Grief, Faith, and the Future

A/N – Several things. Firstly almost everything recognizable in the Harry Potterverse is the property of JK Rowling and various corporate interests. The only exception is the quote near the end of this story, and it's from JRR Tolkien's The Hobbit, which is the property of the Tolkien Estate and various corporate interests, which may or may not overlap with the ones that own Harry Potter.

Secondly – opinions on matters of faith expressed by characters in this story are there as part of the storyline. If expressions of personal belief annoy, harm, distress or otherwise cause you mental or physical discomfort, you may be better served finding a different story to read. And while the hypothetical reader of the story may or may not have an opinion on how those expressions fit into the story, the validity or appropriateness isn't really a matter for debate. Nothing is meant to invalidate or demean anyone's views on Life, Death, the Afterlife, Good, Evil, or the proper way to serve Haggis.

Chapter One – Finding Their Way

"Budge up."

Looking up, the black-haired wizard dressed in a fashionable muggle suit peered blearily at the brunette witch dressed in a classic black dress who was standing beside the bench he was sitting on. Shaking his head, he scooted over so she could join him on the small marble bench.

"Talk about it?"

Looking at her for several seconds, he shook his head and returned his head to his hands, staring forlornly at the gravel path in front of them

"It's not your fault, you know." Trying to keep her voice even, Hermione Granger adjusted her seat on the bench until she was sitting as close to Harry as she could. Slowly reaching over she laid her hand on his arm and gently squeezed.

"Tell that to Colin's folks, I'm certain that will be loads of comfort to them." Keeping his voice quiet, Harry couldn't quite keep the bitterness and pain from his voice.

"Someone has to be responsible, and I suppose I'm it."

"Actually, I'm simply delivering a message from Colin's mum. She was going to talk to you after the graveside service, but you just 'disappeared into thin air' before she could." Chuckling a bit at the blush that tinged his cheeks, she smiled.

"Fancy that."

"I just needed to get away from there. I wasn't looking forward to a repeat of what happened at the Dixon funeral."

Closing his eyes, Harry tried to force the memories of what had happened two days earlier away. The uncle of one of the Ravenclaw alumnus, who had come up from Hogsmeade to participate in the battle and lost his life, had spent twenty minutes ranking on Harry for getting his nephew killed before Hermione was able to get to him and side-along him out of there.

"Jedediah Avery is a lush, a bully, and a closet Death Eater wannabe. He very publicly disowned his nephew three years ago when Carson entered auror training. He hadn't spoken to anyone in Carson's part of the family in almost two years, he simply showed up so he could have a go at Harry Potter in a setting where you couldn't do anything to defend yourself." Putting her arm around his shoulders, Hermione pulled him closer to her.

"I would have gotten you out of there sooner, but I was outside the hall, talking to Carson's younger sister Miranda when it started. The family sent a note around this morning apologizing and thanking us for coming to the funeral."

"He deserved to have a chance to tell me what he thought…"

"Haven't you been listening to anything I said? That sot didn't give a tinker's damn about Carson; he was looking for a chance to push you into a confrontation while you aren't thinking clearly."

Reaching down and putting the tips of her fingers under his chin, she lifted his head gently, turning it until she could see his tear-filled eyes.

"Harry, this has got to stop."

"Not bloody likely, and it's only going to get worse." Closing his eyes, he leaned forward until his forehead was resting against hers.

"I don't know if I can take much more of this."

"Harry, you have to listen to me. You can't go on like this." Pulling her face back a bit, Hermione placed a gentle kiss on Harry's forehead.

"If you can't stop to save yourself, then think about this. We have a commitment to little Teddy, he needs both his godmother and godfather."

"He deserves better than being raised by the man who's responsible for him being an orphan, the person who got his folks…"

Harry's rebuttal was cut off with a sharp crack as Hermione's open hand made contact with his cheek.

"That's it. We can't go on like this; you can't go on like this." Staring defiantly at 'The Wizard Who Won', who was rubbing his cheek in disbelief, Hermione glared at him.

"I won't go on like this. Harry James Potter, I'm not going to allow you to run yourself down that road, because the only place it leads is me losing you, again."

"What am I supposed to do? Did I ask to be the wizard who had this whole bloody mess dumped on him? Everything that has happened since that night…"

"Harry, you were fifteen months old for God's sake. Your parents were murdered by a deranged madman who had fractured his soul and his sanity long before he heard half a prophecy from a drunken old bat who has spent her entire adult life 'predicting' death and destruction.

"There was nothing you could have done that night to save them. There was nothing you could have done that night in the graveyard to save Cedric. There was nothing you could have done to save Sirius at the Ministry. There was nothing you could have done up on that tower to save Dumbledore. There was nothing you could have done to save Mad-Eye. And there was certainly nothing you could have done to save anyone else that night.

"In case you've forgotten, you were walking through the Forgotten Forest to sacrifice you own life to destroy the Horcrux in your scar to make that madman mortal." Reaching up, Hermione gently cradled his face in her hands and whispered.

"You died, and it almost killed me. I simply can't and won't lose you again."

Reaching up and placing his hands on her arms, Harry closed his eyes. "Hermione, I don't know what to do, where to turn. I should have been able…" Hermione gently laid a finger on Harry's lips to silence him.

"I know, baby. You think that there should have been something you could have done to take care of Voldemort sooner." As his eyes opened, she shook her head.

"I was here, almost every step of the way. I'm the only one who can say that and if the 'smartest witch of the age' can't see how we could have done it any better or any faster, then I sincerely doubt anyone else has the right or the ability to tell us how we could have done it better."


"Harry, in case you haven't noticed, it's been 'we' for a very long time now. I've failed you from time to time, but we've walked this road together. I certainly didn't walk into that forest to lay my life down, and I didn't duel Voldemort in the Great Hall, but since that night in the witch's lavatory we've done this together. If there's blame to be had, then the blame is mine, as well." Shaking her head, Hermione closed her eyes.

"And that's on top of the guilt I feel because of what happened that night."

"Hermione, you were magnificent that night. You saved people, you kept things calm when I left everyone wondering, and you were the rock everyone looked to when Voldemort gave his ultimatum. There's no blame for what happened that night."

Opening her eyes, Hermione stared at Harry as tears rolled down her cheeks.

"Harry, tell me honestly. If I hadn't kissed Ronald that night, would you have gone out there and let Voldemort kill you? Was it my betrayal that sent you out to your death?"

"If I hadn't gone out there, Voldemort wouldn't have been killed by his own spell when in the Great Hall, he would have just stood back up and kicked my arse, or flown off to Albania or some other backwater and we'd have had to do this all over again in fourteen years or so."

