They emerged from the floo into the drawing room of their home. Each was wiping the remaining tears from their eyes. They made their way to the sofa and sat down. They were quiet, each was thinking about what Neville and Ginny had said.
After a time he said, "It's good we were able to talk with our two best friends today."
"Yes, it was. It certainly helped me see things in perspective and work through my doubts."
He asked, "Do you think the falcon we saw this morning might really have been Ron?"
"There was such a feeling of familiarity ... and hearing his voice earlier this morning, I think it was him."
He said, "Ron and Katie have been gone now almost six years. Do you think Ron called to Katie? Their bond was especially strong like ours."
"Yes, it seems so to me. When Ron passed away, Katie was heart broken and withdrawn. She wasn't eating and there was nothing we could do or say that helped her feel better. But just before we left for home that second evening, I saw a sudden sparkle in her eyes and a peaceful smile on her face. She passed away in her sleep a few hours later."
"I've missed them both very much," said Harry. "We always had a good time and a lot of laughs. Even if it was just an evening of playing cards, it felt good being with them. In a way, I felt bonded to them."
They were quiet for a long time. The only sounds in the room were two soft chimes and the slow and relentless ticking of the grandfather clock.
She turned to him and said, "Harry, I'm as sure as I'll ever be about moving on. How do you feel about it?"
Looking at her he said, "I'm sure too, Hermione." After a short pause he said, "It feels like we're about to take journey to a distant land and start a new life together. A good feeling but uneasy just the same."
She smiled and said, "Yes, like the day we began the Vinculi Spiritu. We didn't know exactly what our bonding would bring then either. We just loved and trusted each other. And it became so much more than I could have ever imagined."
After a moment, he said, "Let's go to my study room. I need your help with a few memories I want to leave to James and Rose."
"There are a few I'd like to leave them too."
They stood beside a large oak desk with a leather chair behind it. On the far side of the desk was a computer screen showing a picture of a twin tail comet. Beside them on the near side of the desk sat a small cabinet made of rosewood that was about twelve inches in height. It was ornately decorated and inlaid with gold leaf. The cabinet's small doors were open revealing a number of interior drawers. One of the drawers was open and contained many small crystal vials.
There was deep concentration on his face as the tip of her wand withdrew a long silvery wisp from the temple of his head. She lowered the memory into a small vial and then closed it with a crystal stopper.
"Label that one 'Elder Wand'."
"You're telling them about the Elder Wand?" she asked with a tone of surprise in her voice.
"It will become just an ordinary wand after I'm gone. No one ever won it from me, so hopefully no one will die anymore trying to possess it. You and I are the only remaining ones who know its location and it will eventually turn to dust. The only remaining Hallow is the cloak and I gave that to James many years ago."
She labeled the vial and then placed it into the open drawer. On the face of that drawer, 'Harry' was inlaid in gold leaf.
She touched her wand to her temple. A moment later, she withdrew a silvery wisp and carefully lowered into another crystal vial. After stoppering and labeling it, she placed it into the drawer inlaid with the name 'Hermione'.
She smiled warmly and said, "That memory is from our bonding day, how I was feeling just before I left the dressing room to walk down the aisle to you."
He smiled warmly at her. Then he said, "Do you think we should tell them something about the gryffin and our ability to combine magical power?"
She thought for a moment and said, "I'd like to, Harry. It has been such a big part of our life. I don't think we should mention the things that we did or the people we helped. How about the way it began that night on the beach?"
"Perfect." said Harry. "Let's do both of our memories together."
He stepped forward and placed his shaking hands on her waist. Then he rested the side of his head next to hers. She carefully slid the tip of her wand between their touching temples. A moment later, they separated and she lowered a large silvery wisp into a vial. She closed and labeled the vial and then added it to the drawer.
"Let's see, we've added your thoughts of James, Lily and Wilbur. I've added my thoughts about Dan and Emma. We already have our thoughts and feelings from when we first held James and Rose on the day each were born. And also the day Teddy agreed to live with us."
He smiled warmly and said, "There was that one Christmas. I think Teddy was nine, James was six and Rosie was five. It was such a perfect day. From the presents in the morning, having Ron, Katie and their kids and Nick, Gin and their kids at the house for Christmas day. Remember?"
