All Hallows Eve
Chapter One - By the Light of the Silvery Moon
A/N – All recognizable characters, situations, concepts and locations are the property of JKR and various corporate entities that own the Harry Potter universe and franchise. No infringement is intended. The only exceptions to the above are the village of Lewannick, Bodmin Moor, Mischief Night, Victoria Station, and Mount Everest.
11 p.m. gmt, 31 October, 1998
The peaceful rural West Country village was illuminated by the light of the full moon. Resting quietly, the peace of the evening was briefly interrupted by the ringing of the church bells in Lewannick, miles away across Bodmin Moor. Here, however, the crisp autumn air was still, and the night silent as the hour was too late in the village of Godric's Hollow for Mischief Night revelers. The shadows between the grave markers stood out in stark relief to the glow that seemed to come from several of the white marble markers.
A lone figure, swathed in a dark cloak, appears suddenly outside the boundary of the graveyard, as if by magic. Glancing around to see if he had been observed, he nods towards the closed gate, and they silently open of their own accord. Stepping forward, he passes silently through the kissing gate and makes his way towards a particular headstone.
Silent and resolute, the young man pauses for a second at the granite headstone before shaking his head and making his way to a white marble stone a couple of rows back. Standing in silence for a few seconds, he reaches up and runs his hand through his unruly hair before kneeling down and sitting before the headstone.
"Hello Mum. Hello Dad." Harry's voice, rough from disuse, cracks a bit with emotion as he gazes at the stone marking the remains of his parents. Looking around once again, as if he senses another presence, he turns back to the headstone of James and Lily Potter.
"I'm sorry I haven't been back since May, but it's been … difficult. Fred Weasley's funeral was the last of them, and I just couldn't see any reason to stay any longer." Sighing, Harry's shoulders slump as he toys with a small bundle of purple flowers that lay before his parents' grave.
"I'm sorry Dad, but I ran." Taking his glasses off, he absentmindedly polishes the lenses with his cloak. "All of those people wanting to talk to me, for me to talk to them, it was too much." Lowering his voice, pain evident just below the surface, he shrugs. "Those people were dead because I couldn't defeat Tom Riddle before he could kill them. Especially Fred. How could I face his family after he died that night?"
Shaking his head, Harry pinched the bridge of his nose. "Mum, I couldn't face Molly and Arthur any longer. Their son was dead. Ron's brother was dead. They cared greatly about you two, and they were still willing to take me in after everything that had happened for your sakes."
Laying the flowers he had picked up back down in front of the headstone, he cradled his head in his hands. "The Death Eaters who had survived, two of them appeared at Fred's funeral looking for revenge. One hit Hermione before we took him down. I knew then I had to leave if she was going to have a chance at a normal happy life."
Taking a deep breath, he tried to smile. "Mum, you'd really like her, she's magnificent. Minerva says she's the only witch to give you a run for your money in or out of the classroom. She's beautiful, strong, brave…."
"And going out of her bloody mind trying to find an egregious prat named Harry James Potter." A familiar voice spoke quietly but firmly. "I'm not certain which one of us is more worried about you, your Mum or me."
Without standing, Harry moved in a peculiar motion, as if trying to spin in place. The astonished look was still on his face when he found himself face to face with Hermione, tears glistening in her eyes, sitting cross-legged on the ground a few feet from him.
"Sorry Harry, layered anti-apparition wards courtesy of Kingsley have been blanketing the entire village since you appeared outside the gate." Playing idly with her wand, she looked up at him. "Would it help to tell you that everyone's been out of their minds worrying about you? I knew you weren't dead, but I couldn't find a trace of you anywhere until this afternoon."
Shaking his head, he looked around. "How many are here?"
Smiling sadly, Hermione shrugged. "All of us. Every member of the Order and the DA, along with most of the staff of Hogwarts is standing out there, waiting. Basically, your family is out there waiting for you. I told them we couldn't force you to stay. I wouldn't force you to stay, but I promised them a chance to say goodbye if you were leaving again."
Silence fell over the pair for several minutes. Harry looked at her and frowned. "You almost died, again, because of me. I couldn't let that happen. If I disappeared, then they'd come looking for me and leave you and Ron alone to be happy." Pulling a scroll out of his robes, he held it out to her. "I was going to leave this here for someone to find, it explains that I'm withdrawing from public view, that I'm going to retreat from the wizarding world. I'll keep turning up from time to time to keep them chasing me far from you so you'll be safe."
