Epilogue: Futures Unbroken
There were loose ends to tie up, of course. Hundreds of them.
Remus gave Hermione back the Time Turner at the same celebration, watching her turn red when she explained to her friends what she had helped him do. She was mobbed within seconds, Hogwarts' own little heroine, the only student who'd managed to take any part in the final battle.
He was glad for that. Once or twice, he'd seen the vision of a future that might have been, where children were forced to grow up faster and faster, forced to fight battles his generation had given up for lost. But that future— those visions—were no more. The Marauders had made sure of that, and though Remus would never know what the breaking point might have been, he would always be glad to look at Harry and never see a lightning-bolt shaped scar on his forehead.
Yet the visions had shown Remus other glimpses, too, and he made a mental note to ask Ted to re-introduce him to his clumsy daughter. It was time to look to the future.
Bellatrix Lestrange did indeed embark on the string of murders Bill and Hestia had feared she would, staying one step ahead of the Aurors for months until she made one tiny mistake.
Still obsessed with the purity of blood and clinging to old betrayals, Bellatrix finally Apparated into the modest home her disinherited sister shared with the Muggleborn Ted Tonks. She found Andromeda in the kitchen, alone, and proceeded to lecture her on all the things Andromeda had done wrong over the years, on all the "bad" choices she'd made. Andromeda listened patiently to the half-sane rant, never once moving for her wand—
And Bellatrix never noticed the curse that felled her from behind.
"I'm not sorry this time, Bella," Narcissa Black Malfoy said quietly, moving to their sister's side and taking the wand out of her slack hand.
She'd send Draco back to Hogwarts when the term began, where he'd spend the first few weeks making up for the time he'd missed while the Malfoys sheltered in Canada. But that day, the Black sisters would sit quietly over tea and try to heal the rift between them for the first time in many years.
They'd have plenty of time to talk, even after the Aurors arrived to take Bellatrix away. Narcissa figured that stopping her murdering sister was well worth a pardon for herself and her son, not to mention something well worth doing for its own sake.
She was tired of fighting; she just wanted to live again.
Bellatrix went to join the other Death Eaters in Nurmengard Prison, one of the few to receive a life sentence with no chance of parole. Many of the others who had deserted Voldemort in the final days of the war were also there, most having turned themselves in for reduced sentences.
The prison was dreary and boring, but guarded by a multi-national force of Aurors instead of Dementors. Even if they could have figured out how to breed or create them (which by now everyone knew Voldemort had never really managed), no one was interested. Better to bore prisoners to death than drive them insane.
Bellatrix was in the place of honor, a cell once occupied by Grindelwald and later by Voldemort's corpse as nations fought over what to do with his remains. They wound up burning the body and keeping the ashes under lock and key on Avalon—hardly Wizarding custom, but deemed the safest route by all concerned.
Every few years, someone would claim to be Voldemort, or possessed by his ghost, or even to have his ashes and consequently the ability to wreak havoc on the Wizarding World. The claims grew more ridiculous as time passed, and the Aurors dealt with them as they came. They had a pool going by the fifth anniversary of his death, and somehow Nymphadora Tonks-Lupin always won when it came to predicting what the next crazy claim would be.
As Harry's third year at Hogwarts began, many obvious changes had taken place. The most controversial one was the reinstatement of Severus Snape as Deputy Headmaster; even though he'd been fully pardoned by the Minister of Magic himself, people were slow to trust. However, as the details of Snape's long years as a spy came out, most of his detractors fell silent—it was hard to argue with so much sacrifice.
Ted Tonks gleefully stepped down from Snape's old post and remained the head of Gryffindor House, seemingly unoffended by working under the most famous Death Eater to receive a pardon. Professors Plumpton and Borage both left the school in protest, but the headmaster simply received their resignations with "much regret" and proceeded to hire replacements. Now that the war was over, there was no shortage of applicants.
Harry, however, was more than a bit confused over Remus' choice for a new Defense Against the Dark Arts professor, and spent more than a few minutes puzzling over it with Ron and Hermione. A former games shop owner? What did a shop owner know about Defense Against the Dark Arts?
The three of them were still whispering about it when their first class began with Professor Bishop clearing his throat, an impish twinkle in his eyes.
"I think we'll begin this term with a little review of the history of the Dark Arts," Bishop began. "But instead of studying Tom Marvolo Riddle's rise to power—because I'm sure you've all learned plenty about that already—let's begin with Gellert Grindelwald..."
