While Harry and Hermione certainly belong to J. K. Rowling certain other personalities belong to themselves, and in one case claims to ownership are simply ludicrous. This tale was written for my own enjoyment and the enjoyment of any one reading this and no infringement of copyright for profit is intended. Thanks to Ms. Rowling for generously allowing me to borrow them for a while and I hope I returned them in better condition than I found them.
A/N. As stated this is not a traditional sequel to Blood Bound: A Vampire Tale it just uses that story because I needed a jumping off place and that story seemed to work best. A further warning, this fiction makes use of a lot of specifically Christian religious imagery. If you find such imagery or religion offensive, do not read this story. It is not written for you. There is enough archived reading material on Portkey and Fan Fiction to keep you happy for many years. Go find something you will really enjoy instead of wasting your time here. If you decide to proceed, well, you have been warned. I do not intend to force my own worldview on anyone, but neither do I apologize for my own personal beliefs. These beliefs are not presented here as material for debate, but as a vehicle for telling a story. I began writing fan fiction to see what it felt like to walk in J. K. Rowling's shoes, now I'd like to understand what it is like to stand in the shadow of great authors like Elizabeth Goudge, C. S. Lewis, Milton, Bunyan, and Dante Alighieri.
Hermione Potter was becoming concerned. Harry had not spoken to her in over a month. Not that brooding silence was all that unusual for a couple of vampires, but it had begun with the approach of his two hundredth birthday. For the past month they had been dancing around one another. They had their nightly tasks to do and everything happened with the precision of a ballet long practiced. No, what had Hermione concerned was what she saw in Harry's eyes; an ever growing weariness with the world. She wondered what would finally push him to talk about what was troubling him.
The next evening she went out, heading for one of the seedier areas of Paris. It wasn't difficult to find some thug that wanted to rob or rape her, she could still look like a helpless seventeen year old girl, even after two centuries of being a vampire. With practiced ease she brought down her prey and after feeding from him planted an intense desire to confess his crimes to the local gendarmes. When she arrived back at their windowless, interior, apartment Hermione noted that Harry wasn't back yet, she imagined that he was probably on the top of the Eiffel Tower or some other tall building. As the decades had passed he increasingly sought solace in high places. In his absence she sought comfort in another sort of friend, a book.
Not long after she began reading about the history of the artworks of the Louvre. Harry came back. Sitting down at their unused dinner table he simply announced, "I'm tired, Hermione." She closed her book, walked to the table, and sat on his lap. In enfolding him in a hug, she knew that he would be barely aware of the pressure and would receive no warmth from her cold, corpse body but she hoped he would derive some comfort from her love. She could see the pain in his eyes and read the weariness in his thoughts. "In four days it will be my two hundredth birthday and I feel like something is calling me," he said quietly, "this year I'd like to see one more sunrise for my birthday present. What do you think, love?"
Hermione bowed her head and whispered with a sigh, "Finally." Harry looked at her with something like hope stirring in his eyes. She smiled tenderly, "Don't you remember what I told you the day you defeated Voldemort? I have walked beside you as I promised, but you know I always regarded being a vampire as a fate worse than death. I've hated this…existence, but I couldn't bear the thought of you being alone, especially after you gave so much for everyone else. Now if you are really ready, I'm glad to see the sunrise by your side." For the first time in many months Harry smiled at her.
Just as quickly as it blossomed his smile faded. "It's been only two hundred years, Hermione, my sire was six hundred years old when he destroyed himself, Governor Varney is still going strong and he is nearly five hundred. What's wrong with me?" he asked plaintively.
His wife considered her answer for a couple of minutes before answering, "I think it is because we were never able to separate ourselves from human society like most other vampires do. Ron, Luna, Arthur, Molly, Fred and George, our teachers from Hogwarts, Lupin and Tonks have all been dead for at least eighty years and you miss them. You have any plans?"
"Stroll the Champs Elysees tonight, Ottery St, Catchpole and London tomorrow night, Godric's Hollow the evening after, then Apparate to Hogsmeade for the morning of my birthday?"
Hermione nodded, swiftly she stood, grabbed her wand, and within moments had sorted all their clothes and stacked their books. They changed into their favorite clothes while Harry bagged their extra clothing so they could donate them to the living. The books they sorted into magical and non-magical subjects and packed them up. They shouldered their backpacks and walked out of the apartment that had been their home for the last ten months, neither of them looked back.
The duo dropped their unwanted clothing at one of the donation sites of a local church and Hermione disposed of her non-magical book collection at one of the book stores on the Champs Elysees. Over the years she had collected some rather valuable works. Since they didn't need it she left the money in the poor box at Notre Dame Cathedral. Hand in hand they walked in the warm summer weather enjoying the flow of the night around them.
With dawn approaching the vampires Apparated to the Burrow. Over the decades they had made use of it several times usually during the Christmas holidays. They were not sure which of the Weasley descendants were there now, but Arthur had been true to his word and the space opened to welcome them. Safely hidden from the daylight they passed into vampiric suspended animation.
Upon arising the next evening Harry opened his backpack. He removed a leather bound journal placing it on the floor. Along with the journal he placed a letter and his wand. "What is that for, Harry?"
