Harry sat in the front, Ginny holding onto his hand tightly while resting her head on his shoulder, letting her warm tears fall onto Harry's dress robes. Ron sat on the other side of Harry with an arm around Hermione, who remained collected for the whole service until they brought out the bodies of Fred, Remus, and Tonks to rest on the marble tables. The large crowd gathered to pay their respects to the wizards and witches who had laid down their lives to defeat Voldemort and his Death Eaters. Mr. and Mrs. Weasley sat close on the other side of Ginny, comforting each other, but remaining strong, not only for themselves, but for the rest of the family and friends alike.
Harry scanned the crowd looking for the people that had truly known Fred, Lupin, and Tonks. He saw Neville sitting next to his grandma, who was leaning forward and squinting to see what was going on. He saw Luna and her father, who wore much darker clothing that what they had worn to Bill and Fleur's wedding, holding each other's hands. He saw Hagrid sitting at the back with most of the other professors of Hogwarts, like he had the previous year at Dumbledore's funeral, on a reinforced chair Harry guessed. He saw Tonks's mother holding Harry's godchild, Teddy, on the other side of the aisle across from George, Percy, Charlie, Bill, and Fleur.
Sorrow overtook Harry's body inch by inch as he thought of young Teddy growing up without his parents. He had not known what it was like to grow up with warm kisses from your mum or the guiding advice from your dad. Like his parents, Tonks and Lupin had sacrificed themselves to make Teddy's life easier and happier than it would have been if Voldemort had not been defeated. Harry knew that he would not let poor Teddy have the same painful childhood he had had growing up with the Dursleys. Harry would be there for him, like Sirius, Dumbledore, and the Weasleys had been there for him. He'd make sure that Teddy would feel wanted and loved.
When the body bearers had taken their seats, Harry rose out of his and gently helped Ginny sit up, then walked toward the podium that stood behind the three bodies. He had volunteered to speak, remembering how the speaker at Dumbledore's funeral had listed off characteristics rather than truly speak of the morals that made Dumbledore the great man he had been. He wouldn't allow that to happen to his friends, not to his departed loved ones. He could feel all the eyes follow each step he took that brought him closer to the podium. When he finally reached it, he looked amongst the crowd, amazed at how many people were actually there. He saw ministry workers, shop owners, some faces he had seen at Dumbledore's funeral, and the media who hadn't stopped following or writing of Harry since the fall of Voldemort. It made him sick and furious to think that not even something as sacred as a funeral would stop Rita Skeeter and her photographers, but at least now maybe the real heroes would get their recognition for what they had done for the wizarding community; the recognition they deserved.
"Thank you all for coming," he said as despondency filled his heart for all who had lost a loved one during the dark months that led to the final conflict. "People look at me everyday as if I'm a hero for living through these dark times, but I'm here to tell you now, that the real heroes are here," as he extended the back of his hand toward the mortal remains of Fred, Lupin, and Tonks. "These people were already heroes even before they paid the ultimate price. What makes a hero…" Harry stopped speaking and looked like a deer caught in the headlights as memories flooded over him; memories that made Fred, Lupin, and Tonks so special to him.
"I don't think it takes great acts of courage to be one, I think what truly makes a hero is great acts of kindness." He remembered Fred, George, and Ron saving him from the Dursleys using Mr. Weasley's flying car; Lupin helping him overcome the dementors his third year at Hogwarts; and Tonks always making Harry think of the good things and happier times when sorrow surrounded him. They had all been kind to Harry when he needed it most.
"These people made differences each day with the choices and decisions they made. I'm proud to say that I was friend to all of them. No matter how dark the night, how steep the path, or how little the odds, they believed and kept going." He remembered how each of them was always more than eager to fight for what they thought was right, no matter how hopeless the outcome looked.
"During my fifth year at school someone close to me told me that the things we lose seem to find a way of coming back to us, sooner or later. Even if it means little things like a prank that we knew one of them would have loved, or the pink of a blooming rose, or the beauty of a full moon, somehow, someway these people will live on." In the crowd he looked down at Luna who was touched that Harry would remember what she had told him after the loss of Sirius.
"They died for us; they died making a difference. I don't think any of them would have wanted it any other way," he said while thinking of how stubborn each of them had always been.
