Epilogue Part 2:
Aftermath (Beginning of Another Story)
Sirius Black let out another maniacal laugh. There was a mad glint in his eyes and an odd, twisted look of hopelessness on his face. His mouth was slightly open, his jaw slack. The fingers that had grasped a wand mere hours before were now twitching slightly—they'd had to pry it from his hold by force, and even then it had taken three top-notch Aurors to do it.
The spectators looked at him in disgust. They were mostly hardened Ministry officials and Aurors, headed by a stern Barty Crouch. They tried, as they frowned, to banish the image of Black that still lingered in their minds—that of the smiling boy, overshadowing most of his fellows with his brilliance, or of the earnest, solemn young man who had stepped forward to be among the first to join Dumbledore's Order of the Phoenix. A couple of them recalled faintly some disturbing incident back in his Hogwarts days—something about Severus Snape that had been hushed up years before—that could very well have been a forewarning of this whole horrible affair.
And—what were all those rumours about? Surely no one had survived the attack; not even the Dark Lord remained. His wand had purportedly been found amongst the ruins of the Potters' cottage at Godric's Hollow, along with the bodies of James and Lily Potter. You-Know-Who couldn't have gone far without his wand, could he? And that ominous air that had been smothering the wizarding community slowly throughout that summer (and for the previous ten years, actually)—it had lifted. People had come out of trances; a number of Death Eaters had been caught and put on trial or directly into Azkaban. Many didn't even try to escape—there was a new hunger in their eyes; they were starved for the quest for power and the willfulness they had been accustomed to in the presence of their master. It could all only mean one thing: the threat was gone for good, or else an uncertain form of security could prevail in its temporary absence.
That might explain the madness in Black's expression, too, as he was dragged away at wandpoint. He certainly looked the part of the criminal—betrayer, murderer, soon-to-be dementer-fodder. His hair was unkempt, the short black strands rivaling even James Potter's legendary disheveled mop. His eyes were bloodshot, as though he hadn't slept in days—he probably hadn't, many reasoned, as he'd obviously been mourning the downfall of his master—and there was several days' worth of growth showing in the stubble on his face. In short, he looked completely insane. It was no wonder that Crouch decided to send him to Azkaban without a proper trial.
Extracting the bodies from the whole mess was the strangest part of the whole Godric's Hollow ordeal. While the entire structure had been reduced to rubble—the trees surrounding the site, even, had been blasted into chunks of bark, or at least scorched—the bodies of the husband and wife were unmarred and amazingly whole. In fact, if it weren't for the lack of breath and pulse, either of them could have been merely sleeping. Unlike most victims of the Killing Curse, neither James nor Lily had their eyes open in shock; instead, they lay peacefully near each other in the midst of the debris.
What boggled the Ministry the most, however, was the absence of the Potters' son, Harry. According to all known records, the couple had had a son the previous year—so where was he?
Then the news seeped out in whispers—Dumbledore had taken the child to live with some Muggle relatives somewhere. Furthermore, the boy was the sole reason behind the fall of the Dark Lord! Witches and wizards alike reeled at this piece of information. No one knew the minute particulars, but it seemed that after killing Harry's parents, You-Know-Who had turned to the child with the intention of killing him as well. Then, for some inexplicable reason—Ministry experts were puzzled exceedingly by this—the spell had rebounded from Harry's head, leaving a cut (which would undoubtedly scar jaggedly), and hit the murderer instead.
The general wave of joy and relief that followed such glad tidings was only to be expected; the magical world, excepting the close friends of the deceased, seemed to forget the misery and tragedy that had been taking place for the past decade. They seemed to forget that while Voldemort had indeed met his match at long last, it had taken years of terror and fear and death, two more dead bodies, and finally an orphaned baby only a year old to reach these ends.
Widespread rejoicing, celebration, and a general tossing of cares and inhibitions to the winds were enjoyable to all those involved, of course, but put the magical world at great risk of being found out by Muggles. The caution so over-exercised during the rise of the Dark Lord seemed to have completely disappeared; wizards and witches wore cloaks and robes down Muggle streets, sending owls out in broad daylight, cheering wildly over "the-Boy-Who-Lived!" It was sheer foolishness.
Thus it wasn't until a good number of days later that anyone thought to find the person who had set the whole phenomenon into motion—and who had betrayed the Potters to their deaths. That was where Pettigrew came in.
The boy was rash; too rash, Ministry officials told the hysterical mother. This was certainly a euphemism, as all records showed that Peter Pettigrew had most definitely not been what anyone would accurately term "bright" or "quick."
