna told the Longbottoms about their remarkable friend and the message she had sent while they were fighting the Dark Lord. If the senior Longbottoms weren't shocked already, the moment certainly came when their son and Ginny Weasley explained that they too had received visions from the ancient Celtic goddess. The blushes that the two teens shared gave the adults an idea about the nature of the visions, and the two Longbottoms were delighted at the prospect of the young girl joining their family.
"I think that you need to have a talk with your son while I talk wedding plans with Molly Weasley," Alice whispered to her husband.
"But why did you change them into buzzards, why not kill them?" Percy asked harshly, bringing everyone's attention back to the fact that he was still with them.
Fred and Ginny simply rolled their eyes; Percy would never understand the type of person that Luna Lovegood was, or the person that Harry Potter had become over the last year.
"It would be wrong to kill them," Luna explained with wide-eyed innocence.
"As buzzards they can make a new start and be useful to the world," Harry explained.
"How, by eating carrion?" Fred asked incredulously.
"Well it has to be done, and they weren't very nice people," Luna explained patiently.
At that moment Ginny Weasley broke into laughter at the look on Percy's face; it was priceless. He would never understand Luna.
Madam Bones watched the two teens in amazement, and she realized that the world owed the two an almost insurmountable debt. "Is there anything that I can do for you….I mean to reward you for what you've done," she sputtered out, quite at a loss for the right words.
"No, I think I have everything I want, thank you," the boy said sincerely as he took Luna's hand and drew her closer to his side.
But at that moment Luna squeezed Harry's hand and gave him a significant look. It was clear that the young woman was communicating her disagreement with the young man's statement. A look of realization appeared on his face, and was quickly followed by a smirk.
"Err…Madam Bones, there is one thing that Luna and I would like very much," Harry began hesitantly. "Well, you see, Luna and I would like to be married. The problem is that she doesn't turn seventeen until next February; and we were hoping it might be possible…"
"No, no, that is quite impossible, Mr. Potter," Percy Weasley said snidely as he interrupted Harry's question and the answer that Madam Bones was formulating. "The Minister simply can't make an exception to the laws for you or anyone else. It would not be right."
Madam Bones looked on in shock as Percy Weasley lectured the two people who had just saved their world. She also noticed that the other teens in the room appeared quite ready to hex Percy at that very moment, and that Fred and Ginny had already drawn their wands.
"Mr. Weasley; I understand that you have high political ambitions, and perhaps even the office of Minister in a few years," Madam Bones said as she carefully changed the subject.
"Yes, Madam Bones, I do," Percy answered, puffing out slightly.
"You do realize that to achieve that level of authority you will need foreign policy experience?" She asked carefully.
"I was hoping to get a diplomatic posting when an opening becomes available," Percy answered, pleased that the Minister was taking such an interest in his ambitions.
"Well then you are in luck. It just so happens that I have an important ambassadorial post open at this moment, and I think you would be the perfect man to fill it," she said with apparent sincerity.
Percy swelled with pride as he looked at his brother and sister condescendingly. "I would be honored, Madam Bones," he responded.
"I'm very happy to hear that. Because of the importance of the post I would have to ask you to leave immediately; would that be a problem?" She asked seriously.
"Absolutely not, I can leave at once," he responded proudly.
"Excellent," she said as she walked to the door and opened it. "Perkins, could you please step in here for a moment?"
A burly auror well over six feet tall stepped into the room and waited further orders. As Harry looked at the unsmiling face we was certain he never wanted to be on this man's bad side.
"I am sending Mr. Weasley on an important ambassadorial mission, and I need for you to escort him back to London and see that he's packed and ready to leave first thing in the morning. I want you to also arrange for all necessary transportation documents. This is of the greatest importance," she said firmly.
"Of course, Minister Bones," Perkins replied quickly.
Ginny Weasley thought that she was going to gag with the way that Percy was puffing himself up like a peacock. 'If Percy was bad before, he'll be impossible now,' she thought with disgust.
As Percy turned to leave the room he hesitated and turned back to face the Minister.
"Err…excuse me Madam Bones, but exactly where will I be ambassador to?" He asked.
"Oh I'm sorry, I forgot to mention it. Starting tomorrow you will be our new ambassador to the Gobi Desert," she said with a completely serious look.
A look of absolute horror appeared on Percy's face comprehension dawned on him. "The…the Gobi Desert; but there are no wizards in the Gobi Desert," he declared in disbelief.
"Nonsense Mr. Weasley; I'm sure that in the five years of your appointment you will find several. I wish to receive regular reports on your progress; I regard this of the highest importance," she said firmly.
Fred and Ginny could barely control their laughter at the look on Percy's face. "Five years?" He asked in disbelief.
"Of course Mr. Weasley; it will take you that long to familiarize yourself with the conditions in the region. I expect your first report to be on my desk in two weeks," the Minister ordered.
"Yes Minister," Percy said in a tone of complete defeat, and left the room with the auror.
The minute that the door closed Fred and Ginny burst out laughing; they had never seen their brother so completely lost, and it delighted both of them.
Madam Bones had used the interruption as a chance to think. The last thing that the Minister had expected was for the two young people to ask to marry. Now she found herself in a most uncomfortable position. There was a good reason for the age limit on marriages; most people younger than seventeen were simply not mature enough to make that kind of a decision. But as she looked at the two people in front of her, who had in fact just saved their world, she realized that they were more than mature enough. Perhaps the best course was to share the decision with the other adult most directly concerned.
"How do you feel about your daughter's marriage, Mr. Lovegood?" She asked carefully.
"Please Minister, call me Philus. But in answer to your question, I whole heartedly give my consent," he said with a broad smile.
"In that case I can arrange the paperwork immediately, and I hope that my niece and I will be invited to attend your wedding," the Minister said with genuine happiness for the young couple.
Ginny Weasley squealed with delight, and then turned bright red as all eyes turned in her direction.
"Sorry," she mumbled, as she edged behind Neville slightly.
"No need to be; a wedding is always a time for joy," Philus said with a grin.
Minerva McGonagall was listening to all of this, and edged a little closer to the Headmaster.
"Albus, a married couple at school; it's never happened before!"
"Well Minerva, I don't recall that we've ever had students quite like Mr. Potter and Miss Lovegood before. I suggest that we both be happy for them right now, and worry about September at a later time," the Headmaster said. "But please remind me to increase my order of Lemon Drops," he added a moment later.
During the last week in August a wedding was held. Celebrations over the defeat of the Dark Lord were still underway, and the fact that the heroes of the hour were to wed only seemed to add to the sense of jubilation. If anyone had any concerns about Luna Lovegood's age, they kept it discreetly to themselves.
The general expectation was that the wedding would take place in the Great Hall at Hogwarts, or some other impressive site. But the reality was that the two participants had already selected a place that was far more special, at least to them. On a bright, sunny morning in late August a select group of people met near a small pond in rural Devonshire. The few invited guests were seated in specially transfigured boats around a tiny island. As they watched the young couple exchanging their vows, they had no idea that the most important guest was watching from the crystal clear waters of the pond itself. Vivienne realized that this was a most important moment for the two, and the world as well, and she was happier than she had been in a thousand years. As the two teens sealed their pledge with a kiss, both were looking forward to a long and happy life together and an exciting final year at school. After all, Harry Potter and Luna Lovegood Potter were most unusual people. In addition to being wizard and witch, exciting things tended to happen to them; and they fully expected that to continue. And it all started with a little ice cream.