Snow was gently falling as Harry and Hermione appeared just outside the graveyard in Godric’s Hollow. Looking at each other, they were both still grinning from the successful prank they had played on Hermione’s mother back in Oxford. As they had arrived at the apparition point for Hermione’s childhood home, they had agreed that Hermione would get her father alone for a second or two to explain the plan while Harry would stall and blush, indicating he had something to hide.
When Harry protested that he wasn’t able to blush on command like that, Hermione grinned wickedly and whispered in his ear that she had borrowed his invisibility cloak while he was in the shower and gotten quite a preview of coming attractions. Her parting advice to ‘think of me watching you in my shower’ as they climbed the steps had guaranteed a Weasley class blush on Harry’s face when her father opened the door for them.
When Hermione returned to the sitting room with her father, she nodded to Harry just as her mum asked him “Have you two been behaving yourselves in the house of yours, Harry?” Harry stammered that they had had a wee spot of trouble with the shower curtains getting ready, that the rod really wasn’t strong enough to sustain all of Hermione’s weight for nearly long enough. Hermione then pointed out that table down in the kitchen would probably need to be repaired since it was leaning quite drastically after their ‘lunch’. The pair traded off placing every naughty daydream and tall tale they had heard from their dormmates and friends over the years into the various rooms around Grimmauld Place.
Helen Granger went from triumphant when she got Harry to make the first admission, to stunned after Hermione’s blasé recounting of how leather chesterfields are very impractical for amorous adventures, to shocked when Harry reminded Hermione that they had left her battery powered ‘wand’ out in the gazebo, to very close to having a stroke when her only daughter remarked how she didn’t have to tip the delivery wizard from the local pizza shop when she showed up to the floo in just her knickers to get their delivery of a pizza.
Sputtering in disbelief, Helen turned to her husband, who was following the entire conversation with marked interest; she demanded to know if he had anything to say about the goings on of their only daughter and her newly minted boyfriend. Alex tilted his head to the side for a second, looked thoughtful, counted on his fingers a bit and shook his head before replying “I knew I should have taken September in the first grandchild bet.”
Helen’s face went a shade of purple that was usually lethal right as Alex began laughing uncontrollably. Staring at her husband, who had tears streaming down his face, the realization of what had happened finally dawned on her and she shook her head in grudging admiration as her daughter and Harry joined in the laughter.
Dinner had proceeded exceedingly well, with Helen and Alexander embarrassing both Harry and Hermione with special moments from Hermione’s childhood (“Remember when she turned her hair blue Easter morning when she was five?”) and recitations from Hermione’s letters home concerning Harry (“…and then she went on for two pages about exactly what shade of green your eyes were”).
Hand in hand, the pair approached the kissing gate that permitted access to the cemetery from the rest of the village. Smiling wistfully at the carols coming from the nearby church, they kissed once before walking through the gate, unaware of a pair of brown eyes watching them from the shadows of a nearby tree.
Walking through the snow covered cemetery, Harry and Hermione stopped briefly at the stone marker for Dumbledore’s family before approaching the stone that marked the earthly remains of Harry’s parents. Standing silently in the moonlight, they gazed at the slightly glowing stone for several minutes, listening to the muted chorus of ‘Veni, Veni, Emanuel’ coming from the church as they made their final approach. Kneeling down, the pair held each other’s hand, as Harry simply said, “Mum, Dad, we’re back.”
Shaking his head, he smiled ruefully. “It’s been four very long years since the first time we came here together, and I’d guess that the two of you knew that night what we couldn’t see. I knew I was standing here with the bravest, smartest, most loving witch in the world that night, but I couldn’t see that we both loved each other. She saved my life that night, and she’s literally saved it every day since then just by being herself.” Looking over at Hermione, Harry nodded and reached up to wipe away one of the tears that was rolling down her cheeks.
