Chapter Eight – All's Well, but it Never Really Ends
A/N – All of the standard fanfiction disclaimers apply. I don't own Harry Potter apparently you can't even get a timeshare any longer). Anything recognizable from the Harry Potter universe that is in this story belongs to JK Rowling and her various corporate partners. And now, without further ado, let us return to the story …
Smiling, Luna bid the Headmistress and Poppy a distracted farewell as she left the Hospital Wing. Standing in the door, she shook her head as Professor McGonagall walked over to where Ginny was sitting. In spite of the genuinely contrite and remorseful look on her friend's face, Luna knew that it was going to be a fairly long afternoon before Ginny would see the outside of the infirmary.
Skipping back through the halls and up the stairs, Luna finally arrived outside the Ravenclaw Commons. A couple of giggling first-year witches who were departing just as she arrived held the door for her, so she thanked them for their courtesy and inquired what was so amusing in the common room. At their chorused 'the dragon in your quarters', Luna shook her head and entered her familiar common room, chuckling at the blushes coming from the pair who had just left.
Sure enough, a rumbling sound was coming down the stairs from her quarters on the first landing leading up to the Ravenclaw dorms. While it could be confused with the rumblings of a lurking dragon, anyone from Gryffindor house from the past seven years would easily be able to place the sound.
Casting a quick sound-muffling spell at her door from down in the common room, she chuckled as the sounds abruptly ceased. Walking over to the statue of the founder of her House, she smiled ruefully as she cast a minor enchantment upon the statue. As the statue of Ravenclaw began to shimmer and change, Luna nodded graciously.
"Again, I thank you for your assistance." Holding out the timeturner, Luna's eyebrows threatened to get tangled with her hairline as the avatar shook her head slightly.
"Your daughter can return that bauble to me, all in good time." Smiling mysteriously at the look on Luna's face, Ravenclaw's avatar nodded to her. "My daughter came in and told me what you accomplished, both in Godric's tower and in the infirmary."
"I missed seeing Helena. Most peculiar, I usually have a good sense of when she's around; she soothes the nargles if they're upset." Looking down at the timeturner dangling from her hand, Luna quirked an eyebrow at her House's patroness.
"Are you certain?"
"I think you can be trusted with it. And your life is going to have enough paradoxes in it that it will be useful." Smiling, the statue shrugged as she glanced up the stairs. "Speaking of which, you might want to go check on your young man."
Casting a quick furtive look up the steps, Luna frowned as she turned her attention back to the avatar statue. Seeing the amused look on Rowena's face, she sighed.
"How far forward?"
"Your 'cousin' stopped by for a second. Nice young witch, late thirties I'd imagine." Smiling, Rowena nodded as Luna rolled her eyes. "Seemed to be dressed for some sort of party, but she dropped off a couple of items for you on her way." An almost smirk graced the features of the Founder of Ravenclaw as she nodded. "She mentioned her daughter would be starting school next fall. Sounds like a lovely young witch. Named after your mother, with the most striking red hair."
Blushing, Luna smiled and began to chuckle. As she returned the timeturner to her pocket, she shook her head ruefully. "I don't suppose my 'cousin' mentioned if Aranrhod was an only child? The oldest? The youngest?"
"Now what would be the fun in that? I think the two of you should leave a few things up to chance and the whim of the moment, don't you?" The avatar's eyes sparkled as she teased her protégé. "You might want to mention to your friend that there are some advantages in letting things happen as they may."
"You still haven't gotten over the fact that Hermione reasoned the Sorting Hat into putting her in Gryffindor, have you?" Smiling, Luna nodded at the knowing look on Rowena's face.
"I know, but the mere fact she could fashion an argument that would set aside her sorting was evidence that she belonged with us. But, she's such a Gryffindor when it comes to Harry and I really don't see her being quite as bold on his behalf if she were in this House."
"You may be correct, young one. Those two owe me a student, hopefully a witch, so we'll see how it all sorts out." Ignoring Luna's bemused chuckle, the avatar began to fade. "Run along, we'll talk later about how this all plays out."
Nodding, Luna wandered over to the stairs leading up to the dorms. Stopping about a quarter of the way up, she looked over at the portrait of Lady Gladstone and wagged her finger at the inhabitant of the portrait who was obviously ignoring her.
I'm not that interesting."
Looking up from the scroll she was working on, Headmistress Aribella Gladstone smiled enigmatically. "Child, you're the most interesting thing to happen to this House since your mother graduated. Despite what Rowena thinks, brilliant usually doesn't translate to 'interesting' or 'quirky'."
"Actually, I prefer 'eccentric' or 'enigmatic' but 'quirky' will do." Trying to look severe, Luna gave it up as a lost cause and smirked. "I know Viola's a friend of yours, but you could at least keep the cross house gossip to a minimum." Heading up the stairs, Luna stopped just outside her door on the landing before entering.