Shaking his head, Harry leaned forward and wiped the tears from her cheeks.

"You didn't betray me; you two had been circling around that moment for three years, ever since the run up to the Yule Ball. The choice was yours, it was always yours."

"And I've chosen. I chose that night in the tent. I chose the day we invaded the Ministry. I chose when I promised you I'd see it through, even though it meant leaving school and sending my parents into hiding. I chose the night Dumbledore died. I chose when I flew to London on an invisible winged horse. I chose when we founded the DA together.

"I chose the night your name popped out of that bloody cup. I chose the night we rescued Sirius. I chose when I went to find you to warn you about the basilisk. I chose the night we went to rescue the Philosopher's Stone. And I'm pretty damn certain that I chose that day I came crashing into your compartment on the train but I know that I chose the night you came crashing into the loo to save my life." Smiling for a second, Hermione waited for that to sink in before continuing.

"Harry, the choice about how we're going to go forward is yours. You can choose to sit here and cling to your grief to punish yourself for things that were never in your control, or we can move forward, together, and try to figure out exactly where the youngest seeker in a century and a bushy-haired bookworm fit into this new world that we find ourselves in."

Standing up, Hermione held out her hand.

"Are you going to stay here or come with me?"

Looking up at her, Harry studied the witch in front of him. The serious look in her chocolate brown eyes held just a bit of pleading, but he could see she was firm in her assertion that this was his choice. Their choice, for this was the point where they had been moving towards for seven very long years

Standing there in the simple black dress that spoke of the gravity and dignity of the various services they had been attending for the last three weeks but couldn't hide the beauty of the witch before him. A beauty that took his breath away the night of the Yule Ball and still left him breathless.

"I'm not certain what I'm doing, but we'll do it together." Taking her hand, he slowly stood and turned to face her. Squeezing her hand, Harry smiled.

"I trust you to know where we're going, since I've proved to be rather clueless." Looking over his shoulder to where the graveside ceremony had been earlier, Harry checked to see if anyone was still there.

"Should I go back and look for Colin's family?"

"They've gone back to their home for a meal being carried in; I told them we might stop by later this afternoon. If not, then sometime in the next couple of days so everyone could talk. They understand. Both Colin and Dennis have talked about you enough over the years they have an idea about how you feel."

Linking her arm through his, Hermione gently steered him away from the carpark that sat beside the small cemetery.

"Harry, were you listening much during the service?"

Trying to keep her tone light, Hermione rested her head on Harry's shoulder as they walked slowly through the quiet cemetery towards a small chapel that lay near the center.

"A bit," Harry admitted as they walked. "It seemed a bit strange, all the way around. The church wasn't like anything I'd ever seen, though it was very peaceful and I liked that. But it was nothing like the ones we had been to for the other two muggle ceremonies or the ones I remember seeing on the telly growing up." Shaking his head, he chuckled.

"And the priest was very different from any of the others I'd ever seen."

"Well, I would suppose that one reason would be that Pastor Campbell isn't a priest." Smiling kindly at the confused look on Harry's face, she chuckled.

"You did notice that wasn't a Catholic or Anglican ceremony, right?"

"I noticed it was different. My relatives weren't much for church, and they certainly weren't about to take me, even before they found out what I was." Closing his eyes, his steps faltered a bit as he remembered growing up in Surrey.

"Honestly, I'm not at all certain about church and things like that. I've never given it much thought; it was something other people did. Aunt Petunia would make certain that the three of them went at Christmas and Easter, but other than that, it didn't seem as if it made much difference to them."

"What did you think of what he said, the things he was talking about?" Hugging his arm, she steered him along a small path that branched off the gravel walk they were taking, moving them away from the perimeter of the cemetery, towards a small building that could be seen through the trees.

"I didn't quite catch everything he was talking about, but it seemed to be very important to the family, and they seemed to be able to find some sort of comfort from it." Looking up at her and watching her as she thought, Harry tried to smile. "I certainly could do with a bit of that."

"The family took comfort in the fact that while Colin is no longer here, where he is is definitely superior to where he was." Seeing the puzzled look on his face, she sighed.

"Harry, Death isn't something to be feared; even Dumbledore was able to grasp that. Dying is something to be avoided, but Death itself isn't a great unknown." Hugging his arm a bit tighter, she waited and allowed him to process what she had just said.

"How do we know?" Looking a bit embarrassed, Harry smiled wryly. "Speaking to my parents and the others that night should tell me something, and even Dumbledore seemed to be more at peace with things there in King's Cross. But I still have this feeling there's more to this than I can figure out." Thinking as they walked, Harry pondered the events of that night.

"I get the part about dying, though honestly dealing with the Toad was more painful than the Killing Curse." Pausing when he saw the look in Hermione's eyes, Harry tilted his head and gave her a comforting kiss on the cheek.

"I'm sorry it hurts you, but if we're going to make a go of things, you have to accept that one of the things I'm going to be asked is about that night. Apparently, since I'm the only person to be walking around after being struck by one, much less two, people are going to be curious. Especially since this time I wasn't a toddler, they're going to expect me to talk about it."

"How can you be so cavalier about your own death when…"

Seeing the look in his eyes, she stopped herself and brought them to a halt. Extracting her arm from his, she placed both of her hands on his face and rose up on tiptoe to brush his lips with hers.

"I'm so very sorry," she whispered, "I know this whole thing isn't any easier for you than it is for me, and I find myself reacting rather than acting." Leaning forward, she gently pressed her lips against his.

As the pair began to kiss more intently, Harry's arms slipped around Hermione's waist as he pulled her against him. They became more involved in each other until the quiet of a late spring afternoon was broken by a subtle cough coming from behind the couple.

Moving quickly, Harry pulled Hermione so he was between her and the sound and his wand was in his hand in the blink of an eye. Stopping and staring at the minister from the funeral service who was standing there watching him with an amused expression on his face, Harry suddenly found himself at a loss for what to do. Blushing, Harry quickly lowered his wand and it disappeared as abruptly as it had appeared.

"I'm sorry sir; I guess I'm a bit jumpy." Looking uncomfortable, Harry stepped a bit to the side to unshield Hermione.

"We sort of got a bit carried away and I wasn't really expecting anyone..." Harry trailed off when Hermione but her hand on his arm.

"Harry, the fault is mine. I hadn't quite gotten to the point where I had planned on mentioning that I wanted you to meet Pastor Campbell." Nodding to the minister, Hermione smiled.

"I'm sorry if we startled you."

"Merciful Heavens, Hermione. It's not as if I've never seen a wand before." Smiling indulgently, he nodded towards their hands, which had become clasped without their thinking about it.

