A/N Well fifty chapters later and I still don't own anything cannon in the Harry Potter World! Thanks so much for hanging in there till the end of my tale. I have enjoyed this experience and I am looking forward to my next tale (or tales). I have a couple on the burner, one will be a collection of short ficlets in the Warrior's Path AU, the stuff that would have been too far off track to address in the main story. If there is something you would like included in that, just drop a line! Hope you will join me on next part of the journey.
Hogwarts, Summer Term…
The examiners from the Wizard's Examination Authority had arrived the day before. Today was the first of the O.W.L.s for the fifth years and the N.E.W.T.s for the seventh years. Now it was time to find out what the students had learned over the last few years at Hogwarts.
The last month had been spent in intense studying on the part of both age groups. Professor McGonagall had been heard to remark that this had been the easiest revision period she had ever seen. Hagrid thought that the events of Easter break this year had gotten out everyone's spring fidgets without the usual high jinks that went on in the school this time of year.
Madame Marchbanks came into the Great Hall talking with Dumbledore in the loud voice that sometimes is indicative of the hard of hearing. Hermione and Harry had just come down to queue up for the exam and could hear what the older witch was saying.
"Well Albus, I am glad to see you are back. You are far too old to be getting up to what you have been doing this year. I am looking forward to these examinations however. Madame Bones has told me that I am in for a surprise. Have you been changing the curriculum again?"
She knew about the battle of course but nothing had leaked about the students that had participated in it. Not many of the non-Auror combatants had realized just who was doing most of the effective fighting during the battle, only the family members of the DA knew that their children were warriors and not even all of them knew the whole truth. In addition, if they did know it, they were not telling anyone just in case there were still Death Eaters that had evaded the DMLE's search. No one knew if those few Death Eaters were looking for anyone who had helped in the defeat of their Lord.
It was suspected by the wizarding community at large that Harry Potter had played a significant role in the defeat of Lord Voldemort but no one in authority would substantiate that rumor. Dumbledore along with Harry's assorted "family" decided that he had enough to be going on with, without the added fame for once again defeating Voldemort and this time to the indisputable death of the dark wizard. Harry had agreed with this plan whole-hearted. He had never been one to seek celebrity status and hated it when he had been thrust into the lime light in the past.
"My dear Madame Marchbanks, we haven't really changed anything, just increased the opportunities to study what is taught in class. Our faculty this year has been through some major changes and we now have on staff now what I believe to be the best faculty that Hogwarts has ever had."
Dumbledore moved much slower now, still without a cane but obviously not as spry as he had been in the fall. The twinkle in the blue eyes behind the half-moon glasses however had not diminished one bit.
"Well, I must say I am looking forward to this year's test results. You wouldn't believe the rumors I have heard," she paused for a moment to see if Dumbledore would volunteer any information. "I see that you are going to just leave me in suspense. This had better be a good surprise. The test scores have not been what I would have expected the last few years with the Tournament and all. Thank you for showing me in, now you just toddle on off." She sat at the examiner's desk and nodded to Professor McGonagall to allow the students to come into the hall for their O.W.L. Charms written exam.
During the following week, many of the Light Warriors and especially the group closest to Harry earned extra credit points for silent casting, not a requirement on the O.W.L.s, among other things. The most spectacular was on Thursday during the Defense Against the Dark Arts practical.
Professor Tofty, Harry's examiner, was so pleased with the ease in which Harry preformed all of the required counter-jinxes and defensive spells. He had never seen any one so young do it so well.
"Oh bravo!" cried Professor Tofty after Harry had demonstrated a perfect boggart banishing spell. "Very good Potter, that is all…except I have heard that you can produce a Patronus, I will understand if it is just a rumor, but would you like to try for a bonus point, not that you need it?"
"Certainly sir. Expecto Patronum!" Harry of course could cast this spell silently very easily now but why show off more than he already was?
The silver stag erupted from the end of his wand and cantered away only to be joined by Hermione's otter, Ron's fox, and Neville's owl. The examiners cheered and clapped at this impressive demonstration as the four patronus chased each other the length of the hall before disappearing.
"Excellent Mr. Potter, thank you. You may go."
Professor Tofty couldn't wait to turn to the next examiner to discuss what had happen. The fact that four fifth years had been able to produce a fully corporal patronus was simply amazing. It is a good thing that he didn't know about the one third year and the fourth years that could do it too. It might have given him a heart attack.
