Ron Weasley is a good friend. Ron is a great friend, and he shows that over and over again to Harry, to Hermione, to those few others that look beyond Ron's hair and his temper and his ability to absolutely destroy you at chess.
Ron is also an idiot when it comes to girls. He spent days and hours and stupid, stupid moments deriding Hermione’s talents, even when those talents had already been used to save their lives.
Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley are that typical Wizarding couple who dated during the last school year. It's all fireworks and passion, but not the sort of fireworks that will last. They amicably break it off a month after the war is done and go back to being friends. That's easier, for both of them, and for the first time in two years, Hermione and Ron feel like they can breathe around each other again.
Hermione reserves the right to turn Ron into a flaming salamander if he says something stupid to another girl. Ron will slowly learn the lesson, since rampant stupidity towards the opposite sex means he will wake up wet, slimy, and sneezing fire for a couple of days. After a few mishaps, several burnt curtains, and black lizard footprints permanently burnt into the floor, the lesson begins to take hold.
The training is effective; Ron's behavior around women improves dramatically, and he eventually settles into a nice long-term relationship with a fellow Auror…who…is…well, she's not biologically a girl at all. Ron only needed a moment or two to shrug that off as a mere inconvenience (and salamander avoidance). He keeps dating his new partner for her wit, her pretty hair and eyes, her terrible, terrible jokes, and oh, yes--they are damned good at cleaning up the riffraff left over from the war. Without Harry there to save because he's an idiot who stands in the line of fire, and Hermione not there shrieking for Ron to be careful, Ron finally begins to like adventure, when he never really could before.
* * * *
Viktor Krum is a bit shy about making friends, but still willing to try. He is kind to his fans, even when he wants to run in the opposite direction because he is just a quidditch player, dear me, someone get that boy an invisibility cloak.
Viktor meets Hermione Granger, and immediately he adores Hermione for her wit and intelligence. Viktor consistently praises the things about Hermione that she considers to be the most important parts of her life—her books, her knowledge, her voracious desire to gain more, to learn more, to stand up for others, to see the wizarding world be the bright, shining place it should be. He says nice things about her lovely dress and appearance and her amazing smile. While they are honest compliments, they are not the focus either of them concern themselves with. The obligatory “You look nice!” has passed, and now it is time to talk schooling and literature and language and arithmancy and wait, how is it midnight already?
When they meet again, it is on the verge of war. Hermione tells Viktor, during their single dance, not to look for her until after Voldemort is dead, but if she survives? He owes her so much Muggle coffee, and maybe a week on the coast. Viktor is wide-eyed at both prospects. He knows what she’s going to be off doing, and it makes him ache deep inside, a painful resonance of fear, because he cannot follow, not where she and Potter and the jealous redhead are going.
After Voldemort is dead, Hermione finds Viktor first. He thinks she looks tired, and far too sad. He passes on owls to let the families know where she has gone before taking her to a cottage on the southern Spanish coast for a week, where many magic-preserved Muggle coffees and flavors await. Oh, and the books! Those weren’t forgotten, either. Hermione sleeps most of the first two days, but then coffee and new Wizarding fiction (relatively all right) and new Muggle fiction (superb!) help to draw out the worst of the war's poisons.
When they get married a month later, it's a scandal simply due to the fact that a bookworm has dared to marry the best quidditch player available. Viktor laughs; he knows what his wife did during the war. Hermione is the one all these foolish reporters should be wary of.
* * * *
Harry Potter and Ginny Weasley had only one thing that bound them together. Being possessed by Voldemort is a hell of a tie, but it’s hard to build a life beyond that when they realize that it's the only thing they have in common. They both like Quidditch, but Harry doesn't want to play professionally, while Ginny thinks of little else but doing exactly that.
During the bad year, Ginny spends enough time with Neville Longbottom to know that Neville will never send Ginny away “for her own good,” and then run off to let a psychotic Dark Lord kill him. Neville has been her rock, and she’s thanked him for it in many ways since she turned seventeen. Neville always seems as if he can’t believe it, but he’s always kind, and he is sweet to her in a way that Harry never quite knew how to…to...well. Harry didn't understand many things, honestly. It’s not Harry's fault, not with his shoddy upbringing and the even worse things demanded of him by adults who should've known better. Still, Harry and Ginny's idiot brothers need to damned well realize that she isn’t the little sister on the sidelines anymore.
