Disclaimer: I do not own anything other than the story line . All rights belong to J.K. Rowling
Chapter Twenty Three: Epilogue
He took a moment to savor the feel of just riding, the wind in his hair, the feeling of true power beneath him. He had always loved the feeling of his trusted broom beneath him; he had even enjoyed the feelings evoked when he rode on the back of Buckbeak, but nothing could compare to the feeling one got on the back of a Welch Green.
As they completed the circuit of the forest he spotted his home below. Potter House sat on the edge of the forest, just outside a dense copse of trees. All of those trees were of wand caliber wood, and he had made sure that he was on good terms with both the bowtruckles that inhabited the trees, and with the dryad that tended the grove.
He motioned with his rod for the Dragon to alight in the clearing, and as he had waited it made its way down to the ground, he reflected upon all that had happened with his life. He found self-reflection easy when he was flying, he had a lot of time to think.
Looking back on things he felt that if he might have been able to do things a little differently he might have been able to keep some of his friends alive. He had lost so many of them, and come very close to losing more. He still mourned the loss of so many people who were stolen from the prime of their lives. He mourned the loss of such great potential. And, if he were honest with himself, he mourned the fact that he had to go on and miss them each and every day.
But he had gained more than he ever thought possible. It was incredible to him that it had been but ten years since he had vanquished not one, but two dark lords in a span of a few months. Admittedly he had a lot of help in doing so. He wasn't so vain that he couldn't admit that that help combined with an inordinate amount of luck had seen him through the darkest time of his life.
And now, here he was riding a dragon over what had until recently been called the Forbidden Forest. Now it was known as Draoidheach Coille, or the Druid's Forest. He liked that expression much better; it made it feel like home. He felt like he belonged in the Draoidheach Coille, for that was who he was now, he was The Druid of Hogwarts.
It had been a strange road, but one that was required of him by Magic itself. He had after all, made a promise to that self-same dryad those ten years back, and he had honored that promise. He had come to love the forest that had been such a thorn in his side when he was younger. He had found a simplicity there that he couldn't find elsewhere. In nature there was an order that simply was. It wasn't corrupted by the influence of man and his ways, it was how things were supposed to be. By devoting himself to the forest he had come to finally know peace.
That wasn't to say that he had turned his back on his fellows, no, not at all. He was after all living right next to Hogwarts. This gave him a lot of leeway when it came right down to it. He taught classes during the year, and he was still able to tend to the forest as it needed to be tended to.
As the dragon alighted, he disembarked, giving it a soft pat on the back of its head. It had become a good friend over the last few years and he had come to appreciate the beauty of such a powerful being.
He strode to the entrance to Potter House. It was the summer holidays so many of his friends and family would be there. As he opened the door he could hear conversations taking place in other rooms. "I'm home!" he called out to whoever would be listening. He wasn't disappointed as he heard the patter of bare feet running towards him. He turned to the sound to see a precocious little girl, her dark hair in braided pigtails come around the corner.
"Daddy!" she squealed as she saw him. With a great running jump she leapt into his outstretched arms. He spun her around and around, while her giggles echoed off the walls.
"How's my beloved little one this afternoon?" he asked her as he settled her into the crook of his elbow.
"Been having fun with Auntie Hermione," she said, the joy evident in the three year old Priya Potter's voice. "Made Uncle Nev and Auntie Ginny into kitties…"
Harry chuckled despite himself. He could see the two of them romping around the room with a screaming toddler running after them. "Well let's go see them, alright Poppin'," he asked. Her nod and giggle were all the confirmation he needed.
They made their way into the living room. Sure enough, Ginny and Neville were there, along with Hermione and Parvati. He could hear noises coming from the kitchen. That combined with the delicious scents that were emanating from that direction told him that Padma must be in there.
He could smell her vegetable and lentil curry along with hoppers. He had to admit that despite his misgivings, he had come to appreciate her vegetarian diet. As his appreciation for life grew, so did his trepidation at eating things that had been alive. If it had a mother or a face, it had become almost impossible to eat.
He also smelled Parvati's wattalapan, a type of treacle pudding. It was an interesting spin on his favorite dessert, and he found it a great compliment to Padma's cooking.
"Where's Luna," he asked, looking around the room for her. He craned his neck around the door jamb to look down the hall, but didn't see her.
"I think she's in the back garden with Colin," Hermione answered.
"He's really taken with her, isn't he?" Ginny asked.
