Epilogue - 2
Epilogue - 2nd part
“You’ve given us back the joy in life that we’ve thought lost for ever”, said Mr Granger. “Sometimes, we have the impression that we still have Hermione with us, but that she has been simply transformed into a boy, and that we have renamed her Harry. You are our joy and our pride. The professors at the University were all amazed to see so brilliant a student !”
“It doesn’t surprise me coming from Harry. It’s the determination and concentration of the spirit”, said Gabrielle.
“Exactly”, replied Ron and Neville together.
“We always remember your advices, Harry”, Luna said timidly.
“And you, Luna, when would you and Ron announce us a good piece of news ?”
Luna turned magenta.
“The good piece of news is already there”, said Ron. “We are expecting our first baby by mid-February. We don’t know yet whether it will be a boy or a girl, but if it’s a girl, we would like to call her Hermione … with your permission,” Ron added turning to Mr and Mrs Granger.
“We are very glad to know that you loved her”, replied Mrs Granger.
“Yes, very much”, said Ron, suddenly very moved, with watering eyes, “Thank you”.
“We all loved her very much”, added Luna.
“And Percy, and Charlie ?” asked Harry.
“Well, after Dad’s death”, Ron replied with relief for being able to conceal his emotions, “Percy came home to present his apologies to Mum, but she told him that it was Dad he should have apologized to, and that it was not up to her to forgive him in Dad’s place. She told him that she would not chase him away, if ever he had nowhere to go, but he should not ask her for more than that. Then he left, and never came back home. But he still works at the Ministry. According to Shacklebolt he is becoming more and more taciturn, withdrawn, and retiring into himself. He is not yet married. Penelope Clearwater left him. I saw her in Diagon Alley with another boy. As for Charlie, he is still with his dragons. He is not married yet, he’ll surely end up an old bachelor, that chap. As for Fred and George, they send you their heartiest good day greetings.”’
“That’s very kind of them”.
“They cannot come today. In summer, Diagon Alley is in full swing”, Ron went on. “Tourists from all over the world abound in the streets. Knockturn Alley has completely changed its face. The shops specialized in Dark Magic went bankrupt, one after the other, for people are no longer interested in it. They have been bought by other owners who transformed into shops of fabrics, high fashion clothing in Muggle style, or apothecaries, or shop of rare animals. There is a branch of Owl Post with only exotic birds and so on. Borgin & Burkes is now a jewellery store.’
“And number twelve, Grimmauld Place ?”, asked Harry.
‘Well, you left it at the disposal of the Order of the Phoenix, and the Order transformed it into a centre for assistance to the most impoverished ones. Among these, there were some of the former werewolves. They didn’t all have the chance of attending Hogwarts as Lupin did; we should help them get a job to earn a decent and honest living. That’s a lot of work for the Order. The Muggle Prime Minister had been very helpful too. That was how Mundungus, when he was released from Azkaban, and some others found a job as night sweepers in Muggle roads. After the death of Voldemort, the Muggle Prime Minister wanted to know you, but Scrimgeour didn’t know where you were. Many people, from everywhere, had sent substantial donations to your name by the care of the Ministry, to thank you. And it had become a fashion, every body who had no heir, whether they had been or not victims of Voldemort, found in you the ideal heir to their fortunes. The Ministry didn’t know where to find you, they sent you many owl messages, but got no answer, according to Shacklebolt. Then your attorney contacted McGonagall to say that you gave all that money to the Order, that the Order might use it in whatever ways it thought good. The Order still exists, thanks to these subventions, your subventions, but its interest is no longer the same. McGonagall is now Coordinator, since Aberforth’s death. And you are always member of the Order, member of honour. Fleur works half time on voluntary basis as treasurer for the Order. It was a colossal fortune that you gave to the Order, and it still goes on.’