"I won't need my wand anymore, all we will be doing is Apparating and possibly changing form, we do that wandlessly. Our vampire powers should take care of the rest. When we die the Fidelius Charm will break and Arthur said the room will become visible to the occupants of the house. The letter just explains what happened and why. The journal describes our part in the battle against Voldemort." Without a word Hermione lay her beloved wand beside Harry's.
They left the Burrow in bat form and flew to the cemetery at Ottery St. Catchpole. The vampires wandered the cemetery silently saying goodbye to the friends interred there. A sudden crack alerted them to someone Apparating into the cemetery. Standing behind one of the larger monuments they watched a witch approach Ron and Luna's grave marker. She appeared to be slightly past middle age with hair that had once been strawberry blond. She placed a bouquet of flowers in vases that were part of the headstone and stood in silent meditation.
When she turned to leave she was surprised by the young people standing nearby. "Who are you and what are you doing here? I don't believe I've seen you before."
"No," answered Harry. "We haven't been here for many years. My wife and I were doing the same thing you are, just paying our respects."
"Hmm," the woman snorted doubtfully, "you don't look old enough to be married, let alone not being here for many years."
"Appearances can be deceiving," answered Harry gently.
"Who were these people you were leaving flowers for," interrupted Hermione.
The woman was taken aback by the question. "Not that it is any of your business, young lady, but the graves belong to my Grandpa Ron and Grandma Luna Weasley. I'm Wendy Greengrass for your information. Now who ARE you?" she said in a demanding tone.
The vampires looked at one another and laughed softly.
"I'll bet you know my name, you just don't know that I belong to it," answered Harry. "What if I told you I went to Hogwarts with your grandparents?"
"I'd need more proof," Wendy scoffed.
"Then I'd tell you that he was so afraid of spiders because his brothers transfigured his teddy bear into an Acromantula. He was terrified of spiders for as long as I knew him. I was also there when his broken wand backfired on Gilderoy Lockheart. You know he snored really badly and always tried to talk with his mouth full. I really hope he got over that when he got older."
Wendy crammed her fists into her mouth as her eyebrows crawled up into her hairline, "Harry Potter," she whispered. Her eyes flashed to the bushy haired young witch at his side, "Hermione Granger? Potter?"
"I go by Hermione Potter now, at least I have for the past couple of centuries." the vampire grinned flashing her fangs.
"You really are vampires then. I overheard Great Grandpa Arthur telling my mother, Hermione Weasley, about you."
"I was honored to learn that Ron named his daughter after me. Whom did your mother marry?" The elder Hermione asked curiously.
"Silvanius Boot, his father was Terry Boot, I believe you went to school with him, after the wedding Uncle Fred and Uncle George called her Weasley-to-Boot. Well, they were my great uncles, really. Mum died about ten years ago," she added sadly.
"We're sorry for your loss," Harry said, though he smiled at Fred and George's little joke. "We know what it is to lose a parent. That remark, though, it is so Fred and George."
"Thank you. It was a while ago. She passed away peacefully in her sleep. It was quite a surprise at the time, though. Dad died a couple of years later. Are you going to be here long?"
"No, we are just passing through, we were close by and stopped to remember. In fact we have a long journey ahead of us and need to be going."
"Is this a dream? My husband and our friends are never going to believe me when I tell them."
"No, you aren't dreaming. I have nothing to give you to substantiate who I am and you won't be seeing us again, I can promise that. However, if you check at the Burrow in a few days you will have your proof. There will be a previously unknown room at the top of the stairs under the attic. You will find our old wands and a journal in it. Do you mind if I ask who lives there now?"
"Fred Weasley's grandson Jason and his wife live there now, but they are on holiday to the continent."
"Thank you for your kindness to a couple of strangers, Wendy. Please take care of yourself," said Harry. "I'll see you in London, my love." With that the pair of vampires seemed to disintegrate into shimmering motes of dust and vanish into the moonlight.
In London the first place the vampires went was Diagon Alley. It had been over a hundred and twenty years since they had last been here. Even without wands it was easy for them to slip through with a group of wizards entering from the Leaky Cauldron, their old hooded cloaks providing an effective disguise. They wandered past the shops, glad that many of the businesses continued to thrive even though it was the grandchildren of the proprietors that they had known operating the businesses now. Ollivander's, Malkin's, Flourish and Blott's, Eeylop's foremost among them. Weasley's Wizarding Wheezes was gone. Once Fred and George retired there were none creative enough to follow them. Their heirs liquidated and moved on. Still, the twins had provided a much needed financial boost to the entire Weasley clan.
Slipping away they found the area around the old factory that formed their original lair had been renovated. The centerpiece of the park there was a two hundred year old fir tree that had been their Christmas tree. Though Muggle eyes couldn't see it, there was a plaque that read "To life, in honor of Harry Potter vanquisher of the Dark Lord Voldemort."
The last stop before the dawn was threatening to send them on their way was the churchyard were Hermione's parents were laid. The quiet place was still being lovingly tended and the octagonal structure still stood. Reading the names on the weathered, brass plaques brought tears to her eyes. Her tears started Harry's. He held her as they wept tears of blood.
Leaving the churchyard Harry scouted around for a couple of humans to feed from. He found a couple of burglars trying to break into a store. He telepathically called Hermione to join him. It only took a few minutes to take the blood they needed. With dawn rising in the sky they Apparated to Salisbury. This time they found shelter in the basement of an apartment building rather than spending the day in the old Cathedral.
