Harry Potter and all characters, etc. belong to J.K. Rowling, not me.
Harry Potter-McGonagall – Chapter 9 – Epilogue
"Harry, wake up, mate," said Michael Corner as he pulled back the blue curtains that were protecting his dorm mate from the sunlight.
The Man-Who-Won blinked his eyes as the light shone onto his face, ending his slumber. "Wh-what?"
"It's time to wake up. We've got to get breakfast, and then we'll have just a few hours to get ready."
Finally remembering what was going on, Harry Potter-McGonagall smiled at his friend for seven years. "At least this is the last time you'll be waking me up."
"Yeah. I'll leave that to Hermione in the future."
Harry's grin widened at the thought of his fiancé. "I'll bet she's already up, as usual."
"No doubt about that, is there?" asked Terry Boot, who revealed himself to be awake and already dressed for the day. The dorm the three of them shared still contained a fourth bed – the one that had belonged to Anthony Goldstein. Every day, in what had become something of a ritual, Harry would glance at the empty bed and close his eyes in remembrance of his friend. This would be the last time he'd be able to do that.
"No doubt at all," replied Harry, after a few moments. He noticed a hoverboard on top of his magical trunk and placed it into the largest compartment, on top of a stack of hoverboards. Then, he made his way to the bathroom, where he showered and prepared to face the day, somehow sad that this would be the last time he'd go through his morning ritual in the Ravenclaw dorm. While he was still exercising most days, he'd decided not to do it on this special occasion. He still kept in shape because he never knew when the next nut would try to take over the world. When he finally reached the common room, he saw the woman he loved waiting for him.
"Well, it took you long enough, Harry," she exclaimed. "Did you oversleep again?" He could tell that she was frazzled, most likely because of the importance of this day.
"Good morning to you, too, love," he replied with a smirk.
The Head Girl took a deep breath. Her years with Harry had calmed her down to a point, but sometimes she still overreacted, and this was one of her boyfriend's ways of pointing that out to her. "Good morning, Harry. I'm sorry that the first words out of my mouth were me nagging you instead of saying, I love you."
"I love you, too. And, you're right. I am running late, but I got twenty enchanted last night."
"Twenty?" she asked, obviously surprised. "Just how late did you stay up last night?"
Yawning, he replied, "Pretty late. Anyway, we'll have to hurry through breakfast."
"Then I have to read through my speech again, then make sure everyone's getting packed, then get dressed for graduation, then reread my speech, then make…"
"You'll do great, love," he interrupted. "You always do." He then kissed her quickly before taking her hand in his, running his finger over her ring, causing her to glance down at it as he led her out the door. Hermione's promise ring had been replaced with a genuine engagement ring nearly a year before. She smiled sweetly as she remembered Harry's proposal.
It was Hermione's 18th birthday, and, as usual, Harry threw her a party in C.A.R.E. headquarters. She'd received several presents from her gathered friends, but one present was missing.
"Didn't Harry give you anything?" asked Ginny Weasley when she'd noticed the absence of a package with his name.
"He's probably got something special planned," she answered, sounding much more confident than she was.
"Of course I do," replied Harry, startling the two witches as he walked up from behind. "I just thought I'd give her my present in private."
Together, nearly every occupant of the room said, "Wooooo," making suggestive faces regarding what they thought Harry's gift would be. Harry and the birthday girl began blushing madly.
"That's not what I meant. It's just…I want to be alone with Hermione when I…" Judging by the looks on their faces, he realized that he wasn't convincing anybody of anything. "Forget it. Isn't the party over, yet?"
"There's still a lot of cake left," offered Brianna, pretending she was being helpful.
It was another hour before the other people left, leaving Harry alone with his girlfriend.
"So, what is it that you're giving me for my birthday that can't be shown in public?" It was obvious from her tone that she was a bit annoyed, but not very. She didn't really care what people thought they were or weren't doing behind closed doors. It was their friends that had slightly annoyed her with their insinuations. It was none of their business.
"Er, well, it's not that it can't be seen in public, in fact, I want you to show it in public; it's just that I don't want to…"
"To what?" she asked, her curiosity peaked.
"Um, to repeat what happened on your 16th birthday."
"What do you mean?" she asked as she searched her memory of that day. Suddenly, she remembered what had been special that day as she caressed the promise ring on her finger. Although it had been over two years since the first time Harry had spoken of marrying her, Hermione's insecurities couldn't let her just immediately believe it. "Are you trying to say…"
Getting down on one knee, imitating the muggle tradition, the Chosen One held out his right hand, which was holding an engagement ring. It was a simple gold band with a small diamond on top, but it was worth all the Galleons in Gringotts to her. "Hermione Jean Granger, I love you more than anything in this world, and I can't bear the thought of not having you in my life." He took a deep breath while preparing himself to say the last part of his rehearsed speech. "Will you marry me?"
