Chapter 53 : Epilogue
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Having regained her breath, and giving in to her overriding curiosity, the young muggle woman walked back toward the area where she had left the young man she only knew as Harry. At the time when she left him he was being tortured unmercifully as if by magic by a man who looked to be more snake than human. Remembering the man’s face, she shuddered involuntarily as a cold feeling crept up her spine. The memory of him made her want to stop and turn away from the place where she was destined. Her feet kept moving though, as if they had a mind of their own.
Shaking her head to clear it, the woman concentrated on the memory of the young man’s face. Again a cold chill ran down her back, but it was for a very different reason. It was the reason why she knew she had to go back. Something familiar had struck her as soon as she had looked at the young man. She knew him. Of course she knew that was insane. She had never seen him before in her life, yet he was somehow strangely familiar. It wasn’t until after she had run away that she began to wonder where she might have come across him before. Then she realized it. His essence had existed for several months in that place in her own imagination that remained tantalizingly just out of reach as she tried to pen her ideas for her novel. After months of trying to will him to the foreground of her mind, he was there in front of her in the flesh, and she had run away.
Rounding the final corner and expecting to see a scene of destruction and carnage before her, she stopped in shock to see traffic flowing past the coffee shop she had occupied only a short time before. The shattered window of the shop was whole once again. If she didn’t know better she would think nothing at all out of the ordinary had happened there that morning.
Opening the door to the coffee shop, the woman walked in and surveyed the scene in wonder. Many of the customers who had been in the shop at the time of the battle were sitting at tables and conversing with their friends giving no indication they had witnessed the terrible battle at all.
“What can I do for you?” the man behind the counter asked.
“I… I was in here earlier this morning,” the woman said.
“Oh,” the man said. “I remember now. You must have left in a hurry. I never saw you go. You left your notebook. I kept it here just in case you came back for it.”
Accepting the notebook from the man, the woman asked, “”What happened here this morning? It’s as if no one remembers it at all. Even the window is fixed.”
“I’m sorry,” the man said. “I don’t know what you mean. Would you like a coffee?”
“No, thank you,” the woman replied. “I…”
Without saying another word, she backed out of the shop and walked away quickly before she turned and surveyed the scene once again. As she looked at the utter normalcy of the street she began to wonder if the entire thing had been in her imagination. She pushed that thought back as she turned to walk away. She was positive it had not been her imagination. Nothing in her imagination could have scared her so terribly. She was sure that the battle had taken place. She was sure that something had been done to prevent people from remembering it. She was sure that Harry really did exist somewhere. She prayed that he still did anyway.
It was perfect quidditch weather as a warm September Sun bathed the pitch in early morning light for the first match of the new school year at Hogwarts. After a year of absence, the entire school cheered as the players mounted their brooms and rose into the air. Seconds later, the volume of cheers increased again as the quaffle was tossed into play.
“Thanks for inviting me to this match, Professor,” Harry said as he watched Ginny grab the quaffle and begin making her way toward the Ravenclaw hoops.
“You are quite welcome, Harry,” McGonagall responded as she looked at the excitement in Harry’s eyes. “I’m sorry this couldn’t happen while you were still a student here. I know how much you loved playing.”
“I haven’t completely given it up yet,” Harry said as he continued to watch the match. “We had a pretty exciting match just before Ginny came back to school. We played in the Weasley’s paddock. Cho, Katie, and several others came over so we had enough for two full teams. We probably should have started playing earlier in the day. The snitch is wicked hard to catch after dark.”
“I actually heard about it,” McGonagall said. “Kingsley said they had to keep spectators from barging in on you.”
“It wasn’t too bad,” Harry said in an effort to downplay what had become a regular occurrence for him. “We agreed to let hem watch as long as they stayed off the field.”
“Still, you should be given a certain measure of privacy,” McGonagall said. “I know you wanted to avoid the kind of attention you’re getting.”
“I try not to pay any attention to it,” Harry said. “Eventually everyone will get tired of “The Chosen One” and life can get back to normal.”
“Still, should the need ever arise for you to get away from things for a while,” McGonagall said, “I think you know that you will always be welcome at Hogwarts.”
“I appreciate that, Professor,” Harry said as he turned to look at the two large frames hovering at the far end of the pitch. “I see the former headmasters are putting the frames from the wedding to good use.”
“Indeed they are,” McGonagall agreed. “I believe they may have been more excited about this match today than the students. Many of them haven’t actually witnessed at game of quidditch in hundreds of years.”
