CHAPTER 26 Epilogue – Last But Not Least
Disclaimer: This is great; this is the first time that I can actually say that I own this part of the plot! Aha! The aftermath that … JK never wrote! So … this is totally mine! Aha! Invites all the Angels to join in with her to sing, Hallelujah! Oh, yeah, but I don't own any of the characters I suppose. Obviously. Invites disclaimer to join her for a tipple and asks if they can forget their previous vendetta in light of ending.
A/N: Hi there … for the last time! (Well in this fiction anyway.) I am so sorry about how brutal that last chapter was … but I think I have already explained all of that so blah, blah, blah. Thanks for all the wonderful reviews from everyone who really appreciated what I wrote. It's really great of you. So, this is the last ever part of The Good New Days. Stifles a sob. So, please, if you haven't reviewed or if you review in a very limited fashion please do it now! Thanks again.
A young boy of seventeen straightened up to wipe his eyes and stuffed his hands in his pockets. He accepted the blue patterned handkerchief that had been offered to him by the older man at his side. Before, when he had been previously affected by what had been witnessed before green eyes, the tears that had welled there had been much more subtly brushed away, but Harry Potter could not hold it in any longer.
He tried to fight them back, screwing up his eyes in protest as the tears had taken him quite by surprise, but it was no use. They spilled out of his eyes and fell with small splashes onto his Muggle sweatshirt. He allowed the older man, who was Remus Lupin, to hug with without remonstration, without embarrassment, and gave himself up to the shuddering spasms of grief that had been howling to escape him ever since he had seen his parents die violently before his eyes.
Harry drew back slowly from Lupin who knelt down in front of him, the faint lines around his eyes becoming more and more apparent.
"I'm sorry, Harry," he said softly, more experienced at hiding the tears threatening to well as he was reminded of his closest friend's demise. "But you said you wanted to see it all. To leave anything out would have been an insult to you, and to their memories."
Harry shook his head so hard that his glasses slipped and he only succeeded in giving himself an even bigger headache than he had previously had and making the messy black hair even more untidy. "Don't apologise," he said. "I told you exactly what I wanted to see. It must've taken you ages."
Lupin sighed. "It wasn't as difficult to put it all together as I first thought," he explained. "Dumbledore has more than the one Pensieve, you know, holding more than just his memories. Honestly – I saw a great deal more this way than I had ever done back then …"
Harry blinked furiously, angry with himself for letting the inevitable happen when he had sworn to himself when he had signed on for this that it would not. "But – how exactly did you do it all?" he asked, looking for a subject to take his mind's eye away from his father's broken fingers … from his mother's brave face before it went blank …
A wry smile passed over Lupin's wasted face and tired features as he scratched his forehead. "Perhaps no one ever told you, Dumbledore taught me Occlumency many years ago, before Snape ever learnt it. He said it would help somehow with my werewolf transformations. If I were able to shut my mind out and focus on myself completely, I would be less wolfish. This was before the Wolfsbane Potion had ever been concocted, so since then I have not had to use it at all."
Harry stared at him. "You're an Occlumens?"
Lupin nodded. "Perhaps even more skilled than Professor Snape, though he would never hear of it, I hasten to add."
"So, how did that help you show me my parents … in their day?"
"Well despite Voldemort being a good few hundred of miles away, thanks to you of course, it was possible for me to break into his mind and extract memories at will." Lupin frowned concernedly. "Of course, he will be none too happy when he discovers what has happened. He will most likely believe it to be some plan to be his undoing … for us to learn more about that night, and maybe even the Prophecy …"
He broke off as Harry looked at the floor. "That wasn't why I wanted to know …" said Harry quietly. "I only wanted to see … what it was like now that … now that …" He could not bring himself to say Sirius's name. After watching him being taken away at the expense of Wormtail's lies was almost too much to abide. Harry knew that Sirius had since been exonerated, pardoned, for the crime that he did not commit by himself most importantly, and the people that mattered, but the fact that he had been taken from him so suddenly … ripped from home … Harry couldn't bear to think about it.
