Epilogue: We Were Merely Freshman
There are so many things I wanted to say at the end of this story. Unfortunately, just like my characters, when it actually comes time for me to speak, I never can find the words to say what I really mean, and I end up rambling uselessly until people get tired of reading or I get tired of writing, whichever comes first.
No one was supposed to like this story. You were all supposed to flame my mailbox five times a day, railing about my uncharacteristic treatment of people, places, and events, and swear to have me blacklisted from every Harry Potter fanlist out there. After all, it sometimes seems that rape is a taboo subject even in today's societal standards—especially in stories where it's dealt with realistically and not thrown in there 'just to add spice to the plot' because 'she was asking for it, anyway.'
(By the way, if anyone ever DARES to tell me that any rape victim, real or imagined, deserved to be raped, I will fly to whatever corner of the earth you may inhabit, find you, and rip you apart with my bare hands.)
As some of you have already figured out, TFYT came into existence owing to some very scarring experiences in my past. And, just so that no one freaks out this early in the tale, let's get this out of the way:
NO, I HAVE NOT BEEN RAPED.
However, about eleven months ago, I discovered that one of my friends from high school was raped. It had been one of those random 'hit-and-run' (for lack of better words) things you read about in bad romance novels or the newspapers. She had been jogging when a guy suddenly attacked her. She never saw his face, and he was never caught.
I don't know how she's doing right now. I'd like to think she's okay, because when I saw her this summer she seemed happy and was hanging out with all her friends. Of course, I'm sure she's drugged up on Prozac or something. But I haven't heard anything about her recently, and while I know that 'no news is good news,' I can't help but be concerned.
That event was a springboard that lead me to write TFYT. But, of course, there's more to it than that. The rape was just sorta the straw that broke the camel's back.
I have two best friends, whom for the sake of the story we will call Catherine and Yvonne. Ever since we started a girl's trio in sixth grade, we've been inseparable (even through college).
Our senior year of high school, there was a biology teacher (whom I shall call Mr. H for the sake of the story). He was an odd type…was in the army for ten years or so, divorced, forty-something, et cetera. I remember vividly that one time he brought a live chicken into the classroom and then chopped its head off so everyone could see what 'running-around-like-a-chicken-with-its-head-cut-off' really means. Everyone in the school knew he was odd, but (as with most stories like this) it was universally accepted. And so the year progressed.
Now, Catherine is one of my most brilliant friends, and she really enjoys learning. So of course, she always asks a lot of questions, gets into intellectual arguments, and always goes in after classes for extra help on homework and the like. Since biology was one of her favorite subjects, she immediately started this pattern with Mr. H.
I'll dismiss with all the tedious lead-ups to the problem, but halfway through the year, Yvonne and I became aware that Mr. H was interested in Catherine, and not as a student. He sent her presents, he wrote her poems, he would call her house, have her call his house, he gave her special treatment in class, et cetera. Finally, one afternoon after class, he cornered her and told her that he was interested in pursuing a real relationship.
When she told us this, I had a nervous breakdown and I started screaming at her as tears streamed down my face. If I remember correctly, I said something to the effect of: "How could you be so stupid! How could you! You should have known that something like this was going to happen! How the fuck could you let this happen, that you could let it have progress this far?" I know that I scared her (because I am normally a very stable and calm person, and it takes a lot to make me cry), and we all realized the seriousness of the situation.
Being the stupid 18-year-olds that we were, Yvonne and I firmly laid down the law to Catherine. She had the power to cut this off, and she was going to do so. End of story. If she did, we wouldn't go to any authorities (although we said that if anything further happened, we would). So Catherine told Mr. H that she wanted to end all this madness. She told me that when she spoke to him, he got out a plastic knife, handed it to her, and said, "Why don't you just cut my heart out while you're at it?"
But it was over. Or so we thought.