Hermione of course was going through her exam stress but this year it wasn't as bad as usual, which surprised Harry. He asked her about it Thursday evening.
"Hermione these are the first of the important exams we have had here at Hogwarts. Not that I am complaining, but you don't seem to be stressing out as bad as you have in the past over year end exams."
Harry thought he knew the reason but he loved to hear Hermione talk. Since the battle, her voice had dropped to a deep sultry alto and it just sent shivers up his spine. Now her brunette hair had burnishes of flame red through it too. She had decided to leave it that color when Madame Pomfrey had said that it was a permanent change from the spell damage. Since it was still short from being burnt off, she looked like she had an aura of flame tinged brown curls around her head. He loved looking at her even more now.
"Harry? Harry?" Hermione smiled as she gently shoved him.
"Oh yeah! What were we talking about?" Harry drew her close to him as they stood by a window overlooking the grounds. She leaned back into his chest and enjoyed the embrace.
"You were asking me why I wasn't stressing as bad this year over exams, remember?"
"Ok I am back now. So tell me please."
"It is because of everything we have accomplished this year. After everything has happened to us, I am more secure in who I am and what I can do than I have ever been in my life. I know that I know this, at least at this level of learning. Does that make sense?"
"Of course it does 'Moine. I always thought that you sold yourself short and set impossible goals. I loved you then, but I must admit the new relaxed model tends to be a bit more fun." Harry said this with a low chuckle. Harry's voice had lowered to a very pleasant baritone. Hermione thought that with more age it would be as silky as Professor Snape's was. She could hardly wait.
Hermione turned in his embrace to face him. She once again realized just how much she had to look up at him now. His green eyes were dancing with his lips in that lopsided grin that Potter men tended to use much too often on the ladies. She snuggled into his chest, holding him tight.
"I am looking forward to the end of term. I have never been to America and I am so looking forward to seeing Mum and Dad. I am glad that you are going too. Are you ready to fly on a plane yet?"
Hermione knew that Harry was fascinated by the flying muggle craft; he had always wanted to get on one and leave the Dursleys far behind when he was small.
"Yes I am! I am finally going to see some of the world and maybe I will be able to decide what it is that I am going to do after Hogwarts. I used to think that I wanted to be an Auror, but now I am not so sure."
"Harry you are just turning sixteen, you are not supposed to know what it is you want to do for the rest of your life. Muggles do not; just start studying in the direction of something that interests you. Do you think that you will pull off an Outstanding in Potions? You have gotten so much better in that this year."
"Well it helps that Professor Snape has relaxed too. Neville has even gotten better. So I guess we will wait and see. I am glad that I decided to come back next year. I wonder what it will be like to have a school year where nobody in particular is trying to kill me."
Hermione chuckled, "Maybe we can act like teenagers. I wonder what that will be like myself." The two Gryffindors walked back to their common room, with their arms interlocked.
End of Term Hogwarts…
The Light Warriors had a get together in the Room of Requirement after graduation for a going away party. Everyone would be leaving tomorrow and it would be some time before most would be able to see one another again. Angelina, Fred, and George had finished their seventh year, all three graduating with honors. The Twins felt like that they had done much better in their N.E.W.T.s than their O.W.L.S. simply because they had exerted the effort for these.
They had taken the Tri Wizard winnings that Harry had given them last year and invested it in getting a joke shop on Diagon Alley. They had interested Sirius, Ed and Charles into becoming backers too. Their new shop, Weasley's Wizard Wheezes, would be opening in July, just in time for back to school purchases.
Katie of course would be a seventh year next school term, with Harry, Ron, Hermione, and Neville returning for their sixth year. Ginny and Luna would be fifth years. The returning students had decided to continue with their respective age groups for the simple reason that they wanted at least one normal school year (hopefully).
Their favorite advisors joined them for the party. Albus, Charles, Ed, Sirius, Joshua, Minerva, Flitwick, Remus, Severus and Hagrid were having a wonderful time talking and mingling with some of their favorite students. Star and Dobby were handling the refreshments complete with Butterbeer and pizza, the group's new favorite meal. Even Professor Snape was seen to have a slight smile flit across his face once or twice during the evening.
Harry took a moment to sit down beside Joshua who had been helped by Ed to a comfortable chair by the roaring fire. The older Stormchaser had not bounced back from the battle, as Dumbledore seemed to have done. He was very weak and needed a cane to walk with now. No more Tai Chi in the mornings by Hagrid's hut. But he did make it a point to be there to watch his light warriors every morning. And he had continued to teach the lower years in Care of Magical Creatures.
