Chapter 66 : Epilogue
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Harry ambled his way down the hall of the Hogwarts Express. Memories flooded him as he made his way to the platform, no one else present on the train greeting him or making any direct acknowledgement of his presence. He heard the others whispering as he stepped onto the platform. They refused to make direct eye contact with him, everyone moving out of the way as he crossed the platform toward the carriages. Harry didn’t care what the others thought. Well, what was left of them anyway. Many of his class had perished in the final battle. Those who had survived were all invited back to Hogwarts to open the yearbooks they had sealed fifty years before.
Harry watched out the window as the trees passed them by, the thestrals as ugly as ever. He shuddered as he remembered what seeing them meant. He pushed the horrible memories away, forcing himself to be strong. The carriage stopped and he got out, stopping to take a look at the grounds before he entered the building. Instead of seeing the fresh green grass that had grown over and brought life back to the land, all Harry could see were the bodies of his friends and enemies littering the ground. Everywhere he looked he saw another face that he recognized. He shook his head again, trying to find at least one positive thing he could lock his mind onto, but this task proved to be difficult.
Harry made his way to the front doors and stopped before he walked inside. The doors were the same ones that had been in place 50 years ago when the final battle took place. There were scorch marks and deep rivets in the doors. Dumbledore had kept them up as a reminder that though the Class of 2007 had been beaten and bruised, they would not falter in the face of death. They would continue to stand up for what they believe in. Harry’s anger surged but he held it together, closing his eyes and taking a deep breath before opening the doors.
He walked the short distance to The Great Hall, slipping inside swiftly and unnoticed behind the small group of people gathered in front of the place where the yearbooks were buried. He spotted McGonagall in front of the group. Dumbledore had died not long after the final battle. Another funeral that was ticked off on Harry’s list. So many he had attended that he couldn’t remember half the names.
“Thank you all for coming. I know we are all aware that it is painful for all of us to be here so I’m going to make this as quickly as possible. The yearbooks will be removed and those who signed and are…” McGonagall’s voice cracked and she paused, “…still here, will decide who will keep the yearbook.” With that she waved her wand and the hole where the yearbooks were opened up. Harry made his way to the front along with everyone else but stopped when he saw McGonagall look at him. Her eyes were sorrow-filled as she looked upon his old, tired form. Harry wanted to scream at her, tell her that her and Dumbledore should have been there to help him but he said nothing, instead offering a small smile to cover the pain that pumped through his body like blood. He then turned and made his way to a table secluded from the others, sitting down and ordering a firewhiskey.
Harry spotted Hermione enter The Great Hall holding onto Draco’s hand. They scanned the room until they found Harry, immediately setting off in his direction. Harry wanted to scoff, wanted to tell them to bugger off and let him brood alone. He just downed his firewhiskey and ordered another. He didn’t stand when they arrived at the table, not acknowledging Hermione as she came to him and hugged him tight to her chest. He didn’t return the light hand tap, an offer of sympathy, that Draco offered either. Hermione sat beside Harry, Draco next to her. She clasped both of Harry’s hands, rubbing them lightly between her fingers. Harry spotted her wedding band and his stomach heaved.
He truly was happy for her and Draco getting married a few years after the final battle. He had been there, smiling and happy as they recited the words he had practiced every day for years, imagining you and him would share on your own wedding day. He felt the tears starting to well up, but he forced them back down, unwilling to show any emotion in front of Hermione or Draco. They spoke lightly to each other, knowing that Harry wouldn’t join in the conversation anyway. He ignored their small talk, instead watching the door as Shelby and Joe walked in.
They spotted the trio and came over to the table, seating themselves next to Harry after greeting everyone. Shelby hugged Harry and he lightly patted her back, nodding to Joe. Hermione was still holding Harry’s hands, “Where’s Don?”
Shelby’s small smile dropped and she began to twirl the wedding band on her finger, “’e died a few months ago. Prostate cancer.”
Joe patted her back and Hermione gasped, “Shelby, I’m so sorry.”