Looking at him sharply, Hermione's voice became firmer. "Harry James Potter, you've been gone for one hundred sixty two days, and eleven hours without a word. Not one note, not one explanation. You kissed me on the top of my head while Poppy was fixing my shoulder, told me 'Everything is going to be fine', and then you disappeared into thin air."
Fury flashed in her eyes as her voice became filled with pain, "You heartless plonker, you lied to my face. How in the name of Merlin's worn-out wellies could anything be 'fine' when you've disappeared?"
Shaking his head, Harry matched her glare for glare. "You were going to be fine. Ron was there and you two would be able to have a normal life without me dragging you into mortal peril every fortnight."
Rolling her eyes, Hermione laughed bitterly. "Your Mum is right; you are a total git when it comes to women. If you'd have bothered to pay attention, you would have noticed that Ron was busy comforting Luna while you were being noble and saying goodbye to me." Shaking her head at the shocked look in his eyes, she took a deep breath to calm herself.
"What do you mean, 'Your Mum is right'? That's a cruel joke, especially tonight."
Reaching into her jacket, Hermione withdrew a circular piece of stone and held it out in the moonlight. "Fawkes brought me this today. I used it, just as you did that night."
Lying in the palm of her hand was the Resurrection Stone. "Tonight, just after sundown, I used it and spoke to your Mum and Dad, Sirius, and Dora and Remus. They're all very worried about you."
"That's impossible." Staring at Hermione in shock, Harry shook his head.
"Harry, impossible doesn't apply to us. Only those willing to speak to me appeared, and they were all very worried that if I couldn't reach you tonight, you'd be gone forever.
"Remus asked me to remind you that you have a godson and responsibilities to him. I've done what I could, being his godmother," Hermione smiled at the shocked look on Harry's face, "but both Andromeda and I are convinced that Teddy needs the influence of a Marauder's son if he's going to grow up to be a proper miscreant and mischief-maker at Hogwarts."
Staring at her, Harry whispered, "You're the godmother?"
"You didn't think Tonks was going to allow you free rein with her son, did you? This way he'll know enough not to get caught when he goes to school." Smirking at the look on his face, she rolled her eyes at his shock. Harry thought about it for a moment and then grinned sheepishly.
"Makes a weird sort of sense, I suppose. What did Padfoot have to say?"
Chuckling, Hermione tilted her head to the side and smiled at him. "Padfoot reminds you that you're now the Head of the Ancient and Honorable House of Black and you'd better start acting like it.
"The Ministry appointed an executor for you, but my writ only lasts until the 24th of November, so if you want to keep that money out of the hands of various Death Eater sympathizers, you're going to have to drag your sorry arse back to Diagon Alley and do it yourself. I'm really getting tired of signing 'for Harry James Potter' every other day or so." Nodding, Hermione smiled at him.
"And Padfoot said to also tell you that Marauders don't run off and sulk, at least not for more than a day or two, so you'd better get your arse back home and start acting like a proper Gryffindor."
Tears glistening in his eyes, Harry looked over his shoulder at the marble headstone gleaming in the moonlight. "And Mum and Dad?"
Hermione waited until he turned around before answering. Smiling at him, her voice became gentler, almost wistful.
"James spent half the time trying to be charming and the other half trying to explain why I shouldn't hex you the moment I finally found you. Lily's worried about you, and after she got through lecturing me about the Yule Ball and my brilliant plan to make you jealous, we talked about our apparent mutual weakness for Potter men." Smiling, she shrugged. "I think your mum wants you to stop being a git long enough to tell me what you're really feeling."
Taking a deep breath and letting it out slowly, Harry looked up at the moon. "I thought you and Ron were together."
Smiling sadly, Hermione lowered her eyes. "I'm sorry, Harry. Ron and I kissed that once, before the battle. The next afternoon we had a long talk and decided that we would definitely end up as one of those couples that everyone avoided until that fateful morning the Aurors were called because our cold lifeless bodies were found where we had cursed each other fatally over him leaving the loo seat up or him talking with his mouth full one too many times." Looking up, she smiled at the gobsmacked look on Harry' face.