"Also, I'm not quite so old as to have forgotten how much of a shock it might be to be surprised while kissing a young lady."

Watching the pair blush in front of him, the pastor chuckled at how some things are truly universal, including young love.

"Harry, if I may call you Harry?" Seeing his amused nod, Pastor Campbell continued.

"The truth is, I've known this young lady since she was a wee lass. I didn't find out she was a witch until young Dennis mentioned it a couple of years ago, but it wasn't a great surprise.

"The congregation her family is a part of in Oxford is a sister congregation to the one here at Twynham, and I've talked to Alex and Helen quite a bit since I know a thing or two about the world the two of you live in."

"Twynham?" Looking confused Harry glanced at Hermione.

"I could have sworn you told me we were going to Christchurch this morning when we left the house." Looking up in panic, Harry blushed.

"Several of us have been staying in my old house in London, its central. Everyone has their own rooms." Cutting off when Hermione tightened her hold on his arm and cleared her throat, Harry looked at her. "I didn't want him to think you were…"

"Harry, it's fine. Twynham is simply the name of an older settlement before Christchurch. Pastor Campbell is an old family friend, and he knew that we were both staying at Grimmauld Place until the house in Oxford is livable again and my parents come back from their sabbatical." Seeing the confused look on Harry's face, she nodded earnestly.

"The sabbatical in Canada where they're working at a dental clinic for indigenous peoples."

"Hermione, I think it's safe to say that I would be the last to quibble about your having provided a cover story concerning Helen and Alex's 'sabbatical'." Smiling indulgently at the shocked look on the young witch's face, Pastor Campbell continued.

"While I'm certain you put a great deal of thought into where your parents went for the past year, I'm also certain that Frobisher Bay is not where they currently are."

"I really couldn't think of anywhere that a Death Eater would stick out more. The Inuit have a fairly sophisticated magical lodge on the island, and their shamans control access very tightly for foreign wizards." Smiling grimly, Hermione shrugged.

"Honestly, if Voldemort was able to find that red herring, anyone he sent to the arctic to track down my parents wouldn't be coming back and would deserve anything they got."

"Don't worry."

Squeezing her hand, Harry leaned over and kissed her on the cheek. "As soon as everything else is resolved, we'll go to Australia to find your family. We'll restore their memories and bring them home."

"Erm, well yes. About that." Blushing a bit, Hermione focused her gaze on her shoes.

"Harry, it would seem that I was just a trifle paranoid last spring. I didn't actually cast memory charms on my parents." Looking up, she blanched at the incredulous look on Harry's face.

"What I did was perform a fairly complex memory charm on myself so that if anyone was rummaging through my thoughts, they'd see that I'd wiped my parents memories and sent them off to Australia with new identities. I keyed my memories to restore themselves seventy-two hours after you defeated Voldemort and survived."

"Leaving aside the fact you've known about this for a while, and I've mentioned Australia at least three times prior to this, what would have happened if the Death Eaters would have gotten to Australia and not found a Monica and Wendell Wilkins?"

"Harry, Australia is a fairly big place." Pastor Campbell chimed in. "It's not like coming here to Christchurch and asking about someone." Seeing the look on Harry's face, the pastor smiled.

"Sorry, I should let Hermione do this."

"As he pointed out, Australia is a fairly large place. Also, the magical communities there are fairly tight-knit, so a Death Eater arriving from England would stick out like a Jacobite at a Covenanter Assembly. And finally, a Monica and Wendell Wilkins did emigrate from England to Australia last spring."

"Wouldn't they be at a significant disadvantage if a pair of Death Eaters showed up at their door and started rummaging through their minds, looking for clues or just revenge?"

"That would have been very unfortunate for whichever Death Eater drew that assignment. Personally I was hoping that Lucius Malfoy would make that mistake. While Monica Wilkins is a dentist, she was on the dueling team at Uni. Both she and her husband are muggleborns who left England when it became apparent that the Ministry wouldn't be able to survive Voldemort's plans. She was certified as both a healer and a dentist, while he had a very successful but sub-rosa career as a Ministry hitwizard." Seeing the look on Harry's face, she smiled.

"Ouch. I can imagine that a muggleborn hitwizard wouldn't be in for very many chances for advancement once Riddle seized power." Looking thoughtful, Harry finally chuckled after almost of minute of mulling Hermione's revelations over.

"I assume that you let them know that they were being kitted out as bait in case anyone decided to track down your parents?"

"Harry, of course. Honestly, while I was a flaming paranoid wreck last spring, I wasn't about to make anyone into a sacrifice to make my plan work," pausing for a second, Hermione's eyes clouded over before she finished, "unlike Professor Dumbledore, I was able to come up with a workable plan without the need of a green-eyed lamb being led to the slaughter."

Ignoring her shot at their former headmaster, Harry turned his attention back to the pastor who was watching the entire exchange with something akin to amusement.

"I'm sorry, Sir. After seven years, we tend to forget we're not the only two people around when we get started." Turning back to Hermione, who was shaking her head at him, he smiled.

"Would it be too much to ask exactly where your parents are?"

"Daddy used his connections with the Royal Marines from his days with the service to find a spot where we could be reasonably certain that they wouldn't be obvious, their trail wouldn't be one that the Death Eaters could easily find, and if they did, they'd have a decent chance of not being taken unawares." Seeing the impatient look on Harry's face, Hermione pared her planned explanation down and cut to the chase.

"An old friend of his managed to get him recalled to active duty as a dental surgeon for the military. They've been at Mare Harbour in the Falklands, though he's thoroughly unhappy that he had to accept a commission with the Royal Navy to do it." Shaking her head, she chuckled sadly. "At least it wasn't the army."

"I can imagine that was a distinct shock to find out he was ending up in the navy." Chuckling, Pastor Campbell smiled at the confused look on Harry's face.

"Harry, listening to the stories my older brother tells, you would see that the relationship between Gryffindors and Slytherins is only a bit more acrimonious than the relationship between Her Majesty's Navy and Her Majesty's Marines."

"Short story long," Hermione continued, "they've still got about six months left on his assignment orders, so they'll be coming home to England in November or December, depending upon when their relief arrives."

"Their relief?"

"Yes, mum didn't want to sit around for over a year and not do anything, so they got her hired as a civilian dental surgeon with the RAF facility on the other side of the island. She's holding down a slot for one of their surgeons who is back in England for advanced training and certifications." Looking a bit embarrassed, she gently squeezed Harry's hand in apology.

"Sorry I didn't explain everything…"

"With everything going on, as long as you mentioned it before I started trying to find out about flights to Australia, its fine." Letting his gaze wander to the pastor who was still watching the two of them with a bit of amusement, Harry continued, "Though I don't believe the purpose of this little meeting was just to catch me up on your parent's itinerary."

