There was much more to 'The Epilogue' than was shown in Book 7. In this chapter, Molly force Ron and Ginny to reveal secrets, Luna reveals the same secrets to Harry, and Hermione finds her parents.
Thirty minutes later, Hermione, just starting her second non-fiction Muggle best seller of the morning, felt an envelope pressed into her hand by someone who was invisible.
A glance showed that no one was paying attention. Hermione marked her place and opened the envelope. The enclosures took her breath away. She realized that Harry must have been successful at Gringotts, as it was a very large cashiers' check. 30,000 Galleons translated into just over $350,000 AU, after the exchange fees. There was also a Gringotts' draft for 3,000 Galleons.
A quick glance at the note made Hermione smile slightly. Harry had used block letters. Only the lightly penciled symbol of the Deathly Hallows on the envelope gave the origin away. Hermione tore that off and dropped the otherwise blank envelope into anearby trash can.
My dear partner:
The enclosed are not loans but gifts, which I hope will help you bring your family back, or help them set up a better life where they are. If it's what you'd like, then I hope R had the sense to come with you. If he again chose comfort over devotion, you'll have to decide what you want to do about it. I shall, of course, back your choice.
Our time together, and I mean when we were alone together, was stressful. Yet in that time, I felt complete. The nights we comforted each other made me realize how much you have always meant to me.
I made many errors this past year, and you paid the price for many of those errors. I will never forgive myself the pain you had to suffer because of my mistakes, or thank you enough for the loyalty and trust you have given me, along with your affection and friendship, and yes, love. I do know you mean more to me than anyone ever has. I hope we will always at least be best friends. If we are both still alone when you come back, we can decide then what that might mean for us.
At the same time, I know as much as you love me, as much as we loved each other this past winter, you are not in love with me. Iknow that I could easily fall in love with you or L. I know Ioften dreamed of G as well. Perhaps we will get together in the future, perhaps you are with, or will come back to, the Great Prat or find some new path. In any case, as I said, I hope we will stay best friends.
Kr is going to the ferret's mother. I have made a deal with the weepy one. She is working with me. I hope you and I will find away to make all their lives better and fairer, in a way that will work for everyone concerned.
If you need me in a matter of hours, instead of days, call her. She handed you this message, and can now find you for me, if you call her. Send any other messages to me through the bank. I will be camping out for a while, as I think about what to do with my life. I'm not sure where. Since you had me get my passport last year, I have lots of options.
all my thanks, and my love,
Hermione smiled. She went into the nearest loo and checked that her glamour was still intact and the soaked the bit of envelope with the pencil mark into mush before tossing it in the trash. Hermione next tore Harry's letter into sixty-four pieces. Then she took a walk around the terminal, tossing scraps away one at a time. She was not terribly surprised to note that there was no one who was obviously a wizard anywhere she could detect, but she wouldn't lower her guard until she had to.
A few minutes after the last piece of paper was tossed, a casual glance at the nearest display panel showed that the main section of her plane was starting to load. She made another trip to the loo and took off her glamour. Thirty-six minutes later, the plane took off with her on board.
Harry sat in a stuffed chair, his feet on an ottoman. He regarded his elf. "Winky, I know you are used to one way of acting. We're both going to have to change a bit. Now remember, no punishing yourself. Understand?"
"Yes, Mister Harry," she replied, remembering that the Master preferred this other form of address.
"You cleaned up and fixed the tent very well. Did you enjoy dinner?"
"Yes, Mister Harry. Thank you, Mister Harry." It was odd, but if, as he claimed, cooking helped the Master relax, she would learn to live with his bouts of cooking. At least she got to clean up.
"And thank you for cleaning up the dishes, and for picking up The Evening Prophet. Is there anything you need?"
"No, Mister Harry."
"Goodnight, Mister Harry."
Harry decided to read the paper's account of Hermione's impromptu speech that morning before turning in himself.
The next night, Molly Weasley sat her youngest son and daughter down in an unused classroom at Hogwarts. She had spent the morning and afternoon with George.
"How's George?" Ginny asked. Two mornings after the battle, the full impact of Fred's death had hit him, and he had barely functioned in the few days since.
"He's a little more alert," Molly answered. "Now, enough of this. Where are Harry and Hermione?"
The two shrugged. "Hermione is trying to get to Australia, and we don't know where Harry is," Ron finally said.
"Then why aren't the two of you more worried?" Molly demanded.