Before Harry could respond, the golden snitch suddenly flew to a hovering position just in front of the box where he sat. Harry smiled as he leaned forward.
“Hello old friend,” Harry said. “It’s good to see you again. Listen, take it easy on the new girl. Ginny says she could be good if she just had a little more confidence.”
The snitch seemed to shiver slightly just before it rocketed away. Almost immediately the Ravenclaw seeker sped past them in a blur in pursuit of the elusive little ball. A few seconds later was all it took for the seeker to slow to a hover as he looked around for where the snitch could have gone to get away from him.
“I should point out that it is probably cheating for you to make such a request of the golden snitch,” McGonagall said with a grin.
“You have to be joking,” Harry said with a grin as he turned to look at her. “It isn’t as if I have any real influence over it. It’s just a heavily charmed piece of metal. I doubt it even paid any attention to me at all.”
McGonagall smiled as she said, “No harm done then I suppose. After all, I may be the Headmistress, but I still haven’t forgotten that I was a Gryffindor once upon a time.”
“I haven’t forgotten either,” Harry said as he reached into his pocket. “That’s why I don’t have any reservations about returning this to you.”
Harry held out his hand toward McGonagall and opened it to reveal the time turner he had used so extensively the previous year. McGonagall looked into his eyes questioningly.
“I’m surprised, Harry,” McGonagall said. “I thought perhaps you would wish to keep it.”
“I’ve gotten my use out of it,” Harry said. “I think it would be put to better use the next time you have a student like Hermione capable of taking more than the normal load of classes. I don’t know why it took me so long to realize that this one may be the only one still in existence. I know the others were destroyed in the battle at the Ministry in my fifth year.”
“If I take it then I’ll have to turn it over to the Ministry,” McGonagall said.
“I was hoping you would,” Harry replied. “I was the one who led everyone into that battle where the time turners were destroyed. It’s only right that I should try to replace what I had a hand in destroying.”
“I’m surprised you didn’t just return it directly,” McGonagall said as she took the time turner from Harry’s hand. “You are at the Ministry every day for work.”
“I try not to make visits to the Minister’s office though,” Harry said. “If I did the prophet would put it on the front page. I’m trying to attract as little attention as possible these days.”
“Is that why you decided not to become an auror?” McGonagall asked as they both took the chance to cheer as Ginny scored for Gryffindor.
After Harry had retaken his seat, he said, “I didn’t become an auror because I’ve already had enough fighting to last me a lifetime. I’m quite content to sit at my desk in the Department of Magical Games and Sports. Besides, I get to go to a ton of quidditch matches as part of my job. I see Ron loads more than I thought I would.”
“Did he get to play in any of the games last season?” McGonagall asked.
“No,” Harry said with a grin. “It doesn’t matter though. Even being an alternate keeper for the Cannons is enough to keep the smile on his face. He’s got his dream job.”
“What about you, Harry?” McGonagall asked. “Is working at the Ministry your dream job?”
“It’s… work,” Harry admitted. “There is a bit more paperwork involved than I would like. There’s always another report to be filed. Always another complaint to document. I can’t complain too much though. The job does have its perks. I’ve already said I get to go to watch quidditch matches. The pay isn’t bad. It’s a stable job. I have to think about that now. With Ginny officially moved into the house I have to remember that I’m going to work to support both of us.”
“Is the money your parents left you running that low?” McGonagall asked with concern.
“Not at all,” Harry replied. “I don’t want to rely on that money though. I want that money to be there for my own kids when they need it. I want to pass it on to them the way my parents did for me. If anything were to happen to me or Ginny I want to know that they’ll be taken care of.”
“I think you can be assured of that,” McGonagall said. “There would be no shortage of people willing to take them in. You have a great number of friends, Harry. Myself among them.”
“I do consider myself to be blessed to have so many I can call friends,” Harry said. “You’ve caused quite a stir at the Ministry by employing some of them here.”
“I don’t know why,” McGonagall said with a grin. “They can’t accuse me of stealing Professor Tonks away. She made the decision on her own.”
“Scrimgeour wasn’t happy to lose an auror though,” Harry said as Ginny narrowly missed another goal. “I told Kingsley she wasn’t likely to leave as long as Remus was still teaching here. Still, I think it was Snape that took them a bit by surprise.”
