So, for the actual final time…hey folks! Long time no see…

Those who made the speration sweeter with their thoughts and opinions, and so earn eternal gratitude, were Mei1105, Miriel's Heart, 2smrt4u, Broken Fire Hydrant, elphaba731, PSTurner, Viridian, saturndragon, NamelessHeretic, ballerinadoll9, Isis the Sphinx, steelkat, GinnyP0tter, kitcatofthenight, Cattatra, TxA-GunFighter, disneydork, armygundamgirl, nikkila, lemonwedges4, dingohart, Lily'sTwin, Nukenin, P.E.E.V.S.Y, tickledorange, LostHeart4, YuriyTalaIvanov, choirsinger, Nessa19 and NinjAlt.

This has been an…interesting…chapter write – while I've known its contents since the beginning, the best way of setting it out was hard to decide upon. So the style is different to the rest of the story – hopefully, it won't put too many of you off!

Thanks to you all for sticking with me through this fairly epic tale – if nothing else, I can be fairly hopeful that my wirtting skills have improved due to it! I hope you've enjoyed reading it as much as I've (occasionally!) enjoyed writing it.

So…here we go…last time round…

And so, my faithful reader, you may ask…what happened next? We last saw our friends, afterall, sleeping, as safe and happy as one can hope them to be.

Yet…we, who watched them over such crucial years of their lives, who saw how they started, how they grew and how they became…for us, the end is never enough.

A man once wrote a book called "The Never Ending Story". Perhaps it is wrong that a book should be titled so…because, really, every tale should be. And lo, I give you…not the end, not the epilogue, not the way it all finishes. More…a look at how things begin to turn out.

Boxing Day, 2019. All across Britain, Muggles and Magic folk alike are celebrating, with family, friends, life-partners and TV specials. Ignore most of them, for now, and come with me…over city and town and fields of cows…to a house, on the outskirts of a smallish village, with three chimneys and a tree house in one of the trees in the garden. And inside, chaos.

Through the walls - keep hold of my hand and we can pass with ease – and there we go. A sight for sore eyes.

Harry Potter, over thirty now, fully grown with none of the lanky awkwardness of his teens. But still so much the same – messy black hair, no grey yet, green eyes behind what look like the same glasses. He is standing at the foot of a flight of stairs, looking upwards and listening to the noise from above with a smile on his face.

He is alone, for the moment, so perhaps we may take a minute to look around? He will not mind, I assure you. We are in the hallway, front door to our left, kitchen behind us. Boots and shoes littered across the floor, and photos on ever surface. Hordes of red hair, intermingling with silver and black and brown, and (nearly) all of them smiling. Tinsel trails from every surface, and mistletoe is tied to the overhead light. Here, don't you agree, is a good place.

"Sirius Potter, put that down!"

Our friend winces as his wife's voice echoes down from above – not a true, tired wince, but more a wince of sympathy towards the object of her wrath.

Footsteps now, getting louder, and – look! A child on the landing above us. A boy, about twelve or thirteen, distinctly unruffled, cool as they come.

Harry raises an eyebrow. The boy raises one right back.

"What? I'm ready. Girls…they need to chill."

This statement is accompanied by a roll of the eyes, making his father smile. Friends, may I introduce you to Sirius Potter, second child and only son of Harry. With his fathers hair, his mother's eyes and his grandfather's smile, he is, according to Remus and James, his namesake's double.

"Well come down here and stay out the way then, at least." the boys father admonishes. "What are they doing up there, anyway? We're meant to be there."

Sirius shrugs. "Katherine's lost something. Lizzy spilt stuff on her robes. Jo's whining. Y'know. Girl stuff."

And the boy moves down the stairs, assurance and smoothness in every move. Not for him the awkward few years where arms and legs do not quite work together. Give him another year, and every girl in Hogwarts will be swooning over him.

Well, nearly every girl, that is.


A girls voice – top of the stairs again, just over your shoulder. Here is Jo, youngest of the four Potter children, so called because her mother had been convinced she was a boy. Red hair, dark eyes, her uncle Jack's snubbed nose, with her entire family wrapped around her little finger. Wearing blue today, she launches herself into her fathers arms, talking without taking a breath. Breathing, after all, is not really necessary when you are eight years old.

