Disclaimer: All I own are the fond memories writing this fic has produced for me, strong enough to power any Patronus.

Author's Note: My heartfelt thanks to all of my reviewers, especially my regulars. Harmony101, almac1991, Parvulus of Ink, pawsrule, showmethestars, happylady, loveofsapphires, forbiddenharmony7, Howlermonkey77, cajuncoffee, InMyJazzShoes, HarmonyLover… most of you guys have been with me pretty much every step of the way, and I'm immensely grateful for your kind words and support. I've genuinely looked forward to each and every one of your reviews every time I posted a new chapter, and I'm as sad to see Time as the Fire end as many of you have said you are. Thank you all.

I have to tell you, though, I always got my biggest kicks out of your demands (sometimes threats?) for Harry and Hermione to have a happy ending. As if I'd ever had anything else in mind. Of course, none of you could have known that, especially since I tried my damnedest to make them earn their blissful retirement. But the power of love has been a central theme of the Harry Potter books since the very beginning, and it could hardly be any different for Time is the Fire. If you ever had any doubts, the last chapter's epigraph pretty much sums up the theme of this entire story.

Speaking of epigraphs, I've been looking forward to using this update's epigraph since before I even started writing; I didn't even have a clear idea for this story in mind when I decided that I wanted the epilogue to begin with this quote. And as it turns out, it fits the tone beautifully. I love it when serendipity strikes so forcefully and repetitively.

Soundtrack Note: Reunion of Friends from the Chamber of Secrets soundtrack, and The Room of Requirement from the Order of the Phoenix soundtrack. And if you want "end credits" music to listen to afterwards, you simply have to go with Mischief Managed! from the Prisoner of Azkaban, it's the best Harry Potter suite out there…

"To everything there is a season, and
a time to every purpose under heaven:

A time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;

A time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;

A time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;

A time to get, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;

A time to rend, and a time to sow;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;

A time to love, and a time to hate;
a time of war;
and a time of peace."

-Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

The sun was rising now, coming up over the hills and the treetops of the Forbidden Forest, shining down its light and warmth upon it all, filling the scene with a new sense of hope. Debris still littered the grounds; broken chunks of the battlements lay embedded in the grass, and craters marked where particularly explosive spellfire had impacted. The bodies had been removed for burial, and though tangible sorrow still draped over the castle like the folds of Harry's invisibility cloak, the first rays of the morning light seemed to cut through it, driving it away, if only for a little while.

They walked alongside the shore of the lake, holding one another's hand, looking up at the breaking dawn and then at each other.

"It was you," she told him. "You saved me, when you died at Malfoy Manor."

"I still don't understand, though…"

"Think about it," she said, and she was a little surprised he hadn't put the pieces together for himself yet. "If I had died… if Bellatrix had been able to kill me… what would you have done?"

She could see it in his face that he knew exactly what he would have done. Where he would have gone. But he still looked as though he could scarcely believe it.

"I thought that the past couldn't be changed, though… You taught me that, back in third year, remember?"

"Are you really that upset that I was wrong?"

But she said it with a smile, and he put his arm around her, pulling her closer to him and kissing her on the forehead. There was no lightning shaped scar there; Bellatrix's soul, while most assuredly dark and twisted, had never been shattered by the creation of multiple Horcruxes, and thus no fragment of her had come to rest within Hermione. Harry was still unique, in that respect, though with the piece of Voldemort that had resided in him at long last purged from him it appeared that his scar had ceased to have any special significance; it had not burnt him or ached from the moment he'd risen again in the Forbidden Forest.

It was the second day after the battle. After that first sunrise, after Harry had repaired his phoenix-feather wand and they'd left the Headmaster's office, he had told her and Ron everything—about Snape, about Dumbledore's plan, about what had happened in the Forbidden Forest… about King's Cross Station, and everything that had come after.

They'd kept him up for hours, simply asking him questions and alternately berating him and thanking him for making such a foolish sacrifice for their sakes. And then, exhausted and in need of a long-denied familiar comfort, the three had gone to sleep, back in the boys' old dorm in Gryffindor Tower, Hermione curled up beside Harry in his four-poster bed.

It had been the first good night's sleep that either of the two had had since the last time they'd shared a bed.

Eventually, they had had to go out and face the world again. They'd spent most of their time with the Weasleys, helping sort out the mess the aftermath of the battle had left for them, and silently taking part in the funeral arrangements. They'd gotten the chance to see Neville and Luna, too, and also to speak with Hagrid.