"Of course I will, Harry," she replied while allowing him to replace her promise ring. "I love you, too." She then pulled him toward her and kissed him deeply.
The engaged couple reached the first staircase on the route from Ravenclaw Tower to the Great Hall. However, the stairs weren't there; instead, they were moving a short distance away. "Did you do it?" asked Harry.
With a grin, Hermione answered, "Yes, and it worked." While Harry had been enchanting hoverboards, his girlfriend had enchanted something else. It was an idea that they'd mentioned on their very first day at Hogwarts, although they didn't get started on the project until after Voldemort was dead. They'd been working out how to do this for over two years, and wanted to complete the project before graduation.
Harry cleared his throat. "Stairs. Down toward the Great Hall." Suddenly, the wayward staircase stopped what it was doing and moved toward them. As a small group gathered around Hogwarts' golden couple, one end of the staircase attached to the point in front of them, while the other end attached as far down and in the direction of the Great Hall as it could. They could see other staircases moving into positions to complete the route as their friends in Ravenclaw clapped.
"I've got to admit," commented one of them, "I never thought you'd actually do it."
They just smiled as they stepped onto the staircase and made their way down. "So," asked Harry, "Do you think this will get us mentioned in the next edition of Hogwarts, a History?"
With a small grin, his fiancé replied, "If this doesn't, I don't know what will."
"It's weird to think that we'll never have breakfast in the Great Hall again," commented Harry as they entered the largest room in Hogwarts, whose ceiling was revealing the summer sky. To indicate the winner of the House Cup, the hall was decorated in Ravenclaw colors.
"There you are," declared Padma, who was sitting at the Ravenclaw table next to her current boyfriend, a Hufflepuff named Justin Finch-Fletchley. She'd broken up with Terry Boot during their sixth year. She was eating breakfast, so the remains of an omelet were on her plate. "Did Harry oversleep again?"
"Of course," replied Hermione. "He's been oversleeping every morning since we finished our N.E.W.T.s."
"I'm right here," said Harry with a yawn, "And do you know how late I've been staying up working? Until three a.m."
"Sorry, Harry. I suppose you're entitled to sleep a bit late. When's the grand opening?"
With a proud grin, Harry replied, "In one week. Remus and Sirius are getting the shop all ready. I'll have to handle organizing the warehouse once I get out of here."
About that time, several owls flew into the Great Hall carrying the mail. One, a snowy owl, swooped down right in front of Harry, who was filling up his plate. "Good morning, girl," he greeted while giving Hedwig a piece of bacon. He untied a parchment from her leg that said it was from Marauder's Quidditch Goods. Before he could open it, another owl landed in front of him, bearing a parchment with the insignia of Puddlemere United. "How many times do I have to say no to these people?" he asked with a sigh.
"Apparently at least one more time," replied his fiancé. "You've got to admit that any team that contracted you would double their crowds and revenues."
"Just so people can see the guy who wasted that idiot," hissed Harry.
"He wasn't an idiot," replied Padma, in Ravenclaw lecture mode. "You simply were ready for him, and he knew it. He attacked the train to force a confrontation because he knew you were growing stronger by the day. He probably hoped you'd have been injured in the crash."
"Your hard work paid off," added Hermione. "Just imagine if you hadn't been preparing for that fight. It could've taken years to beat him. The war could still be going on now."
"Especially if Dumbledore and Bones hadn't taken care of most of the Horcruxes," whispered Padma, making sure not to be overheard talking about those darkest of objects.
"You'd been going to magic school since you were six years old, which gave you much more experience with spellcasting than any other Hogwarts student, besides Brianna," Harry's girlfriend added.
"Look at this, Harry!" a girl excitedly squealed from behind him. He turned to see the Gryffindor Quidditch captain, Ginny Weasley, standing next to her long-time boyfriend, Michael Corner, while staring at a parchment like it was an ice cream sundae. He noticed the logo on the parchment.
"The Holyhead Harpies? That's great, Ginny! Aren't they a bit early, though?" he asked.
"They say they've been watching me play and invited me to practice with them for a few weeks this summer!" she exclaimed, the joy evident in her face. "Can you believe they're actually scouting me!"
"Congratulations, Ginny!" Hermione said with a smile.
"That's terrific!" added Padma.