"There is only one way I know that I can make it up to them, a way to pay them back for what they have done, and that is to live on." He thought of what Dumbledore had told him when he had caught him looking at the Mirror of Erised. "Fred's jokes and humor, Tonks's warmth and personality, and Remus's bravery and wisdom will be missed by many, but forgotten by none," he said staring at the tables where his three friends lay. He then walked away from the podium.
The funeral conductor then rose and directed the families to say their final farewells. Immediately, all the Weasleys stood up and walked to the table Fred lay on; Mrs. Tonks then walked toward her daughter, holding the baby close, and Harry walked toward the last table where his old professor lay. He looked down at Lupin and held his hand, trying to think of the proper words to send the last Marauder on his way.
"I'll miss you, Remus," he choked, his eyes stinging from the tears that began to erupt from the corner of his eyes. "I never told you how much I cared for you, but I want you to know that I'm going to make it up to you through Teddy." He raised his head to see the Weasleys huddled around Fred and Mrs. Tonks lightly kissing the forehead of her daughter. "I'll be there for him, like you were there for me. I'll tell him grand tales of his mum and dad and how you two have simply moved on to the next great adventure," he said, remembering the words from Dumbledore.
Harry then turned back from Lupin and, realizing he was the last one standing, returned to his seat next to Ginny; she was now leaning against her father for comfort, but as he sat down she took his hand again and leaned on his shoulder. An older wizard then stood and walked to the center of the bodies and then stopped a few feet in front of them. He then pulled his wand out of his storm-grey cloak and waved it over the bodies as if he was leading an invisible orchestra. When the man had finished, all three of bodies were engulfed in a wonderful dark rock that was colored like the water of a running river. The crowd began to rise and leave as the man turned from the beautiful rock where Fred, Remus, and Tonks would lay forever. Harry then rose to his feet while helping Ginny to her own. Mrs. Weasley walked over to Harry and embraced him with a hug and said, "I think Fred would have liked what you said very much, Harry dear. Thank you for speaking."
"It was the least I could do for him, for them all," Harry said while still supporting her daughter. Ginny then left his side to embrace her father and mother, and as she did Harry gazed over the departing crowd, looking for Mrs. Tonks and young Teddy. He spotted them standing in front of the three tombstones where the fallen heroes would rest forever. Harry walked towards her, anxiety building inside with each step he took that brought him closer and closer to his destination.
"I'm sorry," he said, "about your husband, daughter, and son-in-law."
"Your words were beautiful, Harry," she said turning to face him. She let out a small whisper of a sigh and tear trails trickled down her cheeks.
"I don't think anyone could have ever said enough to capture who they really were," Harry said, realizing how much shorter his speech had been compared to the old wizard that had spoken at Dumbledore's funeral. "I just want you to know that I'm here for you and that, if you'd like, I can take care of Teddy. Remus and your daughter asked me to be his godfather before they died," Harry said in a light, comforting voice.
"I appreciate it, Harry," she said, tenderly touching Harry's arm as little Teddy snuggled in the crook of her other arm. "But when I look at this young one I see some part of everyone I've lost. He will still need you; a mother can only teach and show a child so much, and he will need a father to show him the rest," she said in strong voice.
"I understand," Harry replied. "I'd like to hold him for a second, if that is all right." She smiled at him and carefully handed the small child to him.
As Harry cradled the child while staring down into the boy's soft face, he felt the burning feeling of hope kindle within his body. Harry knew that this child would have hard times ahead of him, but for now he was safe in his arms.
Two Years Later
"You have fought giant snakes and spiders, Dark wizards, Dementors; hell, you've even been killed once!" Harry said to himself as he walked toward the Burrow. "Just get a hold of yourself. They love you like a son, who better than you?" He raised his fist and met the front wooden door. He heard footsteps walking toward him inside. "Just tell them how you feel and they'll understand."
"Harry! For heaven's sake, it's winter out there. Just come in," Mrs. Weasley said as she opened the door for him. "You're practically family; everyone else just Apparates right into the kitchen. No need to be polite on nights like this," she said while removing Harry's cloak, which was damp from the falling snow.
