Eternal Summer Gilds Them Yet

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 years.

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 bit.

"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."

"Did I?"

"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 happiness, that 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 me…"

"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, as 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.

Back to Harry Potter Fanfiction