About two months later, Mr. H started his attentions towards Catherine again, with renewed force. That was it. Yvonne and I went to one of the assistant principals (who was a very good friend of ours) and told her the whole story. To make this overly-long story somewhat short, we were eventually able to kick Mr. H out of school. But not on sexual harassment charges. In order to keep the papers out of it (and to keep Catherine and her family out of it), they didn't press those charges. And until the whole thing was over, I wasn't allowed to tell my parents. Every time my mother asked me "How was school today? How are the girls?" I had to paste on a phony smile and lie "Oh, they're fine, everything's good," and all the while my stomach was turning in knots within me.
And now, the bastard's somewhere in Florida, and as far as I know, still teaching, and free to pull another stunt like that.
So that's Catherine's involvement in the saga. There is also another facet that is on a more personal level that, for me, might have even been more scarring than the whole Mr. H thing.
In the same year of high school, there was a young and quite attractive math teacher, whom we shall call Mr. R for the sake of the story. I found him quite attractive, and had many a pleasant daydream about him. He had a prep hour at the same time I didn't have class, so every so often I would go into his room and chat with him, and I suppose 'flirt,' in my own way. He liked many of the same things I did, and he always came to the choir concerts (of which I was a part). True, he was engaged, but I could toy with the notion in my head, couldn't I?
Anyway, the year went on, and eventually the last day of school came. I went into his classroom and (I cringe to write this) I gave him a kiss. This is not unusual for me; I kiss everyone. Then, all of a sudden, he grabbed me and French-kissed me. Long and hard. Then we parted, and I walked out to my car in a daze.
It wasn't until later that I realized how amazingly fucked-up that all was. Granted, I suppose part of it had been my fault (and that is a big thing for me to admit), but still. He was the teacher. He should NOT HAVE DONE THAT. Hell, I should not have done that, but he DEFININTELY SHOULD NOT HAVE DONE THAT.
I saw Mr. R for the first time since that event this summer. Remember the movie I told you that I was working on? Well, he was working on it too. Ironically, he was the Biblical reference contact for the movie. I walked into the house and saw him. My stomach plummeted to the floor, and I remember vividly the sickening, paralyzing feeling that spread over me. I thought for a second that I was going to throw up. Acting normal was one of the hardest things I have ever done.
I have told this story to several of my friends, but I have always made it sound like it was entirely my doing. I don't know why. Maybe it's just self-preservation. They laugh, shake their heads at me, and we go back to our everyday lives.
Granted, these events could have been worse. A lot worse. But, as you can obviously see, I've been pretty scarred by this all. I didn't really realize HOW scarred I was until I started writing TFYT.
I had always been raised to believe that authority figures (like teachers, policemen, clergymen, et cetera) were good people, who always did the right thing, in whom you could always trust. These events showed me that, although these people may be in elevated positions, they are human. And human beings are not always good people.
So. There is the tale.
If any of you readers have ever experienced a situation similar to those that I have related in either this Author's Note or TFYT in general, you have my utter, complete, and total sympathy. I don't want to go into pages of psychoanalysis or some clumsy expression of how terrible I feel for you, but just know this: no matter what happened, IT WAS NOT YOUR FAULT. And if, for some reason, you are in a situation similar to this—for God's sake, do something about it. Talk to an administrator, your friends, someone and anyone you can trust. In real life my endings were happy, but they don't always end up that way.
And, as Forrest Gump would say, "That's all I have to say about that."
For all of you Snape/Aeryn shippers: It's far too soon. FAR too soon, at least for Aeryn. She's too wounded. Hell, it's taken me three years to get over my teacher experiences, and I haven't gone through anything as horrific as she did. Perhaps in time. But not now.
For all of my faithful readers and reviewers: Thank you. Thank you a million times over. Besides the obvious glee it gives me to FINALLY finish a story that I've started (that's a first for me, I believe), I've been able to heal, and part of that is due to the fact that you enjoyed the story and spurred me on to finish it.
