Dumbledore called each and every name and presented a certificate. Harry came and hugged me and then Mrs. Weasley and Ginny. Hermione was already by her parents but she led them over to us. Ron joined us and hugged his parents. All the graduates threw their pointed hats into the air with smiled on their faces.
“Hey…mum, would you like to take a walk around the lake?” asked my son to me. I nodded and we started to walk, promising we would be back for the feast. I remembered the path so well from the walks I had taken with James but how thrilled I was to be taking it with my son.
“I’m so proud of you, Harry,” I finally said.
“Thanks. It’s so great that you’re here. It’s…a dream come true. For so long I’ve wanted you and…my dad to meet Ron and Hermione and Ginny and…it’s just so wonderful.”
“But I know you all so well. I haven’t stopped watching you for a minute. Your dad moved on. He knew you would be okay when you were sorted into Gryffindor. I promised I would be along once you got through your first year but I couldn’t leave. So, I kept watching all this time. And I’m glad I did.”
We stayed silent for a little while.
“So…this Ginny…she seems sweet.” Somehow, as his mother, I knew this would get him to talk. A smile lit up his lips and his eyes twinkled.
“Yeah…she’s really special. I suppose you know that.”
“I may be watching you but I don’t know what you’re feeling all the time. I have a feeling but I’d rather hear it from you.”
He smiled again and stayed silent for just a moment. “She’s…everything to me. She encouraged me until the end. She’s always there for me. She’s smart and talented and fun and outgoing and sweet and inspiring and determined and…everything. Ron hates that his best mate is dating his sister but I really don’t care because I don’t know if I could go on without her.” I loved knowing how he felt because he said it, not because I saw it.
“You know, you remind me of your father. So passionate about what you care about.”
“I don’t just care about her, I love her.”
“I know you do and I’m happy for that. I remember that when I finally admitted I loved your father, it was the best feeling I had ever felt. You just hold onto that and don’t ever let it slip away because it will never be the same.”
“I couldn’t let her go.”
We continued to walk around the lake before we went up to the castle. We ate with all the other graduates and their families in the Great Hall. All the students were smiling, just like James and I had with our friends. We all talked before we left to head to bed. I wondered how much longer I had but did it matter? I was there now, with my son and his friends and family.
I met Albus in the hall. He told me the House Elves had prepared a room for me on the fifth floor. Harry left me there. I changed into the things Minerva had left me. I looked around and saw that she had left me an invisibility cloak as well, with a note attached.
In case you find reason to want to step outside…
I heard footsteps coming by my door and hushed voices. I peeked outside but saw no one, though I still heard the voices. I knew they must have had an invisibility cloak. I grabbed the one Minerva had left me, having a feeling whom it might be.
The hushed voices and footsteps led me to the first floor. The portrait to the kitchens opened. I ran in just before it shut and sure enough, I found my son and Ginny.
“Hello, Mr. Harry Potter, sir!” yelled a House Elf.
“Hello, Dobby!” said Ginny.
“What would Mr. Potter and Miss Weasley like tonight? Butterbeer, like always, Mr. Potter and Miss Weasley?” said Dobby.
“Sure, Dobby,” replied Harry. I shook my head but couldn’t help a smile. James and I had done this almost nightly when we were dating and now, I couldn’t help but like to see our son following in our footsteps with the girl he had spoke so highly of just hours before.
The little House Elf brought two bottles of butterbeer to the two with a small bowl of fruit. The two thanked the House Elf before slipping the invisibility cloak over their heads again and heading toward the portrait hole. I followed just after them.
Their walk led down to the lake. I followed, just to see what my son was up to. Typically, I left when he climbed in bed, not bothering to stand and watch him sleep every night but apparently, he didn’t always fall asleep immediately. Finally, Harry pulled off the invisibility cloak and set it on the ground. They sat on it and popped open the butterbeers and each took a strawberry.
“So, how does it feel to meet your mum?” Ginny asked.
“Wonderful! I mean, she’s just like all the pictures and…just like I imagined and dreamed. This has been the best day of my life.”
“For me, too. Well, save the day you kissed me and told me you loved me…but I’m not sure what can beat those.” They laughed a little.
“Oh, you’re graduation will…trust me.”
“I trust you but I did always want to know what your mum thought of us. My mum is pretty obvious – she loves that we’re together.”
“I think my mum is pretty happy about it too. She has too. How could she not love you?” Ginny looked him warmly. I knew that look all too well – the look I held when James would look at me.
As she grew close to him and they started to kiss, I stood, knowing to leave them be. I walked slowly back to the castle. I started a fire in my fireplace and stared out the window into the night sky. For so long, I had been in that sky but now, I was under it again. I never wanted to leave but I knew that the time would be coming soon. I had lived again for a time but that time wouldn’t last forever.
I slept in Hogwarts again that night but I only slept when I heard the soft footsteps and hushed talk come past my doorway again. When I woke, the sun was pouring into my room. I was still alive in a way. I dressed, knowing the train would be leaving soon. I let myself into the Gryffindor Common Room, where I saw students with trunks and bags heading for the door. Among them was my son, of course. I walked next to him and we talked. He pushed his and Ginny’s trunks onto the train when we arrived at the Hogsmeade station. I pulled him aside, knowing we still had time.
“I know the time to go is near but I have to tell you that I couldn’t be prouder of you. Your father was right in knowing that you would be okay but you’re so much more than that. You’re strong and you’re alive. You’ve got people around you who love you. You’re going to be an Auror because you’re determined and we all know you’re determination means more than anything. And now, I think I can move on but I will always be with you in your heart and you’ll never leave me.” In saying this, I saw a tear float down his face. I pushed it away. “Don’t cry, sweetheart. You’ve got no reason to. I will never leave you. I’ll be there when you become a certified Auror. I’ll be there when you get married and when you have children and I’ll stand next to you when they leave for Hogwarts. You don’t need me to be here because you’re all grown-up with great friends, a girlfriend who loves you as much as you love her, and a life ahead of you. You’ve got so much ahead of you. Now…” I was holding back tears now, too. How could I leave him again? “You…you get on that train and you go live your life to the fullest. And remember, Harry, that there are things that last forever. Your memory and love. You hold those dear to your heart and forever will always be ahead of you.” I pulled him into a hug. “And…and you remember that your father and I love you more than anything. More than life.”
“I love you too, mum.” I had wanted to hear those words for so long. I couldn’t hold back the tears sliding down my cheeks.
“Now…now you go and sit with your friends.” I pushed him toward the train. “I love you, Harry.” I repeated. He blew a kiss in my direction and I returned it.
“I love you too, mum,” he said. He stepped onto the train and looked back at me. The door shut magically behind him. I saw him in a window, waving a few seconds later. I waved back as it started to pull away. The wind picked up. I closed my eyes. I knew it was time. I felt the wind blow around me softly and I rose to the sky again.
When I opened my eyes, I was in a grassy field and before me, I saw my husband.
I had moved on.
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