The Burrow loomed over the horizon to the east as they drove up. There was no need to Floo or Apparate over; they had too many gifts to give, and it would have been hard to Apparate each and every single gift. Ron slowed the car down as they approached his childhood home and parked near the house. His wife, Hermione, was already there preparing the celebrations for Harry and Ginny’s one hundred and tenth wedding anniversary. They would be 127 and 126, respectively, years old this summer and Harry was still astounded by how long witches and wizards could live. Harry was even more surprised that he himself was still able to celebrate these momentous occasions.
Harry had married Ginny shortly after she left Hogwarts and before he left for the inevitable Auror training. A few years later, he finally confronted Voldemort in a heated battle and won, but not without a cost; they had lost their first-born son to the battle when the Death Eaters kidnapped him and killed him in front of Harry. After the battle, he retreated to a quiet life with Ginny outside London to restart his family, but a quiet life would not happen soon enough for Harry. In later years he worked as Deputy Minister after Rufus Scrimgeour retired, restoring the ministry to its former glory—a time before Voldemort—and aiding in numerous projects for the less fortunate.
Some of the projects were a form of repayment to those he lost in the battle. For Sirius, the house on Grimmauld Place had been turned into a preschool for wizarding families with children younger than eleven. He created a wizarding college in Albus Dumbledore’s name for wizards and witches who were interested in furthering their education beyond Hogwarts, Beauxbatons, and other wizarding schools. Finally, for Remus Lupin and other werewolves, he had created a research facility to mass-produce Wolfsbane potion and a career facility to help them find work in and around the wizarding community. There were several others, but those were just a few in the memories of his friends.
Today was special and meaningful for Harry; a time to forget the troubles of the past and reflect on a life well-lived with the one he loved most and his best friends.
Ron parked the car and got out in time to greet his wife who was already in the process of levitating the gifts out of the backseat.
“Hello, love,” he said and placed a tender kiss on her cheek.
“Was not. I am here precisely when I intended to be,” Ron smirked.
Hermione tsked at him before walking ahead with the presents in tow. Ron followed and looked around. All of Harry’s friends and family were there. Harry’s three sons and only daughter were setting up the table, his grandchildren went in and out of the Burrow to get supplies to decorate, his great-grandchildren helped the others decorate by bringing out lights to put onto the trees and table ends. At the end of all the decorating, the adults retired to the paddock to watch all the other Potter youths younger than sixteen playing Quidditch. He never got tired of seeing all of them, thus bringing a smile to his lips.
Ron heard a noise behind him and turned to see that Harry and Ginny had just Apparated into the garden which caused the group to look up momentarily before resuming their various activities.
“Hello, Ron, Hermione,” Harry said softly.
Ron knew that he was getting older, obviously since they all were, but he could not help noticing that Harry was getting quieter in his old age. The normally robust man had become even more somber in his old age; an almost Dumbledore-like quality in his years, far beyond the average wizard. The only things that were the same, no matter the year, were his eyes. Those green eyes were ageless; they sparked a fierce green that had stayed that way from the first time Ron met him.
Hermione greeted Harry with a gentle hug before walking ahead leaving the three of them in front of the Burrow. Ginny, who had been holding Harry’s hand when they Apparated, released it to hug her brother. Her trademark Weasley hair color had faded to white in her eighties, and the brilliant white shone brightly in the sunlight. It was surprising to Ron how much all of them had aged and that would definitely show at the celebration.
He watched his sister leave him and head over to the house before he went to where his wife was and started to help her sort the gifts.
Harry was walking along the pond’s edge in his usual contemplative state when Ginny approached him and placed a hand on his arm. He turned to her and gave her a gentle smile with his eyes and looked to the water.
“Is something wrong, love?”
He stiffened slightly, indicating that there was, before he turned to her again. His face showed a hint of sadness, something she had not seen since the war.
“I need to talk to you, Ginny. Let’s move further from the group, so I can tell you this privately.”
They moved toward the forest where the trees met the lake. When they reached this edge, he leaned against the great oak and turned Ginny to him.
“I want you to know this firsthand; you know I am getting old.”