And here come the final three, two more girls being shepherded down the stairs by their mother. They shan't see us, don't worry, and there is no need to move out of the way, my dear – we are merely observers. Our presence cannot be felt.

Lizzy and Kathy Potter, just-fourteen and fifteen-nearly-sixteen respectively. Lizzy already possessing the calm and grace of one twice her age, none of the fire found in most of the family. This child, with light hair and clear eyes, a peacekeeper and dancer. And Kathy, the polar opposite – the true result of a Potter procreating with a Weasley. A mane of copper hair and eyes as green as her fathers, fire in her soul, among the eldest of the new generation of Weasleys, Potters, Lupins and all their extended acquaintances. Player of pranks, leader of her siblings and cousins, a joker and a laugher.

And now they are being ushered to the fireplace, disappearing one by one into green flames. Follow them, quickly, quickly, for we cannot travel that way without their help, and it is a long walk for anyone left behind…

Emerge into a room that should be very familiar, despite the changes it has undergone over the years. Tumble out of the same fireplace from which a distraught Hermione once stepped, into a mêlée of people. Spread out now, see who you can see – see who you can recognise. That man, with the grey hair and glasses, hugging Jo as she barrages him with yet more talk - James Potter, older, never wiser – and next to him his wife, greeting her daughter-in-law with equal affection. And there, on the sofa, two women deep in conversation. Such bushy hair can only belong to Hermione, of course, and next to her…perhaps it is right that Jane Bassey's hair has not greyed, for the crown of silver that still tumbles down her back is as shiny as her eyes.

Ron, of course, still lanky as ever, now with a brown-haired toddler in his arms, talking to Harry as though they have been separated for a year, and did not in fact spend the previous day together as well. Hermione will join them soon, and the three, that never really fell apart, will be as they should be.

Come away from familiar faces, now – come see who there is to be seen. See Jack, still with his snubbed nose, hair dark brown now, in close curls on his head. A blonde girl on his arm, looking slightly over whelmed by the mass of people around her – this is only Milly's second attendance to a full family/friend gathering. She is the first girl Jack has ever trusted his family with, and Lily is trying her very hardest to behave.

Sirius has retreated to a corner – there, see, behind the tree? Four young teens, black hair, blonde hair, and, slightly more unusually, blue hair and purple hair…no prizes for guessing the parentage of the boy and the girl with that particular topping. Teddy and Georgie Lupin, two of five, the only ones to inherit their mothers ability. And the fourth, another girl, Victorie Weasley, second child of Bill and Fleur. All four are in second year of Hogwarts, thick as thieves, as close as they come. Well, when the closeness isn't sealed by battling the forces of darkness, that is.

Leave them to their plotting, travel the room with me, and I shall tell you tales of those we see.

That is Jane, over there, stomach slightly rounded by her second child, Charlie on her arm. The pair have never married, having never really felt the need to – Izzy, determined to make up for it, put on the full works when she married Dennis Creevy a year after Charlie and Jane moved in together. Harry and her cousin may have made an uneasy truce all those years ago, but Izzy had never truly returned to her family, and it was the Stables she called home, and Charlie who gave her away at her wedding.

As for the final Potter child, nine years old when we last saw her…Gemma first started shocking her parents at the age of thirteen, when she announced she was going to be an animagus, and has not yet stopped. She first turned into a hare three days after her sixteenth birthday – exactly two months younger than her father had been when he managed it, much to his chagrin. Not for Gemma was a job in the Ministry, either, despite her brothers attempts to pull her into the aurors – too many holidays spent in the proximity of Charlie Weasley meant Gem Potter dreamt of nothing less than dragons. So perhaps no one should have been surprised when the pair returned home form Romania for a visit, and announced their engagement in the middle of Gem's nineteenth birthday party.

It would go down as one of the best moments in the extended group of family and friends memories – both Molly and Lily instantly burst into tears, while Fred a George, quickly overcoming any surprise they might have felt, turned to Jack and Jane respectively, and as one bent down on one knee and proclaimed undying love and wishes of marriage.

Might as well make a full set of it, after all, as Fred had pointed out later. Ginny had married Harry, and now Gemma and Charlie…why, Jane and Jack must be feeling quite left out.