"Just the man I wanted to talk to," said Mr. Weasley, holding onto what Harry thought looked like an eightball. "I was able to knick… borrow this from the Ministry yesterday, and I'm still wondering how the Muggles were able to create a magical ball that answers questions," he said while shaking the ball.
"Arthur, let the boy sit down and get something to eat before you start annoying him about that Muggle toy," Mrs. Weasley said in an annoyed voice as she led Harry to a seat by the table. "How's Teddy doing?" she asked as she dished out some stew into a bowl while Mr. Weasley filled a glass with milk for Harry by a wave of his wand.
"He's doing fine. Every time I see him, though, his hair has changed to a different color," he said, thinking of the lovely Saturday he had spent with baby Teddy and Mrs. Tonks. "Mrs. Tonks said that he would eventually pick a color and stick to it like Tonks did," said Harry remembering Tonks's pink, spiky hair.
"That's wonderful. Anyway, you sounded as if you had something important you wanted to ask Arthur and me in the letter you sent us," she said, while pushing a bowl of stew towards Harry that had been filled by a another simple wave of her wand.
"This is it. This is why you're here. Just say it and get out," he said to himself in his head as he took a spoonful of Mrs. Weasley's wonderful cooking. "Well, there was something I wanted to discuss with the two of you… in private," he said, thinking of the possibility of Ron, George, Bill, or Charlie walking in and pounding Harry into oblivion.
"Ron is still at Bill and Fleur's talking about the Cannons last Quidditch match," said Mr. Weasley while shaking the eightball.
"Ginny is still doing some last-minute Christmas shopping with Hermione in Diagon Alley," added Mrs. Weasley while guiding a knife with her wand to cut Harry a piece of bread.
"And the Muggle's magical ball is quite sure George shouldn't be coming over anytime soon," Mr. Weasley replied while showing Harry the answer the ball had given him.
"So what is it, dear?" Mrs. Weasley said, taking a seat with her husband at the table on the opposite side of Harry.
"Do it, man, they'll be happy for you… for both of you," he said to himself once again while taking a swig of milk. "Well, I'm actually here to ask you something pretty important." He hurried and took another big bite of bread. "You see, it's something I've been thinking about a lot, and the more I think about it, the more I know it's the right thing to do," he said after he had finished swallowing the bread.
"All right then, well, out with it," Mrs. Weasley said in an anxious voice, pulling Harry's food away from him to stop him from stalling any longer than he already had.
"I want your permission to ask Ginny to marry me," he said quickly, before he could back out and cover it with some sad excuse. "I love her very much, and I... I can't think of anyone I'd rather spend the rest of my life with." He spoke quickly, staring at the emotionless faces of the people that he hoped would become his parents-in-law. "I just wanted your blessing," he finished. After several long moments as Mr. and Mrs. Weasley just looked at each other in shock, a smile erupted upon Mr. Weasley's face.
"I told you this magical ball worked, Molly," Mr. Weasley said in a triumphant voice, breaking the silence while shaking the ball again. "We had a feeling that's why you wanted to speak to us Harry, so I simply asked the ball and gave it a good shaking and it answered yes, proving that the Muggles have certainly learned to capture magic," he said putting the ball on the table and looking at Mrs. Weasley.
Harry then looked to Mrs. Weasley, whose face, which had been emotionless during his mad ranting of how much he loved her daughter, now had turned to a warm look of delight. "We wondered how long it would be before you'd ask," she said while pushing Harry's food back toward him. "Believe it or not, we had come up with an answer for you months ago and were just waiting for you to find the courage to ask," she said while refilling his cup of milk. "We know that there isn't anyone that cares for her more than you, Harry, and we certainly know Ginny feels the same about you. But marriage isn't to be taken lightly," she said while taking the eightball from Mr. Weasley and throwing it into the sitting room "It takes work, sacrifice, and sometimes submission."
"I would do anything for Ginny and give her everything that I have," he said, switching his look from Mrs. Weasley to Mr. Weasley.
"We know you would. It didn't take a magic ball to tell us that," said Mr. Weasley, looking at Harry as Dumbledore used to. "If she'll have you Harry, then we'll have you as well. You have my blessing." Harry then switched his gaze to Mrs. Weasley, hoping to see the same comforting smile that was on the face of her husband.