That year was indeed one full of surprises for Harry, not the least of which came with an owl from his parents informing Harry that he'd be an older brother before too long. Albus Potter was born a few weeks after Harry returned home for the summer holidays, a red and squirming bundle of laughter.
Albus took some getting used to; Harry was torn between embarrassment (he didn't want to think of his parents as that young!) and glee. In the end, he settled for knowing that having younger siblings obviously hadn't harmed any of the (many) Weasleys, and that Albus might turn out to be rather fun once he stopped drooling on everything in sight.
He had a rather eclectic collection of godparents, Albus did, between the other three Marauders, Molly Weasley, Severus Snape, and the strangely pleased Professor Bishop, who'd accepted with a sad look in his eye. Lily had never bothered to explain that choice to anyone, even Bishop, but everyone involved felt that his presence brought a weird amount of closure to matters left undone.
Some reporter (rather dramatically) called that season the Summer of Hope as the Wizarding World finally moved into the future, taking a breath of fresh air for the first time in twenty-four years. Life went on, finally, and the world slowly returned to the lazy normality it had known before the outbreak of war.
Frank Longbottom returned to the Aurors after a lengthy stint commanding Nurmengard Prison. It took several years for Alice to follow him; bedridden for years even after waking from her coma, she was never quite the same again. Still, she managed the administrative side at Auror headquarters expertly, though she would never go on another field mission. She'd survived, which St. Mungo's still viewed as nothing short of a miracle.
Perhaps it was her lasting disabilities that made up Neville's mind; when the Aurors tried to recruit him following his O.W.L.s, he sent them packing. Neither of his parents pushed; they were just glad to see him find his own way.
Sirius and Julia waited three long years before tying the knot; rumors that they'd married in secret (or each married someone else!) abounded until they finally gave in, letting Lily Potter and Molly Weasley plan what was widely held to be the largest and most luxurious wedding in Wizarding history. Of course, Hermione Granger told anyone who would listen that Morgana Malfoy's wedding in 1819 had actually been far larger, but Sirius and Julia weren't exactly concerned.
He stayed on with the Aurors, officially heading the Department of Magical Law Enforcement while leaving much of the day-to-day running of things with the Longbottoms. Julia resumed her travels and discoveries, and Sirius went with her most of the time, reveling in the freedom of anonymity when the day finally came that the entire Wizarding World did not recognize his face.
Neither found quite as much trouble as they would have liked, of course—the mere name of Sirius Black was enough to send most rabble-rousers running for the hills—but they managed to stay occupied.
They never did have kids. Sirius once joked that the Auror Candidates were all the children he'd ever need, and besides, they babysat Albus often enough (and Arabella Potter when she followed just nineteen months later) that they hardly needed children of their own. When Remus finally married two years after Sirius and Julia (into the Black family, no less), Sirius found himself an uncle yet again, twice over. No, they weren't worried. There'd be plenty of little Tonks-Lupin Blacks to carry on the family line.
Peter did marry (twice) before realizing that the life of a bachelor really did suit him better. He, too, drew plenty of babysitting duties, though he somehow always managed to be on a critical diplomatic mission during the teething phase.
But James enacted his revenge when he and Arthur both retired from the Ministry, James having reached the ripe old age of fifty. Peter wound up being elected as Minister of Magic, a job he stayed with for almost fifteen years (each and every one of them begging Arthur to please stop with this inventing gadgets business and run against him in an election) before turning the job over to a very bored Lily Potter.
But no matter where they went, and no matter how far apart life could pull them, the Marauders stayed together. Once a year, beginning in 1993 with the anniversary of their very first meeting on the Hogwarts Express, they went down to the same secret passageway and read the words off the wall:
True friendships never really die
And family isn't defined by blood
It's made strong by bonds that won't break
Tempered and tested by trials and pain
What we are is brothers, and as such we remain
Loyal to one another until the end
And no matter what happens between this moment and then
I shall be always thankful to have had such friends.
The (Final) Other Author's Note: So, it's been a long time coming, this. And it's crazy enough that I've actually managed to finish this baby on the sixth anniversary of the first chapter of Promises Unbroken being posted—imagine that! But…the story isn't over, believe it or not. I've long promised Promises Honored, the 'prologue' of sorts to the entire Unbroken Universe…and it's up. So, please do check out the story of Sirius' capture and his time in Azkaban, the prelude to promises, so to speak, here on FFN.