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The Next Great Adventure by Hagrid21
Chapter 1 : The Next Great Adventure
 
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A/N: Here's my shot at hopefully writing something a little different than anything else you've read here. I hope you enjoy it. If you do (or don't for that matter), please leave a review and tell me what you thought.






Ginny Potter was in the kitchen sipping a warm cup of tea. Her long auburn hair had long gone gray, and she had even stopped trying to hide it with various hair dyeing potions. Still she had aged marvelously over the years and looked great for 123.

            She was watching her husband through the window who had been acting very peculiar that day. All morning, he had been bustling through the house with no apparent purpose, pausing only to smile at her or to say “love you”. That part wasn’t unusual, but she hadn’t seen him this restless since the first day after he retired as Hogwart’s Headmaster.

            It had started even before breakfast that morning. Harry had woken before her, which wasn’t unheard of. It was for the most part 50-50 as to who would wake up first and start on breakfast. When Ginny came down to the kitchen, though, she caught Harry poring over that morning’s post instead of fresh, sizzling French toast. As she said, “’Morning, dear,” Harry jumped, clearly startled, uncharacteristically out of his chair, as his attention had been undividedly on the piece of parchment in his hands. When she had asked what he was reading, Harry had responded distractedly while scribbling a reply, “Oh, nothing. A letter from an old friend.” Not long after the first of the many “love you’s” was said.

            Usually, a day in their life started with a quiet breakfast just the two of them, and on occasion, Hermione would join them. Important Ministry people would regularly come calling, needing the great Harry Potter’s opinion on the issues of the day. When they could, they’d escape for an afternoon to a beach for a romantic picnic, once even, in a craze of spontaneity, taking a Portkey, (Harry had sworn it wasn’t illegal), to France and eating lunch atop the Eiffel Tower.

            Whatever they did, it was rare for them not to do it together, and rarer still that either didn’t explain why they had to be busy for a few hours.

            Maybe, Ginny thought as Harry passed the window again, this time with several bowtruckles in tow, he’s planning something. Our anniversary is next week, and he’ll want to do something big to top last year. She smiled as she remembered the surprise party he threw to celebrate their 100th anniversary, going so far as to perform a memory charm on her so she’d forget all about it.

            Lily’s supposed to visit with her family tomorrow, too, she thought. And he loves wowing the grandkids with outstanding bits of magic, even now that they’re all grown up. She couldn’t remember whether all of the great-grandchildren were of Hogwarts age yet. She thought little Ruby wouldn’t be starting till next September so maybe Harry was doing something for her.

            “Harry, dear, why don’t you wash up,” Ginny said as Harry walked into the kitchen. “Neville and Hannah are coming for lunch and I’m pretty sure the Minister of Magic will be coming with them.”

            Harry chuckled and said, “That’s all they ever talk about: Their daughter, the Minister of Magic. I spoke to Alice the other day. Get this: someone has been selling fake Time-Turners. They’re actually Portkeys that take you to the States, some place called Amish town or village, something like that. Anyway, the people there live with no modern commodities, so people have been turning up thinking they’ve been transported hundreds of years in the past.”

            “And Alice told you about this, why?” she asked, though she was sure she already knew the answer.

            “Er, Jamie may have had something to do with it, but she said there was no solid evidence against him.”

            “He better not’ve gotten that idea from his father! I swear his grandchildren are more mature than him! Come to think of it, I think I remember James saying something about Portkey Time-Turners once,” she said crossly, though she was forced to crack a smile as Harry couldn’t stop laughing.

            “Have I told you how much I love you today?” he said as he pulled her into a tight hug.

            “Yes, I think you’re going for the record today,” she said, smiling even further. “And I love you, too, more than you love treacle tart; more than Hermione loves books; more than Ron loves the Cannons; more than Charlie loves dragons;” (“or Hagrid”); more than Percy loves properly sized cauldrons; more than Luna loves, uh, interesting accessories; more than Albus loves lemon drops; more than James loves picking on Albus; more than Dad loved that muggle tru-way thing;” (“it’s a Blu-ray player”); “more than you love correcting me,” she finished with a satisfied smile.

            Harry, far from accepting defeat, looked thoughtful, searching through his memories for a comeback. “I love you more than Filch loved Mrs. Norris; more than-”

            “I love you more than Snape loved your mother,” Ginny said, the words rushing out of her mouth before Harry finished talking.

            Harry scowled, and Ginny at least had the decency to look ashamed at relying on such a low blow to win.

            “Fine, you win. I’ll go clean up,” he said in a defeated tone, though the smile nipping at his lips gave him away.

            “Thank you. And what were you doing with bowtruckles anyway?” she called as he made his way out of the room. She didn’t get an answer though she was sure she was heard.

 

Hours later, Ginny was once again sitting at the kitchen table, staring idly as she barely noticed the dishes cleaning themselves in the sink. Normally, she would wash the dishes the muggle way, but she was consumed with her own thoughts at the moment.