“It’s alright. We didn’t really tell anyone about it,” She half-chuckled, half-sobbed. “’e didn’t want to make a big fuss.”
Draco looked at her sadly, “Shelby, I’m sorry.”
She sniffed and wiped her face, “’eh, it’s alright. ‘e was a tough guy and I loved ‘im very much.”
Harry stayed silent during this exchange. Another death I can mark off. He couldn’t meet Shelby’s eyes, too afraid that she would be able to read him now that she had lost the one she loved. Hermione decided to change the subject, “How are the kids?”
“Nolan and Warren are upset but they understand. They’re both just trying to be there for their sister. Anabelle’s really taking it ‘ard being the oldest and all. The grandkids are sad as well and the great-grandkids are still too small to understand.”
“I understand. When Ginny and Gary died, Draco and I took in their three kids. It took a long time for MaryBeth, Jordan, and Alexander to get over it.”
Harry stood up when Hermione finished her sentence, stomping off toward the yearbooks to find theirs. He had heard enough about marriage and kids, things he would never have. His friends sadly watched him rushing toward the yearbooks, “What’s wrong with ‘im?”
“Joe, you’re such an idiot sometimes.” Shelby slapped him upside the head.
“Seriously, man. What do you think he’s so upset about? We’re talking about marriage and kids and families, a life he wanted with Mel,” Draco added.
“Well, ‘e needs to stop thinking that ‘e’s the only one who misses ‘er. I think about ‘er every day.”
“Shelby, he can’t do anything without thinking about her. She’s on his mind every second of every day. She’s in his dreams; he sees her face on every person who walks by. When he sees our kids, he imagines what his kids would have looked like.” Hermione sighed, rubbing her face.
“Love, you’ve been treating Harry like one of our kids before we even got married. You cook him meals every week and visit him every day. He barely leaves the house anymore.”
“Well, I can’t just let him waste away in that house, Draco! Every day I think I’m going to walk in and he won’t be breathing.”
“He needs to be his own man and stop relying on us for everything. We all grieved too. We’re still grieving. But none of us have holed ourselves up in a house that epitomizes the very core of our anguish.”
Hermione sighed again, leaning against Draco and watching Harry, “I lost Ron 51 years ago because we decided to stop paying attention to every little thing he did. I will not lose Harry the same way.”
“Harry’s losing himself. And there’s nothing we can do about it.”
Meanwhile, Harry dug furiously through the yearbooks trying to find the one from him and his friends. He knew that he would recognize it when he saw it. The memories that they had brought up, Ginny’s death and the families that they had, were plaguing his mind. He couldn’t blame them, that was what they knew now. He searched further and further for the book, not noticing McGonagall hovering over him. “Hello, Harry.”
Harry looked up in acknowledgement, but said nothing. He returned to his search. “How are you?”
Harry didn’t even bother to respond, still digging, “What have you been up to?”
Harry stopped searching and looked up at McGonagall, glaring at her. She didn’t back down from his stare, instead pushing forward, “Anything new in life?”
“Why are you doing this?” It was the first time Harry had spoken in quite some time. His voice sounded harsh, even to his own ears. McGonagall’s eyes widened, but she tried to keep him going.
“I would just like to know how your life is going.”
“Stop.” Harry looked back down and thrust his hand in the center of the pile, pulling out a book. On the bottom right corner was a tiny heart, the one he had drawn on it the night…well, you know. He stood up and gave McGonagall another hard look, turning on his heel and heading back to the table where his friends sat watching him. When he went back he placed the book gently on the table. No one made to grab for it, knowing that this was a critical time in Harry’s drawn-out grieving process.
Harry gently lifted open the cover and the items that their friends had put in sat before them. Harry began pulling them out one by one. First, was the necklace that Mel had fixed after Ginny dumped Draco so that he could give it to Hermione. They smiled at each other, exchanging a quick kiss. “My first gift from you.”
Draco smiled and hooked the necklace around Hermione’s neck. Harry then pulled out a picture of Shelby and Don, handing it to her. She smiled and covered her mouth, tears popping from her eyes, “This was when we were dating. At our one year anniversary.”
