Five Years Later
The morning of the first of September was simply glorious: as golden and crisp as the leaves on the trees. Autumn had come early, so the air had a nip to it, fogging breath like the steam from the Hogwarts Express. And that was exactly where Harry and his family were making their way towards today: Platform 9 ¾ at King's Cross Station in London, in order to see James off on his way to the School of Witchcraft and Wizardry for the very first time.
James, although usually cocky and playful, was uncharacteristically subdued as he followed his father wheeling the trunk through the curious commuters towards the barrier between platform nine and ten. He carried the cage housing his beautiful new barn owl, Selene, as if it were made of porcelain. Lily, meanwhile, stared wide-eyed at the all the people hurrying this way and that, her attention flicking from smartly-dressed office workers to the more flamboyant witches and wizards, who seemed to casually disappear whenever she focused on them for too long. She held on tightly to the hand of her step-mother, who was pushing a pram with her free hand.
'Are you ready, Cho?' Harry asked his wife cheerfully, stopping just short of the barrier.
Cho nodded and returned the smile before looking down into the pram at their sleeping baby daughter. She had a tuft of black hair that stuck up, just like her father's, and she had also inherited her mother's striking, exotic dark eyes. 'I think Dora's ready, too.' She turned to Lily and James. 'Ready, you two?'
Lily nodded eagerly but James merely stared at the floor, looking pale and awkward as he clutched the cage tightly.
Cho put a comforting arm around James. 'It's natural to be nervous, love,' she said gently, giving him a squeeze.
'It's not that… I… I was hoping Mum would be here, too.'
Cho shot a concerned look at Harry, who made his way over to his son.
'She will be. She promised, remember? And Al. They're probably waiting for us on the other side. Now, we'd better get going.' Harry went back to the truck and manoeuvred it into position. 'Just like we practised, okay? After three! One... Two… Three!'
And on Harry's count, he and James disappeared through the barrier and on to Platform 9 ¾, shortly followed by his wife and daughters.
'There, that wasn't so bad, was it?' Harry asked his son, who nodded excitedly before craning his neck, looking all around the platform, evidently searching for his mum and Al. But he couldn't see them, and once more his face fell.
'Dad?' he asked after a moment, shifting from one foot to the next.
James looked very serious and worried, and Harry thought his son was still concerned about Ginny not turning up.
'Dad… What if I get Sorted into Slytherin?'
Harry almost laughed at the absurdity of the question, but as if on cue, Ginny and Al were suddenly standing right behind James. Harry chanced a glance at them, before fixing his green eyes on his son and placing a comforting hand on his shoulder.
'James Sirius,' Harry began, just loud enough so that Ginny and Al could hear every word. 'Your brother was named after two headmasters of Hogwarts. One of those was a Slytherin, and he was probably the bravest man I've ever known.'
Harry looked up at Ginny, who gave him a grateful smile full of love at this magnanimous speech. Not only was he reassuring his son, he was also reassuring her; he was showing her that he accepted her new husband, after all that had happened in the lead-up to their own failed marriage. If someone had told her five years ago that she would be married to Severus Snape and Harry would be married to Cho Chang, she would have laughed in their face and thought them as wide of the mark as one of Sybil Trelawney's prophecies. They'd all come so far since then. The journey hadn't been easy, but right now she wouldn't change a thing. She loved Severus in a way she'd never thought possible, and through that love, he opened up to her more and more every day, amazing her with the man he truly was.
As soon as James followed Harry's gaze, his face lit up on seeing his mother and they rushed towards each other with open arms. Ginny beamed as she held her son tightly, and she was shortly pounced on by Lily, who also wanted a piece of the hugging action. Cho and Harry looked on and laughed as Al managed to burrow his way under Ginny's legs and get in the middle of the group hug.
Harry's gaze shifted from Ginny and the children to Cho. She still took his breath away, just like she had when he first had a crush on her at Hogwarts. Each kiss felt like the first, and his stomach flipped every time she walked into the room. It was crazy to think that, after all the hurt and anger that raged within him during his break-up with Ginny, that he could now feel so elated and content. It was a twisted path that had led him to this point; there had been heartache and tears, and times when he'd thought he'd never love again. But they say the first love cuts the deepest and in his case it was true. Cho was his soul mate.
And, as Harry looked on, he realised it didn't matter what awfulness had happened in the past. Right now, everyone was happy. All was well.
A/N: I'd like to take this chance to explain my reasons for writing this story and what I was trying to achieve. I'm usually an SS/OC shipper or at the very least, enjoy seeing Snape with minor characters that might as well be OC because we know so little about them. Sometimes, it does feel that the SS/HG ship dominates the HP fanfic landscape. As much as I can appreciate there are great fics in this genre, it is often frustrating for me to see this ship posted over and over. So I wrote this story to redress the balance, and an alternative ship of which I've seen very little posted. I also set myself the very difficult task of trying to stay canon where possible (and if I have slipped off the path, it was all for the sake of the story!)
I have had some interesting feedback on this story and not all of it positive! Even though the main theme of this story is adultery, my intention was never to glamorise unfaithfulness; rather, I'd hoped to show the circumstances that might cause one partner to run into another's arms. And for the sake of canon, it needed to be this way, as I wanted Ginny to be an adult.
I'd like to thank my beta, Agnus Castus, for her support and tireless feedback. This story would not exist in the same form without her, and I am indebted to her for making my writing the best it can be.
Also, I'd like to thank each and every one of you that have stuck by this story, read and reviewed. It's every single one of you that's kept me writing, even though this hasn't been a particularly easy story to write at times and has taken a long time to complete. So thank you!
I keep saying that I will attempt to write my own original fic one day, but I keep getting too many plot ideas around fanfic! So no doubt you'll see me posting on here again. And if you fancy reading some SS/OC, I am currently writing with morgaine_dulac under the guise sevs_starsisters – we're halfway through the sequel to our magnum opus, Star Sisters, and the sequel is called Shooting Stars, which is posted on both the Occlumency and Petulant Poetess archives *Cough* Shameless plug! *Cough*