"She was much concerned about one of her Lions. Seems he hasn't been seen with his friends all that much this term and she was wondering what he was keeping himself busy with, since his romance with Miss Granger came to naught. Minerva's a dear, I thought I'd set her mind at ease."
Luna rolled her eyes as she gently opened the door to her quarters. Slipping quickly in and shutting the door behind her, she shook her head at the amount of noise one sleeping wizard could generate.
Crossing the sitting room, she knelt down beside where Ron Weasley was sleeping on the divan. Watching him for several minutes, she smiled as he slept peacefully, while snoring loudly enough to wake his housemates over in Gryffindor Tower. Conjuring a feather, Luna began to tickle his nose and ears with it, gently teasing him awake.
As he came awake with a start, his eyes popped open and he found himself staring into the silver orbs of his girlfriend. Smiling, he reached out a hand and gently cupped her cheek. "Finished studying?"
"All done for today, Ronald. Although we're still going to check over your Charms essay tonight after dinner." Smiling, she toed off her shoes and joined him on the divan. Snuggling into him, she waited until his arms were wrapped around her before continuing.
"You're going to ask me out tonight at dinner." Matter of fact, Luna smiled as Ron nuzzled her ear.
"Really now?" Chuckling, he hugged her briefly. "We've finally gotten tired of waiting for those two to get their act together and you think this might prompt them to act?"
"Actually, I'm fairly certain that there are several 'Notice Me Not', 'Do Not Disturb', and noise canceling charms active on the access doors to the Heads quarters at this very moment." Turning around, Luna faced her boyfriend and watched his face as he processed the news.
"Language Ronald." Smirking as he rolled his eyes, she nodded. "See what happens when you take a kip, you miss all the good stuff."
Shaking his head, Ron leaned forward and gently kissed her on the lips. As the kiss deepened, their bodies began to move against each other as their hands began to roam freely. Flipping him onto his back, Luna straddled Ron and smiled down at him.
"We're going to behave ourselves this afternoon so we don't look too pleased with ourselves when we go to dinner." Seeing the look on his face, she smirked.
"Remember, you haven't officially asked me out yet. Technically, shagging before the first date is considered a bit outré."
Sitting up, Ron kissed her deeply before allowing her to turn herself so she was sitting on his lap. Putting his feet on the floor, he leaned back and sighed as Luna snuggled herself against him.
"What about those two? Unless they had the quickest date on record, aren't they a bit 'outré' themselves?"
"Pffft. Those two? They've been dating for seven years now. They've just finally gotten around to realizing it." Smiling, Luna snuggled her head into Ron's chest and sighed.
"I had to smack Ginevra down a bit."
"Finally got her to wake up about Harry?" Closing his eyes, Ron wrapped his arms around her and smiled. "I hate to say it, but between Mum and Dumbledore I'd given up hope she was ever going to see reason. Both of them encouraged her in this obsession with Harry far too long."
"I thought you were worried Harry was going to break her heart, lead her on, and all that." Looking up at him, Luna smiled at the sheepish grin on Ron's face.
"Truth be told, most of that was an act. Harry's a pretty good guy, and all of us decided that if that's what the two of them wanted, then who were we to stand in their way. I got picked as the token 'irate brother' back in our sixth year simply because the twins didn't have the heart, Bill couldn't keep a straight face doing it, Charlie was too far away and no one would take Percy seriously.
"I was upset that summer at Harry's birthday when I found them in her room, but I thought Harry was having second thoughts about breaking up with her and I really couldn't see Gin coming along with us since she was underage and all."
"She tried to do it again." Holding her breath, Luna could feel Ron's flinch as he processed that news.
"Is she absolutely bloody mental?" Cracking open one eye, Ron stared at his girlfriend. "Dad told her if she pulled a stupid stunt like that again, once she was seventeen, he'd be the first one to suggest she spend time locked up to Kingsley. Harry's finally over that first potion she gave him, I can't believe she'd try again."
"Hush, my little Nargle trap. I found out about it and took care of things. Ginevra's in a bit of hot water with the Headmistress, and she's going to have to grovel to Hermione for a while, but I think it's all worked out for the best." Deciding that Ron didn't really need to know that his sister came within a hair of killing his best mate, Luna decided to divert the subject.
"Lady G said that someone stopped by while I was sorting Ginevra out?"
"Your cousin came by." Looking at her with a curious look in his eye, Ron shook his head for a second. "You never mentioned a cousin before. She dropped off an envelope and a box for you; they're over on your desk."