"I know," said Lupin. He straightened up, his tone now slightly more brisk, an attempt to quash the lump in his throat. "It's only natural to want to know more after suffering two losses. More importantly, two father figures.
Harry thought that to say anything would be dangerous.
"So, with Occlumency, I could do almost anything. I could see almost anything."
Harry looked up. "Like the night that he –"
" – Killed your parents, yes. And many more like that. It was necessary to extract that particular memory from Voldemort because … well. No one can read the thoughts of the dead, Harry."
Harry frowned, contemplating something. "But … then – how did we see … when they were alone? Or it was just my dad and … and Sirius?"
A closed expression appeared on Lupin's face. "Ah, as to that, Harry, I will admit on calling the help of someone else."
"Yes. He has instruments no one has ever dreamed of, you know, not even Voldemort could conceive of some of the things that Dumbledore has. One is a very unique and old Time Turner. You remember the one that Hermione was allowed to have in her third year? It's similar to this, but different in many ways, and much more advanced. In a way, I suppose it was ahead of its time. When Dumbledore learned that you wished to learn more, then he was more than happy to aid me in helping you. Anything to … ease your grief for which … I am sure he feels responsible for."
Harry said nothing. "He doesn't need to. It was my own fault."
A silence followed this in which Harry chose to break it. "So, how does the Time Turner work?"
"It is unique in the sense that it does not need to transport the person back into the Time they wish to examine, but can instead store the events in a kind of portal until someone wishes to read them."
"And you can put them into a Pensieve afterwards?" Harry asked.
Lupin nodded. "After much preparation, yes. I had been using this particular instrument a few times since … since Sirius died. This is why it didn't take as long as it would have done."
Harry nodded slowly and turned his head to the open window in Lupin's sitting room. Snow was falling lightly outside covering everything in a crisp white blanket, leaving a chill in its wake. Harry put his hand out of the window sill and touched a snowflake where it stuck, momentarily to his fingertip before melting away into water, non existent, evaporating as though it had never been there … like his parents …
"It was so real," Harry said very quietly.
"It's magic, Harry," said Lupin quickly in a low pain-filled voice. "Pensieves are wonderful things, Occlumency is an extraordinary ability and Dumbledore has access to some amazing contraptions that emit illusion, but that's all it is Harry. An illusion. I know it seemed real … but what you saw, happened a long time ago."
"I know that," said Harry sharply, a little too sharply before he recovered himself. "I know it wasn't real. I know I can't … I can't dwell on it. I just wanted to see … now that you're the only person left who can … who can – well. You know."
"I know," said Lupin. "Wormtail is as good as dead, so … I'm the last Marauder." And Harry heard something he had not been prepared to hear. Lupin's voice was cracking, as though he were only just admitting something to himself.
Harry looked up at him. "Last, but not least."
Lupin smiled, and coughed, though could not mask the tear that fell. Harry sighed deeply, unprepared for this.
"Thank you," he said. "For doing it all. I was only thinking about myself … I was only thinking about how I could make it easier for me but I never thought about how it would affect you. So I'm sorry."
Lupin nodded. "Don't ever apologise to me." Harry smiled weakly. "Can I give you some advice?" Lupin asked.
"If you ever want to talk to anyone about your parents, or Sirius, or Voldemort or whatever … talk to your friends. Talk to Ron and Hermione. I know you'd never take them for granted but … friendship is precious, Harry. Don't waste it."
Harry was unable to speak, but he understood and the both of them continued to watch the snow falling silently.
"Maybe its God's way of saying that we've been bad."
"What on earth are you talking about?"
"Well, the weather. I mean, what with Noah and his ark – "
" – The flood –?"
" – Yeah, that, but you know, what with all this snow. Maybe he's telling us we're doing something wrong."