            During dinner, Harry had kept up his odd behavior. He barely said a word the whole time the Longbottoms were there, even when they were reminiscing about the D.A. and then teaching in general, topics he usually loves as he gets to go on and on about his students, while down playing his role in their growth as witches and wizards. When he did speak, and it pained Ginny to admit it, it sounded like the paranoid suspicions that plague old men. In particular, Alastor “Mad Eye” Moody came to her mind.

            “Did you hear that? I think someone’s at the door. Or maybe it’s coming from upstairs? Hold on, I’ll be back.” The words came flooding back to her only adding to her concern. Despite all his years as an auror, not once had Harry showed the slightest signs of paranoia. Why now? Ginny thought.

            He also had disappeared before the Longbottoms had left, and she hadn’t seen him since. Seeing that the dishes were done, she got up to find him. Through the kitchen, she walked through the dining room, where they kept the good china in their homemade china cabinet. Ginny could never walk by without remembering how Ron had convinced Harry that they could make a cabinet themselves, after they saw their wives looking through a muggle catalog that one of their neighbors had shown them.

            “It’ll be easy,” Ron had said. “They’re plenty of trees in the woods behind your house. Everything else we can use magic for.”

            Thus began a tiresome few days during which Ginny was quite sure James had learned nearly every swear and nasty word Ron knew. But the cabinets had turned out much better than expected: The fact that they kept them all these years was proof enough.

            Lifting the blinds to see if the car was still in the driveway, she found it was. She swept through the hallway leading to the living room and opened the door. Their living room was a mix of magical and muggle: photographs that moved from one frame to the next, even a few portraits that would always ask for someone to turn the T.V. on; Floo powder resting on the mantel above the fireplace; a computer tucked away in the corner; a vacuum cleaner that her mother used to always harp on her for having; a couch that could be counted on to sprout a few more cushions when it got too crowded; and a television that never ceased to fascinate her father. He would be forever playing with the many nobs and dials on it, going on about everything he knew about satellite dishes. Ginny just wished he could’ve seen their new 3-D television that their grandkids had forced upon them a few years back.

            Ginny climbed up the stairs and at last found the door to his study open. At first, it appeared to be empty (except for the mountains of unorganized books, letters, and old newspapers that gave Hermione a minor heart attack every time she came over), but then Ginny spotted the familiar glow of their Pensieve on the desk. Intrigued and determined, she dove in head first.

            Gaining her footing, she found she was in the same room she had just departed from, only it was far less messy and there was a trunk open with Hogwarts robes and books inside. Just then, a much younger Harry walked into the room, followed by an eleven year old James and unbeknownst to them, a 124 year old Harry. The younger Harry looked like he was hiding something under his shirt.

            Turning towards James, he said, “Now don’t tell your mum about this,” (Ginny rolled her eyes), “but now that you’re off to Hogwarts, I want to pass this down to you.”

            He pulled out a silvery, almost clear item that caused James to shout. “Your Invisibility Cloak! Dad, you can’t be serious! Wow, I can’t believe-”

            Harry had taken out his wand and apparently performed a silencing charm as James found he couldn’t make a sound. “And remember: don’t tell Mum.” Old Harry, having noticed his wife had joined him, gave her a sheepish grin.

            The scene shifted suddenly, and now an eleven year old Albus was standing by his dad, both of them hovering over a very old and battered piece of parchment. The way they were both handling it and looking at it would tell anyone watching that it was no ordinary piece of paper.

            “I know you know what this is,” Harry began as he took out his wand. “Teddy has probably already told you all about it, right? Thought so. Now, to use it, you give it a tap and say-”

            “I solemnly swear I’m up to no good,” Albus said, his anticipation mounting.

            Harry smiled, and watched as the familiar names of Messrs. Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot, and Prongs appeared on the paper, along with a map of the entirety of Hogwarts. Albus watched with wonder as he saw the Marauder’s Map for the first time.

            “And to wipe it clean?”

            “Mischief managed,” Albus said automatically.

            The many lines and dots faded and the paper could no longer be distinguished for what it was. “And remember-”

            “Don’t tell Mum.”

            This time Ginny couldn’t help but laugh as she remembered Neville writing her the very first week of Albus' first year asking if Harry had given the boys the cloak and map. Harry laughed along with her as he remembered assuring her that he had done no such thing, and that he hadn’t a clue as to how the boys had managed to sneak into their potions professor’s quarters and turned all of his clothes bright pink.

            The scene shifted again, this time a girl with flaming red hair was sitting in front of her parents who were hiding something behind their backs. She could hardly stay still in her seat; the excitement of her first day at Hogwarts and her parents telling her they had a surprise waiting in the study weren’t helping the matter.