Looking over at her desk, Luna could see a small wooden box and an envelope sitting on top of her Arithmancy texts. Frowning, she summoned them to her and opened the box first. Inside were two small potion vials. One, with a peculiar gold sheen, was labeled 'HJG' and the other, with an interesting mother of pearl sheen to it, was labeled 'GMW'. Shaking her head, she wondered about that particular combination. Smiling at Ronald, she shrugged as she opened the letter, hoping she'd had the foresight to stay in character for this.
Just a quick note. I was finishing up some potions this morning and I dropped off one for you earlier, which you must be out delivering. Sorry I missed you, but it's probably for the best since if we got into a long conversation; I'd be late getting back for our friend's anniversary party.
As I was finishing off these two, I realized that I had planned on dropping them by for you to deliver also. I'm not certain where my mind is these days, never certain what day it is, or if I'm coming or going.
The one you need to get to our mutual friend at dinner tonight, she'll have need of it before the end of the meal. The other can be delivered anytime convenient, but it would be of a great boon to resolve any lingering issues from earlier.
Bracket your bet with George.
Luna chuckled as she reread the note from her 'cousin'. Looking up, she could see Ron reading the note over her shoulder, looking very puzzled. Waiting until he nodded, indicating he was done, she kissed him quickly on the cheek before folding the note and closing the box.
"Should I ask why you have potions for Hermione and my sister?" Closing his eyes, he leaned back into the divan's cushions and smiled as Luna settled down on his lap. "If it's a witch thing, then I don't really need to know."
Looking thoughtful, Luna was furiously pondering why Hermione would need a dose of a gold colored potion tonight of all nights. Earlier today she could have understood, but tonight? And the other potion for Ginevra was even more curious.
"I think you'd consider it a witch thing, Ronald. I'll just get it to her at dinner as my cousin suggested."
"Fancy a kip before dinner?"
"Ronald I just woke you up. You can't possibly be tired." Shaking her head, Luna was still thinking about how she was going to slip the second potion to Ginevra, though after the events of the day, the younger witch would probably take the potion without questioning.
"Who said anything about being tired? I was wondering if you wanted to go into your bedroom and spend some time before dinner." Opening one eye, Ron grinned at the blush on Luna's cheeks.
"Ronald, I thought we decided we were going to behave before dinner, since you're finally going to ask me out and we're going let people know we're seeing each other starting tomorrow."
"You decided that we were going to behave ourselves before dinner. You were also the one who came up to me in the library that night and said we were destined to get a certain number of shags in during our life, and if we didn't start right then, we'd run the risk of leaving some of them unshagged." Seeing the sly smile on her face, he nodded.
"I can't help it if I agree with you; a shag is a terrible thing to waste"
Luna unfolded herself from his lap and pulled him to his feet. "You're such a romantic, Ronald." Looking over at the sundial in the corner, she smiled. "I do believe we have time to go and see if we can get caught up on some of our lost time from last year." Smiling as she took him by the hand and drew him along after her into her sleeping chamber, she grinned as she pulled him close.
"Isn't it convenient there's a sound muffling charm on my door? Saves ever so much time for more important things.
Evening meal on a Hogsmeade weekend was a drawn out affair, as couples and individuals straggled in from the village and wherever they had spent the day around the grounds. Ron was sitting at his usual spot at the Gryffindor table when he spotted Harry and Hermione entering the Great Hall, hand in hand.
Their body language was unmistakably that of a couple very much together and very much comfortable with being with each other told everyone who cared to look that the two of them were together finally. And the almost indecently pleased looks on their faces told anyone third year and up, and a few of the more precocious second-years, exactly how the two had spent their afternoon.
Ever the social cheerleaders, spontaneous applause started at the Hufflepuff table, and was rapidly picked up by the Ravenclaws and Gryffindors. Even the Slytherin table exhibited some interest, with the first and second-years enthusiastically joining in despite the glares the couple were receiving from some of the seventh year students.
Blushing furiously, the pair glared at Hannah Abbot who was standing on a bench and whistling in encouragement as they made their way to the Gryffindor table. Shaking their heads, they slipped into a pair of seats across from Ron and looked around, trying to will their housemates into silence.
"Oy, it looks as if you two have something you'd like to share with the rest of us." Grinning, Ron nodded at their hands, which were still intertwined and resting on the table. "I spend one afternoon working on my Charms essay and I find out that the muggle Hell has turned into an ice-skating rink." Looking over at Seamus who was rolling his eyes, Ron shrugged. "Or something like that."
"I believe that you're trying to say that Hell has frozen over Ronald." Staring at him, Hermione tried not to smile as she could see a certain blonde Ravenclaw coming over to their table. Waiting until Luna was a couple of paces behind him, she sighed. "You do realize that there's no reason why you can't just pluck up your Gryffindor courage and ask the witch you want out, don't you?"