To Slytherin Goddess: You're a fabulous beta-reader, and your reviews have left me laughing to no end. I hereby christen you the leader of "Abby's Defenders" owing to your fabulous dedication on my Schnoogle review board. Thank you for everything, darling.
To Lari: You're definitely one of the most surprising and cultured people I know, and you're so like me that it's terrifying. You as well are a fabulous beta-reader, and definitely a candidate for the co-leader of "Abby's Defenders." Ma chérie, I thank you.
To Auror61: I'm sure you're probably kicking yourself for all those ideas that you gave me that appeared in these final chapters. LOL. If it's any consolation, darling, they were fabulous ideas, and your creative mind has helped me over many a writer's block. I can't wait to bounce ideas off you for the sequel. Your beta reading is marvelous, but more than that, you're a great friend. Merci mille fois.
To Rosmerta: What can I say to you that I haven't already? Beta-reader, friend, confidante…the hours that you and I have struggled over this story have definitely paid off, darling. I hate to use trite and hackneyed words, but I couldn't have done it without you. Truly I couldn't have. I feel so blessed to have crossed paths with you, and I'm certain that even after all is said and done with my fanfic quests, we'll still be writing to each other. I love you, my dear.
*Gives a bow*
Thank you, ladies and gentlemen, for making this adventure such a fulfilling experience. Yes, a sequel is forthcoming, although it will be long months before I begin to write it. I want to go to the beach; I want to be able to speak French so well that I'll come back to the States not knowing how to speak English; I want to start working (in earnest) on my original novel. But, in time, we shall meet again.
Cheers, darlings. –AKB
…and for the million hours that we were
Well, I'll smile and remember it allThen I'll turn and go out
The story's completed
But man, it's a long way from done…
-Sister Hazel, "Champagne High"
Chapter 6: McGonagall's letter of acceptance to Aeryn. Roughly based off Harry's acceptance letter to Hogwarts in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's/Philosopher's Stone.
Chapter 7: The description of Dumbledore's office. Taken from "The Polyjuice Potion," chapter 12 of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, page 205.
Chapter 8: Having the turtle breathe steam with a blue-patterned shell. From Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Snape's lecture to Aeryn and the events surrounding her first Potions lesson are based pretty much based from Harry's first Potions class in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's/Philosopher's Stone.
Chapter 9: How about the entire thing? Exclusively borrowed from "Diagon Alley" in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's/Philosopher's Stone, and "At Flourish and Blotts," chapter 4 of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, pages 42-64.
Chapter 11: Again, pretty much the entire thing. Exclusively borrowed from "The Sorting Hat" in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's/Philosopher's Stone. Except for the song, that is—I made that up myself, and I'm darned proud of it. When Aeryn is listening on to the conversation between Snape/McGonagall/Dumbledore to basically the end of the chapter, it has been taken from the end of "The Whomping Willow," chapter 5 of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, pages 81-85.
Chapter 12: The Gryffindor Foursome catching the pixies. Based on events from the chapter "Gilderoy Lockhart," chapter 6 of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, pretty much from pages 102-103. The description of the Potions dungeon is from "The Potions Master" of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's/Philosopher's Stone.
Chapter 13: The description of the diary. Based off of the description from "The Very Secret Diary," chapter 13 of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, page 231.
Chapter 14: Opening paragraph. Taken from "The Deathday Party," chapter 8 of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, page 122.
Chapter 15: Aeryn's reaction to the Imperius Curse. Taken from when Mad-Eye Moody casts the curse on Harry in class in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.
Chapter 16: Everything except for the few small changes I made (God, that sounds so horrible when I write it out). Taken from "The Deathday Party" and "The Writing on the Wall," chapters 8 and 9 of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, most specifically pages 137-145.
