This is the final chapter of The Quidditch Chronicles and I would just like to say thank you to absolutely every reader, reviewer and supporter of this story. I hope you have enjoyed reading half as much as I have enjoyed writing because this has been so incredible. My appreciation for you has no bounds and I hope this ending satisfies as it is always difficult to end my writing on a truly proper note.
Everything in italics is a flashback while the standard text is present time. I wrote this a little differently, but I hope you enjoy.
Again, a huge, boundless thank you to each and every one of you.
The Quidditch Chronicles XXVII
"So who is she?" asked Luella, taking a sip of pinot grigio. She and Caliber had gone out for lunch like they usually did at least once or twice a week.
Cal knew it was ridiculous to try and play and dumb with Luella, "Bethina St. Jordaine-Dupont"
"Will Dupont's widow? I hadn't heard she was back in London"
"Yeah, she just moved back a few months ago"
"And you're showing her around town?" asked Luella in a tone that insinuated much more.
"Not exactly", said Caliber wryly, "I mean I wouldn't say no, but one: she'd never go for it and two: she's different than the other women I've met since Sophie".
Luella noticed the ease Cal now felt at using Sophie's name again. Something had shifted in Cal's life in the past six months that made him seem healthier somehow. He hadn't spent the last six months with a different girl in his bed every other night. He was living with a purpose these days that extended beyond that week's quidditch match.
And Cal did feel refreshed these days. He had made peace with Sophie's death after visiting her grave nine months previous. He was tired of being lonely and he saw the opportunity now with Bethina to change for the better, to change for her. When the time was right, and he knew it would be eventually, Cal would introduce Bethina to Sophie.
"Are you sure you're ready for this? Not just for Bethina, but for children as well?"
Cal paused thoughtfully before speaking, "I wouldn't be mentioning her, if I felt it wasn't right"
"And you're confident she feels the same way?"
"Not at all, actually. But, I'm not just doing this for her. I mean Bethina is a beautiful, wonderful woman and I'd like nothing more than for her and me to be together. Her kids, Calgary and Darwin, they're terrific kids. I want to be there for them too; it's not fair that they lost their father so young. A part of me just really wants to be their friend and help them out."
Luella nodded understanding, "You really care about them. I'm happy for you, Cal. Sophie would want this, to know you're there for Bethina and that you're giving love a chance again."
If any other person had said this to Cal, he would have been angry for anyone presuming they knew what Sophie wanted. Luella, however, was his best friend and had always had this bond with Sophie that his other friends didn't. They were the two people Cal was closest to in the world.
Cal looked out over the grounds of Potter Manor from the loggia. Inside in the large dining room his extensive family was hosting a Sunday evening dinner. Actually, it was just Cal's immediate family though as time had passed significant others became a part of the equation.
There was Maxim and his wife of five years Delilah with their two young children. There was Charlotte and her husband Colton Lupin who had been married for four years now and we're trying very hard to have children. Then, there was Jude who was still a bachelor and because he was 29 was getting a lot of grief from his mum at the moment. Still, Cal knew he had been in a quiet relationship for some time now, though it was complicated and Jude never talked much about his love life even with his family.
He leaned against the stone balustrade watching his youngest brother Dane, now 17, running around on the lawn below the terraced gardens with Darwin and Calgary. They were sloshing through the remains of that morning's snow, their boots muddy and wet. He smiled at the three boys and was grateful that his family had so easily come to accept Bethina and her sons into their family. In fact, Dane was becoming a sort of older brother figure for Darwin and Calgary.
Cal felt a familiar hand on his back and he straightened up to slip an arm around Bethina's waist. It felt good to be with someone so easily and comfortably after years of jumping around from one girl to the next, lost and alone.
It had been five months since he and Bethina began their romance and ten months since he and Bethina had met that fateful day at McCain & Marlboroughs. Now it was Christmas season, which for many years after Sophie's death had always been the absolute hardest time of the year for Cal. In fact, now just a week prior to the eleventh anniversary of Sophie's death, Cal was missing her again. It didn't pain him anymore to think of Sophie.
He remembered the day he introduced Bethina to Sophie for the first time.