Harry pulled out two items next, a beater’s bat and gold hoop earrings with Tanika’s name spelled out inside them. He handed them to Joe, “This was the bat that won us the Fish ‘ook. And these were ‘Nika’s favorite earrings.”
Tanika had died during the final battle. Harry pulled out a note with Mel’s name on it. He stared at her name, tracing the curve of the lines with his eyes. He quickly opened it, not wanting to attract more attention to himself. Inside was a short note,
The Prickly Dick.
P.S. I can’t wait for you to read this in 50 years and laugh your arse off. :)
Harry stared at the bottom of the letter after having read it to the group. Read this in 50 years was all that echoed through his mind as he thought back to what Jimmy must have been thinking. And how wrong he was. Too bad even he wasn’t around to laugh about it now. Harry put the letter down, moving on to the next items. A pair of diamond studs and a Gryffindor scarf. Seamus and Lavendar’s things. They both had gotten caught up in the confusion of the first attack and were killed instantly. He set those items aside as well, getting down to the last two things, your’s and his.
Harry pulled out two photos, one of the 11 of you who were sitting at the table that night at the Graduation Ball. Colin Creevey had taken them and they were all inserted into the books before they had been sealed 50 years ago. Harry looked immediately to the place where you were. Your beautiful auburn hair and bright blue eyes that burned with a fire so intense he wondered how you didn’t burst into flames regularly. Your dress hung beautifully across your body and you smiled and waved at the camera, sneaking a quick glance at Harry, as he snuck one at you. Harry’s heart clenched at this sight. You were all so happy. So carefree. So naďve to the situation that would rear it’s ugly head not hours later.
Harry handed off the photo to Hermione, before his heart gave out from the pain. The pain of remembrance. Everyone took a look at the picture, Hermione and Shelby beginning to cry. Shelby handed the photo back to Harry, “You should keep this.”
Harry said nothing and accepted the picture, placing it on the table. He looked at the other photo he had pulled out. It was one of you and him from your sixth year. The two of you were cuddled together on the couch, whispering sweetly to each other. He watched as you said something to him and the two of you kissed. Harry wanted to gasp out in pain. God, why? Why did you do this to me? What did I do to deserve this kind of torture? He placed the picture on the table next to the other one and Hermione put her hand on Harry’s back, rubbing small circles to try and comfort him. He pushed forward to the last item in the yearbook. Your diary.
He actually did gasp out in pain when he saw it. Your handwriting was all over the front, your name in big letters across the top. His friends watched him cautiously as Harry stared at the book, unwilling or unable, which he wasn’t sure, to touch it. Would he feel you as his fingers felt the leather across the cover? Would he smell you as he flipped the pages? Hermione was watching him the closest, as she had been for the last 50 years. He looked into her beautifully wrinkled face which still held her deep brown eyes and he knew that she could feel his pain. I can’t do this, ‘Mione.
She almost jumped at Harry’s words in her mind. They hadn’t spoken like this in at least 30 years. Yes you can, Harry.
I can’t. It hurts too much.
“You have to. For Mel.” Hermione continued rubbing circles on Harry’s back, grabbing his left hand as he reached for the journal. His fingers swiped the leather and it burned to the touch. He went to recoil but another look from Hermione and a firm squeeze on his hand told him that he couldn’t. He had to do this. He wrapped his fingers firmly around the book and pulled it out. Hermione had a firm grip on his hand and he tried to make her let go so he could open the diary.
“Hermione, you have to let go.”
She immediately took her hand from his, “Oh, sorry.”
Harry went to pop the lock and a hologram appeared above the journal. There you were, staring directly at Harry and your friends. Your eyes scanned Harry and raised an eyebrow, “Password?”
Harry’s breath caught in his throat when he heard your voice. Chills went through his body and his voice wouldn’t work as he stared at your hologram. God he missed you so much. He looked to the friends around him and they were all staring at him with sad looks, Shelby and Hermione still crying. Harry looked back to the hologram, “Harry.”
