Disclaimer and Acknowledgements
The Harry Potter universe and all the characters in it belong to J. K. Rowling. I get nothing out of this except enjoyment.IMPORTANT – READ THIS BEFORE YOU GO ANY FURTHER
For various reasons I have written three different endings to this story. You may choose to read the one you prefer or as many of them as you wish. I have posted them all simultaneously, as separate chapters. They are mostly the same (about 80 percent identical), but each has a different relationship ending. So if you can only tolerate Harry with Hermione, read the first ending. The second one (this one) will have Harry marrying Ginny. The third will be a combination. This way the H/Hr shippers (most of you I think) should be happy, the H/G shippers (primarily my kids) have what they want (pretty much), and there's even a version for the H/Hr/G harem fans.
So, read the one you like and please don't complain about the other two just because you don't like the ship.
Chapter 20b, A Chocolate Alternative – Harry and Ginny
Ginny opened her eyes to find herself in a very unfamiliar situation. She wasn't in either her dorm room or the Hospital Wing. She wasn't in a bed. She was wearing someone else's clothing. Someone's arm was around her.
As her thoughts began to sort themselves out, some of these unusual observations resolved themselves. She recognized that she was in the common room of the Heads suite. She was lying on Harry and Hermione's sofa, although it was much larger than it should be. She was wearing only a large tee shirt and a pair of knickers. That wasn't so unusual – she often slept in such attire. But the tee shirt wasn't hers. And the person snuggled up behind her with his arm around her was Harry. All things considered, she thought, this was a very nice situation to wake up in.
The previous night after she had brought Hermione back here, the two girls had sat and talked about the dilemma they found themselves in, and decided it was time to resolve it. When Harry had returned they had literally picked him up and plopped him down on the sofa between them to hash things out. Ginny had begun by apologizing to Harry for the actions that had created the rift between them. She had admitted that those actions had been wrong and she should have known better. It had been a mistake for her to get that intimate in relationships that weren't very serious. The three of them agreed that she had found herself in a situation she couldn't handle, and then because of her poor self-image and her immaturity made decisions that were hard to reverse. She finished by telling Harry that what she regretted the most was the pain that her actions had caused him, and her realization of how much more painful it was when you hurt someone you loved.
For his part Harry apologized to her for reacting the way that he had, and for not talking to her about it to try to work things out. He noted that despite the image that their dating machinations of the previous term had given him, he was quite naive about relationships and had a difficult time dealing with the physical side of them. He admitted to her that he had started to realize that he had romantic feelings for Hermione as well as for Ginny long before that incident, and that it had been unfair to her to use it as an excuse to explore those feelings. Both of them forgave the other, and all three of them agreed that everyone was at fault to some extent.
But, Harry concluded, the bottom line was that he thought he was in love with both of them. And two months later he still didn't know what to do about it. At that point he had put an arm around each girl and they both snuggled up next to him, sitting there pondering their situation well into the night. Eventually they had decided to sleep on it, and Hermione had transfigured the sofa so that they could all stay snuggled up together. Hermione had given Ginny the tee shirt to sleep in, explaining that it was one of Harry's that she had borrowed last summer and never returned, and had remarked with a knowing smile that Ginny would probably find it as comforting to sleep in as she had.
As she was reviewing these events, Ginny's attention was brought back to the present when Harry's hand moved up on her chest. During the night the tee shirt had ridden up past her waist and his hand was touching bare skin. She smiled to herself as she remembered her mum's reaction when Hermione had bought her the nice pairs of knickers for her birthday, assuming that the whole point was to show Harry. Well, as soon as he woke up he was certainly going to get an eyeful of this pair. Those thoughts suddenly vanished when Harry's hand came to rest up against her right breast.
Ginny's heart started pounding. Was he awake? Did he know what he was doing to her? She shuddered as a jolt of pleasure went through her when his thumb began to move back and forth, tracing the curve of the lower part of her breast. Hermione had been right again. The feeling was so much better when it was someone you loved. She moved her hand to cover his, and she felt him shift. He was definitely awake, she decided, and she could feel his excitement as his hips pressed up against her lacy red knickers, even through the shorts he was wearing. She had been waiting for this moment for months. This was her chance to take their relationship to the more physical level she had wanted two months ago. She covered his hand with her own, not to keep it from going farther but to keep him from removing it if he changed his mind.
She gave his hand a little squeeze and he took the hint as his fingers began exploring further. She felt a jolt go right down to her core, and she responded by wiggling her hips and grinding her pelvis back against him.
"No, not this time," he whispered in her ear. She reluctantly stopped her wiggling, but another thrill shot through her at the 'this time' part of his directive. Her heart was pounding now and it was all she could do to lie still as his fingers continued their ministrations. She closed her eyes and just let the feeling wash over her, and was aware of pressure building up inside her. Both nipples had hardened under his teasing and each stroke sent another tingle through her. He was trailing little kisses along the back of her neck and she couldn't help the little moan that escaped when he reached a sensitive spot below her ear. Her breath had started coming in gasps when it hit – a wave of pleasure flowed out from her center all the way to her toes and fingers and her whole body shuddered as she let out an involuntary cry. He was hers!
He loved her. She loved him.
But he also loved Hermione.
She had been watching him closely the past week. She had seen the way he looked at Hermione and talked about her. She finally understood and now fully experienced what Hermione had been talking about that night last summer after the wedding. If you truly loved someone, you wanted what was best for him, even if it didn't include you. What was best for Harry? They had to find out. Still catching her breath, she rolled over to face him.
Harry's pulse began racing as he became aware of where his hand was. This was the heart of his dilemma. He loved both girls but he felt a level of excitement with Ginny that he hadn't really felt with Hermione, or at least permitted himself to feel. He found himself reacting to Ginny's body pressed up against his own, and his hand responded almost automatically as his thumb began to trace the curve of her breast. This had never happened during any of the times he had shared a bed with Hermione.
Even when he kissed Hermione, the feelings he had could be described as sweet, comfortable, contented. Definitely pleasurable. But only a few times had it been passionate like it used to be when he kissed Ginny. Dan had told him that the exciting, pit of the stomach feeling would come and go. But it seemed to come a lot more often with Ginny than with Hermione.
He could feel her growing excitement as his hands explored her delightful breasts. He was fascinated by his ability to bring her nipples erect with only a few strokes, and cause her to moan with a few little kisses in the right spot. Even though he had never done this before, he could tell he was clearly doing it right, and when her body shuddered and she cried out softly he almost lost it himself. As he felt her body relax he pulled her to himself, cupping her breasts tenderly as if they were they were a precious treasure. They were. She was. All he could think about was how much he wanted this girl. He loved her. She loved him.
But what about Hermione?
Harry was amazed when Ginny broke contact and rolled to face him. He was astonished at what she said.
