Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter or any of other characters in this story.
Part Five: Family
James Potter inhaled deeply, contently. It was beautiful. Breathtaking, really. It was cloudy out, but shafts of sunlight shone through the openings, giving the courtyard an almost ethereal look. Other than the occasional gentle breeze, the air was still. Not far away a grand bonfire burned, a staple of a wizarding wedding. Yes, it was a lovely, memorable day.
August 11th was a day to be remembered in the Potter family, especially since it had just grown. Not ten minutes ago, Harry James Potter had taken Hermione Jane Granger as his wife, and James couldn't think of a better daughter-in-law. The newlyweds stood off the side. They chatted comfortably with Headmaster Dumbledore, who sportingly let them hold their wedding on Hogwarts Grounds. In fact, he'd even suggested it to them when Harry proposed to Hermione at the Leaving Feast their final year. He'd insisted.
Albus always did have a twisted fondness for irony, and the fact that Hermione Granger's memorial was a stone's throw away was nothing short of ironic.
James had wanted any other place, feeling that a wedding there, in view of the marble obelisk, was cruelty to the dead. Or maybe it wasn't cruelty. Perhaps it was a way to grant her wish. The time traveler had loved Harry enough to die for him, and now her counterpart was his wife. That was a more positive thought. Yes, he preferred that notion much more. He didn't want to think Albus was the sort to thumb his nose at the dead.
The Grangers were there too. They had become quite close to the Potters, and were unsurprised at Harry and Hermione's engagement. They were thrilled, actually. They adored Harry. They'd liked him from the moment he decided he would marry Hermione on the platform when they'd first met. They'd grown to love him as they realized he was a wonderful friend to their daughter—the many letters Hermione wrote about him bore testament to that.
Everyone had watched the relationship evolve over the last several years. The Granger's watched in amusement as their socially inept daughter attempted to interact with Harry. The Potters watched in amusement as their easy-going son tried to woo a girl who'd rather be reading. Both families had been relieved that summer day following their fourth year when they finally became a couple.
At that moment, however, Darren, had his arms wrapped around Samantha, who was staring at the obelisk with something akin to dread. She'd been wary since she'd arrived. The poor woman couldn't take her eyes away from it for more than a moment; occasionally her eyes would dart away, as if she'd seen the phantom and wanted to get a better look. James was sure Samantha was only imagining things—Hermione didn't seem the sort to taunt her mother in such a cruel manner—but he didn't feel it was his place to say anything to her.
It had been particularly painful for them to learn that the girl who had given Darren his wallet at the train station all those years ago was Hermione. They had been numb at first, but when the realization sank in they were mortified. Neither could believe that they did not recognize their own daughter when she'd stood before them. On some level, James thought they hated themselves for dismissing her so easily.
James could understand that. He'd hated himself for a long time for dismissing Hermione so easily before she'd died in his arms, thinking of his then-unborn son. She'd been working for a better world, and he'd been more concerned about his own perceived greatness. Yes, he understood the horror they felt at dismissing her without a thought.
Since that time, both Samantha and Darren spent more time with and showed more affection to their daughter, much to Hermione's confusion. During one of their many chats, James had learned from Darren that they didn't get to spend much time with Hermione when she was younger, since they were always working and she was always studying. While they loved her very much, they didn't get to express it as much or as often as they wanted. Now they made time. Hermione didn't seem to understand the sudden change in her parents, but she didn't object to it, either. From Samantha's descriptions, Hermione appeared to enjoy their newfound closeness.
Not far away, the Snape family stood, talking amicably with the Weasleys in attendance. Just as Peter was far from being the fiendish traitor, so Severus had also become a good man. He was brilliant as Potions Masters went, and had made many ground-breaking discoveries. His potions course was surprisingly popular, and many students who didn't need it took it anyways. Harry had taken the course in preparation for his auror training and said that, though very strict, Professor Snape was a capable teacher.
His wife, Miranda, was an intellectual giant among the Muggle community. She was a literature professor at some big name Muggle University. They were perfect for each other, and their two children were both bookworms.
What Severus lacked in cheerfulness, Hermione Snape made up for in spades. The other man had been mortified when his daughter was sorted into Hufflepuff. She was warm, outgoing, but also bookish, hardworking, honest, and loyal to a fault. Come her fifth year, she would be a Prefect for sure, and was one of the top candidates for Head Girl for her year. Pomona Sprout hadn't been this excited about one of her students since Cedric Diggory.