"Thanks, guys. Harry, I was wondering, er, if I could borrow one of those Marauder brooms you made that goes a bit faster than the Firebolt for that. I'd take really good care of it. I j-just wanted to…"
"Knock their socks off?" asked Harry with a grin while she nodded sheepishly. Putting his head down, he put on his most unemotional face. "Can't do it. Sorry."
Ginny's face fell. "Come on. I promise I won't damage it. I…"
"The reason I can't loan you one is because I'm giving you one as an early birthday present," interrupted Harry. "I've already enchanted it."
Ginny looked like she wanted to either faint or snog him. She settled for saying, "Thank you, thank you, thank you!" while pulling him into a tight, yet brief, hug.
"Just so you know, I'm also giving one to Ravenclaw's new Seeker next year, so I'm not helping Gryffindor beat us."
"I can't wait to see Ron's face when I tell him!" exclaimed Ginny. "He'll be so jealous!" Harry looked to see that the redhead in question currently had his face attached to Lavender Brown, whom he'd been faithfully dating since the day Voldemort died. Harry chuckled as, at that same table, he saw Neville and Parvati feeding each other, amused at their antics. They'd grown very close after the final battle with Voldemort. Once the youngest Weasley had walked off, Harry unrolled his scroll.
You won't believe how many preorders we already have, both for brooms and hoverboards! I hope you've been making more like you promised, because if you don't, we'll sell out before lunch on opening day.
What followed was a list of the orders, along with Sirius' Marauder signature - Padfoot. No matter how many times Harry told them to call him Claws, they insisted on Furball.
"I thought that was from Marauder's Quidditch Goods," came another voice from behind Harry. He turned to see his sister standing, holding hands with her long-time boyfriend, James Sauder. "I told them to send me a copy of everything, too."
"I told them, too, sis. I know you invented the hoverboard and are in this business, too. And so do they. I guess they know you'll read whatever they send me over my shoulder, anyway."
"Still, it's not like I'm not up half the night enchanting, too. And I'll be working during the summer, especially during your honeymoon."
Harry blushed at the way his sister had mentioned the last word, but managed to say, "You can yell at them tonight, Brianna. They'll be here for the graduation."
"Yeah. It'll be soooo much better at Hogwarts once you're gone," she declared, clearly being sarcastic.
"You'll cry every night next year, and you know it," replied her brother.
"I'll comfort her," promised James, with a wink.
"You'd better not comfort her too much or I might have to come back." While the words sounded harsh, Harry's expression showed he wasn't really threatening his sister's boyfriend. Despite himself, he had grown fond of him over the past few years.
Rolling her eyes, Brianna changed the subject back to their business. "I guess I'll have to remind them that I am a partner."
"You sure are," he agreed, thinking back to the day they'd started the business.
It was July of 1997, just after Harry had finished his sixth year at Hogwarts. He and Brianna had decided to visit a place they hadn't been to for a few years – Frank's Flying Funhouse in Little Salem, Illinois. This time, Harry brought his latest custom-broom while Brianna brought her hoverboard. After they signed in, they made their way to the cushion-charmed practice area.
"Now, the fun begins," declared Harry's sister as she stepped on her hoverboard, allowing the sticking charm to attach it to her left foot, and began flying upward in circles as her altitude increased. Harry, in the meantime, kicked off and flew straight up in the middle of her circles, holding his body tightly against his broom. It was almost like a dance that the siblings had worked out as they showed off their enchanting and flying prowess.
When they almost reached the ceiling, they began the next phase, accelerating forward as fast as they could. Brianna had to semi-squat on her board to keep from blowing off it while moving at these speeds, her hair blowing in the wind. When they reached a certain point, they started diving, which gave Harry the advantage as he could go straight down on his broom but his sister had to make circles around his descent to avoid falling and embarrassing herself.
When they got to the floor, they were surprised to hear deafening applause. "I guess we got an audience," Harry yelled at Brianna so she could hear him.
"It must have been my flying," she replied with a smirk.
"Wow!" said one of the employees. "Where did you get that hoverboard?"
"I took apart a skateboard and enchanted it," Brianna answered. "Why?"
"Incredible! It's just like Back to the Future, but I think it moves faster!"
"That's what inspired it," replied Harry. "I've got one, too."
"Could one of you make one for me? I'll pay you for it."
"Me, too," asked a stranger who just walked up. Before it was over, half of the crowd had agreed to pay them to enchant hoverboards. Others had noticed the broom that Harry was using was also custom-made and asked him about it. Many people asked them to make brooms, too. They ended up getting a lot of orders.
Ten days later, while Harry and Brianna were busily enchanting their orders in Harry's bedroom, there was a knock. Harry pointed his wand at the door, which opened immediately, to reveal Sirius and Remus.