"I suppose you'd like me to just turn around and ask the first witch I see out, is that it?" Ignoring the shocked look on Hermione's face, Ron spun around and locked eyes with Luna who was standing there, as if waiting for something.
"Luna? Would you like to go to Hogsmeade with me tomorrow after breakfast and spend the day?"
Rocking back and forth, Luna smiled faintly as she tilted her head to the side, ignoring the shocked sputtering that was coming from Hermione and the laughter that was coming from Harry. After thinking for almost a minute, she looked back at Ron.
"Will you be wearing your lucky boxers tomorrow?" Seeing Ron nod, she smiled. "Of course Ronald. As long as you realize we'll be making up for lost time."
Smiling as Luna slid onto the bench beside him, Ron looked up at the gobsmacked expressions on his best mates' faces.
Glaring at Luna, realizing she'd been had, Hermione picked up her goblet of pumpkin juice and drained it. Setting it down on the table she looked around for a pitcher.
"Let me, you seem to be a bit out of sorts for someone who just spent the afternoon with Harry." Smiling smugly, Luna picked up Hermione's goblet and shifted down the table to grab a pitcher of pumpkin juice to refill it.
While she was pouring the juice, she deftly emptied the small potion vial into the goblet, watching as the golden liquid mixed with the pumpkin juice.
Handing the goblet back to her friend, she smiled as Hermione downed the second goblet without pausing. Banishing the vial in her hand back to her room, Luna nodded to Hermione as the older witch was obviously trying to formulate a response to what had just happened.
"Not really I suppose." Shaking her head, Hermione leaned over and rested her head against Harry's shoulder for a second. "Although, there's one thing I'd like to know." Arching an eyebrow, she glanced significantly at Ron before turning her gaze back to Luna.
"That's simple. All wizards have a lucky pair of boxers." Smiling impishly, Luna nodded to Harry who was trying not to laugh at the scandalized look on Hermione's face. "In fact, I'd be willing to wager that if the pair Harry's wearing right now wasn't his lucky pair, they are now."
The Gryffindor table erupted into laughter at the furious shade of red Hermione's face turned at that remark. Eyeing Harry's attempt to ignore the laughing and teasing that was going on around him; she shook her head and winked at him. Seeing the curious look on his face, she nodded to him and leaned over the table.
When Harry followed suit, she watched Hermione's blushes continue as she stage whispered, "Bad Harry, I didn't take you for the regimental type."
As Harry hurriedly sat back in his seat and gave her a horrified look, Luna smiled and started to return to hers.
Just then, several things happened at once. As Ginny was making her way, very determinedly, towards where Harry and Hermione were sitting, a sixth-year student that had transferred in from Durmstrang to Hogwarts during the past month and had been sorted into Slytherin started walking down the aisleway beside the Gryffindor house table. Hermione, seeing Ginny approaching, started to stand just as Seamus' goblet of pumpkin juice flew onto the floor at her feet, causing Lavender Brown to slip and end up sitting on Seamus' lap.
As Hermione ducked to the side to avoid the flying juice, Ginny's eyes went wide as she shouted "knife". Launching herself at Hermione, Ginny tackled the brunette around her waist and twisted just as the transfer student launched himself at Hermione, shouting "Death to the Mudblood!"
The wickedly curved dagger sliced through where Hermione had been standing, slashing across Ginny's shoulder and cheek as she wrestled a shocked Hermione to the ground.
The members of Dumbledore's Army, under the direction of Ginny, Neville, and Luna the previous year, had trained with various reaction drills, and a lone assassin/attacker with a deadly weapon was one of them. Reflexes took over and members of Gryffindor, Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff reacted without thinking, finding their old protection assignments. Protecting the younger members of their houses, and efficiently dealing with the identified threat.
After the initial barrage of spells ended, a double handful of Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff members who had studied healing and first aid under the covert after hour's guidance of Poppy Pomfrey converged upon the area of the attack. Once the dagger was separated from what was left of the assassin's right hand, the only attention paid to the attacker was from a pair of Gryffindors and a Ravenclaw who were detailed to insure that he continued to not be a threat to anyone.
Determining quickly that Hermione was more bruised and shaken than anything else, the ad-hoc medical team began to cast elementary scans on Ginny's wounds and began to analyze the greenish substance that covered the blade of the dagger.
Once she was able to convince a frantic Harry that she was fine, Hermione joined in with the analysis group. By the time Poppy had arrived on the scene, Professor Slughorn had begun to supervise the analysis of the dagger and the first aurors began arriving, the situation was well under control.
St. Mungo's forensic healers were never able to reconstruct the exact sequence of what happened, but they were definite that seventy-four hexes and jinxes of varying degrees of severity struck the would-be assassin within an extremely short period of time.