"Grandfather," Harry began, "I don't know how to thank you. You are one of the big reasons we are here today!"
"Harry," Joshua's voice was not loud but it was still strong, "you owe me no thanks. Remember you are of my family, family takes care of family. I am proud that I had a chance to hand down to another member of my family what I have learned over the years. The honor is all mine." The old wizard smiled widely, his dark eyes lost in the crinkles of his laugh lines.
"Sir, I am the one that is honored. I am looking forward to seeing your home, thank you for inviting me by the way. Hermione is still having trouble with the fact that her parents have fallen in love with Arizona and are not returning to Britain. So seeing you to your home will maybe help her come to terms with it before she sees them. I wanted to ask you something."
"Anything Lion child."
"What do you think I should do, now that Voldemort is gone? I thought I wanted to be an Auror but now here at the end of it, I am not so sure." Harry turned his face from the fire to look directly at the older wizard.
"Lion child, you are a young warrior who has already proven himself in battle. Do not let anyone convince you that you still have something to prove to anyone. I have seen you do many things, but the best thing you are good at is teaching."
"Yes, teaching. Get some more life experience, more of the normal not having to look over your shoulder all the time experience and I feel that you would be a wonderful teacher. Think about that while you are on your break. But remember that you are young, you don't have to make up your mind just this moment," the old wizard concluded with a smile.
"That is what Hermione said."
"Well, she is the brightest witch of her age, isn't she?"
"Oh yes sir she is. I will have a time keeping up with her won't I?"
"That Lion Child will be one of the many pleasures of your life." The old wizard looked over at the beautiful young woman who was watching Harry from across the room with a slight smile on her lips. "A definite pleasure my child."
Albus stood up and said, "I have a few announcements to make. I am so glad that every one of my undergraduates has decided to return next year. Some of our faculty will be leaving us," Albus nodded to Joshua, "but some will be returning. Charles has agreed to return as Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher and Remus Lupin will return to teach the lower years Care of Magical Creatures, sharing that position with Hagrid who will continue with upper years. I do believe that you will find that your next school year will be most enjoyable."
The older wizard beamed at his students who were reacting with unbridled joy at the staff announcements. He was glad that they were now able to act like the teens that they were. Maybe now these families who had been torn asunder by the evil that was Voldemort would have a chance to heal and grow. He was so glad that he was still here to at least be able to watch them start on this new journey.
Two Years Later…
'Another leaving feast, the last one of my Hogwart's school years,' Harry Potter thought to himself as he looked out over the Great Hall of Hogwarts. 'I will miss this place.' He took time to think back over the last two years.
Harry and his light warriors had once again scored E and O's on their N.E.W.T.'s, just as they had with their O.W.L.S. The last two years had seen the best overall scores on both of the important exams in the history of the school. Harry, Ron, Hermione, and Neville had even been taking muggle on line courses thanks to Ed's computer genius so all four of them were going to start university in the fall. Ginny and Luna were doing the same thing but neither had made their minds up as to how far they were going to go with the muggle education as of yet.
Hermione wanted to be a barrister in the wizarding and muggle world. The Ministry under Amelia Bones had been drug kicking and screaming into the twentieth century. Maybe one day they would get to the twenty-first. Of course the older Pureblood families were having no part of interacting in any fashion with the muggle world, but most of the younger generation was all for it. Moreover, there was not that many of the Pure Blood fanatics left after the Ministry had scourged through the country hunting Death Eaters.
More and more of the half bloods along with the muggle borns were choosing to branch out of the enclave of the wizarding world. There was certainly much more room for opportunities out there, even with all of the anti discrimination reforms that had accrued. However, it was being done very cautiously because no one wanted to breach the International Confederation of Wizards' Statute of Secrecy. Most realized that the statute was for the wizarding world's protection, not the Muggles'. The advantages the Light warriors had from the muggle technology at the Battle of Hogwarts had proven that. Nobody wanted to upset the Muggle government, not with the resources they had at their fingertips. Especially now that the British government knew about the wizarding world thanks to Lord Voldemort's terror tactics.
The Muggles Studies class had been completely revamped with Andromeda Tonks teaching it. It had become a required course for graduation from Hogwarts. Harry smiled as he remembered the fun that the mother of Dora Tonks had made for all of the students taking that class. Pizza was fast becoming the favorite snack of the wizarding world's teenagers.
