DISCLAIMER: J.K. Rowling owns most of the characters and settings here—I own the rest.
The title of this chapter is from Disney's "Happily Ever After" song.
This is it, folks! I hope you have enjoyed the myriad twists and turns of this fic as much as I have enjoyed writing it. I'll be back with some more fics as soon as I recover.
NOTHING ELSE MATTERS
Chapter 36 – We All Have the Courage to Fly
After Yaxley's demise, the British and American Aurors worked quickly to contain the situation. All witches and wizards were corralled into the Crystal; Cerridwen and the rest of the wait staff handed round free mugs of hot chocolate. Meanwhile, Obliviators from New York created a magical snowfall that simultaneously cleared Muggles from the area as well as modified their memories so that they recalled seeing a bar fight that had spilled out into the road and had been broken up by Salem PD.
Yaxley's corpse was removed by Aurors Proudfoot and Corner, who had arrived via Portkey shortly after Harry, Kingsley, Walden and Lucius. Harry, Kingsley, and Lucius sat down with Hermione at the same table where the melee had begun, and explained that they had hired Walden, to, essentially, perform his former job on the Resurgence members, and they'd put him under an Unbreakable Vow until the deed was done. After that, Lucius and Walden had performed their own Vow in order to keep Hermione, Evan, and the rest of Walden's family, if necessary, safe.
Hermione was relieved to hear that Walden's standoffishness had all been a Vow-required act, but she did hit Harry with several annoying spells before they finally hugged and made up. Rhiannon and Inanna returned to the table after that, and everyone ordered a late dinner. Cerridwen sent an owl to the Portkey Office explaining that Hermione and Evan wouldn't be on that evening's red-eye.
Rather than joining the rest of the group at the table, Walden and Evan were bellied up to the bar, happily drinking down multiple mugs of hot chocolate, when they were approached by the tie-dye wizard.
"I'm not sure if you recall me, sir," he began. "But I was a friend of Rowan's."
"Ye look somewhat familiar," Walden replied, as he signaled for another mug of hot chocolate with a shot of Laphroaig on the side.
"I used to be an activist, but I decided that I could do more good elsewhere. I'd be interested in having you give a guest lecture, actually," and he handed Walden his card, which read
BARTHOLOMEW AUGUSTUS MOONWILLOW, III
PROFESSOR, DEFENSE AGAINST THE DARK ARTS
ILVERMORNY SCHOOL OF WITCHCRAFT and WIZARDRY
"Aye, Mr Willow, I remember ye now! Ye were that silly one who didna eat meat…and that reminds me," and he turned to Evan and gestured at the menu posted next to the liquor display. "Son, how about we get some of those Double Merlin Burgers?"
"Awesome!" Evan shouted, after he sat down his mug.
"Will ye be joining us, sir?" Walden asked.
"Oh, why not," Moonwillow replied, signaling the waitress for the Double Veggie Merlin Special that he had been about to order when Yaxley approached the table.
After dinner was done, Kingsley created two Emergency International Portkeys directly to the Ministry and— after many tearful hugs and goodbyes—Hermione, Evan and the rest of the party departed Salem. Owing to their excessive Portkey use over a relatively short period of time, everyone was escorted directly to the Recovery Lounge for an overnight stay.
The next day, Kingsley gave a press conference and announced the details of the truncated rise and fall of the Resurgence to the wizarding community. The story remained front-page news in the Prophet and every other wizarding media outlet for several weeks.
After the press conference, Elspeth, Gavin, Heather, and Melissa were waiting to escort Walden and Evan back to the lodge, which had been fully restored to a livable state by the collected efforts of the Macnair and Malfoy house elves. Ginny, Harry, and Mr and Mrs Weasley whisked Hermione to Grimmauld Place and installed her in the guest room with copious piles of the latest titles from Flourish and Blotts, as well as breakfast in bed. Narcissa and Draco Malfoy, smiling large for the cameras, escorted Lucius back to Malfoy Manor. This time, Narcissa did not return to France once the spotlight was off.
A week after the conference, Walden sent a large bouquet and a box of chocolates to Hermione via owl post, with a note requesting her presence at the castle for dinner the following week. She sent an owl back accepting his invitation.
Two weeks after the conference, she moved back to the lodge, and three weeks after that, she re-accepted his engagement ring.