Elijah, on the other hand, was very intelligent, but seemed to lose his voice whenever any girl other than his mother, sister, or his Aunty Lily was near. At the moment, he stood stiffly beside his mother, his eyes flickering about nervously. He was a good kid, though, so James didn't hold his father against him.
The Snape family had come over to dine a at the Potter residence once, and had gotten along with the Grangers quite well. As a result, the three families now took turns hosting holiday dinners. They quite close anymore. James and Lily were Hermione's godparents, and Samantha and Darren were Elijah's.
He doubted he would ever be friends with Severus—there was too much animosity in the past—but the two of them had come to an uneasy sort of truce. It had taken years to build, and it was shaky at best, forged only by the memory of Hermione Granger, and maintained by Lily's mediation, but it was there. James was certain he was only Hermione's godfather because Lily was her godmother. Regardless, Snape seemed to genuinely like the Grangers, and even seemed fond of Harry.
Just then the couple of the hour approached him. "Hey Dad," Harry said with a wide grin. He smile was infectious, and James found himself smiling in response.
"Hello Mr. Potter," Hermione added warmly.
James gave an exaggerated grimace. "Mr. Potter, Hermione? We're family now, must you be so terribly formal?" He sighed loudly. "If you insist on formalities, then I shall have to address you as Mrs. Potter—very tricky indeed, as it may confuse the other Mrs. Potter!"
A faint blush stained her cheeks as she smiled abashedly. "I'm sorry Mr…James?"
He laughed. "Mr. James is still a little formal, but it will do, I suppose. Keep in mind though, I'm not adverse to being called Dad, though." His grin faded a little. "So what can I do for you two? I would have thought you'd have slipped away for a little private time by now." He wriggled his eyebrows suggestively.
Hermione's blush deepened.
Harry was unfazed. He was long since used to his father's antics. "There are a few people from the Ministry looking for you," he said, narrowing his eyes. "Apparently they don't care that you're attending your son's wedding."
James snorted. "That's Ministry politics, isn't it? Well, what do they want now?"
"They want to talk to you about your latest proposal concerning the prevention of House-elf abuse," Hermione replied. There was a glimmer of excitement in her eyes. She bounced a little on her heels, anxious for his response.
James chuckled affectionately at her enthusiasm. "Well, I guess I'll just have to tell them to wait for about two weeks, won't I?"
"Two weeks?" Hermione asked softly, sounding more than a little crestfallen. "Why so long, Mr. Po—James?"
"Yeah Dad," Harry added with a frown. "You're usually the one to hunt them down and try and corner them, not the other way around. Why the change?" Harry wrapped his arms around her waist and she immediately stilled, a small smile forming on her lips as she looked up at him. Harry grinned down at her then looked at his father expectantly.
"Well," James said slowly, drawing it out before finally answering. "I figure I'm going to need about two weeks since that's how long you two have planned to take for your honeymoon."
A knowing smile began to appear on Harry's face, but Hermione didn't seem to understand. "What does our honeymoon have to do with you meeting with the councilmen?" She seemed almost offended that her honeymoon was getting in the way of House-elf safety. How charming.
"Because I want you there, Hermione," James answered easily. "I think you have what it takes to be a social engineer, as Lily—you know, the other Mrs. Potter—likes to call it."
She looked started for a moment before gasping. "But Mr. Potter," Hermione said, wringing her hands. "I can't! There's simply no way the members of the Wizengamot will listen to me! I'm just a Newblood, I—"
"No," James interrupted firmly. "You're not just a Newblood, Hermione. I never want to hear you say something like that again, you understand? You're brilliant, and you should never believe otherwise. I can think of no other witch more capable of taking on those old goats running the Wizengamot."
She stood in a stunned silence, her eyes wide.
Harry nodded in approval. "That's what I thought you'd say. I was hoping you would choose her. I know that Charlie talked about continuing your quest for equality, but I think he only said that because he felt someone in the family needed to carry on the tradition since I want to be an auror. My Hermione has the same passion for righting wrongs that you do, Dad." He smiled. "I think it's a good match."
"So glad you approve, Harry," James said with a grin.
