30 DAYS, A MARRIAGE
by Lady Memory
Disclaimer: This is a non-profit tribute to the works of J.K. Rowling, who created and, together with her publishers and licensees, owns the characters and settings elaborated herein.
Here we are. The final chapter.
The Obligatory Scene In Which All Questions Are Answered... hopefully ;)
Thank you very much again to my readers and reviewers.
39 – Three Wishes, One Ending
The author smiled again at the couple. They were both adorable. Hermione had instinctively leaned against Severus, and he had put his arm protectively around her waist. Now they were looking at the author with the same compelled faces. She felt an immense tenderness and hoped that they could perceive it too.
"Every story can have many different endings, but yours has been shaped by a magical deal; I have been asked to change the course of your existences, altering them deeply to save you from a danger."
They were listening attentively, and she tried to be as clear as possible… yet an unpleasant sensation was slowly but forcefully wriggling its way in her heart. What she was telling wasn't exactly the truth… She could feel Dumbledore shifting uncomfortably at her side, afraid of her revelations. But he had nothing to fear, the author bitterly thought, as she was in an even worse position than him: painful as it was to admit it, she had suddenly realised that she couldn't disclose the bare facts, because… because…
Her mind focused again on the past.
When Dumbledore had met her four years before, she had selfishly put to him a condition to fulfil her task: the possibility of choosing an ending, the freedom to play with the lives of the creatures sitting in front of her, an option that she had asked to be conceded as a personal reward. Now, looking at the couple, she realised the foolishness of her clause and she regretted it deeply. But she couldn't abrogate a magical contract… So, she sighed and continued.
"I have been chosen by magic to grant you three possible options. Once you have made your decision, I will be left the humble Muggle I was before and I'll return home.
Her heart tightened. What right did she have to force them to follow a predetermined path? How could she have been so egocentric as to think that HER choices would be the best for them? She swallowed, and her gaze met Dumbledore's. He had understood the tempest in her spirit, and his bitter smile seemed to tell her, "Don't you see? You accused me, but you aren't any better. You have arrogated to yourself the right to decide about their existences."
She lowered her head, unable to endure that gaze, then blinked in anguish and hesitantly asked, "The question is: do you trust me?"
She paused. She couldn't say anything anymore. She hadn't the nerve to keep telling lies…
"Severus?" Hermione asked softly and raised her face to him with such a trustful expression that the author felt her heart liquefy. "What do you think?"
Severus frowned. "It's strange. Weird and unheard of. Yet I suppose we must accept it. The lady did her best to save us, and we must honour her deal if we want to have a chance."
He looked piercingly at the author. "I am used to magical bonds," he considered harshly. "At least, this one seems to let me the possibility of choosing an option."
"I don't know…" Hermione went on timidly. "What if we shouldn't like what we are offered? Knowing our future in advance… I always thought that it would be a surprise, and that we would build it together day after day… "
He frowned and gently dragged her close to him. "Afraid?" he murmured and kissed her on her soft curls.
She smiled and blushed slightly. "No. Not if I am with you."
He tightened his embrace. She clasped his hand and turned to watch the author. "We are ready, Madam."
The author felt definitely lost. "Professor, may I have your help?"
Wordlessly, Dumbledore offered her a jewel box. In mesmerised silence, she opened it, and a vivid light brightened the room. A luminescent globe slowly raised itself with a lazy movement. It floated gracefully in the air and began to rotate gently around the man and the girl, wrapping them in glittering spirals that dissolved into a myriad of sparks. Then the globe presented itself to the author.
"Inside this sphere there is your destiny," the author whispered, acknowledging the prodigy that was happening before her eyes and yet feeling strangely apathetic. "The magical globe has gathered your wishes, your hopes and your fears. Now it's ready to show you your possible futures."
With a blinding flash, the globe divided itself into three wands.
"There is only one destiny, but it can take different forms. To you the final decision," the author whispered.