"Honestly Harry, we aren't daft. Ron was actually the first one to speak of it. I was so astonished that all I could do was nod and agree with him." Shaking his head in wonderment at the thought of Hermione speechless, Harry reached out his hand and touched hers.
"I didn't realize. I couldn't see anything but an endless parade of funerals and memorials. Even though you were with me for all of it, I felt I was totally alone for the first time since I'd met you. It was just all too much." Lowering his eyes, Harry curled his fingertips over hers.
"Harry, I failed you. I thought you needed space; I was waiting until after Fred's funeral to talk about us. I should have told you what I felt that first night." Tightening her fingers around his, she gently pulled and they both began to stand, facing each other.
Smiling tentatively, Harry nodded over Hermione's shoulder towards the gate. "What do I do now?"
Stepping close to him, Hermione wrapped her arms around him and pulled him to her. Resting her head against his chest, she sighed. "The first thing that happens is that you tell me where in Merlin's name you've been hiding from me and everyone else."
Wrapping one arm around her, Harry stroked her hair with the other. Placing a gentle kiss on the top of her head, he exhaled. "There's a warded, secret community dedicated to St Catherine on the Isle of Unst, up in the Hebrides..." Harry stopped as Hermione started shaking with suppressed laughter.
Staring up at him, tears streaming down her cheeks, she smiled. "You insufferable git. You were hiding in plain sight." Shaking he head, she groaned. "Now I'm going to have to turn in the plaque that Ron and Luna bought me for my birthday."
Confused, Harry looked at her wondering if the strain of the evening had suddenly taken a toll on her. "What plaque, and what do you mean 'hiding in plain sight'? The cloister is hidden from muggles and warded so it's extremely difficult for wizards or witches to find if they don't know about it."
Rising up on tiptoe, Hermione gently kissed Harry on the cheek. "You adorable idiot. St. Catherine of Alexandria is not only the patron saint of libraries, teachers and researchers; she's also the patron saint of potters." Giggling at the astonished look on his face, she hugged him tighter.
"Honestly, you couldn't have picked someplace that says 'Hermione, come find Harry if you can' any more than that if you tried." Shaking her head, she smiled sadly, "There goes my 'Smartest Witch of The Age' plaque."
"They didn't?" Looking somber, Harry averted his eyes. "I seem to have misplaced your gift this year."
Reaching up, placing her fingers under his chin and turning his face so he was looking at her, she smiled. "My present is right here, as long as it's at Grimmauld Place before midnight.
"Of course, that entire mob out in the village is coming back to the house, also. Alone time is going to be a bit sparse for a while. Most of them are worried sick about you and can't decide whether they want to kiss you or put your head on a bloody pike.
"The Weasleys are willing to settle for having us at the Burrow for a very late lunch tomorrow, but Ron, George and Ginny have decided that they're going to ward the house tonight to keep you from getting cold feet and running off again."
Smiling at the shocked look on his face, she hugged him again. "Originally Ginny wanted your head very properly impaled on a pike, but she's willing to relent with that as long as I tell her you're being properly remorseful for me crying for three days straight."
Shaking his head in disbelief, Harry whispered, "You never cry."
Growling in frustration, Hermione looked Harry dead in the eyes. "For you, I cried. Three entire days. They finally let Luna in and she talked to me for three hours before I could calm myself down enough to answer her." Blushing, she sighed. "Then I ate a bowl of Molly's soup and slept for eighteen hours straight. Once I woke up, I started searching for you, and I haven't stopped until Fawkes showed up in my tent on the slopes of Everest this morning."
"Mount Everest?" Arching an eyebrow, Harry stared at her.
"One of the Sherpas from a village near the foot of the mountain said that he escorted a wizard that matched your description to a monastery hidden up on the mountain. Lavender, the Patil twins and I have been scouring the mountain for the last week trying to find a trace of you."
Seeing the look in his eyes, she shrugged. "Don't look at me; apparently there are eleven different hidden monasteries on the mountain itself. The place gets more traffic than Victoria Station at noon." Shaking her head and shivering, Hermione smiled grimly.
"Lavender's very unhappy with you, the cold ruined four bottles of her signature lip gloss and she's vowed that you're going to take her shopping to replace it."
