Ever After


“I don’t know whether to kiss you or hit you!” Ginny exclaimed, seemingly equally torn between scowling at her new husband and grinning at him. “And everyone else for that matter!”

Next to her Harry just laughed and caught her hand. “We couldn’t tell you, Your… Ginny,” he corrected, still getting used to calling his wife by her first name. ‘Forget that, I’m having trouble just thinking of her as my wife.

Ginny turned her scowl onto him but it seemed his hand in hers mollified her slightly. “Why the bloody hell not?” she demanded, looking from him to her brother and new sister-in-law and then onto her slightly ashamed parents. “Do you think I would have put up so much of a fuss if I had known I didn’t have to marry Pot – Dudley?”

Looked like Harry wasn’t the only one having to get used to new names.

“We didn’t want to give Petunia any indication that something was wrong,” King Arthur said, putting out a hand to rest on his daughter’s shoulders. “Once we heard the truth from Ron, Hermione and, er, Harry then we realised exactly how manipulative and slippery she was.” The King shook his head sadly. “I’m sorry to say that even to her it must have been obvious that you weren’t happy marrying her neph – son. If you had suddenly bounded down the aisle, eager and excited, she would have suspected something… especially because she knew the connection between Ron and Hermione and they’d been in the Church yesterday to see Ron disappear.”

Ginny didn’t say anything for a little while. Even though Harry had only met their Majesties the night before he knew that they were uncomfortable speaking about their stubbornness in pushing through Ginevra’s marriage to Dudley, especially when it was clear to both of them how miserable it had made her. By the way Ginny’s hand stiffened in his he was sure that she was still unhappy about that but was ignoring it for now. After all, Dudley was sitting in a damp miserable cell somewhere and not on her arm.

They were currently at what passed for their wedding reception. A royal banquet had been prepared and was presumably being enjoyed by the majority of the Court. Aside from a brief appearance, however, the wedding party had made use of a much smaller room in one of the palace’s many towers. Harry wasn’t sure why, but he rather thought it was aimed at not overwhelming either himself or Hermione. After all, they were not exactly used to the large gossiping crowds of the royal court. Not to mention both of them had been almost literally to hell and back the past week or so, trying to undermine Petunia.

So, instead of the inquisitive stares of unknown Lords and Ladies, the two sets of newlyweds only had to contend with annoying, teasing older brothers (and, in Harry and Hermione’s case, older Godfathers). It was a cosy atmosphere, familial, and after days in isolation and imprisonment, it was exactly what Harry, Hermione and indeed Sirius needed. It was just a shame that Remus and Tonks weren’t there to be with them.

Next to him Ginny sighed and picked unenthusiastically at her pastry. She’d been lapsing into melancholy silences every now and again the whole time and now, as the subject of conversation moved on around them, he thought it a good a time as any to enquire.

“Are you alright?” Harry asked her quietly leading her gently away. He tried to hide the own anxiety in his voice as he voiced his query. Although she had agreed to marry him, and he her, they were still very new in their relationship. He didn’t think that she agreed to marry him out of duty – the massive kiss she’d given him was proof of that – but he wondered in her quiet moments if she regretted it. They hardly knew each other after all.

Apparently they knew each other better than he thought. “I don’t regret marrying you, if that’s what you mean,” she said, lips quirking slightly. “It’s certainly a much better deal than I was expecting,” she added, shivering.

Harry frowned. “I… you didn’t have to marry me just because I seemed the best out of a bad bunch,” he said, not sure if he was hurt, appalled or both.

Ginny seemed to catch herself then. “Oh – no, that’s not what I meant,” she growled, clearly frustrated. “I didn’t agree to marry you just because you’re a hell of a lot more handsome than your cousin. No, that didn’t come out right either!” she said, going red as Harry sniggered. “Shut up. I agreed to marry you because, well… you’re not afraid to beat me at Quidditch. You actually have something in between your ears rather than just your own self-importance. You think about other people and then do something about it, something I wish I did more of,” she admitted, sighing. Harry was just watching her, amazed. A few days ago – sod that, even a few hours ago he would never have imagined that the Princess had noticed that much about him when he was acting as James Gryffindor. “You make me laugh. And,” she added, grinning cheekily, “I got a very nice view of your bottom that day in the woods.”

