18 October 2009: less than 24 hours after posting this epilogue, my waters broke. How's that for timing? I'm off to hospital - send good thoughts and prayers that all goes well despite her being early. She is just over 36 weeks so hopefully all will be well, but I could really use some of that fanfic support that's been so great over these past months. Keep us both in your heart please. I will post again as soon as I can...
What actually happens in the "happily ever after"? Well, for Harry, "happily ever after" means he finally gets his wish to be "just Harry". He is no longer a horcrux, no longer able to survive an AK (not that his still-overprotective father would permit anyone to discover that!), and is just a nice, mostly-normal boy with friends in all the Houses and great talent on a broomstick.
Remus did become eventually human again – though it took until after the next full moon. In the meantime, he made friends with several of the dragons at the preserve and now has additional creatures to play with during "his time of the month".
Snape is, with great relief, leaving his teaching post at Hogwarts to focus on his Potion Master work and research. Dobby will go with him as his House Elf (while he awaits Harry's growing up and having a home of his own). Harry has again broached the subject of freeing him, but Dobby is now enjoying being universally acknowledged as Harry Potter's House Elf, and he has thus far refused all offers of clothing and wages, much to Hermione's despair. He is no longer considered odd by his peers and is in fact now a highly respected House Elf Elder, thanks to his actions in the final battle.
Harry was initially a bit sad at Snape's announced departure from Hogwarts, though he recognizes it will be very freeing not to have his da on staff at his school any longer. Harry will now truly be just another student… though of course he will still have his godfather (plus Remus) on staff so he hasn't wholly escaped having a parental figure nearby (though Sirius' disciplinary abilities remain dubious.) Also, Snape has agreed to give special lectures and tutoring for OWLS and NEWTS students, so he will actually be around the castle quite a bit, though he would strongly deny that his tutoring agreement had anything to do with his wanting to keep a close eye on a certain trouble-prone young Gryffindor.
Far from being a lonely orphan, Harry now has more homes than he can possibly hope to visit in a single vacation. In addition to his home with his Da, he also knows he has a place with the Weasleys, Sirius, Remus, and even the Malfoys, now that Voldemort is gone and Draco is his friend. Harry enjoys hanging out (and especially flying) with the younger Malfoy, but Snape insists Draco visits Harry rather than the reverse. Although Lucius learned a salutary lesson in that last battle and has improved – rather than reformed – his ways, Snape still doesn't fully trust him.
To the simultaneous hope and despair of the female Hogwarts population, Sirius continues to be quite the lady's man, though Harry has noticed he is quietly spending more and more time with a very pretty Auror. Her young trainee, a cousin of Sirius', is beginning to tag along too, and Remus has joined them on several double dates, once he was reassured that the trainee was well aware of his "furry secret", having witnessed the aftermath of the Battle. (No one has yet found it necessary to mention that she was actually the one who Stunned the wolf.)
Kreacher has grudgingly admitted that some non-purebloods are actually quite tolerable and is much less bonkers after being able to carry out Reg's last command to him. Grimmauld Place is now a prime bit of real estate in London, and Sirius is making the most of its central location with some eye-popping parties.
Severus remains unattached, despite Molly's best efforts, but he has agreed to Harry's request to spend their next holiday in Aotearoa/New Zealand, ostensibly so Harry can play in an International Youth Quidditch Match, though McGonagall has also nagged him into doing a few guest lectures at the local Potion Masters Guild. What Snape doesn't know (but Harry, Molly, and Minerva do) is that Minerva's cousin emigrated to New Zealand several decades ago, and his granddaughter is now the newest Potion Mistress in the country, almost (but not quite) breaking the record of the youngest British Potion Master, a certain Severus Snape.
Between this young Potion Mistress and Brunhilde, Molly and Minerva are quite hopeful of fulfilling Lily's request.
So all ends happily with Harry free to spend most of his Hogwarts years in a nice, normal, magical castle, with more family and friends than he can count.
Thank you again to all who have read this far, all who have reviewed, PM'd, or otherwise let me know what you thought of this story. This work began life as a one shot, and if it hadn't been for reader interest and enthusiasm, "Harry's New Home" would never have come into existence, so give yourselves a round of applause!
Lest any of you think that this has been a one way street, with me providing entertainment for you and you guys giving me nothing in return, let me assure you that is wholly untrue. Your praise and encouragement has convinced me to try (again) to get the world of publishers and literary agents interested in my original stories. Whatever happens, you renewed my self-confidence and my faith in my own writing, so thank you.
Thank you also from the bottom of my heart for all the encouragement for my Real Life troubles. Knowing that there were people out there who were praying for me and wishing me well made a huge difference… I cannot thank you enough.
And finally, of course, a big thank you to JKR who not only shared her brilliant vision with us, but who also allows us to keep playing with her characters.