When night fell, Godric's Hollow was next on their list of places to stop. Arriving at the churchyard where his own parents were buried, Harry had an epiphany of sorts. "We're doing the same thing my sire did, Hermione. I'll bet Martin was traveling around the country looking at all that had changed during his existence. He just happened on those thugs attacking me. What would have happened if he had been there an hour later?"
Hermione knelt beside the Potters graves, "That kind of speculation doesn't do any good, Harry. You can only deal with what actually happened, what if's just confuse the issue." She opened her back pack and withdrew two red roses encased in plastic tubes. She placed one rose on each of her in-laws graves.
"Where did you get those?" Harry asked.
"I bought them in London last night while you were out looking for our dinner." she smiled. Harry knelt beside her and slipped his arm around her shoulders. She looked at him and he kissed her. It seemed to have been ages since the last time he had kissed her. Hermione wrapped her arms around him and kissed him back. Once again tears flowed as they bid farewell to another part of their lives.
The next stop was Hogwarts. They knew better than to try to penetrate the wards so they settled for leaving the box of magically protected and packed books by the winged boars at the gates to the school. The included letter explained that these were a gift to the library. Over the two centuries that they had been vampires they had amassed a fair sized collection of rare books on the subject of magic.
It was with a great feeling of sadness that they made their way from the gates toward the village of Hogsmeade. Passing through the village they reminisced about the many special times they had had in the various shops and pub.
Wending their way along the roads into the surrounding hills the village disappeared behind them. Traveling farther into the hills than ever before they set their course for the heights near the top of the highest hills. As the hours went by they passed through belts of trees always seeking the paths that lead higher. It might have been faster if they had transformed, but the night was peaceful with millions of stars looking on, and they drew comfort from walking hand in hand. For a time the night mists grew heavy and they lost sight of the surrounding hilltops. At last they entered a area devoid of trees, the long, narrow meadow was covered in lush grass and wild flowers with a few large rocks scattered about. Hermione stopped; struck by the simple beauty of the area. The dawn of their doom was coloring the sky.
"Lets stay here, Harry. I don't think we will find a better or more beautiful spot. Did you have any ideas on what we could do?"
"I was planning to sit close and share favorite memories of our time together until the sun comes up and burns everything away. What do you think?"
"I could agree to that." Hermione nodded.
"And after the sun burns you to ashes, what then, do you think?" The vampires jerked around at the sound of the voice. It was the most amazing sound that either of them had ever heard, gentle and soft, yet clear and penetrating. Hermione thought that it was as if a trumpet was given human modulation. Whomever had spoken was still coming through the trees, yet he, the voice was audibly masculine, could also hear them speaking.
Moments later a most remarkable figure stepped into the meadow. He was physically perfect, much like one of Michelangelo's sculptures had come to life. He made them look small standing about seven feet tall on his bare feet. He wore a simple knee length tunic of the purest white, matched only by the whiteness of his shoulder length hair. Harry could not be sure but it seemed the stranger was softly glowing. Yet his most arresting feature was his expression, it was fierce, unwavering, and focused. Harry had seen a ghost of it when he first met Professor McGonagall. An expression that would tolerate no nonsense.
"Harry Potter, Hermione Potter, I am Uriel. Welcome to the Valley of the Shadow."
"Y-y-you mean, Uriel, like the Archangel?" stammered Hermione. There was something about the new comer, to look at him inspired a profound feeling of awe.
"I am the Archangel," he said in a quiet, matter-of-fact tone of voice.
Equally stunned as Hermione, Harry ventured, "You don't look…"
"Mr. Potter, did not you say, just day before yesterday, that appearances could be deceiving?" Suddenly there was a silent blast of light and there was before them a burning ball of winged, blue-white fire. "It is not for nothing that I am named Uri-el, 'Fire of God'. Perhaps you would care to deal with this appearance?"
A wave of searing heat passed through the valley. The vampires retreated before the oncoming flames, quickly falling and rolling in the dew soaked grass to extinguish their burning clothes and cool their blistered faces and hands.
Harry lay with his face in the grass trembling with the pain of his burns. "No, please, no."
Resuming a human form Uriel walked forward and lifted the Potters to their feet. At his touch their burns were instantly healed, but their clothing remained charred. Uriel stepped back and sat on one of the many rocks that were scattered about the meadow. Harry desperately looked for an escape route, though he doubted he could outrun an angel. In front and behind them across the narrow valley rose tall, jagged rocks that resembled broken fangs. There were two passes; one at each end of the valley. Sensing that there was no escape they instinctively and respectfully knelt before the Archangel. "This is the Valley of the Shadow. Your lives have been extraordinarily extended by the creatures that imprison your souls. You could not die until you willed to destroy yourselves. When you made that decision certain events were set into motion. As you left the village of Hogsmeade you were lifted from your world and now stand here to await your fate. Even now your Judge approaches, you were awaiting the Sun, but now it is not the little star about which your world spins that approaches, but the very Son of God Himself. It is my office to guide you through your final judgment. If you are reckoned among the righteous this will be to you the Valley of the Shadow of Life, if not it will be for you the Valley of the Shadow of Death."
"Judgment? What judgment?" Harry was confused.