Harry spluttered at that, nearly spraying his drink all over his laughing wife. He tried to think of something to say in response but nothing came to mind. Instead he felt his face get hotter and hotter. ‘Well, at least she doesn’t seem upset at her parents anymore.’ The King and Queen were currently talking with a much spruced up Sirius, watching the newlyweds with a knowing eye. Sirius, who seemed to be reverting back to a three year old, just made kissy faces at Harry, quickly covered up with a series of coughs as the King turned back to him.

“What about you?” Ginny asked suddenly, having poured him a new drink. “You’d just got your house, title, life – bloody hell, your whole identity back – and then agreed to marry me? Why?”

Why indeed. That was a question he’d been asking himself a lot, trying to narrow it down to what seemed the truth. She was right, of course; he had promised himself and others a lot of work now that Godric’s Hollow was back in his hands. It wasn’t going to be easy and he had just made it a hell of a lot harder by becoming a husband. So why did he say yes, knowing all this?

He could say it was because he didn’t often find someone that could challenge him, at least in terms of Quidditch. When it came to intellectual knowledge Hermione outranked him, hand over fist. Maybe it was because there was just this fire about her, this irrepressible spirit that meant she played Quidditch when she shouldn’t; meant that she ran away in the middle of the night to find new adventures; meant she argued with and fought with Death Eaters when everyone else would just give in.

Perhaps it was the way that she saw him when he was nothing but a servant.

“I wanted to marry you,” Harry said eventually, “because when I look at you I see the person I want to spend the rest of my life with.”

Ginny stared at him, mouth wide open. Before she could say anything, however, someone beat her to it.

“Aaw… listen to the ickle love birds, George.”

“Aren’t they so sweet?”

Both red headed twins ducked as Ginny aimed a massive slap at them. “Gits!” she snapped, half laughing. Harry just stared, trying not to laugh. He’d met the twins – as, of course, he’d met everyone in the family – the night before at Ron and Hermione’s wedding, but he hadn’t had a chance to talk with them much. “You could learn a few things from Harry, you know.”

“True, true,” one of the twins agreed, slinging an arm around Harry’s shoulders. “He certainly seems very good at getting rid of unwanted relatives.”

“Hey, maybe you can help us get rid of Percy?” the other twin, grinning wickedly.

“Maybe he could help us finally be rid of the two of you,” another voice interjected wryly and Harry turned to see the eldest Weasley brother – Crown Prince William – raising an eyebrow pointedly at the twins. Harry smiled gratefully at him; he wasn’t sure he wanted his reputation in Court to be as ‘the Earl who sent his family to Azkaban’.

“What, get rid of us?” Fred or George said, looking offended. “Never!”

“You’d all turn into miniature Percys in a matter of days!” George or Fred agreed.

“Too right, Fred,” the twin who was apparently George said. “Either that or die of boredom.”

“Well, I don’t know about that last,” Ginny said, smiling innocently. “All the excitement around here has been because of Harry and Hermione. You two don’t even register anymore.”

The twins mouths dropped open as Harry tried to stifle his laughter. William had no such qualms and burst out into loud guffaws. “Oh dear, Fred and George. Looks like you’ve been replaced.”

At the twins look of horror even Harry couldn’t stifle his laughter anymore. “Don’t worry,” Harry reassured the twins in between laughs. “I don’t exactly consider myself a prankster.”

“Well that’s what’s so disheartening,” Ginny said in mock sorrow. “Poor Fred and George have spent their entire lives trying to outprank each other and cause as much mayhem as possible. You and Hermione come along and, in little more than a week, have caused a level of chaotic confusion and excitement greater than they ever have in their entire lives.”

“Not only that,” William jumped in, “but you both have been congratulated and, dare I say it, thanked for causing such upheaval and turmoil.”

Ginny nodded solemnly. “Welcomed into the family with open arms and everything.”

Ginny and William may have been trying to pass him and Hermione off as the new ‘Fred and George’ but Harry rather thought they were doing rather a good impression of the royal twins themselves. It was rather eerie.

Fred and George didn’t seem to have noticed however; they were too busy staring at Harry in something akin to awe. “They’re right, Fred,” George said.

“Totally right, George,” Fred agreed. “Not even a hint of Scotland or dear old Aunt Muriel.”