Hermione had never seen the half-giant cry quite as hard as he did when Harry told him apologetically that he'd been alive and awake the entire time he'd been holding him in his arms, and the groundskeeper swept them all into a rib-shattering hug, fat, dripping tears raining down on their heads.

Harry had also taken some time to speak to Ginny. Neither had deliberately announced their relationship, but after last night's impassioned kiss it was obvious both to Ginny and everyone else who it was that truly held Harry's heart. The girl was still hurt, but she was as strong as she'd ever been, and would get through it in time.

Hermione knew that Harry hadn't been looking forward to the conversation, but had been dreading Mrs. Weasley's reaction even more so; he'd been rather certain the woman had been looking forward to adding them both to the Weasley family tree. But all awkwardness was immediately dispelled later that evening when the matron had taken them both aside and informed them that they'd both already been members of her family for years. Had been, from the moment they'd taught Ron to knock out a mountain troll that Halloween they'd first all become friends, and that she was as proud of the man and woman they'd grown up to be as she was of any of her own children, ties of blood or marriage be damned.

"And don't tell the kids I said this," she'd whispered conspiratorially after pulling them into a crushing embrace that nearly rivaled Hagrid's, "but Arthur and I always thought you two had better chemistry with each other than either of you had with Ron and Ginny."

And Hermione had never blushed so furiously as she did when Professor McGonagall slipped in behind them to murmur, "Took you two long enough to end up together," before gliding across the hall to help Flitwick restore the Great Hall's glass windows.

And so now they walked alongside the side of the lake, enjoying the view and each other's company. There was no sign of the giant squid; most likely it was still busy digesting those unlucky Death Eaters who'd strayed too close to the shore during the battle.

It was peaceful out here, thought Hermione, and it still hadn't really sunk in that it would be a lasting peace. From pretty much the moment they'd come to Hogwarts, they'd always had some catastrophe just 'round the bend to deal with, whether it be giant monsters, dark wizards, or murderous Defense Against the Dark Arts teachers.

Or murderously incompetent, in the case of Gilderoy Lockhart, she thought with a grin.

But now… now she was finally beginning to realize that she and Harry would be able, at long last, to have what they'd always wanted: a normal life together.

In some ways, the prospect of that was even more daunting than facing down Voldemort in single combat. She knew how she felt about Harry. But their relationship—hell, even their initial friendship—had all been forged under pressure, a pressure no adolescent could have borne alone. Without the next disaster or sinister plot to keep them thrown together, would they be able to make it, or would they discover they simply weren't as meant for each other as they believed? Would Harry realize now how much better he deserved?

She didn't believe for a second that that would turn out to be the case. She knew Harry loved her; he'd proven that for her, ten times over. He'd died for her, twice, for Merlin's sake… sure, the second time he'd only thought he'd been about to die, and the first time… well, they still couldn't fully wrap their heads around what had happened at Malfoy Manor…

But she knew in her heart that he loved her as deeply as she loved him. She knew it, and the thought filled her with a warmth and a glow more potent than the sun rising sluggishly over the lake.

"What are you thinking?" he asked her, smiling as if he already knew.

"About you," she told him with a smile of her own. "About how much I love you. About how I can't believe that our lives are finally going to be quiet from now on…"

"Not too quiet, I hope," he said, smirking as he leaned in to whisper into her ear, "I quite enjoyed all the noises you made last night…"

She blushed. They'd made love for the second time last night, and she didn't know if it was the fact that she'd already lost her virginity to him or the fact that all the anxiety and worry about the war had finally been lifted, but… it had been good.

It had been really good.

"I might have enjoyed making them," she said in what she hoped was a noncommittal tone.

He laughed. "Oh, you definitely enjoyed making them."


"I love you," he told her softly, wrapping his arms around her and pulling her close to him.

"And I love you too," she told him. "Always, and forever. No matter what happens."

"You really mean that, right?"

She was surprised by the uncertainty and the hesitation in the voice. A week ago, she would have smacked him upside the head for asking such a stupid question. Today, though…

She put her arms around his neck and stood up on her toes to give him a long, slow, tantalizing kiss.

"What do you think?" she asked him with a smirk, and she was rewarded with that dazzling smile of his, that smile she'd never found anything else to compare to.

Merlin, she loved his smile.

"Alright, then, that's settled," he said, drawing his wand and flinging it towards the castle.

