No Hurry at All
This is my first, and last attempt at an epilogue. Writing one is a lot harder than it seems. Warning – no Hugo's or Albus Severus' will appear below.
The Potters walking through the magical portal onto platform nine and three quarters was the family's first contact with the general wizarding public for eighteen years. Yes they always kept in touch with the Longbottoms, Weasleys and Lupins, that though was the limit of their involvement with wizarding Britain. Harry and Hermione had occasionally met with Minister Bones, but never inside the ministry of magic and always in conjunction with their roles in the government. In fact the Potter family now spent at least eight months of the year overseas.
The reason for today's expedition was simple, Daniel Potter was eleven and had received his Hogwarts letter. Daniel was the eldest of their three children, being conceived the night his parents discovered they'd passed their degrees. His sister Jane and brother Mathew had followed at roughly two year intervals. The entire family was here to see Daniel off on the express. That of course included his two best friends, Billy and Toni.
That these friends were the twins of Dobby and Winky never raised an eyebrow in the Potter household, all three youngsters had been raised together as the extended family travelled the globe. Like today though, the twins wore glamours Hermione had designed whenever they interacted with the outside world.
The family were treated to a lot more than raised eyebrows as the Potters, flanked by the Grangers made their way along platform nine and three quarters. The legend of the boy who lived had only grown since Harry left and, with none of their friends ever breathing a word of what they were actually up to, speculation over the Potters' lives had almost become an industry in itself.
Harry and Hermione could see their children beginning to physically wilt as the staring, pointing and whispering gradually intensified. Nine year old Jane had inherited her fathers green eyes and her mother's brown bushy hair, she was also the most sensitive of the three Potter children. Whatever part of the world they happened to be in, Jane would always find small animals that had been hurt and bring them home to be helped. She was a complete natural with all kinds of creatures and seemed to have a special empathy for reading emotions. The young girl didn't like what she was sensing here. Though normally anything but shy, Jane was almost hiding behind her mother.
"Mum, I don't want to go to Hogwarts."
"Honey, you have another two years before you have to make that decision."
"I don't care mum, I won't change my mind. I don't like being stared at."
Matt had a tight grip of his father's hand, he obviously shared his sister's sentiments. "Dad, why are all the people staring at us?"
Harry wasn't sure how you explain that to a seven year old. "They've always stared at me son. That's why your Uncle Neville and Aunt Luna took care of Daniel's shopping for him, we would be mobbed walking down Diagon Alley."
"But dad, don't they know staring, pointing and whispering is rude?"
Harry couldn't fault his son's logic. "They know son, they just don't care."
Daniel may have looked the spitting image of his father at the same age but there all similarities ended.
This was no child who had been denied affection and friends, Daniel had been raised in the heart of a loving family who really enjoyed travelling around the world. While his mum and dad would work at constructing and then establishing the hospital, his gran would be concentrating on the school that would always be built next to the hospital. All three Potter children had been taught by their parents and grandparents, standing in this railway station and preparing to leave for school felt totally alien to them.
The aforementioned Daniel Potter was beginning to think he'd made a very big mistake. He was used to crowds and everyone knowing who his parents were but this was somehow different. Here he wasn't the son of two doctors who were building the local hospital, these people were ogling his parents as if they were superstar celebrities. Daniel was actually more like his father at this point than he realised. He was bewildered and scared, just like an eleven year old Harry Potter had been while standing here all those years ago.
Harry spotted Daniel's distress so handed Matt over into his grandfather's care before kneeling down on one knee to talk to his eldest son. "What's the problem Daniel?"
Daniel looked toward his two best friends, then to his family. "Dad, how did you stand all the attention? Never knowing if someone was really your friend? How could you be away from everyone you loved for all that time?"
Harry looked up at his smiling wife before answering. "It was easy for me son, everyone I loved was at Hogwarts. That was worth all the staring and pointing in the world to me."
"I don't know if I can do this dad? I've listened to all the wonderful stories about Quidditch and Gryffindor but it's suddenly just hit me, I won't see you guys until Christmas. I don't know if I want to go dad?"
"Is that all that's troubling you?"
"I've felt like a bug under a microscope ever since we walked through the barrier. I'm not even on the train yet and everyone's staring and pointing, what will it be like in Hogwarts?"
"Well you know your Uncle Remus and Aunt Tonks will be in the castle, Teddy's also head boy this year. The four Weasley girls will also be there, you know them."
Harry saw his son wince and realised his last comment was not a positive incentive. It apparently wasn't just Quidditch scoring records Ginny was breaking, her birth had well and truly shattered the 'no female Weasleys' curse. Ron and Lavender were now the proud parents of four daughters. Their grandparents adored the girls with the Burrow becoming a party venue every time they visited. All the girls were now attending Hogwarts and each was almost a clone of their mother at the same age. Ron had left Hogwarts early, with no NEWT's and a baby on the way. Harry had pulled him out a deep hole by sending Ron ten percent of WWW as he had always intended. The twins though decided Ron should work to make his ten percent worth more and gave him a job.
