Chapter 32 - Epilogue
… -- …
As it turned out, the October Defense as it came to be called broke the back of the Death Eaters offense. There were no more large-scale attacks against the ministry, although every incident since continued to be blamed on Voldemort or the Death Eaters.
There were several serious acts of terrorism in the UK in the final months of the year. There was a serious explosion on Charing Cross Road and a bus blew up on Aldwych Road but there was no direct evidence that either Voldemort or Death Eaters were to blame. Shortly afterwards, Parliament passed the Prevention of Terrorism (Additional Powers) act of 1996.
… -- …
12 December 1996
Life seemed to return to normal for Harry, or as normal as it could ever be. Hagrid had helped him collect nearly a thousand strands of unicorn hair in an effort to help him start his wandmaking business.
Harry did enjoy co-teaching his defense class with Michelle. They made a great team, and it was easily the favorite class among the students.
Harry and Susan subscribed to several newspapers and carefully read them each morning. Each day, they expected to hear of some act of terrorism, or a Voldemort sighting.
… -- …
"Detention, the both of you. Miss Granger, I'm disappointed in your lack of judgment. Mr. McLaggen, I will not stand to hear that kind of talk about or from my Gryffindors. Miss Granger, you have detention tomorrow evening with Professor Potter. Mr. McLaggen, Mr.Filch needs some help regrouting the latrines in the first floor wing. If it takes six evenings, so be it."
McGonagall looked like she wanted to say much more, particularly to Hermione, but wisely kept her anger and disappointment to herself, allowing it to dissipate. She recognized that her favorite student's support group had largely collapsed with Harry getting involved with his work and Susan, and Ron's abduction, but why in the world would she take up with a big mouth, lout like McLaggen was beyond the old witch's comprehension.
McGonagall had wished that Hermione and Neville could have started a relationship, but it had quickly become obvious to her that the Abbott girl had gotten there first.
Minerva decided to have a talk with Harry and Susan and ask them to try and spend more time with Hermione.
… -- …
The class of twenty-six third years dropped onto the cushioning mats that Harry had set up and rolled a few feet to their right.
Harry was satisfied with everyone's progress and conjured several archery sized cardboard targets and set them alongside the side wall of the classroom. He announced, "This time I want you to drop and roll, then draw your wand and from a prone position, shoot red sparks at the target that is closest to you."
From the back of the classroom, Minerva watched as the three-time killing curse survivor did everything that he could to ensure that all twenty six students in his classroom would live to finish school at the end of their seventh year. While a part of her wished that Harry could be in class himself and these little ones studying hinkypunks, she knew that the times had necessitated a change.
As Harry dismissed his attentive classroom and the students as one chanted, "Thank you, Professor Potter," Minerva approached him.
"You are indeed an engaging educator, Professor Potter. The students speak of little besides your lessons."
Harry considered her words for a moment, and replied, "Thank you, Professor. They may find defense relevant, but it's mostly just applying the things that you and Professor Flitwick have taught them."
She looked at him a moment, saw his sincerity and replied, "Thank you, Harry. Thank you for doing what you can to keep them safe." Remembering her original purpose and noting that the students had all left, she added, "I assigned Miss Granger an evening of detention with you tonight."
Harry remained silent, waiting for her to continue.
"She seems to have… lost her anchor and has been making some bad choices. I was hoping that you could spend some time asking about her decisions and plans."
Harry waited again, but Minerva wasn't going to elaborate. He nodded and replied, "I would be happy to help."
Minerva nodded and went back to her own classroom, hoping that the young hero could help Hermione see her own worth and make better choices.
… -- …
Meanwhile, Amelia, Ben and Rufus were having a very frustrating meeting in Scrimgeour's office.
"You can't keep doing that," shouted Ben. He was beyond angry at Scrimgeour's continued practice of executing prisoners. According to the news he'd heard, Umbridge and Skeeter had joined the Death Eaters in their fate beyond the veil.
Scrimgeour calmly replied, "The situation hasn't changed. We don't have a secure long-term facility. Skeeter is officially listed as having escaped."