            “I overheard James complaining before about how Gryffindor needs a new Seeker,” Harry said, looking like he was enjoying every minute of his daughter’s restlessness.

            “And since you’ve always wanted to play Seeker like your father here…”

            “And seeing how you’re a much better flyer than I was when I was eleven…”

            “Actually the real reason is Dad wants them to stop talking about him as the youngest Seeker in a century,” Ginny said slyly.

            “The reason for what!?” Lily said, unable to take anymore of her parents back and forth.

            “We want you to have this,” Harry said, removing a newly polished broom from behind his back. “It’s your mother’s old Fi-”

            But he didn’t need to finish as Lily had taken hold of it and screamed. “I can’t believe it Mum’s Firebolt! James and Albus both have Nimbus’. Thank you, thank you, thank you,” she kept repeating over and over, rushing to hug every part of her parents.

            “Now don’t tell your brothers. Just wait ‘til tryouts. At that point, they’ll just have to accept it.”

            Lily, however, was barely listening at this point, and took this last statement as permission to leave. Running out of the room, they could hear her shouting, “James! Albus! Look what Mum and Dad gave me!”

            The picture dissolved completely this time. Now Harry and Ginny were at a train station, and they heard the familiar calling of “Firs' years! Firs' years over here!”

            Then they were floating across the lake surrounded by dozens of boats similar to theirs. Turning a corner, the immaculate spectacle that was Hogwarts Castle came into view. Ginny had never forgotten what it was like seeing the castle for the first time, and apparently, Harry hadn’t either. The scene seemed to freeze, stuck on the impressive features that were the many towers and turrets of Hogwarts.

            A flurry of scenes and images proceeded to flit before their eyes: a talking hat shouted out “GRYFFINDOR”; a troll had a wand shoved up its nose; a boy stared into a mirror and saw a man with his own black, messy hair that stuck up in the back and a woman with identical bright green eyes; a tall, bearded man with half-moon spectacles and a crooked nose announced Gryffindor had won the House Cup.

            They were zooming high above a scarlet-engine train in an old Ford Anglia; an elf with large, tennis ball-like eyes was attempting to beat himself with a water jug; a girl with bushy, brown hair was lying frozen in a hospital bed; a phoenix gently wept as the boy next to him appeared to be dying; the elf with the tennis ball eyes was weeping gleefully as he held a discarded sock in his hands.

            The pictures started to speed up to the point where they were barely discernible. A shabby-looking man that had brown hair with flecks of gray was smiling serenely at them when he suddenly transformed into a vicious wolf. The wolf was chasing a rat that was missing a toe, and alongside him was a big black dog. The dog and wolf nearly had the rat when it vanished and everything went dark. The dog began to whimper and they heard slow, rattling breaths that could only be made by one creature. The dementors were hovering over the dog when a stag burst onto the scene and chased them away. The dog curled up next to the stag, out of gratitude and affection, and then the dog transformed, into a tall, wild looking man with a sunken look in his eyes. He was flying away into the night on a great, winged horse.

            Images of dragons, merpeople, and enormous hedges flew by. A pair of red-headed boys, identical down to the last freckle, took off on broomsticks, laughing at a toad the size of a small woman as they threw the last of their fireworks at it. The same toad was being trampled by a stampede of centaurs as a 16 foot tall giant shouted “HAGGER?”

            Without warning, the memories slowed to a halt. Harry and Ginny were standing in a hallway at Hogwarts, and turning, they saw the familiar portrait of the Fat Lady. A 16 year old Harry came walking passed them and he seemed to hesitate before approaching the portrait.

            “Quid agis?” he said uncertainly.

            “You’ll see,” came the Fat Lady’s reply as she swung open.

            They were greeted with a sound like a cannon bursting; the noise was deafening. Harry was pulled and practically carried into the common room, and unseen by anyone, the old couple followed. They saw Ron holding a giant, silver cup, shouting something that they couldn’t make out even though they were right next to him. His shouts became increasingly muffled as a 15 year old Ginny came running into sight and threw her arms around Harry, who unconsciously moved to kiss her.

            Without prelude, the sights and sounds of the party dimmed away, and it was only Harry and Ginny, locked in a passionate embrace, oblivious to everything else. Fireworks went off somewhere, and Ginny was pretty sure she heard the roar of a lion as her younger self continued the immortal kiss.

            The scene reformed long enough for Ron to appear. He gave a tiny jerk of the head that was understood to mean, "Well--if you must." Taking that as their cue, they quickly departed out of the portrait hole, and then the scene dissolved completely.*

            Images of lost afternoons in secluded corners of the school flashed by. Years of birthdays, Christmases, vacations; Quidditch games, auror meetings, medal ceremonies; crying children, sleepless nights, endless messes; first words, first steps, first signs of magic; too many trips to the hospital to keep track of.