Ginny realizes halfway through the year that their sallow-faced Headmaster is keeping them in supplies on the sly—textbooks and scrolls, certain experimental materials, and tiny slips of charmed paper that show the patrol routes of both Prefects and Carrows. She doesn't say anything, and neither does Snape, but she knows who it must be. Sometimes notes from Professor McGonagall come bound around certain scrolls, instructing them on what they should write of, or pointing out what knowledge there is to gain from specific spells and tasks. A lot of it is defense-based, but there is also an underlying pattern of…of survival there. Skills that have nothing to do with fighting and war are considered just as important. The education is far less formal, but then, the books they receive are nothing like their Year Seven texts. They're amazing, and what they're learning—
"These are university level," Neville murmurs one night, when there had only been the sound of quill against paper for hours. "They want us to pass our NEWTS."
"They want to save us," Ginny whispers, and it gives her a bloom of hope.
When the war comes to Hogwarts at last, Ginny gets in one solid curse on crazy Bellatrix before Mum comes stomping up, radiating fury, and all but obliterates Bellatrix Lestrange.
"Are you all right, dear?" Mum asks her.
Ginny smiles. “I’m going to marry Neville.”
Mum gives her a careful look, one eyebrow rising in curiosity. “And what does Harry think of that decision?”
Ginny looks sad for a moment. “If Harry survives, Mum, he’s going to be too busy trying to figure out how to exist on his own, let alone trying not to botch up a relationship.”
Mum nods, a bit sad, too. Harry is all but family at this point. It would have been nice for those ties to become legally binding. “Does Neville know about your plans for him, my dear?”
Ginny smiles again. “He’ll figure it out."
When she and Neville grimly sit down and take their NEWTS, they get high marks on almost everything. She doesn't know what their dead Headmaster and their living Deputy-yet-Not Headmaster had planned for them, but Ginny thinks it's an interesting start.
After their NEWT scores come out, Neville is the one who shyly hands Ginny a ring. "Not for right away, or anything," he says, blushing and looking down at his toes. "But I'd like it if you'd marry me in a few years."
Ginny tucks the ring onto her finger. It's almost a perfect fit. "If we didn't have so much shite in the way in the meantime, I'd marry you tomorrow," she says. Neville beams and catches her when she jumps into his arms.
* * * *
Harry Potter was perfectly content with every single moment of his life until he discovers that the war is over and he’s still alive. He quite honestly never expected to get past that point.
He had thought, once, that he wanted to be an Auror, but now he’s no longer certain. When he looks into the classes involved, they seem…boring. It bothers him that an Auror’s beginning lessons are less dangerous than the shite he got into as an eleven-year-old at school.
He takes the NEWTS anyway, because it’s expected that he will, for all that he spent a year away from school. He manages decent scores across the board. They're not outstanding, but it's enough to graduate on. Maybe even enough for Auror studies, if he can re-test on this one section and score a few points higher. Aurors and Uni reps and strangers and the press keep babbling at him, saying that he's a war hero. Perhaps we can waive those missing points. If Mister Potter wishes to be an Auror, then we’ll make certain an Auror is what he will be!
Professor McGonagall helps him escape the noisy, nosy busybodies. “I must speak of your inheritance to you.”
"I already have my inheritance. My vault," Harry replies, because he does—as long as it’s not been stripped clean for dragon theft.
"That was your school money, Mister Potter—Harry," Professor McGonagall corrects herself. "Your mother came from a well-off Muggle family, and your father came from a very well-off Pure-blood family." She hands over a key. "It was spelled to be released into your hand when you reached your majority at 21, but you no longer have any family members remaining to grant it to you. There’s just you." Professor McGonagall dabbed her eyes. "Therefore, at age 18, you are now the head of the House of Potter. Please do well by it."
Harry thanks her and leaves, feeling frozen. He doesn’t understand anything from the last few weeks, not really. Last few months, even.
Five years ago, Harry thought he would know what to do when he grew up. If he grew up. Now he's no longer certain about anything.
Luna Lovegood shows up, breezing out of the opposite hallway and falling into step beside him like they’re still in school, and everything is normal. As normal as Hogwarts ever was, anyway. “Hallo, Harry,” she says in her soft, musical voice.
"Hello, Luna," he replies.