"Now that we have all had our wonderful feast, I have some announcements," Dumbledore stood at the podium at the end of the hall. He now needed a cane to walk and his voice was no longer as strong as it had been several years ago.
"First, I have just received word that the exam scores are officially the highest overall that Hogwarts students have every achieved." This was met with a roar of approval.
"Wonderful, Wonderful job! I am so proud of all of you. There will be some staffing adjustments for next term. Professor Snape will be taking over the Deputy Headmaster's position along with Potions and"…
There was a collective gasp through out the hall. Whispers of "What about Professor McGonagall?" could be heard from every corner.
"Professor McGonagall will be taking over as Headmistress." Complete and utter silence filled the hall.
Dumbledore continued, "I have had the pleasure of guiding this illustrious school for more than forty years as it's headmaster and even before that as one its teachers. I believe that it is time for me to step down. I hope that you give Professor McGonagall the same respect that you have shown me over the years. Of all of the titles I have had tacked onto the end of my name over the many years of my life, I have always been proudest of 'Headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry'. Thank you for allowing me to share in your learning experiences. So tomorrow will be the last graduating class for me, I suppose in a way I will be graduating with all of you seventh years. I will be returning to my family home for some relaxing research but should any of you need me, remember I am only a floo call away."
The brilliant blue eyes were twinkling but were also damp with tears. His were not the only ones.
Dumbledore stepped down from the staff table and slowly started making his way out of the Great Hall through the middle of the house tables. All of the students and staff rose as one and the tremulous applause and cheering rose as a wave from the front to the back. It took quite awhile for the old mage to make it to the great double doors at the back because everyone stopped him, wanting to shake his hand or speak to him. All of the students however were careful, this was the closest that many had been to the headmaster in some time and they were just now realizing just how frail he had become.
Harry held Hermione as she wept. They had said their goodbyes last night at a special dinner Albus had hosted for select members of the faculty and student body, so this was not a surprise to some in the Great Hall. That fact did not make it any easier to bear. This just brought to the surface the pain of losing Joshua Stormchaser last year once more. How much longer would they have Dumbledore?
The older American had never fully recovered from the battle with Voldemort and had past quietly in his sleep surrounded by his family, including Charles and Harry, in his beloved Smokey Mountains. Harry stood and watched one of the most powerful wizards he had known walk away from the school that the old mage had protected with his very life. Moreover, who had protected Harry with his life too.
Harry had made some decisions in his own life over the last few months. He had realized that Joshua Stormchaser had been right that night two years ago. He was a good teacher and there was no higher calling he could aspire to than to pass on what he himself had been taught. Just as so many had done for him. He was going to continue to work on a double mastery in Defense Against the Dark Arts and Transfiguration along with his muggle degree in Forensics. He could do much worse than to follow Dumbledore's example in serving the first place he could ever remember feeling at home. He held Hermione close as she sobbed against his chest, while tears tracked down his cheeks as Albus Dumbledore left the Great Hall.
Three Years after graduation…
Harry Potter was as nervous as he had ever been this afternoon. Last week had been his twenty first birthday, an exciting day indeed but not the cause of his case of nerves today. Today was his wedding day. He had not seen Hermione since the rehearsal dinner last night, the longest they had been apart in a long time.
All through their college years, they had been inseparable. They had both grown into their adult relationship far easier that most of their friends. Ron and Luna had actually parted for about four months before Ron had come to his senses and proposed last summer. Neville and Ginny had married first after a fiery fight when Neville had put his foot down on Ginny becoming a professional Quidditch player. She had not really wanted to play professionally; she had just wanted to shake Neville out of his quiet acceptance of anything she wanted. It had worked too! Making up is so much fun, the hotter the fight, the hotter the… well you know. Ginny was the first to increase the Light Warriors Ranks with another set of Weasley Twins, two little girls named Molly and Minnie (short for Minerva). Harry smiled at the thought of those two little imps.
Harry was glad that Hermione had wanted to be married at her parents' home in Arizona. That helped to keep the ceremony from turning into the media circus it would have been if they had married in Britain. Even though Harry's role in the demise of Voldemort had never been confirmed by the Ministry, too many people had been at the battle and had seen what had happened. He found that his popularity with the average wizard had increased tenfold.
