A Darkened World
Hogsmeade station bustled with activity as the students jostled their way towards the carriages that would take them home from the recently ended school term. In the fifty years since the end of the war against Voldemort, the process of rebuilding had been slow. Very slow.
The war had decimated the human population all over the planet, and crippled the finances of many governments, both magical and muggle. Economies across the globe had collapsed and many countries had been forced to either unite with their neighbours as one country, or simply dissolved into nothingness, forcing their populace to move elsewhere.
Naturally this had caused conflict; people with different religious and political beliefs were forced together by circumstances far beyond their control, and in situations like that mankind rarely works things out quickly. Wars had raged and died out, more economies had buckled, society had splintered and healed countless times, and ultimately even more lives were lost as some tried to keep their power, some tried to add to theirs, and others lost all that they had.
Of course, no group of peoples suffered quite as much as the magical ones. Foremost in their run of problems was that, for most of the remaining magical populations, their law enforcement units had been devastated in battle. Secondly, the Ministries had paid dearly to fight the war in the first place, meaning that they had far less money to rebuild, and some things simply could not be fixed with a "Reparo" spell.
Worse, however, was the fact that muggles now new about magic. Under different circumstances the reveal of the existence of magic would have been accepted by large portions of muggle society. However, seeing as their current troubles had been born from a war of wizards, the muggles were not as accepting as they might have been. Muggle governments had someone to blame for their woes, and demanded reparations, which they were of course entitled to, although it only crippled the magical world further. And, hoping to avoid more conflict now that they were exposed, a good number of Ministries decided that it was in their best interests to pay up.
In some countries muggles waged war against the magicals, and the magicals did likewise in other countries. And in still other countries the magicals had no choice but to submit to muggle rule without a fight and simply hope for the best as they could afford no other option.
Rarely did any of these actions work out for the best.
India was one of the few places where magical/muggle conflicts had worked out well, though no one really understood why. In Australia the situation could be at best be described as "strained." Somehow wizards from Russia and China had managed to shrink back into hiding from their muggle counterparts. After years of negotiations and peace-keeping efforts both the US and Canada had officially resolved their issues between the magicals and muggles. However these countries still had places where magicals quickly learned to stay away from. Japan, along with the Central and South American, South-East Asian and African countries also suffered similar problems, though many were far worse than others.
Despite all efforts at peace, it wasn't long before it became necessary for alternative solutions to be found for the wizards. In the end the ICW met to discuss the issue, as it had come to affect all wizard-kind. In the end it was a witch from the USA who had voiced a possible solution: "How about Europe?"
At this point ten years had passed since the end of the war and Europe had yet to be re-populated. The human population had no need to make use of the space, and there was no money to set up such things anyway.
Whilst everyone had admitted that Europe was a possibility, it meant they would have to live in the shadow of the one they had all come to fear. The title of "Master of Death" had done nothing to increase people's opinions of Harry Potter, but it was rapidly becoming apparent that magical society was going to have to turn to him again in order to prevent their total collapse. In the end, they had taken their idea before their muggle counterparts; the United Nations (or what was left of them.) Their plan had been a simple one: move all of the magical populations left on Earth to the region formerly known as Europe and allow them to dwell there in peace. The plan had been a sound one; not only was Europe more than large enough to hold all the remaining wizards and witches, but also gigantic areas would be left over; areas that meant that magical creatures could be taken there as well.
Really the muggles had nothing to lose in trying the plan, and if it proved successful they could get rid of a large problem troubling their society, so they had agreed.
The only thing to do then was find Harry Potter and talk to him.
Harry's status following the war had been a strange one. Although India and Australia, amongst a couple of other countries, had offered to allow him citizenship, no one had really wanted the "Master of Death" around them, and Harry in return hadn't really wanted to be around them. With Europe abandoned, Harry had sort-of claimed the place for himself. He was known to have made Hogwarts castle his official home, but he didn't dwell there at all times.
As luck would have it, a group of representatives from both the ICW and the UN had arrived at Hogwarts at a time where Harry was actually there.