Chapter 18: Description of Filch's actions after the attack on Mrs. Norris; "The Writing on the Wall," chapter 9 of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, page 146. The Gryffindor Foursome's discussion of the Chamber of Secrets; taken from the same chapter from the same book, pages 158-160. Brief description of the Chamber of Secrets is taken from Professor Binns' lecture from the same chapter, same book, pages 149-152. Aeryn getting Lockhart's signature for the Restricted Section of the library is taken from "The Rogue Bludger," chapter 10 of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, pages 162-163.
Chapter 19: The Gryffindor Four discussing the Polyjuice Potion; "The Rogue Bludger," chapter 10 of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, pages 164-166. The Quidditch match draws from details from the same chapter of the same book, pages 166-173. The voices Aeryn hears are the same that Harry hears in "The Deathday Party," chapter 8 of the same book, pages 137-138.
Chapter 20: Colin in the infirmary wing; "The Rogue Bludger," chapter 10 of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, pages 179-181. The Gryffindor Four preparing the Polyjuice Potion; "The Dueling Club," chapter 11 of the same book, pages 183-184. Aeryn's reaction to the Polyjuice Potion; "The Polyjuice Potion," chapter 12 of the same book, pages 216-217.
Chapter 21: Aeryn's flashback to the second week of December; "The Dueling Club," chapter 11 of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, pages 185-186. The planning and stealing of the ingredients from Snape's private stores; same chapter of the same book, pages 186-188.
Chapter 22: Aeryn at the dueling club meeting; "The Dueling Club," chapter 11 of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, pages 192-195.
Chapter 23: From after Aeryn leaves the infirmary until practically the end. Taken exclusively from "The Polyjuice Potion," chapter 12 from Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, pages 209, 210-226. Descriptions of the Christmas feast are also drawn from the Christmas feast in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's/Philosopher's Stone.
Chapter 27: The first paragraph; "The Very Secret Diary," chapter 13 of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, page 227.
Chapter 28: Where Harry shows the diary to the girls until Aeryn begins her conversation with Snape. Taken from "The Very Secret Diary" of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, pages 231-235. Valentine's day; same chapter of the same book, pages 235-237. I wrote the Valentine poems myself—aren't you proud of me? Aeryn overhearing the scene between Harry and Riddle until the end of the chapter; same chapter of the same book, pages 246-248.
Chapter 29: The Gryffindor Four discuss Hagrid's involvement in the Chamber of Secrets; "Cornelius Fudge," chapter 14 of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, pages 249-251. Aeryn stealing Riddle's diary from Harry's dormitory; same chapter of the same book, pages 253-254. The very next day, from breakfast until Aeryn tells the boys to go without her; same chapter of the same book, pages 245-259. When the boys come back to the common room, Harry's last line is taken from the same chapter of the same book, page 264.
Chapter 30: "Aragog," chapter 15 of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, pages 265-267 (the beginning of the chapter until Aeryn's detention), 269 (discussing the Forbidden Forest), 270-271 (the Gryffindor common room until the boys leave Aeryn in Hagrid's cabin), 274 (Mr. Weasley's car), 276 (description of the spiders), 279-282 (when Aeryn and the car burst into the hollow until the end of the chapter, with my own artistic touches thrown in).
Chapter 31: The beginning of the chapter until Ron's line about Lockhart curling his hair. Taken exclusively from "The Chamber of Secrets," chapter 16 of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, pages 283-288.
Chapter 32: Description of the Chamber; "The Heir of Slytherin," chapter 17 of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, pages 306-307. Riddle's explanation of the attacks; Harry's explanation of the same thing from "The Chamber of Secrets," chapter 16 of the same book, page 291. The staff room sequence; same chapter of the same book, pages 293-295. From when the boys go to Lockhart's office until Harry gets to the chamber; same chapter of the same book, pages 295-298, 300-305.
Chapter 33: From the beginning until everyone arrives back up in the bathroom (with Aeryn and my own artistic touches thrown in); "The Heir of Slytherin," chapter 17 of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, pages 306-326.