Hope of the Phoenix (21/21)
Disclaimer: J.K. Rowling owns Harry Potter; I am merely playing in her world and no copyright infringement is intended.
A/N: Well, this is it – the long anticipated Last Chapter! A big thanks as always to those who reviewed the previous chapter, and the list of those who have reviewed this story will, accompanied by muchos hugs and kisses from me, will follow this chapter! Once more, a big thanks to Tsuchi, my faithful Beta. Also, Remus plushies to anyone who recognized the quotes at the end of the last chapter were from Shakespeare's Henry V! And now to answer questions in the reviews...
TammySlark: Thanks for the link!
Athenakitty: That would be telling! Don't worry, the dilemma of how to get the shard of the Mirror from Fudge will concern the plot of Part Two of the Phoenix Quartet: The Redemption of the Phoenix, which will be coming soon (in a week or two, depending on my schedule...)
But on with the story...
Chapter 21: King's Cross
"...and then I told the Minister that I thought it would be good if...Petunia? Are you listening to me?"
Petunia sighed. She had been focusing so hard on the wall that separated Platforms 9 and 10 that she had missed everything else. "I'm sorry, Percy. I guess I'm just worried that the train hasn't arrived yet."
Percy smiled comfortingly, and reached out to pat her arm. "Don't worry, it always takes a while to disembark. And Harry will probably be late – Ron and Hermione are prefects, after all. Besides, Mum and Professor Lupin are waiting on the platform."
She smiled, but she still felt nervous. She had always felt anxious waiting with Vernon for Dudley to return from Smeltings: what if he'd missed the train, or there had been an accident, or something? Now that she considered Harry to be her family, she found the same worries had been extended to him.
As she watched, children emerged, furtively, from the wall – small bunches, so as to avoid detection. They chatted happily together, met with parents, wished each other a happy summer holiday. She couldn't help but think of the days long passed, when she had waited with her parents, in the very spot where she was standing, now, with Percy, for Lily to arrive. She could almost see Lily emerging from the passage, laughing with her friends, her red hair shining in the summer light. She was talking to James...
"Ginny!" she heard Percy shout out happily. Petunia snapped back to reality. A red-haired girl, Ginny Weasley, had emerged from the platform, talking with a boy who looked so much like James... She grinned, and waved at him, and Harry smiled back.
Then he was hugging her, and smiling faces surrounded her. "Hello, Aunt Petunia!" Harry was murmuring, as she kissed the top of his head. Everyone was there. Ron was arguing with his mother, and Hermione was drilling Neville on where he'd last seen someone called Trevor: "was he in the compartment with you?" Luna was smiling vaguely, and was talking to another young man, who had a camera – and a toad in his hand, which he handed to Neville. And Remus was grinning, and taking her hand, they moved back towards the car.
On the way, an old woman with a horrible green dress and a vulture hat met up with them. Neville said good-bye to the group, hugging each of his friends, before he went off with her. Then a man, with a slightly vacant expression came, and left with Luna, muttering something about a crumple-horned snorkack.
Petunia didn't know how on earth they would all fit into the car – it was a rental – it had been large enough when it had been only Remus, herself, Molly and Percy, but with an additional four children, and all their trunks and luggage, there was simply no way they would all fit.
They did fit, of course. Petunia supposed she must have looked amazed, because Percy whispered "Enlargement charm" in her ear as he helped load the luggage.
That night, Petunia felt as if she might burst with joy. She was home, and her family was all around her. It almost didn't seem to matter that Voldemort was, at that moment, setting his plan to rule the world in motion. She was doing something about it, this time.
As she and Molly prepared the supper, Petunia couldn't help but notice Remus taking Harry aside. She wondered what they were talking about. Eavesdropping was a tempting option, but fried eggs couldn't be left, and she was sure that, whatever it was, Remus would tell her about it later.
Several minutes later they returned, Harry with a huge grin on his face. They returned to the table, where the others were involved in a game of Exploding Snap. Well, it clearly wasn't bad news at any rate.
