Chapter 48 – Epilogue
Three months after the end of the war, the wizarding world was ready to honour its heroes and its dead. The wounded were healed, or at least temporarily patched up. The dead were safely laid to rest, some with extra spells to stop them walking as Inferi again, many cremated as an added precaution. It had taken quite some weeks to identify all the Inferiand send the relevant bodies back to their families. The Muggle Inferi were quietly cremated and laid to rest in the biggest Muggle cemetery in London with a blessing by a priest who was a Squib as well as a minister of the cloth.
The trials had been held, only a very few as most of the Marked Death Eaters had been killed in the Battle of Hogwarts. Only two adult Death Eaters remained, and a handful of children who had been discovered in a locked classroom after the battle.
Most of the children with the Mark had been declared coerced and therefore free of any real wrong-doing, especially after the testimony of Albus Dumbledore. One or two tried to protest this blanket forgiveness out of a false sense of bravado, but a single dose of Veritaserum dispelled their protests, showing that they were a last ditch attempt to live up to what they perceived as their Family's wishes for them. As most were purebloods, their early training was cited as extenuating circumstances rather than any real belief in their superiority to Muggleborns or Half-bloods. There was some talk of disbanding the Family traditions, but Albus Dumbledore quickly squelched that ridiculous motion in its infancy, citing the excesses of zeal as his main argument. Family traditions were so entrenched in wizarding society that to even attempt to disband them, would do even more damage than Tom Riddle had ever managed.
Draco Malfoy, son of the infamous Lucius Malfoy had given spectacular evidence. He freely and calmly admitted to being both a Death Eater and a spy, his Order of the Phoenix tattoo bright and clear on his right hand for everyone to see. The documents presented to the court showed his consistent and indisputably valuable contributions that had directly saved many lives, including the lives of three of the Wizengamot panel that were judging him. He didn't brag or boast but stated his case clearly and concisely and had come off with most of his family estates intact, especially when it was revealed that he was married to the Gryffindor Lioness and they had a young son who was absolutely adorable and charmed the media so perfectly. Hermione had told his father in the privacy of their room that Lysander was a complete Slytherin and if he had not been so young she would have sworn he was manipulating the press for their own ends. Draco only laughed.
The trial of Severus Snape was the longest and the hardest for all who participated. Under Veritaserum he freely confessed that yes, he was a Death Eater and had been one since he was sixteen years old. Had he tortured anyone? Yes, he had. Could he name names? He did, a list that shocked and infuriated half the world. Had he supported Lord Voldemort and his plans to conquer the world?
And that was where the trial jumped the rails.
No, he had not supported Lord Voldemort's plans of conquest, Lord Voldemort had become a complete nutter and Albus Dumbledore had decided that the only way to bring him down was to work from the inside to undermine his organisation. He had taken Snape's complete willingness to become a spy for the Light and used it ruthlessly to bring about Voldemort's downfall. And what position had Snape held as a Death Eater? None. Officially he was not part of the Death Eater organisation, he was seen as part of Voldemort's family and therefore exempt from any of the standard conventions which gave him a much freer hand to work his spying missions for Professor Dumbledore.
And so it went on, the prosecution trying to make him a scapegoat and his own words disintegrating their arguments. No one could doubt what the man said, Veritaserum making sure he told nothing but the truth, as shocking and as upsetting as it was. Many old prejudices and ideas were exploded, many comfortable truths were destroyed and ideas about many prominent people crushed. Reputations were tarnished and deeds exposed as the man's encyclopaedic knowledge of the underside of wizarding world was revealed. A number of perfectly respectable people had to flee the country as their façade was ripped away and their true allegiances were exposed to the public gaze.
In the end Severus Ibrim Snape was found guilty of being a Death Eater but not culpable by way of extenuating circumstances. The fact that he had been tortured, abused and faced the Cruciatus Curse from Lord Voldemort on a regular basis but had still continued his spying, regardless of the danger and pain won him many points with the jury. Finally, after a long and rugged debate he was allowed to go free and return to Hogwarts as Potions Master despite the revelations. No one, not even the most zealous of bigots thought to demand reparations from the thin, worn man. In fact, no one even remembered that the Snape Family were wealthy, almost as wealthy as the Malfoy and the Bones Family, and the Snape Family estates were left intact.
It was July, the sun shone warm and gentle on the restored grounds of the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The huge crowd was gathered to watch the unveiling of the war memorial, designed and raised by Professor Dumbledore himself using transfiguration spells of his own design. No one knew what to expect except perhaps Severus Snape who lurked in the shadows of the school's walls and watched the gathering with a cynical eye. Anyone who spied him gave him a wide birth, terrified to meet his empty black eyes or even acknowledge his presence.
A step behind him made him turn, Draco smirking at the wand his Godfather had half drawn. "Twitchy, aren't we?" the blond murmured as his Godfather sneered and straightened, acknowledging his presence with a slight bow.
