A/N - This is the end. I hope you've all enjoyed the story. I had a lot of fun writing it. It was my first time writing in response to a challenge, and I'm fairly pleased with the result. A big thank you to my husband and my daughter for helping me get this cleaned up and presentable. Thank you also to my reviewers. I enjoy hearing from my readers. Not everything gets tied up, and this is deliberate on my part. It just seemed to flow better that way.
Chapter Seven – Epilogue
It took Harry and Ginny another six months to make their way back to their flat in London. They had limped down the mountain and holed themselves up in their room. A great many healing spells later, they had collapsed on their bed and slept for several hours. It was evening when they finally roused themselves, so, after quick showers, they headed off to a small restaurant they had discovered several days previously.
Sitting across the table from his stunning wife, Harry realised that, apart from the few days in Scotland, they had not had time for a proper honeymoon. "Ginny, love," he began, "I've been thinking -"
Ginny looked at him suspiciously and waited to hear what he had to say.
"-I've never traveled before. Now that we're free from obligations and can do anything we want, I was wondering if we could spend some time seeing the sights, just you and I – a type of honeymoon, if you will." He finished this last bit a somewhat lamely, unsure as to Ginny's reaction. He couldn't quite read the expression in her eyes.
Ginny pondered Harry's words. The more she thought about it, the more excited she became. The only places she'd ever visited were Egypt, after her disastrous First Year, and Romania, to see her brother, Charlie, and his dragons. The idea of traipsing around the world with Harry by her side sounded like heaven.
It would mean postponing her reunion with her family, however, as she still had not told them of her marriage to Harry, she quickly decided she wouldn't mind putting that confrontation for a while longer. And besides, Harry was her family now. When was the last time they had been able to spend time together, just the two of them, with no demands hanging over them? Hmm, that must have been Fifth Year. High time to correct the situation.
She looked up at her husband...at his adorably concerned expression...at the way he was twisting his fork in his fingers, and smiled. "Harry, that sounds brilliant! Let's do it! I want to go everywhere and see everything, and spend weeks lying on beach in the sun with you."
"Are you certain you want to do this? What about your family?" Harry stammered, rising and moving around the table to pull Ginny up into his arms.
Ginny glanced around the restaurant, conscious of the fact that they were beginning to cause a scene. "Harry," she whispered urgently, "everyone is watching us!"
"I don't care," muttered Harry as he leaned down to kiss his irresistible wife. He was free, and he planned to bloody well enjoy himself. The rest of the world could go drown themselves.
Ginny brushed his cheek softly and hastened to reassure him that she did indeed wish to travel the world with him. Her family could wait.
It was dark when they reached the Dragon Reserve in Romania. Ginny was practically bouncing up and down in excitement at the thought of seeing one of her brothers. Harry was a bit nervous, never having really had a chance to acquaint himself with Charlie and uncertain of the welcome he would receive.
They entered the dining hall, accompanied by the Director, who shouted, "Oi, Weasley, you have visitors!"
Charlie looked up and almost fell out of his chair. He leapt to his feet, crossing over to them in a matter of seconds, and let fly a right hook that almost caught Harry unawares.
Harry ducked at the last second, dropped to the floor and swung his leg out toppling the older, heavier man. He regained his feet and stood poised on the balls of his feet, waiting for the next move.
The hall was filled with silence as the camp watched the unfolding altercation with interest. It didn't take long for whispers to begin flowing as to the identity of the visitors. Harry was gratified to realise that most of the camp was completely unaware of who he was and what he had done.
Charlie put a hand on the ground and started to lever himself upright, when he came face to face with a wand. Raising his eyes he noted that the wand was clenched in the hand of a very irate red-headed witch, who looked like she would like nothing better than hex his balls off. Gulping, he sat back down and began to explain himself.
"Look, Ginny, I'm just trying to look out for you," he protested, holding his hands up. "You shouldn't be wandering about alone with him. He's ruining your reputation."
Ginny's frown only grew deeper. "And how do you know that, Mister Know-It-All?" she snarled. "Did someone die and make you my keeper? I'm an adult. I can do what I want, and I certainly don't have to answer to you."
Harry put his hand gently on her arm. "Ssh, love. Give him a bit of a break. He's only trying to look out for you. For all he knows, I could be some sort of stalker dude who preys on innocent young witches and leads them into lives of sin and debauchery."
Charlie's eyes bugged out. Who was this man in front of him? It looked like Harry Potter, but it certainly didn't sound like the Harry Potter he knew.
Ginny started laughing. She lowered her wand and wrapped herself around Harry, pulling him down for a deep kiss. "You," kiss, "my love," kiss, "are absolutely daft! Must be why I married you." Silence.