Nodding, Hermione took a deep breath and smiled. “Lily, James, I’ve come to love your son more than I can tell. I suppose I’ve loved him from the first time I saw him, but I never credited that he could love someone like me, someone so ordinary and unremarkable. Harry keeps telling me that I’m not, but he’s really the special one here. I’d like to think the two of you approve of us, my parents both think Harry’s wonderful and they’re very happy that the two of us are finally sorting ourselves out.”
Swallowing, Hermione glanced over at Harry once before turning back to the stone. “Lily, all I can do is promise you that I’ll always make certain that Harry knows that both of us love him very much. Your son is a very special person, and it breaks my heart when I think about the things he’s had to face. Whatever comes, he won’t face it alone. And James, I’ll do my best to make Harry the happiest wizard I can. We pranked my mum tonight, we’re raising Moony and Tonks’ son to be the first of the New Marauders, and we’ll do our level best to make certain there are more to follow.”
As the pair knelt in front of the graves of Lily and James, a slight solitary figure cancelled the disillusionment spell that concealed her and began to stealthily make her way from behind the massive oak tree towards the kissing gate. Cloaked and hooded, the barest hint of pale skin and red hair were evident in the moonlight.
As the cloaked intruder came within ten feet of the gate, a pair of shining silver forms began to materialize in front of the gate. A stag and a doe, both tall and regal, they gleamed in the moonlight. Green fire blazed from the eyes of the doe and she pawed the ground in front of her menacingly as the cloaked stranger came to an abrupt halt. Having been raised on tales of the Order of the Phoenix from the cradle, Ginny Weasley stopped and stared as the immortal forms of two of the heroes of the first war, James and Lily Potter, appeared in front of her and barred her way.
Low and melodious, the voice that issued from the doe was full of menace and promise. “Ginevra Molly Weasley, you couldn’t be bothered to accompany him here any other night, tonight is not your night. Go home girl before you find the full measure of your folly. Tonight is her night and hers alone.”
Shaking her head, the hood fell back revealing Ginny’s tear streaked face. “It’s not right nor fair. I never had a chance, it’s always been her.”
Taking a step forward, the stag nodded sadly. “Ginny, it’s true; you never had a chance with my son. She’s been the one who’s held his heart since that first day. You grew up in love with a myth, but ‘The Boy Who Lived’ isn’t Harry, not really.” Glancing tenderly at the doe beside him, he snorted at the fierce look she still had. “It would have been better if they had called him, ‘The Boy Who Was Loved’, because that’s what saved him that night, that’s what saved him four years ago tonight when Riddle’s familiar attacked him, it’s what brought him back the night he defeated Tom, and it’s what saved him last night when you took your frustrations out on him. Two witches have loved him unconditionally over the years, his mother and the witch who is at his side tonight.”
Shaking her head from side to side, tears rolled down her cheeks as she clenched her fist around the handle of her wand. “Why? Why couldn’t he have loved me?”
Sighing and shaking his head, Prongs stared at her for several seconds. “Despite everything that’s happened, Harry does love you, as the sister of his best friend and as someone who stood by him against Tom Riddle. He’ll always love you, the way he loves Luna, Parvati, Dean, Seamus and the others. He’ll lay down his life for you, but he won’t live it for you. He also loves your family, and you’ll always have that connection to him.” Breaking off, Prongs glanced at his companion as she stepped up beside him.
In a much quieter voice, the doe nodded to the young witch. “Ginny, Harry still cares about you and cares for you. If you want to salvage anything with them, you need to think long and hard about what you’re doing tonight.
Taking a defiant step towards the entrance, Ginny was blocked by the patronuses, whose glow intensified as they became more solid. The stag lowered his head slightly, calling attention to the antlers from which he derived his nom-de-prank. As the light of the moon reflected from the glittering points, Prongs spoke quietly. “You owe that pair in there your life twice over. Accept that your destiny lies elsewhere and remain their friend.”
Shaking her head, Ginny laughed bitterly. “She won’t allow it. Now that she’s reclaimed what is hers, she won’t allow any other witch near him.”
