This is the final chapter. I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it; I hope my ideas were clear to the point of some basic understanding and that whatever you didn't understand you cared enough to daydream about for a minute or two (something I did a lot of, and still do when I find myself updating this: let's just say I've forgotten and relearned the idea of antimagic dozens of times already, with dozens more to come). I have to say that this has garnered some of the most quality reviews I've ever had, and I hope that this made you think, made you laugh, or possibly, just once maybe, made your day, as writing has made many of mine.
"Dora? Where'd you leave the milk?"
"His container's by the sink," came Dora's lilting voice from the living room. "It should be full."
Remus scoured the expanse of countertop near the sink and quickly located the container in question, nabbing it triumphantly and placing the nipple against the baby's mouth. The baby tentatively began sucking on it and he tilted the bottle up so the transfer was easier.
"Did you get it?"
"Yes, thanks, love," he called back. Teddy Lupin stopped gulping down milk and let out a weak burp, then closed his eyes and rested his head against Remus's palm, content to sleep. Remus grinned and muttered to himself, "Well that was easy."
He carried the infant into the living room and took a seat next to Dora on the sofa, Teddy cradled between them, squirming and then settling back into a content slumber. Dora looked up from her book and gave Remus a quick peck on the lips, and she nestled her head against his shoulder, letting out a hum of contentment.
"Where's your mother?" Remus whispered.
"She was in the office last I saw. I don't know."
"I'm right here." Andromeda sifted into the room, wireless in hand, and set it down on the table, taking a seat in an armchair near the window. "Potterwatch is supposed to be on soon."
She leaned closer to the radio, twiddled the dial, and murmured, "Sirius."
The wireless buzzed for a few minutes, but they waited patiently, Dora reading and Teddy sleeping and Remus enjoying the feeling of his immediate family so close to him. Andromeda sat with her eyes closed, and then the radio crackled to life.
"Hello, ladies and gentlemen, this is River speaking for Potterwatch," said Lee Jordan through the wireless receiver. Remus noticed how tired his former student sounded. "We've got exciting news on this Easter day for all the listeners. While there have been rumors that Harry Potter has been captured or has died, special contributor Reverend is here to tell us more on the situation. Reverend, take it away."
"Thanks, River," said Bill Weasley's welcome voice. "While I can't get into specifics, I have it from extremely reliable sources that Harry Potter, as of recently, was safe and well, and actively resisting and evading Death Eaters. It's also apparent that Harry's had some scuffles with Death Eaters and has escaped multiple times, and so far You-Know-Who has been completely unsuccessful in bringing in our favorite fugitive, and you know the slimy greaseball would be tearing out his hair right now if he had any. I'm afraid I can't report much more, although I would like to note that the free house elf Dobby died fighting off Death Eaters and helping prisoners escape."
"And our thoughts are with Dobby and other brave warriors," Lee added somberly. "Now I'd like to address some more of the rumors about You-Know-Who floating around out there. Number one: His Holy Darkness is not an alien. I don't know why we've been getting this so much recently, but while he's not entirely human anymore, probably, he's definitely not from Mars. Seriously, folks."
"I would like to elaborate and also mention that You-Know-Who is not a ghost and can be hurt," Bill said. "It's just… rather difficult to do that."
"Indeed. And while we're on the topic, Harry Potter isn't the Dark Lord's son."
"Ew," Dora muttered, and Remus smiled. Andromeda's mouth twitched.
"Star Wars," Remus said, but Dora didn't seem to understand the reference. Andromeda, however, smiled back.
"Ted loved that," she said, and she stopped talking abruptly. Remus felt Dora shiver against him and wrapped his arm around her tightly. Teddy snored.
