. . .
The war had been finally won with the demise of Voldemort. For many, the price had been high, too high, as families were torn asunder. Loved ones were injured, maimed or lost never to return. Those that could be healed were. Those that couldn’t were made as comfortable as possible for as long as possible. Those that paid the ultimate price, like the Lupins or the Creevey boy, were laid to rest with what honors could be bestowed upon them.
For Harry Potter, the burden of guilt was something he always carried with him. Once things had settled into what passed for the new normal, arrangements were made, and he married his best mate’s younger sister, Ginevra Weasley. Welcoming Harry to the Weasley family was the first bit of happiness the Weasley’s had experienced since losing Fred. Not long after that Harry’s best friends married each other making certain, the Golden Trio would always be together in some manner.
It wasn’t until the birth of Harry’s first son, James Sirius, that his life changed for the better. A full six years had passed since the Battle of Hogwarts, and the guilt was knotted up inside Harry, refusing to let him go. Holding his newborn baby in his arms for the first time the newest wizarding father felt something deep within him begin to loosen and slowly dissolve. Staring down at the James brought tears to the hardened Auror’s eyes.
Two more years passing saw the birth of Albus Severus, named after two Headmasters. Harry, now a father since 2004, found the birth of his second child no less miraculous than he had the first. Holding the small sleeping bundle of Albus in the crook of one arm and James in his other, Harry had tried to explain to the excited two-year-old that he was a big brother now. James thought the small person swaddled in a soft blanket was a new toy his parents had gotten especially for him.
It would be a couple more years before the Potters would once again find themselves at St. Mungo's for the birth of their third child. Born with a head of vibrant red hair, Lily Luna came into the world kicking and screaming in the wee hours of the morning. Harry, holding the tiny whimpering bundle in his arms knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that miracles were real.
“If everything I have ever gone through in my life was so that I could come to this one moment in time it was well worth it then,” the loving father whispered to his daughter. The struggling infant reached out, wrapping her tiny hand around the smallest of Harry’s fingers and the wizard knew that she was special. Call it magic, call it love, call it whatever you will but in that one moment a special bond between father and daughter was formed. She would forever be his little lumos for she brought light to his life.
Ginny crossed her arms over her chest and leaned against the doorframe, a soft tender smile appearing on her face. “You know, you can put her down once she’s fallen asleep, Harry,” the witch said, a hint of humor in her words.
The wizard in questions was seated in a chair, slowing rocking back and forth, his sleeping daughter help gently to his chest. “No, she’d miss me,” was Harry’s reply when it came.
With a snort of amusement, Ginny gave a small shake of her head in disbelief. “It is far more likely that you’d be the one missing her, I think.”
“Guilty as charged,” Harry confessed as he continued to pat his daughter’s back softly while rocking back and forth.
“Honestly, I’m beginning to think you love her more than me,” Ginny said with a mock pout on her face. Harry simply chuckled, knowing better than to answer that one. “I think the boys are starting to get a little jealous.”
“How about I take them to the Alley tomorrow?” Harry offered. “A guy’s day out,” he added, realizing that they could get ice cream at Florean Fortescue's Ice Cream Parlour. A fact that would be easier to accomplish if Ginny wasn’t there to try and talk them out of it.
“What about me?” Ginny asked. “What do I get?”
Harry thought for a moment then smiled. “You get to have her all to yourself,” he said with a glance down at the sleeping infant on his chest.
“Somehow, I feel I’m getting the short end of the wand here, Mister Potter,” Ginny smirked playfully.
“I’ll make it up to you, Gin,” Harry promised, thinking of a small little restaurant he knew of. He was sure it wouldn’t be hard to get Molly and Arthur to watch the kids for an evening.
“Dad!” Albus wailed from upstairs. “James ate my chocolate frog!”
“That’s what you get for letting it hump away from you,” the eldest Potter child yelled defensively.
“James stop taking your brother’s chocolate frog,” Ginny admonished from downstairs. “Albus what have I told you about eating candy before breakfast!”
“They at it already?” Harry asked with an amused chuckle as he walked into the kitchen, a squirming, giggling two-year-old in his arms.
“I don’t think they ever stop,” Ginny replied with an exasperated eye-roll as she continued to make breakfast for her family. Harry deposited his daughter into her high-chair, leaving a kiss on the crown of her head before he started to set the table and pour drinks for everyone.
“Mummy guess what! I did it all on my own!” Lilly Luna exclaimed excitedly.
“Did what Sweetie?” Ginny asked, only half paying attention so as to not burn the pancakes.
“I went pee all by myself!” the excited toddler replied proudly. Ginny arched a brow in disbelief, looking towards Harry.
