Hi everyone. A quick note in regards to the last chapter. There was some confusion in regards to Kingsley. Some people thought I killed him and then brought him back for Xeno's funeral. In my mind he was injured and maybe passed out, but not dead. Specifically Reagan says: '..and he's a tough enough bastard that he kept fighting until the shock finally got him.' Some read that as dead, but that was not what was in my head, just to clarify. My thought always was that he was injured and kept fighting a bit longer, passed out, and was then medically evacuated. Sorry for the confusion. Anyway, now that I've hopefully cleared that up, here is the final installment. Like I said, this epilogue will be spaced out and will cover a good bit of time, so expect some jumps, as that is intended. Now that the war is over and life is returning to normal I want to show what happens without being too boring. Thanks to everyone for R&R.
Chapter 34 – Epilogue
Over the rest of August the Potters and their allies gradually recovered from their injuries and tried to define a new normal to life. For Harry and Hermione that meant staying at Potter Manor rather than returning to the Grangers. It was an adjustment for Neil and Jean, but the two couples often got together on the weekends and for dinners.
One major milestone came shortly after Ginny's birthday when OWL results were sent for all fifth year students. Hermione didn't surprise anyone when she was the top in her year with nine Outstanding OWLs. Harry himself was happy with five Outstandings and one Exceeds Expectations. His Outstanding in DADA was also listed as a special merit for being the highest score in the entire ICW, which shocked him, but not his wife.
The rest of the summer passed fairly quietly at Potter Manor with most of the group of friends enjoying visits with each other as much as possible. For some though the visits weren't as easy as others. Ginny was recovering fairly well from her burns, although she still needed bandage and salve changes and wore a hat everywhere she went. Ron was another matter though, as he remained distant with everyone and barely even talked to his family. Most of the time he stayed in his room and let his mother send up trays of food to him, wallowing in self-pity. Worse of all, he refused to see Luna, who was still struggling over the loss of her father and then had the compounded loss of her boyfriend to deal with. She had accepted Hermione's offer to stay at the manor at least and appreciated the additional support.
Of their other friends, Blaise remained the only other with lasting serious injuries, but he took an opposite approach from Ron. Rather than seclude himself, the ordeal had drawn him closer to Susan, as well as Aunt Amelia. In the last weeks of summer he had finally come around to calling her auntie as well as his relationship with Susan had reached a new level. Susan seemed to have matured as they took more time to discuss what each of them needed and she gave him more latitude to be a man, while still supporting him.
As the month drew to a close the day approached for the annual school supplies trip to Diagon Alley. All of the allies, as well as additional school friends, met up at the Leaky in a raucous and fun group that split up along a gender divide as they all decided to go their separate ways. Amazingly Ron was in the group after much discussion and with Arthur once again having to assert control over his wife who had wanted to do the shopping for their youngest son. Ron was sullen, but he had at least decided to use the magical prosthesis that St. Mungo's had offered him, even if he still needed a cane for balance. Luna stood nearby, looking at him longingly as she went off with the other witches.
Blaise was a bit self-conscious as he watched Susan leave with their friends. He hadn't been out in public since the battle and he was no longer the handsome young man he had been a couple of months previously. The healers were still working spells, potions, and salves on his scars, but the fiendfyre had burned him to the bone and they weren't sure how much progress they would be able to make against the dark curse's effects. His face was now a web of dark pink mesh over his brown skin that extended down his shoulders and arms. Even in the heat of summer he wore a special light silk shirt that was charmed to remain constantly moist over the salve that was still trying to keep his new scars from binding up. As for his head, the healers had warned him that it was unlikely that he would ever grow much hair. At least they had been able to repair his eyes enough that he was able to blink again, eliminating the constant irritation that he had experienced in the first weeks. Steeling himself and focusing on the jokes that Fred and George were cracking, he tried to ignore some of the glances that other shoppers were giving him and instead made his way with the others into the apothecary to start crossing off the first items on their shopping list.
While Blaise was dealing with the stares, another victim of the fiendfyre was combating her own insecurities, even if her injuries weren't as noticeable. Ginny largely hid the worst of her burns under a large shirt and hat. She too was still enduring potions and salves, but thankfully didn't have the facial injuries that Blaise had and her burns were limited mainly to her back and shoulders primarily. The worst part for her was her head, although her thick hair had saved her some and the healers were hopeful that the lesser intensity of the burns on the back of her head would allow some hair to eventually return. Still, as a young woman who had once prided herself on her hair it was a difficult blow. Then she looked over to Luna who was trying to force herself to be joyful with the group and Ginny realized that she really could have been a lot worse off. As much as she felt bad for Ron, he needed to get his head out of his arse soon. If he really cared for Luna, he needed to start showing it. At least he was alive. Shaking her head, Ginny decided to set aside those thoughts for the day and grabbed Luna's arm as she gave her friend a squeeze and pulled her along to go shopping.