"Besides, Hermione, you wanted to go into Law anyways, didn't you? I'm pretty sure you were planning on wading through dusty textbooks about laws no one knows even exist anymore. This is exactly what you wanted to do in the long run, right? Dad will just help you get going a little sooner than you thought, that's all," Harry said, kissing her lightly on the cheek, catching the corner of her mouth.
A loud whizzing and bang sounded off to the side of the reception area. The Weasley twins were doing what they do best—wreaking havoc. Fireworks spelled out lewd limericks in the sky, courtesy of one of their more recent products. They weren't on the market just yet, as the twins had yet to name them, but they were not above setting them off at large gatherings. James nodded proudly, sure they would be a big hit. Those twins would have made fine Marauders.
Nearby, Sirius was choking, red punch dribbling down his chin as he stared up at one of the naughtier limericks, grinning wildly. Peter's daughter was pointing at limerick pertaining to a pirate named Gates, laughing merrily, while Peter was trying to cover her eyes. Elijah's face turned an entirely new shade of red before he ducked behind his mother, eyes wide.
"Fred and George Weasley!" Molly Weasley shrieked. The Weasley Matriarch began her tirade, lecturing her wayward sons. The twins had the decency (and the skill) to look properly ashamed with their deeds. James didn't doubt for a moment that the two were not half as ashamed as they pretended.
Hermione sighed. "I knew something like this would happen. At least they waited until after the wedding."
Behind her, Harry chuckled. "I think Ron and I have been a bad influence on you, Love. A few years ago, you would be standing beside Mrs. Weasley, yelling right along!"
Hermione sniffed superiorly. "Hardly. I wouldn't bother wasting my energy." She gave him a sly look. "I would have enjoyed listening, though."
Hermione grinned wickedly and pointed to the limerick about the pirate Gates. "That one's my favorite." Harry laughed, and soon Hermione joined in. He pulled her closer to him, his smile growing as they looked at each other.
James watched, taking in the moment, and marveling at how this world was so different from the other. Here, neither his son, nor his daughter-in-law bore battle scars. Neither had spent months living in the forest, rationing their food. They hadn't faced basilisks, Death Eaters, or dementors. They hadn't freed a wrongfully convicted criminal (though they had, along with Ron, saved a wrongfully condemned hippogriff).
No, theirs was a very different life. Hermione studied in the stands while Harry was at Quidditch practice. Harry smuggled snacks into the library when Hermione forgot to stop studying long enough to eat. They sat beside each other while they did homework. Sometimes Harry would watch Hermione try to badger Ron into doing his own. It was the sort of thing James had done in his school years. It was what children did on the way to adulthood. .
They were not soldiers.
In this world, with Voldemort dead and gone years before either of them were born, and so they did what they were meant to do. They laughed and pulled pranks. They snuck out after hours to raid the kitchens. Sometimes the boys got caught (something that never happened when they were with Hermione) and wound up in detention. The boys played Quidditch and Hermione watched cheered for them from the stands when she wasn't reading. They had been children, and that, James felt, made all the difference.
"Dad?" Harry asked, drawing James from his thoughts.
"Hm? Oh. Anyways," he said, looking back to his daughter-in-law. "Hermione, you have what it takes. Don't you remember all of the chats we've had when you came to visit with Harry? You came up with quite a few arguments that I used when I was presenting my case before the Wizengamot."
Hermione looked like she didn't quite believe what he'd told her. "He really did, Love," Harry said. "Dad let me go with him a few times so I could see how the Wizengamot worked. I remembered some of the stuff you two had talked about, and he used some of your arguments. They listened, too, and took them into consideration when they were rewriting some of the old laws."
"Yep," James agreed. "You helped a lot. I know you've read most of the books in the Hogwarts library, including the books on history, magical laws and rights, and the like. You've got the smarts, the drive, and," he smirked. "I know you've got the brass for it."
Harry laughed while Hermione blushed again. James shook his head in amazement. How different the two Hermione's were! He supposed that the events around people really do shape them. This Hermione was much more bashful than her counterpart. Then again, having never faced the forces of darkness, James guessed that, while their priorities were the same, their methodologies would naturally be different.
"That said, you two had better move along. You have other guests to thank, kisses to steal, kids to traumatize with your inappropriate behavior, the list goes on." James winked. "You two have fun."
"He's right, Love. We do have kids to traumatize. Let's go find a dark corner!"
With that, the two walked off, gently teasing one another, leaving James alone with his thoughts and memories.