            Ginny was being wheeled into a lobby by a very tired, but immeasurably happy husband. A small bundle of blankets was wrapped in her arms, and a few black hairs could be seen sticking out of them. “I want everyone to meet James Sirius.” Molly, just as euphoric as the new parents, was the first one up, everyone else holding back until the grandmother got her fill with the newest member of the family.

            The scene reset, and Ginny was being wheeled into the room, again, carrying a different mass of blankets. She was wearing different clothes but the energy that was radiating out of her was the same. “Everyone, I’d like to introduce Albus Severus.”

            This time two small toddlers with unruly, black hair walked beside the wheelchair as it rolled into the waiting area. “Everyone, this is Lily Luna.” A sea of red surrounded them, a few blips of blonde or black here and there.

            Ginny thought the memories were over, as their surroundings changed so that they were surrounded by a bright white mist. But slowly, she could make out they were standing in a church, specifically the church down the street from them in Godric’s Hollow. She recognized her family and friends sitting in the rows of pews, and Harry and Ron were both sporting their best dress robes, standing alone on the altar.

            Ginny was just starting to take in the finer details of their wedding when the white mist came back to cloud up most of the church. She could still see Harry, and just make out where Ron stood, but everyone else was engulfed in the fog. She was about to turn to her Harry in outrage that he wasn’t able to remember their wedding day, when she realized what was happening.

            She heard the sound of the guests rising as one as an organ began to play. Then, clear as day, her father entered the church with an exceptionally breathtaking woman attached to his arm. Ginny had never seen herself look as beautiful as she now saw herself through Harry’s eyes. A golden light streamed through the window that gave her face a radiant glow (even though it had been cloudy that day, she thought); her hair had the windswept appearance of just getting off a broomstick (there was no wind inside that church); her dress, whiter than the mist that shrouded the church, amplified her every curve, fitting ever so snugly against her slender figure (I could barely get that thing on; we found out I was actually pregnant with James at the time).

            She couldn’t help but smile and tear up as she watched herself make her way down the aisle. What felt like ten minutes passed and they were only just barely halfway to the altar. I practically ran down that aisle, Ginny thought. Teddy had accidentally torn a small hole in the back of the dress and Mum couldn’t fix it. She turned and laughed as she saw the two Harrys standing next to her, wearing identical dreamy stares and both grinning like idiots. “Idiots in love,” she whispered so that only her Harry could hear her, although nobody would’ve heard her if she had shouted.

            Finally, they made it to the “I do’s”, and then they were declared “bonded for life.” Looking like it had taken every ounce of his self-control to remain at such a distance from his bride the whole ceremony, Harry closed the gap between them and kissed Ginny for the first time as husband and wife. A smattering of applause broke out, and Harry scooped up his new wife and carried her out of the church. The older Harry, copying his younger self, picked up his wife, kissed her, and together, they ascended from the Pensieve.

            Ginny nearly stumbled coming out, but Harry caught her. Harry walked to his favorite armchair and plopped down, picking up an assortment of old pictures and letters that was set on the table. Ginny moved to stand behind him and saw there were pictures of them at Hogwarts, as well as their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren when they were Hogwarts age. She recognized many of the letters as hers that she wrote to him while he was away on Auror missions. He would always write, even if he was supposed to be undercover. She had always said if he weren’t Harry Potter, there was no way they’d let him get away with it.

            “What are these here?”

            Harry’s face lit up as he picked up the letters she was pointing at. “Don’t you remember? The grandkids found out I was considering Hermione for the Charms post and they all wrote letters begging me not to do it. I felt bad for her, but then I thought about what it’d be like to have her for a teacher.”

            “Yeah, a stricter version of McGonagall for sure,” Ginny said, laughing as she read some of them.

            Harry set the letters down, and as he did so, Ginny got a real good look at him. Never had she seen him look as old as he did at that moment. She thought it might be the light, but then she saw him try to get up and fail. He tried to play it off like he was adjusting the cushion, but she wasn’t fooled. She thought something was wrong when she caught him going through old memories; her Harry didn’t dwell in the past, not even at his old age.

            “Gin, I think there are some more letters behind my desk. Could you get them for me, please?”

            She nodded and did her best to muster up a smile. As she looked for the letters he wanted, she tried to think. He’ll never go to St. Mungo’s, so I’ll get a healer to make a house call. Someone in the family has to be a healer. I mean there’s a few hundred Aurors, someone has to have gone into healing. But try as she might, she couldn’t recall any of her many nieces and nephews becoming healers.

            Knowing that she needed to act fast, she decided that a healer wasn’t necessary. Taking more effort than it ever had before, she was able to conjure a silver horse, and after giving it a short message, she sent it away, hoping that her best friend would get it and come without delay.