That was one of the many reasons he was looking forward to starting his new job at the end of this month. Harry Potter was the newest Professor at Hogwarts. Charles had retired from the Defense Against the Dark Arts position the end of last term; he would be reopening the shop in Hogsmeade that Ed and Sirius had used as a front during his fifth school year. His wife, Aurora Sinistra, of course would be remaining as the Astronomy Professor at Hogwarts. He was going to be a stay at home dad to his own set of Potter twins that had just turned two years old. Joshua and Sarah Stormchaser were shaping up to be the replacements for the Weasley Twins, Fred and George.
Ed and he both had retired from their security company when Charles decided to become the permanent DODA teacher starting in the kids' sixth year. Moreover, like so many of the older generation they were starting on their 'second' families if not their first one. Many Aurors that had never taken the chance during the first Voldemort War or between, where finally at ease enough to take the plunge. It was a distinct advantage of having a longer life span than a Muggle. The wizard population in Britain was beginning a slow but steady come back!
Even the Minister of Magic, Amelia Bones-Black, had a new son born this past spring. Sirius of course was over the moon with his little Marauder, Edward Charles. Ed and Alice Stormchaser were living in North Carolina between visits to see Neville and Ginny's brand new little one, Frank, Jr. born just this past June.
Augusta Longbottom doted on her son's namesake, spoiling him mush rotten every chance she got along with the twins girls. Neville and Ginny wanted a large family, not wasting anytime in beginning one either. Neville didn't want any of his children to be alone like he was but they were going to wait a bit before the next one because three children under the age of two were a bit much.
Harry knew how his friend felt; he wanted his children to have a large family too. However, both of the young men knew that their extended "families" would make sure that none of the children would go lacking for anything if the need arose.
Harry looked out over all of his friends and family gathered here in this beautiful Navajo Hogan, built especially for ceremonies on one of the smaller reservations. His new in-laws, the Grangers, had become an important part of this community since fleeing here five years ago from the wizarding war in Britain, so this was the perfect place for him and Hermione to pledge their wedding vows. It also made it virtually impossible for the British press to crash the wedding of the "Boy who Won" or whatever they were calling him this month. Harry smiled at one of his best men, Sirius, who was more nervous than his godson was at this moment and was fidgeting. Charles on his other side however, was a cool as ever, standing at parade rest.
Honaw Niyol, the local medicine chief who had been very good sik'is (friends) with Joshua Stormchaser, would be performing the ceremony along with Albus Dumbledore. Both men stood next to Harry and his elder male family members, the two of them very ancient wizards but each, especially Dumbledore, had more than enough strength to perform this ceremony. The restful lifestyle he had enjoyed over the last three years had helped to re-energize him. The old man's blue eyes were twinkling so brightly that they seemed to have an alternate light source. Albus was almost the happiest person in the room.
The ceremony would be a mixture of both cultures, Celtic and Native American, since Harry and Hermione had embraced a mixture of beliefs from the two ancient cultures. Harry was wearing a formal wedding costume that Star had made for him, based on Grandfather's, made from butter soft leather complete with quill and bead work. He felt that by wearing it the old man was here too, even if only in spirit. Nevertheless, Harry was glad that it was cool in the Hogan. The costume weighed a ton!
A hush fell over the assembled group moving from the back to the front. Hermione with her mother, Ginny and Luna had just come in. Each wearing a traditional Celtic gown, Hermione's cream, Ginny's light green, Luna's rose and Mrs. Granger's lavender, all of the women beautiful in their own right. Flowers to match their gowns were woven in each woman's hair adding their fresh scent to the ceremony.
Harry stepped to stand beside Hermione as she reached the front of the Hogan, her female "family" to her left and Harry's male "family" to his right. Albus Dumbledore smiled at the assembled group, his arms spread wide as if to embrace them all.
"My friends, we are gathered here today to unite these two very special young people in that most sacred of bonds. Marriage. Harry and Hermione have chosen to perform the seven-step ceremony that is part of both of our cultures as part of their vows. You are their witnesses." Dumbledore carefully stepped back as Niyol stepped forward.
"Tluh da jee ooh wah gee ah(Lion Child)and Jee yaw ah gee yaw(Otter Woman) are you ready?" He smiled at the two young people who were glowing with happiness.