Amelia asked, "Do you want Azkaban re-opened or someplace new on mainland Britain? We have sixty-six able bodied aurors. The next cadet class to graduate has thirteen students. Minimal staffing would be five on duty for each shift, costing us a total of 20 employees plus an overall warden."
She continued, "We staff the holding cells as needed – typically with two aurors on duty." Giving Scrimgeour a pointed look, she added, "The holding cell population has not overtaxed the maximum capacity of twenty, since May largely due to executive execution orders. To my knowledge, they have all been legal. As Rufus mentioned, Delores and Rita are listed as having escaped on Alastor Moody's watch. When interviewed, he claimed that he was cleaning his eye and never noticed anyone entering or leaving."
"How many prisoners are there now?" asked Ben.
"One," replied Amelia. "Stan Shunpike was arrested last night after creating a disturbance in the Leaky Cauldron. He got drunk again and started telling anyone who would listen that he'd had 'He-who-must-not be-named take the knight bus from London to Yorkshire.'"
"Aye, and then his arse fell off. Let him go," ordered Scrimgeour. "He's just the sort of idiot that we're fighting for. Besides, I told Potter that I wouldn't hold him as prisoner. I'll talk with Tom and ask him to 86 Shunpike after one pint from now on."
"What about long-term prisoners?" demanded Ben. He wasn't going to allow himself to be sidetracked.
"We'll reopen Azkaban next September and keep the dafties safe until then."
… -- …
The young woman knocked on his office door, and walked in, "Good evening, Professor."
"Just Harry, Hermione."
"It's Professor Potter, Harry. You earned it, and I respect you."
Harry nodded, invited her to sit in one of the comfortable chairs and asked, "Okay, so what brought you here?"
Hermione didn't say anything for several minutes. Harry sat there, patiently waiting for his friend to collect her thoughts. Finally she replied, "Cormac was sitting at the table next to Professor McGonagall in the great hall, talking to some of his mates, telling them that I'd given him a lousy bl…"
Harry cut her off. He knew McLaggen was a braggart, but not a liar, and didn't need to hear those details from his lifelong friend. "Hermione, you can discuss technique with Susan, if you need to." He chose his words carefully and asked, "Is McLaggen the one that you want to learn those things with?"
Not meeting his eyes, she replied, "No…Yes… I don't know."
Harry gave his friend a careful look and suggested, "Just don't do anything that can't be undone." A minute later he added, "You have a lot of friends and family who care about you, Hermione. Now what's really wrong?"
Tears welled in Hermione's eyes. She got up, originally thinking that she'd make a dash out of his office door. Instead, she flung her arms around Harry and whimpered, "Harry, I miss you, I miss Ron. I miss being your friend. I always thought we'd… I always thought I'd… I don't know what to do."
Harry held his friend, much less awkwardly than he would have six months ago, patted her on the back and swayed with her a bit. He suggested, "There are lots of nice guys out there, Hermione. Not everyone worth knowing goes to Hogwarts. You'll meet the right guy someday." He carefully wiped the tears from her eyes and kissed her on the forehead.
Hermione kept her eyes down and nodded as she walked out the door. As she closed the door to go back to Gryffindor tower she whispered, "But he'll never be you."
… -- …
A few hours later, Moody put his flask back in his pocket and replied, "At least you held em off for eight more months. I'll track em all down by then. I'll put em down."
Rufus handed Moody a Gringotts draft that was in the amount of the reward money that he'd received for killing Avery, McNair and Rabastan Lestrange when they had murdered his family. He said, "I can't give you anything officially, since there won't be any bodies. I hope this is enough for your trouble."
Moody, picked up the draft without looking at it and put it into his pocket. He replied, "I'll take care of it. Cellia was a good woman, Rufus." They shook hands and parted.
Moody apparated to just outside of Gringotts, and deposited the draft into Lisa Wood's trust fund, then went on his way.
