November 1, 1981
Swirls of dust and ash rose up from the remains of the cottage near Godric's Hollow and blew away in the brisk breeze, dancing over the heaps of wood and stone like ghosts before continuing up into the night sky.
All was quiet in Godric's Hollow, the full moon casting long shadows over the two new graves that sat near the wrecked cottage. Across the meadow the village slept peacefully, the Muggles inside of it blissfully unaware of the momentous events that had taken place nearby.
For most of the wizarding world, today had been a day to celebrate, a day to pop champagne corks and firecrackers and dance in the streets. Rumors swirled through the crowds like streamers, giddy and colourful and wild. They said that the Potters were dead, and some said You Know Who was dead as well. Others said he'd only fled the country, but whatever they'd heard or believed, the majority of witches and wizards cared only that You Know Who was gone, and they wanted nothing more than to revel in it and raise their glasses to toast the Boy Who Lived.
But for some, today wasn't a day to celebrate. It was a day to mourn, to plan and prepare, and to wait for what would come next.
At Hogwarts Castle, Albus Dumbledore sat in the headmaster's office, his twinkling blue eyes sad for once as he stared at the Invisibility Cloak folded on the desk before him. Slowly, he placed the cloak in a box and wrapped it in paper, then crossed the room and set the parcel gently on a cupboard shelf. His expression was determined as he touched the box gently one final time, and shut the cupboard door firmly behind him. Then he took out his Pensieve, sat down at his desk, and began to think.
Downstairs in the castle's dungeon, Severus Snape unpacked his belongings in his new office, setting jars of potions on the shelves and placing books in the bookcases. Snape paused in his work and, after glancing furtively over his shoulder, regarded the fading Dark Mark on his left forearm and wondered what the future would bring.
In the Forbidden Forest behind Hogwarts, Remus Lupin sat in the underbrush in werewolf form, too stunned to be overtaken by the urge to hunt and kill. He was alone now, the last of the Marauders, and nothing would ever be the same again. Remus turned his face skyward and howled his anguish at the moon.
In an old house in Grimmauld Place, Bellatrix Lestrange too was staring at the faded Mark, tears of grief and rage streaming down her face as she shook her head in denial. She swallowed down her hysteria and turned to her husband and the two others who had gathered there with them. And together they began to form a plan.
In the Hog's Head tavern in Hogsmeade, Alice Longbottom sat with her fellow Order members, Neville clutched tightly to her chest as she cried. Alice and the people around her knew better than anyone what Voldemort had been capable of, had fought harder than anyone else had to bring about his downfall. But the room was silent. Remembering the people they had lost along the way and thinking about the person that had betrayed them all, Alice and the rest of the Order of the Phoenix didn't feel much like celebrating.
Far away in her hiding place, Morwenna Marchbanks read a letter from Dumbledore, her eyes wide with shock and disbelief. Eventually she sank into a chair, dropping the letter to the floor. The threat was over; she was free to return to her home now and begin to pick up the pieces. But Morwenna knew that she'd never go back to London, not after all that had happened there. It would seem empty to her without Lily to talk to, without Sirius and James and Peter and Remus to make her laugh. Morwenna closed her eyes, trying to decide what was best to do.
In a sewer in London, Peter Pettigrew crouched with the other rats and nursed his maimed paw, trying desperately to decide what was best to do. His plan had worked; he'd managed to escape from Sirius, and no one would ever know the truth. What he had to do now was find some sort of protection, a safe place to hide in the wizarding world until his master returned, if he ever did. But where would a rat be safe? A flood of relief washed over Peter as he answered his own question and carefully he began to limp in the right direction
In Azkaban prison, Sirius Black sat numbly on a cell floor, his guilt and despair washing over him in waves. Lily and James were gone, Harry was orphaned, and it was all his fault. He had virtually handed them over to Voldemort, had believed Peter when he'd hinted that Remus was the spy without ever thinking to suspect timid, bumbling little Peter himself. And as the irony and sheer ridiculousness of the situation struck him anew, Sirius Black began to laugh again.
In Magnolia Crescent, Arabella Figg finished arranging the antimacassars on the sofa in her new house, then bent to pet one of her many cats. She straightened and moved toward the window, peering yet again toward Privet Drive and the house where the Boy Who Lived, as they were calling him, would soon be taking up residence.
And in a basket on the front step of Number 4 Privet Drive, Harry Potter slept, a nearby streetlamp illuminating the lightning-shaped cut on his forehead.
After all this time, my seemingly endless story is finally finished! I don't know whether to be thoroughly depressed or proud and relieved, so I think I'll be a little of both.
I want to thank everyone for being patient and sticking with me, especially those readers who have been reading from the beginning. I appreciate you taking the time to read my work, whether you've reviewed every chapter or never left a review at all. I've had a lot of fun writing this story, and I hope you've been entertained as well. It's meant a lot to me to know that Priori Incantatem has inspired a reaction in people.
Hopefully I won't sound too trite and gushy when I say thank you to everyone who has taken the time to leave a review. When I first started writing PI, I didn't expect to enjoy the reviews quite so much; your comments have flattered me, inspired me, made me laugh, and motivated me to get new chapters out during times when I was busy or tired or didn't particularly feel like writing. Knowing that people were waiting to find out what happened turned out to be a great motivator.
In honour of PI ending, I thought I'd share a few pointless (but hopefully interesting) facts about the story.
Length: 662 pages (in my Microsoft Word document, anyway)
Number of chapters I originally thought I'd write: 30
Number of fanfiction award nominations: 4
Number of fanfiction awards won: 0
Rejected story titles: James Potter and the Girl Who Hated Him, The Marauders' Tale, Lily and James (hey, they're rejected for a reason)
Biggest real-life inspiration: My family. I have a brother and seven male cousins, all of whom I'm very close to, and they provided the inspiration for a lot of the dialogue, jokes, and anecdotes in PI. I'll leave it up to you to guess which ones.
Chapter I had the most fun writing: Beards, Bows, and Bafflements. At the end of the previous chapter, The Mad Tea Party, James spikes Petunia's tea and hints to Lily that there might be some ill effects. When I posted that chapter, I had no idea what I was going to have happen to Petunia, and I still didn't know when I was sitting down to write the next chapter. The beard thing popped into my head, so I just went with it and ended up completely giving myself the giggles, the kind that make your sides hurt, as I wrote the chapter. In fact, that chapter still makes me laugh. For me, there's just something about that beard.
Hope everyone enjoyed reading Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince as much as I did (although I'm SICK about the whole Snape thing – to think I spent so much time trying to understand that bastard!) and thanks for being patient with me when it took (a lot) longer than I thought to get this last chapter out. That quote Peter used is from Shakespeare's Macbeth, Act 1 Scene 7 in case anyone is interested.
Also, I re-wrote my other story, A Sacrifice, as a sort of missing scene from PI. I'm not sure how much fan fiction I'll be writing in the future; I may do a few short, single chapter stories eventually. You can check my bio page for those, if you're interested, and in the meantime, feel free to send me an email.
Thanks for reading!