Hermione scrunched her face in thought before turning to Harry and saying, "I remember a Bible verse my parents talked about, Harry, 'It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.' Uriel, my parents were never very religious and Harry received no religious education from his relatives. It's not fair for you to judge him for something he is ignorant of."
Misunderstanding the situation, Harry concluded that Hermione was in danger of judgment because she was a vampire. He began to clamor for Uriel's attention; his tone was one of desperate pleading, "Please, Uriel, don't punish Hermione. It was all my fault. I made her into a vampire, she's always hated what I did to her. Please punish me, not her…please."
For her part, Hermione had a sketchy idea about the religious ideal of teaching others about God. Believing her failure to do so had brought Harry into danger she also protested doing her best to divert Uriel's attention from Harry, "Please, don't judge Harry, he didn't know. I never told him, it's all my fault. Judge me, punish me…please don't hurt him. He's always tried so hard to help everyone…"
Uriel silenced both of them with a glance. Something in his expression just stole the protests from them. Quietly he said, "There is very little time for you to come to an understanding of your situation. All we have time for is absolute truth. You must know that I am not your Judge. God has said He has written His law in your hearts so that in your judgment you will have no excuse of ignorance. Since you, Hermione, have leveled a charge of unfairness against us because you feel Harry is ignorant of all of this, we shall consider his situation first. I will demonstrate he was not as ignorant as you claim."
He fixed his gaze on Harry before speaking. "Harry, is murder wrong?"
"How many have you killed in anger?"
"Six Death Eaters."
"Did not your conscience accuse you?"
"Yes, I felt horrible the next night."
"I tell you now, that was not the start of your murders." The vampires just stared the Archangel. "You shed blood while you were under the influence of creatures driven by bloodlust and rage, that and the fact you killed during a war in the defense of those you considered family are mitigating factors. Hermione, your Judge knows all these things. Harry, the start of your murders began much earlier. It began with your hatred of Draco Malfoy and intensified under your mistreatment by Doloris Umbridge, you even wanted to lash out at Albus Dumbledore. These feelings festered in your heart so that the next year you cursed Draco Malfoy. You were ignorant of the effects of the spell you used, but it did not matter to you. You wished him harm. That harm was manifested in the cut you gave him. Is that not true?"
"Yes" whispered Harry, overcome by shame.
"It was only through the actions of Severus Snape that Malfoy did not die. The Master has said that if anyone is angry with a brother or sister he is subject to judgment and further if anyone even calls another 'you fool' shall be in danger of Hell's fire. You did worse than call Malfoy names. That sin is enough to condemn you, further it lead you to give in to your hatred and kill those Death Eaters. How do you plead to the sin of murder?"
Harry swallowed before answering miserably, "Guilty."
"So even at the time, you knew that what you had done was wrong, and you can not claim to have been ignorant, can you?"
"No. I knew it was wrong the moment after I did it."
"That is not the only sin that condemns you, though it is enough, the Master has made known that even if anyone kept all the law but fails at one point, he is as guilty as if he has broken all of it. The sin of your lust for Ginevra Weasley, though you never had physical sexual relations with her, separates you from your Creator. How do you plead to the sin of lust?"
"You see the pattern? The evil which begins in your heart is sin, whether you act on it or not. Sin still means death, by which we mean separation from God. To act upon your sin only increases your guilt because it then involves more people. How often have you lied, Harry? You know you have lied to Hermione, Dumbledore, Horace Slughorn, and to others."
"More times than I can remember, Uriel." Harry was staring at the ground before his knees. "Guilty."
The Archangel fixed the intensity of his gaze on Hermione. In response she began to tremble. "What did everyone call you when you were in school?"
"They called me a Bossy, Know-it-all, plus a lot of more vulgar names," she whispered, her eyes rimming with blood.
"Intelligence is not a sin, but you misused your gift. In your trying to answer every teacher's question you were showing off, were you not. To your social detriment you desperately wanted the approval of your teachers."
"I…I…" Hermione stammered.
"You felt physically unattractive so you felt the need to rub your intelligence in your classmates faces. You were trying to make yourself feel superior; or at the very least that you were not inferior to your classmates, were you not? Especially by cultivating the good graces of your teachers, with whom you wished to associate yourself."
"Yes" she admitted shamefully.
"Since you felt yourself superior, you also felt entitled to command the obedience of others." Uriel's tone of voice indicated that it was not a question. "What is the name of that particular sin, Hermione?"
"Pride." She covered her face.
"The deadliest of the seven and father of all the others. You know that it was pride that brought Lucifer, the mightiest of the Cherubim, to ruin. Is that not why you felt so bitter against Harry when he bested you in potions class, because he punctured your over inflated view of yourself?"
Wounded to her heart Hermione could make no answer. Her stricken expression let Harry know that Uriel's analysis of her actions was correct. Harry did his best to let her know that he forgave her completely, but he did not know if the Judge would take that into account.
"To the sin of Pride, how do you plead?"
All Hermione could do was mouth the word, "Guilty."
Relentlessly, Uriel pressed her, "Envy, is the root of Jealousy. Were you not envious of Lavender Brown that year when she captured the attention of the boy you wanted?"
"Yes, and I acted with hatred toward Ron too," Hermione confessed, wishing to forestall another accusation by the Archangel.
"Indeed, you know that such was your hatred at that moment that he bore the scars of the Canaries you attacked him with until the end of his days?" inquired Uriel.