While most of the spells were traced back to wands belonging to members of Gryffindor and Ravenclaw, two hexes that almost skirted the definition of 'dark' were tracked back to the wands of Draco Malfoy and Blaise Zabini. Both of the senior Slytherin students had explained that they had been watching the unfortunate Mr. Hasslich since his arrival since 'there was something off about him, even for this lot' according to a defiant Malfoy who was impatiently waiting for the aurors to finish questioning him.
Under the supervision of the mediwitch and Potions Master, Hermione began administering an antidote for a poison that, while painful and draining for Ginny, would have been lethal in a matter of seconds for a muggle-born such as herself. Known as 'renblod' it was a poison banned in all civilized wizarding nations for its extreme toxicity to muggles and muggle–borns.
Once Ginny's color had returned to normal and Madam Pomfrey had begun to treat the shallow slices that the dagger had left, the emotional rollercoaster of the day caught up to Hermione. First hugging the youngest Weasley for several minutes, whispering encouragingly in her ear, the brunette finally sat back and looked around.
Seeing Harry staring at her with a strange look in his eyes, she got up, marched over to where he was standing, and began to snog him for all she was worth.
As the Great Hall erupted into catcalls and cheering, Luna knelt down beside Ginny. Since everyone was staring at the snogging couple a few feet away, except for Dennis Creevey, who had assigned himself as Ginny's designated bodyguard after his return to school since she was one of the co-leaders of 'The Hogwarts Resistance' and her previous protector hadn't returned for the current term, Luna smiled reassuringly to Dennis and then nodded to Ginny and handed her the potion vial with her initials on it from the box.
Seeing the genuine compassion and affection in Luna's eyes, Ginny nodded, removed the sealed stopper and drained the potion in one pull. A silver aura pulsed around her for a second, followed by a 'ping' that was barely audible under the noise from the student body cheering on their Head Boy and Girl.
The noise quickly subsided as the Headmistress came up to the oblivious pair. Shaking her head, she glared around until there was silence in the room. As Harry and Hermione came up for air, she nodded grimly as they both blushed and looked at her.
"Never in all my days at this august institution have I witnessed such a flagrant display of public affection between a Head Boy and Girl." Shaking her head, she smiled. "Do you have anything to say, Miss Granger?"
Hermione stared at the Headmistress for several seconds. Nodding her head, she looked over to where Luna was kneeling beside Ginny. As tears began to mist her eyes, she waited until Ginny nodded back before she turned back to the waiting Professor McGonagall.
"Just one thing and it's something that should have been said a while ago." Turning to Harry she grabbed his hand.
"Harry, I don't care where we are or how we do it. Marry me."
Seeing the gobsmacked look on his face she charged ahead. "There are no doubts, no need to wait. We know we both want this. And if the last twenty minutes have taught us anything, we don't know that we have time to do things in a normal and dignified manner. If you think being 'Mrs. Harry Potter' will make me more of a target than being the muggle-born part of the bloody 'Golden Trio'," she turned and pointed to the sheet covered corpse of her would-be assassin and shrugged.
"Someone didn't get the memo; this was planned before anyone knew we'd finally gotten together."
"Hermione, are you certain?" Smiling, Harry took both of her hands in his.
"Harry, if you don't say 'yes', right this minute, I'm going to ask you in every class, at every meal, and every time we're together until you do." Waiting, Hermione smiled sweetly. "And you know how determined I can be."
Harry looked over to where Ron was standing behind Luna, shaking his head in disbelief. Looking back to the Headmistress, he was taken aback by the look on her face.
"Headmistress, can students even get married?" Before the Headmistress could answer, Hermione jumped in.
"Honestly Harry, don't you think I've checked this out? There's an entire wing of married student housing available, not that we need it since we share an apartment."
Blushing a bit as the catcalls and whistles erupted again, Hermione seemed to finally realize that not only had she just proposed to the 'Boy Who Lived' in front of the entire student body, but she had outed their newly minted physical relationship as well.
Turning a brilliant shade of red, she rolled her eyes. "The Board of Governors instituted a waiting period for students when one of them is Muggleborn in 1904, but it's doable." Doubt began to creep into her eyes as she realized he still hadn't answered her. "That is, if you want me."
Stepping over to her, Harry wrapped his arms around her. Looking over to the Headmistress, he nodded. "How many additional points will we lose if I kiss her again after I say 'yes'?"
Feeling Hermione's arms tighten around him, he nodded to her as he waited for the Headmistress' answer.
"Mr. Potter, unless you want Gryffindor to lose one hundred points, you had better answer the question you've been asked by the Head Girl. I will not tolerate such a display of insubordination much longer, not to mention sheer rudeness since all of your classmates seem to be waiting on your answer. It's highly impolite to keep everyone waiting." Smiling, the Headmistress watched the pair as they both blushed.