“So much the better ! Yes, as you said, it had become a fashion. Mrs Diggory, before dying, expressly asked me to accept her heritage as a token of the gratitude she felt towards me for having killed Voldemort and taken revenge for Cedric. She said that since very long ago, long before the death of Voldemort, she looked upon me as her son, the son she had lost. She has asked for me at her dying bedside. She died three years ago. Her husband must have died long time ago. They have been sinking into sadness and despair without ever being able to resurface. Slughorn too, last year. He felt himself guilty of all the misfortunes that had happened to me … I told him I was very much in debt towards him for having given me bits of his memories about Voldemort and his horcrusses … And Mrs Marshbanks too, she said she took a liking to me and said she would have liked it if she had a great great grandson like me, and expressly asked me to accept her as a great great grandmother … And what about Tonks and Lupins and the others ?” added Harry who wanted to have news of everybody.
“Tonks and Lupin have a boy who must be now about seven years old. They live in perfect happiness. They are expecting their second child by the end of the year. Tonks is professor of Transfiguration at Hogwarts now, Lupin is an Auror. Moody is getting old, but less paranoiac now. Grawp is now assistant gamekeeper to Hagrid. He frightens the students, but he is not bad, not at all. McGonagall has now only the function of Headmistress to hold at Hogwarts. We formed an association among the former D.A. members, of which you are the member of honour. We meet once a year, the day of Voldemort’s death at the Hog’s Head bar. Cho is married to Oliver Wood. Every body asks us for news about you, because we are the only ones who have some news from you, from time to time, through your attorney. Our letters sent by the owls never brought back any answers. I was so glad the other day when I saw Hedwig arrive with your invitation, you can’t possibly imagine how glad I was.’
“Yes, I’m sorry. I didn’t want any relations with the wizarding world”, Harry replied. … “And I was also so overcome by my Muggle studies that was made at grand S speed !”
“You might have known …”, said Neville changing the subject, “it was thanks to the ‘Sectumsempra’ curse that I’ve been able to eliminate Bellatrix, that evening. And for that, I’m forever grateful to you. She just cried ‘A..VA…’ to kill me, and your advice came to my mind like a flash. She was bloodless, irrecoverable and died the next day at St. Mungo’s Hospital. On their side, Voldemort, Bellatrix and Wormtail were counted as dead. Wormtail was struck by a curse cast by Snape aiming perhaps at Hermione. As for the prisoners, there were the brother and sister Death Eaters wounded by Ron and Hermione by the Sectumsempra curse (it was the only curse capable to ward off the Avada Kedavra), the bundle of four Death Eaters that Aberforth tied up in a block by the Anti-Apparition curse. And about twenty others wounded or Incarcerated by other members of our camp. The Aurors from the Ministry came after you had left. We have searched throughout the underground passages, and have found some five more wounded Death Eaters who had taken refuge there. They still are in Azkaban. We have been able to set free Ollivander and Fortescue. According to Fortescue, Voldemort thought they were informers working for Dumbledore. He didn’t kill them (not yet, fortunately !) for he wanted to exploit them and have more information about Dumbledore. The Ministry then destroyed all the underground passages, the ventilation shafts, and demolished the Malfoys’ manor. In the underground, it was a real kingdom, with Voldemort’s throne hall ! Some Death Eaters surrendered themselves the following days saying that they were acting under the Imperius curse. Lucius Malfoy had committed suicide some months later in Askaban. The Ministry is always looking for Snape, Narcissa Malfoy, Draco and Lestrange and some two or three other Death Eaters, to our knowledge. But since, they hide themselves in their den, there’s been no sign of them, well some small trouble here and there, not much.”
One of Dumbledore’s sentences echoed in Harry’s mind, and he recited it unconsciously:
‘You should bear in mind that it’s important to fight and fight again and keep fighting, for only then could evil be kept at bay, though never be quite eradicated …’
“Yes”, said Ron, “but it’s no longer your duty … I think that the Death Eaters are still looking for the wandering soul of their master ! … Lestrange was spotted once in Albania where Voldemort had been after his first downfall ! They can go on searching for a very long time !” Ron added in a mocking laugh. “The disappearance of your scar is an irrefutable proof of his death.”
“At the Ministry they didn’t know which curse you used to eliminate Voldemort”, said Neville. “Those who were present at the battle that evening had categorically stated that you simply used the Cruciatus curse, and we too, we heard you. But his chest was opened and his heart lacerated into thousands of pieces. It was reported in detail by the Daily Prophet the next day, accompanied with photos. I still keep a copy of that special issue as a souvenir of that unforgettable event.”