Shivering a bit, Harry looked at Hermione and tried not to smile. "Are you certain that there isn't another Dark Lord hanging around that I need to deal with? I think that might be a bit easier than going shopping with Lavender."
"Just consider it practice for when you have to go shopping with my Mum and me after we go bring them back."
Looking at Hermione curiously, Harry frowned. "You started looking for me after you found your parents in Australia, correct?"
Biting her lip, Hermione shook her head. "Actually, Kingsley got the Australian Ministry involved and they located them about two days after Fred's funeral. Once I came to my senses, I talked to everyone about what I should do. Ron, Luna and I portkeyed to Canberra to make certain they were all right. I used polyjuice to look like Ginny and we went into their office. I talked to my Mum for an hour while Daddy did a check and cleaning on Ron's teeth." Shaking her head ruefully, she laughed. "Ron came out of the office very glad that we weren't together."
"You left your folks in Australia?"
Tears in her eyes, Hermione nodded. "If I restored their memories, it would be weeks before I would feel comfortable leaving them to search for you. The Australian aurors have been looking after them as a favor to Kingsley and you. Just as soon as I get you settled in, I'm hoping that we can go collect them and bring them back to England."
"We?" Looking deep into Hermione's eyes, Harry poured a thousand questions into that one word.
Smiling, she nodded. "If you're willing, I'd like for it to be 'we'. Sometime during those days after you defeated Tom, I realized that, at least for me, it had been 'we' since that night you came rocketing into the girl's lavatory to rescue me. At first, it was us as best friends." Smiling shyly she nodded to him. "And on the back of Buckbeak that night, I realized down deep that there would never be anywhere I would want to be but with you. I was afraid you didn't fancy me, so I never said anything, but for me it's been 'we' since that night we rescued Padfoot."
"You must hate me." Exhaling, Harry rested his forehead against hers.
Sighing, Hermione tilted her head and brushed her lips against his. "Harry, I just got through telling you I've loved you since I was fourteen. How in the name of Morganna's unmentionables did you get 'Hermione hates Harry' out of that?"
"I ran off like an idiot and kept you from your parents for the last six months. I'd say that was pretty well worth a good hexing."
Smiling she nodded. "I never said I wasn't thinking about hexing you. I've been practicing with the bird spell. I've got it up to eagle owls and condors now. Once I can conjure a quartet of ostriches, I'm seriously considering seeing how fast the infamous Harry Potter can actually run and for how far."
Chuckling at the look on his face, she shrugged. "Harry, you left, and we'll work that out over time. I chose to leave my parents safe and secure in Canberra so I could have the chance to introduce them to my boyfriend when I restored their memories."
Leaning forward, Hermione rose back up and slowly pressed her lips against Harry's. Tightening her arms around him, she molded her body against his as they deepened their kiss. Putting her hand behind his head, she curled her fingers in his hair as her tongue slipped into his mouth and began to move with his.
Breaking finally for air, Hermione sighed and rested her head on his chest. Harry looked down at her and smiled. "You're never going to let me hear the end of this, are you?"
"Harry, eventually I'll stop mentioning the fact that we both were idiots. Whether or not Ron and George every let go, remains to be seen. Kingsley released a story that you had gone 'into retreat' to contemplate your next steps after defeating Tom Riddle so as far as the public is concerned, you've been somewhere getting your head together while your friends quietly and frantically searched for you."
Shaking her head, she laughed. "And of course, the cover story proves to be true." Smiling wickedly at him, she chuckled. "I'll let you read what Rita Skeeter's been saying about you for yourself tomorrow."
"That bad, eh?" Looking at her nervously, he smiled thinly.
"Let's just say it involves you pining away from unrequited love while a certain blond ferret is spending nine months in Azkaban." Laughing at the look on Harry's face, she nodded. "She had quite the story about how you confessed you undying passion for Draco when I demanded that you marry me since I was carrying your love child."
Stepping back and putting her hand in his, Hermione looked down. "For being eight months preggers, I don't look too bad." Looking up at Harry, she smiled knowingly. "I don't suppose you want me to clip that article to show my Dad when we meet them, do you?"
Chuckling nervously, Harry shook his head. "I'm only hoping that your parents will have your well known aversion to reading that rag once they come back."