"Why is the hero of the hour strolling down the castle hallway as if there is nothing left to him?" she asked, offering a rather harmless bit of singing taffy.
"I don’t know what to do," Harry admits while the taffy attempts to sing Happy Birthday at his teeth. "I don’t…I don’t…this isn’t what I expected." He doesn’t mind that his friends are veering off in unexpected directions. They’re happy, and that’s what counts. It's not like Floos and telephones and Owl Post don't exist.
Luna is smiling. “I understand this problem. In the last month, you have become you, and only you, for the first time since 1981.”
Harry stops short. “Uh…well. Yes. I reckon so.”
Luna stands on her toes and gives him a gentle kiss on his cheek. She smells like lavender gloss, a scent almost overpowered by the marigolds in Luna’s hair. “You need to find out who you really are. You need your own titles and strengths, not the ones others crowned you with without even asking if you wanted them."
Harry thinks about it, standing in a corridor and feeling his fingers rub together, trying to search for a wand that he’d placed back in its proper tomb. “I always wanted to go to Turkey.”
Luna’s expression brightens. “What luck. I have always wanted to go to Turkey, myself.”
Harry eyes her, but he’s already starting to smile. “Miss Lovegood, would you do me the honor of accompanying me on a trip to Turkey?”
Luna smiles. “That will be lovely, thank you. We can search for b’dizzumps! They’re supposed to be shy, but they leave jam kisses behind.”
"Then we should definitely take a camera," Harry says. It's easier to plan for non-lethal outings. "Specimen jars. Tools. Huh. Do you think anyone would mind if we make off with half of Snape’s laboratory?"
Luna laughs, a bright sound that makes Harry start to feel…hopeful. Hope is nice. He’d forgotten what it felt like. “I suggest leaving a donation so that the school can acquire another one. Tthe shinier it is, the less likely Professor McGonagall will be to set you on fire for the theft."
“Aren’t you just finishing up your sixth-year, though?” Harry remembers to ask. Xenophilius Lovegood would probably not be pleased to find out that the Wizarding World’s Savior kidnapped his daughter.
“I’m seventeen, and I already took my N.E.W.T.s,” Luna says with a complete lack of concern. “It isn’t as if I needed another year of school, anyway.”
“All right, then.”
Harry and Luna go to Turkey, just as planned, and not a blasted thing goes wrong. They stay in ridiculous old magic hotels with towels like bedsheets and bedsheets like worn silk. The attempt to nab a b’dizzump goes badly, but they get a lot of jam samples. Harry thinks the camera might have snapped a decent picture.
"Greece," Luna says, after sampling one of the jam smears on her cheek. "Greece sounds nice, doesn’t it?"
"Never been," replies Harry, but he goes about making travel arrangements.
They get a private beachfront cottage which has a single bed. It should have felt like a disaster, but it isn’t. Luna laughs at the bashful look on his face. She removes her dress and oversized white tunic, and says that unless Harry takes off his clothes, too, they can’t look absurdly silly together.
They never quite get around to getting married in Wizarding Britain. Instead, there’s a lot of hand-fasting, a few random magical customs from around the world. They bring all of those rituals home to Britain to show everyone that "Yes, we’re married, and you can leave us alone about your silly Wizengamot paperwork."
Luna’s reputation flies up to somewhere around ‘Interesting magical entomologist.’ Harry’s slides a bit down from honored hero status to ‘Crazy rich traveler who, oh yes, destroyed Voldemort.’
"I have become Gilderoy Lockhart," Harry announces. His and Luna’s pictures are on the front page of the Daily Prophet. They're laughing together. They look downright silly, and he's pretty certain he'd enjoyed every moment of that evening when the b’dizzumps escaped their temporary cages and tried to share jam with all their guests.
"Your taste in clothes attracts far more useful tbhhhht-tbhhhhts to my nets, dear Harry," Luna replies. "Is it time to travel again? Oh, and I’m pregnant with stag. Or at least that’s what the cards say. I never wanted to birth a stag."
"Travel sounds grand, yeah. We could hit up Japan, I was always—you are WHAT?"
Luna smiles. “I hope you like children. I never thought to ask.”
Harry smiles back at her. “Uhm…uh—yeah. I like…kids. Babies.” He gives it a moment's thought. "You don’t mean a literal stag, do you?"
Luna shrugs, unconcerned. "Theoretically, maybe."