Chapter 20 : Epilogue: Five Years ;Later
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"Ginny we better get moving. We have places to be and breakfast is getting cold." Harry smiled at his fiance who reluctantly got dressed. 'You have gotten prettier if that is possible' he thought.
Ginny smiled back knowing his love for her had gotten stronger if possible since the War. She knew hers had also. Upstairs the noise of stomping feet was heard. "I hear Hermione finally got Ron moving."
"She uses a charm to bring the smells from the kitchen upstairs. Nothing else motivates him in the morning" replied Harry.
"Well I know what motivates me" Ginny said in a husky voice as she tried to pull Harry back into bed. Unfortunately he had grown both taller and stronger since becoming an Auror so it did not work unless he cooperated.
"Can we save this for later?" he asked sorely tempted to give in. Ginny's reply was to stick her tongue out and let him go, knowing that thinking about it all day would make tonight more exciting for both of them.
Downstairs they met up with Hermione and a grumpy Ron. Until he got some coffee and at least two plates full of food in him. "Morning" Hermione said to Ginny and Harry as they sat at the new table they jointly purchased.
"Kreacher I must say breakfast is amazing as usual" Ginny told the old Elf.
"Thank you Mistress" he answered as he joined them for breakfast. It was the unwritten rule no one would start eating until Kreacher sat with them. Almost five years ago when they first moved into #12 Grimmauld Place it was not like that, taking Kreacher weeks to accept his place with them not as a servant but a friend.
"Noon right?" asked Ron through a full mouth.
"Yes Ronald" replied his fiance. Ginny and Harry nodded too since they politely refrained from speaking and probably spitting pancakes out. "I hope they don't make too big of a deal about us."
"Hermione it is the five year anniversary. The Prophet has been building this up for months. Kingsley has no choice. You were at the Meetings as a Department Head" Harry said to them.
"I'm glad yesterday was my last day. No offense mate but the job wasn't what I thought it would be. Give me the peace and quiet of the shop with George" replied Ron.
"You and Neville both. I think he was waiting for Professor Sprout to retire. To become a 23 year old Professor at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry is unprecedented."
"And you had the chance also last year. Headmistress McGonagall wanted you to teach transfiguration" Ginny reminded Hermione.
"Yes but I felt my position as the Head of the Department for Magical Creatures was more important at this time. If the reforms are all enacted by the Wizengamot then if the position comes up again I will consider it."
"Harry will speak out for you. Both as the Head of the Aurors and with the spot his parents left him on the Wizengamot" Ginny said as she yawned putting her head on Harry's shoulder.
"We both woke up a lot last night" Harry replied to his yawning also.
"So did we. Five years ago today it ended. What was left of Voldemort was scattered to the winds. Minerva had a good idea to incinerate him and have Buckbeak scatter the ashes all across England. He can't tell us what he did with them so no one can hope to bring them together to create a martyr of some sort."
Harry barely kept from laughing at Hermione's choice of words. He smiled when he thought back to what might have been different had he not learned that you can't meddle with time.
"Harry there is something I've been meaning to ask you. The three of us have been having these strange dreams. Last week, when you were gone to Egypt with Kingsley, I woke up screaming. Hermione and Ginny were doing the same. We almost flooed you but with the time difference we knew you were in the middle of a Meeting. We sat up discussing it and some of the things were similar."
"Really Ron? Like what?" Harry asked, getting up to get a fresh bowl of water for Fawkes. Right on time he appeared, 9am just like every morning. "Hello old friend" he said as he stroked the golden red plumage of the phoenix. A permanent perch was at the end of the table which corresponded to his 'seat' with them every morning. He did not make it every day but most of the time he was there sharing breakfast before departing with another flash of light.
"Before Ron brings this up Harry we need to figure something else out. Molly has been, well, pestering us. Ginny and I we mean. Initially it was when are you getting engaged with us all living together."
"George teased us as we were 'living in sin'. Like he should talk with him and Angelina doing the same for just as long" Ginny added in an annoyed voice.
"She thinks it is her job to plan our Weddings. Yes we can use the help but who is getting married here? We have to do this, we can't do that because of how important we are. Something has to be done soon!" Hermione ended with.
"She is driving us crazy!!" added Ginny.
"How about we go to the Ministry this morning and have Kingsley do it?" wondered Ron who got punched by both his Sister and his Fiance. Twice.
"OK what about this? We show up pretending to be married. We tell her 'it was last year. Don't you remember?' " asked Ginny.
"Or Harry you can alter her memory so she thinks we are. Then fix her again after so the owls can get some sleep."
Harry stood and refilled Fawkes bowl again. "You are very thirsty my friend this morning" he softly told him. "Do you understand what you are asking me? After I promised you not to?"
"Sorry mate. I know this must be difficult on you. Now what was it you said last night at my going away party?"
"There are times in our lives where we must choose between what is right and what is easy. Many times I have had to do this. Only once in my life has it been that both questions have the same answer. Fortunately two of my best friends are facing this same question and are lucky enough for the answer to be the same. The right thing, and the easy thing, for them is to move on. To take the next step in their lives. While we here at the Ministry will miss them we know both are moving on to bigger and better things. I love you and will miss you both here at my side but the opportunity is there. Neville your first love has always been Herbology. The chance to teach it at Hogwarts is a dream come true for you.
Ron we have had our adventures too and you want a more stable job not chasing around the countryside after every rumor of Dark Magic. You will put to good use your strategic senses at Weasleys Wizard Wheezes. Minerva, Neville, I'm sorry at what he and George will come up with. All I can suggest is watch what you eat and drink for the next 40 years."
"Ginny you remembered that?" Harry asked as he hugged her, kissing the top of her head. He felt the front of his shirt get wet as he continued to hold her.
Seeing Ginny was ready Hermione nudged Ron. "The dreams Harry? They were more like nightmares!! For our girls they knew something bad happened to you. At Hogwarts. They were running through the corridors trying to find you. I was searching too after seeing Andromeda Tonks covered in blood. We thought it might have something to do with either you or Teddy. But you are here and Teddy will join us at the Ceremony later."
"Master Harry Kreacher has suffered too. He knew Master was in trouble but was unable to find him. Mistress told Kreacher he should not punish himself because this was not real."
"Or was it Harry? To have a shared dream is extremely unusual. It has to be based on real things which our unconscious minds reacted to. I know you promised but did you do something and make us forget?" asked Hermione.
By this point she and Ron were holding hands tightly. Harry felt Ginny squeeze him more as if afraid of the answer. Harry saw Fawkes had cocked his head as if to ask 'Well Mr. Potter? How are you going to explain your way out of this?'
Reluctantly Harry began to speak, choosing his words extremely carefully. "You are describing some things which I am not sure happened myself. That day we went to the Burrow? My first day leaving the Castle? That morning Andromeda Tonks came to the Castle with Minerva. I think she wanted to talk to me about Teddy. To thank me for the vaults for them."
"We took Teddy to show him the 'Memory Wall' " Hermione added.
"Ron excused himself for a minute. Andy and I began talking about Teddy and their future. How unfortunate it was his parents died."
Harry was now holding Ginny close as he felt her want to step away, afraid she was going to erupt. She twisted herself to look up into his eyes as he spoke. "I got dizzy so Poppy had said to lie down if that happened. Unfortunately Andy got desperate. She argued, pleaded, and begged me to fix things. She brought up my parents, Sirius, and many other people who died. The guilt it brought up was overwhelming."
"And what did you do?" whispered Ginny.
"I promised you I would not change things. I won't lie I was very tempted. To try and save Fred, Colin, Remus, Lavender, everybody. I remembered being told that if I changed things the results might be worse. Much, much worse." By this point Harry had closed eyes trying not to remember the series of horrible things he witnessed. "So I did something bad. I made her never forget trying to convince me to do it. Then I apparated into the foyer to the Great Hall. You two had just arrived with Teddy and I wanted to have some fun."
"So you did not go back and change anything? To make us forget?" whispered Ginny.
Harry opened his eyes to look into his fiance's warm brown eyes. "I wanted to. But I didn't. This right here is our future Ginny. We cannot live in the past second guessing ourselves. Dwelling on what might have been. I love you Ginny and I would do nothing to jeopardize you."
"Thank you Harry. We were so worried you did something and we did not remember. That something happened and we forgot about each other because of it" cried Ginny.
"That isn't going to happen. Now for today. We will all be dressed up right? Getting awards? Let's do it today" Harry firmly said.
"Are you serious Harry? We need to plan, talk to people, try on dresses ... "
"Hermione you look stunning in your dress robes. And your parents will be in the front row with us" interrupted Ron.
"And Mom keeps saying it needs to be an event. It couldn't be bigger than this! But are you sure Harry or is this because you are unhappy with her?"
"Ginny what did I just say? We need to look to the future. Today we commemorate the lives lost and those who suffered. I can't think of a better way to show the World it needs to look to the present to appreciate what we have and to work towards the future. Together, which is what this will symbolize."
"When did you get so romantic Harry?" Ginny asked as she pulled him close again.
"Because of you. It always was, is now, and forever will be. I love you Ginny."
"I love you too Harry. Now if you don't mind Hermione and I have a few things to do in the next 90 minutes. Are you going to ask Kingsley first or surprise him too?"
"Ginny, Ron and I owe him for his last practical joke. I do want to say something to Neville and Luna. They will be up there too so they can act as our Wedding Party."
"Brilliant mate. Small just like what we wanted" Ron laughed.
"With 3000 witnesses in attendance. Kreacher is that OK because if it isn't ... "
"Mistress Granger the Elves of Hogwarts will be delighted. They food is ready so I will go there and inform them." With a large 'POP' the old Elf apparated away.
After the two Witches thundered up the stairs Ron stopped Harry before they went into the parlor. "Mate you can tell me. Your story didn't explain everything. The part about Andy and all the blood" Ron inquired looking at his best friend. His eyes focused on Harry's, wondering if his mate was telling the whole truth.
"Fancy a game of chess Ron?" Harry asked as he and Ron seated themselves at the table again. The board was always there so Ron could challenge anyone who visited.
"Sure. You take white" Ron gallantly said giving Harry the first move. The last time they played was months ago with Ron winning easily as usual.
"Thanks. Pawn to King's bishop four."
"The Hornson's Gambit? Interesting Harry. Pawn to Queen's rook four."
"We'll see. Yes my story addressed what the girls saw but not yours" Harry said as the Match continued. "You went to the loo. Andy tried everything to get me to change things. She missed her daughter and her husband and wanted them back."
"And the blood? Where did that come in?" Ron was busy defending his King and did not ask more.
"Easy. Her nails. Do you see these tiny scars here" Harry replied, unbuttoning his shirt. "The diagonal ones? I was facing away from her, trying to avoid her. She grabbed me and I got cut."
"I bet that hurt."
"Not as much as what she said. Check."
"Interesting switching to the Cumberson Maneuver. You almost had me. Now answer my question did you do anything?"
"No but I wanted to. Check. But as I said I promised. All of you were right if I did the consequences would be severe. Today, and every day from now on, we need to look to the future mate. And I can see in a few years two kids staring down at us. One will have black hair and the other brown. They will be at the top of the stairs looking between the posts wondering if Father Christmas has come yet. The same spot our girls are right now. Checkmate."
"Harry how did you know we were here? Yes the plan was to get you and Ron to talk. Maybe you would tell him not wanting us to know what you did" Hermione answered. She and Ginny were crouched down at the head of the stairs in the spot a five year old would choose to peer down unobserved.
"And I meant it. As much as I wanted to, as tempting as it was, I didn't. I was very mad at Andy and hurt she wanted me to do this. To not care despite what might happen. So I left in such a way she thought I went off to fix things. She will never know unless one of you tell her."
"It explains why she hasn't let go. Mom had to with Fred. She has been over there to watch Teddy. It is still a shrine to them. All three."
"Ginny maybe seeing us get married will help her. Now Harry is there anything else we should know?"
"No Hermione. She wanted me to. I wanted me to. Everyone wanted me to but I didn't. In this case it was the right thing to do, and once I thought about it the easy thing too. Now are we getting married in the pajamas we have on now or ... "
"Oh my GOD Hermione we have only 20 minutes and we are the guests of honor. We can't be late!!" yelled Ginny.
"Yes we can." Harry waved his wand and the two Witches floated down the stairs to be embraced by their future husbands. "We have all the time in the World. Now off you go. Pip, pip."
When the doors closed upstairs Ron looked at Harry again. "Good job mate. I have just one more question. Where did you learn to play chess like that? You have never beaten me before and you did it in 12 moves."
Harry heard Fawkes cackling on his perch. "That my friend is another story entirely. We need to use the floo. And a quick trip to Hermione's parents to keep you on their good side."
"What about you Harry?"
"I told your Dad weeks ago at work. He promised to keep it quiet. He gave us his blessing which was all I asked. I think he is aggravated with your Mother too for meddling. Now we better hurry. If we have time remind me later. It starts with 'Once Upon A Time ...' "
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