Disclaimer: I do not own any part of Harry Potter.
A/N: Well, it's the end of the line (sob). I'm sorry I made everyone wait so long and I'm also sorry that this is so short. But here it is. Thanks so much to everyone for being so supportive and constructive. You've helped me grow as a writer in such ways that I wouldn't have been able to on my own. You really are all the best, and although it's sappy, it sort of helps to restore my faith in humanity.
Special special thanks to DCoD for always being there.
Chapter Thirty Three - Where We Have an Epilogue
"Don't walk in front of me, I may not follow.
Don't walk behind me, I may not lead.
Just walk beside me and be my friend."
Albert Camus (1913 – 1960)
Harry awoke to the low murmur of voices, and opened his bleary eyes.
He was surrounded by white. He didn't think he was dead, so he assumed he must be in the Hospital Wing, again! Or perhaps it was St. Mungo's? He really wasn't sure. The last thing he could remember was passing out at the Ministry.
Oh Merlin! He had to just go and faint like a bloody girl. Stupid trial. Stupid Minister. Stupid everything!
"Awake are we? Well! We'll just see about that young man! I don't know what makes you think you can keep gallivanting off round the world with no concern for your health! Why I…" And at this point, Harry tuned out the rest of Madame Pomfrey's tirade.
He could read between the lines quite well. She had been worried, and she didn't really know how to express it. Her nerves had been frayed of late, and she needed to offload. Harry really didn't mind being the receptacle of this emotional catharsis, since she'd done it so often for him.
He waited until she had finished, and then offered up what he hoped was a suitably chastened and repentant smile. She smiled back, and he knew he was forgiven.
"Thanks for your help Madame Pomfrey. Do we know what caused me to blackout?" He asked, and she frowned.
"There were no toxins in your bloods stream, and no stray curses had affected you. Honestly? I think it might just have been stress. It's been known to happen." She explained, and he nodded.
"That is highly probable. Is Hermione here? What about my Fathers?" He asked and she rolled her eyes.
"Yes, they're waiting just outside. I suppose you want to me to let them in?" Harry gave her his best puppy-dog eyes and she caved, just like he knew she would. "Very well, but ten minutes only! And no getting up!" She ordered and then disappeared out of the double doors. There was a rumble of chaos, and then Harry was assaulted by a whirlwind of concerned girlfriend, which answered to the name of 'Hermione'.
"Oh, I was so worried! Are you OK now? Do you feel dizzy? Any headaches? Nausea? Do you see spots in front of your eyes?" She kissed him soundly before running her hands all over him to reassure herself that he was OK. He protested weakly, but she just flung herself at him and sobbed into his chest. He looked up from her and saw his family looking on with indulgent smiles on their faces, happy to see that he was awake and alright.
"So, what happened since I passed out? Have they got round to sentencing?" He asked, looking over Hermione's shoulder as she snuggled into his chest, clearly not intending to move for quite some time.
"Yes, after you conked out, they seemed to get their skates on, so to speak." Said Theo and Harry smiled eagerly.
"And…" He said, waving his hand in a demanding gesture.
"They both got life in Azkaban, and their powers bound. Not the Kiss, as apparently someone told the Wizengamot that he did not believe in the death penalty, which is what essentially the Dementor's Kiss amounts to." Said Sirius, his expression a mixture of pride and exasperation. Harry smiled ruefully.
"Well…I might have had a word in an ear or two…but I think they have got what they deserve. Life imprisonment and the inability to use their magic. That sends a clear enough message I think. Merlin knows we do not need any more deaths." He had the good grace to look a little sheepish. Truly, sometimes it scared Harry how much he was able to influence people in the Wizarding World. But that was just the way of it sometimes. Spying the nurse, Harry peered around his assorted friends and relatives, and deployed his most charming smile.
"Ah, Madame Pomfrey, when may I leave the Wing?" He asked, as politely as he could. Neither of them were under any illusions that he enjoyed being there, but he realised he didn't have to act as though she was his captor.