“We have been thoroughly bested,” George said sorrowfully.

“And not just by Harry and Hermione either,” Fred reminded his brother. “Today is the day when our dear ickle Ronnikins has done something we thought him incapable of; participating in our downfall.”

At that George let out some sort of wail, clutching at his brother as they both wailed and bemoaned together. Yet again Harry was reduced to laughter. Damn, it felt good to be able to laugh again! Ginny wasn’t laughing but she was smirking at her brother’s antics. William just rolled his eyes although he couldn’t help the grin that came out. Apparently this kind of melodrama was common place in the royal household.

Not for the first time, and probably not for the last, Harry found himself wondering at the strange family he now suddenly found himself a part of. Growing up he couldn’t help but speculate what the mysterious royal family was like. Because of their previous obscurity Remus and Sirius had no tales to tell of King Arthur and his family, meaning everything Harry dreamt up was purely from his imagination.

When he was younger his thoughts had conjured up a family who would be his friends, love him, and take him away from his mean aunt and uncle. Later on that image had been replaced by one of a family full of Dudleys. Ones who didn’t care how mean his relatives were to him and his friends, who laughed at him when he fell down or hurt himself. Age and life and transformed that image into what his experience had told him was most likely; cold, indifferent, self-absorbed, superior nobles who couldn’t see past the last of their gold.

Oh, how wrong he had been.

Looking back at the still lamenting twins Harry was almost tempted to apologise for stealing their glory but he desisted. Intentional or not, Harry didn’t think that the twins would hold much respect for a ‘prankster’ who apologised for his jokes. Instead he said, “You two should really talk to Sirius. He and my Dad used to play pranks at Durmstrang all the time when they were there; you could swap stories.”

“Really?” The twins dropped their miserable demeanour at once.

“Yeah, he’s over there,” Harry affirmed, waving to where Sirius was talking with Percy and Charlie.

“C’mon, Fred,” the twin who Harry had thought was Fred said excitedly. “Which one do you think we should start with?”

“Firewhisky and Professor Tofty sounds good to me, George.”

“My thoughts exactly, brother mine.”

And, grins to make any parent fret firmly entrenched on their faces, the twins bounded off to Sirius. William watched them go with a worried expression. “I hate to think what mischief the three of them will cook up together,” he said to a surprised Harry and Ginny. “I wasn’t at school with your father, Harry, but even though he and Sirius left a few years before me some of the older boys would still reminisce gleefully about their more… colourful escapades.” He winced and began to make his way over to his brothers. “Maybe I’ll just make sure they don’t plan anything too dangerous…”

Harry watched him go with a grin. Maybe William was worried but Harry rather thought it would do Sirius some good to relive his ‘colourful escapades’ with James. A natural consequence of living under the Dursley’s thumb was that everyone had become much darker and grimmer, less inclined to laugh and be free. Reminiscing about the past would do a fair amount to banish some of that darkness away.

“What are you thinking about, Earl Potter?”

Harry turned with a smile to see Hermione approaching, a still slightly awkward Ron at her side. “Nothing, Your Highness,” he teased, bowing to her.

She went a bit pink at that, even as she laughed. “I don’t think I’m ever getting used to that,” she said with a sigh. “And don’t you dare bow to me, Harry James Potter,” she added sternly, giving him a light slap. “We’re exactly the same now; brother and sister.”

“Don’t be silly, Hermione,” Harry said, drawing her into a hug. “We’ve been brother and sister for years.”

“I’ve always wanted a sister,” Ginny said with a smile as they broke apart.

“Well I haven’t,” Ron said with a shudder. “One’s bloody enough.”

Ginny rolled her eyes. “Whereas six is a reasonable number of brothers,” she retorted sarcastically.

“Well… I guess we could always do without Percy,” Ron said with a grin.

Ginny brightened up and turned to Harry with a wicked grim on her face. “Hey, Harry, how – ”


“Master Dumbledore!”

It was as though someone had hit them all with a spell; almost as one they whirled around, trying to see where the cry had come from – and where the elusive Master Wizard had apparently made his reappearance.

“Did you – do you think he’s really here?” Hermione asked, seemingly wavering between nervousness and excitement.