            “Gin.” His voice came out soft and scratchy. His strength, the impression of invincibility that he always had, seemed to be dwindling. Ginny knew that he’d never show an ounce of weakness; she knew this from his years of being Head Auror, where he’d come home in the early hours of the morning, undoubtedly exhausted but would still lay her down in bed every night. She knew that he’d try to hide it right down to the very end, so if he wasn’t able to, then…

            “Coming, dear, I got the letters.” She did her best to keep her tone even but tears were already threatening her eyes and they were seeping into her voice.

            She sat down on the arm of his chair and made to open them, but Harry stopped her. “Uh, these are actually for the kids. Nothing much really, just we don’t…we don’t talk enough… you know,” he said, his voice breaking and now tears were welling up in his eyes.

            “I know. It’s a… wonderful idea, sweetie,” she said softly, taking his hands in her. As she said this, she heard the front door opening downstairs. Thank you, Hermione.

            Harry either didn’t hear it or chose to ignore it. Instead, he began stroking her hands as they held onto his free hand. “Gin, I don’t know what I did to deserve you.” She couldn’t help but smile as she knew he was being completely serious, but she was able to bite back the sarcastic remark. “You’re so loving, caring, so tough and loyal.”

            Downstairs, Ginny could hear the sound of glass smashing against the wall. What is Hermione doing?

            “…been through so much together. I wish I would’ve retired 20 years earlier so we could’ve had more time together.”

            Now, she heard water running, but not like out of the faucet or even the shower. It was like a massive pipe had burst. Harry didn’t pay it any attention, though.

            “…the best mom in the entire world. You put up with me working late day after day. If I could, I’d go back and make that git spend more time with his family.”

            The vacuum cleaner was now going off, and the T.V. in the living room had turned on. Ginny unconsciously moved to go turn it off, but Harry squeezed her hand even tighter and she stayed put.

             “It was the luckiest day of my life when Ron sat next to me on that train. I didn’t know what being apart of a family was, and then… then you guys welcomed me in… and…”

            “We were both lucky that day,” she said, tears flowing uninhibited now.

            It was quiet downstairs now; Hermione had seemingly turned off the vacuum, but the T.V. was still on, the volume was just lower. Then, Ginny heard the front door opening and closing again. What in the name of Merlin?

            “I love you so, so, so, so much Gin. I don’t know what I would of done if I had never found you.”

            There were footsteps coming up the stairs now, and this time Harry’s head jerked up at the noise. She was pausing to check other rooms and then they heard her outside the room they were in. Another second passed, in which she was probably trying to compose herself, before Hermione Weasley came serenely into the room. She immediately rushed to Harry’s side and she and Ginny began to talk. Unseen by them though, a stag and a black dog followed Hermione into the room.

 





*Harry's P.O.V.

            Coming out of the Pensieve, Harry felt his legs nearly give out and he was very close to collapsing. Luckily for him, Ginny had trouble getting her footing as well and didn’t notice. That was normal for her, though; she had hardly ever been inside a Pensieve in her life so stumbling a little was expected. Harry, on the other hand, had thorough practice with them. His near fall was something other than inexperience.

            He found his favorite armchair and collapsed into it. On the table were the many photographs he used to jog his memories to put into the Pensieve. Ginny had moved next to him, and he could feel her smiling at all of the happy memories. Her smile could provide him with the energy and fortitude to take on an army, an army of Death Eaters, even an army of Voldemorts. But not today, maybe not ever again, he thought solemnly.

            He tried to gather his thoughts, like he did with the kids, and think of something to say, but he was drawing a blank. What did you say after over a hundred years? Maybe it’d be better to just sit in silence and just enjoy being together one final time. The sound of the door opening downstairs is what narrowed his focus and spurred him into speech.

            He knew Ginny had heard the door, but the multitude of voices he heard entering the house would be mute to her. He tried to block them out and concentrate on what he wanted to say, but they seemed to be getting louder as they made their way into the house. He was sure someone had made their way into the dining room as he heard an exclamation of “bloody bowtruckles” and the sound of flying china.

            The rushing water told him they had reached the living room. The water from the flooded hallway was now surely flowing across the carpet and ruining the furniture. He waited and then sure enough the vacuum could be heard springing to life. Unsurprisingly, startled growls soon followed.

            No, Harry thought as he heard them coming up the stairs. Just a few more minutes. That’s all I want: a few more minutes. His wish seemed to be answered as they dawdled in every room leading to the study. His head jerked up, though, as he heard the front door open again, but this time the feet he heard thundering down the hall and up the stairs were very solid.

            “I love you so, so, so, so much, Gin…”

            Whoever it was was making their way down the hall, and Ginny could clearly hear this person. Harry, though, could just make out the much softer footsteps that were following close behind. He found that his eyes were closed as the door opened and the person walked in, and he struggled to open them. He had no trouble recognizing the voice of the person, though.

            “Harry, how’re you feeling?” Hermione asked, crouching right up next to him, although he still heard it as if they were at opposite ends of a long tunnel.