"Well, there's no lasting damage I suppose. But really! If I allow you to leave now, you must promise to take things easy!" She looked then at Hermione. "Miss Granger, surely you are sensible enough to ensure this young man rests properly?" She demanded, and Hermione did her level best to reassure the formidable MediWitch that she would see to it that Harry took his health seriously from now on.
"After all, aren't any more baddies for Harry to fight!" She declared with a triumphant grin. Poppy just scowled and disappeared back into her office, muttering to herself all the while.
Harry was glad to be able to get out of the infirmary and settle back into his normal routine, well as normal as it got for him. He had not expected the standing ovation in the Great Hall however, and was really quite embarrassed by the whole thing. Especially when he noticed some non-students in the crowd. Even the Weasleys were there and seemed rather hopeful looking. He filed that thought away for consideration later.
But Hermione had explained that this was more for everyone else's - the student's and so on - benefit, than for his. He was their hero. Despite there having been a whole group of them that actually pulled off the mission which ended Voldemort's reign of terror, he was the figurehead. He was the one who drove the sword though the snake-faced bastard's chest. Seeing him made them happy, and they wanted to throw all the celebration parties all over again.
However, it was nearing the end of term, and NEWTS were fast approaching. The students who had been involved in the take down had a lot of catching up to do, and for once, did not groan or whinge when Hermione produced colour-coded revision schedules for them. In fact, they came in quite handy, and helped most of them do their homework and get caught up in a fairly short space of time.
Exams came and went, and were met with the usual combination of frustration and jubilation once they were finally over.
Harry, Hermione, Pansy, Draco, Blaise, Theo and Neville met up in one of the courtyards when they all finished their last examination. There was an almost subdued air to the group as they sat haphazardly on the ground, idly enjoying the warm sunshine. They sat in silence for a while before anyone spoke.
"It's going to be strange, leaving here." Said Neville quietly, saying out loud, what they were all thinking.
"I know what you mean. Here, we're sheltered from everything. Oh, not from Voldemort of course, but the rest of the world." Hermione said, and the others nodded.
"We have to get jobs and things." Put in Theo.
"And we won't see each other all the time. Well, not necessarily. We'll have to be all grown up and pay bills." Pansy added.
"Hey! We'll see each other. Most of us even bloody live together! And those that don't are welcome any time. My house will be home to anyone who wants it." Harry insisted, and his friends smiled in thanks.
"I know! Why don't we all have a big blow out! Like, go on holiday or something, for like, the summer?" Suggested Blaise, and the rest looked thoughtful.
"We'll need to be here when the babies are born…" Harry reminded them.
"But Mother isn't due until the end of August. And Remus is due after her. So we've plenty of time." Pansy looked hopefully at the others.
"Sounds quite do-able actually. I've always wanted to go to Las Vegas…" Ventured Draco and Blaise grinned.
" Australia sounds promising to me. And what about New Zealand?" Suggested Theo.
"Ooh, I'm excited already! How about we make a round trip? Australia, then New Zealand, and then back round to Vegas? We could do the lot in six weeks!" Hermione was practically bouncing in her seat at the thought of being able to visit such great places. Harry threw an affectionate arm around her, and pulled her in for a scorching kiss. She was rather dazed by the end of it, and their friends were chuckling.
"You know what guys? I reckon that sounds like a plan." Harry said holding his hand out, palm facing down. The purebloods who had stayed with the Blacks over last summer knew what this was about and the rest soon cottoned on. They all placed their hands over Harry's and then laughed as he threw them all into the air.
This was going to be so much fun!
Somewhere in a corridor near the Hospital Wing at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry…
"Severus you bastard! If you ever come near me again I swear…"
"Now darling –"
"– don't you 'darling' me! I should have got you neutered when I had the chance…Ow…"
"Well? Aren't you going to say something? Hmm? Nothing to say is there, you know why? Eh? You know why? Because this is ALL YOUR BLOODY FAULT!"