"Back to basic tips on protection," Lee was saying. "As we all know, Fenrir Greyback and his wolfy buddies are running around the country causing mayhem, and people aren't quite sure what to do about a gang of ruffian smelly werewolves. Not that we're insinuating that all werewolves are smelly: some have a positively professorial smell, really…"
"Sorry, Reverend." Dora giggled and Andromeda let out a chuckle and the atmosphere relaxed. "Anyway, the best restraints against werewolves are a mix of physical precautions, magical prudence, and sheer logic. One of the most important and undervalued things that can help protect you from an unannounced werewolf attack is keeping yourself clean and odorless. Werewolves, even in human form, have a distinct sense of smell that helps them track their prey. So if you're carrying around garlic to protect yourself from vampires, stop it, because not only is garlic shite against vampires, it's also going to make you an easy target for Greyback and his buddies."
"I'd like to add a note on Fenrir Greyback," Bill stated with an undertone of steel. "While Greyback is an extremely powerful and violent werewolf, he can be defeated, much like his master. Greyback relies on fear and brutality to overpower his foes, and if you ever encounter Greyback or any of his allies, it's important to remember this. While magic is weaker against him than normal wizards, it can still be effective, but you have to remember that Greyback relies on his strength rather than his magical ability. If you encounter him, physical spells and Transfiguration are your safest bets – you want spells that will distract a werewolf and physically hurt them apart from their resistance to magic. And," he snarled, "I'd personally like to shake the hand of the person that finally brings that bastard down."
Remus ran his hand across Teddy's small tuft of hair and nodded, eyes squeezed shut and childhood memories flooding his mind. The forest… the attack… the screaming… he opened his eyes and forced himself to think of something else.
"I'm fine, Dora," he said, and he kissed the top of her head, her hair a pleasant shade of pink today and soft as down. "I'm fine."
"You're not like him, Remus," she whispered. "What he did to you doesn't make you any less of a man."
"I know." He glanced at his son. "I'm just glad that Teddy doesn't have to deal with my Achilles Heel."
Andromeda, to her credit, acted as if she had become overtly interested in Potterwatch and gave the couple some privacy, and Remus was endlessly thankful to her for her graciousness.
"I'm going to go get lunch started," Dora said, slowly disentangling herself from her husband and rising from the sofa. Remus groaned in protest, but she just ruffled his hair and skipped into the kitchen, and Teddy whined along with his father.
"I know, Teddy. Women are such teases."
"I heard that, Lupin!"
Remus grinned at Andromeda and tickled Teddy's cheek.
"I've got a basket for him in the other room," Andromeda said, the wireless quite forgotten. "Obviously, he can't exactly eat candy yet, but it still is quite pretty."
"I think that'd be nice," Remus replied. He held Teddy's wrists together, leaning close to his son's neck. "What do you think, Teddy? Do you want to celebrate your first Easter proper?"
Teddy gurgled and Andromeda rose from her chair, chuckling. "I'll go get the basket."
Dora cursed from the kitchen but Remus was too happy to castigate her for her carelessness around the baby. When Andromeda returned with a basket of flowers and painted eggs, Remus was doubly pleased, and he only argued for a moment when she insisted on pinning bunny ears onto his head.
"Aw, aren't you the most dashing Easter Bunny in the history of the holiday," Dora cooed as she brought in three plates of pasta (one of the few dishes they trusted her with). "With butter and extra salt, darling. And Mum, we're out of pepper, sorry."
Remus moved over so his wife could sit down next to him again, and they ate in contented silence. Teddy wanted to play with his father's pasta, and Remus was inclined to let him, but Dora pushed the boy's hands away and sent her husband a stern look.
"Sorry," Remus muttered.
"Softie," Dora retorted. She paused and stared at him and then at Teddy, and she drew out her wand and pointed it to Teddy's head. "Teddy's not dressed up. Well, Teddy, would you like to be a bunny today?"
"I think that's a no," Remus said wryly.
"Right," said Dora. She smirked at him. "Hm. Teddy, would you like to dress up like your daddy today?"
Teddy waved his hands together as if clapping, and Dora beamed at him.