“I was just along for moral support,” Harry replied to the unasked question on his wife’s face. “She got the stool, put it in place and did the rest all on her own,” Harry confirmed, dropping a kiss on his daughter’s head as he passed. “She’s a big girl now, aren’t you, my little angel?”
“No little angel now,” Lily stated in a determined tone. “Big angel now!”
“Then maybe it’s time to get the big angel her own room rather than allowing her to sleep with us?” Ginny suggested.
Lily’s expression turned less sure. “I’m not that big yet, Mummy,” she said hesitantly. It was one thing to go to the loo by herself but an entirely different undertaking to sleep in another room that was so far away from her parents. What if she had a bad dream? Papa wouldn’t be there to hold me, she realized.
“One step at a time,” Harry said, coming to his daughter’s rescue. “Using the loo now, sleeping in her own room later.” Ginny gave a small snort knowing just what Harry was doing. There was no doubt in her mind that when the time came for Lily to have her own room that Harry would be the one needing to be consoled.
Ginny Potter paused at the doorway to the study. A high back chair sat before the fireplace, a pair of legs and feet the only things visible of the chair’s occupant. The wizard had done little more than sit and stare into the flames since the day it had happened. Even the kids speaking to him hadn’t been able to raise a response.
“Harry?” the distraught witch voiced. There was no response for her efforts. “Harry, it’s time. We have to go now,” Ginny tried yet again. Earlier that morning she had attempted to get him to shower, shave and dress but it was as if her words were unheard. Realizing she wasn’t going to get a response from him, she finally resigned herself to that fact. “I’m taking the kids. We’ll be going over to the Burrow afterward for a while. I think it will do them good to spend some time with Ron’s kids and the others.”
With a heavy sigh, Ginny turned and gathered her children before directing them through the floo in the kitchen. There was the tell-tale whoosh of the floo activating, and then the house settled into silence except for the crackling of the logs in the fire. Every so often Kreacher would appear, and after giving Harry a worried look, the house elf would add more wood to the fire.
The hour was late when Ginny returned with the children. After putting them to bed, she made her way to the study to check on Harry. The young witch’s eyes were red and puffy from crying most of the day. It had been difficult to get through the funeral, even more so as Harry hadn’t been there beside her. Try as she might to be strong for the children, she had finally broken down in her mother’s embrace and cried out her grief and sorrow.
Ginny knelt beside the chair, Harry fast asleep in it. With a trembling hand, she reached out and pushed a few strands of hair to the side so she could see his face better. “It was a beautiful service,” Ginny whispered, her eyes filling with tears once again. “I think she would have loved it. Everyone was there. I can’t recall the last time I saw so many of our friends together.”
Tears trickled down the witch’s cheeks as she told Harry about the funeral. “Everyone asked about you. Some couldn’t believe you weren’t there, but I told them you were taking it pretty hard and weren’t ready yet to face everyone. I think they understood,” Ginny said. For a long moment, there was silence. “I miss you, Harry,” she breathed out softly. “Please come back to us.”
Months passed. Seasons changed as the world continued to spin. Life moved on as it will always do, except for a lone wizard seated in a chair before the fireplace in the Potter study. It had been nearly eighteen months since it had happened and Harry was no closer to moving forward than he had been back that first day. For all intent and purpose, the world about him had appeared to have disappeared.
This is not to say that he wasn’t aware of it or that it did not register with the wizard. When he was hungry, he ate. When he was tired, he slept. When he had to use the loo, he did so. He showered, changed his clothes and such with enough regularity that he didn’t stink up the room. However, all his movements and actions were mechanical in nature. It was as if he was on autopilot. He only left the study when he had to and was always quick to return to it.
Ginny and the children tried on a regular basis to pull Harry from wherever he had disappeared to, meeting with minimal success. Occasionally the wizard would look at them before turning back to the dancing flames of the fireplace. Officially, Harry had resigned from the Aurors. Unofficially he had been let go, though this was kept quiet given who Harry was and the given circumstances.
“Daddy?” the small voice of Albus Potter asked standing beside the chair that had become his father’s home. A fluffy white bunny was clutched tightly to his chest as if he drew strength from it. “Can you come play with me?” Albus asked. It was not the first time he had asked, but the boy was determined not to give up, believing that if he asked often enough that one of these times his father would say yes.
Harry’s head turned at the sound of the voice, his eyes focusing on the five-year-old beside him for a long moment as if he didn’t recognize his own son. Hollow emerald eyes shifted after a minute and came to rest upon the stuffed animal. “Where did you get that?” Harry asked, his voice cracking with lack of use. For a long moment, Albus couldn’t answer, surprised that his father had spoken to him. “I asked you where did you get that!” Harry asked again in a harsher tone.