All witnesses—and most of them were Muggles ("I'm beginning to hate Obliviate," one Ministry security wizard complained)—agreed that Black had eventually cornered Pettigrew (or was it the other way around?) in an alley. They'd heard Pettigrew shriek, "How could you, Sirius? James and Lily!" They'd heard Black's answering laughter—so cold, so biting that they shuddered just recalling it—and then the explosion as the length of street was ripped apart and all the innocent passersby were suddenly no more.
No survivors had been close enough to tell what exactly had happened in the alleyway—whether the two men had exchanged angry words after the explosion, whether Pettigrew had been given a fighting chance. The only thing Ministry experts found odd about this situation was the fact that Sirius was still standing in the midst of the destruction when they arrived, Pettigrew's blood on his robes, laughing.
"He must have known what he was in for," a confused witch told anyone who would listen. "I don't understand why he didn't just run for it." She shook her head angrily, giving up on understanding any of it. "There's one more for Azkaban, Merlin knows he deserves it."
In a short, somber ceremony, the Minister of Magic presented Mrs. Pettigrew with the certificate bestowing upon her deceased son the title of Order of Merlin, First Class, along with the small white box that contained the one physical remnant of Peter that had been recovered at the scene—his finger. She dissolved into tears at the spot, and spoke as venomously as a mourning doting mother could that she hoped Black rotted in Azkaban.
They would not allow her to visit the convicted murderer of her son; they wouldn't let anyone visit him. Sirius Black was confined to a temporary cell; his wand was broken; the short hearing was held during which he made a very brief cameo appearance (only long enough to laugh madly again), others gave testimony against him, and he was sentenced to life imprisonment, spared from the dementor's kiss by Dumbledore's pity and a certain unspoken thought that, had this whole betrayal not taken place, the Dark Lord would never have fallen.
A certain individual by the name of Remus Lupin was exonerated from all Ministry suspicion after this event; it seemed they had been tracking his activities due to the suspicion (allegedly planted by Sirius Black and Peter Pettigrew—strangely enough, they'd worked together on this) that he could be the spy delivering information about the Potters to Voldemort. Since that affair had been so efficiently resolved, the Ministry sent him a very nice, very long apology via owl—to which he did not deign to respond. The last anyone saw of him was when he took a portkey bound for India.
"His eyes were all swollen and red, and he looked so thin and tired," a little girl said. She'd seen him from her bedroom window, which faced the deserted lot where the portkey had been. "He looked sad. I wanted to give him a hug."
Little wonder, the magical world said. His best friends from school—gone within days, never to be seen again in this lifetime. Three dead and one in Azkaban—it was enough to make anyone want to leave the country.
In a little house on Privet Drive, somewhere in Surrey—
A little fat boy named Dudley was wailing loudly, banging his spoon against the tray of his high chair. He had just succeeded in upsetting his bowl of mashed potato (with plenty of butter and gravy) all over the kitchen floor. Next to him at the table, but without a high chair, was propped a little black-haired baby, who had already finished his meager helping of day-old mash and was beginning to blink his great green eyes sleepily.
Petunia Dursley came back into the room, her blond hair stringy and matted with sweat. She was still in an apron smeared with sauces from cooking, and she held a large soup spoon. She looked at the wailing baby in the high chair and began to coo to him; while she was doing this, however, she stared oddly at the other baby. Very rudely, she picked up little Harry and thrust him into a rickety old bassinet sitting in the darkest corner of the room. Then she returned to her own enormous baby. The boy's flesh overflowed the seat of his high chair—his skin was rather pasty, making him look like a huge overfed larva.
"Oh, Duddykins, what's wrong? Don't cry," she gurgled at him as he continued to bang his spoon and shriek.
"Yes, I know, dear," she said distastefully. "But what can you expect? His parents being what they were…"
"I quite agree," boomed the voice of her husband, who had just entered the room. "Thank goodness we're perfectly normal, thank you very much." He roughly pulled his gangly wife into his embrace, cuffing Dudley over the head so hard the blond child very nearly toppled over (it was meant to be a loving gesture, I'm sure). "Nothing freakish about us, no sir."
In the corner, baby Harry had opened his green eyes and looked ready to bawl. Deciding it probably wouldn't be a good time for that, however, he instead merely scrunched up his face, yawned, and went back to sleep. Dudley shrieked again—bits of his scattered mashed potatoes had picked themselves up off the ground and smeared into his face and hair. Baby Harry smiled softly in his sleep.
What would the future bring?
(This was written a few days ago..ff.net's been having mood swings AGAIN and has refused to let me post...)
Okay, this epilogue had more stuff to it, but I decided last-minute-like that I didn't appreciate the way it was going and snip!snip! went the word processor. Heehee?