"I didn't know that."
"To the sins of anger and envy, how do you plead?"
"You are also guilty of theft, you stole the ingredients for the Polyjuice Potion from Professor Snape."
The look of surprise on her face told Harry that she had forgotten that one. Still she replied, "Guilty."
"So you see, Harry, it is not only for her actions as an Estrie that bring her under condemnation, but many sins that came long before your monster enslaved her to its bloodlust. You cannot claim responsibility for those actions of hers." With that the Archangel fell silent. While his focused expression did not change much it seemed to assume an air of great sadness, something like the look Sir Nicholas gave Harry when he told him that Sirius would not be coming back.
"Since we are guilty, what will happen to us?" Harry asked, even though he was pretty sure what the answer would be.
Uriel did not mince his words, "You will be exiled to Hell for eternity. Justice demands it."
Hermione finally managed, "Uriel, is there no hope?"
"In what would you place your hope? Have you not read of what Dante reported as being written on the gateway to the inferno?"
Hermione groaned and bent her face to the ground. "All hope abandon ye who enter here," she answered.
Not wanting to accept the finality in Uriel's words Harry asked, "Can there be no mercy?"
"Whom would you ask?"
"The only one who can give it, the Judge." Harry wasn't sure but he thought the corners of Uriel's mouth twitched.
"Understand, to plead for mercy means that you accept the responsibility for your own guilt, because you have freely admitted it." Harry nodded his understanding.
Casting her memory back nearly two hundred and ten years Hermione said. "When I was little I was an angel in the Advent play at church. My line was 'Fear not for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David, a saviour, which is Christ the Lord.' Is it true? I never gave it any thought."
In spite of his growing fear, Harry smiled at the image of an intense, freckle-faced, bushy-haired, buck-toothed little angel.
After a moments thought Uriel said, "Gabriel said that, he has had many interesting missions for the Master. I cannot help you with this, to be of any value to you it must be a matter of faith to your own heart. Do you even know the name of the saviour?"
"Harry, we've got to pray. We need to ask for mercy while we still have time."
He answered desperately, "Hermione, I don't know how."
"You just talk, like you do to me, ask the Saviour to do that - save you."
At that moment the light in the valley brightened. Looking to their right the vampires saw light beginning to stream through the pass between the rocky cliffs.
Uriel fell to his knees while he urgently said to them, "Remember, you are beyond death and only the expressed command of the Master can kill you." Distracted by his voice the vampires looked back at him.
They all felt the sense of the Presence as it entered the valley. Uriel cried out in a loud voice that deafened the two vampires beside him, ringing like the clarion call of a trumpet, "Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of hosts: the whole earth is filled with His glory." As the sound of his voice echoed and re-echoed around the valley he fell on his face in adoration of his God.
Harry looked back to the pass. He had a glimpse of a tall figure like a man, incandescent in his brightness, before his vision was blasted by the intensity of the light coming from Him. He threw his hands up to shield his sensitive eyes, but it was no use. All he could see was the infinite whiteness of the light. Harry was in agony; Not only did he wonder if his eyes had been burned from their sockets, he felt as if he was on fire. He was only slightly aware of Hermione screaming in pure terror.
He lost the capacity for rational thought, knowing somehow that the very Holiness of coming Presence was destroying him. He had hoped to have a reasoned conversation with the Judge, instead in his fear and pain all he do was cry out. "Save me!"
If Uriel's voice could be compared to a trumpet, the voice that spoke to him now was an orchestra speaking in tones of measured terror. "Run to me," was all it said. In his blindness Harry flailed about trying to grab Hermione's arm. "Your wife's fate is decided and beyond your control. Run to me, now!" Fighting fear, pain, and a sudden desire to curl into a ball to protect himself, Harry pushed up from the ground. His body seemed to be made of lead weighing him down as he began to stumble forward. The light and heat seemed to hold him back, as though he were running through a liquid rather than air.
"Which way, I can't see!" he cried.
"You know," the voice answered.
Harry found himself becoming sensitive to various intensities of the light. He knew to run to where the fire was the most intense. He felt as if he was staggering into the mouth of a blast furnace. As he forced himself forward past events flashed into his mind; times he had hexed Malfoy, yelled at Dumbledore, been angry with his friends, put off tasks he had known he should be doing, and been ungrateful to those who had helped him. As these burned away in his mind he began chanting, "I'm sorry, I'm sorry." How many times he fell, and how many times he pushed himself up and tried to run he could never tell. Harry could not discern his arms and legs anymore. He was surprised he could still move, surprised he had something to push himself up out of the flames with. At last shaking with weariness and in pain like he had seldom felt before, he collapsed before what seemed a tornado of fire, beyond it was what looked like an endless, burning landscape. Totally spent he could no longer move. He lay hoping for black oblivion to take him as it so often had in the past. Oblivion never came.
Hermione was shocked by the figure she saw as it stepped into the valley. If Uriel's expression was classified as fierce the one coming to judge them was absolutely ferocious. His eyes were like lightening, with hair and beard whiter than snow. She had the impression of a long robe and a golden belt. Then the glory of His coming blasted her with light, just as it had done Harry.