“L…Lily gave it to me,” Albus stammered in uncertainty.
“You went into her room!” Harry stated rather than asked. “No one is supposed to go in her room!” the angry wizard yelled, frightening the child. Reaching out Harry quickly snatched the stuffed toy from the boy’s arms, startling Albus and causing him to fall back onto his backside. “I told you to keep out of her room. Do not touch her things. No one is to touch her things!”
“I’m sorry, Daddy,” Albus bowled in fear and pain as he sat on the floor.
“Harry!” Ginny yelled from the doorway, having heard the ruckus and come to investigate. The last thing she had expected was to find Harry yelling at their youngest son. “Stop yelling at him! He’s just a child,” she pointed out as she hurried over and collected the crying boy in her arms.
“He was in her room!” Harry growled.
“That’s no reason to yell at him!” Ginny snapped back, her Weasley temper making an appearance in the protection of her child. “You scared him half to death!” The wizard gave them both a long look before returning to his seat and once again to stare into the fire. Ginny picked Albus up and carried him from the room, only half-heartedly listening to his excuse that Lily had told him to go get the stuffed animal.
It was much later that evening when Ginny made her way to the study. Kneeling once more beside Harry’s chair she hesitantly reached out and took the man’s hand in hers. The day's previous events had finally allowed her to make a decision she had been wrestling with for some time.
“Harry,” she said, watching his face for any reaction. If she had hoped that the day's previous events were an indication that Harry was finally coming out of whatever place he had crawled into she was more than a little disappointed by his lack of reaction to her presence. “We can’t go on like this,” she continued with after a slight pause.
“It isn’t healthy for the children,” Ginny explained. “They need their father. I need my husband,” she told him as her eyes filled with tears. I…I know she’s gone and it hurts. It hurts me as well. There are days I feel as if I can’t even breathe it hurts so much. But that day I didn’t just lose her, I lost my best friend as well. I lost you, Harry.”
“We all lost her. We all miss her. The kids miss her. They miss you as well. James doesn’t understand and thinks it is his fault somehow. I’ve tried to explain to him that it isn’t, but I don’t think he understands. He’s started his primary learning, you’d be so proud of him Harry. He’s so smart! Albus just wants his father to play with him,” Ginny said, openly crying. “I want you back, Harry. I love you and miss you more and more every day.”
The young mother visibly gathered herself together for a moment, hastily wiping at the tears on her cheeks. “We can’t go on like this, Harry. I’ve tried everything I can, but I just can’t seem to reach you. I have to do what is best for the children. I’m taking them to my Mum’s, and we’re going to stay there for a while, Harry. I think the break from here will do them well.”
Ginny paused waiting to see if her words would get her a response from the man she loved. Harry sat in the chair, the stuffed animal held against his chest with one arm and his eyes locked on the dancing flames before him. With a resigned sigh, the witch got to her feet. “I love you, Harry Potter. I’ve always loved you. When you’re ready I’ll be waiting for you,” Ginny said through tears before she leaned down and kissed Harry on the cheek. On hurried feet, she quickly left the study. In the morning she flooed to the burrow with her children.
Harry stood at the bottom of the stairs. About him, the house was empty, silent, still. The wizard had taken a shower and was returning to his chair when he had spied the stuffed animal laying on his bed. Realizing that is it should be put back in Lily’s room he picked it up and walked to the stairs. For several long moments, the man stood there regarding the plain wooden steps. He had not been up there since that day.
Kreacher had been given instructions to keep the room clean. The others had been told to never enter the room. It was a rule they had followed until just recently. Harry wasn’t really angry with Albus. Anger was something Harry had in abundance these days. It boiled and seethed inside of him, festering and eating away at him. A tiny bit of it had leaked out and frightened Albus. A part of Harry was sorry for what had happened. A more significant part, that part of him that was numb, just didn’t care.
Hesitantly Harry placed his foot on the first stair and then his other foot upon the next. In agonizing slowness, he made his way up the stairs until the door to her room came into view, and suddenly he could go no further. Just seeing that door brought back a flood of memories which Harry was ill prepared to face. The wizard quickly retreated to the safety of his chair once more.
Time had very little meaning for the man he had become. Night, day, morning, evening, these were concepts for the living, not the merely existing. He knew he was alone for a long time and then suddenly he wasn’t. A hand, so full of warmth that Harry thought he could almost see the heat radiating from it suddenly took his hand. “Hello, Harry Potter,” said a voice he hadn’t heard in some time.