The two exchanged looks. Finally, Ginny squared her shoulders and said, "We're not worried, because we know they'll be back."
"And why are you so certain?"
Ginny took a deep breath and said, "Because we're bonded."
"Last April, about five weeks before he was killed, Dumbledore gathered the four of us together. He told us that we should be bonded, and we all freely gave our consent." Ron winced, which both Molly and Ginny observed. Ginny therefore had to be a bit more honest than she had planned. "Well, actually, Harry and Hermione were bewitched. They both thought, and think, that they were dreaming, if they remember it at all. Still, they gave their consent."
Molly sat at a student's desk, stunned, not noticing that it was far too tight a fit.
"So, I was magically bonded with Harry, Ron with Hermione. Then the three of them were lightly Obliviated, so that they wouldn't really remember, until I gave a password, which I wasn't to give until after Voldemort's death. I just haven't gotten a chance to yet. As to why he did it," Ginny went on, "Dumbledore knew he could likely be killed, and that it would be up to Harry to kill Voldemort. He would need Hermione and Ron helping him. This was his way of insuring that they would stick together."
"How?" Molly demanded.
"How? Oh, right. Ron and Hermione became sworn followers of Harry."
"I didn't really remember," Ron admitted. "Percy nosed all this out, from the different recording books in the Minister's archival office, where oaths are recorded. That's where he was sent to work after Scrimgeour was killed, since no one really pays them much attention. He told Bill at some point. Bill told me, which is why I kept going back to try and find them last winter."
Molly frowned, and said in a very quiet, angry voice, "Tell me exactly what was sworn, and the order." Ginny did so, with Molly asking clarifying questions along the way.
After nearly fifteen minutes, Ginny finally finished, and Molly looked stricken.
"What?" Ron asked.
Molly gave Ron a look that made him squirm. "You are both very foolish, you most of all. First of all, you are Harry's sworn vassal. Everything you have is his."
"What do I have?" Ron retorted, unconcerned.
Stricken by the realization, Ginny whispered, "You have Hermione."
"Exactly. And she is not only sworn to Harry, she swore to him first. If he demanded it, Hermione could not refuse."
"Harry would never. . . ." Ginny started, but her mother cut her off.
"Harry would never FORCE Hermione," Molly agreed. "However, if he and Hermione decide they wish to be together, then legally they can be. The bonds you swore, you foolish girl, allows Harry one wife, but as many concubines as he wishes. You are not his wife, at least not right now. You are just a concubine. So is Hermione, even if Harry never, well, never takes the option to enforce it."
She glared at Ron again. "It says a great deal about you, none of it good, that you could abandon your liege lord, never mind your sworn bondmate, even for a few days. And yet you expect that bond to bring her back to you? It will prevent her from falling for any other man except for you and Harry, but that does not mean she has to come back to either of you. She can do without a man if she chooses."
She rounded on Ginny. "The oaths YOU swore prevent you that option. You are Harry's, no matter what, no matter how he acts or reacts. I'm ashamed of the pair of you!" Ron and Ginny shrank back. "The pair of you are coming back to the Burrow with me tomorrow. Yes, it is habitable again. The two of you will be working on it with me to make it more than merely inhabitable, and yes, young lady, we'll get you permission to use magic. As a bonded concubine, you're allowed. By the way, you should NOT have been allowed back to school this year, and you will not be coming back next year. Neither of you are to contact Harry or Hermione. They will come to you if they want to, and you will explain your conduct."
Molly ignored her children's protests as she wriggled out from behind the student desk. She grabbed each one by an ear, and dragged them yowling down the corridors.
The next morning, Harry sat happily in the tent, digesting the nearly Edwardian breakfast Winky had prepared for him. He was looking through The Daily Prophet and the second issue of the resumed Quibbler. The back half of each issue had columns of personals -- people trying to locate family and friends. One ad inThe Quibbler caught his eye:
While I am pleased you have your privacy, can we talk in private?
There was a slight 'pop'. "Mister Harry?"
"When you go out, could you deliver a letter for me?"
"Of course, Mister Harry. May Winky know who to?"
"Luna Lovegood. I think she's probably still at Hogwarts, but she may be at her father's house, outside Ottery St. Catchpole."
"Winky knows, and will find."
Australia is a very large place. Hermione had deliberately not told Harry or Ron where her parents should have been directed to. She had even slightly misled them as to the names she had given them. She hadn't trusted Harry's link to Voldemort at the time, nor could she be certain Ron might not break if captured.