Charlie eased himself up, whilst the other two were occupied, staring at them in total disbelief. It certainly sounded as if his sister had been up to a quite a bit more than simply traipsing around Europe with the Boy-Who-Lived. Merlin, what would his Mum say? His sister certainly had balls if she'd done what he thought she'd done. He'd rather face down an angry dragon than tell his Mum he was already married.
Slapping his new brother-in-law on the back, Charlie congratulated the two, and, as his way of apologising for overreacting, invited them out for a drink in celebration. Afterwards, he couldn't remember much of the rest of the evening, but he was quite certain it had been a hell of a lot of fun.
Kingsley sat in his office reflecting on the past year. He still had no idea where Potter was and hoped, rather fervently, that he would return soon. He could really use him in the Auror department. He was grateful, however, that life in the Wizarding world was returning to normal.
A new understanding had been forged with the Goblins, thanks to their involvement in the capture of the escaped Death Eaters. It couldn't be called a friendship, nor did either side trust the other, but the level of hostility had decreased significantly, and there was a sense of increased cooperation. He had no idea how the Goblins had been able to track and capture the Azkaban escapees, he was simply grateful that they had.
The funds for Voldemort's victims was a bit puzzling, but, as it relieved a great deal of burden from the Ministry, he tried not to dwell on it too much. Some things were better left fallow. At night, when he was all alone in the dark, he toyed with the idea that Potter might have something to do with it all, but then dismissed the thought as quickly as it came. If Potter wanted him to know, he would tell him, otherwise...
The Weasley family had just sat down for a Sunday family dinner, when the back door opened with a clatter. In the doorway stood two familiar, yet distinctly changed, figures. Molly was the first one to react. She dropped the serving dish she had been about to set on the table and flew across the room, grabbing her daughter in a smothering hug. Tears were pouring down her face as she repeated, "My baby, my baby girl is home!"
Pulling herself away, she then turned her attention to the young man standing beside her daughter. "Harry Potter! How could you steal her away? She isn't old enough to go traipsing about alone! What could you have been thinking? She still had another year of school to finish! Oh, it's so good to see you! I'm so glad you're safe!" She stood back and bit and surveyed him, before enveloping him in his own excessive hug. "You look good," she muttered in his ear. "The best I've seen you look since you first came to the Burrow."
Harry tentatively returned her hug, looking questioningly over at Ginny. However, before he could say anything, someone grabbed his arm and hauled him away from Mrs. Weasley. He barely had time to register that a fist was on a collision course with his face, as he instinctively dropped to the floor and rolled back to his feet.
Unfortunately, the fist kept going and impacted on the side of Ginny's face. She let out a scream and grabbed her cheek in agony. Before she could react any further, Harry was in front of her, wand at the ready, a murderous expression on his face. He slowly backed her out the door, closed it firmly behind him, and a soft popping sound was heard.
When Hermione rose from her seat to peer out into the yard, it was empty. She turned on her boyfriend in fury. "Ron, you...you complete wanker!"
"Yeah, Ron. What were you thinking? Oh, that's right, you weren't," came George's mocking voice from the end of the table. "Way to completely mess things up. We'll be lucky if they show their faces here for another year."
Molly collapsed onto a chair sobbing, and Arthur did his best to console her. "Now, now, dear. Everything will be alright. We just need to give them some time to calm down. I'm sure they'll be back," although his expression seemed to indicate otherwise. He knew that both Harry and Ginny had fearful tempers and tended to be incredibly stubborn. He sincerely hoped that Ron had not done irreparable damage to their family.
"Ron," Arthur said sternly, "I think it would be a good idea if you went home and considered your actions. I will not tolerate that type of behaviour in my house. What you did was inexcusable. Until you have mended the breach you have caused today, you will not be welcome in this house." He hated saying these words to his youngest son, but he felt they needed to be said. Yes, what had happened was accidental, however, it was the result of rash thinking which would only cause his son more pain in the future, unless he could learn to control himself.
Ron glared at his father and stormed out of the house, muttering repeatedly about it not being fair, and that the tosser had deserved it. It did not seem likely that he would be returning to the Burrow anytime soon.
Hermione looked tremendously uncomfortable and embarrassed and soon made her excuses. She had no idea how to contact Harry and was feeling quite helpless and very frustrated. She had been looking forward to her friends' homecoming for quite some time, and this was not at all how she had pictured it.
George left soon after, and sent off an owl to Harry, asking him to meet up with him at a pub he was familiar with in Muggle London. He hoped Harry would be willing to show up and talk to him. He was sitting in a booth in the darkest corner of the pub, nursing a pint when Harry and Ginny slipped into the bench across from him. He noted that Ginny's cheek looked as good as new, however, her eyes were wary and she wore a tense expression on her face.