"Hey guys, how are you doing?" asked Padfoot.
"Pretty well," answered Brianna. "Last week, we went flying for fun and ended up having about fifty people asking us to make them either hoverboards or custom brooms."
"How much are you charging?" asked Moony.
After they'd answered the question, Sirius got an idea. "Furball!"
"I told you, my name is Claws!" replied Harry.
"Of course, Furball. I just got a great idea! You'll be graduating in about a year. What if we opened a store or two that sold these things?"
Harry and Brianna both smiled widely as they pictured their own store, enchanting brooms and hoverboards for a living. They imaged improving their enchantments and coming up with more products. "That sounds AWESOME!" exclaimed the Boy-Who-Lived.
That was when the idea for Marauder's Quidditch Goods was born. It was decided that Remus would be in charge of finances and Sirius would be in charge of advertising. They'd gotten a lot of business experience with their muggle business, which was still flourishing under the manager they'd hired, so Harry and Brianna agreed that they'd be tremendous help. The older Marauders would both work at the first store, which would be in England, until it started making enough money to hire people, and then would open one in America. Ever since then, the McGonagall siblings had dedicated much of their spare time to enchanting and improving enchantments on flying equipment, selling from a catalog.
Hermione Granger frowned as she looked in the mirror. No matter how she wore her graduation cap, it made her hair look awful. Ravenclaw boys graduated in blue, while the girls graduated in bronze. She knew they were her house's colors, but she thought the bronze looked horrid on her. She sighed as she looked her speech over for the twentieth time that day.
"Come on, Hermione. We'll be late," insisted Padma.
Shrugging her shoulders, the valedictorian walked out of her dorm with her best friend.
One thing that Hermione soon-to-be-Granger-Potter-McGonagall (or some variation of that – she still hadn't decided) was glad of was that Hogwarts used Pomp and Circumstance as the graduation music. She smiled as she watched her head of house directing the school orchestra and imagined how chaotic it would be if they'd used the Hogwarts theme song instead. She marched in with the other Ravenclaw girls and took her seat. The order that graduates entered was Gryffindor boys and girls, then Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff and Slytherin. They sat on chairs that had been specially arranged for this ceremony, as opposed to the house tables that customarily filled this room.
She nervously looked around her as she waited to give her speech. She first saw the girls she'd been sharing a room with for seven years, then Harry and his dorm mates. She saw Neville wearing Gryffindor red while Parvati wore gold. The Hufflepuffs and Slytherins were also in their house colors. Hermione was barely paying any attention to the headmistress' speech as she looked at the crowd. She could see her parents, as well as Harry's family, sitting among the crowd. Brianna seemed to be hissing at Sirius and Remus, who actually appeared to be afraid of her. Hermione imagined it was about them not sending her a copy of business correspondence as well as Harry. Hermione even saw an old woman with a vulture hat crying in one of the seats.
Minerva finished her speech and announced, "And now, our valedictorian and Head Girl, Hermione Granger of Ravenclaw, would like to say a few words."
Swallowing, Ms. Granger stood up and walked to the podium to tremendous applause. She figured that no one wanted Harry Potter to think that they weren't clapping for his fiancé. When the applause ended, she began her speech. "Er, hello, everyone." She took a deep breath. "What I'd like to talk about is what Hogwarts has meant to me. Eight years ago, I didn't know of this place's existence, but now, it's become one of the most important places in the world to me. It's certainly been a place of learning magic, but also a place of making friendships. It's been a place of growing closer to some people. It's the place where I became engaged…" She paused as she decided to stop herself from following that line of thought while noticing her fiancé giving her an encouraging smile.
"It's also a place that has improved tremendously since I started attending here. Professor McGonagall, who became headmistress in our second year, has tirelessly worked toward making Hogwarts into a safe and pleasant sanctuary of education. This safety was threatened many times during our years here, and I don't believe I have to name the member of this graduating class responsible for finally eliminating that threat over two years ago." She paused while the audience gave Harry what she believed was a well-deserved ovation.
"In this sanctuary of learning, Harry Potter-McGonagall was able to study, learn and practice what he needed in order to accomplish his goal, as have many others. Had improvements not been made, who knows if any of us would've been able to meet our goals and achieve our dreams." She thought about how many people in her class had achieved a Potions N.E.W.T. that most certainly wouldn't have if Snape hadn't been sacked. She knew he'd helped with the war, but that did not make him a good teacher. Likewise, she knew that Dumbledore had had his heart in the right place, but he had not been a good headmaster. He'd managed to almost eliminate all Potions N.E.W.T.s by hiring Snape, thus ending countless dreams before they could be realized.