Startled by the unexpected company, Harry turned and looked at the person sitting beside him in a chair he hadn’t noticed her moving there. “Luna?” Harry voiced weakly in disbelief. The warmth of Luna’s touch seemed to seep into him, into the deep dark places that were as cold as the grave. “What are you doing here?” Harry asked.
“A mutual friend of ours asked me to come check on you,” the petite blonde witch replied with a concerned expression. “I can see why now.”
“I’m fine,” the wizard answered as he had for most his life when asked how he was. I should have guessed Ginny would have asked someone to see how I was doing. It made sense to Harry that it was Luna as the two women had been best friends since childhood. “H…how are Ginny and the kids?”Harry asked after several moments of silence.
“They miss you, Harry,” Luna replied bluntly as was her want. “They love you. That James is a smart one. Reminds me a lot of you, Harry, in some ways. Albus though is the quiet one. He misses little though. Kind of like you was back when you were at Hogwarts. There is a bit of you in them both. You could always go see them,” Luna suggested abruptly.
Perhaps it was the witch’s hold on his hand or the warmth from her touch which seemed to permeate into his body, but suddenly Harry was more talkative than he had been since that day. “I don’t think that would be a good idea,” he told Luna. “I’m better off being here right now, just as they are better where they are.”
“Still angry?” Luna asked, indicating that Ginny must have told her what had happened.
“I’m always angry,” Harry confessed after a long pause. “I have all this anger inside of me and nowhere for it to go. There is no one to blame for what happened which only makes me all more the angrier!” he growled.
“Hermione once told me that when the unexplainable happened to Muggles, they would blame their deity for it,” Luna said.
“Blame God?” Harry asked with a snort of mirthless humor. “I’ve never had much use for religion. Grow up as I did and you have other things to worry about other than is there a God or isn’t there. Little things like eating and avoiding another beating or the insane lunatic who wants to kill you and everyone you care about.”
“So, you don’t believe in an almighty entity that knows all and controls all?” Luna asked quizzically.
“Never had much cause to,” Harry replied with a shrug. “How about you?”
“The Wizarding world has worshipped many deities over the centuries, Harry,” the Ravenclaw witch replied.
Harry looked down at the stuffed animal in his lap. “I wish that one of them was real so that I could ask them why. Why it happened. What did she ever do to deserve that?” the angry man growled out, his hand unconsciously tightening on the stuffed toy till it threatened to burst at the seams. “But there aren’t any gods for how could they let the innocents suffer as such? I’ll never understand that.”
“Perhaps we are not meant to understand everything,” Luna offered in a thoughtful tone, her thumb absently started to rub the back of Harry’s hand soothingly. “If we knew everything then where would be the mystery and the wonder that is life? For everything, there must be a balance it seems to me. You cannot have good without evil, light without dark. Love without hate, happiness without sorrow.”
Harry felt the anger that had welled up and threatened to overwhelm his start to subside till it simmered just below the surface once more. “Why? Why can’t you have happiness without the sorrow?” Harry asked. “Haven’t I had enough sorrow in my life already? Don’t I deserve to be happy? Haven’t I earned it?”
“You’ve had more sorrow than any one person ought to have, Harry,” Luna confirmed, giving his hand in hers a soft squeeze. “You could tell a person about what fire is. You could describe it, that it is red, orange, blue and other colors. That it is hot and bright and that it consumes things, but until that person saw it for themselves they would not truly know what fire was. Perhaps too it is with such things as sorrow, happiness, love. You must experience them to truly know them.”
“I don’t understand,” Harry confessed. His head and heart were so filled with anger that it was often difficult to think straight for the wizard. In a way it sort of made sense but then what had happened made no sense to the wizard at all. Trying to make reason of that left him floundering.
“Perhaps we are not meant to, Harry,” Luna suggested. “I don’t think though that she would want you to be like this. I know her fairly well, Harry. I’m especially fond of her after all,” Luna said with a soft loving smile. “She loves the way you smiled at her and the fun times you had together. She would be sad if no one were able to see that again, especially sad for you.”
“You did tend to spoil her,” Harry admitted with a crooked grin.
“I’m sure she wants you to be happy,” Luna voiced.
Harry sighed, the grin slipping from his face. “There’s no happiness left in me. Not since that day.”
Luna once more gave the hand in hers a soft squeeze. “You have to want to be happy, Harry. What about before that day,” she asked softly. “Have you no happy memories?”
Memories were something Harry had plenty of. They danced and swarmed before his eyes in the flickering flames of the fire. In his memories, she was still alive, still with him. It was in the present she was gone, and so he had taken to living in the past where he could be with her. “Not nearly enough,” Harry finally replied.
