Ever After

 

Chapter 1 - Connecting the dots

 

It’s all easy in hindsight.

 

The summer after our fifth year, Harry took a tutor, got closer to Remus and finally got a girlfriend who wasn’t a hosepipe.  Later that summer, Harry, accompanied by said girlfriend nearly destroyed several subterranean levels of Gringotts when the Death Eaters imported a clutch of Dementors, a record-breaking Basilisk and a Hydra into the lower levels of the Goblin bank.  Oh, and that was the summer when Ron got off the fence and asked (well in advance) if I would be his date at the All Hallows Eve ball.

 

During sixth year Harry and Ginny (she was the girlfriend mentioned above) sorted out the dynamics of their relationship, given the not-quite-standard Dragon magic inside both their heads.  Ron became the Gryffindor Quidditch captain, and I began an independent study focused on the detection and destruction of cursed objects.  The year was capped by an invasion of Hogwarts and the death of Albus Dumbledore.

 

Seventh year was like sixth year, with more of the same – I was Head Girl, Ron was Head Boy and Gryffindor Quidditch Captain.  When not executing our official duties, we were leading guerrilla actions against the Death Eaters, and quietly collecting the cursed objects I’d studied in the prior year.  That year was capped by the great ambush on the Hogwarts Express.  Harry had briefed us all on our respective roles, but preparation or no preparation; my first exposure to the Cruciatus curse was enough to last for the rest of my life.

 

The event of that summer’s holiday was a quiet wedding for the Potters at St Simon’s, followed by a reception on the grounds of the Burrow.  Thereafter Harry began his first stint teaching at Hogwarts while his lovely bride finished her last year as a day student, living in Hogsmeade.  I began a double Mastery in Charms and Transfiguration and Ron split his time between helping the twins open a new store and the arduous process of applying to the Auror training programme.  Ron was admitted to the program just before Christmas – by New Years we were engaged, and before February was over, I was Missus Weasley.  Ginny finished Hogwarts and then enrolled in the Healer programme at St. Mungo’s.  Harry put Ginny through the programme, and then after her residency, bought a farm in Wales where he more or less retired from public life, starting over again as a “gentleman farmer.” The notion of Harry as a retired and retiring gentleman was a hoot to those who knew him.

 

What can I say about the next twenty years of my life?  I was a wife, then I was a mum with kids at home, then I was a mum with kids at Hogwarts.  Ron made it through the Auror training programme with flying colours and then began a rather successful career.  Before Hugo and Rose came along, I was working at the Ministry – I worked there until the day before Hugo was born.  After that, I collaborated with various witches and wizards on a number of one-off projects – things that I could work on while raising the tots.  Some of them were projects I engaged simply because they were interesting, others were for hire.  Neville came to me with several interesting problems in forcing hybrid magical plants to breed true.  He ended up setting up two limited liability companies that took the results and applied them to magical and mundane plants.  My payment was stock in each of the companies, something that Harry’s solicitors arranged – I couldn’t be bothered with the details – raising Hugo and Rose occupied too much of my energy to be concerned with financial matters.  By the time that Rose was enrolled at Hogwarts, an opening came up on the faculty, and I began teaching Charms in the lower level, and Transfiguration for the upper level.

 

Life in a boarding school is odd – you have a lot of friends, but some of those friendships evaporate like dew when you leave school, some of those friendships pick up where you left off after years of separation, and a very small number carry on without interruption.  Our very first flat was fortified with Auror-grade security on its wards, but Harry, Ginny, Neville and Luna could come and go with impunity – only manners and a healthy desire to avoid embarrassing situations prompted them to knock before opening the door.  It’s not like we all lived in each other’s laps – Ginny took a residency in America which lasted for almost three years and Neville and Luna both were abroad on expeditions searching for rare flora and fauna – sometimes together, sometimes apart.  Theirs was an odd relationship, but it worked for them.  By law and consanguinity, the Potter children and the Weasley children were cousins, but they might as well have been an extended network of brothers and sisters, spending almost every holiday together once the oldest ones were able to toddle.  After a series of flats that we outgrew, Ron and I settled into a house north of London, Harry and Ginny had their farm in Wales, Neville and Luna bought a cottage in Hogsmeade, but between private Floo connections and Apparation, the distance was insignificant; the only thing to consider when popping from one location to another was the weather.

 

Family life has its seasons and rhythms – by the time I started my third career, teaching at Hogwarts, I had a small flat at the school, which I would take advantage of from time to time.  I guess some niggling part of me noticed that Ron and I were drifting apart, but he was doing spectacular work as the Chief Auror, and I was finding myself all over again in the classroom. 

 

Then came the day that Ginny invited me over for tea – the invitation asked that I clear the afternoon, which I thought a bit odd, but we were close enough that I didn’t give it a second thought.