Harry hadn't been particularly pleased when they had turned up, but listened as they had pleaded their case. To be honest Harry had been more in favour of the idea of having all magical creatures moved to Europe than he was of the idea of the wizards and witches coming too. In the end, however, he had conceded to the benefits of the idea and within two months all the wizards and witches had moved. They repaired the ruins of London in the UK, Paris in France, Rome in Italy, Berlin in Germany and Madrid in Spain to start with, and these locations were more than capable of housing the remaining magicals. Getting these places up and running had taken time and effort, leaving an opening open for education. The end result was that the doors of Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry had reopened, more than capable of housing and providing an education for the children of the remaining magicals, regardless of gender, blood status or race. The concerns of the populace about incurring the wrath of "The Master of Death" were quashed by the realisation that Hogwarts was, in fact, now the safest place for their children to be, as anyone would have to be mad to strike "The Master of Death" at his stronghold.
Forty years later, magical society had finally reached equilibrium, as had the muggle world beyond it. Economy was re-established, and the fight had gone out of most of those adverse to the necessary changes that society as a whole had had to go through.
By some kind of unwritten rule, Harry Potter had kind-of become the de facto head of the magicals. Although he had absolutely no intention of doing any such thing, the wizards were actually afraid that they might do something to incur his wrath and that he would set an army of Dementors and Vampires upon them, and so they regularly got his opinion on various matters, making sure he was included in plans for the way in which wizarding society should proceed.
It did annoy Harry from time to time, but again he saw the upside. Although he never threatened them in any way, the fact that he had the potential to wipe them all out really helped in keeping people in line. He could quite easily have become a dictator if he had wanted to, but he didn't. He didn't need to as their own fears kept them in line. And it worked; only once did someone try and become the "New Dark Lord" and, out of fear of reprisal from Harry, the wizards united to take the guy down within a week. Sometimes fear of the consequences of one's actions, real or (as with this case) imagined, works as a far better deterrent than anything else society can come up with. Harry had no real interest in them, but as them thinking that he did made them behave, he saw no reason to try and convince them otherwise.
Now it was fifty years after the war, and the magical population had begun to grow again; so much so that a couple of new wings and towers had been added to Hogwarts. Harry had suggested simply opening another school, but actually everyone being taught the same values in the same place was doing too much good to convince anyone to change that.
With the reopening of the school had come the re-building of Hogsmeade village. Hogwarts no longer utilised enslaved House Elves and instead employed people to work at the castle as cleaners, launderers, groundskeepers, gardeners, cooks and maintenance workers. These were all roles that previous magical societies would have looked down upon, now they were great employment opportunities for many, especially as the purebloods could no-longer hold meaningless ministerial positions or rely on family wealth whilst the Muggleborns faded back into muggle society.
On the whole things for society, be it magical or muggle, were improving, and could only continue to do so.
However, it was time for the wizards to continue on under new guidance.
Harry Potter was now in his nineties. He was old and tired. He knew that it was time.
He stood atop the tallest tower of Hogwarts, and watched at the scarlet steam engine pulled away from Hogsmeade station in the distance. The train would travel first to London, then through the converted Channel Tunnel to France, before making stops throughout the rest of Western Europe.
For what would be the last time he watched the Hogwarts Express disappear over the horizon, and then turned to head back down to the Great Hall.
Following the defeat of Voldemort's forces at the Second Battle of Hogwarts, Death had taken his leave, returning to his own realm in the afterlife. The Dementors, Death Eaters and the spirits of all those who fell in that battle, both good and evil, had gone with him.
Rose, Padma and their remaining companions came out of the castle, and she began using the Cup of Hufflepuff to heal those with the worst injuries. Harry meanwhile had stood by to see what the next move of the leaders of the ICW would be. He had seen fear in their eyes, and doubt, but that same fear and doubt seemed to prevent them from saying anything. Although they had welcomed his joining of the battle, and the turn in the tide that it had caused, it was obvious that they were aware of the trouble that he now had the potential to cause.
Seeing that they were not antagonistic towards him, Harry set to other business. It was long past the time for a daughter to reunite with her mother.
The Australian officials had been nervous when he first approached them, but upon learning of his request they had practically fallen over themselves in their haste to comply.