She heard Harry cry out in pain and surprise, in response she screamed in anguish and terror for him. She felt she had failed him in not considering what their decision to end their own cursed existence would bring them face to face with. Her heart was breaking for him as she tried to reach for his hand. The voice took her completely by surprise, it was by far the most majestic she had ever heard. "Your husband's fate is decided, all that is left is for you to deal with me."
Crushed by the weight of the glory surrounding her Hermione was reduced to incoherence. "Run to me," the voice commanded. It was only through a supreme effort of her will that she was able to stand. The earth and rock beneath her feet apparently had been melted by the light shining upon it. Her hands were bound in the molten rock as she pushed up, her feet sinking into lava that clung to her as she tried to run toward the voice. She knew she must run toward the fire that flayed her body like the flame from a blowtorch. The pain was exactly like the pain of the Cruciatus curse. Of course, she thought, excruciating, ex crucio or 'out of the cross', she had never thought of it that way before. Blinded by the pain, she lost her sense of direction. She staggered and fell, refusing to give up she rose and tried again, and again, and again, until she had nothing left to give. Finally she could not get up again, she felt as if she were sinking into the lava beneath her. Unable to do anything else she tried to compress all her anguish and despair into one single shriek of agony. What she actually cried out was, "Have mercy, Lord!"
Harry never could pinpoint when the sensation of heat began to die away, whether he passed some kind of line, or more probably the line passed over him. He was bathed in cool light. Gentle hands lifted him to his feet and he looked into the face of Love. Before the Heart of Heaven, Harry could not find the strength to stand. As he fell to his knees, bowing to the figure before him he was aware the something had fallen from his head. He felt the Judge kneel beside him and lay His hands on his head. The voice was majestic, possessed of incredible power, yet gentle and kind. "Arise, Harry, my brother." After his ordeal, Harry found new strength in the voice and touch. He was able to stand, but out of shame he kept his eyes downcast. Turning to a second figure lying on the ground next to Him, Harry watched, this shining Being lay gentle nail-scarred hands on her also and said, "Arise, Hermione, my sister." In the strength He provided she was able to stand as well, until she looked into the face of Love and was undone. She fell before Him and like a small child hugged his nail scarred feet. Harry watched as a golden tiara-like crown fell from her head. The Lord of All Things accepted her act of worship before, once again raising her to her feet.
Almost simultaneously they asked the question, "What happened?"
"You passed the test I set you." the Judge replied. Seeing the confusion on their faces He continued, "It comes within an infinite variety of parameters, and yours was the most extreme, because your situation was the most desperate. If you had come to Me earlier in your lives your testing would have been more gentle, with room for failure and growth, but your feet were in the very fires of Hell before you would even turn from your course to look at Me. Consider that I pulled you from the abyss by catching your very fingertips. Few have had a narrower escape from destruction."
Reading the questions in their minds He continued, "The test asks but one question, 'Will you set aside your self will and obey Me?' The correct course of action is to obey. You each obeyed, setting aside your love for one another, running to the very cause of your pain. Walking outside of your own wills but in Mine. Because of your obedience to My will I may now grant you the forgiveness that you requested of Me."
Harry asked, "How?" while Hermione merely stated, "It hurt."
"I, too, have known pain, Hermione, and to answer your question, Harry -" A vision opened in their minds as the Master shared His story with them, a story of betrayal and arrest, an illegal trial followed by a savage scourging with whips embedded with metal, wearing a crown of thorns while being forced to carry a heavy cross to a garbage dump, humiliated by being stripped naked, crucified with nails hammered into his hands and feet, being left to die under a blazing sun. They understood that this was but the physical dimension of his pain. At the same time God the Father poured out his righteous anger and judgment of the sins Harry, Hermione, and all the humans from all time would ever commit upon the one being in all the universe that could withstand the penalty of death. His wrath fell upon Himself in the person of His own Son. That Son was born as a human into the world so that He could sacrifice Himself in man's place. That sacrifice satisfied Justice and allowed Love to extend mercy to any that would accept it.
Jesus bent and picked up the crowns that lay on the ground at His feet. The forgiven ones tried to protest as He placed the circlets of gold upon their heads, "It is My delight to honor you, Dear Ones. These symbolize My victory over death."
"Uriel," the Master smiled. Harry and Hermione got the feeling that Jesus knew the Archangel had been peeking at them. "Arise! By your ministrations and daring two more have been snatched from the very gates of Hell. Well done!"
The Archangel sprang up and took wing. Harry could now see that his body was permanently surrounded by that ball of fire that had injured them earlier. "Master?" the angel ventured, "may I go and tell the others?"
In His reply to the Archangel Hermione's discerning ears caught the tone a loving parent often uses when about to indulge an over-eager child. "First greet your fellow servants, then you may go."
Uriel dropped to the ground. He bowed to Harry, "Hail, Harry, Child of God, enter into the joy of our Master. Hail, Hermione, Child of God, enter into the joy of our Master." Once again he fell on his face proclaiming, "Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty! Who was, Who is, and Who is to come! Blessed be the name of the Lord." Uriel lifted into the sky. With his new eyes Harry watched him streak across the light years at the speed of thought singing as he flew.
"How beautiful," Hermione murmured.
The Lord smiled, "Uriel is also very intense, Hermione, in fact he reminds Me of you. The three of you shall be great friends."