She also smiled and said, "The sleds on the hill, the great snowball war of '06 hot chocolate and marshmallows. The kids were exhausted and in bed asleep by eight without any fuss." You and I sat on the sofa in front of the fire wrapped in a warm blanket. We sipped eggnog and listened to Christmas music on that old magic radio that Ron and Katie gave us as a present. It was so wonderful the peace and contentment we felt that evening."
The sides of their heads touched. A moment later, the crystal vial was safely stored with the others. She closed the doors of the cabinet and latched them. She carefully placed the cabinet holding their cherished memories onto the special shelf above the enclosure holding a pensieve.
She turned to face Harry. Their eyes met and for a long moment, they looked deeply into each other. Each saw peaceful resolve. They broke eye contact and then embraced and held each other. After a moment, she said in a quiet voice, "Only one thing left to do then."
He nodded and said, "Call Sloyka."
They sat side by side in the loveseat swing on the porch. It swayed gently as they looked out across the yard and beyond the fence. The birds were quieting down and soon the crickets would begin to chirp. The porch faced west and the land sloped gently down through an open field. There were trees in the distance that framed the horizon. The sky contained scattered wisps of clouds. This had always been one of the favorite parts of their home. They spent most days here at sunset; especially during the last few years when their health had begun to deteriorate.
"Are you sure he got our message?" asked Harry.
"Yes. He sent us a reply."
"Are all of our legal affairs in order?"
"Yes. James and Rose will have no troubles at all."
After a moment he said, "You still want to go through with this?"
"Yes, Harry, I do. The door to our reality and experiences of this life is closing. It's been so utterly fascinating. We want to know more, experience more and do more. I want you to be there with me because I can never be complete without you. You are my compliment, you are my fulfillment."
"Love unites us as spiritual beings and we will exist for all eternity," said Harry. "We'll freely choose from infinite possibilities. Our journey will continue."
They were quiet for a long moment as they continued to look out across the open field. Then he said, "Will the kids be here soon?"
"Any minute now." ... "You know, they are not going to like this."
"Yeah, it will be hard but they will accept it eventually. They are so much like you and me in how they think. I'm so proud of them."
"I am too. We did good with them." She leaned her head onto his shoulder.
A moment later there was a flash of green and a whoosh from within the house as James and Rose arrived. They came out onto the porch and seated themselves.
"Hi Mum, hi Dad." said James. "You wanted to see us this evening?"
Rose said, "I would have thought that with all the people here yesterday you would have wanted some peace and quiet to yourselves."
They looked at their children. Even though James and Rose were now senior citizens, the eyes of Harry and Hermione would always see their little children.
Hermione said, "You've brought us so much joy and happiness. We wanted to see you one more time before we leave."
"Are you going somewhere?" asked Rose.
Harry said, "Your Mum and I have decided to move on. Our life and destiny here is complete. We want to leave before our minds and bodies get the best of us."
Rose said, "It's going to be a long time yet before either of you need to move from this house and have that type of care. We'll be here to help you for as long as you need us."
James looked from his father's shaking hands to the serious expression on his face. After a moment, he said in a somber voice, "Dad, I meant to ask you last week. What did the muggle doctor say?"
He looked at James and said quietly, "My condition is progressing at a much faster rate than usual. The doctor said it's as if something disrupted my nervous system. The magical healer thinks it's due to the cruciatus curses I experienced. But I think it's due to the mind connection I had with Tom Riddle when I was young. I have no more than a year at best to live."
Rose looked at her father and said in a slightly annoyed tone, "Why didn't you tell us it was this bad? We'll help you through this. There are other remedies, other healers. We'll find you the very best."
James looked at his mother and asked, "Mum, what did they say to you during your last treatment?"
She looked at her son and said, "It's still spreading and they can't stop it. None of the magical potions are halting it either. I'll be bed ridden and need hospice care in six to nine months."
A look of dread and alarm now filled Rose's face. "Mum, Dad, what are you saying? What are you planning to do? ... Are you … NO!!! You can't be thinking that! You belong here with us. We'll help you through this. Please ... let us help!" Tears were starting to well up in her eyes.