“Horace retired and left the position of Potions Master vacant,” McGonagall explained. “Severus was the most logical choice to fill the position. The Ministry cleared Severus of any crimes. That being done, there was no reason not to consider him. His qualifications are far in excess of anyone else who applied.”
“I don’t doubt it,” Harry said. “I personally would have made the same decision you did.”
“Your opinion of Severus has certainly changed over the years you’ve known him,” McGonagall observed. “I never thought you would support his becoming a teacher again. Your own time in his classes was less than ideal.”
“True,” Harry said. “Of course, I don’t have to sit in his class any more. He is a genius when it comes to potions though. That’s why his expectations are so high. Besides, Ginny says his teaching style has completely changed this year.”
“It would seem so,” McGonagall agreed. “I haven’t heard a single student complaint so far other than the length of the writing he assigns. If anything I would have to say that he seems happier this year both inside the classroom and out of it.”
“Well,” Harry said in a lowered voice as he leaned in closer to her, “don’t tell him that I told you, but he and Fiona Moss have been seeing each other on a regular basis since the end of the last school year. So I don’t doubt that he seems happier.”
“My goodness,” McGonagall said shaking her head with a grin. “Is everyone on my staff in love? First it was Tonks and Remus. Then there was Neville, doing an almost comical job of trying to hide his relationship with Miss Parkinson. Now Severus.”
“Something does seem to be in the air,” Harry said with a smile as Ginny flew by with the quaffle and winked at him.
“What about you, Harry?” McGonagall asked as Harry turned to look at her questioningly.
“What do you mean?” Harry asked.
“Have you ever given any thought to coming back to Hogwarts?” McGonagall asked.
“But… I already graduated,” Harry explained.
“I’m aware of that, Harry,” McGonagall said as a smile spread over her face. “I was asking if you had ever thought of coming back to teach at Hogwarts.”
“Teach?” Harry asked, sure that he had heard her wrong. “Me? I don’t think I’m really qualified to teach anything.”
“Don’t be silly, Harry,” McGonagall said. “You taught the D.A. while you were still a student.”
“That’s different,” Harry explained. “It wasn’t a real class”
“Neville has told me that he thought very highly of your teaching style,” McGonagall said.
“Anyone in that group would probably tell you the same thing,” Harry argued. “Compared to Umbridge I’m sure they thought I was fantastic.”
“You continued teaching that group even after Dolores Umbridge was gone,” McGonagall reminded him. “You were still teaching it at the end of the last school year to the students and to those who had already graduated. In fact, I happen to know that you’ve already had one night of training during this school year in the room of requirement.”
“How did…” Harry began as he turned in surprise.
“As Headmistress, there is very little that happens in this school without me hearing about it eventually,” McGonagall said.
“The paintings,” Harry said as he realized it at last. “They report back anything interesting that they hear.”
“Indeed they do,” McGonagall confirmed as the crowd cheered again as Ginny scored another goal. “So, would you be interested in making it official.”
Harry was about to respond when a thought struck him and he asked, “Is Remus leaving? Has there been some kind of trouble?”
“Goodness no,” McGonagall replied suppressing a laugh. “I’m hoping Remus will remain with us for many years. I’m not asking you to teach Defense Against the Dark Arts. I’m simply inquiring about your interest should a position come open in the future.”
“Well, I don’t know,” Harry said. “I’m best at Defense Against the Dark Arts. You have teachers already for Potions, Transfiguration and Care for Magical Creatures. I wouldn’t even attempt Ancient Runes or Astronomy. Divination you can forget. Muggle studies would bore me. Considering that list I would say that there wouldn’t be a subject I could teach. I guess my answer would have to be no.”
“I see,” McGonagall said as she sat up a bit straighter. “This wasn’t as casual of an inquiry as I indicated, Harry. Madam Hooch has informed me that she intends to retire after this school year is over. It was my hope that you would consider assuming the position of the Flying instructor. You would also be in charge of officiating the quidditch matches.”
Harry stared at McGonagall for several seconds wondering if he may be imagining the entire conversation, and said, “You’re serious.”
“Of course I am,” McGonagall confirmed. “Why wouldn’t I be?”
“I could do that,” Harry said still in a bit of a daze.
“I should think so,” McGonagall said. “The question is, will you?”
“I… I would have to talk to Ginny about it first,” Harry replied as a smile spread across his face.
McGonagall glanced at Harry and noticed that his eyes were closed. As she watched him the smile on his face widened. When his eyes opened again, he looked back to her.
“I’ll do it,” Harry stated happily. “Ginny wants me to do it.”