Your hologram smiled and the lock popped open, revealing everything you had ever written inside. He flipped through the pages and just as he had thought, he could smell you within them. He focused as hard as he could to not let himself breakdown as he continued toward the last entry. He finally got to it and simply stared at the page for a moment. Your curvy handwriting scrawled across the page as the diary filled it in. It was as if he was watching you write the entry yourself. Hermione squeezed Harry’s arm, “Read it.”
Harry shook his head furiously, going to close the diary. Shelby stuck her hand in before he did, “I want to know what she had to say. We all have a right to hear it too.”
Harry felt cornered as his friends looked at him expectantly to begin reading the passage. He felt himself pleading, but even Hermione wasn’t giving in, “We deserve to know, Harry.”
Harry looked back to the entry, which had finished filling itself out. He looked back around the circle once more before taking a deep shaky breath and beginning to read the passage.
June 7th, 2007
Tonight is the combined Graduation Balls of my old school Escuela, and Hogwarts. We’re all dolled up and everybody looks absolutely smashing. God, I sound so English! But I guess that’s what happens when you’re here long enough. I came with Jimmy as he didn’t have a date and I still couldn’t touch Harry. Yep, I said couldn’t.
When I got to the table tonight, Harry was sitting next to me and I thought about how unfair everything had turned out. I thought about how much and how quickly we had been making progress recently. I wanted tonight to be special. When Harry wasn’t paying attention, I went to grab his hand. He got really mad at me because my withdrawal wasn’t back but I just can’t take it anymore. I miss him so much. I eventually did touch him tonight, and at first, it hurt. A lot.
Harry stopped reading, unable to continue. His breathing was becoming ragged as he choked back sobs. His friends all looked at him expectantly and he plunged back in.
But then, then came this…this…bliss. It was amazing. It felt so good. Harry was scared, I could tell. He doesn’t want to hurt me anymore and it makes me feel so special. I tried to reassure him that I was fine and as the night continued, I was able to touch him more. I love him so much. But I’m scared.
I have a feeling that tonight will be the final battle. Tonight will be the end of it all. I don’t know how Harry feels about it; he’s really quiet about Voldemort. I don’t blame him. He’s done enough to ruin our lives already. I’m afraid something will happen to our parents…
Harry stopped again, beginning to gasp for air. Hermione was still rubbing Harry’s back as tears streamed from her eyes but she urged him to continue, “Harry, please.”
He shook his head, “No…I can’t.”
“Harry.” Draco looked at Harry and he could see the pain in Draco’s eyes. Draco knew exactly how Harry felt about you, it was the same way he felt about Hermione. He stared long and hard into Harry’s eyes and Harry knew he had to be strong. He wasn’t alone in his pain. They were all suffering with him.
…and I don’t know if I could handle that kind of pain again. We just saved them, we finally have them back in our lives. What if they get torn back out? One thing’s for sure, I don’t know how we’re going to hide from the fact that two of us will have to die tonight. There’s no getting around it. I know that Voldemort will be one, but who will be the other? I will gladly lay down my life for Harry and I know he would do the same. What do we do?
I guess I should just stick to right now. The present. I’m going to kiss Harry tonight. It will happen. I don’t care if we’re facing down Voldemort when it happens…
Harry finally broke, the tears streaming down his face, his sobs filling the room. Hermione pulled him into her arms, cradling and rocking him as he cried. She cried with him. They all knew how it had ended. You kissed Harry and were then killed by Voldemort. Hermione felt Harry’s pain as he continued to wet her shirt. She saw people watching them from other tables, but they all knew what had happened to Harry. Hermione slowly moved Harry from her shirt, his sobs still echoing loudly through the room, “Harry. Harry, shhhh. Harry, it’s okay.”
“I-it’s-s no-ot ok-ka-ay!” He sniffled, wiping the tears from his eyes and trying to compose himself. He picked up the diary, determined to finish it.
…it will happen. I love him far too much. If one of us is going to die in the battle, I want to make sure that he knows how much I love him. I have a feeling that something is going to complicate the situation, so I hope that I can fit it in somewhere.