“I was desperate. I couldn’t bring myself to use the killing curse, then in the rage and despair, I cast him the Cruciatus curse. But instead of concentrating on making him suffer the way Bellatrix had shown me at the Ministry, it was the image of my mother, my father, Cedric, Sirius, Dumbledore, and Hermione’s inert corpse at my feet that I saw in my mind, and the love I felt for them overwhelmed me and crushed my heart into thousands of pieces’, said Harry pressing his hand over his chest, his glazed eyes fixing far away, as if he still lived again the scene of the battle… “Hermione has saved me !” added Harry.
“I understand now”, said Ron, “Love, the dreadful weapon, on which Dumbledore emphasized, and against which Voldemort would be powerless.”
“There’s still a detail that I can’t understand”, Neville went on. “After eliminating Voldemort, you paid no more attention to anybody else. You threw yourself over Hermione’s body and you wept as if there was nobody else around you. We were all so afraid for you. But Snape just cast a look full of hatred at you, then he directed the killing curse straight at Mr Weasley, as if to take revenge on you, to relieve his rage. He then grasped Draco’s arm and Disapparated with him after blowing a whistle. At once, all the Death Eaters who were still standing Disapparated also, although they could have easily killed you.”
“Snape’s curse that killed Wormtail in fact was meant to deflect the Avada Kedavra that Voldemort cast at me and that Hermione received right in the heart, because she had jumped in front of me to shield me”, Harry replied. “Snape sent me a letter the next day to say that I should not consider myself ‘invincible’, and that it was very easy for him to kill me that evening. He hadn’t done so, because he was bound by a Pact that he had been forced to conclude with Dumbledore. According to which, he had to protect me.
“… Snape explained that Dumbledore was aware of the Unbreakable Vow he had made with Narcissa Malfoy to help Dacro carry out his mission, and to kill Dumbledore in Draco’s place if need be. (It was I who told Dumbledore of his Unbreakable Vow. I had overheard it in a conversation between him and Draco. Snape didn’t know that). So according to Snape, Dumbledore would have explained to him the terms of the Pact according to which, if ever Snape had to kill Dumbledore, he should know and bear in mind that in doing so, he would seal the Pact and would have to protect me for all his life. On the Astronomy Tower, Snape had to kill Dumbledore to save his own carcass, because of his Unbreakable Vow with Narcissa, and as Draco had failed. So, Snape’s got himself entangled in his own net.
“… Snape explained to me in his letter that I could not lift the charm of the Pact, because Dumdemore sealed it with his very own death. So only on Snape’s death, or on my death, my natural death, the charm would be lifted. ‘Poor’ Snape, he’ll have to protect me for all his life, protect the person he hates most in the world ! It becomes ironic, not to say funny !”…
“And how could he protect you if he doesn’t know where you are ?” Ron asked.
“He has just to keep an eye over his Death Eaters ! That was why he always used a whistle as a signal to put an end to an operation or a battle. After having killed Dumblemore, he must be hierarchically second to Voldemort, and the other Death Eaters must obey him.”
“All the members of the Order and the D.A. who participated in the battle have received the Order of Merlin First Class, Dad also, on posthumous basis”, said Ron. “Scrimgeour came to the battlefield when everything was over, with his usual delegation, Percy was among them. When he saw our entire family there, he said to Percy “It’s a pity that you are not part of the Weasly’s family !”
“It was my fault that Dad died’, said Ginny with tears in her eyes. He gave me his Misleading Cloak when I joined you at the border of the forest. Otherwise, Snape couldn't have been able to aim correctly at Dad”.
“If you reason in that way, it was also my fault”, Harry replied, “because Snape, in order to take revenge on me, had decided to kill your father just because your father loved me as a son, you were my second family … No, Ginny, it was no one’s fault, but Snape’s ! He is a Death Eater through and through, deep to the marrow. Only a Death Eater can kill without any reason !
“… And Draco will continue in his wake if we don’t offer him a clement hand !” Harry added after a moment of silence.
Thereupon, Winky appeared in front of Harry.
“Monsieur Potter, the dinner is ready.”
“Thank you, Winky. Come on, you all. Mum, and Dad … you will do justice to our dinner.”