"You should do this with Hermione."
"The two of you need to figure out what you really want."
With eyes wide Harry watched as Ginny pulled away and sat up, then rose from the transfigured sofa. She walked over to Hermione's room and paused, turning back before she disappeared inside. "Go ahead."
Puzzled, Harry rolled over to face Hermione and found her awake and gazing back at him. Green eyes locked with brown eyes as their minds met.'Ginny said …'
Hermione had been aware of the movement next to her, and guessed what was happening. Ginny was finally getting what she wanted. Was this it then? Would Harry get back together with her? Should she leave and give them some privacy? Should she stay and make her own play for him? She and Harry had agreed to hold off on any intimate contact until things sorted themselves out. Was it too late now? Did she even want a more physical relationship with him?
Ginny's little cry told her that the younger girl had just had a very satisfying experience. Now what? Sooner than she expected, Ginny broke her contact with Harry and turned to speak with him, then got up and left the room. Then Harry turned to her and their eyes locked.'Ginny said …'
Hermione was wearing her usual sleepwear – a camisole top and pajama bottoms. Harry reached out his hand and slipped it under the bottom of her loose top, resting it on her waist. Slowly, he began to move it up, never breaking eye contact. Their eyes continued to probe each other as a hundred messages passed between them. He paused when his index finger reached the beginning of the swell of one of her breasts, and his thumb entered the valley between them. This was the bright shining line that they had agreed not to cross. At least not until now. Now, he found his pulse racing again, just as it had been moments ago. And from where his hand rested, he could feel her heart doing the same. But it was different than before. There was a calmness, a contentment just in the physical contact they were making with each other. But it didn't come close to matching the contentment they received from the mental contact they were making. And he knew. And she knew. She voiced it first.
"We don't need this."
"But Ginny does."
They both instinctively knew what they were feeling, but Hermione was able to put it into words. "Harry, what we have is something no one else has. We're connected, you and I, by a deeper kind of love. A special kind of love that is ours alone. We share an intimacy that is every bit as satisfying as a physical relationship would be. Harry, I'm never happier than when I'm hugging you, or touching you, or when you're holding me. But really, that's all I need, because I'm so connected to you. Just being with you, sharing things with you, is everything. If we can keep that I'll be happy for the rest of my life." She paused, a slight tilt of her head sending him a silent query to see if he was following her. A nod and the look in his eyes confirmed that he agreed.
"That's not to say that I don't think we could have a wonderful physical relationship." They shared a smile. "But …"
"She really loves you Harry. She never gave up on you, but she's willing to give you up if that's what's best for you. And after everything that's happened … she deserves it Harry. And I don't think it's a matter of winning you or losing you. We can all be winners if we can make it work."
Harry nodded again. He knew what Hermione had in mind. They would make it work. People might think the situation strange, but he was long past caring about people thinking him strange. The most difficult thing would be explaining it to Dan and Emma. And Molly.
Ginny emerged from Hermione's room to find her two best friends locked in an embrace. She struggled to bring her emotions under control and squared her shoulders, preparing for the worst. Harry and Hermione broke apart and beckoned her forward so she sat down between them, puzzled.
"Ginny, you know I love you. But you also know about the connection that Hermione and I have, and always will have. It's even stronger than you might have realized. We're a part of each other, like we're soul bonded somehow. If you can accept that a part of me will always be with Hermione, just as a part of her will be with me, then you and I …"
Ginny's face had been cycling through a number of emotions, ending with a hopeful look of joy. She couldn't hold it in any longer and broke in, turning excitedly to Hermione. "You mean?"
Hermione nodded. "The rest of him's all yours, sis."
Thrilled beyond belief, Ginny turned back to Harry and launched herself into his arms, her lips devouring his. Hermione grinned at her and reached out to give them both a little squeeze, then rose from the sofa and headed for her room. Just as she reached the doorway, she turned back with a twinkle in her eye.
"Let me know when you two are ready to go down to breakfast. And Ginny, don't forget to give me that tee shirt back when you're finished with it."
Ginny broke away and looked at the empty doorway through which Hermione had just disappeared. With a salacious gleam in her eye she stood up and pulled the shirt off, leaving herself clad only in her lacy red knickers. She hurled the tee shirt into Hermione's room, and heard an acknowledging giggle. Turning back to a gobsmacked Harry, she reached out and tugged his shirt off, too. As he sat there unresisting, a dazed grin plastered over his face, she plopped herself back into his lap and wrapped her arms around him again, saying impishly, "Now, where were we?"
A/N That's all you're going to get for this scene. If you want more, use your imagination or find one of the hundreds of R rated stories on the net. Just remember, in my story Harry and Ginny (and Hermione) feel that sex should wait until marriage. But that doesn't mean that they can't enjoy other stimulating activities together.
Ten Years Later
"… and he took his sword and CUT off the bad wizard's head."
Harry smiled at his two children who had been listening attentively to the bedtime story. He ruffled the dark, messy hair of the boy who was grinning happily at the ending of the story, but the little girl had a disgusted look on her face. Then she looked up at him worriedly, her brown eyes boring deeply into his. Just like her mother, he thought contentedly. "Daddy, is the bad wizard gone now?"
"Yes, sweetie, he's all gone. Everything's fine. Go to sleep now."
"Night, Daddy," the two voices chorused.
"Good night, Jamie. Good night, Lily," Harry said as he gave each of them a hug and gave Lily a kiss (knowing that Jamie considered himself to be too big for a kiss).
He sat in the darkness for a long time just looking at the two of them, reveling as he did every night in the feelings that he had been denied growing up. He had a family. He had a real home. Life was just about perfect. Eventually he got up and went into another bedroom, where a witch sat brushing her bushy hair, preparing for bed. As he had nearly every night since the summer after his sixth year, he sat down to talk about his day with his best friend.
As they talked, Hermione turned away from him. Harry smiled and began to massage her back. This was the pattern they followed every evening. As she did every night, Hermione had changed into a terrycloth tube top. It gave him unfettered access to her shoulders and upper back, but maintained her modesty. Harry regularly saw quite a bit more of her when they went to the beach together, or swam in their pool, but as she had pointed out long ago, it was different on the beach than in the bedroom.
As he finished the massage, she brought up her big piece of news. "I made the final arrangements with the fertility specialist today." Harry nodded. Their living situation had worked out perfectly as far as they were all concerned, but as the children grew older Hermione's biological urges had begun to assert themselves. She had decided that she wanted to have a baby as well, and they had all agreed on the plan for her to be artificially inseminated.
"You're sure you want to go through with it?" Harry asked, seeking one final confirmation. "You're sure you can handle what people are going to say?"
"We've managed to put up with those rumors all our lives, Harry. The people who we really care about will understand."
"OK, I'll go see him tomorrow."