"Thanks to Headmistress McGonagall's efforts, the most important thing I've learned here, that I plan to carry with me, is that hard work does pay off." She returned to her seat to tremendous applause.
There were a few more speeches before the graduates were called up to receive their diplomas, which were on scrolls of parchment. Those that wished a muggle-looking one, such as Hermione and Harry, would receive one in the mail with a different school name than Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
After the ceremony, Harry and Hermione walked hand-in-hand to find their families. "You did a great job on your speech, darling," remarked Harry.
"Thanks. Are you sure it didn't sound stupid?"
"Of course not."
"Would you tell me if it did?" she countered with a smirk.
"There you are," said Hermione's mother. "We've been waiting for ages." Marissa Granger was standing with her husband, along with the McGonagall family, Remus with his wife of six months, Charity (formerly Burbage), and Sirius with his girlfriend-of-the-week – Maggie something.
As they strolled out of Hogwarts, Mark McGonagall asked, "What restaurant is it we're going to?"
"A very lovely place in Edinburgh's historic Old Town I'm sure you'll enjoy," replied Minerva. "It's a muggle restaurant called, the Witchery."
"Are you sure it's muggle?" asked Cindy. "It sounds magical to me."
"It was named that because of the hundreds of so-called witches burned at the stake in the sixteenth and seventeenth century at that site," added Hermione solemnly.
"Isn't that one of the places Wendelin the Weird purposely got herself caught?" asked Brianna.
"Yeah," replied Harry, chuckling, glad his sister had changed the conversation from somber to amusing.
At that time, they passed the gates of Hogwarts, and so were out of the anti-apparition field. Harry, Minerva, Remus, Hermione and Sirius Side-Along-Apparated Mark, Cindy, Adam, Marissa, and Brianna, respectively, while the others Apparated themselves.
They arrived behind Edinburgh's Waverley Station and began a short, but very steep, uphill walk. While they were making their way to the restaurant, Hermione pulled out a brochure and read aloud.
"The Witchery is located at the top of the Royal Mile, you'll see us on the left hand side of the road as you approach Edinburgh Castle.
We are hidden in a collection of ancient buildings in the heart of Edinburgh's historic Old Town. The entrance is through an ancient 'close' below a gilded heraldic sign.
Located in a sixteenth-century merchant's house, the rich baroque surroundings of the Witchery's original dining room offers one of the city's most exceptional dining destinations.
Dine on red leather seats, surrounded by ancient oak panelling and hung with tapestries. Heraldic painted ceilings are reflected in the candlelight of dozens of antique candlesticks, whilst historic stone walls ooze with the building's history.
Both the original Witchery and the enchanting Secret Garden make memorable settings for private dining, events, weddings or celebrations, in the historic heart of Edinburgh.
The richly baroque Witchery, with its oak panelling and ancient tapestries, seats up to 50 guests. Whilst the elegant Secret Garden, with its hidden terrace, seats up to 60.
Private dining in either the Witchery or Secret Garden is on an exclusive-use basis, allowing your guests to enjoy the magical atmosphere undisturbed."
When they arrived, they were quickly shown to their dining area where they were given menus. They listed Scottish seafood, beef, lamb and game along with the Witchery's legendary Angus beef steak tartar, briny-fresh seafood platters and even some haggis.
During the meal, the topic soon became the upcoming wedding of Harry and Hermione. The men were bored while the women spoke of decorations, outfits and many other details. Harry didn't dare mention that the only detail of his wedding that he cared about was the identity of his bride.
Eventually, Remus decided to end the wedding talk by clearing his throat and asking, "Charity, darling, do you think now's a good time to make our announcement?"
Instantly, his bride began blushing. "I suppose now's as good a time as any…I'm having a baby!" She almost yelled the last part in her glee. Everyone offered congratulations, and then the topic of conversation went from wedding details to baby shower details.
By the time dessert came, they had a new topic of discussion: Hermione's new job that she'd be starting right after her honeymoon.
"I couldn't believe it when I got the letter from Minister Bones offering me the job. I didn't really think she was serious when we'd discussed it."
Harry added, "Hermione met Madam Bones at the ceremony when the Ministry gave out those trinkets…"
"You mean the Orders of Merlin," corrected his fiancé.
"Whatever. The point is that she told you that she believed that sending the Death Eaters, who fortunately didn't get away with an 'Imperius Plea' this time, to prison would allow the political climate to change so much that she'd be able to form a C.A.R.E. department, working for equal rights for all magical sentients."