On a happier note, Hermione looks absolutely stunning tonight. And Draco…wow. They look so absolutely perfect together. I’m so glad that they found each other. After all the shit we’ve all been through, it’s nice to know that we all can become unified. Seamus and Lavendar look really happy too. Jimmy’s off flirting with some blonde ditz, his favorite. Joe and Tanika actually look pretty close tonight as well. But I called that a long time ago. Shelby and Don look like they’re in paradise. But I’m not surprised. I would be elated if I had just gotten engaged as well.
I always wonder what it would be like to be proposed to. By Harry of course. I would hope that he would propose to me somewhere in the countryside, surrounded by green. And we would fly all our closest friends to Bali. I’ve always wanted to go there. And what would our kids look like? I want four kids. Two boys first, then a girl. I want to adopt the last one. I would hope that they would all get my hair and Harry’s eyes. The boys would have his strong chin and the girls would have his smooth features. Hmmm…what a life.
Well they’re sealing the yearbooks so I have to finish up. Congrats to us, the Class of 2007. We came, we saw, we conquered. No more school, WOO!
Melissa Noel Black
At the bottom of the page was a lipstick mark made by you. Harry touched his lips and then touched the mark lightly, as if this would allow him to kiss you once more. That kiss that the two of you had shared that night was burned in his memory. He thought about it, relived it every day. He wished he could share another. A hundred. A thousand! He wanted to kiss you so many times his lips fell off. His eyes were still leaking tears. Traitors. “That’s it.”
Harry closed the diary and relocked it. The five friends sat silently at the table, staring at the diary as if you were going to jump out of it. No one spoke, too afraid that it would set one of the others off. Harry traced the writing on the front of the diary with his fingers, following every curve, every mark that you had made. He could see you making these marks throughout the years. He finally rested his palm on the center, grabbing the book and the two pictures. More of your handwriting caught his eye and he saw your note in the yearbook next to his.
I love you, Harry.
Harry almost burst into tears again but held it together. He stood from the table, Hermione looking up at him worriedly, “You’re leaving?”
He nodded. “Okay.” Hermione stood and wrapped her arms around Harry, crushing him in a tight hug. He hugged her back for the first time in a long time, letting her know that he was okay. “I love you. Be safe.”
“Thank you so much, ‘Mione.”
Harry moved on to Draco and they hugged as well, “Be safe, Harry.”
“I will. Thank you, Draco.”
He then hugged Shelby and Joe, letting them know that he would write soon. Harry swiftly left The Great Hall, getting back down to the platform as fast as he could. He decided not to take the thestrals, instead simply walking. It gave him time to be alone. He reached the platform and apparated home. He arrived in Godric’s Hollow moments later, staring at the house he had redone. He had rebuilt his parents’ house, modeling it after the way you would have wanted. He walked inside and threw his coat on the couch, kicking his shoes off. He went to the bar and pulled out the bottle of firewhiskey, taking it with him to the couch. Hermione had warned him to stop drinking it, he was 67. He was getting too old for hard liquor. He ignored this as the Healer in her talking.
He threw himself down, spilling some of the whiskey on himself, “Dammit!”
He flicked his wand and dried his clothes, getting up and putting the pictures on the mantle with the others he had of the two of you. He looked through them, trying to smile, but tears appearing instead. You smiling, you waving, you kissing him, you giving him a noogie sandwich, you holding his hand in Hogsmeade. Then there were those pictures of you with your friends. Harry wiped the tears from his eyes, plopping back down on the couch. He sat your diary in his lap, staring at the cover. He took a long swig of the firewhiskey and popped the lock. Your hologram appeared and he listened to your voice again, “Password?”
For hours Harry popped the lock to your diary, listened to you ask for the password, gave it, then closed it and repeated the process. Eventually he kept the diary open and began to read what you had written from the time you were little. He read about how you felt with the way your mom treated you, how you remembered what had happened with Travis, the horrifying night that had happened with Kaylie, but the fact that you got to meet Harry out of it. From then on all of the entries became centered on Harry. The way it felt when he kissed you, how it felt when he caressed your skin.