"Belle, I wish I could take this pain away, but I can't. Remember why we're doing this love, hmm? We're almost there now, and Poppy will be able to help, just a little further. I love you."
"Ooh you bastard! Don't give me all that fancy talk now! That's what got us into this mess in the first place. I know! Where's my wand? You've hidden my wand again haven't you?! Just you wait you, you…GIT!"
"B-Belle, you remember Poppy said you weren't to use any magic until after the baby is born, it could be dangerous, and –"
"I don't care! Give me my wand! I want to give you a vasectomy, right now!"
"Dearest, I don't think you're in your right mind, just now, and – look! There's the Hospital Wing, and ah – there's Poppy. Come on now…
Somewhere a bit further away from the Hospital Wing, but no less urgent…
"Sirius! Will you stop fussing like a bloody woman, and help me down this corridor. As you can see, I'm a bit encumbered right now!"
"But Remy, it's too early, the baby shouldn't be coming yet…"
"Oh for pity's sake! You would know that premature births are common in male pregnancies, particularly with werewolves, if you had been paying attention to Madame Pomfrey, but nooo…you don't do you, because you NEVER BLOODY LISTEN AND AAAAHHH!!!"
"That's it honey, breathe, like they showed you remember, hee hee hee, haa haa haa…"
"You sound like a bloody donkey, stop hawing at me and help me down this bloody corridor!"
"Merlin! Is this the longest fucking corridor in existence or what, I, AAAGHHH! URGH! PADFOOT, GET YOUR HANDS OFF ME!"
"Remy, I was just trying to help…Ah! Madame Pomfrey! Help me! Uh, I mean, help Remus…"
"…Now darling, don't be hasty, just lower the scalpel and we can talk about this rationally...AAAAAH! HELP! She's got a knife!"
The doors of the Hospital Wing banged open as Severus slammed through them, ducking and dashing away like the Hounds of Hell were on his heels. Hiding in a nearby alcove, he failed to notice the group gathered outside until they started laughing at him.
"Oh, laugh now, while you can. Just you wait until it's your turn. You won't find it so funny then…" He muttered, a glint of crazed promise in his eyes. A few of the men gulped, but before they could comment, Belle's screech came through the doors that Snape had just fled through.
"I think that's your cue old man." Harry said urbanely, and earned himself a snort in response.
Rolling his shoulders, and adopting a stance like a man about to be led to the gallows, Snape took a deep breath, and then walked back into the Ward. The boys tipped imaginary hats in recognition of his bravery, and then settled back in to wait.
They didn't have to wait long before a wailing cry broke the silence of the corridor, which was shortly followed by another shrill cry as two people entered the world for the first time, and made damn sure that everyone knew they were there.
The teenagers and adults in the hallway glanced at each other excitedly and tried peaking through the windows to see what was happening inside. Blaise and Theo got boffed in the nose when Madame Pomfrey pushed the doors open and stepped away rubbing their noses and shooting the matron offended looks. She merely shrugged it off and addressed the group as a whole.
"Professors Snape have a healthy baby girl, seven pounds and one ounce, and Professors Black have a healthy baby boy, 7 pounds and nine ounces. They've asked me to tell you for the sake of the betting pool which was so inappropriately set up that their names are: Ruby Lily Snape and Rocco James Black. Now, the 'mothers' are both very tired, as are the infants, so you may only enter two at a time. Who will be first?" She said and waited while everyone clamoured forwards to be the first ones to see the new babies.
It was agreed rather quickly that Albus and Harry would go in first, and the others were sorted into pairs after that. Entering the Hospital Wing and setting eyes on the two families and their little ones for the first time was a very humbling experience for both men.
Albus had seen countless births of children, since many of his past pupils invited him as a witness, but none affected him as much as the child of his Potions Master. The man truly deserved this, and he and his wife looked so happy, that it brought a tear to this old man's eyes.
The new parents looked up to see their visitors, and smiled, their eyes full of warm welcome and absolute joy.
"Albus, Harry. Come, there are some people we would like you to meet."