"Shush, Remus." She waved her wand and Teddy had grown wolf ears and had a button nose attached to his own. She tickled his belly. "You're a cute little wolf, aren't you? Your father's a cute little wolf, too. Hopefully you'll be less of a stubborn old berk than he is sometimes."
Remus's heart caught at the sight of his son as a wolf, but then he took a breath and reminded himself that it was all right, that Teddy was healthy and normal. And he relaxed.
"Yes, I am," he said. Dora glanced up at him questioningly, but he smiled back. "Your mother's an overeager young hotshot, as well, but we love each other so it works out all right."
After lunch Dora went for a bath, and Remus went back to their bedroom to read on the bed with Teddy in his lap. But for some reason it was hard for him to concentrate; he half-consciously flicked Teddy's ears and lost himself in thought. He closed his eyes and thought he was dreaming, but this was better than a dream, and more real too.
"C'mon, Harry." Ron stood on a foggy platform, older but still with a reckless smile, and Hermione stood at his side. Nameless, faceless children stood next to them, and he saw Harry. He was less of a boy and more of a man, but what struck Remus most was how happy he looked. "You've been slow all day."
"And you've been impatient all day," Harry said, but he was smiling.
And then the images flashed. He saw Draco Malfoy respectfully tip his head at the trio; he saw Neville Longbottom, surrounded by adoring children; he saw Minerva McGonagall sternly reprimanding a young witch. He saw Hagrid and the Weasleys and Kingsley Shacklebolt, and he saw a young bushy-haired witch sit down to a Malfoy without incident. He saw endless faces, endless possibilities, an endless future where people remembered Dobby the free elf and Grawp the giant and maybe even one or two brave werewolves.
He saw Dora, kneeled on one knee, speaking softly to a young boy with a roguish grin. He saw the love of his life and the best thing he'd ever created, and he did not see himself. He didn't see himself in this future, and he found that this revelation didn't move him. He saw his son happy, and his students happy, and his friends happy, and somehow that mattered more.
Remus opened his eyes. Teddy slept against his chest, and he slowly stood and placed the sleeping wolf in his crib. His desk was a mess of papers, but he knew the pile he was searching for and found it as he sat in his old chair. Taking up his quill, he flipped to the last page, read over a few paragraphs, and began to write.
This is my final dissertation, or a preliminary version of the same. In the event I cannot finish, there is a brilliant young witch whom I believe may take up the good fight, and hopefully she will be able to correct my numerous instances of short-sightedness.
So, since this is only a temporary place-holder, I see no reason why I shouldn't actually address it to my chosen successor, if she'll have the job. In short –
Hermione: I'm sorry to trouble you with the whims and fancies of a greyed man, but you're the only one I trust, and I can't imagine any of us will make it out of this alive if you don't, so you also seem like the safest option. This tract has been the work of twenty years of my life and it's still not close to completion, but I hope the framework is in place and that a more brilliant mind can use this foundation to form a more perfect conclusion.
And my conclusion is thus:
The most important factor contributing to our most radical problems is the usage of spells – the manipulation of magic from its natural state. It's not spell usage itself that is bad, per se, but the unnatural and irresponsible twisting of magic.
First, long-term wards. I feel like I've delved into this topic properly enough before, but this is one of the main causes of the drop in magical fertility, I fear.
Second, violent and dark magic. While I can't prove it (I hope you are able to), I strongly believe that this is connected to the formation of antimagic. I wish I could elaborate more on how antimagic affects us or is changing our world, but I can't, because I don't know. All I know is that it's not good, and that I hope your answers are more complete.
But I feel I am correct in saying that if we do not begin to fix these problems now, then our problems will be a hundredfold in merely ten years. We are living in the most dangerous era for a thousand years, and it's not just because of Voldemort. Our own arrogance and ignorance has conspired against us, and long after this war is over we shall be fighting a war of a different sort, a war of education and tolerance and, most importantly, moderation.
