Author's Notes: Alright, ladies and gentlemen. Here is Chapter Five, the final chapter I have for this story. Yes, I know, I can see the many tears of sadness at the end of this story...oh shut up, you know you want more than five chapters. You KNOW.
Anyways, here it is. No special style, just the end. I tried to write in the style of the Supreme and Most Glorious Overlord of All That is Holy and Good, Ms. Jo Rowling, though with how much success I do not know. Before you ask me, yes, I did directly lift some of the writing from the Epilogue of Deathly Hallows. So sue me. Since the Supreme Overlord will probably never see this...or, if you do, Your Excellency, I hope you'll enjoy and appreciate this enough to not sue the baggy Y-fronts off me.
I'll conserve time by begging for reviews right here (it also makes the end to the story much cleaner to not have sloppy notes at the end, I think). So, if any of you could drop a review--Your Most Brilliant and Majestic Radiance, if you're reading this, it would be an honour to hear your thoughts. But since she probably won't read it, I suppose the rest of you can suffice instead.
Thanks very much to all of you who read this all the way through. And if any of you actually ARE a little sad at the story's ending so soon, consider my last three words herein. Now, then, please enjoy.
Twelve Years After
"Where are they?" asked Albus anxiously, peering at the hazy forms they passed as they made their way down the platform.
"We'll find them," said Ginny reassuringly.
But the vapour was dense, and it was difficult to make out anybody's faces. Detached from their owners, voices sounded unnaturally loud. Harry thought he heard Percy discoursing quite loudly on broomstick regulations, and was quite glad of the excuse not to stop and say hello...
"I think that's them, Al," said Ginny suddenly.
A group of four people emerged from the mist, standing alongside the very last carriage. Their faces only came into focus when Harry, Ginny, Lily, and Albus had drawn right up to them.
"Hi," said Albus, sounding immensely relieved.
Rose, who was already wearing her brand-new Hogwarts robes, beamed at him.
"Parked all right, then?" Ron asked Harry. "I did. Hermione didn't believe I could pass a Muggle driving test, did you? She thought I'd have to Confund the examiner."
"No, I didn't," said Hermione. "I had complete faith in you."
As Ron confided in Harry that he in fact did Confund the man, Harry spared a glance at Hermione, who also took the slightest pause from her conversation with Rose about the train and the boats that awaited her, to meet his eyes with a soft smile. Somehow, he imagined, he'd never figure out how she managed to convey everything she felt in a simple look.
Then again, he pointed out to himself, she had twelve years of practice.
Though the first nine months had been a learning experience in how to keep their emotions out of sight and out of mind, the two would meet every now and again and revel in the bond they shared together. They learned to live for the present, because the future was simply too complex—and sometimes too frightening—to contemplate.
When Harry heard Rose was being born, Ron had actually been in Italy on assignment. Before leaving, he had received every assurance imaginable from the family doctor that the chances of the child coming prematurely were astronomical with the magical medicines available, he had still asked Harry to be there should anything happen, to be there for Hermione if he couldn't. In that delivery room in St. Mungo's, Harry had gripped her hand firmly and warmly, whispering in her ear all sorts of endearments and encouragements and did everything he could to keep her from thinking about what would come next. When her first child came into the world, there was a moment, one single, solitary, eternal moment where she and Harry looked into one another's eyes and felt the purest love coursing through their hearts. But with the child out, he and Hermione both were forced to leave that perfect moment, and face their fears: if the child didn't look just right, if there was even the slightest hint of Harry in it...
Harry gasped when he saw his daughter. She was so small, so fragile, so incredibly beautiful...and so exactly like her mother. Down to the beautiful eyes and shape of her face. Their worst fear behind them, Harry and Hermione had spent infinite seconds or hours or years together, him sitting with her in the hospital bed, enjoying what would probably be their last free moments together until Death came to greet them like old friends as it did Ignotus so many
centuries before them and they departed this life.
The following eleven years were, to say the least interesting. Meeting once or twice a month, the two would take solace in each other, and privately rejoice over how amazing and fantastic their daughter had become...though the first time that she displayed accidental magic, both parents had received quite a scare: the sheer power the diminutive girl had put out shrieked (to them, anyhow) that she had fully inherited Harry's magic and poor temper. Ron, however, was entirely convinced that it was a matter of generational balancing; Hermione was so good at controlling her magic and temper that her daughter simply had to be a foil to her mother in that respect.
Harry loved his daughter dearly, and despite her being his "niece," he treated her as a daughter, and—because of his innately loving nature—he also treated his other nieces and nephews with the same care and affection as he would his own children. Rose became quite fond of him, too, and Ron had expressed on more than one occasion that he envied Harry's closeness to Rose, though he was glad the girl found someone to trust and confide in so completely...especially since this someone knew exactly which secrets to tell her parents (like the fact that she was accidentally responsible for putting James' ears on backwards after he had harassed her while she was reading once too often) and which to only tell Hermione (like how she felt closer to him, more daughter-like to him, than she did to Ron) and which to keep to himself entirely.
In the end, the way to keep going on with their lives while still loving one another was relatively simple for them. They accepted, wholeheartedly, that they loved each other, and moved on, discovering the difference between loving someone, and being in love with them. They learned to love the other while also being in love with their spouses, and in this they learned to move on and make separate families of their own.
After Albus and Rose boarded, the train began to move, and Harry walked alongside it, watching his son's thin face, already ablaze with excitement, and his daughter's face, as she did not look back at her family, but forwards, to the track, to Hogwarts, and beyond. Then she did glance back, if only for a moment, and waved with Albus. Harry kept smiling and waving, even though it was like a little bereavement, watching his children glide away from him...
The last trace of steam evaporated in the autumn air. The train rounded a corner. Harry's hand was still raised in farewell.
"He'll be all right," murmured Ginny.
As Harry looked at her, he lowered his hand absentmindedly and touched the lightning scar on his forehead.
"I know he will."
And as he left with his wife and youngest child, he spared a last glance at Hermione, who looked back, and smiled, and waved goodbye. He waved as well, and they parted once more, continuing their silent dance around the obstacles of the world around them from that day to eternity.
To say "all was well" would be rather inaccurate for the two. It wasn't the storybook ending that they dreamed of, but it was still a story. Still their story. And as for the ending of their story, they held solace in their knowledge that death was by no means an end.
Nothing ever ends.