It was time to search Hobart, and see if she could find them.
Since Hogwarts was still in disarray, it was fairly easy for Luna to disappear after dinner. She wasn't certain why Harry would wish to meet with her at a place called Little Whinging, but she was not prepared to argue.
She apparated to the location given, a rather run-down back garden."Harry?"
"Over here," Harry said from near the house.
"Why are we here?"
"This is my Muggle relatives' house," Harry answered. "I was checking to see if it was damaged since they ran off. The Death Eaters visited at least twice, but it only took me less than an hour to undo the alarms and alerts they put up."
"Where are your relatives?"
"I'm not sure," Harry admitted. "Winky found them, but I didn't ask where. I sent along some money -- I know my uncle will appreciate that, if nothing else. If they want to, I even arranged a way for them to mail me. They can come back here now, or sell the place."He looked more directly at Luna. "Did you eat dinner?"
"Just a little," she confessed. "But not much."
Harry could see she was nervous, which threw him a bit. "Come on. I know a place we can eat a little something but have some privacy. If you don't call me Harry, no one will recognize me." He cast aslight glamour on himself.
"Very nice," Luna admitted. She was wearing Muggle clothes, so felt no reason to change. Harry cast a mild glamour on her anyway, so she looked a bit older.
Less than fifteen minutes later, they were at a busy little eatery-- not quite fast food, not quite a regular restaurant. Luna wasn't terribly hungry, but accepted a small order of fish and chips, while Harry ordered the shepherd's pie and some bread and cheese. He ordered them both shandy, and the waitress, taken in by the glamours, took the order.
"First of all," Luna said, "the main reason I needed to see you. I believe this is yours."
Harry blinked in shock as she handed him the resurrection stone.
"I found it the evening after the battle, after Daddy and I had had a long talk. I just felt it, and felt a connection to you as Itouched it." She gestured, and Harry took the ring. "Harry, do you have all three Deathly Hallows?"
Harry spent the time waiting for their dinner to arrive, and through about half way eating their dinner, briefly outlining his experiences. Luna was, to say the least, thrilled and impressed. She did understand why Harry's possession of the three objects had to be kept secret.
"I understand why you wish to disperse the objects from each other," she finally said. "I do think you would be wiser to keep the wand, even if you rarely use it. Unless you mean to retire from the world, you may need it."
"But I don't want to risk someone winning the wand directly," Harry pointed out.
"I suppose that's true," she had to admit. "And the ring?"
"Did you use it?" Harry asked.
Luna nodded. "I said a proper goodbye to my mother."
"If someone has all three, they could force the dead to stay Earthbound until their own death. I'm not sure, but it might be used like Dumbledore claimed Grindelwald would have, to command armies of Inferi, perhaps even mummies and vampires as well."
Luna again nodded. "It needs a better hiding place than near a path through the forest, however."
"I'll take care of it," Harry assured her.
"I guess this brings me to the second thing I need to talk to you about," Luna said. "Daddy told me what he tried to do to you, Hermione, and Ron."
Harry saw how stricken she was. "I forgive him, of course. I think we all understood the pressures he was under."
"But to do that to you. . . ."
Having just finished eating, Harry placed his left hand over her small right hand. "I saw the painting of us. I understand, and like I said, I forgive him."
The waitress came back, and Harry ordered them ice cream for afters.
"I swore on my mother's body to take care of Daddy before all others," Luna said. "I'm glad we can still be friends."
"Just friends?" Harry asked, curious.
Luna looked confused.
Harry shrugged. "I am, unfortunately, even more famous than I was. On the one hand, there is no way I could ever meet girls and just date. On the other, I know three wonderful women that I really like."
Luna was just looking surprised.
"I know this will sound stupid, and maybe even arrogant," Harry admitted. "In fact, telling you this way will probably mean we can never work out, but I just don't know how else to say it. It looks as if, despite all their fights, Ron and Hermione might still try and date. I have some sort of crush on Ginny that I don't understand. But you and I connect, somehow, at least it seems that way to me."
"We do," Luna agreed. "And if it weren't for the fact that you are already bonded to Ginny, and perhaps to Hermione as well, I'd. . . ."
"What!" Harry didn't shout it, the word came out more as a soft, strangled squawk.
Luna frowned. "You didn't know?"
Harry merely shook his head, his jaw slack.
"You have no memories of going through a bonding ceremony with Ginny, or receiving oaths from Ron and Hermione?"