"Yes, Sicheii (Grandfather [a sign of respect])" they both said in unison. They had their gifts ready for each step. The Rite of Seven Steps ceremony has the couple exchanging gifts after each step to signify each vow given. They would use traditional gifts such as kernels of corn to represent fertility and growth, a feather to stand for truth and loyalty, a stone stands for strength, solidarity and wisdom. It is part of both the Celtic and Native American marriage traditions with little difference between the two.
Harry began, "O' my beloved, our love has become firm by your walking one with me. Together we will share the responsibilities of the lodge, food and children. May the Creator bless noble children to share. May they live long."
Hermione's first step vow was next. "This is my commitment to you, my husband. Together we will share the responsibility of the home, food and children. I promise that I shall discharge all my share of the responsibilities for the welfare of the family and the children.
Harry said with his second step, "O' my beloved, now you have walked with me the second step. May the Creator bless you. I will love you and you alone as my wife. I will fill your heart with strength and courage: this is my commitment and my pledge to you. May God protect the lodge and children.
Hermione's second step followed, "My husband, at all times I shall fill your heart with courage and strength. In your happiness, I shall rejoice. May God bless you and our honorable lodge."
Harry said with his third step, "O my beloved, now since you have walked three steps with me, our wealth and prosperity will grow. May God bless us. May we educate our children and may they live long."
Hermione's vow for the third step was, "My husband, I love you with single-minded devotion as my husband. I will treat all other men as my brothers. My devotion to you is pure and you are my joy. This is my commitment and pledge to you."
Harry took another, "O' my beloved, it is a great blessing that you have now walked four steps with me. May the Creator bless you. You have brought favor and sacredness in my life."
Hermione continued with her vow, "O' my husband, in all acts of righteousness, in material prosperity, in every form of enjoyment, and in those divine acts such as fire sacrifice, worship and charity, I promise you that I shall participate and I will always be with you."
Harry's eyes were shining with his fifth step, "O' my beloved, now you have walked five steps with me. May the Creator make us prosperous. May the Creator bless us."
Hermione was glowing as she said her fifth vow, "O' my husband, I will share both in your joys and sorrows. Your love will make me very happy."
Harry's voice cracked just a bit on his sixth vow, "O' my beloved, by walking six steps with me, you have filled my heart with happiness. May I fill your heart with great joy and peace, time and time again. May the Creator bless you."
Hermione said her sixth vow in a strong voice, "My husband, the Creator blesses you. May I fill your heart with great joy and peace. I promise that I will always be with you."
Harry promised with his seventh vow, "O' my beloved goddess, as you have walked the seven steps with me, our love and friendship have become inseparable and firm. We have experienced spiritual union in God. Now you have become completely mine. I offer my total self to you. May our marriage last forever."
Hermione held her husbands hand tightly as she said her seventh vow, "My husband, by the law of the Creator, and the spirits of our honorable ancestors, I have become your wife. Whatever promises I gave you I have spoken them with a pure heart. All the spirits are witnesses to this fact. I shall never deceive you, nor will I let you down. I shall love you forever."
Dumbledore returned to stand beside Niyol. "Now you may finish your vows." The old mage took the joined hands of the couple and twined a silk braided ribbon around their wrists, joining the two together as the each recited the Celtic Vows.
(Celtic Wedding Vowby Morgan Llywelyn)
You cannot possess me for I belong to myself,
But while we both wish it, I give you that which is mine to give
You cannot command me, for I am a free person,
But I shall serve you in those ways you require and
the honeycomb will taste sweeter coming from my hand.
I pledge to you that yours will be the name
I cry aloud in the night and the eyes into which I smile in the morning.
I pledge to you the first bite of my meat and the first drink from my cup
I pledge to you my living and my dying, each equally in your care
I shall be a shield for your back and you for mine
I shall not slander you, nor you me
I shall honor you above all others, and
when we quarrel we shall do so in private and
tell no strangers our grievances
This is my wedding vow to you
This is the marriage of equals
"Now my young ones, you are poised to begin you life as husband and wife. May you both be blessed with the strength if heaven, the light of the sun and the radiance of the moon, the splendor of fire, the speed of lightning, the depth of the sea, the swiftness if wind, the stability of earth, and the firmness of rock." Albus stepped back.
Niyol intoned in his strong voice, "Now you will feel no rain for each of you will be shelter for the other. Now there is no loneliness, now you are two persons but there is only one life before you. Go now to your dwelling to enter into the days of your life together and may your days be good and long upon the earth. You are now husband and wife. You may kiss the bride my son."
Which Harry promptly did, and continued doing until Charles cleared his throat. Sirius grinned.