The rest of the shopping went well for the group, with the stares of other shoppers largely disregarded. The groups finished their lists by about half past noon and then had lunch at the Leaky before saying their goodbyes with promises that the early arrivals would reserve compartments on the Express the following day.
Soon school started again and everyone was back into the busy schedule of classes and immured into the bubble that was Hogwarts. For a couple of the friends it was OWL year with the madness that brought, while for the majority it was the relative ease of sixth year sandwiched between OWLs an NEWTs. The Potters were back in their apartment, which was once again a welcome gathering spot for all of their friends, both for studying and for relaxing after hours.
Once school had begun and classes and Quidditch were well underway, about a month into the school year, Hermione was cuddled with Harry on their couch one night when she brought up a subject that quite shocked him.
"Harry my love I've been thinking."
"Well, everything is well settled now. Our friends are doing better. Ron is even starting to come around since Arthur insisted he see that mind healer every Saturday. School is a lot of work, but nothing too bad. I think the time is right that I want to try for a baby. I am due to take next month's potion tomorrow, but I don't want to."
Harry startled and looked down at her. He twitched just at the thought.
"Um, wow, alright. You know I want a family, but let's think this through. If you get pregnant in the next couple of months when will the baby be due, summer?"
"Yes, that was my plan. Have the baby in the summer and then we'll have time to get a schedule set before we come back next year. I was thinking we can have one of the elves come and look after the baby for a few hours when we are both in class. I'm sure one of them has some experience. It won't be that much time. Even when we're studying, we're in here a lot."
"I guess that will work. You know I was leaving this up to you mainly. I will help as much as possible, but the first nine months I can't do much, but I'm happy to start if you are."
Hermione smiled at him and stood up to lead him to the bedroom even if she knew her potion was still working for a bit longer.
While the Potters were doing some family planning, Ron was working on a problem of his own. He and Luna had been essentially broken up since the battle. Not that he had actually said the words, but with the way he had treated her, he knew it meant the same. Now it was the beginning of October and he had decided it was about time to do something about it. He missed her and the casual flirting with Lavender in the common room lately had left him feeling hollow. She just wasn't the same as Luna.
Ron's memories of the battle were quite jumbled after the point of remembering the falling platform and he thought that was probably a blessing. Then he woke up in the hospital a week later in a lot of pain and had to have it all explained. Spell damage he could understand, but axe wounds? Then they told him they had to take his leg off? How was he supposed to play keeper with only one leg? He'd spent another week or so in the hospital before he'd been sent home. His family had been great taking care of him, especially his mum, but did any of it really matter to a one legged cripple? He didn't even really want to go back to school, but he wasn't given a choice. Luna had come by to visit a couple of times, but what could he offer a woman? No, it was best she not see him. He felt bad about her father, but she needed to find herself someone who was whole.
He returned to school like he had been told to do, but that didn't mean he had to do much. He used the damn fake leg, but it was difficult to move with and he hated the cane. He was late to classes, but no one complained. Everyone felt sorry for the cripple. He didn't much care and he didn't bother with homework much. It wasn't like he really wanted to be at school. After nearly two weeks of lackluster performance, he had been surprised when his father had showed up and lit into him. Then his father had insisted on a trip to St. Mungo's where they'd visited a special healer who spent a whole hour talking. He hadn't really liked it much, but after a few times, he now realized a few things about himself and also knew that he needed to go talk to Luna.
Ron's talk with Luna went well, if not as spectacular as he had hoped. She hadn't welcomed him back with loving arms and kisses. She was still hurt, but she was willing to give him a chance and tentatively try again. She herself was still healing as well. Much like Ron, her wounds were mostly not visible.
As the year continued, each one of the Potter allies healed a bit more emotionally, discovering that they all had more wounds than they realized. All the couples grew closer and strengthened more as the holidays approached.
For Harry and Hermione they received an early Christmas present when Hermione woke up during the first week of December and went running for the loo to be sick. She immediately thought the obvious and a trip to the hospital wing a short while later confirmed the happy news that she was expecting in early August. All their friends were thrilled, as were the Potter elves. Besa quickly confirmed that she not only had cooking skills, but had some nanny training and would be more than happy to accompany them back to school the following year.