One of the wands glowed faintly. She inhaled deeply and took it.
"The first one," she said.
Hermione went onto the balcony and scrutinised the sky. Her home was on the top of a hill, and she used to spend part of her free time watching the beautiful panorama offered by the valley just below her windows. But today she was looking for something different… and finally, she saw it. A small indistinct object was floating far and high under in the clouds, and she let out a soft cry.
Here it comes, she thought, feeling excitement and anxiety mix in her heart. A few minutes later, with an elegant glide, an owl landed on her arm and offered her the rolled parchment attached to his claw. She took it, put it in her pocket and gently patted the little creature that left with a disdainful hoot. Immediately after, a second owl arrived. This time, Hermione hurried to take the parchment and send the messenger away as soon as possible.
She ran into her room and opened the second message, glancing anxiously at the round letters written by the hand of a child. She smiled during her reading, then sighed and hid the document carefully in her drawer. The she hastened to reach the dining room. Severus had just got up, leaving on the table behind him the usual mess of parchments, notes, letters and assorted items he used to consult during his breakfasts.
He had never learned to simply eat and relax, she thought with a smile.
"Well?" he asked with a hint of anxiety, looking at her face.
"The owl has just arrived," she said, and offered him the first parchment, still sealed.
He took it with a slightly trembling hand. He opened it and began to read in silence. But his eyes widened almost immediately, and he beamed in joy. "Slytherin! Finally a Slytherin in the family!"
He handed her the message with an immense grin. "Look at this!" he nearly shouted. Duly, his wife read the message.
"Dear Dad and Mummy, I'm happy to tell you that I have been sorted into Slytherin…"
Hermione smiled fondly. Severus looked prodigiously excited.
"See? She did it! A Slytherin like her Dad! Ah, the occasion deserves a celebration," he exclaimed, pacing in the room and raking his hair with a movement that weirdly remembered Harry Potter. "Finally! I knew that my girl wouldn't disappoint me!"
Hermione nodded, amused at his joy, while phrases of the second parchment she had so carefully concealed in her drawer flashed in her mind.
"Dear Mummy, I know you won't be happy… but the Sorting Hat said that I was even more Gryffindor than my brothers, and I thought that Dad would be so disappointed! I couldn't fail him. I know how much he hoped in my sorting. So I ordered the Hat to shut up and to put me in Slytherin. After all, Uncle Harry said that he should have been sorted into Slytherin too, but then he changed the decision and things didn't go that bad…
And the other fellows acclaimed, and Professor McGonagall said Finally a Snape in Slytherin again, and she looked like she was crying…"
In the meantime, Severus was announcing the world his happiness, scribbling a note furiously and rolling the parchment to prepare it for a delivery via owl.
"My child! My little girl! I will send this to St. Mungo's immediately. Let Higgins and Clarke have all the damn brewing this morning. Today I want to celebrate with my wife!"
"Of course, dear," Hermione said with perhaps too much haste. "I too am so happy for our daughter!"
He glanced at her. "You are hiding something from me!" he declared and frowned, crossing his arms. Hermione sighed. He had always had the power to see through her… that's why she always kept many different subjects at hand to discuss with him, so as to distract him from investigating in detail the matters that she wanted to keep private.
"Ahem," she cleared her throat. "There is a little problem with Salazar. He says that he wants…"
"He wants?!" Severus repeated with that meaningful intonation that had scared thousands of students.
"He would like," his wife immediately corrected herself. "He would like to join the Harpooning Bumblebees as… as a Catcher. He says that your permission is his condition to honourably pass the NEWT. Otherwise… otherwise he will honourably fail."
"Damn! If I didn't know that the boy is mine, I'd think we had exchanged him with a son of Potter! What about the other two rascals?"
"Oh, the boys have been behaving till now… but after all, the term just started yesterday. They haven't had the time to play tricks… yet."