They got up and Harry gave her a hug, and she responded with a friendly kiss. "Make sure Ginny gets her back rub," she added. Harry grinned again as he left her bedroom. She and Ginny had long ago become hooked on Harry's massages, and each always looked out for the other, taking every opportunity to remind him of his 'duty'.
Entering his own bedroom, Harry took off his clothes, and crawled into bed, snuggling up to his wife from behind. As he did every night, he appreciated the decision they had made long ago that nightgowns and pajamas were completely unnecessary articles of clothing.
"So, how did you kill him this time?" came a soft voice from the figure curled up in front of him.
"Cut off his head with a sword." Harry responded as his left arm wrapped around her, his hand coming to rest on her breast, cupping it tenderly.
"Yech!" came the reply, bringing a smile to his face. Like mother, like daughter.
"Funny, that's the same reaction Lily had," Harry replied teasingly, while entwining the fingers of his other hand in her hair. He loved the sensation, and knew that she did too. "Hermione said not to forget your backrub," he added.
"Mmm," came the response. "Hermione is the smartest witch we know. Better do what she says."
Harry's hands lovingly massaged her upper back and shoulders, which were all that he could reach in this position, for a while before returning to their original places. "Speaking of Hermione, she says she's ready to try it." Harry knew this wouldn't be news to Ginny – she and Hermione were as close as two women could possibly be – but wanted to make sure she was all right with it.
"I know, she told me earlier." Harry heard the hesitation in her voice and waited patiently for her to continue. "Harry, if you wanted to do it the regular way it would be OK with me." Harry was taken aback. He had expected her to be supportive, but this was amazing. But then, it was Ginny, and that's the way she was. "You know," she continued, "people will think that anyway."
Harry hugged her to himself in a loving embrace, and felt her warm body melt into his. "Maybe," he replied, "but we'll know."
"I love you Harry."
"I love you too, Ginny." Yep, life was just about perfect.
The End (Except for the Epilogue)
A/N These endings were conceived months ago, before I even started writing End Game. For lack of a better description, I'm calling this a movie style ending, where the couple finally gets together at the end and then there's a jump forward in time to a final scene where they're married and living happily ever after. While it seems abrupt, remember that the main emphasis of this story has always been the relationship between Harry and Hermione.
When I began writing Soul Searching I had planned to have the story end up with Harry and Ginny married, and with Hermione living with them as a very close friend. But the H/Hr shipper in me (and the insistence of my beta reviewers) kept calling me to put Harry and Hermione together. Later on I came up with the combination idea. Thus the alternate endings. The challenge was to write the story in such a way that each of the endings is at least plausible. My Harry-Hermione bias probably made the first ending the most likely, but I hope I've at least created the possibility of the other endings. I'm sure all my readers will let me know how well I did and/or which endings they liked best.
A problem with this 'jump forward' type of ending is that it is rather unsatisfactory for readers who want to know more details about what happened to everyone else, as well as a bit more about the main characters. So I've also written a long epilogue, which should tie up all the loose ends. The epilogue is nearly identical for all three endings, except of course for the Harry/Hermione/Ginny parts. There is no new information in any one of the three epilogues compared to the others, so each of these endings can be read as a stand-alone finale.
Finally, I've decided to attach the epilogue to this concluding chapter, so you don't have to wait another week to read it. Enjoy!
Epilogue – aka, The Rest of the Story
After the final battle the family members of the most prominent Death Eaters such as Narcissa Malfoy were arrested and tried, with many being sentenced to terms in Azkeban. The loss of so many pureblood families created a power vacuum that was eventually filled by families like the Davis's, Greengrass's, and Zabini's, who had remained neutral during the war.
The Death Eaters that had been captured were tried, and most, like Bellatrix Lestrange and Antonin Dolohov, were executed. Severus Snape was a special case. The only person he had killed was Albus Dumbledore. That alone would have been enough for a death sentence, but he claimed that it was all part of a secret plan known only to him and the Headmaster. Harry testified that Dumbledore was very weak from the potion he had ingested that night, but still very much alive, and that his only instructions were for Harry to take him to Snape. He further noted with indignation that his assumption was that Snape was going to heal the Headmaster, not kill him, and that anyone who thought that Dumbledore would have sacrificed his life to maintain Snape's cover as a spy was insane.
After a long deliberation, the jury sentenced Snape to life imprisonment in Azkeban. There was some macabre speculation among the students on what Snape experienced when confronted with a Dementor. Some thought it was Neville Longbottom blowing up cauldrons. Others suggested it was Hermione Granger answering question after question correctly and Snape being forced to give points to Gryffindor. They finally concluded that it was probably Harry Potter receiving an Order of Merlin. In any case, Severus Snape's stay in Azkeban was not a long one and he died the way he had lived, a lonely, bitter man filled with hate.
As expected, Harry, Ron, and Ginny's team won the Quidditch Cup that spring, the third for each of them. The following year Ginny would go on to win her fourth, tying her brother Charlie's record.
Charlie survived the attack by Nagini, but never recovered the use of his arm. This ended his career as a dragon handler so he agreed to stay on at Hogwarts to continue helping out in Care of Magical Creatures. After a long talk with McGonagall about teaching, Hagrid admitted that he wasn't that comfortable as a professor and agreed to return to being gamekeeper, and Charlie accepted the teaching position full time. Hagrid, however, was always enthusiastic about making suggestions regarding 'interesting' creatures that could be brought in to show the classes.
Percy was welcomed back to the Weasley family after his long estrangement. It took Molly quite some time to calm herself down after hugging everyone in sight upon his return to the Burrow, particularly when he announced his engagement to Penelope Clearwater on the same visit. His younger brothers, who had been ready to hex him to oblivion the year before, had a lot more respect for him after they discovered the difficult role he had been required to play. The stressful situation had also managed to humanize him a bit more, as he had plenty of time to ponder his mistakes and realize how important his family was to him.
Bill continued on at Gringott's main headquarters, benefiting from his close association with Harry. He would eventually rise to become the equivalent of a vice president, the highest post ever held by a human at the goblin-owned bank, and he became instrumental in the effort to improve wizard-goblin relations. The arrival of Fleur's baby that summer put Molly Weasley over the top with happiness, her recovery from the stress of the war complete. When Bill and Fleur named her Janelle in honor of Hermione's alter ego, Molly got the message and finally accepted the muggleborn witch's inescapable role in Harry's life.
Neville never regained consciousness, and finally succumbed to his injuries two weeks after the battle. Harry made sure that there was another memorial ceremony just for him, where he was posthumously awarded his Order of Merlin, 2nd class, and his name was added to the monument outside of Hogsmeade, right above Moody's name.