Harry reached across to shake George's hand. "I just wanted to thank you for all the toys you sent our way. They saved our lives more than once. Without them our jobs would have been much harder." He flashed his brother-in-law a broad smile.
A devilish grin lit up George's face. "Glad I could be of help. Maybe we could come up with a little present for my prat of a brother." He turned to Ginny. "Welcome back, little sister. You're looking good. Nice to see the wanker didn't do you permanent damage."
He looked more closely at his sister and Harry, and then it finally clicked. He shook his head in wonder. She had more balls than he and Angelina had. They had talked about doing what she and Harry and done, but hadn't worked up the courage yet. Maybe he should mention that to Angelina when he returned home. Hmm, some rather intriguing possibilities were starting to take root in his mind. He decided not to say anything to the two sitting across of him. If they wanted him to know, they would tell him. But this presented him with so much fodder for blackmail. Restraining himself would be hard, however, he owed everything to Harry.
"So, what are you planning on doing with yourselves now that you're back?" George prodded.
Harry and Ginny looked at each other, as if weighing their options. Harry nodded, and Ginny took up the ball that George had thrown in their court.
"We're not entirely certain just yet. We tossed around the idea of playing Quidditch, but it's been awhile since we've been up in the air, and I'm not sure Harry really wants all that attention." She sent her beloved a soft smile and twined her hand with his. "Neither one of us wants to join the Aurors. We've had enough of that to last us a lifetime," she remarked wryly.
"You could always help out at the shop," George offered. "We've been doing quite well, and I've been thinking of expanding, maybe even across the Channel. Paris, maybe, Munich, perhaps even Salem, if I was feeling adventurous. I'm open to suggestions."
An interested gleam sprang into Harry's eyes. "I take it you are looking for people to head up new branches." He was silent for a moment. "We'd have to think about it. How about we get back to you in a day or two?" His expression grew serious. "What happened after we left?"
George drew his fingers through his hair and let out a breath. "Mum went ballistic, Dad chewed Ron out and told him not to come back until he patched things up with you, and Hermione was none too chuffed with Ron. She looked a bit upset. You might consider contacting her," he suggested. There was a pregnant pause, and then, "Are you going to go back to the Burrow?"
Ginny leaned into Harry's side and stroked his cheek. She stared hard at her brother. "I'm not certain. I think we will, but it won't be pretty. Mum is not going to like our news. And, after last night, Harry is feeling more than a bit protective of me."
"Well, maybe I can help you out..."
Dusk was beginning to creep in when Harry and Ginny landed just outside the Burrow's wards. Ginny flung herself into Harry's arms and kissed him passionately and then, just as suddenly, let go.
"For luck," she said with knowing smirk.
Harry simply stood there, a dazed expression on his face, then laced his hand with his wife's while they stood waiting. He was just about to consult the time, when they heard two loud pops. Turning to Ginny, he said, "Right on time."
They greeted the other couple, then, all together, they made their way towards the Burrow. Exchanging uneasy glances, the two couples pushed the door open and stepped inside.
Molly was in the kitchen putting the finishing touches on supper, and Arthur was relaxing in the sitting room perusing the Daily Prophet. No one else seemed to be around.
Molly turned at the sound of the opening door, and let out a small shriek, dropping her spoon into the pot. "Arthur, Arthur," she called frantically, "they're here."
"Whose here, dear," he responded from behind his paper.
"Harry and Ginny."
"Nice to know what you think of us," quipped George, as he pulled Angelina further into the room.
Molly started to sputter, but before she could get out a word, George gestured flamboyantly and announced, "Mum, Dad, sisters and brothers, may I present my wife?"
A pin could be heard dropping.
Then a voice spoke up. "Erm, Mum, Dad, Harry and I wanted to tell you that we're married also."
Molly's face was a sight to behold. Warring emotions struggled for dominance. Finally, she reached out and grabbed her children tightly, "Oh, my babies, you're all grown up." She pushed them away and then caught Harry and Angelina in an equally tight hug. "Welcome to the family." Tears were flowing freely down her cheeks. "I'm so happy for all you." She released them, stepped back, and her voice hardened in warning, and she shook her finger at the four of them. "Don't you ever pull another stunt like this one again. Imagine. Going off and getting married without your family. Absolutely disgraceful."
Arthur pulled her gently away before she could say anymore and whispered in her ear. "See I told you they would come back. There's was no need to fret yourself so." He shook Harry's hand and clapped him on the back, then gently hugged Angelina. Finally he pulled his daughter into his arms and held her. "It's so good to have you back. We've missed you."
Ginny wiped the tears out of her eyes. "I've missed you, too, Dad. It's good to be back."