… -- …
The winter had been unseasonably warm, bring them occasional rain rather than snow. Minerva offered to stay in the castle while Flitwick spent the morning and afternoon visiting old friends and relatives. It was early afternoon when he arrived in Welshpool at the Bones estate. Harry was out picking out wand wood pieces. Filius came out to greet him.
"Happy Christmas, Harry."
"Happy Christmas, Filius." They both greeted each other warmly. They really did have an outstanding working relationship.
Filius inquired, "What are you collecting?"
Harry added another stick into his already full bag and replied, "More birch pieces for wands. Walk with me?"
Flitwick nodded and they went through the woods. After selecting a few pieces as Harry chattered on about woods and clarity, they came to the rock that Harry had exploded. Flitwick had always had the niggling feeling that something else had happened here that afternoon. While Harry was looking up for wood, Flitwick was looking at the ground.
As he looked at the rocks, both large and small, Filius found the remains of an apparently dead snake. A feeling of immense dread came over the little professor as he levitated the rock that was sitting on it.
… -- …
Inside Susan was having a fine time flicking raisons back and forth with Amelia. The older woman inquired, "Do you think he's going to ask?"
Susan chewed on her thumbnail as she was in the habit of doing when she was a little girl, looked her great aunt in the eye and nodded.
Suddenly Smidgen came in, looking very agitated. Amelia noticed and asked, "What is it, Smidgen?"
"The Bad One," replied the shaking little elf. Susan held her arms out and the little elf leapt into them for comfort.
"I'll go check," announced Amelia. "Keep your phone handy and lock the doors. Call Connie just in case."
… -- …
"What is it?" asked Amelia as she caught up with Harry and Flitwick.
"Tom Riddle," replied Flitwick.
"Just an old snake," corrected Harry.
"No Harry, watch," announced Flitwick. He cast the spell to have an animagus return to its normal state. A moment later, the dried up snake turned onto a withered old hand that dripped some gooey substance that might have been blood.
Bones gasped in horror as she saw the snake transform.
Connie and Anna arrived a moment later. Anna asked, "What's that?" She snapped a photo as she asked.
Flitwick replied, "What's left of Tom Riddle."
Harry replied, "No Professor. It was just an old snake. I'm sorry for troubling your holiday, Connie and Anna. Let's go inside. It's starting to rain."
He waved his Freedom wand at the remains and cast incendio maximus. A small but blazingly hot fire flew out of his wand and consumed the remains.
"Why did you do that Harry?" asked Flitwick. "You could have collected a huge bounty for them. The wizarding world would have celebrated."
"A million Galleons," agreed Amelia, who thought she understood his reasoning, but wanted to hear it in his own words.
"The wizarding world didn't do so well when he was vanquished when I was one," cited Harry. "Fudge got elected and he let or forced everything important to go to seed. Someone like Moody with his "constant vigilance" mantra became a sort of joke. There'll be another dark lord some other day. We need to stay ready. If the wizarding world keeps moving forward with technology and stays watchful, that's worth a million galleons to me. You have your photo. Show it to Scrimgeour or put it in your vault, just don't publish it. Please?"
Connie was going to say something about destroying evidence, but Harry cut her off. "Besides," started Harry, "Half of the wizarding world wouldn't believe it anyway. They don't know how he came back, and who would see anything recognizable except a couple of blackened, gooey fingers? Some nut case would try and steal it to get him back again. Some good people would get killed in the process. It's better this way."
"You're right, Harry," agreed Amelia envisioning all of the things that could go wrong that no one needed.
"Come inside for dinner," she suggested. "Anna and Connie, Filius, Smidgen has already set places for you. Come in."
… -- …
Later that evening:
Yes! Yes! Yes!! Auntie!!
… -- …
Neville glanced at an article in the Daily Prophet as he ate his breakfast.
Death Stick Legslation Passes
The Wizengamot passed the so-called Death Stick bill yesterday. The vote was 43 – 6 with Professor Harry Potter electing not to vote on the issue, due to a potential conflict of interest. Minister Scrimgeour was quoted as saying, "We have ignored the issue far too long. The use of unregistered or legacy wands by those who are intent on breaking the law has resulted in dozens of deaths in the last few years."