Hermione grinned and said, "I didn't think it would really happen, but then last month, I got the letter from her that said she was going to start the department and wanted me to run it. I know it'll be a small department with only a few people, but still…"
"It's a wonderful opportunity," finished Minerva, "and it couldn't have come to a more deserving person."
"Your father and I are so proud of you," added Marissa while her husband nodded.
"And so am I," declared Harry with a grin.
"Five minutes left!" announced Brianna, looking at her watch. She, along with her brother, Sirius and Remus, were standing on the sales floor of Marauder's Quidditch Goods on the day of their grand opening. Harry would normally work in the warehouse away from the public, who frequently asked for his autograph, but today he would make an exception. He certainly wanted the public to find out all about their products, so today he would sign anything bought at the store. He figured that getting writer's cramp was worth attracting the largest crowd possible. He looked at all the merchandise surrounding him and his hand began to hurt prematurely.
The brightly-lit, colorful store was completely stocked. He couldn't count how many hoverboards were stacked up in every color and design they could imagine. The Marauder brooms were just as numerous. They also stocked standard and custom Quidditch equipment – Seeker gloves, Bludgers, Snitches, Quaffles and hoops. The equipment was only custom-charmed for durability, although they did have special training-equipment that was not meant for actual games with other charms. The hoops were charmed to reflect the score on an included scoreboard. The set actually included a Snitch, too, so that the scoreboard would reflect when the Snitch was caught.
They also sold Quidditch magazines as well as jerseys and memorabilia from all the teams. The only things they didn't carry that Quality Quidditch Supplies did were the standard brooms. This store only carried its own brand of flying equipment. They also carried a limited stock of Quadpot merchandise, and planned to stock a lot more in their American branch when it opened. Perhaps even the name of that store would be Marauder's Quadpot Goods instead of Quidditch due to the inexplicable (at least, in Harry's opinion) popularity of that sport in America.
The outside of the building was a bright shade of blue with a gold roof. The name of the store was in large letters flashing every color of the rainbow. On the door was a large sign advertising the grand opening, as well as the fact Harry Potter-McGonagall would be present signing autographs on purchased merchandise. There was already a line at the door that seemed to almost fill that section of Hogsmeade.
"It's time!" declared Brianna, before Sirius pointed his wand at the door, causing it to open.
"Welcome to Marauder's Quidditch Goods!" exclaimed Harry with a grin plastered on his face as he saw the store fill up with customers. He knew it would be a long day.
"Thank you for shopping here, and come again," Harry said for the thousandth time that day after signing yet another hoverboard. His hand was aching. He was trying to massage his cramped hand when someone else walked in front of him. He was wearing more expensive black robes than the last time Harry had seen him, which appeared to be made of silk, but that was the only difference. His black hair was still as greasy as ever, and his abnormally large nose was still just as peculiarly big. His sneer was also still in place.
"Mr. Potter," said Severus Snape severely. "I should've known the son of James Potter couldn't help but go into a Quidditch-related career. Just like your father, you think life is a game."
"I see you're still just as warm and charming as ever, Mr. Snape," replied Harry.
"I see you're enjoying using your fame to con people into giving up their hard-earned money to get your worthless autograph. I suppose that today's success has inflated your already-enormous ego even more."
"I thought it was a Slytherin idea to use my fame to help this business," Harry replied. "I'd think you would appreciate the plan."
"It's quite infantile, Potter, certainly not worthy of a Slytherin. However, it appears the sheep have fallen for your simplistic tactic." He took a deep breath. "I, however, am here for an entirely different purpose. In the taxes for the potions business that I inherited from Professor Dumbledore after his unfortunate demise, I am in need of a write-off that happens to match the price of your useless Marauder Broom. Therefore, I have purchased it for that reason. While I hold no value whatsoever for your autograph, it seems likely that if I obtain it here, then someday I'll be able to swindle some fool of many more galleons if it has your worthless scrawl on it. So, sign this broom so I can leave this pathetic nursery."
It was then that Harry noticed that Snape was indeed carrying a broom, along with its receipt. He was truly surprised, even a little touched, that after their history, Snape would show up to support his business, no matter what his excuse. He quickly signed the broom like he'd done the others, and said, "Thanks for coming."
"I do hope your business doesn't fail, Potter. I'd hate for you to end up living off my taxes."
Harry wiped the sweat off his forehead as he stood before the crowd, dressed in his black tuxedo as he waited for his bride. He watched patiently as the entire wedding party walked up the aisle until finally the music changed to the traditional wedding march.
He watched with a huge smile as Hermione, dressed in a lovely white gown, made her way toward his location to stand with him. The minister asked him if he'd take Hermione Jean Granger for his wife, to which he enthusiastically answered, "I do."