She took Rose's hand and said, "Your father and I have been thinking about this for the last year or so. The thought of lying helpless in a bed, being tended to for every bodily need while waiting to die, is simply horrifying. It will be best for us and for the two of you if we complete what we planned a long time ago. It's what we want to do."
"No! You can't think like that! We are family and we'll stand by you no matter what!" said Rose.
He looked at his daughter and said, "Rosie, we want to leave on our own terms, the same way we've lived our lives. Our quality of life is slipping away from us and we don't want to be a burden, especially to either of you. You have your own lives to live."
Hermione said, "We made arrangements with an old friend many years ago. He will help us now; it's also his last journey. He's on his way here now."
Tears were falling from Rose's eyes now as she said, "Then, this really is going to happen today. You're both leaving us forever and not coming back. Oh Mum, Dad, how can you do this? I'm going to miss you so much." Rose moved to kneel closely before them. She took her mothers hand and looked at her imploringly. Tears fell from Hermione's eyes as she gently stroked her daughter's hand.
Tears fell from Harry's eyes as he leaned forward and placed his shaking hand on his daughter's shoulder. He looked at James and Rose and said, "We don't want to live in a crippled meaningless way just marking time while waiting for the end to come. Through our bonding, your mum and I have an extraordinary magical gift. It will be just like falling asleep."
Hermione said, "And it's not forever, dear ones. We all have to leave this life sometime. We will be separated for a while but we'll be together again. In the meantime, you can always find us in your hearts. Remember us by watching the sunset. Sunsets have always been very special to us."
Harry said, "I wish Teddy were still here so I could tell him this also. You have given your mum and me some of the happiest and most blessed moments of our lives. We can't find words to express just how very proud we are of you and how much we love you."
James wiped tears from his eyes. His voice cracked as he said, "Mum, Dad, … are you really sure about this decision?"
Wiping her eyes Hermione said, "I admit that I have a bit of an uneasy feeling. But I'm comforted in knowing that your father has experienced something like this before and we will be together. We will be happy and at peace. Think of the happiest you've ever been; when nothing else but that moment mattered in the whole world. That's where we'll be."
Rose said tentatively, "Mum, Dad, we're not suppose to tell you this; it's supposed to be a surprise. The ministry is planning to give both of you each a lifetime achievement award next month at a formal ceremony in your honor. What should we say to them?"
Harry said, "That's nice to know, but your Mum and I have never needed that kind of publicity or recognition." Then smiling he said, "You know from all the stories we've told you over the years that your Mum and I haven't always followed the strictest interpretation of the rules, in formal settings or otherwise. You'll know what to say to them."
James and Rose looked at their parents and then at each other not knowing what else they could say. Each understood the reasons for their parents' decision but that did little to help them accept it. Mum and Dad were strong, understanding, and had always been there to help them through tough and uncertain times. It was hard to accept just how much old age had weakened them. Deep down, both James and Rose knew they would likely make the same decision given similar circumstances.
After a moment, Harry said, "We have some important things we want to tell you. Our legal affairs have been put in order; you'll find everything in my study. There is also a pensieve there and the most precious parting gift we can give you: the memories that were most important to your Mum and me. There are also some secrets that we've never told you or anyone else. You'll understand why they need to be kept family private when you see them."
Harry and Hermione looked out toward the west. A spot had appeared over the woods. As it grew steadily larger, they saw a bird-like creature approaching, flapping its bat-like wings. James and Rose stood and looked in silent awe as a very large dragon, easily fifty feet in length, lightly touched down before them in the yard. It looked ghost-like, semi-transparent and solid all at the same time. It seemed to be smiling and radiating joy in its pure white appearance.
The dragon looked at Harry and Hermione and said in a deep voice, "It's good to see you again. I was overjoyed when I heard your call. See what I am now! It feels so good to fly again and to feel young and alive!"
Harry and Hermione smiled broadly. Then Harry said, "It's good to see you too. Sloyka, this is my son James and daughter Rose. Kids, this is Sloyka."
James put his arm around Rose's shoulder and said, "We are pleased to meet you. We have never seen anything like this before."
Rose sniffed and said in a quite choking voice, "You're going to take Mum and Dad away. This is very hard for us."