"Harry, Hermione asked me to speak with you regarding some of the things the two of you have gone through, and are still going through." Keeping his eyes focused on the pair, the muggle pastor smiled reassuringly. "She's worried, and from what she tells me a great number of your friends are also worried about how you're coping."

"I'm not."

Seeing the look of surprise on the pastor's face and hearing the sharp intake of breath from Hermione, Harry nodded sheepishly.

"While I can't exactly get a handle on how to deal with things, I do realize that I'm not really dealing with them. I'm simply going along for the most part." Closing his eyes, Harry swallowed a couple of times before continuing.

"I do realize that I need to do something, but other than knowing what I'm not going to do, I'm at a loss."

"Hermione, would you mind excusing us?" Seeing Hermione's tentative nod, Pastor Campbell smiled encouragingly.

"From what the organist at the Priory told me last week, both of the keyboards in the chapel here have recently been worked on, you might want to go in and see if they're up to your standards."

"Of course."

Turning to Harry, he could see that the concern in her eyes was balanced by the gleam of anticipation in her eyes about the chance to get a bit of practice in.

"Harry, please just listen to him. I'll just be in the chapel seeing if this new technician in town is up to snuff."

Kissing Harry gently on the cheek, Hermione turned to the pastor and smiled gratefully before turning towards the chapel. While not running, there was a definite haste to her departure, which left Harry shaking his head and smiling.

"I've never had a chance to really hear her play, but I know she's missed it terribly over the past few years." Looking over at the pastor, who was watching him intently, Harry sighed.

"I'm not going to run off, and I've been able to realize that I need to find some way to deal with everything that's occurred."

Pointing towards a path that led deeper into the cemetery, the pair began walking as an organ began to play. The lyrical and moving piece made an oddly appropriate counterpoint to the events of the day. Smiling, Pastor Campbell nodded as he listened to the music for a second, recognizing the gentle strains of Bach's 'Wachut Auf'.

"She cares about you greatly, you know that." Seeing the look on Harry's face, the older man chuckled. "Even if I hadn't witnessed the two of you back there on the path, I could tell it from her conversation with me earlier in the week."

"Has she told you about what's been going on the past few years?" Seeing the confirming nod from the older man, Harry placed his hands in his pockets and lowered his eyes to the pathway in front of them.

"So many people have died, and I'm still here. I don't know how to deal with that."

"Did you kill any of them?" Seeing the look the younger man gave him as he glanced up sharply, he smiled encouragingly.

"Did you?"

"Other than Voldemort?" Seeing the look on the other man's face, Harry grimaced. "Just one, but he was possessed by Voldemort and died trying to kill me. Other than him, none that I know of."

Seeing the speculative look on the pastor's face, Harry launched into a brief retelling of the confrontation with Professor Quirrell and how the evil possessing him lost to the protections his mother's sacrifice had given him. Seeing that Pastor Campbell didn't seem to see the link between Harry's actions and the professor's death, Harry reluctantly admitted that Professor Dumbledore maintained that Quirrell's actual cause of death was Voldemort abandoning him after such a long time.

"So it sounds as if this Voldemort pretty much used up your professor and then discarded him when he was no longer useful, correct?" Seeing Harry's hesitant nod, he smiled reassuringly and continued with his questions.

"And this Voldemort was killed by a spell you cast?" Watching Harry intently, the pastor tried to keep his features neutral as he continued questioning the young man beside him.

"Well, no. But he might as well have. The spell he cast rebounded against mine and killed him."

"So the spell you cast would have killed him had his spell not gotten in the way?"

"No, I was trying to disarm him. Not really certain what I would have done if I had. I suppose I would have stunned him next and turned him over to someone." Shaking his head, Harry grimaced.

"I hope I would have been bright enough to let Hermione figure all that out."

"So, you weren't trying to kill him, he was trying to kill you, and he was killed by his own spell, correct?"

"According to that prophecy it was supposed to be him or me. But yes, that's the sequence." Walking along in thought, Harry looked troubled.

"Even after everything he'd done, killing him out of hand didn't seem … right." Thinking back to the things Professor Dumbledore had said to him, and what he had seen after Voldemort had killed him previously, Harry seemed more troubled, not less.

"Is that normal?"

"Harry, I've always found that 'normal' is way overrated." Seeing the sharp look on his face, the pastor chuckled.

"The question you asked assumed that there was a universal 'normal'. From everything Hermione's told me about you, that reaction was 'normal' for you. Another individual might feel differently, you yourself might have chosen differently under slightly different circumstances."

"I can see how that would help with him, but I can't escape the nagging feeling that I could have done something differently, something to have helped the others."

"Here's where we come to the point where you've got her scared to death." Pausing as Harry's pace was interrupted by his shock, Pastor Campbell waited until Harry started walking again before he continued.

"She's afraid you're going to let this guilt overwhelm you. That she's going to lose you because a homicidal madman tried to conquer the world and failed."

"So many people had died…"

"Would they still have died if you'd decided to take Hermione and run off to the south of France to keep her safe?" Having been warned about Harry's feelings of guilt, Pastor Campbell cut across him to keep him off balance.

"No. Yes. There's no way of telling." Thinking for a moment, Harry looked up.

"The south of France?"

"Lovely weather, Hermione and her parents have vacationed down there from time to time. I could have picked the fjords of Norway just as easily; the point I was trying to make was that you didn't just skive off and allow this Voldemort rotter to run rampant. From what she told me, and quite vehemently I might add, your Headmaster didn't get around to telling you everything until that night. And he did that by proxy." Seeing Harry's cautious nod, Pastor Campbell smiled reassuringly.

"So since you didn't really know what was going on, didn't have any preparation or real training to do what you were required to do, and were purposely kept in the dark until literally the last minute, isn't it a bit presumptuous on your part to assume that you could have done any better than you did?"

Staring at the pastor in disbelief, Harry watched him for almost a minute before he released the breath he had been holding and shrugged.

"When you put it that way, I can see how it would be a bit much to think things could have turned out much differently. But that still doesn't change that fact that all of those people died."

Walking along, Harry tilted his head a bit to listen to the music that Hermione was playing.

"Everyone's lost so much, what right do I have to be happy?"

Hanging his head, Harry fixed his gaze on the gravel walkway.

"Does Hermione have a right to be happy?"

Seeing the surprised look on Harry's face, the older man smiled. "Of course she does. In fact, I imagine that an even greater motivation for you than opposing that Voldemort person because it was the right thing to do was the fact that you were trying to insure that she had a chance to live a normal, happy life.