At supper, it occurred to Petunia that Harry was looking uncommonly smug. He kept looking at her and grinning, as if to say: "I know something you don't know". She knew that grin. It was Lily's grin.
She hated that grin.
She glanced over at Remus, hoping he would give her some sign as to what the secret was... but he was deep in conversation with Arthur Weasley, and would give away nothing. Something was definitely going on.
By the time Tonks had spilled the pudding all over Percy's lap, and he had retired to his room to change, leaving Tonks apologizing profusely and everyone else torn between laughter and annoyance, Petunia's good mood had decided to take a Carribean cruise and had vacated the premises. She couldn't stand people keeping secrets.
When Harry and Ron finally went up to bed, almost everyone had already gone. Fred and George had left for their flat, and Percy, too, had left for his. Tonks had gone home, still apologizing for the pudding, and Hermione and Ginny and Arthur and Molly had already gone upstairs. As Harry left, he kissed her on the cheek and whispered "Congratulations". Congratulations for what?
Then she heard the heavy tread as he and Ron clattered up the stairs, giggles carrying into the room where...
She and Remus were alone.
Well, she wasn't going to talk to him. He clearly didn't want to talk to her – let him keep his secrets, she certainly didn't want to know whatever it was he told Harry but didn't tell her. After all, she was only his girlfriend, what right had she to know anything...
"Petunia, love." Remus said, softly. How did he get so close? He had been on the other side of the room a second ago; and now he was kneeling beside her, his amber eyes looking into her blue ones.
"I talked to Harry today." Oh, so now he wanted to tell her about it? Well, she didn't care...
"Did you?" Make him sweat.
"Yes" He took her hand in his. When did it get so hot in this house? She would have to talk to Molly about getting the central heating fixed....
"Would you like to know what we talked about?"
She shrugged. Give nothing away; that was the key. Don't let them know how badly you want to know...
"If you like." She kept her voice carefully disinterested.
"I was informing him of my intention to ask for your hand. I believe his words were 'Better late than never. Get on with it'."
Whoa. Hold on. His intentions to ask for her hand? Did he mean...?
She stared in amazement as Remus drew from a pocket somewhere in his patched robes a small box, and drew from it a glittering ring. She could hardly breath.
"I bought this twenty years ago. I'm afraid I don't remember the speech I wrote for this moment, but I remember the last line."
He smiled up at her, and Petunia felt tears beginning to form behind her eyes. She couldn't believe this was happening.
"Petunia Jane Evans, will you marry me?"
The tears were really threatening now. She thought of Lily, and her knowing smile as she had said 'Pet, I want you to meet Remus'. She thought of his smiles, his laughter, and his kindness. Once more, she heard Molly's gentle words: 'Vernon would have wanted you to be happy'. And Harry ... Harry had told Remus to get on with it...
"Yes. Oh, yes!" was all she managed to choke out.
And the ring was on her finger, and his lips were on hers. Her Remus.
Later, as she lay with his arms around her, his nose nestled in her hair, their fingers laced together, Petunia thought once more of that summer afternoon, long ago, at her parents house, when Lily had introduced Petunia to her friends. The day Petunia had fallen in love with Remus. The house, her parents, Lily, James, Sirius, all was gone. That Petunia, that Remus, were gone. But from the ashes of her grief and desperation, hope, like a phoenix, had risen once again.
Wow...I finally finished it!!!
Don't worry though, the story will continue in Part Two of the Phoenix Quartet: The Redemption of the Phoenix, coming soon!
A big thanks to all my reviewers: TammySlark, Sailor J-chan/Luna Weasley, Cherie, Athenakitty, Piccologirl1234, Bob, Mystical Witch, mctrozzo, Kellalor, Lia, skierguy, albus' bitch, Captain Oblivious, Vickie211, DianaBananna, Too Removed am I, Meghan, Eowyn Faith, Launigsiae, Emily M. Hanson, Ellsie, bastet-the-cat-goddess, Sassie, Starlizard, Huskerinexile, James Jago, Briana Rose, Ebelitha,
And of course, my Beta Tsuchi!
Thank you all for your support, and keep an eye out for part two!