Two days later, with most of those who had arrived for the battle having departed for their own homelands, an international port-key had arrived, bringing Hermione Granger within viewing distance of Hogwarts castle for the first time in over twenty years. Harry, who had been sitting talking with Padma at the time of her arrival, watched from a distance as mother and daughter shared a tearful reunion.
And then it happened. With absolutely no prompting from her daughter, Hermione's eyes spotted Harry. And suddenly the reunion that he had been both looking forward to and dreading for the past few days was upon Harry. And he realised that he could think of nothing to say. Once upon a time he would have wanted to rant and rave at her for abandoning him, but now he knew the truth. And how could he say anything about that when it was Hermione's secret to tell?
In the end, no words had been required. Rose took her mother's hand and led her over to Harry. The two childhood friends had looked at each other for a long minute, and then Harry found himself opening his arms. And suddenly she was in them, her own arms wrapping tightly around his chest as she began to cry into his shoulder. And as he held her, he felt his own tears beginning to build up and sting at the corners of his eyes until they too began to fall.
Both knew that there would be many long and exhausting discussions between them in the near future, but for now those could wait.
Harry Potter had his best friend back.
That evening, Harry, Hermione and Rose had met in the restored common room in Gryffindor Tower to talk. In the end the only way to truly put the past behind them had been to talk about it. Only once the whole truth was out could they work towards resolving any and all issues between them.
And they had.
For a long time afterwards, Harry took the advice of his family. He ventured all across Europe, from the sunny skies, beautiful beaches and clear waters of the Mediterranean to the rugged mountainsides and forest areas of the Alps. He enjoyed reading books in the shade of a tree on a warms summer's day. He got himself a broom and rediscovered the pleasures of flying. He enjoyed the modest home comforts that so many took for granted.
He did everything his family had advised him to do, and much more besides.
And each experience was made better simply by having Hermione at his side. Often Rose accompanied them, particularly for the first few years, but she had her own life to live.
When all the remaining wizards had come to live in Europe, Rose had bumped into a familiar face from her school days, a man called Anthony Rowland. To cut a long story short, Rose was now happily married with three children to call her own. Rose was more than happy that her mother and Harry had found happiness together, even though they did choose to not marry.
Padma was a frequent visitor, even before the "Great Move" at it was called nowadays. She eventually moved into the castle to serve as Defence Instructor, joining Hermione on the staff of the school, Hermione being the Muggle Studies teacher (a now mandatory course for all, including first years.) Padma never remarried, opting instead to find peace in her friends and in her work of teaching future generations to protect themselves.
A few of the remaining Weasleys, as well as a couple of other surviving acquaintances got in touch, and a level of friendliness returned, but things never quite returned to the same level as before.
Harry never really made up his mind whether or not to pay a visit to Ron in the prison where he was held. Even after the people in that prison were brought to a new prison in Europe, Harry didn't do it. He always felt that he should, but could never bring himself to go through with it. In the end fate intervened and Ron passed away. Harry had Rose lock the Resurrection Stone away, deep within Hogwarts so as to not be tempted to us it to try and contact Ron. With him dead, it was best that the whole thing remained in the past (as it would do Harry no favours to have a desire to punch Ron on the off chance that he wasn't apologetic enough, and not be able to do it.)
Harry's life had consisted of helping the wizards construct their new world. He had been extremely reluctant at first, and only did so in order to be civil. Then Rose, at the age of thirty three had given birth to her first child. With the words "Say hello, Granddad." Rose had placed the newly born baby girl into Harry's arms. The little thing had her Granddad wrapped around her little finger in an instant. And suddenly he found a new energy within himself. If the wizards wanted his help and advice to re-build then he sure as hell was going to give it. He vowed that his Granddaughter would not grow up in a world that was anything like the one her parents and grandparents had grown up in, Harry was determined of that much. That Rose wanted to call the girl Luna further cemented that resolve.
And by the way wizarding society was behaving at the moment; Harry had done that job well.