Ginny frowned, still trying to find him. “Well I can’t see him – and you’ve got to admit, he’s not exactly difficult to sp– ”

“No – there he is!” Harry cried suddenly, darting forwards and pushing past a rather indignant Percy. He heard rather than saw the others dash after him.

And there he was. Apparently they weren’t the only ones happy to see him. King Arthur was already shaking his hand with a smile – apparently he was the one that had called out. The Queen was standing next to him, smiling as Dumbledore said something. Harry didn’t like to interrupt the King and Queen – even if they were now his in-laws – but Ginny had no such qualms.

“Master Dumbledore!” she said, popping up beside her parents. “I have a bone to pick with you!”

“Ginevra…” the Queen sighed, putting a hand to her forehead wearily.

“No, it’s quite alright, Your Majesty,” Dumbledore assured the exasperated monarch before turning back to Ginny who, Harry was surprised to see, was glaring. “You want to know why I didn’t just tell you who to look for rather than leave you with nothing but a few cryptic remarks?”

Ginny blinked surprised. “Er... yes actually.”

Dumbledore smiled. “And if I had told you, Your Highness, you would never have learnt anything.”

For a split second Harry thought that Ginny was going to yell at Dumbledore – she certainly went bright red – but then her expression suddenly changed and she looked thoughtful. “No,” she said eventually, “I wouldn’t have.” And she wouldn’t say anything more on the subject.

“As for the rest of you, I believe congratulations are in order!” Dumbledore carried on, beaming at Harry, Ron and Hermione. “Earl Potter, it is nice to meet you properly at last,” he said, bowing towards the surprised Harry.

“How do you know my name?” he asked, taken aback.

“Well the whole kingdom has probably heard the news by now, mate,” Ron said with a laugh.

“We might have mentioned something as well,” the King said, smiling.

“All true,” Dumbledore agreed amiably, “but as it so happens I know this is Earl Harry Potter for the same reason that this gentleman must be Mr Sirius Black.”

Harry turned in surprise – he hadn’t realised that Sirius had broken off his talk with the Weasley twins to come hovering nearby. Clearly he was just as desperate as the rest of them to find out how Remus was but had yet to be formally introduced.

Problem solved, however, he stood there looking just as nonplussed as Harry felt, but Hermione was staring at Dumbledore in comprehension. “Tonks told you everything!” she exclaimed. “But Remus… is he…?”

“Mr Lupin is nearly fully recovered,” Dumbledore said, smile widening even further as Harry, Hermione and Sirius all let out identical sighs of relief. The King and Queen retreated back to the rest of the party but Ron and Ginny stayed by their sides, just as interested as the other three. “I have to apologise for not returning sooner but Mr Lupin’s condition was very severe. When I was not lending magical assistance to my friend – who, although talented in many ways, is not particularly magical – I was preparing potions, searching for obscure ingredients, enchanting talismans…”

“I’m surprised Tonks didn’t help with that,” Sirius said, although he looked a little surprised. Harry could guess at the origin of Sirius’ shock; when most magical maladies or injuries occurred all it took was but a quick incantation or simple potion. It hadn’t occurred to him that there were some situations even magic struggled to heal. Harry shuddered and thanked Merlin Hermione had had the foresight to involve Dumbledore in all this. It was apparent that if Remus had been left in their hands after his incarceration he would have been lost.

“She did, Mr Black, of course,” Dumbledore said, responding to Sirius’ comment. “But whilst her talents as a metamorphmagus are unsurpassable our potion supplies and equipment were somewhat scarce.” Harry took this to mean Tonks had tripped and broken something important. It wouldn’t be the first time; he’d never met anyone so clumsy in his life. “That was no matter, however, as these kind of wounds require as much emotional support as they do magical. And that,” he said with a sudden burst of enthusiasm, “brings me to this.”

And, waving his wand, Albus Dumbledore made a bowl appear.

Eyes twinkling, Dumbledore handed the over large piece of pottery over to a bemused Harry. “Consider this a wedding gift,” he said. “You too, Princess Hermione.”

The bowl was heavy, not surprising given its size. Harry looked at it, not quite sure what to make of their gift. His eyes wandered from the sturdy, practical design to the scratches round the rim and then to the scummy looking liquid at the bottom. “Erm, thanks?” he said, wincing when it sounded more like a question than an acknowledgement. He opened his mouth to say something else – what exactly he had no idea – when he was saved by a loud squeal from Hermione.