A bright light shone down upon the trio in the valley as a second Archangel shimmered into visibility looking like a brilliant star in the heavens. This one was sheathing a wicked looking sword. "Hail, Lord Jesus, the dark ones are in full retreat. Uriel's presence confounded them and we were able to hold them off until You came to rescue your redeemed ones. At Your appearance they fled back into the abyss." Michael's voice was similar to Uriel's, though Harry thought it somewhat deeper, a French Horn to Uriel's trumpet..
"Thank you, Michael, well done. The fruit of your victory stands before you."
The Commander of the Armies of Heaven bowed. In the same manner as he appeared he vanished from their sight. Hermione was humbled once again because she had read of Michael. "That was Michael? I don't know what to say."
"Know this, Dear Ones, many battles have been fought to bring you to where you stand today. All along the way the dark powers of the enemy have sought to snare you. This was their last chance, but now that chance is past."
"You mean angels were fighting to keep us safe?" wondered Harry.
"It was their honor and delight to give you the chance to be tested, Harry. No effort will ever be spared to give sinners the chance to repent and be forgiven. You remind me of My commander, Harry, the way you rush to battle."
Harry had noticed Michael, of course, but he found it hard to focus on anyone but this one called Jesus. The story He had told them, the angels he had seen, and the power he felt radiating out from Him made it difficult to focus on anything else. Now things began to fall into place
"It was You, wasn't it. You tried to comfort me when my Aunt and Uncle kept me in that cupboard, the way the little spiders played. You protected me from that troll. You strengthened me when Quirrel attacked me. You sent the car after Ron and me when Aragog's children attacked us. It was You that moved me to destroy the diary. In third year, You helped me conjure that patronus that saved us from the Dementors. After the Tournament, You helped me hold on to my wand when I was fighting Voldemort in the cemetery at Little Hangleton, and made sure the portkey was charmed to bring me back.
It was you that sent the Thestrals to get us to the Ministry. You helped me Apparate back to Hogsmeade with Dumbledore without splinching ourselves. In that final battle with Tom Riddle, it was Your face he saw that drove him to his own destruction, wasn't it?"
"Yes, Dear One, I have tried all of your life to get you to seek Me. You would not until now. Here at the last extremity you asked My forgiveness and all will be well."
"Will I see-" Harry began.
"Harry, you will come to know that I tell no one any story except his own. In this one instance you know the fate of Tom Riddle because he was trying to possess your soul at the time of his destruction. His story and yours were the same at that point in time. Trust that if anyone that you knew is here, eventually you will meet them."
Hermione had begun to examine some of the changes that had taken place in her translation to an immortal body. "I don't have any clothes," she was looking around for their backpacks. Unfortunately all she could find was the ashy residue that was left of their old bodies and possessions..
"What would you hide, Hermione?" the Lord asked. "You are feminine, that will always be your gender. Now, however, you are no longer female. Your sex on Earth was but a reflection of gender upon your biology. Sex is no longer needed, there are no children here. None are necessary because your new body will never be sick, will never tire, will never wear out, or grow old. It is a fit vessel for your spirit's new mode of existence. What was sown in corruption is now raised incorruptible. I cried with you, though, when you realized that you would be barren. I was saddened that at the moment of your greatest heartbreak you would not allow Me to comfort you."
At that she noticed someone standing beside Jesus. Her Master was so overwhelming in the way He radiated glory, love, and power that it was difficult to notice anything else. The other was only slightly smaller than Uriel. Obviously masculine in appearance, a sculpture of muscle, smooth skin, and raven-black hair, which did nothing to impede the glow of the spirit within him. That glow seemed to be like a robe to him, though it did not hide his body. His eyes shone like fire and he smiled when he saw her, "Hermione?" To him she was radiant, lithe, and graceful. Her long brown hair was a shimmering, soft, and glorious, a perfect setting for the golden crown she wore.
She would have recognized that smile no matter how his features might have changed.
"Harry!" Smiling, she threw herself at him intending to hug him just as she always did. This time their bodies provided no resistance. It was as though she hugged his very heart to hers, their spirits mingled and that touch was far more intimate than anything they had experienced on Earth. She knew him as completely as he now knew her. Stepping back she blushed with joy, the light shining out from her was tinged with a delicate pink. Harry laughed, the innocent, bubbling laugh of a very small child. Hermione fell in love with him all over again. Not that the object of her affection had changed, but her capacity to feel love for others increased. The light of her love was like a tropical sunrise lighting the whole of the Valley of the Shadow of Life. Only her love wasn't a feeling, needy, or self concerned, now it was overflowing, focused, strong, and directed toward one goal. That goal was that her beloved, Harry, would become everything his Creator had designed him to be. She could not see it but her expression was now exactly the same as Uriel's at the moment she first saw the Archangel.
"We aren't married anymore, are we?" she asked, remembering fragments of conversation from years before.
"Not as in your Earthly existence," the Lord answered, "but that commitment is honored and you will forever stand in special relationship to each other. You are beginning a period of adjustment as you adapt to your new mode of existence, it will be a joyous time of discovery. To answer the questions you have in your minds concerning sex and your relationship. In your old life sex was instilled as a drive for the procreation of your race. That has changed now. One of my servants has summed up the situation nicely. When you were young you knew chocolate. You aged and became aware of sex. At that stage you might ask if you could eat chocolate during sex, not under standing that during the intimacy and pleasure of sex your love of chocolate was too weak a love to compete. Now, you will come to know that in the love you will discover here the intimacy and pleasure of sex is too weak to have a place in it. Further, as you grow into your new responsibilities you will sometimes be together and sometimes apart. Come, it is time to go and there will be much for you to do."