"What's settled?" she asked, but he just gave her another smile, this one with a mischievous edge to it, and turned his head to look back at the castle.

A few seconds later she saw something small and green flying through the air towards them. The summoned object dropped neatly into his outstretched hand, and she could see that it was a book.

"I borrowed this from you first year, and never really got the chance to return it…"

Peering over him so she could make out the title, she recognized it at once: Quidditch Through the Ages.

"I remember! Madam Pince was so furious with me when I never returned it, I had to avoid the library for a week!"

"You would be still upset about that… but don't blame me, Snape took it, remember? And when I finally got it back from him, I kinda just forgot to give it back to you…"

"Right," she told him crossly, "You forgot," but behind her glare her eyes were twinkling.

"Anyway, I thought that, hey, since I've got you out here, now's as good a time as any…"

"A little late, don't you think?" she asked dryly.

"Maybe, but you know what they say, there's no time like the present…"

And then he waved his wand over the book and it began shrinking, changing color, and he'd lowered himself to one knee…

In his fingers he held up a tiny, perfect diamond ring.

"Hermione Jean Granger, will—"


"Can I at least finish the question? I've put a lot of thought into this, I'll have you know."

"Right, sorry, go ahead…"

"Hermione Jean Granger, will you be my wife?"

"I'll have to think about it."


And then she'd tackled him, and they were both on the grass cracking up, trading kiss after kiss, smiles wide and eyes staring down at her hand as he slid the ring onto her finger…

"I can get you a real one. Later, I mean. We can go to Diagon Alley and pick one out together…"

"This one's perfect," she told him firmly. "I'm never going to take it off."

"I should hope not," he replied, but whatever snarky comment he'd undoubtedly had ready after that would have to wait, for she'd pinned him to the ground and kissed him again, and he never had been able to resist her kisses…

The sound of their laughter echoed out over the grounds, and the only ones around to hear were the owls sweeping over the lake, flying off into the distance, the sun rising overhead to cast everything in hues of molten gold…

The sound of his shoes striking the floor echoed wildly off the walls as he hurried down the corridor, but he was well beyond caring at this point. He was positively brimming with excitement, and he grinned at the memory of Ron, unhappy to find out he'd been saddled with meetings all morning and giving him a sour look as he'd skipped out of the office early.

But it seemed of late that the only thing he'd been doing was paperwork and more paperwork. Little excursions like this one were the only way to ensure his sanity, and he'd been quite looking forward to this one since he'd first found out about it a couple of days ago.

He grinned at the two men waiting by the fireplace as he rounded the corner. "Flitney. Murkins," he greeted them with a nod.

"Mornin', boss," Warren Flitney nodded back. "Pulled a few strings to get out and about this morning, I see."

"You're an inspiration to us all, sir," commented Gordon Murkins.

"As you'd both do well to remember," Harry told his Auror, waggling his eyebrows. "It just so happens, though, that I'll be going with you on your little delivery run today."

"Oh really? So your string pulling involved replacing Bellick, then," said Flitney, his curiosity piqued. "Say Gordon, do you think the boss knows something we don't?"

"Certainly seems that way, Warren," Murkins replied dryly.

"Oh, put a sock in it you two. Let's get going, shall we?"

"You do know the address, right? No one's even told us where we're going, Bellick was the only one of us who even knew the location. Very hush hush, if you ask me."

"Just shout out 'Doge Manor' in the floo," said Harry, and taking a pinch of floo powder in hand, stepped into the flames and did just that.

Spinning about rapidly, Harry quickly vacated the fireplace on the other side to make room for Flitney and Murkins.

When the other two arrived, a polite cough sounded from behind them, and they were greeted with a curt nod by a tall, thin balding man. Were it not for the fact that sunlight was streaming in through the large full-size windows along the wall of the main room, Harry would have pegged him for a vampire, pale and gaunt as the man was.

"Welcome to Doge Manor, Mr. Potter," said the man, snidely. "I am Anwell Duke, the executor of Mr. Doge's estate. The Ministry's property is this way, if you will…"

Harry, Flitney and Murkins trailed after the man, eyes roaming the manor around them. Unlike some of the more pretentious homes of the richer wizarding families, Doge Manor had once been warm and cozy. Harry knew this firsthand, having attended many of Elphias' gatherings over the years, but now it was hard to tell: the tapestries and portraits had been removed from the walls, the furniture pushed to the walls and covered in sheets, the curtains drawn back from the windows allowing the sun to shine into the empty, deserted rooms.