“Ooh! I know what that is!”

Only long experience with Hermione’s sudden squeals saved the bowl from being smashed on the floor. Ginny and Ron were less practiced; both jumped violently. Ginny gave Harry’s arm a light whack when she caught him sniggering at them both.

“I’ve read all about these,” Hermione was saying obliviously, peering as closely to the bowl as she could.

“That’s great, Hermione,” Sirius said, rolling his eyes. Like Harry he was very accustomed to Hermione getting lost in educational bliss. “Fancy telling the rest of us what it is?”

Hermione jumped back, pink faced. “Oh, sorry,” she said, but they’re just so rare…” she trailed off looking at Dumbledore worriedly. “Master Dumbledore, it’s too much, we really can’t accept this.”

Dumbledore shook his head. “Believe me, Your Highness, yourself and Earl Potter deserve this – and much more. There are too few people that could go through your experience and still choose to walk such a difficult – but important – path.”

Hermione gave a watery smile at that, apparently beyond words. Harry, however, was still completely nonplussed and Ginny, unlike Hermione, was decidedly not speechless.

“Er, Hermione? Are you going to tell us what the magic bowl is or do we need to learn to read minds?”

“You mean legilimency?”

“Hermione…” Harry growled warningly. The bowl may be magical but its charm certainly didn’t extend to weightlessness.

Hermione laughed. “Sorry, Harry. This is a pensieve – it’s a way of storing and sharing memories.”

Everyone looked at the bowl with new eyes. “Sharing memories?” Ron repeated a little sceptically. “Is that one in there now?”

Dumbledore nodded. “One Mr Lupin asked me to pass onto you all.”

They perked up at that. “Remus? How do we watch it?” Harry asked, peering into the bowl.

“You don’t have to drink that, do they?” Ron asked, a disgusted look on his face as he looked down at the milky liquid.

Dumbledore laughed out loud at that one. “No, no, Your Highness, don’t worry,” he reassured the embarrassed looking Prince. “All anyone has to do is touch the liquid. But,” he added loudly, as Harry and Sirius immediately made to do just that, “as it is a rather… immersive experience, I suggest you save that for another time.” At their disappointed faces he added, “I can, however, give you a bit of a preview.” And he twirled his wand in the pensieve.

Harry really did nearly drop the bowl then.

“Is that… Remus and Tonks?” Hermione squeaked, wide-eyed. “Getting married?”

Sirius suddenly let out a great bark of a laugh. “Ha! Didn’t I always say he fancied her?” He laughed again and applauded the wispy image. “Well done, Moony.” Sirius didn’t seem to care that nearly everyone else in the room was staring at this point. He was too busy bouncing in glee, watching the short clip repeat itself.

Dumbledore’s wand movements had caused a small section of the memory to rise above the rest like a small cloud. That mist had then formed into two translucent images; images that were clearly Remus and Tonks facing each other. Even in the shady memory Harry could see the evidence of recent events on Remus’ face. He’d lost a lot of weight he couldn’t afford to lose and there were more lines than before on his haggard face. But all that was overpowered by the sheer joy emanating from him as he gazed at Tonks.

Tonks didn’t look too different from normal (which, considering she was a metamorphmagus, was saying something) but Harry didn’t think he’d ever seen her look so happy. Or beautiful. And if anyone was in any doubt what was happening, the elaborate veil over Tonks’ hair was a dead giveaway.

As was the massive kiss they shared at the end.

“When did this happen?” Harry asked, feeling faint. Everything seemed to have completely turned on its head in the last 24 hours. He turned to the side thinking he had better put the pensieve down before he dropped it. Luckily one of the servants noticed his quandary and brought over a small table.

“As part of our treatment, Mr Lupin had become comatose,” Dumbledore started. “You have to remember that the silver poisoning worked deeply within him, the wolf being a hidden part of his magic for most of the time. We needed Mr Lupin unconscious whilst our magical remedies worked at his very core. Once he had fallen into that state, however, we could not predict when or even if he would awake once more.