Niyal and Dumbledore smiled even more if that was possible. To the group they said together, "we present Mr. and Mrs. Harry James Potter." The cheering was astonishing.
Sixteen years later…
It was September first at King's Cross Station. The wizarding children who where attending Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry were slipping through the barrier with their families without the Muggles noticing as usual. The confusion on Platform 9 ¾ was amazing. Harry wondered as he stepped through the barrier that nobody had ever gotten lost in the mayhem. He had never heard of that happening. He sure loved magic! It made keeping track of your children a lot easier than the Muggle way.
"Harry!" Ron Weasley called across the platform. He was herding his bunch towards the train too.
"Good to see you mate!"
Harry and Ron shook hands as they gave each other one-armed hugs. Hermione and Luna hugged around the toddlers they were holding. Brian Potter was just two and Celeste Weasley was three. Both moms had balanced their careers as now a judge and newspaper owner around their growing families. Moreover, both had done a very good job of it too!
Arthur and Rose, Ron's sixteen-year-old twins were helping their siblings get their gear on the train. Ron and Luna had five children altogether just like the Potters, another set of twin boys called Ronnie and Xeno which were starting school this year along with the darling little girl, Celeste . All the girls had silver blond hair like their mother and the boys had red hair like their dad.
"How are things down at the DMLE Ronald?" Hermione asked smiling at one of her best friends. Ron had risen to the Deputy Head of the Auror's but was still his irreverent self.
"Just smashing, Hermione. I catch 'em and send them on to you. We make a good team don't we?"
He loved the fact that the highest ranking sitting judge was Hermione Potter. Joking aside, they along with many of their classmates had revitalized the Department of Magical Law Enforcement with Minster Bones-Black's blessing. No one was saying that another Dark Lord would not rise, but they would have a lot harder time doing so now.
Harry noticed a slender, strikingly blonde wizard come through the portal. He shook his head when he recognized the arrogant looking man that was holding an eleven-year-old boy's hand. A boy that favored his father as much as Brian favored Harry, though Draco was no longer the 'pretty' boy he had been in school. Life had roughened up his edges quite a bit.
"You would think that that time in prison would have knocked him down a few pegs, wouldn't you?" Ron asked noticing who Harry was looking at. "That is his son Scorpius. If it hadn't been for Narcissa stashing so much of their gold in Europe, Draco would have never been able to pay all his attorney's fees, never mind his kid's tuition to Hogwarts. Three years was all he served. I ask you, just because he was underage, was that any reason to go light on him?"
Ron still fumed over the fact that the Hogwarts 12, as Draco and his fellow miscreants had been duped in the papers, had been under age when they attacked the rest of the school, and had gotten relatively light sentences. It wasn't even Azkaban. Oh well, the Malfoys were now as poor if not poorer than Ron's family had been all those years ago when he started school. And Lucius Malfoy was in prison for life in France. Good riddance to bad garbage thought Ron.
"Are Ronnie and Xeno excited Luna?" Hermione asked her friend.
"Oh yes, Ronnie is so looking forward to having a conversation with the giant squid. He made friends with it years ago when he fell in the lake looking for Freshwater Plimpies. The kind creature returned the child to me giggling." Luna could still come across as a total nut case, even though that wasn't the case.
Hermione had loosened up quite a bit over the years and even accompanied Luna on one of her summer trips to find magical creatures. When they had found a Crumple-Horned Snorkack on the very first trip, Hermione had become a believer and an amateur enthusiast.
Harry thought about how many of this generation's children had been frequent visitors to Hogwarts, especially Harry and Neville's children as the two men were professors at the school. The children had played there and even attended the small primary school Charles had convinced Molly Weasley to help him start for the faculty's children, his own included. The staff of Hogwarts had changed from older and childless to young and lots of children with both moms and dads working. It had been such a resounding success that the Ministry was looking at expanding the program.
Harry was on record as the longest running Defense Against the Dark Arts Professor the school had had in three centuries. It would seem that the curse had been broken with the death of Voldemort. Neville was Herbology Professor and head of Hufflepuff House. Harry had taken over Gryffindor from his uncle when Charles retired.