If you are reading this, Hermione, I am sorry I could not finish the puzzle myself. But I do believe the pieces are in place, and you are the one with the breadth of mind to see the entire picture.
Remus J. Lupin
12 April, 1998
He wrote for longer than he'd anticipated, and when he set down his quill he did so with a sense of closure he hadn't had in seventeen years. He turned in his chair and watched his son sleep. Something was different about him. He'd changed, and he was perfectly all right with the fact.
Dora stood in the doorway, hair wet and bathrobe around her body. He took a moment to appreciate the flush of her cheeks, the hollow of her neck, the smoothness of her collarbone, and he smiled back.
"Are you all right?"
"I'm perfect," he said honestly. He stood and opened his arms wide. "Come here."
She leaned forward into him and he wrapper his arms around her waist, breathing in deeply. She was warm and smelled of fresh grass and strawberries.
He lowered them onto the bed and curled up against her, his chest placed against her back and his forearm draped across her hip, his hand in hers.
She sighed. "You're a good man, Remus Lupin."
"Yes," he said, "it took me a while, but I think I finally am."
"You're a good father."
"It helps that I've got you." He kissed her shoulder. "I was so scared. I've been terrible. I've been a coward. I'm not that anymore. I'm happy with who I am. I don't entirely know why you love me but I've accepted that you do and I want you to love me. I want to be a father."
"That's why I love you, Remus," Dora said. "It's because I know how wonderful you can be once you stop being an idiot."
"Oh Dora, you have such a way with words…"
She giggled, and he kissed her again.
"As always, the economic report is highly appreciated and was especially fascinating today," said Kingsley in a dull voice as a pleased Percy Weasley took his seat at the weekly staff meeting. "As I understand it, Hermione Granger will speak to us now about concerns of population and also the usage of magic by the Ministry."
"Thank you, Minister," Hermione replied, and she stood at her seat around the table. Percy's report had deadened most of the room, she noted with a grim acceptance. "I will be mercifully brief, as you will receive much more information during your report from the Department of Mysteries, but the issue we speak of today is something that we should be extremely worried about, particularly if we are as dedicated to societal equality as we like to say we are. To be plain, the magical population in Britain is dwindling, largely because of the decline of pureblood families and even more so because of the disturbing drop in Muggle-born fertility rate.
"The truth is that we have been irresponsible in our usage of magic. We rely on old spells and wards to do our dirty work for us, and these old spells grow weaker every day. They grow weaker and allow magic to disperse when it should naturally gravitate, and this dispersal prevents the birth of magical children, both Muggle-born and pureblood, although the effect has been especially felt in the Muggle-born sector, one of the most vital demographics in regard to magical population.
"There are, of course, other, more disturbing factors – you might say the war's most devastating legacy – but I realize that the classification status of those factors is uncertain at this time and that it would probably be a job best left to Unspeakables," she finished apologetically. "To be short, the way we do things now isn't working, and if we continue on this path before long there's not going to be much of a wizarding world left. Like I said, the Department of Mysteries will give you a more comprehensive overview of the subject, and after that occurs we can begin talking about strategies going forward."
Kingsley sat with a blank face, but Hermione knew his mind was hard at work.
"Interesting," he finally said. "And do you believe this problem can be rectified with a cohesive policy?"
"Yes," she said. "I think it can. I would recommend, after a comprehensive briefing on the overarching problem by our colleagues from the Department of Mysteries, the creation of an expert team dedicated to the issue, with members ranging from Unspeakables to magical theorists to even Muggle scientists and government members, to determine how to battle the problem. But in theory, at least, the problem is incredibly solvable."
"Good, that's what I like to hear. And I'll consider your proposal after I've heard the report from the Department of Mysteries. Let's move on to the census…"
The meeting dragged on but in a sign that all was not wrong with the world it ended before two, and the staff slowly shifted out of the chamber, speaking in low tones to each other. Hermione waited for Kingsley to finish his conversation with Yarbet to approach him.