Severus shook his head in disconcertment. "Three kids!" he breathed. "Three kids and none of them resembles you or me! Where the heck did they come from?"
He paced nervously. "Thankfully we have the girl. My little one!" He beamed again. "I'm sure she will be a wonderful student. I have personally prepared her, so I'm sure that…"
Again, Hermione lost herself in memories. A tiny voice was saying pleadingly, "But Da-ad, I want to go out and play with my friends. It's summer, Dad! Everybody's on holiday! Why should I stay buried in your studio and learn all these boring things? Next year they'll teach me everything in school!"
At that point, Hermione awakened and noticed that her husband was looking unexpectedly depressed. She put a hand oh his hand and asked softly, "Are you feeling well?"
"You know," Severus said uncertainly. "I think that we will feel a bit lonely now that the little one has also left."
Hermione smiled. "Oh, but there's more news I was keeping for the right occasion. Yesterday I went to St. Mungo's, and not only to visit you…"
He stared at her and his mouth opened and his eyes widened.
"Yes," she said. "We will have company in a few months. I am expecting."
She smiled again. "Twins," she announced proudly. "You'll see, you won't have time to be bored."
The vision flashed and disappeared. The author raised her head to look at the couple. They both looked… baffled.
"Four children!" Severus breathed, then looked at Hermione with a mix of pride and anguish. "And two more arriving…"
"Salazar…" the girl considered instead. "Who chose such a name? I imagine it was your idea."
Severus tilted his head and asked with a bit of apprehension, "Did you like our house? It was very large and wonderfully decorated…"
"Yes, perhaps too large. It seems that you were working in St. Mungo's…" Hermione replied absent-mindedly. "I wonder why you left Hogwarts and your position there."
"I suppose they offered me a better income!" he said sharply. "Raising four children requires a lot of money."
The author was following their debate with an anxious expression.
"Did you like the vision?" she asked, feeling her heart slowly break into a thousand pieces. What a stereotypical ending! And they had been waiting for four long years for… THIS? She had sold them to the devil for such a sugary conventional solution?
The girl and the man watched her and she could guess their answer even before they opened their mouths.
"No," Hermione whispered, and Severus shook his head to express his support.
"Ah, perfect!" the author exhaled, feeling the bars of a cage closing around her. The first attempt had failed. What if the second did also…
She closed her mind to that possibility and took the second wand that was glowing faintly in the air. Dumbledore sighed and rested his chin on his fist with a desolated expression.
"The second one," he murmured.
Three children of assorted ages (but all under ten years) gathered in front of the heavy dark door of an apartment inside a tall building. They were panting in excitement, but none of them seemed determined or brave enough to knock at the door or ring the doorbell. Finally, the eldest squared his shoulders and called loudly, "Are you in, Auntie?"
A few moments of waiting, then a sound of hurried steps approached, and the door opened abruptly, revealing an adult Hermione. But, though an older copy of the girl in the cottage, the woman in the vision looked different, dissimilar in a strange sort of way… and, after a moment, the author realised what the difference was: she was dressed like a Muggle.
In the meantime, the Hermione in the vision was smiling at the children.
"Charlie, Mickey, Will! What a pleasure! Did you come to visit? Where is your mum? How is she?"
"She's coming," said Charlie, the oldest. And Mickey added proudly, "She is bringing our new sister to you."
"Sister?" Hermione widened her eyes. "So, your sister has arrived? I'm so happy! What fantastic news!"
"Thank you, Hermione!" a kind voice replied from the stairs. Moving very cautiously, a woman climbed the steps and reached the children, holding a soft pink bundle in her arms. The baby was sleeping with that astoundingly serene face that only kids (and saints) present to the world. Hermione seemed to instantly melt.
"Oh, Cathie, how beautiful she is!" she murmured. Something intense and sweeter than admiration, sparkled in her eyes as she bent to look at the little one, something that revealed a feeling carefully kept under control.