For want of something to do, he wandered over to one of the tables set up. James sighed in contentment and looked at the collection of photographs on the table near the refreshments. This had been Neville's doing. James suspected that Neville had gotten the photos from a younger student named Colin Creevey who was forever taking pictures of anything that would hold still long enough, and even some things that wouldn't.
There were dozens of pictures, each spelled to stay in it's place in case of a sudden wind. Some were of Harry, some were of Hermione, most were of them together. There were group photos, too. One had all of the Gryffindors, from first to seventh year. Another, taken in their fifth year, was of all the Gryffindors in their year (James was amused to see Hermione looked more than a little frazzled with OWLs coming up).
His favorite, though, was taken at the end of Harry's third year, in the Spring of '94. He stood between Hermione and Ron. All three of them were smiling and waving merrily. It was much like another picture he was familiar with, but in this moment frozen in time, Harry bore no scar, his face was less gaunt, and his eyes were less wary. It was a good picture. He decided that when this was all said and done, he would have this picture blown up and framed. It would look good in his family room. Neither Harry nor Hermione would understand his appreciation for the photo, but Lily, the Grangers, and his fellow Marauders would.
James felt his skin tingle—he was being watched. He looked around as casually as he could, looking for anything suspicious.
And there she was.
Standing beside her own Memorial was Hermione Granger. Or rather, her Phantom. She wore the plain casual robes she'd been wearing when she died in the Three Broomsticks, her wild curls unmoved by the slight breeze that ruffled his robes. He could even see her scar. Her expression, so grim in his memories, was now one of happiness. She smiled knowingly at him, and bowed her head.
Always quick, James realized that she was thanking him for all that he had done, for continuing what she had started all those years ago. "No," he whispered to the wind. "Thank you."
In the blink of an eye, she was gone.
He wondered if this would be last anyone would ever see of Hermione Granger. Her greatest ambition had been met—the world was on the right track, and Harry Potter was leading a good life. Above all else, seeing her beloved happy was her greatest desire, and now it was so. Harry Potter would no doubt become one of the greatest aurors in the history of the magical world, and Hermione would continue the abolition of unjust laws. The wizarding world was in good hands. Potter hands.
Would it be enough to let her rest in peace? Voldemort's death was not enough. Lily and himself living, loving, and raising Harry had not been enough. Would his wedding be enough? Or would she remain bound to this earth until Harry himself died? And what of Harry's children, would she stay for them? Her greatest ambition had been met, but her work was not done…
James knew, then, what he had to do to finish his part of her work. There were so many loose ends, so many things that could go wrong. If there was one thing he had to do before he died, one thing that was more important than even House-elf rights, it was this last task that he had to do.
Discretely, he pulled the journal and the photo out of his robes. He carried them with him always, fearing what would happen if Harry were to ever find them. He looked at the picture once more and smiled sadly. He ran his thumb over the picture, touching the faces of the Harry and Ron that never were, and the Hermione that died.
This future had died with Hermione, but these relics, these reminders of a ruined world, still remained. The journal and the picture were the last remaining remnants of that lost world that never should have been, and thankfully, would never be. It was long past time that they, too, faded away. They would simply be too dangerous if they ever fell into the wrong hands. Keeping them this long, even on his person, had been a mistake.
Tucking the picture into the little notebook, he tossed it onto the celebratory bonfire. He stood, watching the flames devour all that was left of the other world. That was it. He was nearly done. Hermione Potter would take up the task she was always meant to complete soon enough, and formulate her own plans. There was a particularly strong gust of wind, carrying what sounded like the laughter he'd heard only once, a long ago in the Hogwarts library.
Smiling, he turned back to his family, a spring in his step. They were all laughing and smiling. Remus was doting on his very pregnant wife. Sirius was alternating between plotting some prank with his son and glaring at his daughter's new would-be suitor. Peter was politely chatting with the parents of his own daughter's beau. Even Snape was enjoying himself, with his charming wife and their two children. Harry and Hermione were dancing, foreheads touching, lost in each other's eyes. And then there was Lily, who was watching him with a smile, patiently waiting for him to make his peace with the dead.
Everyone was happy, and for that he was thankful.