"Yes?" he said, eyebrow raised.
"I just wanted to inform you that I was planning on taking a week off," she replied. She paused. "Effective Monday."
"But we've got important constitutional meetings on Monday and Tuesday," Kingsley trailed off, frowning.
Hermione bit her lip so hard that it almost bled. "I know, but I just thought that maybe – I really have just been too focused in on certain things and I really…"
"The point, Hermione," Kingsley said.
"Yes. Well. I just thought that you could get by without me for a week, honestly."
Kingsley looked at her for a while and laughed. "Yes, that's what I was waiting for. I would've appreciated more notice, but I'll be fine. Enjoy being nineteen years old for a week, Hermione, and then be ready to get back to work on changing the world with a rested mind. I'll see you two Mondays from now."
Hermione sighed with relief and hugged the Minister, much to the surprise of Kingsley and a laughing Yarbet, and Kingsley muttered something incomprehensible, but Hermione was already off to the Atrium, quite nearly skipping.
Harry and Ron were waiting for her in the Atrium, deep in conversation about something, and they didn't seem to notice her as she approached. Grinning, she snuck up behind Ron and gave him a kiss on the cheek, and he jumped in the air, startled and swearing. Harry laughed until Hermione darted to him and gave him a peck on the cheek too, and she settled in between her two boys, one cursing and one blushing.
"My vacation officially starts today," she announced cheerfully. "How should we celebrate the occasion?"
"The way we planned to, maybe?" Ron grumbled.
Hermione started to scowl but decided she felt too happy for that and instead merely said, "You're right, a trip to Andromeda's sounds delightful. Shall we?"
She didn't wait for their replies and strode purposefully (almost floating) towards the Floo stations of the Ministry, the two confused teenage boys hurrying to catch up to her.
"Oh quit it Teddy, you know I don't like it when you pout," Andromeda was saying when Hermione stepped out of her fireplace with a perky grin. The older woman stared at her and Hermione was uncomfortably reminded of Bellatrix –you are lying, filthy Mudblood, and I know it… tell me the truth or, I swear, I shall run you through with this knife! – but then Andromeda smiled wearily and any similarities ended. "Oh, I forgot you were coming by. Is Harry on his way?"
"Right here, Andy," said Harry as he stumbled out of the fire, and he grabbed onto Hermione's shoulder for support. "How's the little terror doing today?"
Teddy let out a bloodcurdling scream in lieu of answering.
"I see," Harry stated.
"Why are we screaming?" came Ron's voice as he too came through the connection. "Hermione, did you know you've got soot all over you?"
"Oh, thanks, Harry," Hermione replied sarcastically, throwing the black-haired boy a withering glare, and she flourished her wand and cleaned her clothing, making a pointed display of shoving Harry's hand off of her shoulder.
Teddy wailed again.
"Would you believe me," groaned Andromeda, "if I told you this wasn't something Dora did as a child?"
"Remus always was the loud sort," Ron snorted.
For his part, Teddy, whose hair was a shocking blue, slammed his fists on his high chair and let out several whimpers.
"He wants to watch another TV show," Andromeda explained. "I made the mistake of showing him one earlier today and I think it might have been the biggest error of my life."
"I feel rather the same with Ron," Harry agreed.
Hermione, despite her previous irritation, chuckled, and Ron turned a bright shade of red.
"I must say I'm somewhat surprised to see you three so early in the day," Andromeda continued as if she had been uninterrupted, or as if her grandson wasn't currently throwing a tantrum. "You made it sound like you'd be dropping by later in the afternoon."
"My meeting got out early."
"What she means is: she made us skip lunch."
"Shove it, Ronald."
"Hey! Not in front of my godson, you two."
"Sorry. Let me rephrase. Ronald, please prove your generosity of spirit by giving us all the gift of silence."