"Additionally the consequences of accidental or uneducated magic by pre-hogwarts witches or wizards has been both tragic and preventable. Almost every year there is an accidental death or serious injury of a young witch or wizard performing unsupervised magic using a legacy wand."
According to the terms of the legislation, UK witches or wizards will have 30 days to turn in the so called Death Sticks, or apply for a special permit to possess and carry a second wand.
DLME Director Amelia Bones was quoted warning, "The Ministry is not in the business of handing out permits for everyday witches and wizards to carry a second wand and citizens applying for a permit should expect a denial rate in excess of 90 percent."
Terms of the legislation dictate that witches and wizards turning in wands will be reimbursed at a rate of 50 galleons for each wand in working condition. Master wandmaker Ramone Ollivander has been retained by the ministry to be the final judge with respect of the functionality of the returned wands. Witches and wizards are reminded that the penalty for possessing an unregistered wand is a class one misdemeanor with a maximum penalty of one year in prison per offense.
Neville was sitting by Harry as the read the article together. Neville noticed the strange look on Harry's face and asked, "What is it, Harry?"
Harry thought for a moment and replied, "Mr. Ollivander charged me seven galleons for my wand.
Neville chuckled and replied, "Gran paid sixty for mine, which is pretty standard for a dragon heartstring wand. Maybe he gave you a good deal because you were the boy-who-lived."
… -- …
Harry reread the letter that Mr. Ollivander had sent him three months ago for what seemed like the fortieth time.
Dear Mr. Potter,
I have relocated to Bermuda and find that I enjoy the scenery and the lifestyle very much. As such I propose the following:
One) to sell you 1/3 of my existing stock of finished wands.
Two) to sell you 2/3 of my existing stock of wand blank wood.
Three) to sell you my extensive collection of wandcrafting notes and rare instructional guides.
Four) to tutor you for six hours a day, four days a week between June 17 and Aug 28, 1997.
Five) during the next nine months, I will return to my home in Bermuda and occasionally come back to London to open the shop from time to time for the purpose of selling off my portion of the remaining wands at retail. That will satisfy the immediate need for wands and discourage any potential competitors from opening a shop in Daigon Alley.
Six) between June of 1997 and the end of March 1998, you will craft and finish a minimum of 24 wands from at least 6 different wood styles and at least 3 different wand cores. I will examine them and if I find them to be of superior craftsmanship, serviceability and finish, I will send them to another master wandmaker for evaluation. Should they be found fit, the title of master wandmaker shall be conferred on you.
The current stock of finished wands is estimated to be 600 wands, and is more than sufficient tot fit even the trickiest customers such as yourself. Annual sales are typically 300 wands, although that number could grow dramatically as your MoM, Rufus Scrimgeour is proposing legislation to mandate that wands of deceased witches and wizards be destroyed within 30 days of their deaths. Further he has requested that the wands of prisoners convicted and sentenced to terms longer than 5 years have their wands snapped, although they would be eligible to repurchase another upon their release. As he has collected signatures of each of the aurors in support of both measures, I expect that both bills will pass when presented in May.
The premises that the current shop occupies are leased from Gringotts under a 99-year lease that expires at the end of 1998. As such, I recommend that you consider purchasing the building next to the Weasley brothers shop. I know the building to be available and believe the asking price is both fair and within your considerable means.
The asking price is 25,000 galleons. Terms are available if needed.
Harry had shown the letter to Susan and Amelia as well as the business advisor from Gringotts that was tutoring Harry. They all agreed that while the asking price was in excess of the fair market value of the finished wands, the notes, documentation and rare wandmaking manuals were nearly priceless, and pointed out that Harry could easily afford the purchase if he was interested. Harry had signed the purchase agreement that Mr. Ollivander had drawn up and sent back a bank draft the next day.
… -- …
Susan kissed her fiancé while Amelia looked on and said, "Have a good day at work Harry.