"Well, in that case, I had better give her an answer and smartly." Turning back to Hermione, Harry grinned.
"Of course, I'll marry you. I was standing there, trying to figure out how to get you alone to ask you, when you decided to take matters into your own hands."
Shaking his head he whispered as the Great Hall erupted into cheering. "I can't wait to see what the Prophet and Rita does with this."
23 December 2018
"Sweetheart, have you seen my wand?"
Rolling her eyes, Luna had just reappeared in her bedroom when her husband's voice rang out. Tucking the timeturner into her purse and concealing it in the unplottable compartment where she usually kept it, she took a second to compose herself before walking over to her bedroom door.
"Ronald, the last time I saw it, you were trying to explain to the twins why they can't take extendable ears with them to the Burrow down in the kitchen."
Smiling, she went back to her dressing table and started putting her earrings in. Looking down at the framed copy of The Sunday Prophet that turned out to be the last headline ever to carry Rita Skeeter's byline, she chuckled at the "Illegal Love Potion Snares 'Boy That Lives'!" headline floating over a photograph of Hermione working as student proctor in one of Professor Slughorn's second-year potions labs from earlier that fall.
Luna began whistling 'Weasley is Our King' as she gathered up the stack of framed articles that she had gathered from the archives of both The Prophet and The Quibbler for tonight's party. Glancing over at her desk, she smiled at the picture of the original wedding party.
With a mandatory seventy-five day waiting period enforced by the Board of Governors of the school, the 23rd of December was the earliest that the wedding could take place. Adhering to the letter of the law, but in keeping with her desire that they be married as soon as possible, Hermione had insisted that the wedding ceremony begin at one minute after midnight on the 22nd, with the new day just seconds old.
Despite the lateness of the hour, none of the members of the wedding party looked the least bit tired. Minerva would call it 'one of the most prophetic weddings in recent memory' since every one of the couples from the wedding party went on to marry within the next four years.
Smiling wistfully, she nodded to the waving wizards and witches in the photo. Harry and Hermione were both too involved with each other to notice anything happening around them, but the other couples were joyfully expressing their happiness for the newlyweds.
Seamus and Lavender were playfully bantering back and forth, which had typified their announcement to their friends during a DA drill that they had eloped to Las Vegas in America during summer hols in 2000. She and Ronald were smiling and blushing since they'd been called out of the vestry by a very embarrassed Helen Granger just seconds before the pictures were taken, both of them were looking over and waving to their wedding picture in the neighboring frame that had been taken in June of 2001.
Neville Longbottom and Hannah Abbott were sneaking cautious looks at each other, not realizing at that time they would be married within a week of finishing school in June of 1999. Dean Thomas and Parvati Patil were smiling conspiratorially at each other, as if they knew that they would marry on New Year's Eve 1999, a few short minutes before all the muggle Millennium Madness would begin.
And Ginny was standing there, shaking her head ruefully at the pumpkin orange dress that Hermione had insisted she wear, with Dennis Creevey. Smirking at each other, they were laughing at the couples around them. They were the last couple of the wedding party to marry, and they had mercilessly teased Harry and Hermione as each of the other couples wed.
Ginny had gone on to a stellar career with the Holyhead Harpies as a chaser, and Dennis had gotten a job with the team as a photographer, partially due to Gin's urging. While they jokingly referred to themselves as the only survivors of the "Potter Wedding Curse", no one was really surprised when Dennis proposed to her the during the post-game celebrations of England taking the World Cup in 2002.
Of course, no one was ever really certain whether or not they knew the WWN microphones were live, giving them a slightly bigger audience for their proposal than Harry and Hermione had, but it did make for a bit of an interesting headline since Ginny had substituted for an injured Cho Chang during the thirty-seventh hour of the match and had caught the snitch to end the game, giving England the win over Bulgaria. Side by side photos of Ginny grabbing the snitch and then, minutes later snogging a beaming Dennis were both covered by the headline "Nice Catch"
Standing up as she felt her husband's arms wrap around her, she smiled as he nuzzled her neck.
"If you keep that up, we'll be late for their party." Chuckling throatily, Luna pressed herself against him as his arms tightened around her. "We'll end up like we did in the wedding photos, getting there at the very last second."
"Oy, I can still remember the look on Hermione's mum's face when she came into that little room to find us." Chuckling, Ron shook his head. "Did you ever go back to get your knickers after the photos were done?"
"Ronald, be serious. It was our best friends' wedding, and I was walking down the aisle with you in the wedding party." Smirking she gave him a quick kiss before she sidestepped around him to grab her wand. "Why on earth would I have been wearing knickers that night?"
Flopping back onto their bed, Ron gave his wife an appreciative look. "Or tonight, for that matter, apparently." Studying the dress she was wearing, he shook his head. "Strangest thing, that dress looks very familiar."