"Even if I were to agree that you didn't have that right, we'd both agree that she does. And I can't see anything that's going to substitute for you being part of that happiness, so you're just going to have to suck it up and be the wizard she's in love with." Pausing a second as Harry stared at him in disbelief, the pastor added dryly, "I realize that's an onerous responsibility…"

"I'm not certain how to respond to that. Being part of her life scares me as much as it thrills me, and I know that I'm not alone in this." Harry smiled as the music changed to a different song.

Looking up, he could see the grin on Pastor Campbell's face as they both recognized Hermione's next selection. While part of their shared familiarity with it came from a popular television sketch, Harry had become acquainted with the original meaning of the music thanks to the witch who was now playing a very simple yet elegant arrangement of the hymn 'Jerusalem'.

"I suppose part of the problem is that ever since that night in the cemetery, I've spent four years not thinking about what would come next. Never really believing there would be a next."

"Harry, getting a handle on what you're going to do with your life from here on out is something that I'm going to leave to you and Hermione. But I would like to talk to you about some of the things I talk to people about when someone passes." Seeing the slow nod from Harry, he continued.

"You've lost both people you knew, and people you didn't, which makes it difficult. Especially since I've observed that what I've been told about you is true. You've taken to heart every loss, every death that's occurred since the night your parents were murdered."

"There was a prophecy…"

"A prophecy that both your Headmaster and this Voldemort person worked very hard to make come to pass. You know your young lady's view on prophecy, correct?"

Seeing the look on Harry's face, Pastor Campbell chuckled.

"Right, Hermione and I had quite the discussion the other day regarding this 'prophecy' and how two very stubborn men manipulated your life and the lives of countless other people to make it come out to fit their interpretations. But f you take it at its simplest, it was merely a clue, a key if you will."

I'm not certain I'm following you. The prophecy was made to happen?" Walking along, Harry closed his eyes for a second.

"How did the two of you deduce that?"

"Let's say your Potions professor didn't run off and tell Voldemort the half of the prophecy he heard. Voldemort wouldn't have known to research to see who was born to people who didn't like him at the end of July. He wouldn't have had to pick between you and your friend Neville. He most likely wouldn't have shown up on your family's doorstep trying to kill you and giving you that ghastly souvenir when his spell rebounded. And that would have meant…"

"That I wouldn't have carried a piece of his soul around in my head for sixteen years and end up dying just so I could come back and kill him." Seeing the skeptical look on the minister's face, Harry amended. "All right, come back so I could let him kill himself. Again."

"Exactly. Everything that happened to you and around you happened because two very proud and determined men tried to make that prophecy work to their advantage."

"But if they hadn't done that, then what would have happened?"

"No one knows, and we don't know if the world would be a better or a worse place. We can't even say that your life would be better or worse if things had gone differently."

As the two walked along the path, Pastor Campbell smiled as he could see Harry was struggling to find a way to say something. Deciding to help him out a bit, he sighed.

"You're about to tell me that I'm not being very helpful, aren't you?"

"Well, yes. Sorry about that, but from what you're telling me we simply don't know what would have happened if we'd changed anything, and it could have been worse as easily as it could have been better."

"Very good Harry. Are you certain you haven't been considering a career as a theologian?" Seeing the shocked look, he chuckled.

"What I'm trying to say is that both Hermione and I have confidence that regardless of what happened, you would have been up to the task."

"Hermione's believed in me for years now, so I can understand her saying that. Why are you so confident?"

"Because I not only believe in God, but I believe Him. One of the things we're taught is that we don't get handed things that we can't handle. If this got dumped in your lap, then you would be able to handle it. Maybe not in the way you think you should, but despite all of the roadblocks your Headmaster and everyone else threw in your way, you were able to rise to the challenge and do what was necessary.

"If your Professor Dumbledore had chosen differently and actually involved you and Hermione in the process over the past few years, I'm fully confident that the two of you would have found a different way to deal with this problem. Whether it would have been 'better' or 'worse', no one knows, but I'd be willing to wager a good deal of money on the fact that she wouldn't have accepted your sacrificing yourself as the only solution." Pausing for a second, he added, "At least not without a fight."

"Sometimes people fail. They don't always succeed."

"It depends upon how you define 'failure'. Their part of the plan might have been to bring something about, not to provide the ultimate solution. And sometimes people are trying to do the wrong thing, and they could fail at that. None of us know the ultimate consequences of small or large actions we take. Hermione tells me that the two of you have appeared at quite a number of funerals and memorial services over the past few weeks, correct?"

"I've almost lost count, but it's important to be there to show people that they're not alone in this, that the sacrifices they made that night weren't in vain."

"True. But what if your presence at one of these ceremonies gave heart to someone who was on the brink of ending their life? Years later, this person is in position to avert some tragedy, saving countless lives. Or what if some small act of kindness you performed for some child whose life had been torn apart prevented that witch or wizard from becoming the next Lord Voldemort?

"I don't want you to start looking at dire consequences for everything you do or say, but we have an impact on those around us, whether we're Harry Potter or a minister of a small congregation in the south of England."

The music started again, and the majestic tones of the hymn from Holst's 'Jupiter' began to ring out from the chapel. Smiling as he recognized the piece, Pastor Campbell nodded back towards the chapel.

"She knows you well, are you familiar with this work?"

"I've heard it. We were out of touch at the time, on the run actually, but Hermione had heard about the Princess' funeral and the two of us went into a small village in Cornwall and snuck into a pub to watch it on the telly. I remember this from the funeral ceremony."

"It's originally a fragment out of the middle of a much larger work. It sounds so much like a hymn; most people concluded it must be one. The original composer always insisted it was simply part of the larger whole, but even he bowed to the tide of public opinion and it became a stand-alone piece that became an anthem to England. But that doesn't change its original intent, or the power that it has to inspire in the first place."

Walking along, they both listened as the music rose in majestic tones, feeling the pull of the harmonies.

"From what she's told me, the two of you are a bit like this song. In your original environment, the pair of you would have been something special and unique. But you got shanghaied by events beyond your control and became something else. You served a different purpose than either of you would have probably chosen, but the events and the times required you to rise to different challenges, challenges that people you age shouldn't have to shoulder."

"It does seem to be a bit unfair, expecting a trio of teenagers to save the world." Managing to reply without the bitterness that usually accompanied that thought, Harry smiled a bit as the music continued.

"Will we ever know the 'why' of it all?"

Smiling, the pastor shrugged as they turned and started back towards the chapel. As the strains of 'Jupiter / I Vow to Thee' faded, a simpler song, one that seemed to speak of loss and redemption, replaced them.