Laughing, Hermione nodded as she shyly looked down at their intertwined hands. "Hopefully, you're correct on that. Though I'm not certain I'll be any happier with them reading The Quibbler on certain days, either."
Looking perplexed, Harry tilted his head a bit. "Luna's father's got The Quibbler back up and running?"
"Yes, the house is rebuilt and they've been able to expand into a building in the village along with hiring actual staff and launching a weekly edition." Grinning at the shocked look on his face, she shrugged. "It seems that Luna was able to convince an investor who wishes to remain anonymous that wizarding Britain would be better served with a news outlet that wasn't The Prophet. So far, it's been a rousing success."
Eying her with a bit of suspicion, Harry smirked at the innocent look she was pulling. "This investor wouldn't happen to be using funds from the Ancient and Honorable House of Black, would she?"
Smirking in return, Hermione shook her head. "Harry, I wouldn't do that when my writ as your executor is only temporary. It wouldn't be fair." Seeing him start to relax, she chuckled.
"It was the equally Ancient and Honorable House of Potter that underwrote the expansion."
"I did?" Looking a bit puzzled, Harry blinked in surprise. Looking a bit embarrassed, Hermione shook her head in response.
"Actually, I did. It seems that someone stopped by Gringotts the last time they were in Diagon Alley and made one Hermione Jane Granger the keeper and executor of the Potter estates and vaults in case of the death, disappearance or prolonged unavailability of one Harry James Potter." Staring at Harry, she shook her head. "Anything you might want to tell me?"
"You were the only one I really trusted to do the right thing, and I knew you'd keep the Dursley's from getting a knut of it." Nodding at the look on her face, Harry smiled sheepishly. "I suppose I didn't mention it because I wanted to avoid the argument about me doing it."
"That, and the fact that it would have been a dead giveaway that you were thinking about doing something incredibly stupid. You do realize that you literally handed me the keys to one of the three largest fortunes in wizarding Britain, don't you?"
"Griphook tried to get me to sit there so he could tell me exactly what it was I was signing you up for. I told him that as long as it was enough to put you through university, I really didn't care." Trying to look nonchalant, Harry smiled innocently at her.
All of the colour drained out of Hermione's face as she looked at him. "Harry, your family controls a major interest in several universities, both here in Britain and elsewhere. You have no idea, do you?"
"Honestly, at that moment, it wasn't very important to me. If I could do something for you and keep you safe, that was all I was worried about. Even now, it's all very fuzzy to me."
Shaking her head, Hermione looked up at the moon above, as if seeking guidance or inspiration. Finally looking back at him, she sighed. "Harry, exactly why did you do that? And cut the tripe, just tell me exactly why?"
Blushing, Harry stared into her eyes for several seconds. Finally, he leaned forward, and kissed her gently on the forehead. "I've known I loved you since I was twelve. I suppose I fell in love with you that first day, when we met, but I realized it one night while I was sitting there with you in the hospital wing while you were petrified.
"It was the only thing I could think of doing. The money didn't matter; it was never real to me. But I decided that it would enable you and Ron, and your parents, to rebuild your lives and move on, once I wasn't there to muck things up for you."
Reaching up and grabbing his collar, Hermione pulled his face down to hers. "Harry, you've never mucked up my life. You've saved it, you've made it better, you've made me happy, and you've been the person who gave me hope for seven very strange years, but you've never once mucked it up." Gazing into his eyes she smiled. "But you came very close twice. The night you died and the day you left me."
Sighing, she buried her face in his shoulder and held him tighter. Feeling his arms tighten around her, Hermione pressed herself against him and whispered. "We're a team. The next time you feel the need to do something noble, you're going to discuss it with me first. Apparently my life goes south very quickly when you're not around, so no more of this wandering off by yourself." Looking up at him, she smiled. "Deal?"
Nodding, Harry leaned down and kissed her gently on the lips. "Deal. I only hope that you don't come to regret this."
Smiling, Hermione rolled her eyes. "Harry, check with me in about a hundred years or so and see if I regret loving you. I'm fairly certain that the answer is going to be 'no', but if it'll make you feel better to ask, then by all means ask."
"I suppose I need to go out there and face the music." Looking towards the gate, Harry, shuffled his feet nervously as he tried to see who was waiting for him.