Laughter coming from the middle of the room, just over your shoulder…see, identical red-haired men and a pink haired woman, being watched with a small amount of worry by an older, grey haired man with a smile on his face. Tonks has never changed the name she answers to, despite now being legally a Lupin. And neither has she changed her hair, which remains as pink as it ever was – perhaps slightly less bright, in recognition of her "maturer" years. With five children – two girls, three boys – she and Remus enjoy what James calls a fruitful, healthy marriage, and, on the whole, they manage to persuade the werewolf to overlook the fact that his children are younger than his best friend's eldest grandchild.

Angelina, who married Fred six months after the final battle, is talking to Molly. She no longer stands with the slightly lopsided stance bought about by the loss of her left arm, although it is still very much absent, and the two women talk of troublesome husbands and sons, of Christmas and of family. George remains unmarried, still living above the original shop in Diagon Alley, godfather to his twin's children, polluting their minds and leaving when they start crying, as his sister-in-law accuses him of doing.

As for the other founder of the Weasley dynasty? Arthur is still very much alive, currently deep in conversation with Mark, there, beside the fireplace. The two have formed a firm friendship over the years, sharing a love for meddling with anything and everything; today they are discussing Arthur's latest acquisition – an automatic drill.

And the woman who first saw the Potters, beaten, concussed, bruised but never quite broken? Cam is sitting in the same arm chair she has sat in on almost every visit she has made to the house in the past forty odd years, Izzy's one year old on her lap and Jane's three year old curled up beside her, watching the world around him with wide eyes. The room is full of children – don't worry about knocking one, they cannot feel our presence in a physical sense – for between them, the Weasleys, Potters and Lupins have produced over twenty-five, and they are far from finished. The younger ones run about, covered in sticky tape and mince pie and glitter, and the older ones "chat", and play games of their own, and tell tales of Hogwarts to their younger cousins.

It is noisy, it is chaos, it is messy…but, for these people, it is home, in it's own comfortable, familiar way. Though the families have spread far and wide, now, laying their own foundations, rooting themselves in other communities and countries, for Christmas, at the Burrow, and Boxing Day, at the Stables, and birthdays and every first of September, they gather together once more.

We must leave now – look, your fingers are beginning to fade. Ours is not to linger here, out of our time and place of belonging. There a people looking for you, wondering where you have wandered too, and we are no longer needed here. The tale has not been told – it is nowhere near its finish – but to do so would take far longer than my lifetime will allow.

Come now, away from the warmth and the laughter. Let us leave them to it, husband and mother and daughter and cousin…the world, for them, is a good place, for right now, the world is all inside that one room.

There go your feet, and your knees…you, my good lady, have already lost your arms. Home is calling, and home is where we should be.

Out the window, through the wall – they are no obstacle to us – into frosty air. Quickly, now – you must want to leave, or it will not work properly. Bid farewell to those whose lives you followed, if only for a few short months…you shall not meet again like this.

But…they are happy. They are safe and well and as whole as can be expected. Isn't that enough, really?

Up, into the night, towards the stars once more, and turn back for one last glimpse of the lighted house. It is a scene that could have been, and will be, and can never happen, all at once, because while we remember to dream anything is possible. Wave at the Dog Star as you pass, and know it winks in return…

And remember. Never mourn the ending, for, really…it is only the beginning of what is to be.

No doubt some of you will see them again. Their stories are in your hands from now on, after all.

And so, my friends, that is it. One take on many ways things could have been…farfetched, unlikely, but is that not what dreams are for?

The rest of the story is in editing – and one day, I will repost it all in finished (edited, spell-checked) format. Once exams are over, and I have time, perhaps…

It's been a great eighteen months – it's weird to think how much has changed since I first started this – and I sometimes can't believe how far this tale has come. To think, it once started with Harry rescuing Jane from being beaten up by Dudley in the park…

And now I'm going to walk to dog, down the same path I was travelling along when the first snippets of the idea fell into my head.

Merry Christmas, Hanukah, Pasta-Day, whatever you celebrate, whatever you don't…

Thanks, folk.

I'll see you around.

Emma Nelder
25th December 2007