“I’ve noticed, but that’s normal.”
“Let me finish, please.” He waited until she looked at him with her mouth shut. “Yes, I know getting old is normal; so is death. It’s coming; I can feel it. I hate that I can feel it, and that it’s getting closer with each passing day. I worry about you and what you would do if I go before you do. I also worry that something will happen to you that will take you away from me before I go.
“I want us to be together forever. I even started some research to ensure that we will always be together. I haven’t spent this much time in a library since our Hogwarts days, but it was worth it. There is some background in this search, but first a question for you. Have you ever heard of the story of Bausis and Philemon?”
“Not really. What does this have to do with you and your morbid thinking?”
“It’s a story of an elderly couple that was together forever basically. In Greek mythology, it was said that the gods wanted to see how citizens were with those less fortunate so two of the gods came down to Earth. The gods, Zeus and Apollo, disguised themselves as beggars and made their journey through towns and cities to see if anyone would be kind and generous to them.
“The citizens proved to be less than hospitable to the two beggars and refused to help them. They would not feed them or offer them shelter, which is the minimum amount of generosity a person can give. The two just about gave up on the mortals but continued on to one final house. The house was less than perfect, in fact, the house was shabby and showed that the people inside would not have enough to spare for the two. They knocked on the door just to see if these people would be different than their more fortunate neighbors.”
Harry looked over to Ginny to see if she was listening and saw her intensely looking at him, waiting for him to continue. He took a deep breath and continued the tale.
“The couple, Bausis and Philemon, answered the door and greeted their guests with gladness and brought them into their house. The inside was small and not so spacious, but the couple made room for the beggars and pulled out chairs for them to sit on so they would not sit on the floor. Then they prepared them a sumptuous meal with all the trimmings for the unknown guests.
“Toward the end of the meal—or was it sometime after; I forget—the elderly couple noticed that the wine they were serving never ran out. It was then that Bausis and Philemon knew their guests were gods. They wanted to give them a better meal, but Zeus and Apollo stopped them and thanked them for their hospitality. Then their surroundings transformed into riches beyond their wildest dreams; gold and marble replaced their feeble wooden thatched house, and they had food to last them the rest of their lives. Then the gods asked of them one wish, and they would grant it.
“The couple wished to die together. They could not bear to leave the other behind to mourn their death on earth. The gods granted their wish and left them. The couple lived a happy life together for many years after that day; they never asked for anything more.
“One day, Bausis noticed her husband sprouting leaves on his arm, and his skin turning into bark. She looked at herself and noticed the same thing was happening to her as well; the two of them were becoming trees–I think she turned into a fir tree, and he turned into a fig tree, but what kind of trees isn’t important. Anyway, the trees wound their branches together, and they passed on, leaving only two trees where a couple had once stood.
“I hope you understand now what I meant with this story, and what I hope we could do.”
Ginny had tears in her eyes, but they did not fall as Harry told her this story. She had never heard of such a wonderful story of everlasting love, but she was confused. Was there such a spell?
“Harry, is there such a spell that could guarantee this? That it would let us be together forever and never depart from the other?”
“There is. That is what I want to ask you. Do you want to do this spell, together? It could happen at any time and would not give you time to say goodbye to those you love and would leave behind. I just want you to be sure of this.”
Ginny walked up to her husband and pulled his face down to hers, so he could look straight into his eyes.
“Yes, let us do this.”
They moved a few steps away from the oak tree, and he held her hands in his left hand while he got his wand out. He indicated to her to get her wand out as well and placed her wand in her left hand, palm side up, and then he put his wand in his left hand. His right hand was palm side down on her left hand, and she did the same with her right hand imitating Harry’s actions. As soon as they were in position, Harry started the incantation
“Adnexus coagmentatio proamorus in aeternum,” he whispered.
The spell wrapped around them in thin, spidery threads, flowing and swirling around them before it dissipated. When the spell was finished, Harry hugged his wife and whispered a choked ‘thank you’ before letting go and gazing at her.
“I think we need to get back before the others wonder where we went to.”
“Okay, Harry. It would be funny if they thought that we were snogging.”