To no one's surprise, Hermione finished at the top of the class in all of her subjects, and scored straight O's in all of her NEWTs, including those for which she had studied independently. She ended up with a total of nine – Ancient Runes, Arithmency, Charms, Defense, Herbology, History of Magic, Muggle Studies, Potions, and Transfiguration. Harry finished second to her in Transfiguration and third behind her and Padma in Charms, but didn't take enough courses to be included in the official class ranking. At Hermione's insistence he took the NEWT for Muggle Studies in addition to those in Charms, Defense, and Transfiguration, receiving an E and three O's.
Their actual scores on the NEWTs set several records. Harry received the highest NEWT score for Defense Against the Dark Arts in history. After he achieved a perfect score on the written portion of the exam Professor Tofty, the Ministry examiner giving the NEWT, was so impressed by Harry that he refused to even test him on the practical, awarding him full marks plus 100 bonus points. He reasoned that if producing a patronus was worth one bonus point on an OWL, destroying Lord Voldemort was worth 100 on a NEWT. If not for Harry, Hermione would have had the highest Defense NEWT score in history. During her practical, the examiner foolishly decided to see if he could come up with a dark spell that she didn't know the counter to, and gave her a bonus point for every one she could block. He finally gave up thirty minutes and fifty bonus points later. Needless to say, Harry's record of 300 points on a 200 point exam (not to mention Hermione's mark of 250) was never broken.
Hermione also set the records for the highest scores in Transfiguration and Charms of the century, eclipsing McGonagall's mark set fifty-five years previously in Transfiguration, and Lily Evans's twenty year old Charms record. Albus Dumbledore's marks in those two subjects, set the previous century, remained as the highest overall. As a group, the Defense scores of the class of 1998 were the highest ever at Hogwarts, breaking the record previously set by the class of 1978. This also surprised no one, since more than half of the class were members of the elite DA, and the rest of them were in the advanced group of the regular DA. Ron finished with the third highest Defense score of the year, with a mark that would have been at the top of the class in most any other year.
After graduation Harry treated the elite DA members to a weeklong vacation at one of the properties that the Potter estate owned, in Jamaica, in an expression of his gratitude for everything they had done. It was a secluded resort on the west coast with a dozen small cottages and included a pool and a private beach. Dean was still in a wheelchair so he and Lavender stuck to the pool. In general the rest of the group spent their time on the beach, leaving the couple to have the pool to themselves most days. Dean and Lavender assured the others that this was just fine, and they were glad to have the private time together.
The first thing Hermione did was take the girls into the nearby resort village of Negril to introduce them to the concept of the string bikini. Initially the witches, especially the purebloods, expressed their disbelief that women would permit themselves to be seen in public in garments that were even more revealing than underwear, but they all eventually summoned the courage to try the miniscule swim costumes. A buying frenzy ensued, ending with each of the witches owning at least two. Lavender's pregnancy was starting to show now, but she bravely went along with the rest, which revealed her condition to the DA members who didn't already know. All the girls were excited for her, squealing as they examined her swelling abdomen and chattering about what it was like, how she was feeling, and so forth. For their parts the boys hung back as if she were contagious and looked at Dean as though he had just received a prison sentence, but upon seeing that he was as thrilled about it as Lavender was, they gradually loosened up.
Once the girls got more used to their new swimwear, and began eyeing the other sunbathers on the beach in Negril, Tracey dared Daphne to go even further and wear a thong like the ones that several of the muggle women were sporting. Daphne quickly shot back that she would wear one if Hermione did. Hermione, who had on the magical swimsuit that she had bought in Florida, immediately took the challenge and transformed it into a thong on the spot. As Tracey gave Daphne a triumphant smirk, the gorgeous blonde shrugged in defeat, reminded herself again never to underestimate Hermione Granger, and changed into a thong. To no one's surprise Lavender also took up the challenge, but to everyone's surprise Luna did as well. (Although, in retrospect, they realized that nothing Luna did should surprise them.) Not to be outdone by her two best friends, Ginny also agreed to get one, but would only wear it when Harry was around, and when Ron was not. The other five witches decided that the regular string bikinis were revealing enough for them. Either way, there was a group of very appreciative wizards in Jamaica that week.
One morning Lavender, who frequently had to get up early to use the loo, spotted Harry, Ginny, and Hermione out at the pool swimming laps, and was amazed to see Hermione and Ginny swimming topless. While Ginny initially moved to cover up, not yet being completely accustomed to that level of exposure, Hermione unabashedly explained to Lavender how much she enjoyed the feeling of swimming and sunning unencumbered in that fashion and encouraged her to try it. She added that some muggle women sunned topless during pregnancy because they thought it helped toughen their breasts for nursing a baby. When Dean later beheld the results of this discussion when he and Lavender were out at the pool by themselves, it reaffirmed his belief that Hermione Granger was the smartest witch in the world.
Hermione being Hermione, she couldn't pass up the chance to learn something about wizards in other countries, so some of the group spent an afternoon visiting the local wizard community. They learned that in Jamaica, the wizards mingled freely with the nonmagical people, posing as members of a local sect called Rastafarians. The dreadlocks worn by these wizards reminded Harry of Fred and George's friend Lee Jordan. Other than that excursion, Harry, Ginny, and Hermione spent all their time sunning on the beach and diving on the reef. Remembering their experience in the Florida Keys, Harry had brought along a large supply of gillyweed for everyone to use in their underwater exploring, and showed them how to use it.
One day when the three of them were skin diving together the two girls decided to reward Harry with a little something different. Hermione, like Viktor Krum had during the second task, performed a partial transfiguration on herself and Ginny, but with much more attractive results than a shark's head. Harry suddenly found himself swimming with two beautiful mermaids. Hermione's wild untamed hair flowed around her like a lion's mane, and though it was clear that her figure was curvier than Ginny's, it was Ginny who took his breath away – or would have if he hadn't eaten gillyweed. With her flowing red hair and petite figure Ginny looked just like the title character of the Disney movie, but without the sea shell top that was necessary for the movie's G rating. (A/N – Take a look at the statue of the Little Mermaid in Copenhagen, Denmark to see what a mermaid ought to look like. Hey, it's their story.)
Harry sent Hermione a mental query asking if she was going to give him a tail also, but she returned smugly that she and Ginny preferred him with his legs and bum intact, particularly with the brief swimsuit he was wearing. Deciding to show his gratitude for the girls' efforts, Harry transformed his suit into a thong for the duration of the dive, much to their delight.
For the next hour the three of them glided through the coral canyons, chasing colorful fish in and out of the gently waving purple sea fans and multicolored soft corals. Groups of blue and yellow striped french grunts hovered beneath the sea fans, eyeing them warily. Small damselfish darted in and out of the honeycombed rock, challenging them. A multicolored parrotfish gnawed noisily on a coral outcropping and a large school of midnight blue tangs swept by. A pair of four-eyed butterflies moved along just out of reach, never separating for more than a moment before rejoining. Down under a ledge, a lobster waved its antennae menacingly at them.