"We will have work?" wondered Harry.
"Did you expect to sit around and do nothing but play a harp?" the Master laughed and all of Nature stopped to listen to the sound of it. "If you mean toil and drudgery, then no; but I do mean for you to be productive, active, and creative. You shall be enthroned and have dominion over all that I place under your care. As you grow I will increase your responsibility. You might ask what awaits you, but you will come to find out how much I enjoy surprising my friends. You will see."
The trio walked to the defile that provided entrance to the valley. Harry looked back at that blessed place. From the pass at the far end of the valley he saw a flickering light as though a wall of flame existed there. The pass that they entered was narrow and they had to travel single file as they walked its length coming at last to the end. They found that they were on the side of a tall hill with a path running down to the plain below. Looking across the great vista they saw a land that was green. Peace and serenity also seemed to be a part of the great landscape. Groves of trees sprang up here and there, meadows of wild flowers grew in profusion and in a riot of color. The land was crossed by flowing rivers that appeared as crystal. Ahead of them arose a mountain crowned with light. Looking over the land left Harry and Hermione feeling like they were in a new kind of space, something so vast that it felt like the Solar system was a small affair and the Earth might provoke claustrophobia.
"There is a city at the top of that mountain that is your destination for now." Jesus said to them. There was a path that led down the hillside through a series of terraces. Harry started down followed by Hermione. While still high above the surface of the plain they could see a large number of angels wending their way toward the hill where they were. Hermione turned to ask Jesus who these were, but He was nowhere to be seen.
"Lord?" she began.
"I am here, Dear One, you are of my people and I am your God. Though you may not always see Me, I shall always be with you. My angels are coming to escort you to the city. It is their pleasure to honor you and teach you."
The couple decided to stand and watch the oncoming band for a little while when they noticed the light. It was near the base of the mountain when they first noticed it glowing like a small star. It was coming with such speed that the light from it was blue shifting. It had covered about half the distance between the mountain and the band of angels before Harry could discern that it was a human figure running towards them, even though it moved along the ground Uriel had scarcely flown faster. On and on it came as it annihilated the leagues between them. In what seemed a few moments Harry could tell the figure was feminine her body lithe, graceful, swift, and tireless. The angels stopped and formed into two lines bowing as the figure hurtled between them.
Suddenly Hermione gasped, "Minerva!". She flashed into motion almost appearing to fly down the side of the hill, pealing a wordless cry of welcome as she went. Harry smiled as he watched Hermione embrace their former teacher in one of her trademarked hugs. The joy of their reunion flashed like lightning across the plain. He could hear her cry out, "Harry!, come on its Minerva McGonagall!"
Even though he never broke into a run it seemed but the space of a few heartbeats before he was gathered into a triune embrace, the light of their love glowing like a sunrise. They stepped apart and Harry had a chance to see the newcomer. He recognized McGonagall; now translated and perfected, more nearly what God had intended for her to be from the beginning. What he had seen on Earth had been only a sketch or early draft of what she was now.
"I heard Uriel say you were coming. I could hardly believe it and I couldn't wait. How good God is that you are here!" With that she gathered them into her arms once again. Only now her embrace was full, she could almost remember the sorrow that had gripped her when she had embraced two empty burial robes in the bitterness of her weeping. She could now rejoice that what once was lost to her had now been restored.
Love Himself embraced their reunion with such happiness the light of it rippled across the visible universe with the power of a supernova. "Come," He said, "for you are not yet as happy as I intend for you to be."
When they broke apart the trio of the redeemed were welcomed by the bright spirits that had come to meet them.
Thinking of the Archangel since McGonagall had mentioned him, Harry asked, "Uriel, doesn't your name really mean 'the light of God?'"
The Archangel answered, his voice as clear as if he were standing right beside them, "Fire, light, light, fire, with the energies involved, it is a matter of appearance, is it not, Harry?"
"Ah, so it is. You win." Harry surrendered.
"Always, Harry." the Archangel smiled.
One thing had not changed, a sudden rush of gratitude and love could still overwhelm his ability to speak. "I want…to…tell you…thank you," he managed to choke out, Hermione moved to hold him once again.
"You are welcome, Harry." the Archangel answered. "If ever I can be of service in any way, please ask. I will be delighted to help you."
Surrounded by angels, and guided by a loving teacher, Harry and Hermione, hand in hand, continued their journey into Eternity. Of one thing they were absolutely certain, the best was yet to come.
A/N The forgoing is primarily a work of fiction. Though the spiritual underpinnings are true to my belief, beyond Hebrews 9:27 "It is appointed unto man once to die, and then the judgment." I make no claims to special knowledge of what happens to each individual when they die. C. S. Lewis said in his book, "The Great Divorce" that his story was, "a vision in a dream." This too is a vision in a dream about Harry Potter, ask no more of it than what a vision in a dream can give.
This story is dedicated to J. K., who shares my life, and to S.R., who shares my obsession. Thank you both for your company on this amazing journey that is my life.
God Bless from Dementor149.