"There have been two attempts on my life in the last week by disgruntled members of families that fell by my testimony. One idiot woman proposed marriage to breed superior children then took exception to my rejection with a rather nasty hex, which I managed to avoid, of course. And there has been enough howlers delivered to keep Flourish and Blotts in ink orders for the next twenty years. Don't you think I have earned the right to be, er, twitchy?"
Draco chuckled. "Perhaps. How are you getting on with Remus? We haven't seen him for ages."
"Why would I want to get on with the mangy werewolf?" Severus asked with a raised eyebrow, his sneer taking on a surprisingly cold edge.
"I thought you and he…"
"Hah! Not in this lifetime! Oh dear, here comes trouble," Severus murmured as the shrouding charm fell away from the two pillars of marble, one pure snowy white, the other dark Stygian black, each transfigured from the marble throne Lord Voldemort had brought to the battle and abandoned on his death. Names covered the pillars, picked out in gold lettering, Tom Riddle at the very top of the black pillar and Myrtle Spiewell at the top of the white. Beside each name was a date of death and each name could be brought to the eye level of the viewer by speaking it aloud. If a wand was held against any of the names, a picture would appear and a short history of the person, their family and their contribution to the war, good or bad, would be given. The speeches were not slanted or biased but perfectly factual and in many ways completely heartbreaking in their futility. There was a shocked gasp then an up-welling of speculation as Dumbledore took the stage centre and began his dedication speech for all people to hear.
'We are here to remember the deaths of many good people, friends, colleagues, family members. Some died in tragedy, some in infamy and some in glory, but are all, nevertheless, dead and gone. Their spirits have been removed from the world and from our lives but never from our hearts and minds. Let us not forget the reasons why they died, a difference in ideology or perhaps for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. But in the last reckoning, they died because people failed to communicate, failed to discuss and compromise and realise that nothing is black and white, nothing is set in stone and nothing is insurmountable, if the parties are willing to really try.
There can be no brightness without shadows and no dark without light. There can be no heroes without villains and no sacrifice without cause. There can be no great deeds without great needs, and there can be only one winner to write history.
Let us now write history and remember all of the dead. Remember the folly that led to the greatest self-imposed bloodbath in wizarding history and let us all remember that we, each of us as individuals, are responsible for our own actions. In the future, before we cast Unforgivable Curses at each other, let us remember this day and this war and sit down to listen to each other with an open mind and a willing heart. By showing such willingness, perhaps we can avert a reoccurrence of this tragedy ever touching our loved ones in the future.'
As he spoke, the words appeared on the marble slabs behind him, etched for all times as a reminder that life was a circle and what was old would be new once again, unless they all learned from their mistakes. In the shadows, the last two Death Eaters exchanged long, knowing looks and prayed the rest of the idiot world would listen.
A Quick Word
Well, that was epic and somewhat draining to get down on paper. I usually hate deadlines but the publishing of Deathly Hallows was my deadline in this, I had to finish before hand so I could read it in good conscience and not subconsciously plagiarise Ms Rowling's work. The other constraints were also of my own making as I always get things back to front and actually wrote Angelinus first, then Muggle, Werewolves, STY and lastly Recon.
When writing Angelinus it was easy enough to say, 'Oh, they're dead so I don't have to mention them' but then, as the ideas for stories grew, I had to kill off some characters I really enjoyed, the twins, Nevil and Luna and so on. Of course, other characters that were supposed to be really minor players like Terry and Black Bess have taken on a life of their own and are demanding equal time so Meeting a Muggle may become only one part of a catchall title which is shaping up to be AFTER THE SVW, a collection of novellas and short stories, much as Snape the Younger was. And the twins from Angelinus are sort of demanding an airing too, we'll see.
A couple of buckets of praise and thanks need to be handed out over this story to the people who have made it both fun to write and kept me at it when tossing my hand in was the preferred option. In order they are Venise who took a short story I wrote, mistook the phrase 'Oh Merlin' for another character and basically gave me Roger as well as turned Recon into a novel by pointing out a path I hadn't seen.
The BeST team, a better set of people there are not, international fellow writers, nit-pickers and Brit pickers who actually know what a comma is for and where to put them. Zarathrusta for flow control, Da Wicked Bunjhny who will not allow the use of one word twice in a paragraph and Nathan who won't let me get away with anything less than good English. (Sorry, guy, I know I wrote this without getting it beta-ed, but thems the breaks. LOL)
Last, but certainly not least are those faithful people who actually read the tripe I write, a circumstance that always amazes me. FAnfic Names here have followed, commented and encouraged all through this story and the others too and I do thank you for your comments, suggestions and kudos. Your support and encouragement has been invaluable.
Many thanks again, folks, see you next time.
Les the exhausted, but pretty much relieved its all out there.