“I would have thought you would have waited until after the match to ask her, Harry,” McGonagall said with a chuckle.
“She said the same thing,” Harry admitted. “I was too excited to wait though.”
“Good,” McGonagall said. “I like my teachers to be enthusiastic.”
“Would it be all right if I take Ginny out for dinner tonight to celebrate,” Harry asked.
“Away from Hogwarts?” McGonagall asked in surprise. “Students are not permitted to… Oh, very well. Just have her back before curfew, and don’t think this is going to be a regular occurrence.”
Just then the crowd erupted in enthusiastic cheering as the announcer said, “She’s done it! Natalie MacDonald has caught the snitch! Gryffindor wins!”
Two years after Harry’s battle with Voldemort, the young muggle woman who had witnessed all but the ending of it sat looking out the window of the train she was riding. She barely noticed as the train stopped at another station to pick up more passengers. Her mind was still centered on the young man that she only knew as Harry who had been in the battle. Since that day she had tried to find out more about him and the battle, but no amount of questioning or research ever indicated that anyone else remembered anything about the battle. No newspaper reports were written documenting the terrible events, and no pictures were ever taken of the destruction. Even the police records showed no indication that any calls for help had ever been issued.
Looking back to the scribbled notes before her, she took notice of how random her thoughts were concerning Harry and the life he must have experienced to end up in the battle where she had met him. For two years she had tried to reconstruct a plausible story that would weave the web of events that might have made up his life. No matter how hard she tried there was always something that struck her as unlikely to have really happened. Reason told her that her book was only to be a work of fiction, but she felt driven to seek out the truth of the matter. She was compelled to somehow honor the memory of the young man who inspired the book.
As she was scratching out some of her ideas, she became aware that other passengers were entering her car and beginning to find their seats. Not looking up to see them she heard a baby give a short cry. She was hoping the parents would keep the child entertained and quiet during the remainder of the trip so she could concentrate on her writing.
As the train began to pull away from the station, the initial lurch made the baby cry once again. The woman looked up to see a man stand up to retrieve something from the overhead luggage bin. As he turned, her mouth fell open and her mind froze in mid thought. As she stared in amazement, the man turned and looked directly at her as if he knew exactly what she was thinking. He bent down to say something to his wife and she stood along side him as she held the baby in her arms. They both walked straight toward her.
“May we sit with you?” Harry asked.
The muggle woman struggled to speak, but eventually said, “Sure.”
“Thank you,” Harry said as he and Ginny sat in the seats facing the one the woman was in. “This is my wife, Ginny, and our daughter Sophia. I’m…”
“Harry,” the woman blurted out.
“Yes,” Harry confirmed. “Harry Potter. I sensed that you wanted to speak with me about something.”
“I was there,” the woman said. “I was at the battle in London. My god! It was real, wasn’t it?”
“Yes,” Harry replied. “It was real.”
“You were the woman from the coffee shop who tried to help Harry,” Ginny remembered.
“Yes,” the woman said. “To my shame I ran away from there after that. By the time I finally came back everything was back to normal and no one seemed to remember what had happened.”
“You weren’t supposed to remember either,” Harry said. “If you hadn’t run then the aurors would have modified your memory as well.”
“Aurors?” the woman asked.
“Um… The policemen of the wizarding world,” Harry explained.
“Wizarding…” the woman said in disbelief. “Amazing.”
“Now that you know who we are…” Ginny began.
“Oh,” The woman said as she realized she hadn’t introduced herself. “I’m Joanne.”
“I feel that you have questions for me, Joanne,” Harry said.
“Oh yes,” Joanne replied. “I’ve been trying to write a book about you.”
“A book about Harry?” Ginny asked.
“Yes,” Joanne confirmed. “I know this is going to sound odd, but I’ve been trying to write it since before I ever met him.”
“Well Professor Trelawney would be jealous,” Ginny said with a smile. “What did you want to know?”
“Everything,” Joanne replied with an excited smile.
“I hope you have plenty of ink in your pen,” Harry said with a smile. “I could fill volumes with what I could tell you about little Sophia. She was only born two weeks ago, but she’s already filled our lives with a happiness it would be hard to describe.”
“You’re starting with the end of the story, Harry,” Ginny said with a smile. “Maybe Joanne would like to hear it from the beginning.”
“Right,” Harry said with a grin. “I don’t know if muggles would really like to read about it, but it all started with my parents, and a prophecy…”