Wrong Kind of Hero, Epilogue: The Living Of It

Lily and Severus had a very quiet marriage, with only a handful of friends in attendance. Lily wore a crown of daisies in her hair and the brooch Severus had given her proudly on display. Severus could not be persuaded to change from his customary black, but as a concession to his bride, he wore a magically-dyed green rose pinned to his robes. As they exchanged their vows in the forest where they'd met long ago when they were children, butterflies perched on nearby branches. As a thank-you to the wisest of all her friends, and a subtle acknowledgment of things beyond the realm of possibility, Lily quietly handed a can of whipped cream to Remus with a small smile. Sirius's eyes lit up, brimming with the possibilities, and Remus gave her a Look and muttered something like "Oh, damn, I was afraid of that." She didn't hear from either of them again for several weeks sans one suspiciously sticky note by owl post that said "Yum" and smelled of whipped cream.

Severus Snape was determined that Albus tell the whole truth to Neville Longbottom when he was old enough to understand it, holding nothing back. He refused to let Albus manipulate the boy's life as some kind of power-hungry puppet master when he had suspicions about the Horcruxes anyway, and so in the time of peace following the end of the First War, the Order quietly hunted down and destroyed most of Voldemort's Horcruxes.

Neville Longbottom was sorted into Gryffindor and promptly displayed a great affinity for Herbology, Dean Thomas and Luna Lovegood. The boy's true courage was never called into question, for he was brave. He brought down the barriers of resentment between Slytherin House and the rest of Hogwarts with the help of Severus Snape, Defense Against the Dark Arts professor, and Lily Snape, Potions Mistress. The marriage between a Slytherin and a Gryffindor was unheard of prior to the Snapes, but it set a precedent for Neville's friendship with Lucius Malfoy's son, Draco, following a wizarding duel demonstration in second year that left both boys duly impressed with the other's skill. The rest of the school followed in the Boy-Who-Lived's example, and befriending Slytherins became all the rage. The Snapes observed his progress and were very proud.

They told him perhaps more than Albus would have liked about the nature of his defeat of the Dark Lord, but in the end, it was that knowledge which allowed Severus to stop working as a double agent and Neville to kill the snake Nagini in his third year at Hogwarts, aided by his friends. In his fourth year, he became Triwizard Tournament Champion alongside Cedric Diggory and watched Luna and Dean embark on their first date. In his fifth year, Voldemort attempted to return, but having no Horcruxes to gather strength from and his most trusted advisor having abandoned him, he was weak. Albus Dumbledore surrendered the Elder Wand to Neville Longbottom after Neville defeated him at a game of Exploding Snap and a vigorous bout of arm wrestling, and it was seen to that Neville properly defeated the Dark Lord without hesitation or mercy, thereby killing the piece of Voldemort's soul that had inadvertently lodged in Neville at the time of his parents' deaths.

And though it would be trite to say 'all was well', for life is rarely ever easy and nothing goes as planned, for the most part, the Wizarding world was as stable as it ever was or would be. The House Slytherin had redeemed itself, Voldemort was dead, Severus Snape was happy and Neville Longbottom had a second family in the Snapes, who didn't care that he was the Boy-Who-Lived. They just called him Neville.