Epilogue: In which Danny gets a letter
"Mom, Dad, I'm back!" Danny trotted through the door, feeling better than he had in days. He'd run into his parents during a ghost fight, and they said "Good job" to him! In his ghost form! That hadn't happened since- since- since never. They hadn't even twitched their guns (their eyes had been another story) in his direction this time, not like they had ever since his return from Britain. Whatever Unspeakable Croaker was telling them in their letters, it was having a very pleasant effect.
"Hi, honey!" Maddie yelled. There was a squelching noise from somewhere in her general vicinity. "You've almost got it, Jack." Switching her attention back to her son, she added, "You have mail, Danny."
"…Do I want to know what that is?"
"Probably not," his mother confessed. "But we'll be eating out tonight, I think. Mph." In the kitchen, something cracked. "Take that, you foul monstrosity!"
Danny hesitated. Well, he was in a pretty good mood, so….
One wrestling match against a horrible creature of unidentified origin later, the halfa made his way to his room. "Hi, Malcedema. We're going to have Mexican tonight, so I'll try to smuggle you some burrito meat."
The owl whistled her approval. The other owl, pale as snow with black markings, hooted.
Danny grinned. "Sorry, Hedwig. Mom mentioned that I had mail, but then we had to fight some… I don't even know what… in the kitchen, so I forgot all about that." He untied the letter from her leg. "Do you like burrito meat?"
Hedwig tilted her head.
"Well, you won't know unless you try. I'll get you some too. Now, how's your Harry doing?" Danny unrolled the letter.
Hedwig hooted. "Good," the halfa said.
Dear Danny, the missive began in Harry's messy scrawl,
All's still well. The Death Eater trials are finally winding down (you have no idea how much of my time testifying took up, and in my O.W.L. year, too). That means we can finally get started on other things, like your case against Hogwarts and my custody trial. Patricia says that we have a watertight case for freeing Sirius. We'd probably have one even without Wormtail being captured with the other Death Eaters. You've heard about her reaction when she learned that us Brits don't use Veritaserum at every trial, right? I don't think that Fudge has recovered yet, and it's been almost two months!
Speaking of Fudge, you owe me five Galleons. He held onto the position of Minister two whole days (and some hours, but who's counting) longer than you thought he would.
"Darn it," Danny grumbled. He'd been so sure of that bet, too.
Hedwig's answering hoot was a bit too smug.
"He got lucky, that's all," Danny huffed. "Just help me remember to send the money with you, okay? Thanks." He returned his attention to the letter.
Dumbledore decided to stay headmaster but dropped his political jobs. I think his reasoning was that it would take too much work to clean up Hogwarts and everywhere else. He wants to do one thing at a time- Hermione says that he believes that things got so bad because he overstretched himself. If he 'narrows his focus' a bit, he should be fine. Well, maybe. He's still on probation in my book- in all our books.
He needs a new wand, though. Randall ate his old one and shoved the remnants up Draco Malfoy's nose. It took Madam Pomfrey ten whole minutes to get all the splinters out. That doesn't sound like much time, but you have to take into account that she was using magic.
The handwriting changed here, becoming larger and messier.
You also have to take into account the fact that Malfoy deserved it,Ron wrote. He's a git.
Harry took over again. Yes, we're all quite happy with Randall now. Even Hermione, which is hard to believe but still true.
The girl herself took over in the next paragraph.
If you had met Malfoy, you would have agreed. Suffice to say that he's the son of Lucius Malfoy, one of Voldemort's worst Death Eaters (I've enclosed the charges against him in case you're curious), and he wholeheartedly believes in his father's propaganda. He's a lot like a younger, snobbier version of Snape who isn't obsessed with potions.
With Snape (and Umbridge, and Filch, and Binns) gone, life here at the castle is the best it's ever been. A fellow named Horace Slughorn teaches Potions- he's brilliant! He actually teaches us what to do, not just pointing to instructions on a blackboard and attempting to murder toads. Defense has been renamed Dueling and is taught by Alastor "Mad-Eye" Moody. Mrs. Simmons brought in one of her friends, Professor Clio Wright, to teach History of Magic. We don't have a replacement for Filch because the house-elves are taking care of that- for now.
That reminds me- enclosed is your S.P.E.W. membership badge and the badges you requested for your family. Hopefully, with all the new support we've gotten, we can actually get somewhere before the decade's over.
In other words, life is good here at Hogwarts, Harry summarized. Thank you.
A soft smile graced Danny's face.
There was more to the letter, of course, basic things about their day-to-day life, about difficult Charms assignments and Quidditch games, but it was the first few paragraphs that stuck in the halfa's mind. The evil wizards were all in jail, the students of Hogwarts were standing up for themselves, and Patricia Simmons was more than capable of handling whatever the other magic-users threw at her. And somehow, all that had come to pass without anyone realizing that Phantom was involved.
Or so Hermione claimed. On the back of the letter, she had enclosed a hidden message written in lemon juice, a message that Danny quickly uncovered by using his fire powers to warm the parchment.
It's been two months, and no one has said anything. Personally, Danny, I think that that's a sign. If no one has figured anything out yet, then no one ever will. You'll fade more and more from their collective consciousness, becoming nothing more than a fond memory. Perhaps, years from now, an adult will look back and wonder how you did all these things, but by then it will be too late.
Admittedly, I don't have any way of knowing whether Professor Dumbledore suspects anything. I know that you were worried about that, but he seems to want as little to do with you as possible. This might be because he's worried about Mrs. Simmons, but I doubt it. He's used to being right. You reminded him that he's only human, and I'm not sure if he appreciated that reminder as much as he should have.
My point is, your secret is still safe. It's growing safer every day.
Harry and Ron are getting impatient, so I'll cut off here. Goodbye again, Danny. I hope you're well.
The halfa smiled once again at the letter. For the thousandth time, he made a mental note to get Hermione in touch with Jazz. The two intellectuals would hit it off immediately. And he'd have to write the Gryffindor girl another thank-you note. He'd sent her a couple already, and she claimed that he really didn't have to ("Harry and Ron are starting to suspect that I've got a secret admirer!"), but he wanted her to know how deeply he appreciated her silence. Danny Fenton-Phantom knew more than anyone how hard it was to keep secrets from loved ones.
"Danny!" his mother called. "Get your shoes on! We're heading out!"
"Coming, Mom," he yelled back, pushing himself off his bed. The letter remained behind, not forgotten but simply laid aside. He had time to write the Gryffindors back after supper or even after patrol, because what would happen to them? Nothing. They, like the rest of wizarding Britain, were safe.
All was well.
Finitum est. It's done. Yay?
A lot of you have asked about a sequel. There probably won't be one. I had always thought of this as a stand-alone, a quit-while-you're-ahead thing, and have no intention of spoiling Spirited Away with a cheap spin-off. HOWEVER, there is a very, very small chance that I'll get bitten by a rabid plot bunny and come up with something awesome in this universe. IF that happens (and it's a big if), it won't happen for a long, long, long time.
Last chapter's meter: 7.29.
Cumulative meter: 6.64.
Thank you all for reading. You guys are great!