Happily ever afters

A few loose ends tied up. Characters belong to Rowling.

- - -

It was yet another funeral. This one, however, was different. Instead of the usual black robes, the mourners wore suits and dresses. Instead of water repelling charms, black umbrellas were raised, like a flock of moths silently brooding over the assembled people. The speeches talked about courage and tragedy, but not about war.

But the tears were the same.

The Creevies stood huddled together by the coffin. A thin, pale woman with red eyes, a large, sobbing, man with one huge hand on his wife's arm, and one on the shoulder of his remaining son. Dennis, looking smaller than ever in his clean, black robes, cried openly.

So many flowers were placed on the grave that they formed a small mound. There were a good many people with good reasons to be thankful to Colin Creevy.

After the ceremony, when the crowd started to thin out, a young man who had stayed behind hesitantly walked up to the mourning boy.

"Hi, Dennis," he said with thick voice. "This sucks, doesn't it?"

"Yeah, George. It does," Dennis answered and swallowed. The one-eared red-head put a hand on his shoulder.

"I'm sorry," he said.

"Yeah..." Dennis repeated. "I'm proud of him," he said then, quitely. George nodded.

"So am I. The two of you were quite something at Hogwarts. Those stunts you made... Especially in the Year of the Toad..."

"Yeah," Dennis said, and smiled through the tears. "We did, didn't we?"

"Hey, now perhaps isn't the time," George said with a glance at Dennis' parents, who talked to the vicar." But have you thought of what you will do now?" Dennis looked up at him, a bit puzzled.

"Dunno... I'll get back to Hogwarts to take my OWLS... I've spent this year in a normal... in a muggle school, but I'm way behind there, and with an OWL I'm at least allowed to do magic. After that... Dunno..."

"The thing is, that we..." George made a grimace, as from sudden pain. "That is, Fred and me, thought of talking to you already last year, after Colin had finished his OWLS, but as things turned out... Well, you know."

Dennis nodded. He knew.

"Anyway, we talked about expanding the shop, you know, perhaps open a Hogsmede branch. We even talked about renting Zonkos' old place..."

"You wanted us to work at Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes?" Dennis asked, eyes wide.

"Of course! You're naturals. Now, obviously, we'll have to concentrate on the shop in Diagon Alley. Verity works like a rabid fire ant, and Percy's helping me out with the paperwork, but we... but I need someone who understand what it's all about. Someone who knows about the soul of pranks." Dennis was almost speechless.

"So you mean I could..."

George held out his hands.

"Hey, don't answer now. Just think of it, and drop by in Diagon Alley any time. If you want to, I can show you the ropes during summer, and you can come back to work full time after your OWL year.

"That would be great," Dennis answered. "Really! Colin would have loved it."

"Then let's make them proud of us," George said. "Both of them."

- - -

"Well, I know what you say, and I agree. It shouldn't be me teaching you this. But somehow, senior aurors seem to be a bit thin on the ground, so they bullied me into it. Don't blame me."

Mungdung Fletcher looked out of place in a classroom, especially with the ministry robe someone had forced on him. Ron and Harry exchanged a smirk, as did most of the other trainee aurors in the room, knowing the old crook's reputation. This was not lost on their reluctant teacher.

"Hey, some of you might have come here with strange notions about honour or fair game or whatnot. You won't find it here. Your job is to stop bad people from doing bad things, and that kind of people fight dirty. I should know. My job is to teach you to survive. The first and the last lesson - and I learnt this from the best guy in the trade, so you lot better pay attention - is this;" He took a deep breath. "CONSTANT VIGILIANCE."

- - -

"Let me be perfectly straight with you, miss Granger," minister Shackelbolt said, eyeing the smartly dressed girl on the other side of his desk. "With the services you have done the wizarding world, as well as your," he glanced at the papers, "simply outstanding references, there are very few doors closed for you. We are honoured that you wish to work for us here in the ministry."

"Thank you, minister," she said, "but I don't expect to be treated any differently from any other employee."

"An admirable attitude to be sure," he replied, somewhat amused by the muggleborn's modesty. "And it's true that we usually start at the floor and work our way upwards. But even so, miss Granger, I don't see any reason for a witch with your capacities to start your career as such a low-status department such as..." he hesitated, and Minister Assistant Percy Weasley quickly bent down and whispered something in his ear. "Ah, thanks. As the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures. In fact, I could have use for you in my own stab..."

"I'm flattered, sir, but If you don't mind, I would much prefer to start my time at the ministry with some hands-on-experience." The Minister for Magic shrugged.