"It shouldn't dear. Padma just sent it over today. It's part of her new winter collection and she designed an original one for each of us from the wedding to wear for the Anniversary Party tonight." Looking down at the dress, she smiled as she did a graceful pirouette. "Do you like it?"
"I think it will look better on the floor at the foot of our bed tonight since all of the children are staying at the Burrow with Mum and Dad tonight, but I do remember liking how it looked on your 'cousin' when she dropped off that package of potions the day Hermione proposed to Harry." Smirking, Ron nodded as Luna started blushing.
"Anything you feel the need to tell me since I don't see that little wooden box those potions came in on your dressing table tonight?"
"Ronald, I have no idea what you're talking about, and I'm certain we can find a suitable broom or utility closet at the place they've rented for the party tonight to discuss exactly how much you enjoy seeing this dress not on me." Stepping onto the bed, Luna straddled Ron and leaned over to kiss him.
"But we don't have time just yet because we need to get the children to the Burrow and I need to finish getting my gift ready for Hermione for tonight."
Smiling at the frustrated smirk on her husband's face, Luna bounced off the bed and headed for her desk. Reaching into the battered old backpack she kept for her expeditions, she pulled out an old leather-bound journal and a small black bag.
Sitting up, Ron sighed. "Isn't getting Hermione a book a tad predictable?"
"I didn't 'get' if for her, I'm giving it to her. I found it on that expedition to Paris I did about seven years ago, and this seems like the perfect time to give it to her." She gently untied the strings holding the bag closed and removed a pair of rings and a crystal that glowed faintly. "I also found these, and I think they'll be apropos for tonight."
Smiling as she watched her husband come towards her in the small mirror she kept on her desk for communicating with colleagues at Hogwarts when she was away from the castle, she smiled as he gently placed his hands on her shoulders and began massaging them.
"You're being awfully quiet about my 'cousin' tonight."
"I may have 'the emotional range of a teaspoon', but I'm not daft, you know." Smiling, Ron continued to work on the knots that had worked their way into his wife's shoulders. "Your mum was an only child; your grandmother was an only child as far as I can tell. Your 'cousin' was a blue eyed blonde who looks nothing like anyone on your Father's side of the family."
"Very good, Ronald. And exactly when did you reason all of this out?" Smiling mysteriously, Luna began idly leafing through the journal as she relaxed into his massage.
"It was Hermione's Muggle-born Levis Home Project that gave me those answers, but I knew that day it was you that came into the room. I just never figured out exactly which you it was until I noticed that you weren't in the house and that box was gone when I came up here looking for my wand about ten minutes ago."
"It's the Muggle-born Genome Project, and how did you know it was me? Why didn't you say anything?" Thinking back to the interaction she had had with his younger self not that long ago in the past, she shook her head in amazement.
"Back then I thought it was just a witch thing." Seeing the puzzled look on his wife's face in the mirror, Ron smiled. "You were using magic to see if I was tosser enough to hit on my girlfriend's cousin the minute your back was turned."
"And would you?"
Smiling contently as she leafed through the journal, Luna slipped a marker between two pages at the section she wanted Hermione to start with.
Leaning over, Ron gently kissed his wife on the neck. Seeing her shiver, he smiled. "You're more than enough witch for me, you always have been." Seeing her smile, he smirked.
"Besides, patience has its rewards. I've got the sexy older cousin now all to myself."
Reading over her shoulder, he made a small noise as he noticed the dates in the journal. "Where did you say you found that old journal?"
"It was sealed behind some very powerful spells in the sewers of Paris, beneath the Eiffel Tower." Smiling sadly, Luna closed the book and then closed her eyes.
"It's the journal of an American auror, they call them 'marshals', who was in Paris on a long-term assignment with their Embassy back in the nineteenth century. She was assigned an English Auror as a partner for several years; they were part of the magical protections of the Exposition Universelle, the muggle World's Fair, in 1900."
"Doesn't Hermione have American relatives?" Speaking softly, Ron had learned that his wife would tell her tales at her own pace and gentle suggestions sometime helped her to move along.
"Yes, and this may have been an American cousin, so to speak. Jane Martin and James Peverell were assigned to work together after what happened at the Chicago Exposition of 1893, and they became a very close and effective team and were still providing security to large muggle events seven years later."
"Oy, seven years." Looking thoughtful, Ron smiled and shook his head. "Let me guess. They were very close friends, spookily close. Never actually dated, but never really saw anyone else. Drove everyone else crazy with how they interacted with each other?"
"Something like that." Smiling, Luna bounced the two rings in the palm of her hand. "Of course, we never knew anyone like that."
"True. What happened to that pair?"
