Disclaimer: Still don't own Remus Lupin. Someday. . . .
A/N: I know – an update this soon! I really wanted to get this chapter out before the final movie.
A/N: Dedicated to the amazing Jo Rowling whose speech at the London premiere of the final movie helped inspire this chapter.
WE LOVE YOU, JO!
Epilogue: Seven Hundred and Fifty-Nine
July 21, 2008 – 11:30 AM
Parker Ave. was a good place to live by all accounts. The neighbors were courteous, the lawns always neat and well-manicured. At night, no rowdy teenagers raced up the street and smoking was, unofficially, prohibited by all residents.
There was, however, no prohibition against clunker cars.
Breathing heavily, hands still tightly gripping the steering wheel, Gareth Morgan pulled up to park in front of Number 16.
"Good car." He sighed in relief as he turned off the ignition. The car seemed to echo his sentiments, coughing deeply as it nearly collapsed into the pavement.
Great. . . .
Quite abruptly, the driver's-side door swung open; all his worries evaporated as he was enveloped in a tight embrace.
"You came, I'm so glad you came . . . come on, everyone's inside." Giving him a quick kiss, Diana took Gareth's hand to help pull him out of the car.
"Everyone? I thought only Kate was coming."
"Oh, well, I checked around. Sarah and Melinda are here, too; Angela's busy with some animal rights thing. . . . Anyway, I guess you'll be the only guy," she teased, eyes bright.
"Surrounded by Potterholic women, what more could a guy ask for?" Gareth laughed, following her into the house. Taking in the bright decorations, the large table of refreshments, the gargantuan, lightning-bolt shaped cake, it felt nearly impossible to reconcile this Diana with the girl he had met nearly a year ago.
Morose and lank-haired as she was, they had nevertheless been bonded by mutual misery – not to mention the fact that she was extremely good-looking. Self-conscious, Gareth had attemped a few jokes, disappointed to have them fall flat as she retreated back into herself, finally leaving the meeting altogether.
It had been pure coincidence, that meeting at Borders only a few weeks later. Sitting in the cafe, her nose had been buried in the seventh volume, a mochaccino on the table beside her.
"Diana?" He had to be sure, she was hardly recognizable. A small smile tugged at her lips as she turned a page; she looked to be right near the end. Looking up at the sound of her name, he could see that her eyes held something he had never seen there before – life.
At that moment, he didn't think a veela could have been more beautiful.
For an instant her eyebrows furrowed in confusion, looking him over. Then, "It's . . . Gareth, right?"
"Yeah. You know, from PHA?"
"Yup, I remember." She nodded. After that first disastrous meeting, she had attempted to return, if only for the companionship of other fans. It was odd – she felt . . . changed. Then again, wandering around the city for several hours, dazed, could do that to a person. At least that was what the cops had told her. . . .
"How are you doing . . . since the sessions stopped?" he asked.
"Pretty good. You?"
"Pretty good," he echoed. "Just . . . um, rereading then?" Inwardly cursing himself for his awkwardness, Gareth later looked at that simple sentence as nothing short of a miracle – or, perhaps, another coincidence.
She had told him that, no, she wasn't rereading, she had never finished.
She had told him that, while he had lost Fred – his best friend – she had lost her lover, Remus Lupin.
She told him about the shrine and the wedding dress and the baby names.
He had told her about his disastrous attempts at making Ton-Tongue Toffee and Canary Creams and Skiving Snackboxes – his kitchen had never been the same again.
They had laughed until tears streamed down both their faces, until they clutched at stitches in their chests.
"See you next week?" Momentarily tongue-tied, she had left with her friend – he later learned her name was Kate – before he could formulate an answer.
But then again, what choice did he have?
And so it had gone.
"You're here! Guys, he's here!" Blond hair temporarily obscured his face as Kate threw her arms around him.
"We can see that, Kate, thanks," Melinda retorted. "Are we gonna get this show on the road or not?" Her long, neon-green nails beat a tattoo against the countertop. Gareth fought the urge to roll his eyes; though she could be bitchy at times, Melinda cared about the series as much as the rest of them.
And, despite their different backgrounds, that was what had brought them all together.
Gareth forced himself to swallow past the sudden, sizable knot in his throat – c'mon Morgan, you're suppose to be the tough one here – jolting back to reality as Diana began to speak.
"One year ago today, millions of people across the globe celebrated the release of this book" - Diana held up her own copy of Deathly Hallows - "and many of those same people saw this as the end of an era. But not for us."
Kate nodded emphatically.
"For us," Diana continued, "it brought us together. For us, Harry Potter will never be over. So . . . more than Harry's year anniversary, I wanted to celebrate the anniversary of . . . us. I know it sounds cheesy, but . . . well, reading this book – this series – changed us all in some elementary way so . . . by some weird magic or fate or whatever, we came together."
"I say magic." Sarah raised her hand in a mock-vote, grinning.
She would never have done that before, Gareth reflected. Sarah had always been the shyest of their little group. Diana was right, Harry Potter had changed them – it had created their friendship, it had healed their wounds.