"Well, it would be me alien to deny one of our most notable heroes such a clear demand. It will be as you wish, miss Granger, but I have to say that it is beyond me what good you think the House Elf relocation office will do to your career."

Shackelbolt had been warned that this girl had strong opinions, and had expressed more than once a (fully reasonable) distrust in the ministry, so he had been a bit wary for what demands she would make when she started to work at the ministry. But really - what harm could be done at that godforsaken office? Even so, there was something in her smile, just then, that made the minister somewhat uneasy.

"Oh, I have a few ideas," Hermione said, her polite voice not completely managing to hide a hint of triumph.

- - -

"Hello, Harry," the transparent girl said with a saccharin tone of voice. "Have you come to keep me company? Being dead is so boring, you know."

"Hello, Myrtle," Harry said, hiding his discomfort with Myrtle's open show of affection as well as he could. There were quite a number of students by the lake this beautiful summer day, and sure enough, quite a few of them were grinning in his direction. Oh well.

"We can go and swim together again if you want to," Myrtle tempted. Harry shook his head, just a tiny bit too fast.

"I promised to see Hagrid," he lied. "I just wanted to talk to you about something..."

"Really?" Myrtle asked in surprise, floating closer. "Nobody ever wants to ask me anything."

"Well, it's just this thing about your, you know, death," Harry quickly said. "You know, you still haunting the toilet. Tom Riddle is dead, after all. Your death is revenged. You don't need to linger here." Myrtle stared at him, her eyes perfectly circular.

"...Revenged?"

"Yes! I know you didn't know for the longest of time who really killed you - but it was Tom Riddle who unleashed that basilisk. It's all over now. He's dead and gone and will never come back. You can go on. That next, big adventure."

"Go on..." Her voice trembled, and Harry - who knew well enough just how prone the dead girl was to cry, quickly tried to intercept her.

"See, if I've really learnt one thing of all this, it is that when your life's over, it won't do you any good to linger... no offence. Don't you want to see what happens next?"

"That's the nicest thing anyone has ever said to me!" Myrtle whispered, and tears formed in her eyes. She hung in midair, bobbing slightly up and down.

"I just could do that?" she went on, talking more to herself than the dark haired man before her. "I could just leave and go on, couldn't I?" Harry nodded encouraging.

"Olive is an old hag by now anyway... she's fat nowadays, did you know that?" Myrtle added with more normal voice.

"There really isn't anything holding you back now, is it?" Harry prompted. Myrtle nodded slowly for herself, tasting the unusual idea. Her eyes drifted over the castle that had been her home for nearly sixty years now, and then went on to the happily swimming students in the lake. A thoughtful frown formed in her pale face. She turned to Harry again.

"That's so very sweet of you to care," she said with heartfelt voice. "No one else bothers if stupid Myrtle stays and haunts forever. I'm just a wailing in the plumbing for them. But you... you act as if you like me."

"Of course I do!" Harry answered with a reassuring smile (not adding that Myrtle had been preciously little more than an annoyance for him either during most of his time at Hogwarts). "So you will do it then? Go on?" Myrtle shook her head, a playful little smile on her lips.

"Not yet. It's nice to know that I can go if I want to, and it's nice to know that someone cares, but I think I'll stay." Harry blinked.

"Really? But... why? I mean - it's great to have you around, of course, but what do you want to stay for?" Myrtle's gaze drifted to the lake again, where Lee Jordan just could be seen diving into the sparkling water. She followed his lean body with a gleam in her eyes.

"Oh, I've spent way too much time being dead. Maybe it's time to live for a while now. Come and visit me soon again, Harry." And with that, the dead girl floated into the lake, in pursuit of handsome boys to peep on.

Chuckling, Harry went on to look for Hagrid.

- - -

"...and that second goal, just under his broomstick. That was brilliant, Gin. Bloody brilliant!"

"Wasn't that bad for a silly little sister, eh, Ron?"

"Shows who's your brother, all right."

"Yup. Charlie."

"That's the thanks I get? After all the help and support I have given you all these years."

"Threatening to beat me up if I ever touched your broomstick without your permission, which you never gave me?"

"No, the firm, brotherly love and care."

"Oh, that."

"But really, it was real great. Now, if you can beat the the Falcons with more than twenty points, and if the Appleby Arrows don't mess up when they play Tornados, then you'll stand a fair chance to play Welch in the semies, and then..."

"I can count, Ron. I know the scores."

"How does it feel then, being a star and all?"