“It was a very difficult time but most of all, of course, for Miss Tonks. I was sleeping when Mr Lupin finally awoke but a magical alarm I had set up alerted me to his emergence. It was vital he received magical attention as soon as possible but, when Hagrid and I entered, he and Miss Tonks were… shall we say, reacquainting themselves?”

Sirius and Harry snorted whilst Hermione covered her mouth to stop her giggles. Even Ron and Ginny, who had never met either one, could imagine the embarrassing scene judging by the grins on their faces.

“That was last night,” Dumbledore continued, eyes twinkling merrily. “After we rather noisily announced our presence we could administer the final treatments to cure Mr Lupin of his silver-poisoning. Another good night’s sleep and I performed the ceremony for them this morning.” He gave a wry smile. “Sometimes life needs to give us a bump before we noticed what’s been in front of us all along.” He looked rather pointedly at Ginny here who returned his wry smile.

“If they’re all better, how come they’re not here?” Ron asked, frowning.

“Although recovered, Mr Lupin is not yet well enough for apparition,” Dumbledore explained. “That will take another few days, maybe a week. Plus,” he added, eyes twinkling even more, “I’m sure Mr and Mrs Lupin wish to enjoy their marriage privately first.”

Once Ron had figured that out he went bright red. “Oh. Oh, yeah. Erm…” he trailed off, looking quickly at Hermione before glancing away, even redder than before. “Right.”

“Although I do believe, Your Highnesses,” Sirius said suddenly over the smothered laughter, “that you have performed a bit of a coup.”

“A coup?” Ginny asked, surprised. “How?”

“If I know Remus and Tonks – can we still call her Tonks if she’s a Lupin now? – then I expect they figured this would be a massive shock to everyone,” Sirius said with a grin. “Almost up to elopement standards. And here you four are, not only uncovering and exposing a treasonous plot, but all getting just as unexpectedly married.” He broke off into a fit of laughter. “Oh, I can’t wait to see Moony’s face when he realises he’s been upstaged by a bunch of teenagers!”

They laughed again at that although something suddenly occurred to Harry. “Wait – with this pensieve – you said it shares memories?” Harry clarified. “Does that mean Remus and Tonks could watch our weddings the same way we’ll watch theirs?”

The fact that half of his family couldn’t be there to witness his and Ginny’s wedding – not to mention the long awaited comeuppance of the Dursleys – had been one of the only dark points of the day.

“And I can see Ron and Hermione’s wedding,” Ginny interjected with a glare at the aforementioned Prince, “seeing how I was so rudely excluded from the real thing.”

Ron scowled at her. “I already told you we couldn’t tell you,” he started hotly before Hermione, sensing an argument, cut him off.

“And we can go back to the day at Durmstrang,” she said hastily, a big smile on her face as she took Ron’s arm. “That was a perfect day. And this,” she continued, smiling up at Dumbledore, “is the most perfect wedding gift, Master Dumbledore. We thank you.” And she curtsied.

“You are most welcome, Princess,” Dumbledore returned with a smile, “but you seem to have forgotten the other aspect of my gift; as well as sharing memories, a pensieve can be used to store unwanted ones. Permanently.”

There was a pregnant pause as they all took in what that implied.

“So… my memories of the Dursleys,” Harry said slowly, “everything they did to me – us – I could forget it all? Just like that?”

“You would still know what happened,” Dumbledore corrected softly, “but it would feel as though it had happened to someone else. All personal emotional impact would be dulled, if not nullified completely.”

There was another pause. Harry felt rather than saw Ginny and Ron drop back slightly as he looked at Sirius and Hermione; this was a choice for the three of them alone.

As Harry looked from Sirius to Hermione he wondered if they were thinking the same as him. He couldn’t deny the idea was extremely tempting. He had many painful memories he could do without. Memories of being locked in a cupboard without food for a whole day for daring to play with one of his own toys; of being beaten for using magic where the Dursleys could see him; of being sold like another piece of unwanted furniture; of being trapped with dementors for two whole days…

And what about Sirius and Hermione? They had their fair share of upsetting memories between them. Hermione had only been with them for 6 years but that was long enough. And what about before then; when her parents had kicked her out when they realised she was magical; when she had been scraping by on the streets, threatened, starving and afraid?