It was a brisk fall day. The October sun was shining brightly. How ironic that on a day that was filled with a fond sadness, the weather should be so beautiful. In fact, it was the only day that week that it hadn't rained. Cal felt like maybe the sunshine was an omen, a good sign that Sophie was smiling just as brightly down on them; telling him this was the right thing to do. He and Bethina walked hand-in-hand silently to the headstone of Sophie Harlow Potter Beloved Wife and Daughter. When they stopped in front of the headstone, Bethina began rubbing comforting circles into the back of Cal's hand with her thumb. She wasn't sure if she was comforting him or herself, however. She had her own past to reconcile with. If she and Cal we're going to make this work, then they must carry their pasts with them.
Cal did feel comforted by Bethina's touch. It felt right, easy, natural. He squeezed Bethina's hand lightly and then began, "Sophie, I'd like you to meet Bethina. She's the first person I've fallen in love with since you and she's remarkable, really. Bethina has two sons Darwin and Calgary, and I guess you could say that it's because of little Cal that we met. Though, I have a feeling you might have brought Bethina to me, to make me see what love was like again"
Bethina knelt down, and sat on her knees before Sophie's grave, "I think maybe Cal has it wrong. I think you gave him to me. Cal has given me so much and I could never, ever thank you enough for letting me love him and letting me know a love I didn't believe could ever exist again"
Bethina began to cry silently, softly for many reasons. For Cal and Sophie, and her and Will. She cried that two good people could be taken from this world so young; Sophie at 18 and Will at 29. Mostly though she cried out of gratefulness and happiness for what Sophie had given her in Cal.
Cal had knelt down next to Bethina and placed an arm around her shoulders, holding her tightly as a couple of silent tears rolled down his own cheeks.
A couple of weeks after he and Bethina met, she had told him the story of Will's death. It had been a terrible accident. He was an adventurous sort, and he had been sailing in rare hurricane-type winds on the rockiest cliffs in San Francisco. Will's boat had overturned so suddenly against the rocks thrashing his body about, that he had no time to use magic before he was knocked unconscious from a fall against the jagged coastline.
They had found his body the next morning after Bethina had sent out a search party all night. His body was barely recognizable beneath the blood, bruising and swollenness. A week after he died, Bethina had left the boys with Franklin and Graham and scattered the ashes over the Pacific Ocean coastline, tossing the ashes into a strong wind, confident that he would be satisfied with the unpredictability of the wind and waves as his body was taken on an adventure as unknown as the adventure of his departed soul.
She knew all was not lost though. Will lived on so strongly in his two young sons, just five and two at the time. Bethina saw him more clearly now in Calgary's precocious recklessness and Darwin's steadfast protectiveness.
"There's something we want to tell you Sophie" Cal said, once the tears were settled. This was a happy announcement and he smiled, "We're engaged Sophie. I'm going to marry this beautiful, wonderful woman. We know it's soon but we can't wait any longer. We're going to spend our lives together"
Cal brought Bethina's hand up to his mouth and kissed her diamond engagement ring. He still hadn't managed to pick out the ring himself, but Luella had been more than eager to help Cal in search of the perfect ring. Luella and Bethina had fast become friends once Cal had introduced them and Luella couldn't be happier for him and Bethina. Then again, she was on a bit of a wedding high at the moment with her wedding to her Danish boyfriend Felix Jorgensen.
Cal was happy for Luella and he thoroughly approved of Felix who was a simple bookstore owner and very different from her high-profile rock star boyfriends of years past. In fact, Luella had four number-one hit singles written for her including one that was declared the greatest love song of the decade by Hearsay magazine. Tabitha and Jonah had married a year ago after two broken engagements and had also each had an affair with other people. There was no use in trying to understand any of it. Fabian was working as an editor at Quidditch Quarterly magazine as well as a sports columnist for the Daily Prophet. He was still unmarried and unlikely to be committed anytime soon.
"Mum says dinner is ready" called Charlotte from one of the back doors that led to the loggia of Potter Manor.
He and Bethina gathered Dane, Darwin and Calgary from the lawn and ushered them into the dining room. The dinner was a bright, happy jovial affair. Everyone was laughing and talking and enjoying themselves immensely. There was something so comforting about family dynamics; good or bad, they were something you could count on and something you could trust.
Five Years Later
Love has been the greatest adventure of my life. I've been everywhere and I've done everything. Despite what my accomplishments may be, the one thing that has made the greatest impact on my life has been falling in love. I never believed I would be part of a great love story like that of my parents. Instead I was part of two great loves.