Last year Professor McGonagall retired, her health had been on the decline since Albus Dumbledore had passed away three years ago. Severus Snape took the Headmaster's position as the first Slytherin head of the school since Phineas Nigellus Black. Aurora Potter, Charles' wife, had been offered the Deputy Head's job, but turned it down flat. Therefore, Harry and Neville were sharing it as they both worked well with Professor Snape over the years as well as with each other, by this time both were immune to his grumpy personality. They had seen what lay beneath and would never let him forget it. Snape would not be the head master that Dumbledore had been, but who could?
Harry's eleven-year-old son, Charles William, tugged his hand. Harry bent down to listen to his quiet son. His second son not only resembled him physically, he was Harry through and through. Or what Harry would have been like if adversity hadn't made him change to survive. Where James Sirius loved clowning around, Charlie had a poet's soul. Jamie was extroverted and Charlie was introverted, loved reading and books. Complete opposites but Jamie did love his little brother, it just didn't show sometimes.
"Dad, what if…what if…I don't get sorted into Gryffindor?" Charlie whispered. "Jamie said that I would be Slytherin and I would get disowned." Jamie was a holy terror like his namesakes. Harry had been thankful more than once that he was on staff to keep his oldest in line. The boy had his mother's brains and his father's daring. Not a good combination sometimes Harry thought back over some of the pranks that had occurred.
"Charlie, you know that we would never disown you for anything in the world. And Aunt Aurora is head of Slytherin House anyway, so just ignore James Sirius. He is just being a prat." Harry held his son gently by the shoulders, trying to reassure him. "I have a secret to tell you." That got Charlie's attention.
"When I went to Hogwarts for the first time, the hat wanted to put me in Slytherin. Uncle Ron and Hagrid had told me that I didn't want to go in there before I even got to school, so I asked the hat to put me in anywhere but Slytherin. So you can ask it, Mommy did too! It wanted to put her in Ravenclaw but I'm glad she asked for Gryffindor. Where would I have been if she hadn't been a lion?" Harry said this with a smile.
"You and Uncle Ron would have been sunk!" Charlie's smile beamed. Ron had told all of the children stories about how Momma had been the savior of the Gryffindor boys when it came to lessons and just about everything else.
"So you stop worrying about it. You will do fine. Besides, I will be there if you need to talk. You know the way to my office correct. Well, there you go. You are going to be fine son. I am so proud of you and so is Momma. Now Jamie!" Harry called to his oldest. Jamie may be a holy terror when it came to pranks but he did mind his parents (most of the time) and he basically had a good heart.
"You get Charlie on the train and make sure he finds Algie Longbottom who will be with Frank. They want to ride together and so they shall. Thank you son." Harry said as Jamie came back for Charlie's trunk and helped him it get on the train.
Jamie admired Frank Longbottom; he was an awesome chaser on the Hufflepuff Quidditch team, so he had no problem with looking for the oldest Longbottom boy. Charlie hung back just a bit waiting.
Hermione hugged her second son and whispered a special good bye. Then his two sisters, Anna Aurora and Lily Jane tearfully bid their older brother bye. Little Brian cooed at Charlie in toddler speak and gave him a big wet kiss on the cheek. Charlie only sniffed once and climbed the stairs onto the red Hogwarts Express.
"See you tonight Dad!" Jamie waved good-bye to his family and pulled the trunk further onto the train.
"Bye Mom!" Charlie waved to his parents and followed his brother into the train.
Harry stood watching his two oldest children as the train began to pull away as the girls hugged him around the legs, sobbing their eyes out. He rubbed their shoulders and tried not to cry himself. What was wrong with him today?
"Harry, come on darling. You will see them tonight. They will be all right. Do not worry. They are safe." Hermione laid her hand on her husband's shoulder and gently squeezed it.
"I know, it's just they grow up so fast. Do you remember when we left here for the first time?" Hermione's eyes misted as she remembered her first trip on the train.
"Just think how much better they have it than we did. So many of the staff are friends or family, so it won't be the shock that it was for us." Hermione straightened her shoulders and gathered the girls to her.
"Now let's get home so that Daddy can go to work ladies." Lily and Anna loved it when their mother did that. They wiped their tears and took their mother's hand, sharing a couple of fingers as Hermione still had Brian on her other hip.
Harry smiled at his family. Hermione was right. They were safe. He brushed his fringe out of his eyes, momentarily touching the faded scar on his forehead. It had almost disappeared over the nineteen years since the day that Voldemort died. He looked one more time at the train as it had left the station, almost out of sight. Then he left with his family, ready to begin the next part of his journey, as always so glad that Hermione was by his side and in his heart.