"During that summer of 1900, they began to see what they actually felt about each other. They kept it a secret, but they realized they were very much in love with each other. After the Exposition ended in November, they were going to find safer work so they could marry and start a family together.
"But first they had to track down a crazy young wizard who was threatening to kill thousands of muggles at the Exposition using magic." Closing her eyes, she shook her head. "A young wizard named Gellert Grindelwald."
Kneeling beside her, Ron gently squeezed her hand. "This doesn't end well, does it?"
"Things like this, the love those two had for each other, the love that Harry and Hermione have," smiling she blushed and leaned over and kissed him gently on the lips. "The love we have, it doesn't really end, I suppose."
Wiping a tear from her eye, she nodded sadly. "But things ended badly for them, though they saved tens of thousands of lives that day."
"At the very end of August, the found out that young Grindelwald had unearthed a ritual to allow him to raise thousands of inferni from Paris' catacombs. He was planning on releasing them through a sewer entrance to the middle of the Exposition. You can well imagine the destruction and loss of life with tens of thousands of inferni pouring out into the hoards of muggles who were attending the Exposition that day." Closing her hand over the rings, Luna swallowed and then continued in a softer voice.
"Jane had commissioned a Paris jeweler to craft a pair of soul rings for her and James. Inscribed with the symbols of their respective patronuses, the manifestation of their souls in the physical world if you will, she had just picked them up that morning when they realized the ritual had started. Racing through the sewers, the two of them were able to seal off most of the exits from the catacombs, forcing the hordes of mindless undead to funnel through one tunnel that would open onto the Grande Concourse near the Eiffel Tower.
Unable to find any backup, the pair made a stand beneath the Tower. Combining their power, they were able to cast wards containing the only spell that could destroy that many inferni and leave none to break through the seals."
"Fiendfyre." Shaking his head, Ron remembered the out of control, almost sentient, blaze that destroyed the tiara of Ravenclaw and had almost killed the Golden Trio the night of the Final Battle.
"Yes, fiendfyre. They held the final barrier to the sewers while the inferno they released destroyed the mindless hordes of Grindelwald. Just before the fires reached them, standing beneath the entrance to the Concourse, battling the leading edge of the undead, Jane placed her journal and the rings into a small side tunnel that she sealed. She then turned and stood beside her lover and soulmate as they prevented the last of the inferni from escaping the onrushing flames.
"As they fell, they both promised that someday, somewhere, they would get their chance, and they would live the life they had put-off in favor of duty."
"How?" Wrapping his arm around Luna as tears rolled down her cheeks, Ron waited for her to compose herself enough to answer.
"How do I know?" Smiling sadly, Luna took a small crystal from the bag.
"The memories of their last moments were trapped in this crystal. I found a small colony of nargles down in the sewers, guarding this and waiting for someone to rescue it, to tell the story of Jane and James to the world."
Sadly opening the journal to its final entry, Luna began to read aloud.
"September 1st, 1900. A break in the battle, it seems even those abominations pause now and again. James and I have completed our trap for those monsters. Back home, down in New Orleans, they'd call them zombies, but the English have named them Inferni. I'm afraid that we won't be able to stop the wizard who created them from the Catacombs that lie beneath the streets of Paris, but we're sent word to England to be on the lookout for Gellert Grindelwald.
If we fail to survive this, the calling of the Demon's Fire to cleanse the sewers of these foul abominations, our Love will remain. Once we finished trapping the last of the tunnel entrances to the sewer line leading to the Exposition, James and I exchanged these rings and our vows.
Oh, just for ten minutes to undo the seven years we wasted denying what we felt. These rings and this journal will await the outcome; our beloved patronuses will stand beside us, as we become Horatius on this bridge from damnation, protecting a city and a world that doesn't believe that we, or their doom, exist.
I don't know how this will end, but I fear that the fire we shall call forth will consume us as we make certain that none of these abominations spill forth among the innocents above.
Hopefully, we'll retrieve this journal, the rings and this stone once the crisis has passed, preparing to live a long quiet life in James' childhood home in England, a village called Godric's Hollow.
However, if you find these rings and this journal, don't think harshly of us for we have done what we could with the time we had, and while we would have relished more time, we know that our chance will come again.
If you are reading this and we are gone, one piece of advice I would afford you. While Love is patient, Fate is not. Regardless of where or how, take the opportunity afforded you by Love, for it is impossible to say when one will find themselves standing alone against Evil, and Love will see you through
Jane Helen Martin-Peverell,
Opening her hand Luna held up the pair of rings for Ron to inspect. Simple bands of platinum, they were engraved with Celtic knotwork that surrounded a stylized creature on each band. The smaller of the two bore the likeness of a stag standing watch, while the larger was engraved with a playful otter, sporting in the waves. Inside the bands, were two words 'Together always'.