The Grangers stayed for a short while longer, and while they were genuinely nice people, Harry and Ginny had no intention of keeping in touch with them. As he had told them, there were just too many bad memories tied up in their daughter. It was good to know that Hermione was no longer a threat, though.
It was something they hadn't even considered before, and they were glad it was over before it could start.
Arthur was interested in the possible solution to Ron's issues, and would explore that option when he returned to England. Just as with Hermione, Harry had little desire to be anywhere near Ron, but he was Ginny's brother, so he would make the sacrifice if things worked out. It wasn't like they were going to be seeing the family often in any event.
In all honesty, Harry was rather surprised that Ginny was taking that so well.
Neither of them wanted to leave America, and it was highly unlikely that the rest of her family would ever relocate out of Europe. It was sad in a way — the European magicals were way behind the times — but it was what it was. So staying in America meant that they were truly on their own, apart from the occasional future visit.
It was just another reminder to Harry of just how much Ginny actually loved him. Not that he needed it — he could feel her love in his very soul thanks to their bond — but still. As much as she had joined him on his journey out of necessity and for her own reasons, it was still fairly amazing to think about how much she had given up for him.
They were able to spend a little time with Sirius after the wedding, which was nice. He had also visited in America as he said he would, and they were getting to know him. Like the Weasleys, however, it was unlikely he would ever decide to move outside of Europe. His mindset was such that he just couldn't fathom it.
That actually surprised Harry; had he been in his godfather's shoes, he would have departed as fast as the situation allowed.
His discovery that Remus was living on board the Artist was amusing, too. That his friend had actually managed to track them down with no outside assistance had shocked the old dog. The conversation that ensued was fairly entertaining.
Such visits were now behind them, though, and there was little reason to stay any longer. Bill and Fleur were off on their honeymoon, and everyone else was heading home. Their Paris visit had gone off without a hitch, other than Emily seriously needing a break afterwards. There was nothing left for them to do here, so it was time to move on.
And so they did.
Their planned route had them passing by the very same island paradise where they had initially been told of their bond. Harry and Ginny wanted to stop in and see the nice couple who had helped them so much. It hadn't seemed all that helpful at the time, but in retrospect it had eased their minds considerably.
Not to mention that it helped with the Americans. Had they not known even as little as they had, it could have been much harder to prove that their marriage was valid. They had no idea what would have happened in that case, and preferred not to think about it.
They would arrive in a couple of weeks; for now, they were simply powering their way slowly in that direction. It was nearly midnight; Remus was asleep, and Emily — who could be a bit of a night owl due to her social issues — was on duty watching the helm. Harry was laying on a lounger on the bow, simply enjoying the warm night and the peace of the open ocean.
He really did love it out here.
"Penny for your thoughts?" came a soft query.
He turned his head and found Ginny smiling softly down at him, her hair blowing in the slight breeze generated by their passing. She truly was beautiful, he thought. For all that his life had been a living hell for so long, he would do it all again just to have her in it.
"Nothing specific," he shrugged. "Just enjoying the evening."
Ginny smiled and joined him in his lounger, curling up with him and leaning her head on his chest. He wrapped his arms around her and rested his chin on the top of her head, simply enjoying the closeness. For all that he liked her, he had a hard time with even Emily's touch at times, but Ginny was different in ways that he still couldn't define, even years later.
"I'm so glad you chose a cruise," Ginny said quietly after a while. "I never would have known just how peaceful it can be out here otherwise."
Harry chuckled lightly. "Same here," he smiled. "I only chose it because it was unexpected, but it was definitely the right thing for us."
"Maybe we should start a cruise line someday," she grinned.
"That would be fun," he smiled, enjoying thinking about it. "Especially if we got to design and build the ships. Those things are amazing."
"Mmmm," she agreed.
They lapsed into silence then. Love drifted back and forth on the currents of their bond, seeming to gain in intensity with each returned feeling. It was something he had never expected to experience, and he was incredibly grateful for it.
She was his anchor. He had no idea what would happen if he ever lost her, or was even separated from her for any length of time, and he never wanted to find out. For all that they were independent people, they needed each other in a visceral sort of way.
"I'm so glad we're married," he said softly after a moment.
"Oh?" she queried gently, turning her face up to see his, and gently caressing his cheek.
"You're everything to me, Ginevra," he said softly. "I don't know what I would ever do without you."
"I feel the same, Harry," she returned, equally softly.
And then she leaned in, and they slowly lost themselves in each other. Sometimes he regretted that the intoxication of that initial kiss had never returned, but then again, each of their kisses was still wonderful. He truly did love her, and that was just as amazing to him as the fact that she loved him back.
They soon started to lose themselves in it, and the feelings zinging back and forth between them grew astonishingly intense. He wasn't going to be able to restrain himself much longer. His desire for her was turning into need.
"We should go back to our cabin," he said gruffly when they came up for air.
"Why?" she mused softly. "Emily's in the pilothouse. She can't even see us from in there."
Harry blinked as the thought penetrated his brain. Was she suggesting–?
Suddenly she shifted and pushed herself over atop him, and then captured his lips again for a long, lingering, and desperately needy kiss. He wasn't the only one feeling it tonight. Yeah, they weren't going to make it back to their bed at this rate.
Finally, she broke it, and he felt her manipulating the button on his jeans, her eyes and emotions filled with equal amounts of love and lust so powerful it took his breath away.
Harry was not about to complain.