Harry apparated to Diagon Alley, greeted Tom the barkeep at the Leakey Cauldron and walked into the wand shop.
Harry greeted Mr. Ollivander, who gave him a piercing look with his gray eyes before greeting him. They got to work, inventorying the existing wands and stock of wood; Ollivander commenting on the characteristics of each piece. Harry was truly enjoying the crafting process.
As they were eating their lunch together, Ollivander commented, "There are lots of opportunities in life, Harry– it's the ones that we choose that matter."
Harry nodded in understanding. He was certain that he would enjoy the summer.
… -- …
In his own mind, Alastor Moody never really retired. After the October defense, he went searching for Death Eaters and any trace he could find of Voldemort, primarily to put them down, but also to bring closure for Molly Weasley who fed him like a king anytime that he came by.
It had taken the old warrior months to track her down. He started in Palermo, picked up her trail in Bari, which led him to Napoli then Roma. He had missed her by days there. In common, they were all cities by the sea. Moody consulted his map and tried the walled city of Lucca.
Limping down the narrow walkways between buildings, he finally found her outside the Tratoria de Leo having a bowl of soup. Moody silently stunned her, cast an anti-apparation field, and then an anti-portkey field. He kept one hand under the table, holding a revolver similar to the one that Rufus had used on Rookwood, and re-ennervated her. "Hello, Narcissa," he growled as he poured himself a small glass of wine from the half carafe that was on the table.
"What do you want, Moody?" She was still a beautiful woman, but the last year or so had not been kind to her.
"Let's see your arm."
Rolling up her sleeve and exposing the underside, she replied, "Fine. There's nothing to see."
Moody had done his homework. He replied, "There was. I know that you were Marked."
"True enough, but as you can see, it's gone. The mark burned badly last August and continued to burn for a day or so. Then it faded and finally disappeared."
Moody nodded as if the news that she'd told him hadn't surprised him. As calmly as she could, she asked, "Now what?"
Moody finished his glass of red wine and answered, "Now I can go home. You were the last. "
He fired three shots, got up, took a few steps to go around the corner and disappeared.
… -- …
"Aren't you going to use the charm?"
"I want us to get pregnant and I want to get married. At this point, the order doesn't really matter. Put a baby in me, Harry."
"When do you want to get married?"
"The day school ends. I'd like a double wedding with Hannah and Neville. Can we?"
"I just want to make you happy. Have you talked with Hannah?"
"No. I wanted to talk with you first, but he asked her last Saturday. Are you sure it's okay?"
"I'm sure. What do I need to do to help?"
"Nothing. We'll talk with Auntie in the morning."
The moonlight through the window shined on the two loving teens.
… -- ….
At the start of the leaving ceremony, all of the students and staff had gathered on the quidditch pitch. The parents of the students who were finishing had all been invited. Harry personally assisted the parents of the muggleborn student to get to the castle with the aid of Freedom the phoenix. Michelle gave several hour-long tours to those that had never seen the castle before as Harry went out and collected the parents.
After Flitwick's opening remarks, Ramone Ollivander was called up to present the wandmaking mastery certification for Harry. Ollivander had made a display case of for the twenty-four wands that Harry had made for the testing. Each was marked by core and wood type. There were wands made with phoenix feather, dragon heartstring, unicorn hair and a wand core that no one in the room had seen before – mermaid hair. For wood selections, he had made samples with birch, oak, willow, redwood, apple, and two made from eucalyptus wood that had been grown in Tasmania.
Most of the people there were quite surprised as few know of Harry's interest in crafting wands.
… -- …
To the surprise of no one, Head Girl Hermione finished with the highest scores of her year in Charms and Transfiguration as well as the highest overall score of any of the students in her year. As such, it fell upon her to give the leaving student speech.
"Fellow students, factuality, friends and parents – a little more than seven years ago, I was introduced to the magical world. After a follow-up visit from Professor McGonagall to assure my parents that the magical world was real and the Hogwarts offer letter was genuine, I accepted the offer. It was a world of wonder and delight. It turned out to be a world much like the one that my parents had known. It had good people and bad people. Some had clever ideas while others were hopelessly bogged down with a bigoted mindset."