Over and over Harry found his attention drawn to the lovely creatures swimming along beside him, and they likewise had a hard time taking their eyes off of him as well. Every so often they caught each other looking and smiled. By the time the hour was up Harry decided that it had been as close to paradise on earth as he could possibly get. Although the three of them didn't repeat the experience that week, they vowed that they and their family would return to this spot again and again throughout their lives. Ginny had one more treat for Harry before they left the island, though, when (at Hermione's suggestion) the two of them snuck away to Bloody Bay, a clothing optional beach just north of Negril's main beach, for some nude sunbathing early one morning before anyone else was about.
During the course of the week the group of students strengthened the ties that would last them for a lifetime. In years to come this would turn out to be one of the most accomplished classes in Hogwarts history, and they all knew that the experiences that they had shared that year had forged unbreakable bonds. While some of them would achieve success in business, some in government, some in sports, and some in academia, they would all be there for each other when needed. Before they returned they all vowed to stay close to each other, and decided that they would get together again like this every five years.
Upon their return, Harry, Ron, and Hermione decided to share a house in Hogsmeade while they worked out what they were going to do with the rest of their lives. They enjoyed living in the wizarding village, and often had friends stop by to visit during the summer. Of course, the most common visitor was Ginny, although for propriety's sake Molly insisted that she officially live at the Burrow until she was married. After some discussion with Ginny and Hermione, Harry decided to build a permanent residence in that town, splitting their time between there and Potter Mansion. Harry purchased the Shrieking Shack and they built a large sprawling house on the property, with lots of rooms for guests, and the newly named Potter Place became a place for their friends to stay when visiting Hogwarts.
As they were moving their possessions from the house on Turnbull Court to their new house in Hogsmeade, Hermione had the idea, which Harry enthusiastically agreed with, to make Potter Place a mixed muggle and magical house. With the installation of solar panels on the roof and a small windmill that they built in the hills above Hogsmeade they were able to generate enough electricity to power their entertainment system, a computer, and other small appliances. Ginny was much more thrilled with the muggle features than Ron. Whereas he had been unable to cope with muggle living the previous summer, she embraced it enthusiastically. For her it was an important part of Harry's (not to mention Hermione's) life, and another way for her to be able to know and understand him better.
When Ted and Andromeda Tonks saw it they immediately asked if they could bring their Muggle Studies classes for a visit. This turned into an important component of the Muggle Studies curriculum and hundreds of students would benefit over the years by being able to visit the house and see how muggles lived.
Harry and Ginny also decided to keep the tunnel that had connected the Shrieking Shack to the Whomping Willow and in later years would often use it for easy access to the castle. It turned out to be particularly handy during Ginny's final year at Hogwarts, as she and Harry both utilized it for after hours visiting. Needless to say, Ginny found Harry's invisibility cloak and the Marauder's Map to be very helpful that school year. They did put a sealed portal at the end of the tunnel under the tree. Even though, as the years went by, from time to time there were students clever enough to figure out how to sneak down past the Whomping Willow into the tunnel, it was safe to say that none of them would ever break Harry and Hermione's locking charms on the portal.
After the summer ended Ron moved out and found his own place. He was beginning to reap the rewards of his fame, not the least of which was his attractiveness to the opposite sex. Without two housemates, especially his female best friend who didn't always approve of his choices in women, he was better able to enjoy the opportunities that passed his way. Hermione, on the other hand, stayed in the house, even after Ginny moved in. While this initially raised a few eyebrows, and as it became clear that her residence in Harry's house was permanent, more than a little speculation, with time everyone became accustomed to the three's living arrangements.
The biggest hurdle, of course, was Molly Weasley. But once Molly understood that Dan and Emma had no objection to the accommodations, and that Ginny was perfectly happy to have Harry's best friend (who also happened to be her best friend) under her roof, she finally gave up and accepted it. She was even able to handle Hermione's pregnancy ten years later, once Emma explained the muggle method she had used to conceive.
During their last year at Hogwarts, Ginny and Luna shared the Head Girl position, with Colin Creevey becoming Head Boy. When asked why she had broken tradition by naming two head girls, McGonagall pointed out that no previous Hogwarts headmaster had ever had an Order of Merlin recipient available when it came time to select head students, much less three, and she wasn't about to snub any of them.
Once they decided to settle in Hogsmeade, Harry realized that he could help rebuild the town by bringing in some of his friends and aiding them in establishing businesses. The first couple he set up was Dean and Lavender. During his years in Gryffindor Tower Harry had been impressed by Dean's artistic ability and while they were in Jamaica he and Hermione had spent some time by the pool talking with Dean and Lavender about their future. They found that Dean wanted to become a painter so when they returned they offered them the funds to start up a portrait business in Hogsmeade.
Although Dean and Lavender were initially reluctant to accept such a handout, a conversation with Fred and George convinced them that Harry was sincere about investing in his friends. Seeing the twins' success was pretty convincing too. A year later, Harry also helped Colin open a photography shop next door to Dean's portrait studio and the two businesses complemented each other nicely, with a significant portion of Dean's paintings being based on pictures that Colin had taken.
Lavender became a writer for the Daily Prophet, specializing in fashion and gossip, although she was always careful to be as accurate as possible. When their son was born in the fall, she and Dean wanted to name him after Harry, but he tried to talk them out of the idea. The fact that nearly half of the boys born in the wizarding world that year were named Harry also helped persuade them. And so it was that in September, 2010 James Harold (Jim) Thomas became the first child of any of the elite DA, the heroes of the war against Voldemort, to enter Hogwarts.
With Harry's assistance Parvati and Padma opened a clothing boutique in Hogsmeade, featuring a mixture of muggle and wizard fashions. Due to the great experience everyone had enjoyed at the Halloween dance, they found an eager customer base of Hogwarts students, and eventually they became successful enough to open a second shop in Diagon Alley. The twins worked well together, with Parvati focusing on sales and Padma keeping the books. When Flitwick retired Padma took over his positions as Charms professor and Head of Ravenclaw House.
Harry also helped to rebuild Diagon Alley by persuading the Gringotts goblins to grant interest free loans to merchants to help them reopen the shops that had been closed. Ragnok realized that far from being a money loser, this move was an investment that would pay off many times over in good will and improved goblin-wizard relations. One of the first establishments to reopen was Olivander's wand shop, and his first item of business was to create a custom made wand for Harry using the final feather Fawkes had given.