But Harry was old now. Normally a wizard or a witch could expect to go on for another decade or so with ease, and some could go on for another decade or two beyond that. But the harshness of the early half of his life was catching up to him. He was tired. He was weakening. He had aches and pains in every joint and muscle. And he knew from bitter personal experience that old men could lose touch with reality, especially if he was a wizard. Harry had done all that he could, and it was now time.
He arrived in the Great Hall to find his family waiting on him. None related by blood as Hermione had been unable to have any more children, but they were still his family; Rose, her husband and her three now grown up children, each now with their own partners and children. Each of them looked up and offered him watery-eyed smiles.
Hermione stood from her seat beside Rose and walked over to him with several taps on the ground from her walking stick that aided her and her bad hip. Padma had a walking stick now as well, though in her case it was for her knee.
The two women had already said their goodbyes and now it was Harry's turn. He went around and spoke with everyone one last time, making sure to give out hugs and kisses wherever required. He spent a little extra time with Luna in order to make one final bug fuss over little Emma, the youngest of the family at just over a year old. He regretted not being able to see her grow up, but knew he would be able to watch over her from above.
Then he came to Rose, who embraced him in a tight hug before beckoning her mother to join them. Before they knew it the three were trapped in the middle of one large group hug, everyone savouring those final moments.
Then they all parted, and Rose placed into Harry's hand the resurrection stone that she had retrieved from its hiding place.
With a nod of determination, he turned away from his family and turned the stone over in him hand three times. Then, out of thin air, a ball of light appeared. Brighter and brighter it grew until the bottom touched the floor, and the top was ten feet in the air.
A figure appeared there, tall and dressed in black.
Death had come again.
Harry and Death approached each other and each greeted the other as friends, with the latter then asking "Are you sure that now is the time?"
Harry nodded "Now is the time."
He took the Elder Wand from his pocket, and held both it and the Resurrection Stone out towards Death "It is time these were returned to you, the one to whom they rightfully belong."
Death reached out a skeletal hand and accepted the two items.
"And this." added Harry, pulling his cloak from his shoulders; the cloak of invisibility.
Death took the cloak too.
Harry looked to Hermione and Padma, who both nodded, and linked arms with him. Then, both women letting go of their sticks, the three walked towards the light ahead of them.
Their family fought against their tears without much luck as the three walked forwards. Each one so desperately wanted to stop them from leaving. But then, right before they passed through the light, all three turned to look back at them over their shoulders and appeared to be young and healthy again, like much sorrow and weariness had been completely lifted from them, and all those watching knew, deep in their hearts, that this was the right option for them to take.
And then they were gone.
Harry, Hermione and Padma were unable to see anything but the light that now enveloped them, but a sensation from within pulled them forwards, compelling them to keep walking. And then the light faded, and they saw them; the familiar faces of friends and family long since departed.
They had left their family behind, but were now welcomed back into the arms of those who had gone before them, but never been forgotten.
And finally they were at peace.
Back in the land of the living, Death was walking towards the light as though to leave when he stopped. Then he turned and approached Rose. As he got to her he handed her the Invisibility cloak "Keep this on you, and pass it along your line. You might not be the Master of Death, but you may still use it to call on my aid should your need ever be great enough. The other two items had brought nothing but death and destruction, so I shall keep them."
With a nod, Rose took the cloak, and Death took his leave. The light faded and was gone.
Rose felt her husband's arm go around her, and heard his quiet question "Are you okay?"
Rose shook her head before resting it on his shoulder "No, but I will be."
It would be another forty years before Rose re-joined her parents. In the meantime she and her children continued Harry Potter's legacy; keeping peace in the world, and doing what was right, rather than what was easy.
All was not yet well, but it would be, given time.
A/N: How was that? I never know if an epilogue that I write goes well with the rest of the story, but I think that this one turned out okay. And if you don't like it then surely you can admit that its a better attempt than the crappilogue at the end of Deathly Hallows.
Before anyone asks, no Harry, Hermione and Padma did not get into some kind of three-person relationship. Padma loved her husband and refused to find another. She was their close friend, but nothing more.
Anyway I hope that this was at least satisfactory. That's the end of this one; thanks for reading and look out for the next one which, at the moment, looks like it might be an alternative fifth year fic in which Harry's Slytherin side comes out to play!