Once the press learned that I was to be married again, the society pages were teeming with the most random pieces of information about my relationship with Bethina. After all, it was marriage of two of society's most powerful families. We didn't care, and when we did marry the following July nine months after our engagement it was a small wedding with no more than sixty close friends and family. Of course most of that was my mum's family.
I didn't have a best man, rather Luella Biltmore-Jorgensen stood by my side. Bethina didn't have a maid of honor either, instead Graham stood next to Bethina. He was her best friend and they had grown close especially in the ten years since Will's death.
At our wedding we left two empty chairs, one for each of our lost loves so they could see us moving forward with the happiness and joy that could only be found in true love.
Samuel and Lucy came to the wedding. They had grown to be friends in the years since Sophie's death and Lucy had remarried Professor Corrigan, who was Sophie's head of house at Hogwarts. Samuel meanwhile had done much with sang mechant research and had even begun developing treatments specific to the disease. He always thanked me for my donations, but I would never have it any other way. It felt good to have them there and to know that they were happy for me.
Franklin walked Bethina down the aisle and gave her away. He had been more of a father to her than her own father had ever been. It was like everything was coming full circle and I just know that Sophie and Will approved.
After the wedding, we moved out of London to Seashell Cottage and Darwin and Calgary just love being by the sea. Darwin says he feels closer to his father that way. Calgary has actually taken to calling me dad.
I didn't think I would be able to come back here, but I knew then that it was where I was meant to raise my family. Four years ago Bethina and I had our first child, a boy named Harlow Caliber Potter. He's a rambunctious kid and he loves to be just like his older brothers now 15 and 12.
Six months ago Bethina gave me the most precious gift of all though; the daughter I always dreamed of. Wilhelmina Dupont Potter is absolutely the apple of my eye. So here I am now, holding her in my arms and looking out over the coast from the balcony of her nursery.
She's a beautiful baby, with the pink cheeks of new skin. She looks so much like Bethina with her aristocratic features and dark hair, but she has my hazel eyes. She's sleeping softly now, and her tiny chest rises and falls gently against my own. I swear she's got a magic all her own, she enchants everyone who sees her and her older brothers just adore her.
I've made the decision to retire after this next season from quidditch. I'm thirty-six years old, which means I'm quite the veteran player. Not to mention with four children now, I want to spend as much time as possible being the type of father that my dad was to my siblings and me. Two years ago, Bethina and I started Childs Play, a non-profit program for wizarding children who either couldn't afford prep school or had no place to go after school. My mum whose charity has contributed so much for the past 38 years to the wizarding world helped us get started. Bethina is still working at the Department of Mysteries though she's taking a year off to stay at home with Wilhelmina.
"There you are" Bethina says softly from behind me, "I woke up and you were gone"
"I just wanted to check on Wilhelmina," I say
"You're going to spoil her rotten," Bethina says hugging me from behind and laying her head against my shoulder.
"You bet I am" I say with a smile. I turn to face Bethina and carefully lean in to kiss her softly, careful not to squish Wilhelmina between us. Bethina presses her lips against mine more urgently and I feel a frisson of pleasure all over my body.
"Do you think she'll sleep through the rest of the night?" I whisper against Bethina's lips.
"She usually only wakes once" Bethina whispers back gently taking Wilhelmina from me, and placing her into the bassinet.
She leans over and tucks the blankets around Wilhelmina's tiny pink body. I walk up behind her and her skin rises in goosebumps in anticipation before she shivers as I kiss her neck.
"Good, because now I'm going to spoil you" I whisper sliding my lips in a trail of kisses down her neck and across her bare shoulder.
She turns in my arms and we kiss each other with an unrestrained desire. I scoop her up in my arms and carry her down the hall back to our bedroom.
I lay her on the bed, but she sits up and rests her forehead against my own, her dark eyes look at me lovingly and the urge to show Bethina how much I love her overwhelms me.
"I love you," she whispers against my lips. My heart soars as I hear those words and I kiss her passionately and we fall to the bed together.
I hold her close to me, feeling her body pressed against my own, curled around each other in our desire.
"I love, love, love you", I say, and I know that a love like this is the only thing I've ever wanted.