Well, it's OVER officially—we can all draw a proper breath now. And I can finally move on to other things. Like—shameless plug—the new fic I've been writing. Actually I'd started on a semi-sequel for this one, just for kicks, but I was recently attacked by Plot Bunnies, who bit me you don't wanna know where and refused to let go until I started writing as THEY dictated. Stupid Plot Bunnies. So there you have it—I believe the new usurper is going to be called "Cupid's Egg" (the first installment, anyway—it'll have a sequel/prequel of sorts—yes I've already outlined it), and it's rather AU. It's a weird mix between the Harry Potter world and the Chiho Saito universe (she's a Japanese manga artist, if you didn't know already—responsible for such freakish series as Utena and Canon and Kakan no Madonna), if you can imagine such a thing. Anyway if you're curious at all, check it out—I'll be posting the first couple of chapters shortly.
And after that I'm not sure how often I'll be able to update, since summer school came upon me unawares and I'm still reeling. First day of classes today—it promises to be stressful. _
Erm. Yes. On to the important part of the A/N: individual reviewer messages!!! I love you guys :)
Eleanor– Thanks so much for reviewing! I'm glad you read the fic :)
KirbeeDesirae– Aww....thank you so much for this review. It gave me the warm and fuzzies. ;) Thank you also for sticking with this fic since (if I remember correctly) its beginnings! When are you posting more of the Prequel? Haha...those chapters are long and addictive! And I'm interested to see where "When Dawn Breaks The Night" goes...I wanna know about James's eyes! :P Hehe. Anyway, in answer to your question about other fic—well, there it is! I don't know how appropriate the title "Cupid's Egg" is (sounds cheesy to me), but that's the name of the Chiho Saito work I'm basing it off of so I thought it might be appropriate somehow.
Lamina Court– We meet on ff.net at last! I think. I might have reviewed for one of your fic some time ago...not too sure. :) Either way, hello Jen1! Thank you for the review and I'm proud proud proud the chapter made you cry just a little. everblue3 is great, isn't she? Where would we be without her? ;D Anyway, you are absolutely right about the Snape working at Hogwarts thing...I'm not sure why that fact just skipped my brain, but it did. Originally I also had a scene in the epilogue where Dumbledore actually gives Snape the permanent position but I wasn't very admiring of said scene so it got cut. Now that I think of it I completely ignored the idea that Snape would have been the spy to tip Dumbledore off about Voldemort's wanting the Potters...blargh, yet another reason I'm not especially proud of this story. As for the Longbottoms—you know what, I actually DID mention them instead of the Boneses originally but then I thought that perhaps they weren't found until Barty Crouch Jr. was convicted of being a Death Eater and since Sirius sees him being brought into Azkaban it wouldn't have happened yet...but I'm pretty sure I just got my facts mixed up. Stupid low-capacity brain. Always messing me up. I need to reread the books....anyway!!! Thanks so much for reviewing, it was great seeing you on the MWPP list (haha, I love that list...the idea just cracks me up), and and and...yeah. We should stalk each other—I mean talk...online sometime. Yep we should. Okay. Away!
parselmouth majere- :) Boy, these reviews are getting to my head. The tears in your eyes brought tears to my eyes. Thank you so much for the comments and I've still got that sequel tucked away on the hard drive somewhere...it's just staying back-burner right now for the sake of stupid "Cupid's Egg"...what a lame name, it's Chiho Saito's fault it is... Anyway. I liked the previous part of the epilogue better than this part, but it's meant to be written differently so hopefully it didn't disappoint too much...hm...yes. :) Thanks again for reviewing throughout the fic's history :D
Erriy– Thank you for the review! :*) Man, so many lovely reviews...I'm glad you liked. I'll try really really hard not to disappoint with the next story...!!! I WISH I could write like J.K.Rowling...I wouldn't have to worry so much about supporting myself after my college-time's up! Unfortunately for me, such is not the case...I wish I could win the lottery...
yoriko sakura-chan– Well, if you're a fan of manga (or perhaps you just watch anime?), then you might like the next story I'm attempting. Then again it doesn't have much of a manga-esque feel since I've switched things around to Harry Potter-ness but it's definitely different than what I'd have come up with on my own! Another crier :*) You make me smile. I'm glad you liked this story and thank you for alllll your reviews!!!
Mistocean– Thanks for the review! And thank you for adding me to your favorite authors list!! Am flattered...very flattered. :D Hopefully you got to reading further. Reviews are great—whatever they say!
Beaver Buddy– Hehe...that's a cute name. Anyway, thanks for reviewing! I'm glad you liked! And I definitely think it would be cool to go to Hogwarts...just imagine, you're learning the skills to one day be able to turn people into ferrets at will!!!! How cool is that? ;D And those parts about the Dursleys always crack me up...Dudley, Dudley, Dudley. Why would you name your kid Dudley Dursley? I don't think I can say it three times fast...
...on to the next!!!