            With a great effort, he managed to turn to face her and that one look answered his questions. She knew what was happening as did Ginny, and Ginny must have told her to come over.

            “It’s great to see you, Hermione.” Even he was surprised at how weak his voice sounded. And at how tired he felt, how hard he was finding it to keep his eyes open. “Ginny. Gin, I think… I think I’m gonna take a little nap. Wake me before Hermione leaves.” As he closed his eyes, the girls’ voices became increasingly distant, and two other voices started to ring in Harry’s ears, voices that had been absent in his life for far too long.

            “…full head of hair. The Potter genes are far too strong for mortal afflictions like baldness.”

            “And I told you, it skips a generation. Your father had hair, your son has hair, you would’ve been bald by 50.”

            “What about the pictures of my grandchildren. Full heads of hair, it’s the Potter genes. There hasn’t been a bald man in the family for generations. You on the other hand, well you just have to look at your father: Going bald before he finished school.”

            “For the last time, it skips a gen-”

            “Shush up, look.”

            Harry was opening his eyes; the weights that had been dragging them down had disappeared. The aches and pains that come with old age had also vanished, and he felt better than he ever had in his entire life. So at peace, no bothersome thought clawing its way into his mind, just completely and wholly relaxed. It was with this sense of harmony that he opened his eyes and gazed at the two black-haired men, or maybe boys was the proper turn.

            “Hello, son.” It sounded so foreign to Harry’s ears: He had never been anyone’s son before. It looked like James had found it just as strange to say, but the enormous, goofy grin that spread across his face negated any possible awkwardness.

            “Harry,” Sirius said with a stiff nod of his head. Harry was confused at this greeting and was about to ask what was wrong with him, but James read his mind and answered the unsaid question.

            “He’s just grumpy about those loud, muggle, sucker things you set on us downstairs.”

            “They’re called vacuums, Prongs.”

            “You should’ve seen him. He went wild, barking madly at it and when it didn’t back down, he jumped up onto the sofa. I think he urinated on it actually,” James said, while laughing hysterically. “Why didn’t we ever think of setting a vacuum on you before? It would’ve made housetraining you much simpler.”

            “It was probably due to the fact that you had no idea what a vacuum was, despite your claims to be an expert on all things muggle.”

            “Still, Moony’s grandparents were muggles. He had to of known about them.”

            Harry, who had watched this argument without comment though not silently as he had been cracking up the same as his father, finally spoke up. “Where’s Mum? Is she still downstairs?”

            “Uh, no. You see there’s a rule against mothers, and in your case mothers-in-law, from coming. She’s waiting for us, though. Probably counting the seconds that go by until I return to her.”

            “Ha, yeah she’s counting the seconds alright. ‘James Potter, if you do anything, and I mean a-n-y-thing, down there other than getting our son, I swear I’ll hex you so that your head is sticking out of…’” Sirius said in a perfected imitation of Lily’s voice.

            “She didn’t say it like that,” James mumbled in response. “Anyway, up you get there Harry. Wouldn’t want to keep your mother waiting any longer.” Sirius muttered something that sounded like “whipped”, but James paid him no notice.

            Grabbing his father’s hand, Harry hoisted himself up. Amazingly, he found that it took no effort at all, and in fact, he felt nimbler and more agile than he did during his Auror days.

            “Wow, he is old, huh Prongs,” Sirius said smirking.

            “Yeah, he looks even older than Moony.”

            “Ever the comedian, eh Prongs.” Through the door came Remus Lupin, looking far younger than Harry had ever seen him, maybe than he had ever been during his life. Gone were the many scars and cuts that had always served as constant reminders to his fate once a month. Gone, too, was the usual shabby attire he sported, the flecks of gray in his hair, and the look of having lived a much older man’s life. Instead, he was grinning widely as he greeted Harry.

            “Harry, I feel a little insensitive in saying this, but it really is great to see you again,” he said, shaking Harry’s hand. “Dora, I’ve found them!”

            “Wotcher, Harry!” Nymphadora Tonks said, her hair its preferred bright pink. “We can’t thank you enough for all you’ve done for Teddy.”

            “Don’t thank me. He was a great kid and now he’s a great man. I’m just lucky I got to know such a great person,” Harry said simply.

            “Come on now Harry. You’re his godfather, and as godfather, you get some credit for every one of his accomplishments. It’s one of the first things they tell you about godfathering,” Sirius said, holding his head high as any proud godfather would.

            “For the last time, your cruddy godfather logic does not mean you get the credit for defeating Voldemort,” James said, clearly trying to antagonize him into another argument.

            “Anyway,” Tonks said loudly, preventing the argument from starting, “I know you had something to do with his promotion, Harry. Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement! And don’t you try denying it.”

            “OI! So this is where you two ran off to.” The voice wasn’t scolding, rather it sounded disappointed it wasn’t included in whatever mischief James and Sirius had been involved in. Into the room strode two identical red-haired and freckled Weasleys. Harry noticed that all four of their ears were where they ought to be.