"I joined Hogwarts with sixty-five other first years. Being a classmate and a friend with Harry Potter and Ron Weasley kept things interesting. In between lessons, we ran into a troll, Voldemort, a basalisk, Voldemort, dementors, death eaters, dragons and Voldemort."
"I learned to fly a broom." There was laughter at that part. Hermione's meager flying skills and fear of flying on a broomstick were legendary.
"I learned how to turn a rock into a rocking chair." She took out a small pebble out of her pocket, set it onto the floor, concentrated for a moment and created a beautiful black onyx carved rocking chair that any museum would be proud to display.
"Most importantly, I learned the value of friendship. The skills I learned and the friendships that I made literally saved my life several times."
"There were losses in our class. There are forty-one of us finishing today. Some left, some made poor choices and were killed, imprisoned or executed. Some were taken from us, one was returned to us. Two left our class early to pursue an accelerated academic curriculum, one came back to teach us and lead us. Speaking for myself and for the others, I say, thank you Harry. Our lives are brighter and safer for having known you."
"As we leave this place of learning, at least for a while; I challenge each of you to do what you can to move the wizarding world out of the 19th and into the 21st century." Surprisingly, the loudest cheering after her remarks concluded came not from the students; rather the aurors, some of whom had arrived early for the evening events.
… -- …
The double wedding that evening was as memorable as could be. Hannah and Susan looked radiant. Hermione and Michelle were the bridesmaids, while Fred and George Weasley were the groomsmen.
All of the students, staff, aurors and most of the members of the ministry staff had been invited. They also invited the Weasleys, Grangers and other family friends. It seemed that between the Abbotts, Longbottoms, Bones and Harry, they knew a lot of people.
Harry danced almost every dance. By the end of the evening, he recalled dancing several times with Susan. He also spent time on the dance floor with Amelia, Malfalda Hopkirk, Hannah, Minerva, Hermione, Poppy, Michelle as well as a few of the braver second year students.
… -- …
Susan held her new husband tightly as they swayed to the music. Neither was an accomplished dancer, although Minerva had coached Harry several times in the preceding weeks. The new Mrs. Potter put her face close to Harry's ear and gently asked, "You're not disappointed that I'm pregnant, are you?"
Harry gently put his fingers on her cheek and looked into the depths of her blue eyes. He replied, "I couldn't be happier. How about you?"
Susan looked back and replied, "Loving you is everything that I could want, but having a baby together makes it better."
Harry asked, "Have you told anyone else?"
Susan admitted, "Beside Madam Pomfrey, just Auntie and Hannah."
They were very comfortable in each other's arms.
… -- …
Poppy was having a great time. She was, by her own admission a bit of a recluse, but had been asked to dance by Neville, Charlie, Fred and George Weasley, and finally by Harry himself.
"You look very handsome tonight, Harry."
"Thank you, Poppy. I'm only here tonight by you skill."
"You've done a bit for the world yourself, Harry. Let's not keep score."
Harry nodded. As they were a ways away from the others, Poppy mentioned, "When the two of you get back from your honeymoon, I'd like to see the both of you for an office visit. Susan's about seven weeks along. Be certain that she gets enough rest if she gets tired. I gave her information on nutrition. Eat well, and no alcohol."
Harry nodded. He'd do anything to keep his new family happy and healthy.
… -- …
The newly minted Mrs. Longbottom looked up at Harry, kissed his cheek and said, "Thanks for putting this on, Harry. My folks are fairly well off, but we never could have afforded this. There must be over a thousand people here tonight."
Harry scrunched up his nose and reflected, "It's only a bit of gold."
She looked at him and blue eyes met green. She nodded and replied, "Thanks, for everything."
Knowing that she was referring to his rather unorthodox revival of Neville, he replied, "No worries."
… -- …
Harry asked his oldest friend, "So what's next for you?"