Harry gave Grimmauld Place to Remus and Tonks as a wedding present. With their help SPEW (Hermione agreed to drop the embarrassing acronym) became a house elf employment agency providing work for the free house elves who had joined the fight against Voldemort. It was managed by Remus and Ted Tonks and provided a nice income to supplement their Hogwarts salaries. Many wizarding families who had never owned house elves of their own were now able to hire them on a temporary basis for weddings and other special occasions. The ranks of free house elves gradually grew with the addition of the mistreated elves of the executed Death Eaters. When not working, the elves all lived in and maintained Dernhelm Castle. They fixed up the dungeons in the castle, which had housed Death Eater prisoners, making them into comfortable, but secure cells that were then offered free of charge to any werewolf who needed a place to stay during the full moon. With time, and as new generations of wizards and witches were raised being exposed to the radical viewpoints of Harry and Hermione, the status of house elves would inevitably change.
Seamus Finnegan was hired by Fred and George and returned to Ireland, where he opened the first overseas branch of Weasley's Wizarding Wheezes. As the company continued to grow, more stores opened and Seamus ended up overseeing their entire Irish division. The twins also expanded into France, starting a store near Beauxbaton's run by one of Fleur's cousins. After Viktor assured them that Durmstrang students also had a sense of humor, they got together with a friend of his to set up a shop in Germany. Despite Molly's urging, the twins never married, and played the role of fun-loving bachelor uncles to several generations of Weasley offspring.
As everyone expected, Ernie Macmillan went into politics, joining the Ministry of Magic. In time he became the head of the Department of International Magical Cooperation where he was instrumental in helping advance Harry and Hermione's efforts to overcome class, cultural, and racial barriers in wizarding relations. He married his longtime friend Hannah Abbott and their oldest daughter became the second child of the former elite DA members to enter Hogwarts, in the fall of 2011.
Their fellow Hufflepuff Justin Finch-Fletchly went on to get a degree at a muggle university, then replaced Ted and Andromeda Tonks as Muggle Studies Professor at Hogwarts and became Head of Hufflepuff House. The fourth Hufflepuff of the group, Susan Bones, followed her Aunt Amelia's footsteps and joined the Aurors, like her eventually rising to become the head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement.
Tracey Davis also went into politics, not as an employee of the Ministry of Magic, but operating behind the scenes much as Lucius Malfoy had done. Her ability to gather and use information, especially embarrassing information that gave her leverage over other politicians, slowly expanded her influence until she became one of the major power brokers in the government.
Daphne Greengrass and Ron went their separate ways after graduation. It was an amicable breakup, as they mutually agreed that they wanted different things in a long-term relationship. Daphne went through four different husbands in quick succession, accumulating more wealth and influence with each one. Her final marriage was to the publisher of the Daily Prophet, and by the age of thirty she was in control of the most influential wizard newspaper in the country. Daphne and Lavender, who rose through the ranks of the paper to become her personal assistant, were able to curb the flagrant lies and other excesses that had characterized the newspaper in the past, and make it into a hard-hitting but responsible publication. Daphne also used this public platform to support her best friend Tracey's political ambitions, and the two of them combined to become a formidable force in wizarding Britain, striking terror in the hearts of corrupt politicians.
Tracey never married, and when Daphne's fourth and final marriage ended with her in sole control of the Daily Prophet, the two former roommates moved in together and stayed together for the rest of their lives. While there were always suspicions of just how far their relationship went, they were always discreet and they both had too much power (and had demonstrated a willingness to use it for retribution) for anyone to dare make an issue of it in public. Although Harry didn't always approve of their actions and methods, he always considered them to be his friends and maintained a mutual respect with the Slytherin witches.
With Harry and Viktor's encouragement, Ron entered the quidditch development league, and after several years honing his skills he achieved his lifelong dream and signed with the Chudley Cannons as reserve keeper. After a satisfying career with the Canons he retired and joined the Department of Magical Games and Sports, soon becoming the head of that department, which brought the total of Ministry of Magic department heads for the class of '98 to three.
Ron continued his search for the girl of his dreams, and as one of the most famous heroes of the war had an unlimited number of willing candidates. But it wasn't until four years after graduation that he discovered her, or more accurately rediscovered her. For their fifth anniversary Bill and Fleur invited both of their families to celebrate with them at a villa in the south of France, and there Ron found her. Fleur's sister Gabrielle had just graduated from Beauxbatons, and while the 13 year old Gabrielle had captured Ron's attention at the wedding, when he met the 18 year old version he was totally smitten. She was everything he was looking for, a combination of breathtaking beauty with her long blonde hair and knockout figure, intelligence, loyalty, spirit of adventure, and a wicked sense of humor. By the end of the year they were engaged.
When Ron's brothers tried to tease him about the age difference, the sharp-witted Gabrielle quickly put them in their places by reminding them that Bill and Fleur were even farther apart in age. With a saucy wink at Ron she went on to declare that girls in her family were obviously attracted to mature men, which clearly didn't include Fred and George. After the laughter died down the family conceded that she was definitely deserving of becoming a Weasley. When Ron brought her to the first five-year DA reunion, the part veela was an immediate hit with the boys, but the girls eventually accepted her as well after she made it clear that Ron was the only guy for her. It also didn't hurt that she was equally comfortable discussing fashion with Lavender and Parvati, charms with Hermione and Padma, and politics with Daphne and Tracey.
After taking the summer after graduation off for a well-deserved break, and spending time with her parents, Hermione continued her education for several years. She earned a mastery in both Transfiguration and Charms, and continued to help develop the Muggle Studies curriculum at Hogwarts, which due to Harry's and her influence quickly spread to wizarding schools in other countries. She also took some classes at St. Mungo's to further develop her healing skills. But the first thing she did that fall was to return to the muggle university where they had sought out help in destroying the horcruxes to take a chemistry class. There she was astonished to discover that the friendly chem prof she had glimpsed only briefly on her visit the year before was actually the father of Laura, one of the muggleborn students at Hogwarts. That explained, she decided, why Laura was so good at Potions. The girl had been a natural at the difficult subject.
He told her that he had thought he recognized her at the orientation session in Diagon Alley before the previous school year, but since she hadn't said anything he didn't either. During the laboratory sessions of the chemistry course, where they had time to talk one on one, she discovered that they had several interests in common. They both enjoyed science fiction, particularly The Lord of the Rings and Star Wars, and he and his wife were very familiar with the area of Jamaica that she had just visited two months previously. The laboratory portion of the class was definitely her favorite part and by the end of the course she concluded that some of the things she learned there had potential applications in Potions.
Viktor persuaded Harry to join him and Troy in forming a touring all star quidditch team. They attended the quidditch world cup matches as spectators the first summer after Harry's graduation (having been given complimentary seats in the top box, of course), where Viktor and Troy formulated the idea and pitched it so some of their fellow quidditch stars. They were easily able to attract talented quidditch players from around the world and traveled across Britain and the rest of Europe playing exhibitions against local teams. Harry and Viktor took turns playing seeker, with whichever one wasn't playing acting as the coach. They had more bookings than they could handle, as they were a guaranteed sellout wherever they played. Eventually they discovered that they could also sell tickets to their practices, to which fans would flock to see the two most famous seekers in the world play against each other.