The feeling of warmth and love flowing into Harry from Luna’s hand seemed to grow, causing the wizard to look at their joined hands. His eye noticed a scaring on Luna’s arm, roughly an inch above her wrist. It looked like something had been driven through her arm at some point. The scar was old and faded as if it had been there for some time. I never noticed that before, he realized. “Did you get injured?” he asked.
Following his eyes, Luna gave a sad smile. “That old thing? It happened a long time ago. Someone very near and dear to me died,” she explained. “It’s a lingering scar from that time.”
Her words reminded Harry that Luna had seen her mother die at a very young age. A spell had gone wrong, and the witch had been fatally injured. Luna had been there and seen it all. “It must have been very painful,” he said, meaning the death of her mother and not the injury.
“It was,” Luna agreed, understanding just what he was asking.
“Does it ever get any easier?” Harry inquired.
“No,” was the soft response when it came. “You just become more accustom to the pain,” Luna confided. “It never leaves you, though I think I wouldn’t want it to.” Seeing the questioning look on Harry’s face, she continued to explain. “It helps me to remember. I wouldn’t ever want to forget, and the pain helps to remind me.”
“Sometimes I wish I could forget,” Harry said so softly that Luna nearly didn’t hear him. Gazing into the flames once more and seeing her there the tied wizard slowly drifted off to sleep.
Luna held Harry’s hand long after he had fallen asleep, her love for the man beside her flowing from her, through her hand and into the damaged wizard, imparting to him dreams filled with love and happiness from a time in his life when such things still existed. Eventually, Luna stood, disentangling their hands and revealing a matching scar on her other arm. Leaning down the witch kissed Harry on the brow tenderly. “My poor child,” she whispered before leaving in the same manner she had appeared.
A loud banging noise awoke Harry with a start. It took a few moments for him to realize that someone was pounding on his front door. Struggling to his feet, Harry made his way to the door and opened it only to find a very familiar redhead there.
“Oh good, you’re awake,” Ron said as he brushed past the surprised wizard. “For a moment there I thought I was going to have to bust the door down or something.”
“You’re a wizard aren’t you, Ron?” Harry asked with an arched brow. “Ever hear the phrase Alohomora?” he asked as he closed the door seeing as the man was already in the house. “What are you doing here?”
“I drew the short twig,” Ron confessed. “Ginny is a bit worried about you and so asked me to come over and check on you, mate. Truth be told we’re all a bit worried about you. Hermione wanted to come over, but I didn't think you were ready for that just yet,” Ron added with a grin.
Harry could well imagine the stream of questions Hermione would have for him. Questions asked out of concern for him but ones that he’d just as well not answer as he didn’t like to lie to her. “Thanks, mate. I owe you one,” Harry said over his shoulder as he headed back to the study and his chair in front of the fire.
“So, how are you, Harry?” Ron asked, following Harry through the house and into the study.
“I’m fine,” Harry said, giving the standard platitude that he always did when asked that question. Harry dropped into his seat as Ron took the chair next to him that Luna had used. Was that yesterday? The day before? Harry tried to recall just when Luna had visited but couldn’t remember precisely.
“I tell you, mate it hasn’t been the same of late without you around,” Ron said, stretching his long, lanky legs out toward the fireplace and its warmth. “James and Albus miss you, for sure. Even Hugo and Rose miss you. It has been good having your kids over. Hugo has finally started to come out of his shell.” Seeing a questioning look from Harry, Ron added. “He hasn’t been the same since….,” the wizard’s words trailed off.
“Kids are great that way,” Ron finally continued with more to fill the silence than anything else. “They can bounce back from these things. It’s us adults that have a hard time of it. George showed James how to ride a broom properly the other day. James is a natural. Takes after you I bet. Mione nearly went mental when she saw him flying around the pitch on my old broom though.”
Harry chuckled softly at hearing that, as well as imagining how that had played out. “Hermione hates to fly. I can imagine she was none too happy at seeing one of her godsons flying.”
“I swear she must forget she is a witch at times,” Ron confided in Harry. “Or that I’m a wizard. It’s not like I’m going to let anything bad happen to him I mean. We spent loads of time flying around that pitch at the burrow and never got hurt!
“Quidditch was never a favorite sport of hers,” Harry offered in the way of defense of his absent friend. “Of course, seeing us get hurt while playing at Hogwarts didn’t help any with that I’ll wager.”
“Probably not,” Ron conceded reluctantly. “Still, we had some good times, didn’t we, mate?”