"There will come a time when you'll understand more, but sometimes the 'why' of things are beyond us here in this life. Though we're assured that there will come a time when we will understand, that we'll be able to see clearly the things that we can't see in this life." As the strains of 'Eternal Father' washed over them, he watched Harry as he surrendered conscious thought to the music.

"From what she tells me, you've had a chance to see beyond that veil. What do you think?"

"Knowing everything would make it simpler, in some ways, but impossible in others. I imagine that there are things that we simply can't comprehend totally until we're there."

Harry smiled as the music continued, a call for peace and protection that seemed to speak to some hidden part of him. Looking up, he could see the expectant look in the older man's eyes.

"I realize you're familiar with our world. In it, there are people who 'see beyond the veil' from time to time. Some do it better than others; some handle it better than others.

"We had a professor in school that was able to do that, very rarely. I think it's that ability that left her unable to cope with normal life on a day-to-day basis. She would get these glimpses only occasionally, and she'd be totally unaware she'd done it until someone told her after the fact. So she tries to compensate the rest of the time by blathering on about resonances and her inner eye.

"Of course, the rest of the time she's also dedicated herself to putting a major dent in the castle's supply of cooking sherry. Almost drove Hermione spare before she finally dropped that class."

"I can see how your instructor would have found it difficult to cope with that sort of burden, and I can also see how Hermione would have found the situation impossible to deal with." Seeing the look on Harry's face, he smiled.

"For being someone so totally immersed in something like magic, Hermione approaches it from a very logical and precise mindset."

"Thank God. If she didn't, I probably wouldn't be here."

Looking down, Harry stared at the path beneath their feet as they walked. Hunching his shoulders, he walked in silence for a bit, just listening to the scrunch of the gravel beneath their feet and the simple harmonies of the hymn in the background. Looking up, he gazed at the muggle minister beside him.

"How will I ever know if I'm worthy of her?"

"Other than by asking her?" Chuckling at the surprised look on Harry's face, Pastor Campbell shrugged eloquently.

"Over the years, I've observed that Hermione has a very good sense of people and very little tolerance for fools. If she's chosen you, it's because she not only loves you, it's because she feels that the two of you are well suited. And, from what I know of her, she probably worries about the same thing in the wee hours of the morning."

"She shouldn't."

Continuing along, the two walked in silence as the hymn finished and trailed off. A short pause and a quiet melodic pattern began, marking the beginning of another selection by Bach. As the simple melodic pattern began to flow, Harry noticed that the path had taken them to an older portion of the cemetery, where soldiers from what had been called 'The War to End All Wars' were laid to rest. Standing there, looking at the markers, he tried to find words to ask the question he feared to ask.

"Harry, it does get easier. You're the type of young man who won't ever forget those who died, but living with it will get easier for you." Seeing the startled look on the younger man's face, Pastor Campbell smiled.

"No, I didn't read your mind, but I have done this a time or two, and that question always gets asked, eventually. As long as you're willing to move on time will help to heal the wounds the two of you have from what has happened to you."

"I don't want to hurt her. I don't want to disappoint her when she realizes I'm not the person everyone thinks I am."

"If you were, I sincerely doubt she would be with you. She'd be your friend, but if you were person that most people envision when they hear 'Harry Potter', she never would have fallen in love with you."

Looking at the neatly kept graves of young men had died much too soon for causes they probably didn't understand, Harry realized that he had something in common with these soldiers, just as he had with those that died that night at Hogwarts, and the others that had died since this whole thing had begun.

"Was it worth it? Did what we suffered for, what they died for, equal the cost? Was it all in vain or did it all serve a purpose?"

"What would have happened to her if Voldemort would have won?"

Seeing the shocked look on Harry's face, Pastor Campbell placed his hand on the younger man's shoulder and gently squeezed. "I'm not suggesting that you try to balance her life against everyone else's, but from what I understand the life of your young witch and everyone like her would be forfeit if those people would have prevailed.

"You were in a war, and unfortunately one of the 'rules of war' is that not everyone gets to make a choice, or an informed choice." Waving his hand towards the rows of graves from 'The War to End All Wars', the pastor smiled bitterly.

"I doubt that most of these young men understood the social or political issues behind 'The Great War', or that they even cared. England called and they answered her. That night, it wasn't Harry Potter that called, it was Hogwarts, it was Wizarding England if you will, and they answered. Very few may have understood everything that was going on, but they knew that what was happening was wrong, and they chose to stand up and oppose tyranny and evil."

"Where does that leave me?" Looking what the young men buried around him would have called 'shell-shocked', Harry was trying to fit everything that the pastor had been telling him with what he had been feeling.

"Alive and in love?" Smiling at the look on Harry's face, Pastor Campbell chuckled at the look of exasperation on his face. "You can't solve all the world's problems, Harry, even if you are as good a wizard as Hermione says you are. Take some time, and appreciate the things that you do have, the things you were able to do."

Seeing the younger man close his eyes and shake his head, the pastor chuckled. "I seem to remember a book where a wizard gave a piece of advice to someone who wasn't. I can say this, because Hermione isn't here to be annoyed by it."

Closing his eyes, the older man began to recite from memory; "Surely you don't disbelieve the prophecies, because you had a hand in bringing them about yourself? You don't really suppose, do you, that all of your adventures and escapes were managed by mere luck, for your sole benefit? You are a fine fellow, Mr. Baggins, and I am very fond of you; but you are only quite a little fellow in a wide world, after all*."

Opening his eyes, the pastor smiled at Harry as he stared at him in disbelief. "Harry, all of this wasn't about you, it wasn't about your Headmaster, and it wasn't about this Voldemort fellow. People like to personalize things, but there are bigger things than our lives. Evil existed before Voldemort, before Grindelwald, before Slytherin. You may have felt like all of this was dumped upon you, that you had no choice. But you did."

"Everything felt so orchestrated. Prophecies to the left, destinies to the right. I can't recall anyone asking me if this was what I wanted." Shaking his head, Harry leaned back against a hawthorn tree that was growing close to the path.

"You made choices. You chose to survive your childhood. Some people, in that situation simply give up. You could have chosen to embrace the example you'd been given by your family, but you didn't."

"Giving up was wrong, being like my uncle and cousin would have been wrong."

"You're seeing the point. The right thing doesn't just happen, you don't stumble into it. You choose to do the right thing. You can also choose to do the wrong thing, but you very rarely simply 'luck' into doing the right thing."

"And Hermione's afraid I'm going to choose the wrong thing, choose not to cope."

"Very much so. And I'm afraid she's chosen how she'll deal with it if you do." Looking somber, the pastor waited for Harry to realize what he was alluding to.