"Yes," the woman replied tenderly, rocking the baby. "And I have to thank your husband if everything went well. The medicine he prepared for me worked perfectly. It's to his credit that I could bring my pregnancy to an end."
With an immense smile, Hermione invited the group into the house, where the two older kids, evidently at ease, scattered. Only the youngest stopped and looked around with palpable nervousness. "Unc Sevrus?" he asked.
"He hasn't arrived yet, Will," Hermione reassured him, and the child relaxed, joining his brothers in the exploration.
"Well, you will thank him for me, then," Cathie said with a friendly smile, giving the baby to Hermione, who was clearly longing to hold her, and continued with the frankness derived from a long familiarity. "You know, perhaps he isn't the pleasantest of men, but he is a good, kind-hearted one in spite of his harsh ways. I had even thought to give his name to the baby… though my husband doesn't like it, he finds it too unusual. But in the end, it is a girl after three sons, and my hubby is very happy, so he came out with an interesting idea. We decided to give her your name. We like you and we like your name, so it will be a wonderful way to thank you both for your help."
Hermione smiled again, but her smile had something sad inside. "That's really lovely, Cathie. Thank you."
The woman seemed to perceive her mood. "Oh dear, no need for thanks. I'm sincere; I don't know what I would do if I hadn't you to help me with the kids."
Hermione smiled even more sadly. "No problem at all. I only have my work to keep me company when Severus is not here… and I would feel very alone without your children. So I'm the one who should be grateful."
Cathie nodded, then bit her lip and continued with an embarrassed expression, "Well, I was just thinking about the whole thing yesterday, so I told Jack, "why don't we ask our friends if they would agree to be the godparents of our little Hermione?"
She bent to adjust the blanket around the baby, thus hiding her expression. "Because you have to agree, of course. You see, it would be a bit like becoming relatives. Sharing parental guidance with somebody else and so on. The joys and the worries, you know." She laughed, but her eyes now stared attentively at the other woman.
Lost in contemplation of the baby in her arms, the older Hermione didn't notice that acute, compassionate look and brightened. "How kind of you! Of course, we would be pleased. What a great idea! Thank you very much! And now, what can I offer you? I'm sure that the boys would enjoy a little snack. Sit here with me for a while, dear, and talk to me: I want to know everything about my little goddaughter."
An hour later, the children happily exhausted and their mother happily relaxed, Hermione bade them goodbye affectionately and was rewarded by the damp kisses of the boys and by a warm embrace from her friend. As soon as the sound of their steps faded in the distance, she closed the door and went to gently open another door in her house.
It was Severus' studio. She entered silently and watched her husband. Severus was sitting at his desk, and his eyes were mutely contemplating a long, thin, polished, wooden rod placed on the top of his papers. His wand.
Hermione felt a pang in her heart. She advanced and enfolded her husband in her arms, putting her head on his shoulder.
"How was your day?" she whispered. "Are you tired?"
"I'm well," he replied rather nervously. She knew that he hated to be interrupted when he was lost in his memories. "Very few people at the pharmacy today. I didn't want to meet the little monsters," he concluded rather incongruously, but Hermione understood perfectly. He didn't like Cathie's noisy kids, but he didn't want to displease his wife, who adored children but hadn't any of her own… so, he used to retreat in that impenetrable shelter every time they entered his house.
She smiled, hoping to cheer him up a little. "Cathie came to thank you. She had the baby, the most beautiful baby girl I ever saw."
A pause, letting her comment the time to sink. Then she continued, "She asked me if we would like to be her godparents. The baby's, I mean. They want to call her Hermione."
"And?" he asked quietly, though she knew that he had already guessed her answer.
"I said 'gladly'," she whispered in his hair, tightening her embrace. He sighed. She kissed him. Once. Twice. Thrice. Again and again until he finally returned her kisses. Then he rested his cheek on the hand that she had placed on his shoulder. She kissed his temple. She knew what he was feeling and why.