For a moment Harry recalled his time at school, Wood’s pregame talks, beating the Slytherin good and proper like as well as the sheer exhilaration he always got from flying. “That we did,” Harry agreed with a smile at the memories.
“Hermione’s just not being reasonable,” Ron declared in an exasperated tone. “At this rate, Rose and Hugo won’t even get to touch a broom till their first flying lesson when they get to Hogwarts!”
“Just be hopeful that what happened to Neville doesn’t happen to them,” Harry warned. “If it does they may never sit a broom, ever!”
“Merlin!” Ron expelled softly, his facing going pale with the fright of such a thing happening. The two sat in silence for some time before Ron sat up and leaned down. “What’s this?” he asked, lifting a stuffed white rabbit from the floor.
Harry eyed the toy realizing he must have dropped it when he got up to answer the door. “I meant to put that back up in her room,” he said softly, his eyes never leaving the plush toy.
“Want me to run it up for you?” Ron asked.
“No,” Harry answered slowly. “No, I should do it.”
“I’ll go with you, mate,” Ron replied, standing. Before Harry realized it, the red-head had grabbed Harry’s hand and hauled him up out of his chair almost effortlessly. “No sense in you doing it alone after all,” Ron stated.
Seeing no way out of it gracefully, Harry reluctantly made his way over to the stairs with Ron directly behind him. “I can put it back later,” Harry tried to say.
“Nonsense, Harry. We’re almost there already,” Ron pointed out as they reached the stairs. “Just a quick trip up the stairs and through the door and it will be done.”
Harry swallowed slowly as he placed a foot on the first step. He hadn’t been in the room since it had happened and truthfully, he wasn’t sure if he ever wanted to go into that room ever again. When the door came into view Harry’s footsteps faltered only to feel a hand come to rest on his shoulder.
“It’s okay, mate. I’m right here with you,” Ron said softly. “You don’t have to go through this alone. Just take it one step at a time.” A warmth seemed to flow from Ron’s hand and into Harry’s body. Drawing strength from Ron’s presence Harry eyed the remaining stairs. “You got this, Harry.”
Ever so slowly, Harry lifted his foot and placed it on the next step. His hand slid up the banister, and he pulled himself up. In such a manner, with Ron’s hand on his shoulder lending his strength and gentle words of encouragement in his ear, Harry finally reached the top of the stairs. Harry felt Ron’s hand give his shoulder a gentle squeeze.
“Almost there, mate. Just a few more feet,” Ron said encouragingly, never letting go but stepping to Harry’s side.
If later asked, Harry wouldn’t have been able to say just how long it took him to cover the few feet from the top of the stairs to the closed door to Lily’s room. Time had ceased to have any meaning. It could have been a day, an hour or even a week. Once standing before the door though he knew that he had reached his limit and could go no further.
“It’s all right, Harry. I’m right here with you,” Ron said gently. “You can lean on me when you need to.” Harry felt himself sag against Ron only for the wizard to prop him up. “Let me help,” Ron added as he took Harry’s arm and moved it toward the doorknob, realizing that Harry had to be the one to actually open the door. “You can do this,” Ron assured Harry.
Feeling the cold metal of the door handle in his hand, Harry looked down at his hand. For a long moment, he stared at the hand, not recognizing it as his own. As it began to turn the handle, he absently noted that Ron too had a scar on his arm much as Luna had. Before he could question this further, the latch clicked, and the door opened revealing Lily’s room.
There was the scent of flowers. Lily Luna had always smelled of flowers. They had often joked that the child was a walking garden, her pockets willed with whatever flowers and plants had grabbed her interest that day. Sunlight streamed in through the window seeming to ignite the room in light and warmth as it rebound off the yellow coloring of the walls and bedspread.
The room was immaculate. Kreacher had tended it with the love and care the old house elf apparently thought it deserved. Not a speck of dust and not a thing out of place. A small bookshelf with books arranged in a row, their colorful binding forming a small rainbow of colors. A gift from Aunt Hermione. Dolls sat at attention on the bed waiting for little hands to play with them. A tall shelving unit in the corner was filled with stuffed animals save for one spot where a white rabbit usually resided.
Before Harry realized it, he was within the room. He had feared that being here would bring back the very painful memories of that day, and they did, but that was not all. Standing there, in the center of Lily Luna’s room Harry felt as if he was surrounded by his daughter. Every toy, every drawing pinned to the wall, every book, every picture, brought back treasured memories of his Lilly Luna. Slowly, on staggering feet, Harry made his way to the bed and sat on its edge.
