An Epilogue at Potter Manor
Hermione sat down, tiredly, and looked out of the window, across the park that surrounded the manor, and sighed. She tended to her father-in-law, who quickly reached the end of his life. He was already unconscious now, but Hermione was certain he was not in pain. James was about to rejoin his wive, who, just a year before, had passed to her next adventure. Hermione smiled and looked at the old man, with fondness in her heart. This wizard had spent most of his life helping others, having fun, playing with all of his children, grand- and great-grandchildren. He had enjoyed political influence, he had enjoyed much of his life tending to the house and the land, he had built up a huge portfolio of properties, which he rented or sold, he had followed the sports he liked.
"You've had an amazingly happy life, James. For all the unhappiness in your early years you were given a wonderful second chance, weren't you? And we were allowed to enjoy that with you. If ever a girl was lucky with her in-laws it was me..."
Over one hundred years of solid peace and economical prosperity lay behind them. James had been responsible for much of the prosperity, not only his own, but in his functions as the economic specialist in the Wizard's Council he had been able to teach his fellow magicals how to do business. While he taught them to become more successful in their business encounters he also taught them to share that with their employees. Wages in the magical world had never been as safe and comfortable as they were at the moment. James had done excellent work in keeping business owners from becoming greedy on their employees' cost, he showed them how money could be made and how it could do good for those who deserved it.
He had lived his ideals. As the head of the House of Potter he had a duty towards the old family, to keep the lands and fortune together for future generations, and he had had a firm hand on his children when they were young. None of the eight children he sired was allowed to simply sit back and live off the family fortune. All eight of them had to get on their own feet before they were allowed to profit from anything the family earned. Bobby had become a solicitor. The Phils had followed Harry in becoming professional Quidditch players, one of the most successful pairs of Beaters the Holyhead Harpies had ever had. Harry could sing a song about that as he had been at the receiving end of their talents once or twice. Lilian had started out as a magical seamstress and was supported in starting her own design company. She successfully built up a very widespread network of clothes manufacturies as well as outlets. To this day she travelled all around the world to see to her different shops.
James and Lily had three more children after Lili, two boys, Steven and Gerard, and another girl, Vivienne. Steven was the carbon copy of his mother, but had most of the the easy-going temperament of his father, and had become the scholar in the family. Gerard was another carbon copy of James' with a similar disposition as Harry. He was another traveller, in his case for his own company that dealt in magical media. Everything from communication devices to technical media installations was part of this company.
The youngest, Vivienne, was most like her mother Lily of all eight Potter children. She had her greatest talents in the field of potion making. She made a successful career in the Ministry, working at the Potions Development Agency. Her greatest success had been the finalisation of a cure for lycanthropy. It had been her greatest day when she was able to give it to her favourite family uncle, Remus. He was 68 when he received the potion that terminated the bane of his life. The first full moon without a forced transformation was the greatest gift Remus ever received. The whole family couldn't have been much happier than he was himself.
After his Quidditch career found its end Harry became a father of a considerable brood of children himself. Hermione didn't mind to give him his children. They had five, four daughters and a son. All of them were now between 80 and 110 years old now. All of them had children and all of them already had at least one great-grandchild. Hermione had them all called in to give James the send-off he deserved, that of a loving, caring family around him.
She looked up at the wall, where two people sat in their frames and looked down on her and their dying son.
"How are you, Hermione?"
"Quite well, Dorea. It's never easy, and he's the last one to leave us. He'll be happy to join Padfoot and Moony and they'll once again become the Marauders, I guess," Hermione whispered.
"Painting-James is staying far away! He knows that James is dying."
"Well, normally paintings aren't alive when the person they depict is still alive, I quite understand he doesn't wish to watch."
"You're right, I don't think I would either. He isn't in pain though, is he?"
"No, he isn't - I gave him enough that he doesn't feel anything. He'd probably be in the last stages of agony if I hadn't."
The door opened and Harry entered, together with his oldest daughter Susan. Like her mother, Susan was a healer and she had shared most of the care for her grandfather. She sat down next to Hermione and quietly asked:
"How is he, Mum?"
"Not well. I don't give him much more than an hour, love."
"I'm so going to miss him..." Susan said, a few tears in her eyes.
"You're not the only one. But life has a beginning and an end. His end is now. Do you think we should call in everyone now?"
Susan cast a quick spell and only nodded.
"I'll get them, love."
A few minutes later, the family gathered in the big bedroom and even though they were many they still all found their space in the huge room. They sat down on the sofas and on chairs they either conjured or had brought along and silently they waited until their ancestor drew his very last breath. Hermione, Harry and Susan were closest, and when Susan moved forward to close her grandfather's eyes everyone in the room knew he had now joined his friends and family in the great beyond.
Harry didn't cry. He stood at the end of his father's bed, his arms around Hermione's shoulders and started to speak:
"This is the end that befitted you, dad! You were brutally murdered once but when you were given back to us you made us completely forget that there were almost ten years missing between that first part of your life and your real life. You had a great life, filled with love and laughter and some adventure. You and Mum have created a wonderful family and I'm proud to take your place as the Head of this family now, even though I know I'm probably not quite as worthy. I hope your passage was an easy one and you have already met up with Mum and Padfoot and Moony. I love you, Dad, you were the best Dad anyone could ask for and I have strived to get into your footsteps as have Bobby, the Phils, Lily, Stevie, Gerry and Viv. Goodbye, Daddy."
The funeral wasn't a sad affair. James had strictly forbidden that in his will and his children knew that he didn't want them to be sad. Reasonably seen his long life had found its natural end and all of his children knew. During the wake they freshened up all the stories they could, one for one picked a story that they told the rest and everyone sat and listened to the collection. Good food and drinks on the table the family remembered the last of James' generation to pass and after that they returned to their places in their lives.
Harry and Hermione were now the patriarch and matriarch of the family and they enjoyed a quiet time at the Manor. Their siblings had their own homes, their children, Susan, Teresa, Maud and Tristan had mostly left the house. Tristan still lived at the Manor with his own family, Harry and Hermione had left her wing to him and moved to a bedroom near the master bedroom on the first floor.
Every summer they had a week during which most of the family got together, not only the Potters, but the Grangers, the Longbottoms and the Blacks as well. Hermione and her daughters were the current hostesses and the ones who organised most of the week-long party. Only three weeks after James' death they welcomed the extended family again, this time for the already traditional feast that lasted for a whole week. It was the main opportunity for all the cousins, second and third cousins, all the siblings to meet up again and chat about what they had done through the year. Many of them saw each other regularly, but that didn't stop them from enjoying their great cook-out as they called it.
James felt nothing. Hermione had taken away the pain and he had welcomed the final moments, even if he didn't feel them consciously. But he woke up when he passed. He felt himself move upwards, out of his body and softly floating he could see his big family surrounding his bed and he watched Susan as she closed the eyes on his body.
"Thank you, sweetheart," he said quietly before he was drawn away.
... only to be pounced by a great big dog and a great big wolf. The feisty girl he had married so many years before dragged them both away by their ears, but she grinned.
"We were waiting for you patiently, love, welcome home!"
And even though he had just left his family behind, grieving, he embraced Lily and said:
"I'm happy to be in your arms again, my love. They will do fine and now it's our duty to patiently wait for them to join us."
A happy Marauder generation watched their family members celebrating the summer below. Seeing them in the gardens of Potter Manor James looked at his fellow Marauders and they all said: