And thus, these were the
days of wine and thistles, because while there were miraculous things to celebrate and rejoice
in, there were fathomless losses which only time could salve, and never erase.
With her uncanny ability to say (albeit in a roundabout fashion) exactly what Harry felt needed
to be said, as well as her unintentional cunning in diverting people like Rita Skeeter, Luna
became Harry's Media Secretary. Being Luna, she of course eschewed that title, calling herself
instead the self-proclaimed Voice of Reason. Dean forever thought that was one of the funniest
things he'd ever heard. When, however, she said the adiantum fronds kept waving away from her,
which could only mean one thing, he took her seriously. They had a small ceremony at Seamus'
mam's house and actually did live happily ever after. Xenophilia was only the first of four
children: Xavier, Xanadu and Ben all followed, in time.
Arthur Weasley was nearly unanimously looked to to fill the shoes as Minister for Magic, and he
accepted the post. The interior of the Ministry was redecorated, yet again, and became a place of
integrity and a bastion for social change.
The funerals were nightmarish for Harry, though he only confided this to Ron, and only then after
several glasses of firewhiskey, and only then to make Ron shut up about it. Harry celebrated
life; he simply could not see the joy from sorrow that some people insisted was the way of
things. Not when people — especially young people — had had their lives cut so short,
even if it was for a cause they had willingly left this world fighting for. Fred's was a
humbling, sobering affair; Colin's made him feel as though a knife had slashed his heart. The
composure required to speak at Remus and Tonks' memorial, coupled with the now-immediate
responsibility of being Teddy's godfather (but not, thankfully, full-time guardian) forced him
into needed solitude for a few days afterward. He reemerged with a renewed sense of purpose to be
steadfast and respectful of what he believed in his heart to be true; he believed that he was
meant to live a peaceful, engaging, passionate life, and he wasn't meant to do so alone.
With Neville, Ron, Hermione, George and Lee Jordan's assistance, he outlined and they began the
arduous but healing task of rebuilding Hogwarts. It went on for several years, as the residue of
killing curses and power of spells cast by inherently well-meaning magical people and creatures
meant that much of the reconstruction had to be done manually. And this, ultimately, was a Good
Thing. It provided a common rallying point and symbol of the continuation of a unique wizarding
society, now ready to step back and distance itself from the Muggle world. This wasn't done out
of malice or uncaring, but reflected, as Hermione put it, "An acknowledgement that our ways
of life are different, but equal. But, pragmatically speaking, it's best for all concerned if we
stay out of Muggle affairs as a general rule of thumb, Muggle-born Wizarding children and their
families excepted. OBVIOUSLY." So it was decreed, but not enacted into any kind of ludicrous
law, which was why, ultimately, it seemed to work quite well for the most part in the ensuing
Harry and Ginny spent hours, days, weeks and months of time feasting on each other in ways only a
starving person could comprehend. After a couple of years, however, Harry felt he had gorged
himself. For all of that, there remained a hollow deep within himself, and he couldn't understand
why being with his heart's desire hadn't filled this yawning maw that still existed. Over several
bottles of wine, he asked Hermione about it, knowing that she'd take his very philosophical but
very real questions to heart, even though she was dealing with a similar sense of ennui. She'd
covered hers up by throwing herself into a graduate degree, shocking everyone — including
herself — by heeding the siren call of magical law enforcement, setting her eyes on
personally reforming the Wizengamot. But she, too, felt soul-bruised and self-derisive, unable to
understand why even with her full life and loving camaraderie with Ron, she still felt that
somewhere, on a primal level, she was acting in disharmony to her deepest sense of self.
Harry didn't really understand all of what she was getting at, but they seemed to be on the same
parchment. As he so often had, Harry looked to her for advice on what to do
about it. He'd
not spent his life ready to sacrifice himself only to let his life happen to
him now that
he'd survived. He wanted to guide it, to take charge — only of himself and his own actions,
thank you very much — but in this realm of personal happiness, he felt cheated and
bewildered that this adolescent aim remained so elusive.
"What did you say?" Hermione asked sharply, though she was slurring her words just a
"When?" Harry had been babbling off the cuff. He tried to recreate whatever he'd been
saying that had seemed so eloquent mere moments prior.
"Just now. Something about what you'd wanted since fourth year."
"Yes." Hermione turned to him, eyes shining, her gaze a perplexing mix of relief and
sorrow. "We've been taught to trust our more adult selves, but Harry, I think our more basic
made its imprint on us when were younger."
Harry trusted Hermione with his life, and valued her insight even more than Ginny's, and she was
at times distressingly perceptive. This comment, however, seemed to have as much sense as looking
for meaning in the shapes of centaur dung droppings.
"You mean that task where I was asked about what I would miss most?" Harry said
dismissively. "I picked Ron. So your logic's faulty."
"Isn't," Hermione sulked. "Pour me some more wine. Well, Viktor chose
"Who would you have chosen?" Harry said, unintentionally belligerent.
"Ron. See? My logic's flawless," she retorted, but there was a deep undercurrent of
uncertainty that even through his dulled senses, Harry could recognise.
"Maybe we're just too scarred to be like other, normal people," Harry mused, though
Hermione's line of thought continued to meander through his mind. He tried to remember how he'd
felt at that age, how everything had been so blatant and black and white.
"No," Hermione said vehemently. "That's rubbish."
Parts of that conversation lingered in Harry for a long time, though he and Hermione didn't bring
it up again. Another couple of years went by; Ginny spent more and more time away playing for the
Harpies, and he supported her, because he loved her unconditionally. Like so many things of
profound change, the one between them came without a trumpeted herald; it simply was
their touches became less erotic and more comforting, until the day when they looked at each
other and saw their transformed, adult selves affectionately mirrored in each other's eyes. There
were tears shed then, and hiccoughed questions of, "Are you sure?" and, "Yes, it's
time, but you're forever a part of me."
Harry ached with it, though with the continued beating of his heart, he knew he was at peace as
he moved ahead without Ginny at his side or in his bed. Ron and Hermione, too, had passed through
a similar dark valley and emerged, more independently, on the other side. They were even closer
and more devoted to one another, though not in a conventional way that was ever going to result
in a wedding on the Weasley lawn.
Ron and Harry got a flat together, and began Auror training, falling into a comfortable routine
which, at long last, made Harry feel as though the jagged wounds in his spirit were able to mend.
It wasn't until George and Lee's handfasting, however, that Harry even considered what might have
been so obvious he'd truly not been able to see it. There were as many toasts to Fred as to the
newly bound couple at George and Lee's ceremony, a fitting, mirth-filled celebration finally
doing justice to remember Fred's short but vibrant life.
Back at their place after the handfasting, Harry and Ron sat on their couch, finishing a bottle
of Glenmorangie Ginny had given them after a recent match in Edinburgh. There wasn't much to say;
no regrets standing sentry to mock or infuriate, only an inexorable acknowledgment of a
germinated truth that had begun long, long ago. In one of those elusive flashes of
self-awareness, Harry understood that happiness and peace had come to him; it had always been
there, but he'd been blind to it. He felt as though it were morning, and he'd just woken up, and
the world was its usual blurred reality until he put on his glasses. All at once, through such a
quotidian, mundane act, clarity and shadow took their rightful forms.
Ron looked searchingly at Harry before finishing his drink and placing it on the coffee table.
Harry nodded, his heart thumping a feverish tattoo when Ron's calloused fingers moved to remove
his glasses from his face. Ron's breath hovered on Harry's lips, awaiting permission. Closing his
eyes, Harry bridged the gap, their kiss flinging open a torrent of need and desire.
Later, in the sombre hush an hour or so before dawn, Harry ran his fingers through Ron's hair as
he slept. Absentmindedly, his hand drifted to his own forehead, and he touched the faded
lightning scar there. It had not pained him once in the ensuing years, and as he listened to the
low whistle of Ron's breath in sleep, he knew all was well.
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