And Sirius… The first eight or nine years of life with the Dursleys was very fragmented for Harry. A lot of what happened he either couldn’t remember or he was too young to understand fully. Sirius didn’t have the same luck. He would remember everything that had happened and, to make matters worse, he would remember what it was like before. Harry couldn’t really grieve for his parents because he had never known them. Sirius on the other hand not only knew them but he had been part of their family in all but name. Those first few years with the Dursleys no doubt everything was tinged with that grief as well as the outrage, hatred and fear the Dursleys had introduced. Harry had also long suspected that Sirius used to take punishments meant for him to spare his Godson. Would he blame Sirius for wanting to unburden his mind with ejecting some of those memories? No. Would he blame Hermione for the same? No.

Would he blame himself?

That was a much harder question to answer. Dumbledore had said that they would never forget what was done to them but the memory would be gone. All the reasons for his dreams of reform would still be there but they would hurt less.

And what if, in time, he would get bored? If he lost sight of what happened and what needed to change? Could he turn into one of those other nobles, the indifferent ones, or maybe the ones that cared a little but not enough to really make a difference?

“No thank you, Master Dumbledore,” Harry said quietly, having made his decision. “I don’t want to forget what the Dursleys did to me. It may have been unpleasant but it has helped shape who I am and, I hope, that memory will help shape not only who I become in the future, but help me shape the world I want to live in. It was their treatment of me that led me vow to change the role of servants and commoners everywhere – to give everyone a voice. If I lose my memories then I could lose myself.”

Dumbledore gave a gentle smile. “That, my boy, shows remarkable courage. Strength of character, too.”

“Why do you think he inspired such loyalty in us all?” Hermione asked with a small laugh. “Character has never been something that Harry has been lacking – even if the Dursleys tried their best to squash it all out of him.” She took a deep breath. “I too will keep my memories.” She smiled at Harry. “You’re not the only one who wants to make a change, after all.”

“Sirius?” Harry asked.

Sirius’ expression was hard to read. “I will keep my memories… for now,” he said eventually. “Although some time in the future I may take you up on that offer.”

Dumbledore smiled. “This was never meant as a one-time only offer,” he said. “I will teach all of you – Prince Ronald and Princess Ginevra included – how to both copy and remove memories. The pensieve will always be there should you change your minds either way. Now,” he said, bowing, “if Your Highnesses will excuse me, there are some remarkable looking lemon desserts over there screaming out for my attention.” And he left whilst they all laughed.

“Are you alright, Harry?” Ginny asked him quietly. Out of the corner of his eye he could see Ron asking Hermione the same thing. Sirius had been drawn back into conversation with the twins who had pounced on him as soon as Dumbledore had left. Apparently they weren’t going to let their new partner-in-crime get off that easily.

Harry looked back at Ginny, wondering what she thought of his decision. Only concern was visible in her eyes however and he smiled at her.

“Yes, I am.”

She smiled back. “You really don’t have to keep those memories you know,” she said, tentatively reaching out to hold his hand. “I won’t think any less of you, if that’s what you’re worried about.”

“No,” Harry said, although part of him did think that. “It’s just… although those memories are the lowest, worst times of my life, they were what spurred me onto wanting to fight for equality; for making other nobles see their servants as people, not just pieces of furniture or worse. That experience will give me passion and also help me connect with other servants.” He gave a rueful smile. “They’ll just see me as another noble now; I need a way to show them that I’m not.”

Ginny didn’t say anything for a while. Then she leant over and gave a very surprised Harry a kiss. “What was that for?” he asked, startled.

Ginny shrugged, a cheeky smile playing about her lips. “Oh, just for being the most amazing person I have ever met,” she said casually, smile widening into a grin as Harry blushed. “And speaking of which…” She gestured to a servant standing nearby who came over and presented her with a strange thin wooden box. “Thank you,” she said as the servant bowed and backed away. She turned back to Harry and gave a nervous smile.

“I got this made for you days ago, right after Durmstrang,” she said, voice also speaking to her sudden nerves. “I… I wanted to give it to you straight away but Ron and Lily – Hermione – had that strange fight and then she was a servant and…” she broke off and gave herself a little shake. “Consider this my wedding gift to you, Earl Potter.” And she presented the box to him.