"I think I get the gist," Andromeda cut in.
Hermione and Ron glared at each other for a long while, but then he began to smirk and before she knew it they were both laughing, while Harry chuckled to himself and Andromeda looked on with an odd expression on her face.
A higher tinkling sound began, and then Hermione realized that Teddy had stopped throwing a fit and had decided to join in on the laughter. His cheeks were pink and contrasted terribly with his hair but his smile was wide and his eyes sparkled and if she didn't know it before she knew now that she really did love this little boy.
A bell rung in the kitchen and Andromeda muttered something under her breath. "Blast, that's the food. Ron, since you're so eager to eat, would you mind giving me a hand with the casserole? I need to expand the table and set a few more places and I've only got so many arms."
"Sure," Ron said, shrugging, and he followed her out of the room.
Harry and Hermione stood awkwardly for several seconds, and she was suddenly aware that they were alone together for the first time since the incident at Azkaban. Harry's hands were jutted in his pockets, and he wore a laid-back smile, something she suspected was influenced by the presence of his godson.
"I'm really sorry I didn't show you that memory, you know," he said out of nowhere. Hermione stared at him. "The one of Nurmengard. I should've shown it to you. I knew you'd be interested. I just… forgot. I wasn't thinking."
"It's not," he said, and she didn't bother to argue, since Harry could be such a stubborn idiot and sometimes it wasn't worth the effort to convince him that he wasn't the world's worst friend. "I… I haven't been able to watch all of them. I had to stop. I would like you to see them with me."
"I would be delighted, Harry. So would Ron, I know."
"I thought so." He kneeled over and sat on his knees, so that he could peer closer at his godson's face. Teddy stared back at him with green eyes that matched Harry's own. "There's one, though… there's one I just want to see with you. At first. It was the last memory I tried, but I couldn't watch it all. It was my mum and dad's wedding."
Hermione felt light all of a sudden, remembered the dead town and the monument and the graveyard like none other. She remembered the ruins of a house and the snake of a woman, and she cringed.
He seemed to have noticed, because he continued, "I would like you to see it. Just you, at first. Because."
Because you were there. Because you never left me. Because I want it to be all right to cry.
"Because I want you to know what Godric's Hollow used to be like," he finished, lamely. "I want you to see my parents, not their graves."
"Of course, Harry," she found herself saying. "I would like nothing better."
And she understood. It was his way of letting someone into something that had previously been entirely personal. It was his way of asking for help, and beginning to accept what had happened to him so that he could move on with the rest of his life. It was his way of saying thanks for always being with him, even when Ron wasn't.
She thought it entirely silly that Harry thought he needed to thank her for her support. She'd always be willing to do anything for him.
"Good," he said. He smiled, his eyes shining, and looked at Teddy. "Hey, Teddy. When you're older, there are a lot of memories I'd like to show you, as well. Your dad was a great man, did you know that? He struggled a lot in his life, and he wasn't always as brave as he wanted to be, but he got there in the end. And he wanted you to know that, if nothing else. He wanted to know what he and your mum were like, and I want you to know that, too. One day, years from now, I'm going to take you back and show you exactly what kind of man your father was."
Harry coughed, wiped his eyes. Hermione knew not to make a note of it.
"I want you to see his school days, when he was friends with my dad and my godfather. I want you to see him after his friends were all gone, when he thought… when he thought there was nothing left, and he was scared. And I want you to see how scared he was, and to know how far he came. He was one of the bravest men I ever knew. I want you to see when he taught me charms after class, and when he told me stories about my dad, and when he married your mum. All right?"
Teddy seemed to nod, and then he laughed and squeezed Harry's nose.
Harry sighed. "Well, it was a good moment while it lasted."
Hermione laughed, and, sensing the tension dissipate, turned to go see if the others needed any help. She found Andromeda standing behind her, leaning against the doorway, eyes wet and bright, and the older woman smiled at her, and Hermione, understanding, smiled back.