Christmas that year was extra festive and was spent at Potter Manor with all of the allies and a large group of additional friends on Christmas Eve. Then Christmas Day was spent quietly with just the Potters and Grangers together. The rest of the holiday was spent with various trips to different friends' houses before they all had to be back at school.
The rest of the school year passed quickly for Harry and Hermione, if not quickly enough for their friends who were preparing for OWLs. Ginny especially seemed frazzled, although Neville was a continual calming force in her life. Her injuries were completely healed, although she had lasting scars from the back of her head down to the back of her shoulders and arms. Her hair grew back in a bit patchy, but with subtle charms and combing the sides around in a short bob she managed to keep it in a cute style that made it almost unnoticeable. Not that Neville minded, he considered all of her scars as marks of her bravery and loved her more each day.
Soon the Potters finished their sixth year on a hot June day and Hermione was more than ready to toss aside her hot Hogwarts robes. She was seven and a half months pregnant and ready to run around the manor in shorts and a crop top until her and Harry's firstborn made his appearance. Although the baby had been a bit stubborn on early scans, a month before the end of school they had happily found out they were expecting a boy.
Deciding that his wife deserved a break, but also knowing that she couldn't endure a long portkey, Harry arranged a week's holiday for them. After a week back at the manor with the Grangers they took a short floo trip to the Isle of Wight for a beach holiday at a spa resort in which he ensured that Hermione was completely pampered. By the time they returned they were a short four weeks from the arrival of their son and neither could wait.
Apparently neither could their son since only three weeks later James Henry Potter made a slightly early arrival on August 3rd, 1997. He had his father's black hair, although it showed a slight curl. His eyes were a blue green that Hermione hoped would change to match Harry's, but only time would tell. His grandparents, as well as all their friends were immediately besotted with the new arrival.
The first month of James' life went in a flash and soon the Potters were back for their last year at Hogwarts. As well as being NEWT students, Harry had also been offered a position as assistant professor of DADA to help the new Professor Osborne, who had been brought in on a temporary basis from the States. Given his top OWL scores, Harry could almost teach the class himself and the professor was thrilled to have the assistance.
The Potters NEWT year at Hogwarts went by quite quickly as the couple was busy as new parents as well as students. Harry still played Quidditch, although team captain Ginny Weasley often let him skip practices as long as he familiarized himself with the team's playbook. She enjoyed a spectacular season as a chaser and only wished that she could have her brother by her side, but Ron had never managed to regain enough balance to fly at speed with his prosthesis. Even walking long distances still required a cane. The Gryffindor team did well though and just edged out Ravenclaw to win the cup at the end of the year.
On the home front, little James was the delight of Harry and Hermione's life. No longer was any studying done in the library if it could be avoided. All books were brought to the apartment or taken outside in good weather where studying could be done while also watching the rapidly growing little boy. Hermione knew that her work suffered some from her distraction with her son, but if her essays were a half dozen inches shorter, she no longer cared. As for their friends, they were all equally smitten and Besa often found herself unneeded when friends would come by and take the small boy away if his parents were busy elsewhere. More than one of them claimed that he was a perfect stress reliever.
Harry also enjoyed working with Professor Osborne and especially took students aside who were having difficulties and needed especial attention in class. As he had shown with the DA, he had a special talent for teaching and making the subject understood to even the slowest of students.
Soon June arrived and the dreaded days of NEWT exams came with it. The castle was buzzing with anticipation and stress until finally the exams were done. Once the Potters were finished with the exams, Harry used his status as a lord to avoid traveling home on the Express and instead took a floo directly home to Potter Manor with his family after wishing all his friends well and promising to see them all later in the summer.
The event that would bring all the friends together just two weeks later was the much anticipated wedding of the House of Bones. Blaise had proposed the previous Christmas, as expected by all their friends. He and Susan had been through a lot together and their relationship had weathered and strengthened. Amelia spared no expense throwing a grand fete for the two young people she loved dearly and the celebration welcomed four hundred to Bones Manor for the evening nuptials that included a full dinner and ball after the ceremony.
Once the wedding was past, Harry and Hermione were able to proceed with their own plans for the summer and packed James up as they headed to the continent for a sixteen week tour of mainland Europe. Harry had never traveled much and Hermione's trips had always been limited to brief one week trips to individual destinations. Now they had the time and money and they had decided to see some of the world. The headmaster had been hoping to convince Harry to stay on in a more permanent capacity as a professor, but Harry had decided that he didn't want to be immured in a castle at just eighteen.
Twelve weeks into their European tour, as the Potters toured Croatia, they received the welcome news that James was going to be a big brother. Other than picking up some potions in Zagreb and slowing down the tours a bit, they didn't have to make any changes and continued with the rest of their travels, arriving back in England in late October.