Harry took it, completely blind-sided. The box itself was plain black but someone, probably Ginny, had scribed James in ornate silver ink. That alone made him pause. He couldn’t believe Ginny had gone through so much effort for someone who was just a servant. It certainly did a lot to allay some of his earlier fears that she had married him because he was her best option.

Opening the box up this time it was him who was shaking.

“Is that… did you… how did you get this?” he asked, astonished and somewhat awed as he lifted the brand new wand from the box. He couldn’t believe that she’d got him a new wand. Wands were hard to find, even more expensive to make. And she had done it in less than a day for him, a servant.

Ginny smiled, still nervous. “You told me what had happened to your wand,” she said quietly, watching him nervously. “I just… I promised I’d get you a new wand. And then you saved my life. Our lives. And so… I did.”

Harry just stared at her, completely amazed. He didn’t know what to say. When he told Ginny that she just laughed. “Don’t say anything,” she said. “Give it a try.”

Harry gripped the wand properly and immediately felt a warmth spread through his fingertips. He stared at the wand in surprise. His dad’s wand had never done that. Banishing that thought from his mind he gave the wand a quick wave and jumped as red and gold sparks shot out from it. He watched them fade for a second and then turned back to Ginny, still speechless.

“It’s… it’s perfect,” he said eventually, astounded. “How did you – ”

“Master Ollivander,” Ginny said simply. “He owes me a favour. Of course, it’s quite hard to make a wand for someone you’ve never met but I told him all about you.”

Harry raised an eyebrow at that. “Oh?” he questioned, smile beginning. “And what exactly did you tell him about me?”

Ginny blushed, but grinned. “Oh, I don’t know; how you rescue damsels in distress, then beat said damsels at Quidditch,” she teased. “How you were smart, seemed to really care about other people, no matter who they were. How you’re an appalling dancer – ”

“Hey!” Harry protested, trying to look indignant. “At least I didn’t step on your toes like Pri – Ron – did!”

Ginny laughed at that. “True,” she consented. “Anyway, after Master Ollivander asked me all these questions he chose a wood and core that seemed to suit your personality. Holly and the feather of, in his words, the most loyal and courageous phoenix he has ever met.”

“Holly and phoenix,” Harry repeated, staring at his new wand in appreciation.

“Does it work alright?” Ginny asked somewhat anxiously. “Master Ollivander said he would try his best but even with the recipient there wands are… ‘choosy’ I think he called it. If it doesn’t like you we can always try again.”

“Well, let’s see,” Harry said, giving the wand another experimental wave. This time, not unintentionally, he conjured the perfect white rose. It was far easier than it had ever been with his old wand. “I think it’s rather perfect.” He refrained from adding ‘just like you’. Instead he presented her the rose with a bow. “I know it’s not quite up to par with a wand,” he apologised as she took the rose carefully from him, “but I hope you accept this rose as my wedding gift to you.”

Ginny grinned. “Well I don’t know,” she said, teasing again. “It looks ‘rather perfect’ to me.”

Harry smiled at her and pulled her into his arms. “Now then, Princess, you and I are supposed to live happily ever after,” he told her, grinning.

“Says who?” Ginny asked cheekily.

Harry paused at that. “You know, I don’t actually know,” he confessed. “I’m sure Hermione does.”

Ginny looked over his shoulder and her eyes widened. “She looks a bit… preoccupied at the moment,” she commented with a grin.

Harry shrugged. “Well, I don’t care who said it,” he said, “just care that we do.”

“It won’t be easy, Mr Lightning Bearer.”

Harry winced; he’d forgotten all about that rather pressuring title. “Well, I did marry you,” he said instead, trying to move past that particular annoyance. “I knew that wasn’t going to be easy.”

“Hey!” Harry laughed as Ginny gave him a playful swat around the head. “Well,” she said, mock glaring at him, “I suppose if we can survive being Death Eaters, kidnapping, imprisonment, Ron’s idiocy and Petunia then I’m sure we can survive whatever life throws at us next.”

“And live happily ever after?” Harry prompted with a grin.

Ginny rolled her eyes. “Yes, yes, I’m sure we will. Eventually.”

“’Eventually’ is ok with me,” Harry agreed. “To happily ever after.”

“Ever after,” Ginny agreed with a smile.

And they kissed.

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