"Like usual, I suppose - only less time for myself, and even less than that for Harry... There is always someone who wants a share of my attention. And half of the people that write about me seems to have been in Rita Skeeter's school of creative journalism. But somehow it's all worth it."

"Of course it is! With goals like that, why wouldn't it be?"

"Not jellous, then? About your sister being famous?"

"As if I've ever spent a minute of my life not being overshadowed by someone? Nah, I'm good."

"Wow! I never thought you would mature enough to say that."

"Being a Quidditch star seems like a lot more work than it was cut out to be in the magazines. And remembering how I felt before the games at Hogwarts, I can sure live without the crowds you have to face. You can have all that, I'm good with being a humble auror."

"You've never been anything like humble, bro."

"...and how would my baby sister be able to get me signed Chudly Canon photos without being a Quidditch star anyway?"

- - -

"There, dear. Straighten up - show that you have all right to be here. Smile... that's right. The smile is your first weapon. What a lovely eyeliner - just your colour, darling. Now, you have your quill? Good. Remember, the story will write itself, but only if you give it something to work with. You have to dig it all up. All juicy little details. Don't let them hide anything - and never accept a 'no'. The story will out, right? Don't hesitate to use your charm, dear. You look smashing, and people are so weak minded anyway. The world is yours - never let them forget that. If you only act if you have the right to be there and ask them questions, they will tell you anything... Are you catching all this?"

Rita Skeeter interrupted her endless pep talk and turned her gaze straight to her adept, who did her best to get down a few key words in the same time as they hurriedly walked down the ministry corridor, every moment expecting to shout at them that they were not allowed where they were. No one did.

"I think so," she said and tried to suppress the nervosity in her chest. "But what if they... you know, just throw me out?" Rita smacked disapprovingly.

"Don't let them. As long as you have the initiative, they'll eat from your hand. If they seem to slip, just keep bugging them until they have given you your story. Now, go in and stun them dead, girl!"

Lavender Brown nodded and, checking that her Quick Quote Quill was in place, took a deep breath and opened the door. She smiled the most stunning smile she could muster as she walked up to the surprised man in the small office like a burst of dragon fire in a dark room.

"Justin, darling," she more or less shouted. "I heard that you're in charge of the Muggle Artefact Integration project. You really have to tell me everything about it..."

- - -

In a place that wasn't, Gellard Grindelwald smiled warmly at the man who had come for him.

"Albus," he said softly.

"Gellard," the old Headmaster answered fondly. "So you waited for me, after all."

"A lifetime, Albus. And I would have waited all eternity if I had to."

"No, it was only the lifetime that kept us apart. The eternity is for us to share."

Gellard placed a light kiss on his old lover's chin. The blue eyes sparkled at him.

"I see you brought young Riddle," he observed patting the ugly, wrinkled baby in Albus' arms on the head.

"A loose end that needed to be tied up. He is one of my very best students, you know."

"A promising young man," Gellard agreed. "Too bad he never learnt your really important lessons."

"Things would have been very different if they did. But somehow things seem to have worked out in the end."

"So what about your other student. Is not your professor Snape joining us?" Albus smiled and shook his head.

"Severus has followed me quite far enough. As it is, he has found himself other traveling companions." Gellard laughed.

"It seems like he learned the lesson at last that even you have never managed."

"That is the way of teaching," Albus agreed.

"Well then, old friend! For the next, big adventure."

"For the next big adventure."

And they went away, hand in hand . Together.

- - -

Luna and her father stood hand in hand on the seashore, listening to the sound of the waves rolling in. The air was salty, and the sea gull's cried about the vast ocean, about adventures and about travels. Xenophilius fondly squeezed his daugther's hand.

"Well, pumpkin? Now when you have finished Hogwarts, what do you want to do with yourself?" She looked up at him with her large eyes seemingly shining from within with excitement. Her cheeks were flustered.

"Everything, daddy."

- - -

In the Gryffindor tower, late one moonlit night, a readheaded maid on the balcony, a blond suitor clinging to the vines. Eyes only for each other.

"Three words, dear Scorpio, and good night indeed.
If that thy bent of love be honourable,
Thy purpose marriage, send me word to-morrow,
By one that I'll procure to come to thee,
Where and what time thou wilt perform the rite;
And all my fortunes at thy foot I'll lay
And follow thee my lord throughout the world."

"Sleep dwell upon thine eyes, beloved Rose, peace in thy breast!
Would I were sleep and peace, so sweet to rest!
Hence will I to my ghostly father's cell,
His help to crave, and my dear hap to tell..."

- - -