            “After you two transformed, every jinx and trap he set up sprung on us,” said the one who hadn’t spoken before. Harry guessed it was George, he sounded a little older and more mature.

            “Yes, I’m pretty sure we explicitly told you two not to transform,” Remus said with a sigh, as if he expected nothing less from the two. “Any reason or could Padfoot simply not pass up an opportunity to ‘mark his territory’?”

            “Actually, there was some charm that forced us to transform,” James said, acting like he was taken aback by their accusations of them.

            “Where’s Ron?” Harry asked Fred and George, trying to change the subject. “I thought I heard him before.”

            “I believe he is attempting to mediate a dispute downstairs.” “You see, because of your wonderful bowtruckles,” “one of which latched on to Mad-Eye’s leg, don’t know why he keeps that wooden thing,” “Mad-Eye of course then wanted to blast the lot of them into teeny, tiny pieces,” “which Hagrid took offense to, you know how he is with any sort of magical creature.” “Long story short, Ron stepped in before it escalated any further.”

            “Is all of the wood in your house made from wand trees, Harry?” Remus suddenly asked resulting in confused faces all around him.

            Harry gave him a small smile before answering. “Yes, we used the trees from the forest right outside the house. A lot of those are wand trees.”

            “And that’s where you got the bowtruckles from?” Remus continued, shooting Tonks a look that told you so. “And you put up Animagus charms for these two,” he indicated James and Sirius, “and when those went off, it set off all the other protective enchantments,” he concluded, sounding impressed. Harry nodded, and grinned sheepishly. “Very impressive, against the rules, but impressive.”

            “If you’ll remember Lupin, I think you’ll realize a disregard for rules is a Potter family trait,” came the slow, drawling voice of none other than Severus Snape. “And I am here, Potter,” he was now addressing James as he had been about to open his mouth, “only as a favor to your wife. Apparently, she didn’t trust you enough to come without someone watching over your shoulder.” He gave him a pointed smile, clearly reveling in being able to tell him this.

            “Listen, Snivellus-”

            But Snape paid him no notice and turned toward Harry. “Now Potter, are you coming, or are you going to be even more difficult?” he said, refusing to call either of them by their first names even to avoid simple confusion.

            Coming? Harry thought. He knew why they were all there but to hear it made it dawn on him. I’d be going, leaving her. He looked toward where Ginny and Hermione were sitting, unnoticed by the others. Ginny was sobbing softly on Hermione’s shoulder. Harry noticed that they were slowly becoming less solid; soon they would be just ghosts to him. He wasn’t sure whether it was this sudden realization or the fact that it was Snape that he was addressing that sparked his dissidence.

            “What happens if I don’t?” he asked, making it apparent that it wasn’t a hypothetical question. 

            “That’s where we come in, mate,” Fred said, taking out his wand, and the others followed suit.

            “Come on, guys,” Harry said, laughing hesitantly. “You aren’t serious?”

            “I’m always Sirius,” Sirius said, grinning and raising his wand.

            There was a series of loud bangs and then a bright, blinding light. As everyone rubbed their eyes, Harry was standing with several wands in his hand, shaking his head as if he really hadn’t wanted to do that. James alone still had his wand, and he started laughing heartily, infuriating everyone around him.

            “Shut up, Prongs. You didn’t even take your wand out of your robes,” Sirius said, getting off the floor as he had been one of several that had been knocked off their feet.

            “You see, Padfoot, that’s because I’m not stupid enough to try and take on the greatest Auror this world’s ever seen. And he didn’t mean it. He only said it because Snivellus here doesn’t know how to use his nice words.” This resulted in a stare down between James and Snape that was only broken by the arrival of more people into the room.

            “What’s going on?” Ronald Weasley said, looking far less wrinkly than the last time Harry saw him. He was eyeing all of the wands Harry had with an all too knowing look. Behind him, was the most intimidating looking but least intimidating in spirit man Harry knew, Rubeus Hagrid. If those two were here, then where was…

            “CONSTANT VIGILANCE!” shouted the gruff voice of Alastor Moody, throwing off the invisibility cloak he was wearing to reveal he had snuck right behind Harry. But Harry was ready for him. He had barely thrown off his cloak when Harry had raised his wand, and Moody suddenly found himself glued to the wall. Far from being upset, he actually looked pleased at being so unceremoniously pasted to the wall.

            Hagrid went over to try and help pry Mad-Eye off the wall, and Ron went over to Harry. Placing a hand on his shoulder, he said, “She’ll be fine. She’s strong and she’s got Hermione and there’s hundreds of Potters around that’ll help her through this.” Harry already knew this, but again hearing it really helped it to stick in his head. “You won’t have to be apart for that long anyway. Shut up, you know what I mean.” Harry smiled; leave it to Ron to try and cheer him up by predicting his wife’s imminent death.