"She'd never. She'd be very disappointed in me, probably do something drastic when she finally caught up with me, but she'd never do something like that." Shaking his head, Harry glared at the pastor. "She doesn't give up. She never gave up on me, and she wouldn't start giving up now."

"Were you paying attention when she was talking about the charm she placed upon herself?" Seeing Harry's hesitant nod, the pastor continued.

"Don't you think it a bit odd, the restriction she place on ending the memory charm on herself?"

"The seventy-two hours after I defeated Voldemort part?" Looking puzzled, Harry was frowning trying to see what the pastor was getting at.

"Seventy-two hours after you defeated Voldemort and survived," Pastor Campbell countered. "She had decided that there was no going back to her old life if you failed, or failed to survive. She wouldn't have known the truth about her parents, what she did know was that they didn't have a daughter to worry about…"

"If I would have failed…" Trailing off, Harry came to a complete stop in the middle of the path. Turning, he stared at in the direction of the chapel where the witch in question was working her way through Bach's 'Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring'. "She would have…"

"It's not what she would have done that concerns me, it's what she will do if you let your grief get the better of you. And she tells me that the two of you are about to embark on raising the son of your friends who were killed that night."

"Yes, though I'm not certain exactly what kind of father I'm going to be, I've got exactly zero experience at this sort of thing." Looking troubled, Harry stared in the distance as the music from the chapel's organ continued to flow through the air.

"Your friend Remus, did he have any other children?"

"No, little Teddy was the first for him and Tonks. They'd gotten married back when all of this started going south…" Trailing off at the look on the minister's face, Harry blushed. "He was quite a bit older than me; he probably would have been much better suited for it."

"Harry, you're never ready for the birth of your first child. Anyone who tells you otherwise is either mental or lying to you. From what I've seen, the two of you have all the instincts to be very good parents, both now and in the future."

As the organ fell silent, Harry's blush picked up at what the minister was implying. "About that, I know what she says, but I wish I really knew what she wanted. I think I've been in love with her for a very long time, but I never let myself think about it until recently." As a different song started, Harry closed his eyes as he leaned back against the tree they had stopped beneath. Not seeing the smirk on the older man's face as he recognized the introduction to 'Highland Cathedral', he whispered, "I just wish I knew what she wanted."

"Harry, just trust her. She'll let you know when it's time. I know that it's been a very long seven years for the both of you, and this last year has been very stressful, but if you can accept the fact that the two of you did the best you could I think you'll start to come to grips with things.

"I've spoken to soldiers, constables, and others who have been in similar situations to yours. Unlike in the magical world, there is no magic word I can say, no wand I can wave to make everything better. And if I could, I wouldn't."

Harry's eyes flashed open at that statement. Staring at the minister in disbelief, he waited for the older man to continue.

"If I could, then it wouldn't be real for you. Oh, if I thought that you were totally unable to cope with this, I'd suggest to her that she investigate some magical means of making this less real to you, but that would be a cheat. You've already started to come to grips with the things that have happened, whether you realize it or not. All I'm doing is pointing out a few things the two of you may have missed up to this point and showing you that you are coping, whether you want to believe it or not."

"It certainly doesn't feel that way." Shaking his head, Harry closed his eyes again as the music washed over him.

"Possibly because you've been doing nothing but attend funerals and memorials since that night?" Smiling kindly at the look Harry gave him without bothering to open his eyes Pastor Campbell chuckled.

"Care for some advice?"

"Isn't that why we're here?" Opening one eye, Harry watched the older man intently. "And yes, I'd love some advice on how to go forward."

"Since everyone you know 'knows' that her parents are in Australia, go look for them once all of these funerals are finished. You only have three more, correct?"

"She just said…" Seeing the look in the minister's eyes, Harry stared. "You mean?"

"Harry, I'm not advising you to do or not do anything. What I am saying is that if the two of you were to go to Australia and spend several months, or longer, 'searching' for Hermione's parents, it might give the two of you a bit of perspective on things before you returned to England or you head to Mare Harbour to meet the Grangers for their flight back to England. You won't find Alex and Helen in Australia, but the two of you might just find some answers."

"That sounds…" Trailing off, Harry had a speculative gleam in his eye. "Would you mind terribly if I told her this was your suggestion?"

"Do you think you need my blessing to get her to run off to Australia with you for an extended 'search'?" the pastor countered.

"No, and I still have to figure out how we're going to keep our other best mate from volunteering to help find Hermione's parents." Looking thoughtful, Harry was trying to script a conversation with Ron that would keep the third member of the Golden Trio in England without setting him off.

While he'd been much better since the morning after the Final Battle when he realized that his and Hermione's paths didn't belong together, Harry was still a bit leery of Ron reverting to his old self after the initial shock of the war ending wore off.

"This would be Ronald, correct?" Seeing the surprised look on Harry's face, Pastor Campbell chuckled. "Hermione spoke at length regarding your other friend. She's convinced that he's got sufficient motivation to remain near home for the rest of the summer. According to her, a neighbour of his family has fancied him for quite a while and the two of them are currently exploring their options."

"Ron and Luna?" Shaking his head, Harry closed his eyes. "Apparently I've been paying less attention to what was going on around me than I thought." Opening his eyes and staring at the pastor with a bemused smile on his face, he chuckled.

"Are any of my other friends seeing each other that I should know about?"

"Well, according to Parvati, Hannah has been staying at Longbottom Manor. Apparently Neville's grandmother finds her very charming and very suitable for her grandson," Hermione's voice broke in. Between the twinkle in her eyes and the smile on her face, her amusement was very evident.

"I left you two to have a serious discussion and I come back to find you gossiping about 'who fancies whom'."

Walking over, she wrapped her arm around Harry's and smiled at him.


"Hey yourself."

Leaning down, Harry placed a kiss on her cheek, which elicited a blush from her since he'd been very chary about physical displays around people they didn't trust implicitly, up until now. The members of the DA who had been staying at Grimmauld Place had caught glimpses of them together, but outside in the world it had been a bit different.

"You sounded very good back there." Seeing her blush deepen at the compliment, Harry smiled. "I was going through those papers from the bank that you'd been after me to look at. Apparently my grandmother played, there's a grand piano listed as being in storage since they passed away before I was born. Should I ask Griphook to have it installed at Number 12 while we're in Australia looking for your folks so it would be available to you when we get back?"

"Harry, I just told you…" Stopping when she saw the smirk on Harry's face and the innocent face that Pastor Campbell was pulling, she paused for a second. "I think that might be lovely. By the time we get back from Australia, I'll be in the mood to get back into some sort of practice routine."

Smiling gratefully towards the pastor, Hermione tried to keep the grin from her face and failed. "I take it that an extended search for my parents comes under the heading of 'therapy'?"