Harry stopped reading for a moment, reveling in the way you had remembered these sweet moments. He had been obsessing over them for the last 50 years. It felt good to know that you experienced them the same way he had. He took another swig of the firewhiskey and relished in the burning he felt. He picked the diary back up and continued reading. He then began to get into the stuff about how he had hurt you. He took another swig and pushed on through these passages. He felt your pain and it worsened his to know that this was how you saw him after what he had done.
Most of the passages were bearable, which angered Harry. These entries should be scathing. Instead you spoke of how much you missed him and wished that things had gone differently. He reached the final entry and read it again. Then he read it again. And again. He read the entry continually until he could recite every word of it by heart. Once he accomplished this feat, he simply stared at the pages, swigging on the bottle of firewhiskey in his hand.
You had gotten Harry thinking. Thinking about life, about the battle, about you. He thought about your words and how you had felt about him. He became enraged. You should have hated him for what he had done! He hated you! You should have listened to him! Why would you follow Voldemort into the forest when you had just seen what had happened to his parents? Harry picked up the book and chucked it at the wall, leaving a black mark, “YOU SHOULD HAVE LISTENED TO ME, DAMMIT!”
Harry began to sob into his hands. His heart broke with all the pain that he had been experiencing since he was born. All the deaths that had been caused because of him. It was tearing him apart. He felt he would have been better off had he never been born, had he never been prophesized with you. If the two of you had been born just hours later, none of this would have ever happened. Harry shuddered at the thought. Such little details could have saved your life. He wiped his tears again, taking another swig. He looked in the direction of your diary and noticed a piece of paper hanging out of it. He got up and picked the diary up, pulling out the sheet. It was a letter from you, addressed to him.
Harry looked upon the letter sadly, and opened it up:
Tonight is our last night at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. I know that it’s been quite some time since we’ve really been able to talk to each other because of the whole distance deal, but I want to take this letter as an opportunity to be able to express to you how much I love you. Harry, I would go to the ends of the Earth for you. I have never felt so strongly about a man in my entire life. When I’m with you, I feel as though all of my troubles melt away. With you, I don’t have a care in the world. When I’m sad, you brighten my day. And when I’m confused, you always help me out. I know we’ve had our ups and downs, but what relationship doesn’t? All I know is that I will love you forever and always, even after we both grow old and die.
On that note, I have a feeling that tonight will be the final battle. I know you feel it too. I can see it in your eyes. I know you’re trying to stay strong for me, but I see right through you. You’re just as scared as I am. In the event that I am to be the other person to die tonight, I just want you to know that I will never stop loving you. I will be sitting in heaven watching over you. But I will have one wish. That wish is that you please move on. Just because you’re not with me doesn’t mean you‘ve forgotten me. I will still love you and I know you’ll still love me. Please don’t be standing in an empty house 50 years from now reading this letter and brooding. It’s not fair. It’s not fair to me and it’s not fair to our friends, whoever is still around.
I love you with all of my heart, Harry.
Love forever and always,
Harry reread the letter four times before he dropped it to the ground, stumbling back to the couch. He drained the rest of the firewhiskey bottle and threw it against the wall. It shattered into a hundred pieces and he dropped his face into his hands. Not only did he not have you around, now he had been disrespecting your final wishes and pushing all of your friends away. Hermione and Draco didn’t deserve to be treated like that and you deserved to get what you wanted.
Harry tried to think of what it would be like to be with another woman, but his mind cringed at the thought. His heart wrenched as he started his nightly ritual of remembrance to you. He thought of all the good times the two of you had had, and then he turned to the bad. He hated himself for what he had done to you, destroying your chances at ever having a normal relationship together. He pulled at his hair as the tears continued streaming down his face and thought of what your diary had said. How much you loved him. He missed you so much. His heart ached to be able to see you again, to be able to feel your warm skin beneath his. He took one last long look at your diary and rolled over on the couch, drunkenly crying himself to sleep as he had done every night for the last 50 years.
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