"Still sad?" she asked softly.
"No," he breathed. Then, "Yes," he corrected himself.
"I miss this," he said for the millionth time since they had married; he lifted his wand, and she could feel the longing in his voice.
"I'm sorry," she replied for the millionth time too.
"Don't be sorry," he said gravely. "I knew that after the events in the cottage we would be forced to leave the magical world. We had changed our identities and there was no more room for us there. We were lucky that we both had Muggle origins. And I was even luckier to find work that suits me and that I know how to handle well. Extremely well."
A feeble spark of pride. "Old Parkinson says that I am the most incredible potion-maker he has ever employed. The funny thing is that he thinks he has invented that definition." Bitterly. "If he only knew how close he is to the truth…"
"Severus," she pleaded, and he turned to watch her, then pulled her on his lap.
"No, don't say a word," he whispered kissing her hair. "I am selfish. You too have had your worries. No babies, and you would have liked them so much… But again, changing our state didn't allow us to have even one… We are two rejects in the middle of two worlds, and neither of them accept us completely," he sighed. "No longer magical, yet not sufficiently Muggle. What a harsh destiny, don't you think?"
She gently brushed his cheeks with her fingers. "No," she said determinedly. "It's our life, and I love every little part of it as long as you are with me."
He took her hands in his hands and kissed them. "Darling," he replied, and his voice wavered a little. "I don't deserve you."
She kissed him on his eyelids. "You are the only thing that counts in my existence."
"As are you," he murmured, rocking her in his arms.
A few moments and many kisses after, she left the studio, telling him with an expressive look that she would wait for him in their room. He smiled quietly, letting his eyes speak for him.
But, as soon as he was alone, he took the wand in his hand again and watched it. His grip tightened for a long moment, and his eyes became frighteningly inexpressive.
He sighed deeply, still lost in contemplation, then lowered his head and shook it as if he wanted to get rid of an annoying thought. Again he paused, painfully concentrating… until finally, resolutely, he opened a drawer on his desk and dropped the wand inside it.
He closed the drawer with a sharp bang and got up to follow his wife.
The vision stopped, trembled like the images of an old movie on a screen and disappeared.
The author felt the intense desire of being swallowed by the ground in that exact moment. She glanced at the couple. Hermione was on the verge of tears. Severus had paled. And Dumbledore… ah, Dumbledore had buried his face in his hands so to look absorbed in other thoughts… but a fugitive tear had trickled down on his beard, dropping on the floor and revealing his emotion.
"What have I done?" the author mutely asked herself.
"What have I done?!" she nearly shouted in the darkness of her mind. "In my immense arrogance, I thought that I would be able to shape them a future! In my supreme selfishness, I thought that, by offering them a destiny that I alone had decided, they would be happier and have a happier life! I thought that I loved them… instead I closed them in the prison of my imagination! I acted as if they were my properties!"
Hermione was now trying bravely to smile at Severus. The wizard was incredibly pale, and his eyes were looking blankly at the wall. And Albus—yes, Albus, no more Professor Dumbledore for the author from now on—had simply begun to fumble for a handkerchief while keeping his head obstinately down.
"Well," Hermione said in a desperate attempt to sound unconcerned, "perhaps the last vision will show us something more…"
A sob cracked her voice, and Severus seemed to suddenly awaken. He hugged her fiercely.
"These can't be our wishes and hopes!" he exclaimed. "These are only our fears! What did you put in that enchantment, Madam? How did you manage to perform it, if you are only a Muggle?"
His eyes rested on the distraught Dumbledore. "Or perhaps this is another one of your tricks?" he asked sombrely. "Which of your darkest thoughts did you use to coerce her and make that spell work?"