As Mrs. Weasley was about to say something, the front door slammed open and in walked Ron, Hermione, and Ginny, laughing as if they had found out that Ron really did have a Pigmy Puff tattoo.
"Blimey, Harry, I thought you'd be in bed by now, sleeping off that workout Crew gave us today," said Ron, referring to the Auror-training session they had gone through earlier that day. "What are you doing here at this hour anyway?"
"Well… I was just…" Harry was at a loss for words, not prepared for all three of them to walk in on a conversation that he hoped would have no interruptions. But before he could say anything more Mr. Weasley broke in to save him.
"I asked him to come and explain the Muggles magic ball and we simply lost track of time," said Mr. Weasley, walking out of the sitting room waving the eightball that Mrs. Weasley had throw into the sitting room. "It really is an amazing device."
Hermione then burst out in laughter and explained to Mr. Weasley that it really wasn't magic at all and gave him a brief history of the ball. Harry appreciated her very much because no one seemed to care anymore what Harry had been discussing with the Weasleys.
"I told you it wasn't magic, Arthur," said Mrs. Weasley while sending the dishes to clean themselves in the sink. "How did the shopping go, girls?"
"Not as smoothly as we would have liked, but we managed," said Ginny, walking over to give Harry a short kiss on the lips. "It seems that three days before Christmas is an international date for us procrastinating shoppers, but we got everything that was on the list."
"Hermione almost hexed me when I tried to look inside one of the bags they were carrying," said Ron in a voice that sounded like a younger child telling on his brother or sister.
"I've told you, Ron, that you would have to wait until Christmas to see what your gift is, just like everyone else, no matter how well you have mastered that bloody book your brothers gave you," replied Hermione in a commanding voice. "Next time, I won't only put you in a full Body-Bind, but I'll also switch your gift with a big hunk of coal."
"Sounds like it's been a full night for you lot," replied Harry with a soft chuckle. "Anything in there for me?" he added as he tried to peek in one of the bags that Ginny was holding.
"Watch it, buddy, or you'll find yourself in the same boat as Ron," Ginny said, laughingly while hiding the bag behind her back.
"How are Bill, Fleur, and our little grandchild doing?" said Mr. Weasley in a voice that sounded like he was still disappointed that the ball wasn't magic after all.
"Oh, they're doing fine," said Ron, pulling Harry's leftover soup to himself. "You know Bill, working like a mad man. Fleur mainly tended to Victoire while I was there, but they all seemed to be doing well."
"That's good," said Mrs. Weasley while walking behind Mr. Weasley and placing her hands on his shoulders. "You all look quite tired and should be off to bed. We'll have plenty of time to talk tomorrow."
"Yeah, I'm still pretty beat from Crew today. He must have made us run nearly twelve miles," Ron said, heading toward where he had hung up his cloak. "Well, it probably wasn't that much, but it sure did feel like it at the time. Anyway, I'm off. I'll see you at the flat, all right, Harry?" finished Ron as he walked over and kissed Hermione on the cheek.
"Yeah, I'll see you in a second," said Harry as he too stood up from the table.
"I'm off too. I'll see you all tomorrow," Hermione yawned as she waved goodbye and grabbed her belongings and walked out the front door.
"I'm going to clock out as well. I'll see you tomorrow, won't I?" stated Ginny as she gave Harry a farewell hug and kiss.
"Yeah I think so. Crew gave us two weeks off for the holiday, and I can't think of any other place I'd rather be," Harry replied.
"I'll see you tomorrow, then," said Ginny with a smile as she dragged her hand down Harry's arm and walked away from him to the stairs leading to her bedroom.
Harry then walked to where Mrs. Weasley had hung his cloak and began to put it on.
"Oh, by the way, Harry. You have my blessing as well," Mrs. Weasley said while walking over to give Harry a hug. "I can't think of anyone else I'd want my Ginny to be with."
The beast that had hibernated within him since he and Ginny got back together awoke and roared with jubilation. "Thanks," Harry said with a smile on his face that he thought might never go away.
Harry then said his farewells to both Mr. and Mrs. Weasley and Apparated to his home - Sirius's old house that he had left to Harry in his will after he passed through the Veil that terrible night at the Ministry.