"Mom, Dad!" Evan shouted, as he exited the loo. "It's almost time to leave!"
"Ye know, lass, I never did understand why those of us who lived up here needed to travel all the way down to London just to come back to the Highlands ta go to school," Walden remarked, as he levitated Evan's trunk toward the fireplace.
"That is odd, because I never really thought about it, either, but it was convenient for me as I lived outside London. It is rather convoluted. I should look into that for the Alliance…" Hermione mused, as she pushed an Owl Treat through the bars to placate Evan's owl. He'd insisted on naming her Lucinda after Mrs. Wilkes.
"Come on!" Evan shouted, as he burst into the room.
He was jumping up and down with excitement as they Side-Along Apparated to an alley near the station, and was the first to run at the wall between Platforms 9 and 10, slipping seamlessly through the barrier as if he'd been practicing. He hugged Hermione and Walden, grabbed his trunk and owl cage, and leapt onto the train without looking back.
The Sorting Ceremony was fairly mundane that year, but there were a few murmurs when Professor McGonagall called out, "Macnair, Evan!"
Evan took his seat and the Hat was lowered.
Outside the towering windows of the Hogwarts Great Hall, a raven flapped its way from the window ledge into the night.
EPILOGUE, two years later
Macnair Village, Highlands of Scotland (in the countryside near Nairn)
Walden and Gavin raised their wands in unison and added the final boards to the top of the roof of the newly-constructed pub. As the boards attached themselves, a cheer rose up from the crowd that had gathered to watch the excitement.
Gavin tapped his wand on his throat to make an announcement. "All right, everyone, as a special treat, the first round is on the house!"
There was another, larger cheer.
Walden tapped his wand on his throat and announced, "And the proceeds from the rest of the rounds today will be goin' to the Alliance for Magical Unity to help publish their new book!" There was a very slight gasp, and then a large cheer for his announcement, as well…after which just about everyone in town trooped into the pub and lined up at the bar.
Two observers remained outside, however…Mundungus Fletcher and Rubeus Hagrid. The former had some magically-shrunk casks in his cloak. The latter was in town to purchase some Thestral Pony Chow, as Ye Olde Creature Shoppe, which was a new addition to Hogsmeade, had run out. He'd heard Gavin's announcement and licked his lips, but when he spotted Walden, he'd ducked back into the alley and backed right into Fletcher.
"Hagrid, old friend," Fletcher began. "Could I interest you in some…"
Hagrid cut him off with a frown. "Don' want whatever ye're sellin', Dung. Just about ready to head back over to Hogsmeade."
"What, weren't you going to stay for a free drink?"
"Not sure I want to accept Macnair's hospitality to do tha'."
"War's been over for years, Hagrid, and if I 'member correctly, you let 'im know what you thought of him back at the battle…and he put that apology to ya in the Prophet….'Sides…he might want to buy what I'm selling!" Fletcher strode over to the pub, whistling something that sounded an awful lot like "Do the Hippogriff."
Hagrid stood for a moment, stroking his beard, and then looked, really looked, at the pub sign. It read "THE HAPPY HIPPOGRIFF", and the creature on the sign (who did, in fact, look inordinately pleased) was clearly flying away from what looked like a castle…
"Looks a bit like ol' Beaky," he muttered to himself, as, clutching his pink umbrella, he strode toward the pub.
Just at that moment, the door opened, and Mundungus was propelled through it. He was clutching a tumbler of firewhisky in one hand, and a small cask in the other, and had a very dismayed look on his face.
"Ye can keep yer free drink, but I'm nae buying any o' yer discount firewhisky, Fletcher, ye Sassenach slubberdegullion! If ye try and cheat me again, I'll have your arse in a sling and show ye the business end of a Blast Ended Screwt!" Walden shoved Mundungus, none too gently, so that he was out of the path of the door, and then wiped his hands on his apron as Fletcher scurried away and Disapparated with a loud, sloppy 'pop'.
Hagrid stifled a smile and continued on toward the door. Walden turned as he caught the movement out of the corner of his eye. He turned and the two wizards spent a couple of minutes considering each other.
Finally, Walden spoke, looking carefully up at Hagrid.
"Can I offer ye a wee nip, Professor?" he said.
"Don' mind if I do," Hagrid finally replied, as he walked into the pub.