At those words, the author finally understood. No, those weren't their hopes or their wishes, not even their fears! Those were only her feelings, her worries, her anguish, her doubts, and they had mixed to the spell, polluting it with a dark sorrow. She looked at the couple that had confided their trust in her words, and her heart rebelled violently at the pain that she had inflicted upon them and that she was surely going to repeat with her last option. Wordlessly, she struggled against the tears. And while she sank desolately into a deep desperation, unable to go on and afraid to seal the charm with another anguishing vision of misery, something luminous crossed her mind… and suddenly she found the answer.
It was so easy! Her heart twisted in joy at seeing that the last wand had begun to glow more and more vividly, as if confirming her intuition.
"Yes!" she exclaimed, grabbing the shining rod forcefully while Hermione and Severus looked at her in bafflement. Panting with emotion, overwhelmed by the simplicity and the perfection of that solution, she unsteadily got to her feet and presented the wand to the couple.
"Please forgive me," she said with a wavering voice. "I have misinterpreted what the magic had prepared for you. I have been selfish, because I had thought that I was the only one appointed to interpret its will. But it wasn't true. This is your life. And you two are the only ones who can make a decision about it."
The wand was sparkling in glory. In a deep silence, Hermione and Severus extended their hands, and the author reverentially placed the wand on their palms.
"This is your future," she whispered, "and nobody can make it real better than you."
The two lovers looked at each other, then Hermione timidly asked, "Madam? Should we cast a—"
"No!" the author exclaimed, feeling triumphant while the sweetest of sensations filled her heart. "You mustn't use the wand. This is your destiny, and you will build it together, day after day, joy after joy, pain after pain, without knowing anything in advance, as every living being on this earth."
"You mean the wand will be a link to our future?" Severus murmured with a slight frown.
"YOU are your future," the author solemnly said.
And as if answering her words, the wand blazed fiercely and disappeared in glittering sparks. The couple started while the author let out a little laughter of joy. Her eyes moistened. "No more authors playing with you," she whispered, "You are alive. You are free!"
Dumbledore raised his head and smiled hesitantly at the lady.
"All is well what ends well," he croaked, "Exactly as I used to say!"
And his smile steadied in an impertinent, disarming grin.
"Why are you leaving so soon, Madam?" Hermione asked with the dreamy voice of those who have been so deeply surprised that they need time to come back from their enchanted kingdom of wonders. The girl and Severus had escorted Dumbledore and the author to the door in a confused exchange of exclamations, greetings and questions.
"My mission is ended," the author replied, feeling happy and immensely sad at the same time. Then she seemed to be hit by a sudden thought and watched Dumbledore with a frown.
"Before I go, there is something I need to ask: Are they really married?" she whispered to him.
The great wizard smiled and his eyes twinkled in amusement. "In this kind of matter, I am as old-fashioned as you are," he murmured back.
Reassured, the author turned to the couple.
"Good luck, Professor," she said, feeling her heart become heavy. "Good luck, Hermione. I hope that you will always be…"
Words choked on her lips and, at that point, the author couldn't resist any longer. Impulsively, she advanced and embraced the girl tightly. After a moment of surprise, Hermione returned the hug, and the many emotions she had undergone in those last hours eventually broke the girl's self-imposed control.
"Thank you, Madam," she sobbed, crying in the author's arms like she would do in those of a mother.
They both stayed embraced for a long moment, then they slowly disentangled themselves and smiled at each other amongst the tears that were now shining also in the older woman's eyes. Hermione sniffled and smiled again, blinking to recompose herself. The author wiped her eyes and, not daring to hug Severus (though she would have liked it so much!), she extended her hand in a greeting.
"Good-bye, Severus. I'll miss you too," she said simply. Severus took her hand and unexpectedly brought it to his lips.
"I've finally understood who you are," he whispered with his mesmerizing voice. "Thank you for your generosity."
The author smiled hazily and would have probably kept smiling stupidly for another day if Dumbledore hadn't taken her arm. She startled, abruptly awakened.
"Oh no! No! NO!" she exclaimed in desperation, suddenly realising what was going to happen. But it was too late. The cottage and the faces of those around her were already whirling and disappearing in a blur.