"Harry, everyone out there has been worried sick about you for six months. You're just going to have to pick up your Gryffindor courage and let them all tell you how much they've worried about you and how much they care. It won't kill you, and it certainly beats the alternative."
Looking over at Hermione, he smiled. "And that would be?"
"The only way out of it is for you to run again. And since we're a team, that means I have to run away with you." Looking thoughtful, she smiled.
"Of course, that means we need to stop by the house, pick up Teddy, leave forwarding addresses for everyone so they won't worry themselves sick about us, stop by Gringotts, go to Australia and sort out my folks, give my Dad enough time to recover from me showing up with a boyfriend and an infant, …"
"All right, I get the idea. My days of flying by the seat of my robes seem to be over." Smiling at the satisfied look on her face, he laughed. "How many more items did you have on that list before we could run away?"
"Harry, you have no idea how many things I can come up with to stall you from being stupid, I mean noble, again."
Looking down at their intertwined hands, Harry smiled. "I think I can face anything if you'll face it with me." Looking up into her eyes, Harry nodded.
"Let's go out there and let your family know you're back." Turning him around, she took a step towards his parents' headstone. "But first, we're going to say 'good-bye' to your folks and let them know that we'll be back."
Standing there, in front of the stone glowing in the moonlight, Harry swallowed. "Mum, Dad? I hope you've heard all this, and I promise we'll both be back to tell you how we're doing. I'm sorry I didn't think, but I hope you're happy with how things have turned out. Tell Mooney and Padfoot that I'll try to do them proud."
Kneeling, Hermione took her wand and moved it in a circle. Conjuring a wreath of Christmas Roses, she placed them gently before the stone. "I know these are a bit out of season, but I can't think of anything else that expresses how I feel. Lily, I promise I'll take care of our Harry and make certain he always knows he's loved. James, never fear, there will be more Marauders to join Teddy at school. I'm not certain when, but I am certain that Minerva will be begging to retire every time a Potter walks through the door to the Great Hall to be sorted into Gryffindor."
Standing, Hermione wrapped her arm around Harry's waist and they headed for the kissing gate. Behind them, five glowing shapes slowly came into view. A stag, a doe, a pair of wolves, and a very large dog formed near the headstone. Glowing silver, except for one of the wolves that seemed to shift from bubblegum pink to eye bleeding orange, all five radiated a sense of contentment and satisfaction.
Looking over at the dog, the doe nodded her head. "Padfoot, I told you she could do it."
Nodding his head, the dog's tongue was lolling out of his mouth. "Lils, what can I say. I was certain he'd bolt and she'd have to chase him down one more time before she could get him to sit still long enough to listen."
Shifting to an electric blue, the smaller wolf smirked. "Padfoot, I told you she was smarter than that. Once she had two seconds to talk to him, it was over. As long as he couldn't bolt without listening to her, they would be fine."
Watching the pair of teens step through the gate, hand in hand, the stag sighed and shook his head as dozens of witches and wizards materialized to greet their long absent friend. "I'm glad he was smarter than I was, I spent too many years trying too hard."
Nuzzling up to him, the doe chuckled. "You certainly did. I thought those two would be the death of me. I think we can safely go home, she's going to keep him from doubting himself." Shaking her head, an almost feral growl came from the doe. "However, when she finally gets her wand on my brother-in-law, I don't think there's going to be anything that will keep that witch from letting him know exactly what she thinks of how he treated Harry."
Silent through this whole exchange, the second wolf shook himself. "I still don't know if it was wise telling her everything that happened to Harry. I knew she was protective of him, but the look in her eye…" Shaking himself, Remus shuddered.
Taking one last look at Harry and Hermione, surrounded by their friends, all five nodded. Looking over at Padfoot, Prongs shook his head. "Quidditch anyone?"
Smiling, Lily chuckled. "Boys, you still haven't told Albus that he's pants as a chaser. He keeps complaining that he's tired of being keeper."
The five faded out as the first pops of apparating wizards and witches began to break the silence of the night. Heading to Grimmauld Place, they began a celebration of the return of their friend and comrade. Seventeen years after a fateful night where an infant was left homeless and alone, Harry and Hermione returned to a home, in love and loved, surrounded by family and friends.
For them, it wasn't an ending, but a beginning.