When the question was put to Hermione, she frowned while a tear began to fall from her left eye. "I can't," she stated, to the shock of the crowd. "You see, Harry, I'm in love with someone else."
"What?" Harry asked in dismay. "Who?"
"Him," she said, pointing at a redhead seated in the crowd who was currently stuffing a cupcake into his mouth. "Ron Weasley."
Harry awoke with a jump. He was covered with sweat as he gasped for air. "Where'd that come from?" he asked himself as he shook his head to clear out the nightmare. He glanced at the clock to see that it was six a.m., so he decided to get up and shower. Today was to be the most important day of his life.
With a determined look on his face, the young man pointed his own wand at his chest and said, "Frigus!" He smiled and sighed as he felt the effects of his cooling charm. He honestly wondered how muggles could stand to wear a tuxedo, especially one with a vest like he had just put on. Granted, as he glanced at the mirror, he agreed that he looked good in it, but he thought he was about to have a heat stroke. Now, he could look good and feel nice and cool, despite it being a hot July morning. He looked admiringly at the suit he was wearing. It had black slacks with a matching jacket, a white shirt and a light blue vest with matching bowtie and handkerchief.
He took a deep breath and released it slowly. "At least this part is done," he said to himself. Putting on the tuxedo was the first of his challenges this day, but he knew that in the end it would be worth it. He was about to marry the only girl he ever loved, or even thought about loving – Hermione Granger. He knew that it was unusual to marry the first and only girl he ever dated, but he didn't think anything was wrong with that.
Dating, as he understood it, was to find the right person to spend your life with. He just got lucky and chose the right girl first. They'd had disagreements, but didn't let them turn into hurtful arguments, and therefore, hadn't had a nasty breakup. Hermione and he had both won and lost their share of disagreements, and in the end, they still loved each other. He was positive that she was the only girl for him, and absolutely sure he wanted to marry her, so the only question he had was why he was so nervous.
It wasn't as though this was his first time in front of a crowd. He'd played dozens of Quidditch matches at Hogwarts with hundreds of spectators. He'd had to give a speech when he was given his Order of Merlin. He made it through those experiences, so why would he be nervous when all he had to do was stand in front of a crowd, make a short speech, put a ring on Hermione's finger and say, 'I do.'
There was a knock at the door before he heard the voice of his dad, Mark McGonagall, calling to him, "Are you ready yet?"
"Yeah. I've got the tux on, dad. I told you I didn't need help putting it on."
The door opened and Mark, as well as Sirius Black, entered, both wearing their own tuxedos.
"Hey, Furball. How are you feeling?"
"Just fine," he answered quickly, so nervous that he didn't remind Padfoot to call him Claws.
"It looks like you almost got it right," commented Harry's dad as he adjusted the collar of Harry's shirt. "By the way, you're not fooling anybody with that, 'I'm fine,' answer. We both know you're scared to death."
"Am not," he protested. "I want to marry Hermione."
"Of course you do, cub," agreed Sirius, "but that doesn't mean you're not nervous. Remus was terrified. Even James…"
"My biological father?" questioned Harry.
"Yes," answered Padfoot. "James Potter spent years trying to win Lily Evans' heart. He was sure he'd marry her the moment he met her, and informed us of that on our first night in Gryffindor tower. But on his wedding day, he was pacing the floor of his changing room looking like he wanted to bolt."
"I know I was a wreck the day I married your mother," added Mark. "It's perfectly natural. Marriage is one thing you don't want to make a mistake with, and I don't believe you have."
"Neither do I," declared Harry with a determined expression. "Let's do this."
"Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to join this man and woman in holy matrimony…"
Harry looked deep into Hermione Granger's eyes, even through the veil that she wore. He'd watched her walking toward him, looking for all the world like an angel. He could see that she was as nervous as he, as well as determined. He grinned as he thought back to the first time they'd spoken.
Harry sat down first and began to fill his plate when Hermione sat down next to him. "Hello Harry," she said. Her face began to get pink. "I, er, was wondering if you could be, er, my study partner."
For a reason he couldn't fathom, his face began to turn pink too. "What exactly do you mean?"
She looked down at the table. "Er, to do class work and homework together, to study together."
"Oh, you mean like friends."
"Well, yes. Almost like friends."
Harry wondered why she'd say, 'Almost like friends' as though she never had friends before. He suspected it was her obviously studious nature that classified her as a bookworm that prevented her from gaining friends. "Sorry, can't do it," he said with a grin.
"I'm…sorry to have bothered you," she said as she began to get up. She sounded like she was about to cry.