“Ginny, we haven’t done anything like that in years.”
“I know, but it would be funny though.”
They shared a good laugh with their bantering before they reached the party. By the time they got there, the guests were waiting for the two to arrive and let out a great cheer for them.
The celebration lasted late into the afternoon as the happy couple shared a marvelous feast and opened gifts while recounting significant occasions in their lives. The best memory came from Hermione when she told them how she fixed Harry’s glasses at a stormy Quidditch game during their third year and then again at his wedding when his glasses caught tears of joy. He kept taking them off to wipe away the tears and she stealthily cast an Impervius Charm on them.
The day was winding down and all the guests began packing up for home. Some were going to Floo to their respective homes while others would Apparate or drive. Harry and Ginny were going to spend the night at the Burrow before returning to their home accompanied by Ron and Hermione who owned the Burrow now.
Ron and Hermione were helping people clean and disassemble the decorations and lights as Harry and Ginny stood next to the table looking at the brilliant sunset before them. While they were looking at it, Harry glanced at Ginny and noticed that her hair, white with age turn red from her youth. It continued to turn darker red until it almost became auburn brown.
He looked at himself and saw his fringe turn into stiff leaves and could feel his skin become rough like dragon scales. They were becoming trees made from the wood of their wands; he would be a holly tree, she would become an ash tree.
He held her hands and faced her for one final kiss before the bark would take over. They came together for the kiss and never departed; forever locked in an enduring kiss the bark formed over their faces locking them together, and their hands became interlocking branches, weaving together like the flesh fingers they once were. The bark grew around them until the two people were completely covered in bark, leaves and branches of two distinct and intertwined trees.
Hermione was watching the transformation when it first started and called Ron. He came and placed his arm around her and watched with her. Hermione could not believe that her husband was letting this happen, and she was surprised that he was somber throughout the transformation. When the spell was complete they went inside the Burrow for the night.
“Why did you not stop them from doing that transfiguration?”
“I didn’t want to intrude. It didn’t seem like it was my job to do that.”
She felt like she lost her friends, but her friends were out in the garden. They could listen but would not be a part of life again. Now they were left with the memory of Harry and Ginny.
“Hermione, come here.”
Ron’s voice cut through her thoughts and worried her. His tone was not his normal lighthearted one that he usually used when speaking with her. She walked up the stairs to where he was and saw that he held a note in his hands with their names on it. She took it from him.
Ron and Hermione,
I know that this may seem sudden, but it was bound to happen sooner or later. I am writing this to let you know what will happen to Ginny and me. I have knowledge that I may not be around much longer, if not for another day. I am dying, that is obvious since I am getting old. I could feel it coming, and I even went to a Medi-Wizard to confirm my suspicions. I was right, and I had to set my affairs in order. Gringotts has had my will for some time and Ginny’s is also there as well. Everything has been taken care of. This includes who will be running my foundation projects to who will own my house.
I am sorry for not letting you know sooner, but I just did all this planning over the last week.
As to the situation with Ginny, I am including her in my plan. The plan was to perform an incantation that would keep us together forever. If you have any questions, refer to the Bausis/Philemon story provided on the next parchment; this will explain the premise of the spell I did for the both of us.
This letter would not come unless we were both dead, or in this case, turn into trees if the spell worked correctly. The spell is provided also with the story in case you would want to do this as well. I advise you to talk it over with each other.
I will miss you both. You were my family, everything in the world to me through good times and bad. You’ve helped me when I felt like I lost everything while I was at Hogwarts. You’ve got me out of my depression when Sirius died and when I lost my son to Voldemort. Those were rough times and you pulled me through and supported me ever since. I thank you so much, and I only wish I paid you back for those times. I love you both as family and friends.
Hermione gave a quivering sigh as she wiped the tears from her cheeks while Ron carefully folded the letter. As he tucked it into his pocket, he took a glance out the window to see the two trees swaying in the breeze as the moonlight reflected off their leaves. Ron could almost see them waving at him just before he turned back to Hermione with a shaky smile. A stray tear fell coursed down his face as he walked out of the room with Hermione’s hand in his.