"He's been really good for her," Harry replied. "He's the only one that she acknowledges without being in physical contact. After all these years it's really good to see her starting to heal…" His voice trailed off as his two friends strolled into the room.
"Speak of the wizard," Neville said softly. "Hullo Colin, Luna."
"Hello Neville, all," Colin replied. He looked over at Harry. "Hey Harry, could I have a word with you and Padma? In private?" He motioned towards the entrance to Harry's study.
"Sure Colin, let me go get Padma." He headed into the kitchen to get his wife.
"Luna, Sweetheart, I'm going to talk to Harry for a few minutes if that's alright. You go ahead and enjoy your time with our friends." He gently kissed her cheek.
"Of course, Colin, I'll be waiting for you," she replied. As he let go of her, most of the expression left her face, but her eyes tracked the young wizard until he left the room. As he disappeared from her sight her face went completely slack and she sat completely still. It was almost as if she had turned into a lifelike statue, like one of the ones found in the House of Wax.
In the other room Colin paced back and forth nervously as he waited for Harry and Padma. He gave a small sigh and nodded to them as they came into the room with him, Harry with his arm around his wife's slender waist.
Ten years had not seemed to age Padma Potter at all. She still looked as young and exotically beautiful as she had when she was fifteen. She made her way with Harry over to the love seat that had been their favorite spot for the last decade. With a knowing smile she sat on the spot where they had conceived little Priya.
"What can we do for you, Colin," Harry asked as he motioned for the young wizard to have a seat in the comfortable chair opposite them.
"Harry, Padma, I know that what I have to ask is going to seem somewhat unconventional, but I just know that it will be for the best." He seemed to lose his nerves somewhat at this point and he looked around, not knowing how best to proceed.
"We've known each other for a long time, Colin. Why don't you just come out with it, and we'll decide together if what you want to do is the best course of action." He smiled at the young wizard who once had such a serious case of hero worship that he had wondered about the man's orientation.
"Right then," Colin gulped. "Knowing as I do that you and Padma had yourselves named Luna's guardians after what happened in the last battle, and knowing that I have a connection with her, I want to ask permission to ask her to become betrothed to me." Seeing the pair's raised eyebrows he plunged on. "I love her, Harry. Really, I do love her so much. She's the light over my world, and I want to be with her forever."
Padma shared a look with her husband. "Are you sure you want to do this, Colin?" she asked. "Luna's never really recovered from that night you know."
"I know that, but it doesn't really matter to me. She's responsive so long as she's in physical contact, and she even responds to me if she's not touching me. What was it you said at your wedding, Harry? That the Department of Mysteries believes so much in the power of love that they've dedicated an entire room to it. I know that I have to try this. We don't even have to get married right away, I just want Luna, and the world, to know how I feel about her." He let out a puff of breath. "It's important, you know?"
"Yeah Colin, actually I do," Harry replied. He gave Padma a little squeeze and she nodded slightly in agreement. "Very well, Colin, if she'll have you, you have our permission. You know that you're always welcome to stay here. In fact, I think we'd prefer it if you did, at least until Luna recovers completely."
They all returned to the living room and found Luna rolling around on the floor with Priya. The little brunette was giggling up a storm, and Luna was laughing along with her.
"Priya love, why don't you get Auntie Luna back up to the chair, Colin would like a word with her. I think that she'd let you sit in her lap for this though," Padma said to her rambunctious daughter. The little girl did as she was asked, and crawled up into Luna's arms to sit.
Colin stepped over to the pair and first leaned over to thank the young girl for her help with her Auntie. He then got down on one knee and took Luna's free hand in his own. "Luna, darling, would you please do me the honor of becoming my wife?"
She blinked back sudden tears. "Are you sure you want to do this, Colin?" she asked. "I'm damaged goods. I'm not sure I'd make a good wife." She was trembling in his hands.
"Luna, we all went through the heart of a war, and you went through a hell that no-one else could have. You sacrificed so much for us. You made it possible for us to win. I'm sure you'll be the most perfect wife I could ever have. I believe in you. I love you," he told her as if that ended the debate right there. He gently picked up Priya and set her down, while carefully keeping his leg in contact with Luna's. He then wrapped Luna in a big hug. As they separated he shook his head and chuckled. He pulled out a box from his pocket and opened it so that he could take the ring inside and place it on Luna's finger.