"I think we could all say we've been through the best and worst times of our lives with these books. And I thought it would be nice if each of us could just read out a passage that really just . . . spoke to us. That told us it's okay, that it's not over" - that he's not gone - "that it's alright to go on with our lives because Harry" - Remus - "he'll always be there to lean on."
Silence and then, "Hear, hear!" Kate called.
Diana managed a self-conscious smile; nevertheless, she looked slightly uncomfortable as no one volunteered a passage. All held their own copies, pages flipped now and then as they thought about this sudden new assignment.
"I'll go first," Gareth stated, squeezing her hand as he turned to a marked page in his own book.
Diana managed an inconspicuous thank you amidst the sudden snapping-shut of books as he had known she would. Despite her new attitude, she was still not comfortable putting her weakness on display; too vulnerable to being ripped apart by any unthinking comment.
And so Gareth read, barely stifling his laughter:
"How do you feel, Georgie?" whispered Mrs. Weasley.
George's fingers groped for the side of his head.
"Saintlike," he murmured.
"What's wrong with him?" croaked Fred, looking terrified. "Is his mind affected?"
"Saintlike," repeated George, opening his eyes and looking up at his brother. "You see . . . I'm holy. Holey, Fred, geddit?"
Mrs. Weasley sobbed harder than ever. Color flooded Fred's pale face.
"Pathetic," he told George. "Pathetic! With the whole wide world of ear-related humor before you, you go for holey?"
"Ah well," said George, grinning at his tear-soaked mother. "You'll be able to tell us apart now, anyway, Mum."
"Even in the worst of times, the twins are always able to crack a joke or three," Gareth explained once the room's laughter had quieted. "Whenever I'm having a bad day, I just bring one of their pranks to mind."
"I'll have to try that," Melinda mused. "Anyway, I'll go next."
Looking relieved, Diana nodded for her to go on.
"I dunno," said Ron. "Sometimes I've thought, when I've been a bit hacked off, he was having a laugh or – or he just wanted to make it more difficult. But I don't think so, not anymore. He knew what he was doing when he gave me the Deluminator, didn't he? He – well,"Ron's ears turned bright red and he became engrossed in a tuft of grass at his feet, which he prodded with his toe, "he must have known I'd run out on you."
"No," Harry corrected him. "He must've known you'd always want to come back."
Following Gareth, Melinda gave an explanation of her own. "I guess Ichose this for two reasons. Ron, well . . . he fucked up, right? But Harry and Hermione, they just took him back. . . ."
"Hermione let him have it first though," Sarah added.
"He was a bit of a dick, though, you have to admit," said Kate.
"My point," Melinda continued, semi-impatiently, "is that he had good enough friends to do that, to accept him with no – well, very few – questions asked. And, do not try and enter my personal bubble for this, but . . . I guess I'm starting to feel that way about you guys. And don't you aww either," she snapped as the room did just that.
"And your other reason?" Gareth asked.
"Like Harry said, you can always come back. It's never really over as long as someone's loyal to it."
There was no teasing aww this time, merely silence until, in a strangely hoarse voice, Kate announced her turn.
He watched his mother walk forward on trembling legs and sit down upon the rickety stool. Professor McGonagall dropped the Sorting Hat onto her head, and barely a second after it had touched the dark red hair, the hat cried, "Gryffindor!"
Harry heard Snape let out a tiny groan. Lily took off the hat, handed it back to Professor McGonagall, then hurried toward the cheering Gryffindors, but as she went she glanced back at Snape, and there was a sad little smile on her face. Harry saw Sirius move up the bench to make room for her. She took one look at him, seemed to recognize him from the train, folded her arms, and firmly turned her back on him.
The roll call continued. Harry watched Lupin, Pettigrew, and his father join Lily and Sirius at the Gryffindor table. At last, when only a dozen students remained to be sorted, Professor McGonagall called Snape.
Harry walked with him to the stool, watched him place the hat upon his head. "Slytherin!" cried the Sorting Hat.
And Severus Snape moved off to the other side of the Hall, away from Lily, to where the Slytherins were cheering him, to where Lucius Malfoy, a prefect badge gleaming upon his chest, patted Snape on the back as he sat down beside him. . . .
"You all know how Di and I were best friends since we were little, the same as Snape and Lily," Kate began. "When I moved, I thought I would lose contact with Di just like Snape screwed up with Lily 'cause they were Sorted into different houses. I know now that's not true; Di and I talked every day and, I dunno why, but for some reason, my parents eventually decided to move back up here."
"Magic!" Sarah's hand went up again, fist-pumping the air in excitement.
"I guess this showed me that true friends, they never really go away, never turn their back on you. Even Snape, even after he called Lily that . . . that word, he always loved her. He protected Harry all those years in honor of her. Kinda makes you wonder, if he had been Sorted into Gryffindor. . . ."
"Another idea for the realm of fan-fics, I guess." Diana laughed, exchanging a smile with her best friend that said more than words every could.