That morning he had awoken to the sound of his boys arguing. It was nothing out of the ordinary and had happened any number of mornings before. Ginny had an early meeting to attend with the Harpies so had left at the crack of dawn. Harry remembered calling out for James to check on Lily and the boy calling back that she was sleeping. Being thankful for the chance to sleep in a bit he had buried his head in the covers and gone back to sleep.
It was some time later when next he had awakened. It was the feeling that something was off that had awoken him. The boys he could hear were in the living room, arguing over which show to watch on the telly. Deciding it was high time he got up and start the day, even though it was his day off, Harry had padded out of the bedroom and up the stairs to get Lily. “Lils? You awake, sweetie?” he asked as he opened the door quietly in case she was still asleep, which she appeared to be at first.
Something didn’t seem right and struck a chord of wrongness with Harry. The wizard quickly crossed the room and reached for his daughter. With a wail of anguish, he had taken her lifeless body in his arms and crumbled to the floor cradling his daughter to his chest and rocking back and forth. It had been the singularly worst day of his life.
Later he learned that Lily Luna had ICS, Infant Core Syndrome. It was a very rare disorder, hers being only the second case in England within the last half-century. The magical core of the child deteriorates and finally ruptures. It was believed that it killed them instantly, but with the ICS being so rare there really wasn’t a great deal of research or information on it. The Muggles had something similar which they called SIDS.
Harry’s chin began to quiver as his eyes filled with tears which began to stream down his cheeks. With trembling hands, he lowered himself down upon the bed and cried till exhaustion took him and he slipped into a fitful slumber.
It was the feeling of warmth, love and supportive arms around him that he awoke to. Blinking his eyes, Harry sat up and adjusted his glasses before looking to at the person with him. “Hermione,” he stated, unsurprised by her presence. “I thought I might be seeing you,” he added. Rather than answer, his best friend just opened her arms in an invitation. Harry tumbled forward and into the warmth of her embrace as tears once again spilled from his eyes.
“I’ve lost her,” Harry cried softly into Hermione’s shoulder as the witch gently rubbed circles on his back and slowly began to rock him like a small child. “I’ve lost my little angel.” All the pain and suffering Harry had bottled up over the past month seemed to pour out of him. Once again, time seemed to have no meaning for the two of them as Harry cleansed himself with tears. Deep down inside, past his magic and at the very core of his existence, something shifted and loosened finally.
“We’ve been so worried about you, Harry,” Hermione finally said once her friend’s tears had subsided somewhat.
“I’m all right,” Harry started to say, pulling away from Hermione only to see the look on her face. “No, I guess I’m not all right. I’m not sure I’ll ever be all right again,” he admitted. “I feel like someone has reached in and ripped out my heart leaving behind a great big gaping hole that I don’t know how to fill, Hermione.”
“Not all holes are meant to be filled,” Hermione replied very wisely. “She is a very special child and will forever hold a place in your heart, a place no one and nothing can ever fill again,” she told him. “Isn’t that how it should be though? I mean if it were easy to replace the ones we loved then was it really love?”
Harry was silent for a long moment as he thought over her words. “No, I suppose not. I miss her so much though.”
“I’m sure she misses you as well, Harry,” Hermione offered only to see Harry glance as her in a quizzical manner. “As you well know, Professor Dumbledore was correct, and death is but a stepping stone to the next great adventure. Have you yourself not spoken to your parents and Sirius even though they have passed from this existence?” she reminded Harry. “I’m sure she is even now waiting for the day your time here is done, and she can be with you once again.”
“Do you think?” Harry asked in a hopeful tone only to see Hermione roll her eyes at his question. Of course, she’s right. This is Hermione after all, he told himself. “Thanks, Hermione,” said Harry. “I just wish I could have said goodbye or something to her.”
Hermione got up off the bed and walked around it to his side, extending a hand to him. “It’s still not too late you know,” she told him.
Harry hesitantly took her hand and allowed himself to be pulled to his feet. “What do you mean?” he asked only to feel the sudden unpleasant sensation of side-along apparition. Once they arrived, and the wizard was certain he was going to keep the contents of his stomach, did Harry realize where she had taken him. “No, I can’t do this,” Harry protested with a slow shake of his head as he realized they were at the graveyard in Godric's Hollow. The ground was covered with a layer of snow. However, there was no mistaking this place for Harry knew it well.
“You can do this, Harry,” Hermione assured him, slipping her hand into his. As with Luna, a warmth seemed to flow into Harry from their joined hands. The warmth washed over him as a feeling of being loved by the woman beside him. “It’s long overdue.”
“I…I don’t know,” Harry hesitated as Hermione began to lead him towards the back of the cemetery near where his parents were buried. It wasn’t long before the headstones of his parent’s graves came into view. There, beside his mother’s was a smaller stone which he instinctively knew belonged to his daughter. Harry's feet stopped, and he found himself unable to move any further. Hermione paused beside him, a sad knowing look on her face.