Shaking her head, Starlight sighed. “Don’t judge her by your standards. She has no real fear that he will stray or wander. What she won’t allow is you or anyone else hurting him needlessly. She still sees you as a friend, but her love of Harry will override that.”
Prongs continued, “And as fierce as she is on his behalf, striking at her would be the only thing that could destroy Harry’s feelings for you totally.” Lowering his voice, he continued. “Ginny, we love and respect your parents; they wouldn’t want you to be here tonight. Your brother Fred is very disappointed, he says to tell you that this isn’t how the Weasley Princess acts.”
Nodding her head, Starlight looked Ginny in the eyes; her emerald eyes meeting Ginny’s brown ones. “Fred wants you to remember what he told you when he came home from Hogwarts the summer before your first year. He told you that Harry wasn’t a doll or something you could collect and keep on a shelf. He also told you that he thought Harry had already made his choice in life. If Fred saw what was between the two of them when they were only eleven, it was something that wouldn’t be set aside for a young witch’s daydream and fantasy. Hermione sees the real Harry, the one that very few people get close enough to see, and she loves that Harry, not the one that everyone thinks they know.”
Shaking her head sadly, the doe sighed. “You’ve seen the real Harry, but you ignored him for the Harry you daydreamed about, the one that never existed except in your fantasies. The real Harry came into the Chamber of Secrets and rescued you. Not because you were a princess in a story, but because you were someone who needed help and he could give it. He would have braved the basilisk for Millicent or Moaning Myrtle if they had needed him."
Collapsing into a heap in the snow, Ginny looked up at the pair, shining regally in the moonlight. “What can I do? All I wanted was someone who loved me. Someone who looks at me the way he looks at her?” Shaking her head sadly, she whispered. “Is that so very much to ask?”
Shaking her head, the doe walked softly over to the young witch and nuzzled her face. “Ginny, what you’re looking for is difficult. It’s not very much to ask, but it’s so very hard to find. While I can’t give you any details, I do know that there’s someone out there that will care for you the way they care for each other, if you only give him a chance. Just be the witch that Harry came to care for and about, and you’ll find the one you’re looking for.” Nodding as the young girl looked up at her, she sighed. “Go home to your family for Christmas Eve, and let them go to hers in Oxford. Tomorrow will be soon enough to mend your fences with Harry and Hermione."
Shaking her head, Ginny looked down at the ground. “Can they? Will they?”
Nodding, Starlight nudged her gently. “They’re almost finished in there; you need to go home to your family. Those two will accept you, if you’re willing to accept them. She might take a little longer to warm back up to you, but she’ll welcome you back because he will. Go home Ginevra, its Christmas Eve and you should be with those who love you, with your family.”
Standing, Ginny brushed the snow from her cloak. Looking once towards the cemetery, she shook her head. “I do love him, you know. I’m not just a silly little witch.”
Prongs nodded. “If you really love him, then be happy that he’s finally found the one for him. That’s the essence of loving someone, little one. Harry wouldn’t have cared for you if you were just a silly little witch. But you need to put away the stories of your childhood and start looking for your own future and what will make you happy.”
Stepping into the shadow of the oak tree, Ginny sighed, pulled her hood up and disappeared with a faint ‘pop’ and a puff of displaced snow.
Shaking her head, Starlight sighed. “Do you think Nikolaos is correct?”
Rolling his eyes, Prongs nuzzled her gently. “He was correct about the children coming together. Like it or not, Ginny being a total bitch was essential in bringing them to see that they needed each other. Do you think she went back to the Burrow?”
Shaking her head, the doe sighed. “Her? Not a chance. That child is Molly Prewett reborn. She may have given up on getting Harry, but now she’s focused on being forgiven by the two of them. I’m afraid this night isn’t over for the youngest Weasley.”
Turning around, the pair faded their glow until they were barely visible against the snow that covered the ground. Watching Harry and Hermione exit through the gate, they both nodded as the pair kissed and embraced before apparating away, hand in hand.
Nodding to each other, they slowly faded away as strains of ‘Silent Night’ filled the air.
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