Hermione replied, "I've been accepted at Oxford. I'm pretty excited. I'm not certain how it will work out, but I want to try it."
Harry nodded, thinking he couldn't envision a better use of Hermione's Death Eater bounty money for his good friend. He noticed that she had come alone and inquired, "Did you call it quits with Cormac?"
She nodded. A tear welling in her eyes, she acknowledged, "You were right Harry. He's all mouth and no trousers."
Given the context of their original discussion regarding McLeggen, Harry bit his lip to avoid saying anything that would hurt his friend's feelings any worse than they were.
"I don't think he ever loved me."
Harry patted her on the back as the song ended and promised, "It will all work out for you someday."
… -- …
Michelle smiled as she danced with her teaching partner; well former teaching partner. She had announced her resignation at last weeks staff meeting.
Harry remarked, "It will be strange having Charlie teaching Magical Creatures next year and Hagrid in France. I'll miss seeing you everyday."
"Michelle replied, "That's so sweet Harry. We'll just be living a few miles outside of Hogsmeade. We'll see each other. I've always wanted to be a squad leader, and when Director Bones offered me the position, I couldn't turn it down. Besides, its evenings eight to eight and Charlie will teach from ten to three. Smidgen's nephew Zoey agreed to come stay with us and watch little Lisa, so I know it will work out."
She gave him a quick kiss on the cheek and said, "Thank you, Harry, for everything that you've done – both the announced stuff and the unannounced. You're a good man, Harry and a great wizard. You'll always be my hero." She winked at him.
Harry smiled and replied, "I guess I'll be the senior instructor next term."
As the dance ended Michelle replied, "You were always the senior instructor, Harry."
… -- …
"We'll be three weeks," explained Harry to Amelia. "Ramone found the property for sale down the road from his home. It's up on a hill a bit back from the beach. The account managers at Gringotts handled all of the paperwork."
Amelia nodded as they followed along with the music. She reminded him, "There's plenty of room at Welshpool when you two get back. You always have a home."
Harry smiled at the woman who had done so much to improve his life, and replied, "Thank you, Ms. Bones."
… -- …
McGonagall had her quill out, already dipped in red ink. She had been critical of the loose ends that had come and gone throughout the story. "Poison, snake – dead or alive, Umbridge, Skeeter, Ollivander, marriage, retirement," one by one she ticked them off.
Grudgingly, she accepted the unloaded Holland and Holland and added it next to the Mizuno irons.
"What about Ms. Granger?" The bright eyed genius had always been her favorite, in spite of the young witch's tendency to develop relationships with… losers.
The old scribe thought for a minute, recalled a story that he had started with another friend, smiled and walked out the door. Maybe he would look it up and see if he had any unused quills left. Unnoticed by McGonagall, he dropped a scrap of paper on her desk that read DobbyElfLord – Storyteller.
McGonagall persisted, "What about young Mr. Weasley?" She couldn't imagine a worse fate than slow starvation for the young man.
'Reread chapter one, page one,' thought the old scribe. 'If he'd ever bothered to learn anything from his brothers, rather than his endless obsession with chess, he would have picked the lock the first night that he was there and escaped. Instead he sat there playing with his pieces as he slowly starved to death.' Personally, Crow couldn't envision a more ironic fate for the always-hungry lad. He supposed that it was unfortunate that Weasley's remains were never found. His business concluded with McGonagall, Crow fed his steel horse, fired it up, and went off in search of his next report.
… -- …
Thank You Ms. Bones is a much better story than I could possibly have made it due to the eagle eye of Mr. Evan Mayerle. If there are mistakes in the story, they are mine, typically induced after he sent me the files back, and fanned by my incessant need to tinker.
I must also thank a man I'm proud to call a friend, Steve, who knowingly or unknowingly inspired me to write this story, and equally important, to finish it.
As with all of my stories, there are notes written for a follow-on tale and a few pages drafted. Perhaps it's time to look the various drafts over.
Finally, as I wrote this last page, I looked and 807 readers have this little story listed as a favorite. I would like very much to hear from each of you.
… -- …