I love you, too, Kate. But my Remmy is so much hotter than your Ceddy.
Yes, something like that.
Reluctantly, Diana nevertheless felt it necessary to volunteer her own passage. This had been her idea, after all. It was Sarah's few lines that delegated her to the last – but certainly not least – spot.
"He'll be all right," murmured Ginny.
As Harry looked at her, he lowered his hand absentmindedly and touched the lightning scar on his forehead.
"I know he will."
The scar had not pained Harry in nineteen years. All was well.
"And it will be."
No one needed to ask what Sarah meant by that. They already knew; they had already answered it, each in their own way.
They could always go back.
They could always laugh.
They would always have Harry Potter.
And what did Diana have to say? The unspoken question seemed to hover in the air around them, next to red and gold balloons and party streamers. It hovered above the table where the cake and other goodies waited expectantly; already, Diana could see Gareth eying them hungrily. Of course he wouldn't say anything, he was too nice a guy for that. They would all wait, bonded by the brightly-colored book they all held.
But Diana was tired of waiting.
Ever since that balmy August night – or was it early morning? - the cops had dragged her in off the street and dialed her home. They had found a girl matching the description of Diana Marie Lark. Yes, she'd be right here. No, she wasn't hurt.
She didn't know how long it was till Alan and Rachel burst through the doors of the station, demanding to see their daughter. Alan had wrapped her in a bone-crushing embrace. Didn't she know she was lucky to be alive?
Didn't she know she was lucky to be alive?
Her parents had announced their divorce in January – she believed it had only been finalized a month or so ago – but those words had stayed with her.
Yes, she did, and she was going to live . . . to the best of her ability, at least.
She had started dating Gareth and had made friends of Sarah, Angela, and Melinda. Hell, she had set this entire celebration up.
Still though, she was hesitant to tell people about Him.
Gareth squeezed her hand. You can do this, trust me, that squeeze said. Trust me like you trusted Thaddeus.
Dr. Linnaeus? Her brain rebelled against the very notion. Much as she hated to admit it, her father had been right on that count – he had been a fraud, skipping town with Aiden and the rest of them.
Alan, of course, had sworn eternal vengeance, promising that "he won't be able to get a job scrubbing toilets when I'm through with him."
However, any attempts to black-list Dr. Thaddeus Linnaeus had met with confusion. Who was this doctor? They had never heard of him, was he sure he had the right name?
Well, it wasn't too common a name was it, Alan had barked over the line.
While her father developed an ulcer, Diana had given up, attributing Linnaeus's disappearance, yet again, to that magic of coincidence.
Trust me, trust me, trust me. . . . Her head pounded with the mantra.
Trust who? Her friends? Herself?
"I didn't want you to die," Harry said. These words came without his volition. "Any of you. I'm sorry -"
He addressed Lupin more than any of them, beseeching him.
"- right after you'd had your son . . . Remus, I'm sorry -"
"I am sorry too," said Lupin. "Sorry I will never know him . . . but he will know why I died and I hope he will understand I was trying to make a world in which he could live a happier life."
Choked, Diana traced those last three words. "A happier life," she whispered.
All would be well. Eventually.
. . .
Eventually. All will be well – eventually.
Trust me because Diana's story is all of yours.
It wasn't over then and it won't be over now. It doesn't end just because the fad has faded, just because the publishing-houses and film producers say so.
It – we – live through you every day.
All we ask is that you live in return.
Live and learn and love.
We will never be gone until none are loyal to us.
Maybe not even then . . . you've read the story.
Whether it's fiction is up to you.
I remain sincerely yours,
Thaddeus R. Linnaeus
. . .
A/N: So, how'd ya like it? Initially, I was going to end it at the end of Diana's story; this ending only occurred to me recently with all the hubbub about this being "the end."
As Jo says, "Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home."
Let me know what you thought – just click that little link down there. . . .
A/N: So . . . it's over. Took me several years to write, but I did it. I hope you enjoyed reading. :D
The next story I will be working on – tentatively titled The Sorting Hat – isn't really a story at all but a series of one-shots along with an almost-literal "sorting hat."
Confused? I'll explain.
Every Harry Potter character's name will be put on a slip of paper; those slips of paper will be put in a hat – or a can or whatever I can find – and, every other day or so, two names will be chosen.
I will write a one-shot with those two characters as the central players. Genres can range from romance to angst to crack-fics, I'm sure there'll be plenty of crazy combinations.
At the beginning of each story or "chapter," I will state the genre and the two characters so you don't need to search through, hoping for something vaguely interesting.
Let me know if you'd be interested in something like this.
I will begin writing after the final movie comes out since I want to be able to scream and sob without worrying about how I can possibly put Merope Gaunt and Cho Chang together. :P BUT – and I can't believe I'm saying this – do not be afraid to BUG THE CRAP OUT OF ME about it. I can be lazy about stuff like that – why do you think you had to wait so long between some updates? - so send me PM's, reviews – I like reviews :) - whatever, but they'll help get me writing!
The next time I talk to you I will have seen the final movie!