Four years later saw James Potter sitting calmly in an uncomfortable chair, watching the others. Lily sat beside him, book in hand. She didn't even seem to notice the others pacing back and forth in front of a door. On his other side sat the Grangers, who were going over reports from their dentistry. They didn't seem to notice the frantic pacing either. Occasionally Sirius would stop, look up at the door, sigh heavily, and begin pacing again. Remus would pace, stop, lean against the wall for a moment, then begin pacing again. Peter just paced nonstop, muttering under his breath.
Ron was there with his wife Luna. Luna, naturally, was chatting about fwibbles while Ron fidgeted beside her. Ginny was there reading a Quidditch magazine. Her fiancée, Neville, was sitting just as patiently beside her, reading an article on Herbology. Everyone had gathered.
James watched the pacing and fidgeting in amusement. If anyone in the room had the right to be nervous, it was him. It was his daughter-in-law giving birth behind that door. It was his son in there with her. It was his grandchild that was about to enter the world. Correction. If the wails of an infant were any indication, said grandchild had already entered the world, and had a healthy set of lungs.
Everyone turned to the door. Even Lily looked up from her book. James himself was looking around, waiting for Hermione Granger to walk by and vanish. He frowned. It had been a long time since she had shown herself. Normally she only popped up on momentous occasions, and this one more certainly a momentous occasion. He wondered where she could be. Perhaps, he thought, she really had moved on.
There was little time for pondering that, as a mediwitch had just announced they could enter. Peter was the first through the door—he had been immensely annoyed when he was forbidden entry before, on the grounds of conflicting interests. James followed at a more sedate pace, Lily beside him. Both were amused b their friends' antics.
Hermione, exhausted, cradled the newborn infant in her arms. Harry was behind her on the bed, his arms wrapped around her and their child.
"So," James began. "You want to share with us lowly commoners the name of the world's latest and greatest addition? It would be nice, since you haven't even told us if it is a boy or a girl."
"Jane," Harry said softly, proudly. "We named her Jane." He shared a knowing look with Hermione. For his part, James understood exactly what was going on. They were both honoring their first friend. Actions, after all, speak louder than words.
"Jane," he murmured with a nod. "That's a good name."
The others agreed with him, all of them understanding, just as he did. Then they began to argue over who got to hold little Jane. Ron argued that since he was the godfather he got to go first. Samantha insisted that it was her grandchild and that ladies should go first, leaving her to contend with just Lily. Sirius insisted that as Harry's godfather he had special privileges, so he should get to hold little Jane.
Deciding he wanted no part in all of that, James just walked over and held out his arms while the others argued. Hermione merely smirked in return, kissed the fussing baby, and handed her to James. He felt his chest puff out a bit with pride as he held her. This moment was a long time in coming.
A few hours later, when nearly everyone was gone, needing to go to work or just wanting to get something to eat, Peter declared that he wanted to give Hermione a post-natal checkup. James quickly volunteered to stay with little Jane for the few minutes Harry and Hermione had to step out. "You should go with Hermione, Harry. I'll look after the little one. Besides, Jane and I need to get to know each other a little better. You know, bond."
The two agreed, and James walked them to the door, closing it quietly behind them. Lily had opted to go with them so she could help reassure Hermione, having been through the process three times herself. It didn't matter to James; he wanted this little bit of time along. And there it was—the tingle he'd been waiting for. He turned slowly, unsurprised by what he found.
Hermione Granger looked down that the tiny infant in her arms with something akin to reverence. She looked up at James and gave him a proud, watery smile. Slowly, gently, she put the sleeping babe back in her bassinet, and slowly faded away.
It was different this time; he could feel it. Things had changed. James knew that she would not be returning after this. She could finally rest in peace.
The limerick Hermione Pettigrew read is as follows:
There once was a pirate named Gates
Who thought he could rhumba on skates.
He slipped on his cutlass
And now he is nutless
And practically useless on dates.
There is a real reason Hermione was able to leave after holding Jane. No, it has nothing to do with having a child. Hermione, Phantom or not, had unresolved issues, which have now been resolved. Those reasons? There are two big ones: Harry never recognizing her contributions, and her own inability to recognize her contributions. When Harry and her other self named the baby for her, even though it was her pseudonym, they were recognizing what she had done for them, and that allowed her to move on. I can explain it more in depth if needed.
Well, that's is for this story. After this, I have a one-shot I want to finish, a few one-shots in this universe (not sure if I'll post those) then it's back to Time, Interrupted. Thanks for reading!
Oh, and Merry Christmas! I waited until after midnight to post this, so that it would be a real gift.