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Chapter 2 : Everything That Ever Mattered
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Harry Potter, The Boy Who Lived, The Man Who Defeated The Dark Lord, Former Quidditch Champion, Head Auror, Member of the Order of Merlin, First Class, husband, father, grandfather and godfather sat in his comfortable muggle lawn chair, admiring the sunny autumn day. He took a long sip of ice water before he continued to tell his wife about his day.
“Al’s youngest daughter Lillian joined my class of first years today,” he said. “You should have seen her, Gin, she was so proud. Almost as proud as her grandpa. Another Gryffindor in the family. Al is a little disappointed that she didn’t wind up in Slytherin, but I think she was happy to be in the same house with most of her cousins. Of course, I had to pretend she was just any other student. After the lesson, she waited around until the other students left and she gave me the biggest hug. Almost brought tears to my eyes, seeing her there in her new school robes with that shiny, new wand.”
Harry took a sip of ice water from his bottle and returned it to the cup holder in the arm of the chair. It looked like a normal muggle sports bottle, but it was enchanted to stay cold and full. Harry chuckled at how he must look. A 64-year-old man sitting in an old plastic lawn chair under a shade tree, sipping water out of a sport bottle. “Some muggle supper club is missing its most prominent eccentric,” he mused to himself.
“I saw James’s boy Artie on my way to the main entrance. He and Celeste are both in my advanced class of sixth and seventh years. Neville tells me that he and Luna’s granddaughter Portia are an item. Neville, or should I say ‘Headmaster Longbottom’? Ha. Didn’t see that one coming. He looks so dignified in his headmaster’s robes, sitting there at Dumbledore’s old desk. The portraits all seem to regard him highly, except for Snape of course. Snape’s portrait makes him nervous.”
Harry took another sip of water and ran his hand through his hair as he stretched his arms. His black hair was now liberally mixed with grey, but baldness had spared him. It was still as unmanageable as ever, just thinner. Harry thought that his body had held up remarkably well over the years, considering everything he’d put it through. The fact that he was still alive after being hit twice with the killing curse was nothing to sniff at, he reasoned. Between his high speed crashes in pursuit of a snitch and the multitude of curses, hexes, spells and blunt objects he’d been struck with during his years as an Auror, Harry’s body was a testament to the best work of wizard healers and muggle surgeons alike.
“Cissy Malfoy passed yesterday,” he said somberly. “I know it’s hardly anything that you’ll shed any tears over, but I guess I took more of a liking to her after that death-eating git of a husband of hers died. That and she was always so wonderful to Rose and Scorpius’s children. She was only eighty-nine years old. Awfully young for a witch who led such a calm, sheltered life.”
Harry took another sip from his water and made to rise from his chair. “Beautiful day, don’t you think?”, he asked, enjoying the slight breeze and the warm sun on his face. He looked down the hill at the grassy field leading to the big pond.
Harry had bought the country estate from the Puddifoot family shortly after James was born. From the hilltop, you could just make out the top floors of the Burrow in the distance. It was an ideal place to raise their children and grandchildren, being so close to the Weasley family homeplace. Over the years, Harry had made several additions to amuse himself and his family. There was a half-sized Quidditch pitch near the house where the younger generations of the Potter and Weasley clan played entire seasons of games every summer. Harry and Ron had also carved out a camp site in the middle of the woods where the children -- both biological and “adopted” -- would have spent every summer night if their parents allowed it. The pond had been deepened on one end to allow diving and made shallow on the other so that toddlers could splash and play.
But this spot, overlooking the pond beneath the big willow tree, had always been their favorite. Here they could sit and relax in the shade while they watched the kids play in the pond or eat a picnic lunch or just spend hours talking to each other.
“Gin,” he mused, “do you remember that time that we all thought Lily was drowning? James and Al were thrashing around in the pond, looking for her, and I’m not sure I ever saw you move that fast on a broom.” Harry chuckled out loud. “I still don’t know how she mastered the bubble-head charm in her second year of school. But Lil was always a little ahead of the curve.”
Each of Harry and Ginny’s children had proven to be uniquely talented in their own way. James turned out to possess a mix of charm and charisma that did his namesakes proud. While his professional Quidditch playing career had been short, he had quickly become one of the league’s elite head coaches. Al’s studious demeanor and earnest loyalty were also reminiscent of the men he was named for. Harry had set his heart on seeing his middle child become an Auror, but instead he chose to follow his aunt Hermione into the legal profession. Lily was her mother’s child, filled with the same fiery intensity. She surprised many people by taking a job with her uncle George. She had been instrumental in helping to grow the company into a global empire.
“Ron and Hermione are coming over for dinner tonight. I think they’re bringing Hugo’s daughter Ameile with them. She’s a cutie, that one. Already has Ron twisted around her little finger.”
Harry stared at the sun as it moved slowly towards the horizon. His heart skipped a beat as he recalled how beautiful Ginny looked when she was a young witch and the evening sun lit up her auburn hair and made her deep, brown eyes sparkle. “Gin, you’re the most beautiful woman in the world. You know that, right?” he said, looking back towards her.
It was a mistake. Harry felt his throat tighten. He squeezed his eyes together as hard as he could, trying to hold back the tears. It didn’t work.
His chest shook involuntarily as the first sob escaped his clenched jaw. He fought to regain control, pounding his fists against his chest.
Why her? Why not me?
The sobs erupted from his lungs, tearing through him.
I’m supposed to protect everybody. Why couldn’t I save her?
His legs give way and he fell to his knees in the soft grass. The tears streamed down his cheeks as he buried his face in the sleeve of his jacket and sobbed uncontrollably.
You’re a failure, Potter. She saved you. She gave you everything that ever mattered and you let her die.
He wasn’t sure how much time passed before the tears subsided and he managed to pull himself to his feet. “I’m so sorry, Gin,” he said quietly. “Every time I come up here, I promise myself I’m not going to break. And the worst part is I don’t know whether it’s getting any better. Some days I just don’t want to do it any more. I know I have to do it for our family. You’d tell me that if you were here. But it’s hard, Gin.”
“I don’t want to keep going without you,” he whispered and the tears threatened to begin anew.
He paused a long moment, collecting himself, gathering his emotions. Finding the strength. He picked up his enchanted water bottle and vanished the chair he had conjured.
“Goodbye, my love. I’ll see you again soon.”
Harry turned and began walking towards the house. The place that the Potter family had called home for four decades. At the moment, it sat empty with all the children off at school and the adults going about their daily lives. Almost as empty as Harry felt.
Behind him, the autumn breeze blew gently across the somber granite monument.
Ginevra Weasley Potter
August 11, 1981
September 27, 2041
Fly fast, chaser girl.
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