They passed in silence up a wide curving staircase to the second floor, and Anwell Duke lead them down another distressingly unadorned hallway and into a large room that Harry had only been in once or twice; he recognized it as Elphias' study.

This room had not been touched; the bookshelves lining the walls were still packed to the brim with books, the comfy leather chairs still arranged in the center of the study, the large, stately desk still covered in whatever papers the old wizard had been examining before he'd died along with a bottle of what looked like Firewhiskey. An grated iron staircase led up to a catwalk circling the upper level of bookshelves, and a handful of large ladders on rollers were scattered about the room, providing access to the shelves just out of reach, in case one felt like browsing instead of just summoning a particular tome to one's hand.

But the Aurors' eyes were all drawn to a tall wooden crate in the corner of the room.

"This is it, I take it?" Flitney asked.

"Indeed," sniffed Duke.

"I don't suppose you'll be wanting to fill us in, boss…"

"Sorry, Murkins. The Ministry doesn't want this one getting out until we get it in place and the security charms in place. You'll find out in a month or two."

"Oooh, mysterious," said Flitney with a grin.

"All I can tell you is that Mr. Doge bequeathed it to the Ministry, and it'll be made available for public viewing later this year. You'll be able to brag to all your friends and loved ones about how you were the brave lads to risk your lives escorting it to its new home," Harry said dryly.

"Over a long and arduous journey, fighting tooth and nail against bandits the entire way, eh?" said Flitney, his grin widening. Murkins only rolled his eyes.

"Precisely," agreed Harry. "It's too big to floo back, and the contents aren't shrinkable, so…"

"So we've got to bring it back the hard way," finished Murkins. "Wonderful. Are we just going to stroll down the sidewalk with it, or…"

"The Ministry has arranged for transportation," cut in Duke. "There is a Muggle automobile waiting outside. The interior has been enlarged so as to fit the item within."

"Right. So, if you two don't mind…" Harry said, giving a nod in the crate's direction.

Murkins drew his wand and gave it a swish and a flick, but the crate failed to move.

"The crate has been charmed to negate any spells cast upon it," Duke said smugly. "It wouldn't do for it to be summoned away from you by any potential thieves during the transit."

"You mean we've got to carry it out the Muggle way?" Flitney asked incredulously.

"Just to the car, and through the Ministry. Why do you think I needed you two to come along?" asked Harry with a grin.

"Exactly how breakable is this thing?"

"The artifact is protected by Cushioning Charms," Duke told Murkins. "I wouldn't recommend dropping it, all the same."

"Good to know," replied the Auror in a wry voice.

"Ugh! Couldn't you have cast a Featherweight Charm on the box first?" grunted Flitney as the two leaned it back and bent their knees, one end resting rather awkwardly on his back while Murkins lifted the other.

"The artifact itself is not that heavy," Duke said.

"Says the guy staying behind while we do all the heavy lifting."

If Harry weren't entirely convinced the man had no sense of humor, he would have almost sworn Duke gave his Auror's statement an amused little, if slightly malicious, smile.

"Are we really expecting someone to make a move for this thing?" grumbled Murkins at Harry as he and Flitney set out for the door like an awkward, burdened centaur.

"It's been kept pretty quiet around the Ministry. I'm not anticipating much trouble. But better safe than sorry, you know?"

Harry slipped past them, guiding them down the hall and down the stairs, wand out and ready to cast a Cushioning Charm on the floor if they did drop it. Despite the pair's groans and complaints, the box was indeed not that heavy, though the weight was awkwardly distributed, one end heavier than the other. Judging by the smirk on Murkins' face, it appeared Flitney had been saddled with the short end of the stick.

Harry held the door open for the two with his wand, nodding farewell to the estate's overseer as he and his men approached the car, keeping a lookout for anything out of the ordinary or any figures lurking behind the hedges. It took some doing to get the crate through the door of the car, but once they got it in it slid in well enough. The car's interior had indeed been magically enlarged; it felt almost as if they were within a bus, with leather seats lining the sides as if they were in a double-wide limousine.