There was a snort. "Oh, don't be so ridiculous, Ron."
Ron and Hermione were once again bickering. Harry was sat on Ron's right, Hermione between them, quite contented, watching the village of Hogsmead go about its daily business. They continued to argue, but Harry wasn't really listening. He was about to tell them something that Lupin had advised.
"Oh of course everyone drowned, you nit wit, that was the whole point! Why do you think he flooded the world in the first place?"
"But then how did he re-start the world?"
"The Ark, you idiot –"
" – A few weeks ago I went to Lupin and asked him if he could help me in finding out more about my parents."
A pronounced silence followed this. Harry had thought it would be better if he just came out and said it rather than figuring out some pointlessly long introduction to something that didn't really need it in the first place. Ron cleared his throat.
"Er, you what?"
"When Snape was teaching me Occlumency, I accidentally fell into his Pensieve and saw my dad humiliating him. It'd been bothering me for months and I wanted to ask Sirius about it. When I did, it didn't really put my mind at ease, and I wanted to ask him about it when the term had finished, but then …"
Hermione put her hand on his shoulder. "Harry," she said softly. "You don't have to talk about this is you don't want to –"
" – But then Bellatrix Lestrange murdered him." Harry was determined to get out what he wanted to say and not to make up things to put in the gaps he found painful to better suit himself. Lupin was right; if he ever wanted to get over everything and allow himself in a perfect condition to face Voldemort, he would have to start confiding in the people he trusted most in the whole world.
"She killed him right in front of me, and I never got a chance to talk to him properly about it. So, after realising that I was never going to get over his death and the fact that I never knew my parents, I knew that I had to do something about it."
Ron and Hermione exchanged looks. "W – what did you do?" asked Ron.
"Lupin and I used Pensieves and other things, that's not really important for you to know, but the important thing is, I saw it all."
"You saw it all?"
"When I explained to Lupin, he thought it would be better if I saw the whole thing rather than snippets. So it took a while, but through these things that he put together, I saw my parents life at school, and beyond that."
Ron raised his ginger eyebrows. "All of it?"
"The most important bits."
Hermione cleared her throat. "Even … even when – when Voldemort …"
"I saw what happened the night he killed them. I saw how Pettigrew betrayed them and Sirius. And what I saw was enough to make me realise, that I don't need to get over anything. "
Hermione's eyes were wide and Ron seemed to be at a loss at what to say. Hermione blinked. "Harry, that must have been horrible …"
Harry decided it would be churlish to lie. "Yeah. Yeah, it was. But I needed to see it. I needed to understand."
Ron seemed to have learned how to speak again. "So … not that I'm not glad you told us, but why are you telling us this now?"
Harry half smiled. "Something Lupin said. But he's right. I needed to tell you, because you need to know. You need to know that I'm OK, and you don't need to creep around me because Sirius died."
Hermione nodded. "Well, then, you should know that we're here for you. Now more than ever."
Ron smiled. "Until the end, mate."
Harry felt a tear welling in his eye, and allowed them both to hug him as the snow began to fall once more, purifying, cleansing the world, falling on their eyelashes as they broke apart and once again began debating the great flood.
"Wasn't there something to do with a dove as well?"
"Oh, for Heaven Sake, Ron …"
A/N: FINITE! ALL DONE! Oh god, I can't believe that this is over now! It's not right! I'm going to have to get writing something else now … right now … so; the twist basically, is that Harry was always there, he saw everything that you read. Good? Not Good? Let me know! REVIEW ONE LAST TIME! IT'S YOUR LAST CHANCE TO MAKE ME FEEL BETTER ABOUT ENDING!
I'm updating as much as I can for my other stories, but I just have a lot of work on at the moment, so please be patient and review lots when they come! Thank you to everyone who has ever reviewed this story. I have thoroughly enjoyed writing this and it has slightly eased the pain of uni! Oh no … so it's really over, sob genuine sob.