Once the Potters were back home, they reconnected with their friends and were glad that Neville was doing well with his apprenticeship for his Herbology mastery. Hermione herself was feeling well with her second pregnancy and had decided to focus on self-study for a Runes mastery while Harry began to look into the Potter businesses more.
While Neville was busy, his girlfriend Ginny was back for her last year at Hogwarts and was leading Gryffindor's Quidditch team once again as she dreamed of playing professionally. The two of them were very much in love despite having to keep a long distance relationship and, before Ginny had returned to school, Neville had proposed with an heirloom Longbottom ring that Ginny had enthusiastically accepted. No date had been set since Ginny was still waiting on professional scouts and wanted to keep her dates and options open.
While Neville and Ginny were doing well, Luna and Ron had broken up officially in early July. Ron had only received two acceptable NEWTs and had decided to work at Weasley Wizard Wheezes with his brothers. Luna had tried to encourage him to re-test, but he insisted that she wanted too much from him, especially now that he was a cripple. Watching his sister play Quidditch successfully over the previous year had weighed heavily on him, bringing old insecurities back and he had also begun to drink in private more, sneaking firewhiskey whenever he could. The combination was not good and it had all compounded through the year. Luna finally had enough and called it off. She had accepted an expedition internship for a month in Iceland to look for the hrosshvalur and left immediately after.
When Luna returned from her expedition she was in noticeably better spirits and was determined to move on. She decided to focus on her NEWTs, although she did welcome the attentions of Colin Creevey when he asked her to accompany him to the first Hogsmeade weekend. He had grown up and matured quite a bit and she found herself enjoying the company of someone whose company was light and easygoing. Although he wasn't sure about the creatures she discussed, he listened wholeheartedly and even agreed that if she ever found them he would love to photograph them. After that first promising date they ended up spending more time together and gradually the relationship grew until the two soon became nearly inseparable. Even though it was NEWT year for both and they had a lot of studying, they enjoyed burying themselves in work together.
As spring began bloom, so did Hermione and on April 12th she delivered the second Potter heir. Harry cried just as much at the sight of his second son, who had the same dark hair. He was named Neil Charlus. James' hair had grown and curled in ringlets, but baby Neil's hair stuck out like he had been shocked and Harry immediately apologized as it appeared that his son had inherited the Potter hair. Not that it mattered, he was beautiful.
With two boys in the house, Potter Manor only felt more alive. Harry felt beyond blessed and enjoyed spending time with his boys while Hermione studied for her mastery. She was working on Runes and was also considering a Charms mastery in the future. Harry still had work to do with his businesses, but with the help of the goblins, it was part time work at the most and he still turned a sizeable monthly profit regardless.
Once June passed and Ginny and Luna finished their NEWTs, Ginny immediately signed to play chaser with the Tutshill Tornadoes. Neville was ready to marry her, but they wanted her to start practicing with the team in six weeks. With that in mind, a flurry of wedding planning ensued immediately.
With the help of the Potter and Longbottom elves, as well as Molly and Augusta Longbottom, the wedding was put together in a mere four weeks. Ginny and Neville were married in front of 210 guests at Longbottom Manor at noon and then had a luncheon immediately following. They portkeyed to Spain for a week's honeymoon following and then were home for four days before Ginny had to start training camp. It was a complete whirlwind, but it fit the young couple. As long as Neville and Ginny were happy, their friends and family would be happy for them.
After the Longbottom wedding, the Potters decided it was time for a break of their own and they packed up their sons and took a multi stage portkey trip to Australia. They spent six weeks in Australia and New Zealand before then stopping for three weeks in India on the way back home, finally arriving back at the end of September. It wasn't the easiest to travel with young children, but magic and money certainly helped.
While the Potters were traveling, so were Luna and Colin, who had both been accepted in different roles as interns on a magizoology expedition in South America. Luna was in place as an evidence specialist, while Colin was a photographer. The two hadn't made any official promises, but both knew that they were committed to each other.
As for the other couple among the Potter allies, Blaise and Susan were doing equally well. Upon their marriage, Blaise had officially taken the Bones name. Amelia had been training Susan for a political career for years, so she took the Bones seat on the Wizengamot, while her aunt remained in the Minister role. Blaise meanwhile gradually took over the Bones business holdings from the goblins and used the training that his father had given him when he was younger to start to expand and grow the stagnant businesses. Fifteen months after they were married everyone was thrilled when Susan gave birth to twins, a boy named Silas and a girl named Sarai.