"Actually, I recommended it for both of you under the heading of 'gaining perspective'. The past few weeks have been harder on both of you than you realize. Australia's in the winter season down under, but I'm certain that a country that has more beaches than almost anywhere else will afford the two of you an abundance of places to search for both answers and Hermione's parents."

Smiling beatifically at the pair, Pastor Campbell watched as the two teens sported matching blushes. Seeing that they were receptive to the idea, he placed his hand on Hermione's arm, reclaiming her attention.


Seeing her look up startled, he smiled to reassure her. "If the two of you feel the need to talk or seek advice while you're on your search, you know I'm available to you."

Seeing the grateful look in her eyes, he chuckled. "Just keep in mind the differences in time between this Christchurch and the other."

Seeing that the pair were wanting to discuss their upcoming adventure, Pastor Campbell waved them off when they asked if he needed to be dropped anywhere, pointing out that he had a few parishioners who were here in the cemetery that he wanted to visit.

As the pair vanished with a slight twist and a faint 'pop', Alexander Campbell, born Alexander Campbell Trelawney - Slytherin class of '44, waited patiently as he observed the section of the cemetery that housed those residents of Christchurch that hadn't returned from the Great War his father and uncles had fought in.

Casting a minor enchantment, he removed the glamour that had hidden the grave markers of those members of the local magical community that had responded to both this war and it's continuation during his school years. Hearing a faint 'pop' behind him, he smiled as the steps approached on the graveled walk.

"I think they'll be just fine, Minnie," he said as Minerva McGonagall approached.

"Are ye ever coming back, Sandy?"

Coming up beside him, Minerva gently laid her hand on his arm and gazed sadly at the marker that commemorated the final resting place of Jamie McGonagall and their two daughters, aged seven and four, who died in 1948 during a raid by unknown masked dark wizards on Diagon Alley. The indiscriminate slaughter of innocents that day in the respectable part of the district covered up the fact that three shops in Knockturn Alley were plundered. Minerva had always suspected that one of Alexander's housemates who had disappeared under mysterious circumstances the year before was involved.

"I'm content where I am, lass." Smiling wryly, Alex looked over the graves of both muggle and wizard born who had answered the call that he had mentioned to young Harry earlier and gone off to wars they neither wanted nor understood.

"I can do more good here than I ever could in your world. We moved eighty families out of England during this war, and I doubt that many of them will come back. Young Harry getting rid of my old housemate hasn't solved all of England's problems; the problems that led to Tom, young Dolores and old Gellert are still in place. If you don't clean up your own house …"

"It used to be your house, but you're correct." Sighing heavily, Minerva squeezed his arm lightly.

"I'll keep Sibyll on; it's still not going to be safe for a squib for a few years, especially one as involved in all of this as she has been." Watching her old Hogwarts classmate out of the corner of her eye, she sighed. "I just wish that I knew whether or not …"

"She actually has a touch of the Sight, but neither of us trusts Albus' assertions that that prophecy was actually valid. Without his meddling, the whole thing might have devolved down to nothing more than smoke and mirrors. Tom was never one to put much stock in such," Alexander answered, not looking at his longtime friend.

"He was a firm believer in fate and destiny, but it was what you could grab with your own hands and mold with your own will, not something that bounced you around from pillar to post."

Standing together in companionable silence, Minerva finally sighed as she watched the shadows shortening. Needing to get back to Hogwarts, having a meeting with the interim Minister of Magic later that required a bit of preparation, she prepared to take her leave.

"Will Kaitlin and the children be back soon?"

"The youngest one, Minerva, just started Salem this past year, but since it's also a boarding school Kait's thinking of moving back once school begins. The older ones have all built lives there, especially in the expat communities that have sprung up over the past five years. Christopher is very taken with a young witch that left Hogwarts after that dreadful tournament, her family settled in the Denver area and they met during the summer hols a couple of years ago."

"I'd hoped Ms Perks would end up somewhere, Pomona was very unhappy to lose her. Being a muggleborn, the prospects for peace with Tom coming back were almost nonexistent, and her parents were already unhappy with the ministry's bungling."

"I'm hoping to be travelling to the States this winter if Christopher finally gets up enough nerve to propose to the lass," Alex responded chuckling at the inquiring look in his old friend's eyes.

"Fortunately, I'm always surprised by things like that, though Sibyll tends to be distressingly spot on with that sort of thing."

Seeing the skeptical look on Minerva's face, Alex chuckled. "Though I do predict that your young protégé will be very wroth with Sibyll if she ever remembers one of her predictions regarding young Harry there."

Eyes widening, Minerva took in a sharp breath. "You don't mean …."

From the Daily Prophet's London edition – 12 July 2044

Ministers of Magic's Glad Tidings

Narcissa Molly Greengrass, reporting

It has been announced the current Minister of Magic Harry Potter and his wife of forty-five years, former Minister of Magic and current Chief Witch of the Wizengamot Hermione Potter have formally announced the naming of their latest child, William Xenophilius Potter.

While the seventh child born to the couple, young William makes the twelfth addition to the Potter household, joining his six siblings by birth, the Potters' godson Theodore Remus 'Call me Teddy' Lupin who the couple adopted shortly after marrying in Christchurch back in 1999, and four children that the couple adopted over the years.

Friends and family gathered at Potter Manor in Wales to celebrate the birth, with this reporter being present as a family member being a great-granddaughter of the legendary 'Golden Couple'.

Mother and child are doing fine announced the child's godmother and Hogwarts Headmistress Luna Lovegood-Scamander. Affectionately known as 'Aunt Luna' to the extended Potter families, the Headmistress again apologized to Witch Weekly and their correspondent Pansy Parkinson that 'yet another Potter son has been born, not named Albus Severus', alluding to the embarrassing article that Witch Weekly ran following the birth of the Potters' second son, Alexander Alastor Potter.

Ms Parkinson, now the managing editor of that publication, maintains to this day that she had a 'credible, inside source' that verified the name of the child and the Potters used their celebrity and influence at the Ministry to have the child's name changed during the five hours between the child's birth and Witch Weekly hitting the newsstands nationwide.

Over the ensuing years, the only on the record comment from any family member was Hermione Potter's cryptic quip during a Ministry function years later when she simply smiled enigmatically, shrugged, and said "I'd suspect it was wrackspurts, but what do I know?"

A/N – The marked quotation comes from JRR Tolkien's 'The Hobbit', apparently soon to be a major motion picture (and I'm certain they'll bungle that scene up like they did so many in LOTR).

For anyone not familiar with the musical works mentioned, decent arrangements can be found searching the YouTube site (also some pretty bad renditions, so choose wisely)