Suddenly the wizard felt a hand slip into his free one. Looking to his other side, Harry stared into a pair of grey eyes. “You don’t have to do this alone, Harry,” Luna said as a warmth flowed into the wizard from her touch. “We’re right here with you.” Without realizing it, the three of them moved till they reached the foot of the small grave which marked the final resting place of his daughter.
Harry read the inscription on the headstone. Lily Luna Potter, January 31st, 2008, May 16th, 2010. Our Little Lumos – The Light of our Lives Now and Forever. Tears sprang from his eyes as Ginny and he had often called Lily their little lumos. A hand settled on his shoulder and turning his head Harry wasn’t surprised at all to see Ron there.
“I’ve got you, mate,” Ron told Harry. “You’re not alone. We’re here with you, Harry.” As the redhead spoke, the women with them motioned, and the snow melted from the grave top and flowers suddenly sprung to life filling the air with a scent that was all too familiar to Harry for it smelled of his Lily.
Harry gave a brief nod of understanding before turning back towards the grave before him. Slipping his hands from Hermione and Luna’s, Harry knelt, not at all surprised when he felt all three hands come to rest on his shoulder. “Thanks, guys,” he offered softly to the three of them.
“Hi Angel,” Harry spoke as if Lily was there, for he knew that in some manner she was. “I’m sorry it has taken me so long to come and see you. Papa was being a bit mental, as uncle Ron likes to say,” Harry said only to feel Ron’s hand tighten slightly on his shoulder. “But I’m here now.”
“I don’t know where you’re going, but I’ll meet you there someday. I can’t blame you for leaving, but it’s still not fair, going off without me. I thought we’d always be together,” Harry said with a sniffle and voice thick with emotion. “Honestly I don’t know what to do now that you’re not here. I don’t know how to love, don’t know how to feel.”
“I didn’t want to believe you were gone. I thought…well, I’m not sure what I thought, but I tried holding on to you and letting everything else go. I felt it was the only way I could keep from losing you completely. I guess that’s not fair to your brothers or your mum though, huh? I’m sure they miss you just as much as I do,” Harry said through his tears.
“Papa hasn’t been at his best since you went away. I’ve been a bit lost I guess. I promise to change that though. I’ll always remember you just as I know you’ll always remember me, but I also need to take care of the rest of our family,” Harry told her. “I’m sure that is what you’d want me to do. I’m sure that there will be times when I don’t know what to do or what to think. I hope that at those times it will be alright to think about you. At least for a bit,” he added with a small smile.
“I love you Lily, and thank you for all the joy and light you brought to my world,” Harry said as he got to his feet. “I think it is time for Papa to be the light for a change. Till I see you again my little lumos,” he said with a choked sob before turning away and into the arms of those with him. For long moments the four of them stood there in the snow, arms about each other as the warmth of their love flowed into Harry. “I have a family to find, so I best be about it,” he finally said, stepping away from the others and turned on his heel only to disappear with a small pop.
From the sound of it, there was nearly a party going on in the living room of the burrow Harry thought as he stepped into the house after disapparating to the backyard of the burrow. He could hear many people welcoming someone back, Hermione and Ron from the sound of it. Harry couldn’t help but wonder how they had gotten to the Burrow before him, having just left them not moments before.
Voices stilled upon spotting him in the doorway until eventually, everyone was looking at him in disbelief. Harry walked into the room and made his way to Ginny. Taking her hand in his, Harry gently squeezed it. “I can’t tell you how sorry I am for leaving you all alone,” was as far as he got before he found his arms full of a crying red-headed witch.
Small arms soon joined those of his wife’s as James and Albus clung to their father. It wasn’t long before the entire Weasley clan was huddled in one big massive hug with many an eye springing a leak in the process. It seemed that everyone was present there that day. Fred and Angelina with their kids, Percy and Audrey and their two little ones. Even Bill and Fleur were there with their three children. Add in Hermione, Ron and their two and the entire Weasley clan was present for the day Harry returned to their family.
In the flickering light of dusk, a small figure appeared within the cemetery of Godric's Hollow. The small child, for that’s what she was, looked down at the single track of footprints that went up to a small grave covered in flowers. Flowing the trail, she came to her own grave and the signs where her father had knelt to speak with her. Lily smiled, “I love you too, Papa,” she said, her words carried away by the wind as it danced through the once again empty cemetery.
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All characters within this story, unless otherwise stated are the sole property of J. K. Rowling the original writer of the Harry Potter series.
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