The months passed and all the friends were doing well as they pursued their different careers. On Christmas Eve when baby Neil was eight months old the Potters got an early Christmas present when they found out they were expecting again. It was a bit sooner than planned, but they were thrilled. A month later they got another surprise when they found out they were expecting twins a well. Hermione was actually a bit upset when she realized that she would have three in nappies at the same time.
As his family grew, Harry settled more into his role as a leading figure in the Wizengamot, working with his political allies to shepherd new laws that brought about more equality for muggleborns, as well as gradually sweeping away some of the more prejudicial laws that had remained for hundreds of years. Change wasn't easy and it didn't come swiftly, but as older purebloods gradually passed on and new blood took over it did start to happen.
The Potter twins made their arrival two weeks early the following summer on a hot day in early July, adding two daughters to balance out the family. Jean Lucy and Lily Joy were small but perfectly healthy and Hermione declared their family complete within minutes of their birth. Harry was fine with that as he looked at his four beautiful children, he couldn't be happier at how perfect they all were.
The Potters barely had any time to settle in from the twins birth before they were preparing for the next event in their lives. Luna and Colin were back in country briefly and gave their friends and family only three weeks' notice that they were going to use their brief foray back into England to be married. Nonetheless everyone was thrilled and made time to attend both the non-magical ceremony followed by the magical party afterward that was held during the third week of August. Two days after the wedding the newlyweds departed as leads on a new expedition in South Africa.
As the five year mark of the defeat of Voldemort passed all of the friends and allies marveled at how far they had come. The friendships they had formed young had remained and strengthened, even if some of the paths that had been expected had diverged from what had been planned.
Another year would pass with no major changes except that children were growing like the proverbially weeds. Ginny had held off from having any of her own to allow for her Quidditch career, but after nearly three years of marriage she decided it was time and found that her Prewett blood proved out immediately. From the moment she stopped her potion she was almost instantly pregnant. Neville was thrilled and walked about a mile high for the first week.
As for her husband, Neville had started his own business a year previously, opening an exotic plants nursery that specialized in only the rarest and most difficult of magical plants. It required no less than fourteen different certifications from the Ministry and the ICW and was only one of three of its kind in the world. The samples that Neville provided from Longbottom Nursery were sent around the world and were in high demand for top prices. Neville may have family money, but he didn't need it with the money that the new business was providing, not to mention that he loved the work that he was doing.
The other businesses being run by the group of friends were all doing quite well also. Ron was a full partner with his brothers and had contributed his yearly salaries to open the Hogsmeade branch of Weasley Wizard Wheezes, making him a full owner of the branch, which did a phenomenal business. A year previous he had started dating a seventh year Hogwarts student named Callidora Hewett. When she graduated, she had moved in with him and he and Callie were married the following Christmas. It had taken him a number of years to find his place, but he was finally happy. Callie loved him for the man he was, complete with somewhat rough edges at times.
As for the Potters, all four of their children were keeping them busy and were looking forward to attending Hogwarts in a few years. The boys both had dark black hair, with James sporting curls while Neil kept his spiky. The girls meanwhile had dark brown hair that hung in long ringlets. James, Jean, and Neil all inherited their father's eyes, while Lily surprisingly had hazel eyes that were a mix of her parents. They were all quite smart and all enjoyed flying to their mother's dismay. They also all enjoyed traveling and family trips to exotic locales around the world were a favorite pastime. Often they would make a point to meet up with the Creeveys wherever they happened to be.
The Creeveys had distinguished themselves as quite a duo within the magizoology community and Luna had proven the existence of several new creatures, while Colin had a unique flair for managing to photograph them in their natural environments. They so far had one daughter, Helene, who had just turned two and was a perfect little traveler.
When the time came for Ginny to deliver her first child, a son, she decided it was time to retire completely and gave notice to the Tornadoes. She had enjoyed her brief foray into professional Quidditch, but she wanted to be a mum and she had seen with her family and friends that there was much more that she could do with life. When Franklin Longbottom arrived on a brilliant day in September and all of her friends gathered to come visit, bringing their own children along as well, she looked around and thought back briefly to all those years before when they were sitting in Potter Manor and planning for the battle. It had been a long time coming to this point. They had sacrificed a lot, but it had been worth it.
It's hard to believe that HB is done, but there we are. Thank you to everyone for sticking with me. This started as a simple soul bond story and ended up as so much more. Now I will go back to my last in progress story, Life's Interlude, and get it back on track. I actually just finished reading, editing, and re-posting all 34 chapters of it. Now I'm writing new material for it after over a year away so I can take it out of hiatus. Thank you everyone!