With his four girls being born in rapid succession, Ron was now a work-o-holic and managed the Hogsmead branch of the company. Privately, Harry felt that he too would do anything to get out of a house that had five Lavenders in it.
When the Potters had last seen the girls, the two youngest had gotten into a fight over who was going to be Daniel's girlfriend. The oldest already had her eyes set on Harry's godson. Neither Teddy nor Daniel were even consulted in these matters and both boys went out of their way to avoid the girls.
Daniel then got to the very heart of the matter. "Dad, would you be really angry with me if I said I didn't want to go? I think I'd rather continue attending school the way we have been."
The hopeful expressions mirrored on three faces earned a smile from Harry. "When have I ever been really angry at you?"
"Well, there was that one time in Uganda where Billy, Toni and I vanished the clothes of our entire class."
Harry leaned over to whisper in his son's ear. "Dobby and I thought that was bloody hilarious. It was your mum, gran and Winky who were mad."
This seemed to make Daniel's mind up. "Dad, mum, I don't want to go to Hogwarts. I want to go back to Brazil with you guys and learn the way I have been."
Hermione had also been keeping an eye on the crowd steadily building around them and was beginning to feel like her family were some exotic exhibit in a zoo. Who needs Pandas when you can stare at the Potters?
"I agree with Daniel. I think we made a serious mistake in thinking he could go to Hogwarts and just be a normal student. We can send an owl to Remus once we get out of here."
Emma had a large grin on her face as she nudged her husband. "Told you."
This had both Potter parents looking toward her, their expressions clearly indicating they expected an explanation.
The grandmother gave a wistful grin as she answered. "We've seen you do wonderful things all over the world. Being parted from one of your children for four months was always going to be a step too far for you. Look me in the eye and tell me your not delighted with the decision Daniel's just reached?"
Harry began laughing and ruffled his eldest son's hair. Billy and Toni were jumping for joy that their best friend wouldn't be on the other side of the world until Christmas. It was left to little Matt to have the last word.
"If Daniel and Jane aren't going, then me neither." This was said with all the conviction a seven year old could muster.
Mathew then found himself hoisted onto his grandfather's shoulders as the family fought against the flow of people entering and headed for the exit. That the Potters were obviously leaving was proving an extremely unpopular decision with the gathered crowd and Harry found himself having to glower at a few people to get them to move out their path.
They had almost reached the barrier when a face Harry hoped he would never see again passed trough it, accompanied by two teenage girls and a woman he also recognised.
"Snape, long time no see. I can't say I've missed you."
Severus was pushing his daughters behind him, their mother reacting quickly and gathering both girls into her arms. He then caught sight of Hermione and knew there was something he had to do.
"Mrs Potter, I owe you an unreserved apology for my behaviour toward you. I was in a very bad place at the time but I have really no excuses." Severus glanced towards his girls who were struggling to get back to their father, clearly sensing something was wrong here. "Over everything I've ever done, that one incident gives me the most frequent and horrific nightmares. I keep seeing my daughters faces…" He actually couldn't finish what he was trying to say but everyone got the gist of it.
Harry's temper may have mellowed over the years but he knew there was no way he could be rational with Snape. This would be Hermione's call. Harry had taught his wife everything he knew and she could easily deal with the pardoned death eater.
Hermione instantly noticed that neither Snape nor his wife still carried Harry's mark, she understood this indicated that they really had changed. She also noticed the two girls desperate to get back to their father's side.
She nodded her head in acceptance. "Those were different times and there have been many changes since. I see no need to open old wounds."
Dan however disagreed. He had handed Matt over to his grandmother and then launched himself at the bastard who had arranged the attack on his daughter. By the time Harry managed to pull Dan off, Snape was on the ground and his face was a bloody mess.
Matilda held on tight to both her daughters, they were screaming at this man who was attacking their father. She knew her husband deserved this and more. Severus may have been handed a pardon but over the years he'd never pardoned himself, there wasn't a week went by but that nightmare woke him. Perhaps this would give the man she loved the closure he so badly needed.
Harry had both his arms wrapped around his father in law but Dan was still glaring down at the prostrate figure of Snape, the man was bleeding from his nose and mouth. "The only reason I don't kill you right this minute is that Hermione was never really in any danger that night. Harry was with her the entire time. Even at sixteen, he was more of a man than you'll ever be."
Hermione took her father's now damaged hands in hers, the glow as she healed Dan's hands was noticeable to the hundreds of people who were now watching the free entertainment. "Let's all go home dad, there's nothing here for us anymore."
The large crowd was forced to part as Daniel Potter pushed his trolley toward the portal back to Kings Cross, leading his family away from their very brief foray back into the magical world. Harry was the last to leave and turned around to see Snape now being attended to by his wife and two crying daughters.
"Severus, I thought it was poetic justice that Dumbledore spent his last years locked up and thanks for Peter. You saved me a job there."
With the entire platform watching, Harry calmly passed through the portal. Thus ending the Potters link with magical Britain.
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