Viktor continued his courtship of Luna. In the year of Voldemort's defeat Harry and Viktor moved up to numbers one and two on the Witch Weekly list of most eligible bachelors, but it would be the last appearance for either of them. By the following summer Harry was married and Viktor had announced his engagement, to the dismay of hopeful witches throughout Europe. After graduation Luna joined her father at the Quibbler, eventually taking over the paper. Although she moved the paper toward more of a balance of stories, vigorously supporting Harry and Hermione's positions on goblin relations and elf rights, it still breathlessly reported all the latest sightings of fantastical creatures and announced the occasional bizarre conspiracy theory. She never lost the ability to bring the conversation to a halt with an off the wall observation. And Viktor loved her for it. She was the perfect counterpoint to his overly serious nature and he wouldn't have her any other way.
As had been the case for every quidditch match he ever played, the cheering crowds at Harry's matches always included one Hermione Granger. Hermione accompanied Harry (and Ginny, when her own schedule permitted) to every city he visited, fulfilling the dream he had shared with her when they had lived with each other the summer before seventh year to be able to travel together and see the world. The three also managed to find time to take vacations with Dan and Emma, including several to Hermione's favorite beach on the French Riveria where Ginny readily adopted Hermione and Emma's style of sunbathing .
Throughout their lives, Harry and Hermione made a point of spending some time together nearly every day, and on those occasions when they were apart the two best friends would call each other every evening on their mirrors or cell phones to share the day's events. Once the children arrived, Harry spent most of his time at home, apparating to practices and taking portkeys to his matches. When they were old enough, Ginny's children delighted in coming with 'Aunt Hermione' to watch their father play, and when Hermione eventually had her own children they did the same.
After a satisfying quidditch career, during which he also played for England in four Quidditch World Cups, Harry accepted the position as Professor of Defense Against the Dark Arts at Hogwarts when Remus retired. Hermione also joined the faculty as the Transfiguration Professor and Head of Gryffindor House.
When Ginny graduated she was recruited to play quidditch for the Holyhead Harpies, the all women's team run by Gwenogg Jones. During her career, when she wasn't taking time out to have babies, she made the English World Cup team three times as an alternate, getting to play in several matches each time. When her quidditch career ended she also joined the faculty at Hogwarts, taking Madam Hooch's position as flight instructor. Ginny quickly became one of the most popular teachers in the school, with many of the younger boys developing a crush on the pretty, vivacious witch. Ginny's most popular innovation was the institution of an annual faculty-student quidditch match, held the day of the end of year dance. Of course, with Harry Potter as seeker and Ginny Weasley as chaser for the faculty team, the students never came close to winning, but the games were high-scoring, fun affairs every year.
At Christmas of Ginny's last year at Hogwarts Harry gave her an engagement ring and the wedding plans began in earnest. They held the wedding the following summer at Harry's castle, which the house elves in residence decorated fabulously. It was the wizarding equivalent of the wedding of Charles and Diana. Of course Ron was the best man and Hermione was the maid of honor. They briefly considered having the entire elite DA as wedding attendants, but decided to scale it down. Ginny selected one bridesmaid from each house, Lavender, Luna, Susan, and Tracey. For the groomsmen Harry went with his Gryffindor dormmates and Justin, and Dobby acted as the ringbearer. The wedding was held in the great hall, with the reception in the ballroom, and later that evening Fred and George provided a spectacular fireworks display out in the courtyard.
Ginny continued playing quidditch, successfully combining that career with motherhood. In addition to Jamie and Lily, she later added Cedric to the growing Potter clan. Hermione was an immense help with the child-rearing as well, and Ginny was completely supportive of her when she decided she wanted children of her own. Her first attempt resulted in a son, Sirius, and eventually her daughter, Amelia, completed the family. And Harry had the large, loving family he had always dreamed of.
Harry, Hermione, and Ron were each offered seats on the Wizengamot. Harry and Hermione accepted, but Ron wasn't all that interested and was able to get Bill to take his place. He had also considered Percy, but he was gradually working his way up the ranks of the Ministry on his way to being Minister of Magic and as such would have his own seat on the legislative body. In the wizard equivalent of the House of Lords, where the Potters and the Blacks both held hereditary seats, Harry took the Potter seat and once again stunned the wizarding world by transferring the Black seat to Hermione. Just as Sirius had done with him, he officially adopted Hermione's children and bequeathed to her and them the Black family inheritance. This then, became the ultimate irony for the noble and most ancient House of Black, whose motto on the family crest read 'Toujours pur' or 'Always Pure': to be represented by a muggleborn witch and her descendents.
When McGonagall retired, Harry became headmaster and Hermione assistant headmistress, positions which they held for more than one hundred years. McGonagall had continued her efforts to reduce the rivalries between houses, and to upgrade the level of instruction, and as a result there were relatively few initiatives that Harry felt necessary to undertake as headmaster. Many of the changes that had been instituted during his seventh year had become popular traditions, such as the flexible seating at meals, and the four dances each year. By far the most significant alteration of the Hogwarts experience made by Headmaster Potter (and Assistant Headmistress Granger), after some spirited discussion with the rest of the staff, was the retiring of the Sorting Hat.
Neither Harry nor Hermione had ever been comfortable with the idea of being pigeonholed at the age of eleven, particularly since both of them had nearly been sorted into different houses. In place of the sorting, they created a new house solely for first years, where they would all live together, get to know each other, make friends, and adjust to life at Hogwarts without the competition of house points. At the end of their first year, after interviews with the heads of houses and a final interview with the Headmaster, students were assigned to houses for the remaining six years of their studies based both on their abilities and their preferences.
Harry and Hermione's even more grand ideas for the reform of wizarding society didn't catch on immediately, but they continued to push for them at every opportunity, and their fame always guaranteed them at least a polite reception. The first changes that were made were the repeal of the anti-werewolf legislation and the laws and practices that were discriminatory against muggleborns. In many cases, people didn't realize how unfair some of them were, like the enforcement of the Restriction for Underage Magic, which mainly targeted muggleborns.
Relations with the goblins improved, and wizarding families began to look differently at house elves, but as more changes occurred, there was the inevitable backlash. The opposition gradually grew and it was led by the old-line pureblood families who had previously had the most political influence. They obviously didn't like ceding power to the mixed blood and muggleborns that were starting to make more strides in the business, social, and political arenas. It finally came to a head when Percy Weasley was elected Minister of Magic and began to push for sweeping anti-discrimination legislation for all sentient magical beings. By the end of his first term his re-election campaign became a referendum on this issue. And his opponent was Tracey Davis.
Tracey had been gradually building up her political power, and by this time had amassed enough 'information' on various Wizengamot members that she controlled a large block of votes. She was the ideal candidate for the opposition because she was young and not part of the old crowd, was a war hero with an Order of Merlin (unlike Percy) and was known to be a friend of Harry Potter. She was clever enough in her campaigning never to disparage her opponent or speak against the issue that was so dear to Harry's heart, but always used language like 'restoring old-fashioned values'. With the Daily Prophet under Daphne's control and solidly supporting her, and with Harry refusing to endorse either of his friends over the other, the election went right down to the wire. Tracey won by the slimmest of margins.
But then, to the shock of the entire country, Tracey announced that she supported all of Percy's reforms and appointed him to be her second in command. She shifted the block of votes she controlled in favor of his legislation and it passed in a landslide. The opposition was in shambles, and by the time it recovered the damage was done. The purebloods would never be a significant factor again. For many years thereafter she and Percy alternated between the two top spots, and Britain became the most progressive country in Europe in the area of magical cooperation.
The stratagem that rocked wizarding society had been conceived and plotted out at the 25th year DA reunion in Jamaica. While the main players in the drama were Tracey, Daphne, Ernie and Harry, with Hermione being the primary architect of the legislation, everyone had played a part and helped plan the strategy. The group of friends faithfully continued to get together as they had promised, and the gathering grew as spouses and children were added to the mix. Of course Harry happily expanded the resort to accommodate them all. The band of students that changed the world eventually produced 42 children, a Minister of Magic, three Ministry department heads, four Wizengamot members, three professional quidditch players, owners of several successful businesses, and five Hogwarts professors. There was no doubt that they merited being considered the most successful group of students in Hogwarts history.
Life didn't stay perfect forever. As they moved into middle age, which would ordinarily last for more than one hundred years, it became clear that there was something wrong with Ginny. Instead of aging like a witch, she aged more like a muggleborn woman. Eventually it was concluded that the possession by Tom Riddle had drained so much life force from her that her life span would only be half that of a normal witch. In the year that she and Harry celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary she resigned from her duties as flight instructor at Hogwarts, although she kept coming to quidditch matches as long as she could, and was able to see all of her grandchildren play. The nearness of Potter Place to the castle became useful yet again because as her health diminished Harry and Hermione could take turns staying with her. She died during the summer of her 80th year, and the youngest member of the elite DA became the first to pass on.
Harry's grief was nearly unbearable, as yet another loved one was taken from him prematurely. This time though, it was tempered by the fact that he did have more than fifty years of happiness with her, unlike his parents or Sirius. The memories of these blissful times with the fiery redhead who had captured his heart and brought so much joy to his life enabled him to get past the sorrow. Hermione also grieved for the loss of the woman who had been her sister in every way that counted. Ginny's loss drew the two of them even closer together, if that was possible, as they mutually comforted each other.
The family (besides the five children there were now quite a few grandchildren and even some great-grandchildren) took off for a month and secluded themselves in one of the remote Potter properties to mourn together. At the end of this period the five children got together and quickly came to an agreement. Regardless of whether Ginny or Hermione was their birth mother, each woman had loved them all, and they all regarded both women as their mothers. So it was that James, Lily, and Cedric Potter, with Sirius and Amelia Granger standing right behind them, told Harry and Hermione that they would have no problem if the two of them married now, and did not feel that it would diminish Ginny's memory in the slightest.
When Harry and Hermione heard this they hugged and thanked them, appreciating their thoughtfulness. But ultimately they decided to go on as they had been. Their souls were bonded, and no ceremony would change or enhance that. They were satisfied with what they had, and would spend the rest of their lives together.
As it turned out, Harry and Hermione enjoyed even longer life spans than ordinary wizards and witches. Whether it had something to do with Gryffindor's ring and Hufflepuff's necklace and their magical link, or their own mental connection, or the fact that they were the most powerful witch and wizard of their generation no one knew. They finally retired from Hogwarts in 2165 after 150 years of teaching (yet another record, this time shared between the two) and spent the rest of their years traveling, and in Hermione's case writing. Hermione achieved the last of her lifelong dreams by being named editor of Hogwarts, a History for their tenth centennial edition, published in the year 2176.
But there are disadvantages of a long life as well, and eventually all of their friends were gone. When the last of their children also passed away, they knew it was time to go. Dernhelm Castle was left in a trust for the permanent use of the house elves, and sanctuary for werewolves. Potter Place was given to Hogwarts to house visiting parents and to continue to serve as a learning experience for Muggle Studies students.
Decades before, Dobby had helped them locate the other secret chamber beneath Hogwarts, where Godric Gryffindor, Helga Hufflepuff, and Rowena Ravenclaw had transferred their magical essences to make the castle sentient. On October 31, 2181, 200 years after the attack on Godric's Hollow, Harry Potter and Hermione Granger went down to the chamber and gave up the last of their magic to Hogwarts, moving on to the next great adventure, as always, together.Finite
Some Final Acknowledgements – The last paragraph of the epilogue is modeled after the ending of 'How Does It Feel?' by PK Fan. The skin diving with gillyweed scene was inspired by a similar scene in 'No Thanks' by Old Crow. I added the mermaid part. The underwater description of the coral reef is largely taken from 'Tom and Harry' by Old Crow, but since I wrote that scene for him in the first place it seemed reasonable to use it again.
I began writing Soul Searching at the end of July, 2005, so it has been almost exactly a year from start to finish. Never in my wildest imagination did I think I would end up with a pair of stories that totaled nearly 300,000 words! I only expected Soul Searching to be a medium length story covering the summer after Book 6; I didn't decide to write End Game until I found out how much I was enjoying Soul Searching and didn't want to stop. I never considered myself any kind of writer before (my only previous large piece of work was my PhD thesis – trust me, you don't want to read that!), so it is always a pleasant surprise when reviewers extol my writing abilities. It wasn't until after I wrote several chapters of Soul Searching and shared them with Old Crow, and he urged me to continue, that I got up the nerve to consider posting the story. I really owe him an enormous debt, since I never would have written anything without his encouragement.
I plan to continue writing, but I doubt that I will write another mega story like Soul Searching/End Game any time soon, if at all. I currently have ideas for four other stories of short to medium length, one of which is about half finished as of this writing. Check out my profile occasionally if you're interested in reading more of my stories.
There are also many short stories that could be written based on sections of the epilogue for this story. If any aspiring writers out there want to give it a try, feel free to take a shot at of them if you like. Be sure and let me know if you do. I got my feet wet in fanfiction by writing an epilogue to one of Old Crow's stories. He didn't use it, but his positive response led me to try a story of my own.
I have an almost irresistible urge to end this by saying 'So long and thanks for all the fish' but I hope to be writing to you again soon so I'll close with something less final.
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