A year before, Harry might have dismissed the idea. But now he searched his memories, and partially remembered. "That . . . that wasn't a dream?"
"Mostly likely not," Luna said. "What can you remember?"
The bistro was not terribly busy, so Harry cast a diversion spell, which would prevent anyone from paying much attention to them. Then he dredged up what he could remember from his 'dream'.
When he was finished, Harry paid the bill, left a large tip, and the pair went for a walk in the mild evening.
"How did you know, by the way?" Harry asked.
"I can see auras," Luna answered. "Yours changed a year ago April. I congratulated Ginny, and she told me that it was a secret, that the bonding would help protect you against Voldemort's mental intrusions, just as thinking of your godfather had that night in the Ministry."
Harry stopped, shocked. "She knew about that?"
"Damn Dumbledore!" Harry pulled the shocked Luna into a hug and then duel-apparated them to the Hogwarts' ward boundaries. It did not take them long to make their way to the headmaster's office.
"Back again, Harry?" Dumbledore's portrait inquired.
"Damn you!" Harry shouted.
"Quite possibly I am," Dumbledore agreed. "Why now?"
"Did you bond me to Ginny?" Harry demanded.
"I did, and had Ronald and Hermione swear full vassalage to you before bonding them as well. Had Voldemort tried to possess you again, those bonds would automatically trigger the same response which allowed you to drive him from your mind at the Ministry. That also decreased the chances of either of your vassals deserting you. Without the bonds, Ronald may not have returned, and I knew you needed both."
"So I was always just a pawn to you," Harry spat.
"You were always more than that, but I had to use you as a pawn,"Dumbledore agreed. "Until Voldemort actually took and used your blood, I saw no likely way for you to even have a chance at surviving. I then did what I could to both ensure your victory, and perhaps to give you a life afterwards."
"And knowing what you know now, would you have done things differently?" Harry snapped.
"I don't know," the portrait admitted after a moment's hesitation."After all, this did work, although at a terrible price to the magical world."
"The magical world did not suffer in the least," Harry pointed out."Magical Britain and Ireland did, and so did some of the Muggles here. The rest of the world set up an embargo once Voldemort took over the Ministry. The British Isles are not the entire world."
Harry turned to Luna. "I'm sorry. I would have liked the chance to get to know you as more than a friend."
"You still can," Dumbledore offered. "Ginny Weasley is your concubine, or consort if you prefer. Under the old customs, a man of your position can easily have up to at least five, as well as awife. You have one, or two if you and Hermione have been intimate."
"I thought she was bonded to Ron?"
"She bonded herself to you as your vassal first. Unbonded women belong first to their lord, and only second to any bondmate or even husband who come later."
"How can these bondings be legal?" Harry demanded. "I did not give consent! Not to mention we are too young."
"All four of you gave your consent, even if you, Hermione, and later Ronald all thought you were dreaming. As for the age issue, Ronald and Hermione were of age, and you are the head of your family. For such a bonding, the traditional age of consent is sixteen for the Head of a family and fourteen for any girl, as it is quite the old custom. Should you marry Ginevra or Hermione, that would prevent you from marrying another, of course, but you could still have a total of five concubines without any trouble. I doubt you would want more than that, but it would be possible."
"Oh, like I could just go around doing things like that," Harry said with contempt.
"I do like you," Luna said quietly. "You're the only boy I can even imagine wanting to be with, being touched by. But you're right. As much as I admire Hermione, as friendly as I have always been with Ginny, it would be difficult, especially these days, for me to share you with them. I'm not saying I won't, but I think you will have to work things out with Ginny and especially Hermione before we need even consider any such options."
"I am sorry," Dumbledore offered. "Had I known, I would have bounded you instead of Ginny. However, Harry, at the time you were seeing Ginny."
"That's right, seeing! Why the hell should I have my life set now? Ron and Hermione usually fight more than they snog. Why should they be bonded now? They might not have stayed together." Harry glared. "I take it divorce is difficult."
"Divorce is easy," Dumbledore said. "However, you are not married yet. You are bonded, and the bondings are for life."
"You might have been a great planner and a master manipulator,"Harry told the painting, "but you never understood anything about love."
Luna walked over to the portrait. "I, Luna Lovegood, do curse the spirit of Albus Dumbledore. May he do atonement in the afterlife until such time, if ever, as he truly both understands and repents his actions taken against myself, Harry Potter, and Hermione Granger."
She turned and marched out of the room. Harry decided there was nothing more he wanted to say that night, and followed her out.