"I think his hair's finally settled," Andromeda said. "He likes the blue. Had it for a week."
"Do you, Teddy?" Harry asked, ruffling the boy's hair. "You like to cause a scene, just like your mum, do you?"
Then, as if determined to rebel against anything his elders said and prove his own independence, Teddy forcefully shook his head and the blue turned into a mousy brown, and when he stilled Hermione saw that there were streaks of pink across his fringe.
"You really are your parents' son, aren't you?" Harry chuckled, and he picked up the boy, hoisting him against his shoulder. "Though I'm not sure Remus would have ever gone for the pink, and Tonks would've never gone for something so flat. Nice compromise, though."
"The table's set!" Ron shouted from the other room. "Please tell me we can eat now!"
Andromeda rolled her eyes and turned to go back to the dining room. "Yes, Ron, we're just getting Teddy…"
Harry stood in the doorway for a moment, and Hermione stood with him. Finally, unable to control herself, she threw her arms around his waist and nuzzled her head into his chest, next to Teddy's shoulder.
"I'm sorry, Hermione, but I don't think I can carry you and Teddy," Harry joked. "Maybe I can convince Ron to give it a go, though."
"Oh shush, you stupid boy. I just am happy, that's all."
And she was. She enjoyed the feel of Harry, knowing that he was there and alive and well. She missed these moments, when Ron would grab her hand across the table or her dad would embrace her with one arm or her mum would kiss her forehead, or even when Molly would nearly tackle her at a Weasley family dinner.
Harry wrapped his free arm around her and kissed the top of her hair. "Me too. We should probably get inside before your boyfriend punches my lights out."
"Ron can join in for all I care."
"Join in on what?" Ron hollered from the dining room.
"Hermione's trying to crush my ribcage!" Harry shouted back.
"Oh," said Ron unexcitedly. "Count me out. This casserole is delicious."
Hermione huffed into Harry's chest and felt something tug at her hair, eventually realizing that Teddy had begun to entertain himself by playing with her untamable mane.
"Teddy," Harry said, but Hermione shook her head.
"It's fine," she replied, and it was. It almost felt nice. Serene, even.
"We love you, you know that?" she said, tilting her chin up so it rested on Harry's collarbone. "Both of us. Remus loved you so much. Sirius, too. Your parents, Dumbledore." She paused. "Hagrid, the entire bloody Weasley family, even McGonagall, I think. Teddy already adores you, and Andromeda's getting there. We all love you, you silly boy."
"You're all mental," Harry said, and she could tell he was grinning.
"Quite possibly," she agreed. "Just remember that. I love you very much, Harry Potter, and so does Ron, too, although he'll never admit it. I even love him, no matter how much I want to kill him sometimes. And even though I get caught up in everything, it doesn't change that."
"I know," he said, and he pulled her tighter, kissing her hair again before letting her go, and she reluctantly disentangled herself from him. "Now let's go get some food. My godson's starving."
Harry sat next to Teddy and Andromeda and Hermione sat next to Ron and held hands with him under the table and they ate a companionable lunch. At points Harry would smile at the two of them and she would smile back, and sometimes Ron would too (if he noticed), and Teddy laughed happily with the eyes of his father.
And it was fine, she decided. There were no ghosts haunting them, only good memories and good company, and despite everything that had went on and was going on still it was okay to be happy every once in a while. Sometimes she felt that the world was a brave and wondrous place full of opportunity and possibility, and this was one of those times.
Her eyes traveled to the mantel behind Harry where pictures of the Tonks family lay. She saw Ted and Dora and Sirius, and finally her eyes landed on Remus. The photograph was a candid one of him laughing, a teenager without a care in an empty classroom, and for a moment she thought he looked at her.
"Hermione, I'd love some more, if you wouldn't mind," Ron said, breaking her concentration – but she didn't mind.
Hermione smiled back at Remus and passed the casserole.