When his mental faculties recovered a long while later, they were curled up together on that very same lounger, simply luxuriating in the feeling of closeness. The unusually warm breeze caressed their bare skin, comforting somehow in its passing. She was busy tracing the lines of his chest with a finger.
Eventually, though, his thoughts turned to the future.
"Do you want children?" he asked her curiously. They had hinted around at it from time to time, but in the years they'd been married they'd never really approached the subject directly. There was a sort of silent agreement between them that they were too young, and they were taking the appropriate precautions of course.
"Eventually, in a few years maybe," she nodded. "Not yet, though."
"Same," he nodded. "How many do you think you'll want?"
"Dunno," she frowned. "I think I want a small family, though. You?"
"I think I agree," he said thoughtfully. "I don't want anyone to feel left out, and the more we have, the harder that will be."
Ginny nodded again. "Yeah," she agreed simply.
Of course, what seemed a simple agreement with him on the surface was much more powerful internally. He had apparently touched a nerve, albeit in a good way. He wouldn't broach it if she didn't, but he suddenly had the distinct impression that she had felt neglected as a child at least occasionally.
For all of Molly Weasley's faults, though, that wasn't likely one of them, at least deliberately.
Their family was just enormous, and that took time and effort to manage. And then you added in the chaos that the twins brought to the table, and there would be even less time to go around. No, Molly and Arthur had done the best they could, and it hadn't always been quite enough.
Harry had a brief thought of what the reaction would be if he accused the twins of driving Molly insane, but dismissed it as far too tasteless a joke.
No, Ginny wanted a small family, and for very good reason. And it was one he agreed with. He was no more ready for children than she was; he'd only been truly living for a few years, and wanted more of that before taking on the responsibility. When they did, though, they would have a small, close-knit family.
And he was looking forward to it. Their future was definitely looking like it would be a bright one.
As it happened, Emily's insight proved immensely valuable. St. Mungo's refused to even consider the procedure, so Arthur took Ron to Australia to have him checked out there. And they immediately agreed that a memory wipe was a workable — and the only — solution.
It wasn't an easy thing for Ron to have lost so many years of his life, but it cured him of the condition. The root of it was still there, however, and so that required more treatment. Arthur spent the next three years traveling with him back and forth to Australia every few months.
In the end, however, it worked.
Initially, with the mentality of the eleven-year-old that was all he remembered being, he was as petulant and obnoxious as he had ever been. Fortunately, though, under Arthur's stern but loving care, he eventually grew out of it. He was homeschooled up to the point where he could take his OWLs and NEWTs, and actually succeeded in doing quite well, eventually going on to have a decent life.
Though the explosion when he found out his sister had married Harry Potter at thirteen years old was one for the record books.
That was early on, though, and they eventually managed an amicable relationship, albeit an extremely distant one. Harry mostly made himself scarce when Ron was around, which helped a lot in the early petulant years, and then simply congealed into the way of things. Ginny wasn't much better off, honestly; she was glad to have her brother back, but really just couldn't relate to him.
Molly was much too far gone to help, though, and that was probably a good thing in the end. Had they cured her, she would have ended up charged with her crimes against Arthur. Instead, she lived out her life in the ward at St. Mungo's, and never gave up her belief that her daughter was the next Dark Lady.
Harry and Ginny only visited her once, and never again.
The charter business they set up proved a rousing success. They restored a number of yachts of varying sizes, and hired appropriate folk to crew them. They specialized in high-end charters, and often took the well-to-do on vacations or corporate trips. And, on very rare occasion, they would do a long range cruise on the Escape Artist, and they charged appropriately exorbitant rates for it.
Remus and Emily both signed on immediately, and while Remus moved on to something else after a few years, Emily never did.
She adored them, and they her, and they forever remained the only people she was truly comfortable with. She did get a little better — especially once she came to grips with Occlumency — but she would forever be the incredibly shy deckhand who mostly kept to herself. Fortunately that didn't bother her; she was content to be wherever the Potters were, and enjoyed the work immensely.
Only a few passengers ever made the mistake of harassing her. They found out the hard way that the owners didn't tolerate that even the tiniest little bit.
Arthur especially adored her after he learned that it was her insight that led to a cure for Ron, and she was quickly deemed an honorary Weasley. She was incredibly grateful for that. Her own family had been horrid, but the Potters and Weasleys more than made up for it.
Harry and Ginny had two children after fifteen years of marriage, and stopped there. Like their parents before them, their children developed an immense love of the ocean, and would go on to continue the business when their parents finally retired. Their parents loved them dearly, and they loved their parents just as much. And their Aunt Emily was wonderful too.
The magical world at large never did learn that Harry Potter was still alive.
A/N: And that's a wrap!
I would love to have taken this story further, but I like the idea that they actually found the peace that their island prophecy predicted. Harry finally got his normal life! That said, there are some tiny things that were never addressed.
…like, what happened to Barty Crouch, Jr.? He bailed, and we never heard from him again. That could have been fun.
Someday perhaps I will do an extended edition, or maybe even a rewrite. It depends on my muse, but she's done with this one for now. Unless I figure out a "the adventures of Emily Park" type of story. I really do like that character.
I may spend some time working on Ancient Magic, but I'm still hemming and hawing over that one. I tried starting a Harry/Daphne fic, but it petered out. We'll just have to see what happens; might have to go live in the real world for a bit.
I should probably get another job, but… blech.
Thank you all again for your support! It truly does mean a great deal to me. The reception has been excellent for something I whipped together in a couple of weeks with what I perceive to be a fairly unpopular pairing, and I've enjoyed reading your reviews. With any luck, I'll see you again soon!