"I'm going to go and thank Harry and Padma now, dear," he told her as he leaned in to give her a soft kiss. She nodded to him and he got up. Again, her face slackened but her eyes clearly tracked his movements. As he was shaking Harry's hand Parvati gave out a little gasp. He looked over at her and then followed her eyes. He turned around and his eyes went as large as saucers. Luna was standing and she took a stutter-step towards him.
"Th… th… thank you, Colin," she whispered. He watched as she took another tentative step in his direction. "Thank you for believing in me. Thank you for loving me…"
He ran to her and picked her up, twirling her in his arms, laughing and crying at the same time.
Harry thought that if ever there was a good omen for the coming year, this had to be it.
Later that night it was just two couples, Harry and Padma along with Hermione and Parvati, sitting in the comfortable study enjoying a roaring fire. Harry motioned towards his best friend. "So Hermione, let me again congratulate you on being named the youngest Headmistress that Hogwarts has ever had." He grinned wildly at her.
"Why thank you Harry," she replied. It's going to be a busy year. Thankfully I have your lovely wife as my Deputy. She's going to keep me in line." She cocked her head to the side in thought. "You are going to be available to teach this year, aren't you?"
"So long as I get sufficient time to tend to the forest, then yes. How are you going to want to utilize me?"
"Well," she began, "I have Neville for Herbology, and Rolf Scamander is going to teach Care of Magical Creatures, though I'm having trouble finding someone for Defense Against the Dark Arts." She looked at him expectantly.
"Well, I do have some little experience in that topic, and since I've been giving guest lectures in it each of the last eight years, I guess that I could be convinced to take the post, if you really want me that is." He smiled at her as if daring her to pick up the gauntlet he had just laid at her feet.
To his surprise it was his sister-in-law that responded. "Are you kidding, Harry? She's been practically drooling at the prospect of getting you to teach, now that Tonks has stepped down. Just the thought of it is enough to make her wet her panties…" she laughed and ducked under a half-hearted swipe from her lover.
"Seriously though, Harry," Hermione said, "you have no idea how much this means to me. "If things were different I'd show you…" she whispered in what she clearly thought was a seductive tone.
"You almost got your chance, Hermione," Padma said laughingly. "Remember a few years back when that stupid pureblood bigot tried to make it a law that any witch who was shown to be a lesbian would be forced to marry a wizard for the 'perpetuation of the Wizarding world'? What a load of trash that was. It was just a chance to strike at Harry through the two of you." She sighed. "Harry fought it tooth and nail of course, but you do know that he would have married the both of you to keep you safe."
Hermione gave Parvati a significant look. "Yes, we both know that, and we would have gone through with it willingly, because it was Harry, and that it would have kept our family together." She squeezed her love's hand. "Harry's the only one we would have submitted to. We both agreed that if it came to that he would be the only wizard we would have allowed to touch us."
"Well thankfully it didn't come to that," Harry said while smiling at all three of them. "Padma here keeps me quite satisfied. If you the two of you were to join in I probably wouldn't last the month…" This brought giggles all around.
"Seriously though, there aren't any more of those ridiculous laws out there just waiting to be passed are there?" Harry looked at Parvati expectantly.
"No," she replied. "Sue keeps me up to date on that, remember? After all, she is the Senior Under Secretary to Minister Diggory, and I'm his Press Secretary. Don't worry Harry, we'll make sure you know far enough in advance to make a big enough stink about it if need be."
"Right," he responded. He stretched languidly. "If you two don't mind, I'd like to take my lovely wife to our room and remind her why she loves me." He stood cat-quick and scooped her up in his arms. She melted into him and he smiled wickedly at the other two as he made his way towards the door to their adjoining bedroom.
"Oh, I think we can find ways to keep ourselves busy," Hermione responded before Parvati's lips crashed into hers…
Author's Note: And here it ends. I hope that you liked it. I had a great time writing it. For now I'm going to start concentrating on a couple of my other fics to finish: Isosceles and To Walk Into the Dragon's Den. I also have a ravening plot bunny going through my head for Harry Potter and the Crossover from Hell...
I have been reading a fic in my spare time and it was a wonderful read. The Ending of an Epic by fantasyra is my last recommendation for this story. I hope you enjoy it. It's a H/Hr fic with some Weasley bashing. Only six chapters long, but enough to be fun.
I have a request for all of you out there. I need some new fics to read. I am a hopeless romantic at heart, so I want romances. I don't really care what ships they are so long as it isn't Ron/Hermione. Let me know what you suggest if you would. Thanks again and all my love,