"We gather here today," she began, looking out into the crowd of hundreds who had shown up for the ceremony, "to remember the past, to remember those who gave their lives so that we might live in peace."
As she spoke, she looked out into the faces of the various wizards and witches that sat before her, but it was the faces that were absent that she saw much more clearly. She swallowed her pain and continued her speech.
"Seven years ago today, the third and final war against the dark wizard known as Voldemort was fought. This site commemorates not only those who died in that war, but those who gave their lives in the two that preceded it as well. This was not a war that was fought by a specific group of wizards, but one fought over several generations."
She gazed out past the crowd to where the circle of stones lay. More had been added to the site as those who had died in the third war had been buried.
"We would not be here today if it were not for a group of brave and dedicated witches and wizards. Some of them are here today, living in a world that they risked their lives to create. Others were not so fortunate."
She turned for a quick glance to where her husband sat. He met her gaze in a somber look that told her he was remembering the same list of names that she was.
"We can honor their memory by doing all we can to ensure that an atrocity such as this never happens again."
"As Headmistress of Hogwarts..." She looked towards where the students sat, with the faculty in the row in front of them. Pansy Parkinson was among them, clad in somber black robes. Hermione had kept her promises to her spy. She had protected her from prosecution and even given her a job at Hogwarts...as the Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher and Head of Slytherin.
"As Headmistress of Hogwarts, I have been working to ensure that we eliminate prejudice and discrimination from the educational system." She had taken the curriculum from the school that she had started and transferred it to Hogwarts, educating purebloods and muggleborns alike in the mixed magic and science of the muggle and magical worlds.
"The Ministry has also been doing its part to ensure fair treatment to all magical creatures." She should know, she had served as Minister of Magic for three years during the reconstruction. They had been a busy three years in which she had overhauled the entire ministry, starting from scratch and throwing out all the arcane and prejudiced laws. It had been a difficult time as wizarding society had been left in shambles from Voldemort's rule. After three years, the Ministry had reached a level of stability where she was confident enough to turn it over to the able hands of Seamus Finnigan and return to her first love, education.
"The Ministry has also initiated programs designed to live in harmony with the muggle world, but we must go beyond this. We must stop thinking of the world as divided but recognize the fact these lines are blurry at best, that both the muggle world and the magical world and everything in-between are but different aspects of an united whole."
She nodded towards the Minister and his wife. Lavender gave her a short smile. After all those years, after all the animosity, the two women had come to a sort of understanding. It was, after all, Lavender who had saved Hermione's life and Hermione who had created the safe world that Lavender's children were now growing up in.
In the row behind them sat Teddy and Dalia. He was twenty now and she eighteen. The few wizards who had known his father at his age could see the eerie resemblance. His brown hair was long and ragged and his eyes contained all the kindness and understanding of his father. He reached out tentatively and took his girlfriend's hand in his, caressing her palm with his thumb.
Severus turned to glare at Teddy and his first instinct was to drop her hand in fear, but instead he met the man's eye and tightened his grip on his girlfriend. The man had harassed him as his teacher for years, had been extra hard on him because he could tell the boy was interested in his adopted daughter in ways that he did not approve of, but Teddy was an auror now and he could not allow this man to intimidate him any more.
He held the man's dark gaze for several moments until the man finally nodded and turned away. He couldn't help but feel he had just gotten some sort of an acceptance.
Severus sighed. It seemed as though Dahlia was set on dating Teddy Lupin, despite his best efforts. Although he had to admit that despite all the crap he had put the boy through over the years, he really was a good kid. And if anyone had to touch Dahlia, it might as well be Teddy. To console himself, he thought of what Petunia Dursley's reaction would be to her granddaughter dating the son of a werewolf. A small smile crept across his lips.
The speech ended and the crowd dispersed and left, leaving but a few to stroll around the stone circle, reading the names in the stones.
Teddy knelt down by the stones marked RL and NT. He came her often, to talk to the stones, sometimes just to sit with them.
He stood to face the young woman who waited for him. They had been friends since that day they had first met. Not only had they both been orphaned as babies, but both of their parents had been murdered. They had remained friends through their education at Hogwarts. It wasn't until his last year in school that they had taken it beyond friendship. He was two years older than her and had started his training to be an auror while she was still finishing up her last year of school. He liked to think that his mother would have been proud of him for following in her footsteps. His parents and many others had given their lives to make a safe world for him to live in and he intended to do his best to keep it that way...to make the most of their sacrifice.
"She graduates this year," Hermione commented to her husband as they watched the two young people from across the field.
"Yes. But it's not like she'll be leaving."
He smiled a small smile. Dahlia had decided to become a professor. It was hardly surprising.
"I was thinking of giving Grimmauld Place to Teddy. After all, he is the heir of the house of Black."
"I'm sure that the portrait of Old Mrs. Black will be thrilled."
She laughed softly.
The last member of the most ancient of the pureblood lines was the son of a werewolf and a half-blood and had a muggleborn girlfriend. Mrs. Black certainly would have a thing of two to say about that. Hermione took it as proof of how quickly things could change, in the span of only a few generations how much was possible. The world moved forwards with surprising speed and fluidity.
Hermione laid a single white rose down next to two stones which lay side-by-side in the soft grass. A lone tear rolled off her cheek and dropped onto the stone surface, creating a dark spot on the smooth gray. She touched the stone lightly, feeling it's hardness against her fingertips, tracing the scratches which made the letters GW, then laid it back down along-side the stone which bore the initials HP. She liked to think that wherever they were, at last they were together.
Severus took her hand and led her back to the gates of Hogwarts. They had both settled back into the castle, she as headmistress and he retired and free to pursue his private research, something which he found enormously satisfying. Sometimes she even allowed some of the more talented students assist him with his work.
They had both grown up into times of war, had both lived the greater part of their lives with their wands only a split-second away from their fingertips. It had been difficult to adjust to the lack of danger, to living without the constant fear, without the paranoia. Severus felt as though he had been holding his breath since he was sixteen years old. It had taken him seven years of peace, but he finally felt like he could breathe again. He closed his eyes as they walked and let the soft, sweet air fill his lungs.
A/N: Thank you to everyone who stuck with this story all the way through and everyone who reviewed. I have a couple of ideas for my next story that I'm going to start posting and kinda see which one takes off.