The drive back into London did not take all that long, and the three conversed easily about their families and Quidditch standings along the way (Flitney was an ardent supporter of Puddlemere United, who looked set to sweep the league that year; Harry felt compelled to defend the Holyhead Harpies, as his best friend's sister had played for that team, back in the day). Their driver was silent and brooding the entire way back, even more so than the norm for Ministry chauffeurs—much later, Harry would learn from a rather miffed Ron that the man was a fellow Chudley Cannons supporter, and hadn't appreciated their enthusiastically trash-talking his team.

When they reached the visitor's access point to the Ministry (it had been deemed less likely to be observed than the employees' entrance), the street around them was curiously deserted.

"Muggle Repelling Charms," Harry explained as Flitney and Murkins lugged the crate out of the car and over to the entrance. "And I've put a Disillusionment Charm on the booth, so once we get over to it we're free to use magic."

Flitney gave a low whistle. "You're really rolling out all the stops for this thing, aren't you?"

"I'd rather go overboard than have it swiped right out from under our noses," Harry told him.

"Constant Vigilance!" snapped Flitney and Murkins together, repeating their boss's frequent mantra.

"I don't say it like that," muttered Harry.

Once they'd gotten closer, Harry aimed his wand at the telephone booth. They couldn't shrink the crate, but he could enlarge the booth so that the three of them could fit inside comfortably with it.

The descent into the Ministry of Magic yielded another surprise: the Atrium was completely deserted, aside from the guards at the security desk.

"We've closed off the place for the hour, didn't want to have to deal with the security risk the crowd would've presented. This way, we're heading towards the Magical Maintenance Department's offices."

Harry led the two down a hallway and past several checkpoints; aside from a pair of Aurors at every checkpoint, who'd invariably greet them with a nod, there was not a soul in sight.

Eventually they reached a large storeroom, into which they moved the package. Once they'd made the delivery, they began warding the room, drawing circles around the crate with their wands and layering on Repulsion Jinxes and different protective charms, along with a fair amount of alarms.

"Alright, looks good. There's gonna be a twenty-four hour guard outside this room, and you two just picked up first shift, congratulations."

"Gee, thanks, boss."

"Relax, you'll be relieved before lunchtime."

"Coming, Harry?" called Murkins as he and Flitney headed for the door.

"Nah, I'll stick around for a bit, maybe add a few of my own specialty wards…"

"…like the kind that turned Ron into a Puffskein when he tried to sneak into your office that one time?"

"…maybe, actually. Damaging to morale, if nothing else, that one. Plus I want to take a look inside the box," Harry said with a smirk.

"Could we stick around for that?" asked Flitney, giving his boss his best attempt at puppy dog eyes.

"Sorry, Warren, the secrecy on this one goes all the way to the top. I told the Minister I wouldn't let anyone anybody else know what it was until I got his ok on it. We'll be moving it to the museum later on once they get their own wards set up; I promise I'll let you know what it is then."

"You just like keeping secrets from us."

"What's the point of being Head of the Auror Office if not for the perks?"

Flitney flashed him a grin. "Gotcha, boss. Want to catch lunch with us?"

"Sure thing. You guys pick the place, I'll tag along when you get off guard duty. No one in or out but me."

"Aye aye, boss. See you in a bit, then."

After Flitney and Murkins let themselves out, Harry laid down a few more wards around the crate and the door and set up the password to safely approach the center of the room. After reviewing his work, he cast Finite on the crate and disassembled it, vanishing the wooden panels into the ether.

Before him stood the mirror, still hidden beneath its sheet.

He thought back to the first time he'd ever looked into it, and wondered what he would see this time when he pulled back the canvas.

Behind him, he heard the door open, and he let out an annoyed sigh. At least the sheet was still covering it. "I thought I made clear that you two weren't supposed—"

Faint footsteps sounded right behind him and soft, feminine hands reached round and covered his eyes. He smiled.

"How'd you get in? The Atrium's closed, and I told those two not to let anyone in…"

"All your Aurors are smart enough not to annoy the boss' wife."

"Yeah, we cover that in day one of training."

She uncovered his eyes and he turned around to give her a soft kiss.

"So this is what's had you so excited the past few days?" Hermione asked him.

"…maybe," said Harry, knowing that promise to Kingsley or not, he was only delaying the inevitable.

"Everyone's been in meetings all morning and I got sick of staring at the same dockets over and over again so I thought I'd stop by your office and see you, but Demeter told me you were out on a special assignment."

"How'd you find me?"

"Had to force some Veritaserum down her throat and then knock heads together until I got here," his wife told him, eyes shining.