It was white and quiet. An irritated voice broke the silence.
"Not found yet?"
"You must be patient, my dear lady. Coming back is never as easy as going. You should have learned it by now."
"Albus, I hope this is not your idea of a joke."
"Don't worry, Madam, sooner or later we'll find a passage."
"Find a passage?! I thought you knew the place!"
An immense silence.
The first voice again, trying to sound nonchalant.
"Albus? I'm too old to play hide and seek…"
"Look, Albus, I'm not going to offer you a pizza if you leave me here!"
From the author's letter to Albus Dumbledore:
…I know that a grown-up woman shouldn't be so emotional. But this has been a most unusual adventure for me, and, after long reflection, which you made easy by abandoning me in that white desert and waiting three days before coming to the rescue…
Anyway, I feel the need to thank you for offering me the chance.
When we met, four years ago, I was a budding author who had just begun to play with the many characters—I mean, people—living in the same books in which you live. As you imagined, your proposal was a great temptation for an aspiring writer; being offered a whole world and so many beings, already shaped, already enriched by qualities and flaws, and already known by millions of potential readers! Indubitably, a situation that granted an unlimited audience and an immediate reward.
It's something—and you do understand it very well, don't you?—it's something that gently pushes you to the edge of the abyss. You feel immense. You feel powerful. You feel invincible. You feel that you have every right, and the poor helpless creatures, your slaves, have to bow to it.
But growing every day more intimate with your paper friends, I finally understood that I was only an intermediary. What we portray mustn't simply be a satisfaction of our egotistical instincts. It must suit the characters, exalt them, give them every chance to shine at their best… and not deform them into ridiculous caricatures.
The characters of whom we write, whether they are borrowed or whether they have been created by us, slowly escape our keyboards and acquire their own strength, which is then further amplifiedby the readers, who share the joy of our creation when the story is published. The readers can see things that we didn't plan and that can surprise us. So, at that point, we must be able to let the full potential of the characters unfold without burdening them with our vision of life or with our momentary feelings. And finally, we must let them free. Perhaps the hardest thing for an author to do, as a good friend of mine and a wonderful author once told me.
I'm glad that Hermione and Severus offered me this opportunity. I miss them very much already. I wish I could know what they are doing now, but knowing them so well after that long time spent in their company, I'm sure they are happy with the life they have freely chosen. Surely much happier than with any one of the options I could have created for them.
So, Albus, thank you. In spite of your many flaws, that mirror mine in a disquieting way, I know that you are a good character. I have been glad to interact with you. And yes, I forgive you your last damn trick!
I hope to have news from you in the future.
Be well, hug Minerva for me, and give my best regards to the others, especially Harry and Ron.
Enjoy as long as you can (unfortunately, I can't change canon.)
Goodbye from the author:
Well, this really is the end of our journey. Again, can't believe we have reached it. Very saddening...
Anyway. I think I have explained my vision verbosely enough in my letter to Albus, so just a few simple things:
1) As you have noticed, this chapter is very long compared to the previous ones, but I decided to keep it in its full length because I didn't want to make you wait further for the final solution. Splitting it in two parts would have been only annoying. However, there is also another reason. Perhaps some of you would like to ask for additional explanations because of something still not clear in the story - and I am especially thinking of the unregistered guests to whom I cannot answer directly. In that case, I will split the chapter in two and post again the second part with my answers inserted. So, should you see a new chapter, be advised that it will only be the second half with answers, and not a prosecution of the story.
2) I would like to thank you all. Thank you very very much. :)
Travelling with you for all these days has been a wonderful experience, and I have enjoyed it a lot. I hope you enjoyed as well, and again, apologies if my invention wasn't as good as you expected.
I'll be happy to hear from you if you want to let me know your final impressions. In the meantime, I wish you all the best!
PS: I'm always looking for betas. If anybody is interested and brave enough, please let me know...