They all got up and entered the dining room which was spacious, soberly decorated, and lit by hundreds of ceiling lights which were reflected by a multitude of crystal beads falling down like tears.
“Sit down here, Mum”, said Harry, “at the end of the table, in English fashion, with Bill at your side, and Fleur, near Dad, on the other end. And you all, sit down wherever you want, just save a place for me.”
Then Harry darted to the kitchen.
“Dobby, how many courses have you prepared ?”
Dobby enumerated them.
“Great ! Thank you Dobby !” then Harry returned to the dining room.
“Well, you’ve left me a place ? Oh ! facing Gabrielle and between Luna and Ginny, I’m very spoiled “, said Harry sitting down. “Dobby said there are on the whole four courses, without counting cheeses and desserts. So try to do justice to all the courses prepared by Dobby and Winky. There’s a dish that you particularly appreciate”, Harry added turning towards Fleurs, ‘La bouillabaisse’.
“Woouuawh”, said Bill, “I should definitely taste that”.
“The finest fifteenth century goblin-wrought silver goblets from Sirius’ !” exclaimed Ron raising his goblet in front of his eyes.
“Yes, when I made up my mind to leave number twelve, Grimmauld place to the entire disposal of the Order, I sent Dobby to rid the house of all my personal things. By the way, I have something for you, Ron”, then turning his head to the kitchen, Harry called :
“Dobby ! Could you please bring me the packet I’ve entrusted you the other day ?”
And the elf appeared at once in front of Harry with the packet.
“That’s for you, Ron. Do whatever you like with it ? … Thank you Dobby”, Harry added to the elf who was withdrawing.
Ron opened the packet. There were a locket, a cup and an ink-pot, all in solid gold.
“Salazar Slytherin’s locket, Rowena Ravenclaw’s ink-pot, and Helga Hufflepuff’s cup ! You give me a fortune !” said Ron passing the objects to everybody around the table.
“I suppose that Borgin & Burks would be very pleased to have them among their collections, if ever you need money to enlarge the Hog’s Head bar”, said Harry.
“Yes, that’s for sure … Oh ! how much we were happy when we found them … The good old days ! And Hermione who shivered at the thought of those adders swarming in the sewer ! … Never again shall we have the spirit that was ours in those days ! said Ron with a nostalgic tone.
“No !” let out Harry after a moment of silence.
“The two elves are here with you, Harry ?” asked Ginny changing the subject.
“No, not exactly. As you were all married, and no longer lived at The Burrow, your mother did not need Winky any longer, she sent her to me. And ever since, Winky serves my parents.”
“Oh ! The elves, they are wonderful !” said Mrs Granger. “The house is always spotlessly clean, the meals delicious with varied dishes, the bed sheets without a crease, and the house is always full of flowers ! It’s as if we had a fairy in the house. I don’t know how they manage !”
“But it’s magic, Mum !”
And everybody burst out laughing … But Harry thought that never again would he rediscover the cheerfulness of the old days.
They enjoyed their dinner royally, and the evening was spent in a warm and cheerful family atmosphere.
“My dear boy, we know that you loved Hermione very much, and that you still love her, but now that you are our son, we would like to see you married and have children.”
It was on the flight of steps in front of the manor; Harry accompanied his adoptive parents to their car.
“It’s still difficult for me to forget Hermione’s face”, said Harry, “and as for me, it would not be fair towards any other woman.”
“Miss Delacour is very beautiful”, said Mrs Granger without preambule. She was smiling.
“I think she had loved me.”
Mrs Granger thereupon returned to the dining room where the Weasleys and Gabrielle still lingered after their breakfast. Harry and Mr Granger followed her.
“Excuse me for interrupting you. Next week is my son’s birthday. May I invite you all to our home in London, ladies and Gentlemen ?” Mrs Granger said with a smile, then turning to Gabrielle, she went on: “Mademoiselle Delacour, you’ll come, won’t you ? Harry appreciates you highly.”
Gabrielle was standing in her Muggle tight dress, simple, and beautiful as a goddess. She returned, gazed at Harry for a moment, in silence, and then she held out her hand that Harry took in his.
“I would be very honoured, Mrs Granger”, she replied with a timid smile.
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