"You just followed the checkpoints out of the Atrium, didn't you."


He put an arm around her, turning his head back to look at the veiled mirror.

"I got an owl from Rose this morning," his wife told him after a moment of comfortable silence.

Harry smirked a bit at the mention of their eldest daughter. "What did Harry James do this time?"

Harry James Sirius Potter was every bit as smart as his mother, he knew, could be Head Boy next year if he set his mind to it, but foolishly they'd named him after three of the biggest rule-breakers Hogwarts had ever seen, and he'd taken up their legacy proudly.

Harry had originally just wanted to name him James Sirius, after his father and godfather, but Hermione had been adamant that they name their firstborn after him; if Rose had been born first, she would've been named Harriet. When he'd asked his wife why she had been so insistent, she merely told him with a smile that she was honoring an old flame's last request.

"Nothing," Hermione snorted. "Actually, she wanted some advice."

"Advice, eh? What about?"

Hermione mumbled something that sounded suspiciously like, "Um, boys."

"Boys?" Harry asked, staring down at his wife in what may or may not have been mock horror.

"Well, she is getting to that age…"

"Any boys in particular I ought to worry about?"

"Um, maybe Scorpius Malfoy?"

His hand made a loud smacking noise as it collided with his forehead.

Harry had always been protective of his Rose; originally they'd wanted to name her Lily, after his mother, but upon seeing the baby had inherited her chocolate brown orbs Hermione had convinced him to name her Rose instead. It had been a good decision—it had allowed them to name their youngest Lily Luna, who like her older brother Albus Severus had inherited Harry's green eyes.

They'd decided together that they didn't want to have more than four, but Harry had made it very clear to all of their children that he and Hermione both expected their first grandson to be named Ronald Remus Peter.

He had just hoped it would be many, many more years until he would have to worry about said grandchild.

"Remind her I've got a permanent Chastity Detection Charm cast on her."

"There's no such thing, dear."

"We know that, but she won't figure that out for a few more years."

His wife snorted again.

"So are you going to show me this thing or what?" she asked him, gesturing back to the object in the center of the room.

"You know, I could get in big trouble for even having you in here…"

"Pfft, like that's ever stopped you before."

With a flick of his wand, the cloth draped over the artifact slid to the floor, and Hermione let out a long "Oooooh" of appreciation.

Erised stra ehru oyt ube cafru oyt on wohsi...

"Where did you get it?" she asked him, a touch of awe in her voice. She remembered well his and Ron's stories about what they'd seen in the fabled Mirror.

"Dumbledore gave it to Elphias Doge after that business with the Stone our first year," Harry told her. "And after his death last month he bequeathed it to the Ministry. Kingsley wants it put on public display. It's sat in private viewing rooms for long enough."

"It's safe here until then?"

"Yeah, we just finished putting up a whole boatload of wards in this room, they'll take effect as soon as we leave."

"Sherbet lemon?" she guessed.

"Acid Pop," he whispered in her ear.

The two stood there for a long while, gazing into the glass.

"You sure this is the right mirror?" she asked him after a minute.

"Yeah, I don't understand it…" said Harry, cocking his head in confusion.

Staring back at them as they looked into the mirror was a simple reflection of the two, him with his arm around her. The expression on her reflection's face was one of disappointment, and his perplexed, as they tried to figure out why the mirror wasn't showing them anything more out of the ordinary than they'd see in their own bathroom mirror at home.

Abruptly, he began to laugh.

"What's so funny?" she asked him.

But he was too busy laughing to explain, the voice of Albus Dumbledore ringing in his ears, repeating the same words he'd spoken to him all those years ago…

"But I expect you've realized by now what it does?"

"It—well—it shows me my family—"

"And it showed your friend Ron himself as Head Boy."

"How did you know—?"

"I don't need a cloak to become invisible. Now, can you think what the Mirror of Erised shows us all?

"Let me explain. The happiest man on earth would be able to use the Mirror of Erised like a normal mirror, that is, he would look into it and see himself exactly as he is. Does that help?"

"It shows us what we want… whatever we want…"

"Yes and no. It shows us nothing more or less than the deepest, most desperate desire of our hearts…"

Hermione looked at him like he'd sprouted a third eyeball, but after a moment she figured it out too and began to laugh as well.

And within the looking glass, his frosty counterpart pulled his wife to him and gave her another kiss, and she put her arms around his neck returning the kiss with the softest of satisfied sighs…