            “Thanks mate,” he said, pulling him into a hug.

            “Ahem, excuse me Mr. Potter.” Nobody had noticed this new person come into the room. He was wearing a long black cloak that covered his body completely and made it difficult to determine exactly how tall he was. He also had a hood that cast a thick shadow over his face that made it impossible to see it. Harry wasn’t even completely sure it was a man. It might have been he sounded like one because that’s what Harry expected him to be.

            “I would ask if you got my owl, but clearly you have. Never have I seen such a blatant disregard…” He seemed to be talking to himself more than anyone else, scribbling notes on the clipboard he carried. “I don’t suppose you have my cloak, Mr. Potter?”

            “What cloak?” Harry answered, trying his best to sound clueless, like he really had no idea what he was talking about.

            “Like father like son…said the exact same thing to me… ‘What cloak?’ Potters. I thought I was done with them.” He was still scribbling furiously, and everyone else in the room had stopped to watch him. It was left to James to break the tension that had settled in the room.

            “Don’t mind him, Harry. You actually scare the crap out of him.”

            “Yeah,” Sirius said, joining in. “He’s never brought more than two or three people on a job before. But he was putting this off for days gathering up as many people as he could.”

            “I don’t blame him, though. Not many people have embarrassed him as many times as you have.” He gave a little cough but Harry heard him say “two killing curses”.

            The black-cloaked man was glaring at the two of them, or at least he appeared to be as his face was still hidden under his hood. “Mr. Potter, you have chosen against staying in a specter form, so if you’re ready, we’ll be going now.”

            Harry didn’t move. He wasn’t sure what was pulling him back this time; it was more like he didn’t know how he could move on. He had lived the life he had never dared dream of. He had been an Auror, a teacher, and best of all a father and grandfather. He had married the girl of his dreams and got to live out his life with his best friends by his side. How would he be able to walk away, willingly, from it all?

            “Harry.” Harry hadn’t noticed, but a tall, long bearded man with half moon glasses had made his way to the center of the room. The way his twinkling blue eyes were looking down at him, he might as well have been 11 again when he first witnessed the x-ray experience of Dumbledore’s gaze.

            “I’m sure you’ll be forgiven given the circumstances, but it is rather rude to keep your mother waiting like this,” he said, smiling serenely.

            “It’s great to see you again, professor,” Harry said, returning the smile.

            “Yes, truly a pleasure, although to repeat Remus’ sentiments, if only it were under better circumstances. I’m sorry I’m late, only Arthur here was showing me the muggle picture box you have downstairs.”

            His father-in-law, Arthur Weasley, seemed to have had his fill of the “muggle picture box” and had joined them. It was the first time Harry saw him with a full head of hair. “I was wondering what charm you put on it to make the pictures come right out of it,” he asked, his voice full of the grand wonder he got whenever discovering a new muggle phenomenon.

            “It’s actually the muggle technology that makes it do that,” Harry said, chuckling as Ginny had predicted this kind of reaction out of him when they first got it.

            Harry finished laughing and sighed heavily. Then, looking around the room, taking in all of the, for the most part, caring, smiling faces, he announced he was ready to go. Snape and the black cloaked man were among the first to leave, and the room was soon empty except for Harry and Ron. Taking one last look around, they walked toward the door.

            “Goodbye, Ginny. For now, at least.”

            As they left, Ginny picked her head up off Hermione’s shoulders and wiped her eyes. Hermione gave her hand one last squeeze before saying, “I’ll owl James and Albus for you.”

            “Thank you, Hermione. I’ll be downstairs, I… just need a moment.”

            Hermione left the room, leaving Ginny to herself. She placed a hand on Harry’s face and caressed his cheek. He looks so peaceful, she thought. Her hand passed over his legendary lightning scar, and oddly, she started laughing.

            “There’s going to be an enormous funeral, people will make speeches, they’ll come from all over the world to mourn the Boy-Who-Lived. And you’re going to just hate it. That’s all I’ll be able to think about: how much you would’ve hated every bit of it.” She ran her hand through his hair, and even now it still wouldn’t lie flat.

            “But our family will be there, and they’ll know, they’ll know how much you would’ve complained. Oh, Harry, Harry, my Harry.” She heard male voices downstairs and knew that James and Albus must be here. She stood up and resolved herself to be strong; she knew her children and they would need her. They would all need each other to get through this.

            “I love you, Harry. I’ll miss you so much.”

 

 
                                                     Harry James Potter

 

                                                     BORN 31 July, 1980

                                                      DIED 23 May, 2105

 

                                 And then he greeted Death as an old friend, and

                           went with him gladly, and, equals, they departed this life.







*Taken from Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, from the chapter "Sectumsepra", p. 534, Scholastic Press edition

** from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, in the "Tale of the Three Brothers", p. 409, Scholastic Press edition




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