Sloyka said in a gentle voice, "Trouble not your hearts; it is the way of this world and all the life within it. My body now rests in a far away cave and will return to the dust of the earth from which it came. We will take with us all the experiences and knowledge gained during our life in this world. Loving spirits live on forever and seek to rejoin with their kind. Freed from the limitations of this life, anything is possible to those spirits who have learned the power of love."
Rose smiled weakly and nodded through her tears.
Sloyka turned to Harry and Hermione and said, "Are you ready to go?"
James and Rose leaned down and gave each of their parent's one last loving hug and kiss. Then James put his arm around Rose and they stepped back. Still seated, Harry turned to Hermione and embraced her silently for a long moment. He released her and said, "Yes, we're ready."
Harry reached into his cloak pocket, withdrew his wand and held it in his lap. He moved his other hand to hold it in an effort to keep it from shaking. Hermione took her wand in hand. She reached out with her other hand and placed it on top of Harry's hands to hold them steady. They turned their heads to look at each other for a moment.
"It has been such an extraordinary life with you," said Harry. "I love you so very much and will always be with you."
"I love you Harry with all my heart" said she. "It's been an incredible journey. I can't wait to experience our next great adventure."
They gently kissed. Then, Hermione lowered her hand and her wand came to rest across Harry's wand forming a cross. Together, they whispered to each other "in vitam aeternam". A golden glow appeared from where the wands touched and grew to wrap around them like a warm downy comforter. The glow extended itself slightly to James and Rose. As they looked into each other's eyes, a joyful peace and contentment appeared on Harry and Hermione's face. Then, resting their foreheads against each other, they closed their eyes. The golden glow dissolved into them and faded from sight.
James and Rose watched. After a brief moment, a bright, vaporous and infant-like form floated out of each of their parents' chest. The pure white transparent forms moved forward and grew in size to becoming child-like in appearance. Each was clothed in a white brilliance as their bare feet came to rest on the ground a short distance away. They seemed unaware of each other as their innocent faces and wide eyes looked up toward the sky with smiling expressions of wonder and delight. The forms turned slowly as if trying to take in an infinitely grand and glorious sight. Both paused as their gazes fell upon the elderly couple with foreheads touching and looking to be asleep. A somber expression of respect and gratitude came over their faces as they stared motionless at their former bodies. After a moment, they turned and at last, beheld the sight of each other. There were squeals of happiness as they moved close and merged in a scintillating embrace that momentarily shown with the brilliance of the noonday sun. Taking each other's hands, they swung around each other laughing and dancing in rapture. It was like two lovers, following a long separation, finally rejoined and not wanting to separate their touch.
In a deep voice, the dragon gently laughed. The two spirits stopped and, seeming to have just now noticed, looked toward the dragon and smiling broadly. The spirits looked back at each other and giggled at themselves. Then they turned and for a long moment, looked at James and Rose with proud admiration. An ethereal-like voice said, "See, this is who we really are. There is no need to fear or be sad." Then they turned and walked toward the dragon, each holding the other close. They floated up and settled, one closely behind the other, onto the dragon's seemly solid yet transparent back.
The dragon looked at James and Rose and said, "Peace and a happy life to you. The memory of those who are like your father and mother will live on as long as there are those who believe in magic."
With that, the dragon spread its wings and lifted into the air. James and Rose stepped out into the backyard to watch. The dragon circled once and James and Rose could see the smiles of the two young children seated on the dragon as they waved back at them. Tears of happiness were on faces of James and Rose. The dragon turned and flew toward the west that was ablaze in the glory of the setting sun. A moment later, it vanished from sight.
High in the dimming sunset of the western sky, an ordinary looking star flared and then exploded into a supernova. Its brilliance outshone all the other stars in the sky as it gave of itself to future generations of life.
James and Rose turned to look at the lifeless elderly couple on the loveseat. They each felt an emptiness that they knew would be with them for the rest of their lives. But in that emptiness, they saw more clearly than ever before, the lifelong love and self-giving of their parents. The toils and concerns of the world were now far removed from them. Somewhere in another place, another dimension, they would step away from the instant of time that was their entire life; hardly aware they had ever been away. A place where time no longer had meaning or measure to their existence. And in that confluence of pure love, they would be a self, and also a one, with all that is. They were truly free and at peace.
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