"If you want, we can be friends, and study together as well. But I'm not good at being 'almost like friends.'"
She sat back down with a huge grin that showed her buckteeth, but more importantly it showed real happiness. "Friends? Do you mean it?"
He had meant it, and had never regretted that decision. When she'd found out his true identity, they'd fought, but their friendship ended up growing even stronger through that difficulty. She'd been by his side for over two years before he'd asked her to date him. He'd realized even back then that if he didn't get his act together and ask her out, someone else would've. He was still amazed that she actually loved him and had agreed to marry him, and was determined to make sure she never regretted that decision.
"Harry and Hermione have elected to make their own vows. Harry, if you'd begin." The elderly minister nodded at him to start talking.
Suddenly, Harry's nervousness was gone as he stared into the face of the woman he'd been blessed with. He smiled as he opened his mouth. "Where do I begin? I'll never forget the day you asked me to be your study partner. Both of us were just about to start at a new school far away from our homes. I had my aunt working there, but you didn't even know anybody there. Have I ever told you how much I admire your courage to do that?" He was careful not to make any references to the fact that it was a magical boarding school that was literally in a different world than the muggles she'd been raised by as he continued.
"That was when we became best friends. That was about seven years ago, and you've been the truest friend I ever had, always supporting me when I faced the…challenges in my life. When I was old enough, how could I not wish to be your boyfriend, fiancé, and now husband, even though it does prove that Brianna was right about us all along?" His sister, who was one of the bridesmaids, chuckled at that statement.
"Hermione, I love you and vow that I always will. I also promise that I will mess up sometimes and irritate you, but it won't be on purpose." Many people in the audience chuckled at that statement, as did the bride. "I also promise that when I realize how stupid I've acted, I'll properly apologize and try to be a better husband to you." He took a deep breath as he practically whispered the last line. "I want to spend the rest of my life with you."
Hermione took a deep breath as she willed herself not to cry as she lost herself in Harry's green eyes. "I remember the day we met, as well. I asked you to be my study partner because I didn't even dream you'd want to be my friend. I thought that eventually, after a few months or even years, you'd think of me as your friend. I was genuinely surprised when you said you wanted to be friends right then. I'd never really had good friends before, and suddenly I did. That meant a lot to me, as did the fact that you stuck to that promise, and eventually became so much more to me.
"Since you promised you'd make mistakes, I'll admit that I have, and definitely will keep on making mistakes. You've helped to make me a better person in your attempts to rein in my bossy side. I know that if you didn't love me, you wouldn't try to help me as you have. You'd either yell at me for annoying you or completely ignore me.
"I've grown to love you from that first day we met, and intend to keep on loving you more and more as we grow old together. I want our lives to be intertwined so that neither of us can even conceive of the idea of living without the other. I will be the best wife I can be, and ask that you continue to tell me when I've been too bossy. I also promise to let you know about your mistakes." The crowd laughed at that declaration. "I can't imagine my life without you, Harry, and don't ever want to experience it."
The minister then proceeded to have them exchange rings and asked them if they'd take each other as their wedded husband/wife, to which they naturally said, "I do."
The minister eventually announced, "Ladies and Gentlemen, let me be the first to introduce you to Mr. and Mrs. Harry Potter-McGonagall. You may kiss the bride."
Harry lifted the veil from covering her face and kissed her deeply, knowing that whatever the future held, Hermione would stand by him, as she always had.
Author Notes: I'd like to thank all my readers who have stuck through this story to its conclusion. I wrote the outline years ago, and while writing this story, have moved to a different state, had a major surgery where I nearly died from complications, and have gotten a much busier life than I had when I began.
Despite what some of my reviewers think, I did not cut out half my outline and end the story early in frustration. It ended where I always intended it to end. I was genuinely surprised that most of you didn't notice when all the Horcruxes were destroyed. I really wonder what you expected to happen after that.
I may post an explanation of the ending of this story on my profile soon, but the basic idea is that hard work and preparation actually paid off for Harry. If the Harry Potter of canon, who didn't do much to prepare for his encounters with Voldemort, managed to beat him by the end of year seven, doesn't it make sense that this Harry, who has been doing a ton of preparation, would finish off Voldemort sooner? Voldemort wasn't doing extra preparation, so he wasn't any tougher than the Voldemort of canon. Harry McGonagall was the preparation, while Harry Potter-McGonagall was the endgame.
I took the description of the Witchery from their website, www dot thewitchery dot com. For those of you who wish I'd described the food: I'm sorry, but I get very bored reading about food, so I don't write about it. Anyway, I've never been there, so I don't really know if it's good or bad, but if I ever go to Scotland, I intend to find out.