Chapter 9 : Epilogue
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With hundreds of teenagers chattering to one another, it was almost impossible to hear anybody who wasn’t standing just feet away, but to those who listened for it – her protective cousins and older brothers – a shrill, excited voice could be heard above the crowd.
‘Come on, Harriet, or we won’t get a compartment!’
The red-headed girl grabbed the hand of her cousin and best friend and dragged her as quickly as she could towards the nearest door. From various places on the platform, several older students stopped to listen for the reply.
‘I’m coming Lily, I’m coming,’ sighed Harriet. She sounded quietly exasperated.
From the compartment in which he was already seated with his cousin and close friend Rose, Albus Potter smiled to himself as he watched the two girls scramble aboard the carriage he was in. As they passed his compartment, he shouted out to them.
‘Lils! Harriet!’ he called, waving them in. ‘Come and sit here.’
Lily shot her brother a beaming smile and opened the door. ‘Hi Al, hiya Rosie,’ she said, choosing her seat.
‘Are you sure it’s okay if we join you?’ Harriet was dithering by the door.
‘Of course,’ Albus grinned at his cousin. ‘We’re going to snare everybody. This is the family compartment today.’
As he spoke, Lucy and Roxy Weasley, now veterans of the fourth year, walked past the window on the platform outside. Albus banged on the glass.
The two girls jumped and then smiled.
‘We’re coming!’ called the slightly shorter of the two. Roxy.
Harriet smiled to herself ruefully and leant over to whisper in Lily’s ear. ‘You know I still haven’t figured out which of your cousins belongs to which of your uncles,’ she admitted.
‘Oh it’s easy,’ said Lily. ‘Lucy and her sister Molly, who is in James’ year, are Uncle Percy’s children. And Fred and Roxy are Uncle George’s children.’
Harriet nodded, her face crumpling with concentration. ‘And Dom and Louis…’
‘Uncle Bill,’ said Lily promptly. ‘And don’t forget Victoire. You’ll definitely get to meet her this summer. Finally. She’s getting married, you know!’
Albus and Rose were listening to this conversation with amusement. The large and complicated extended Weasley family was a source of much confusion to staff and pupils alike at Hogwarts. To fully understand it, you had to grow up as part of it.
‘I can’t believe Dom has left now,’ Albus said, joining in. ‘It will be weird not seeing her around school.’
The three girls nodded in agreement.
‘And Louis and Fred will be in seventh year next year, so they’ve only got one year to go,’ Rose added, just as Lucy and Roxy entered with Hugo in tow.
‘We found Hugo so we thought we’d bring him along,’ announced Lucy, throwing herself into a seat and sighing deeply.
Rose pulled a face at her younger brother. ‘Oh, did you have to?’ she said, teasing him. ‘I’ve got two months of Hugo at home to look forward to and I was going to enjoy my last few free hours.’
They all laughed, even Hugo. Harriet, still feeling like the outsider in many ways, was nevertheless content. All her life she had wished for a larger family, for someone to share things with and laugh with. Now it looked like she might be getting that wish. Sure, they weren’t all actually related to her, but they had accepted her as if she was. After all, to the famously large Weasley clan, what was one more member? The more the merrier should be their motto thought Harriet, smiling to herself.
‘Oh oh oh, it’s leaving!’ Lily cried, stopping Harriet’s thoughts in their tracks. Indeed, a whistle had sounded somewhere on the platform, and the train had begun to glide slowly out of the station. There was a stampede by the three youngest members of the family – Hugo, Lily and Harriet – to the window to catch a last glimpse of the castle. Lily stayed there, waving, until it was out of sight.
‘Two whole months until we come back,’ Lily said somewhat mournfully as she retook her seat, not realising just how much she sounded like her father had done many years before.
‘Oh cheer up, Lils,’ said her brother. ‘It’ll go by before you know it. Weeks and weeks of lying in, playing Quidditch, going to Grandma’s for delicious food, no homework…’
Lily grinned. Put that way it didn’t sound so bad.
‘Come on, we’ve only got a few hours left to use magic,’ said Hugo, slightly urgently. ‘Let’s make the most of it. Anyone want me to hex them?’
‘I’m not so sure I can condone that, Hugo,’ the door slid open, and James Potter and Molly Weasley stood in the doorway. ‘As a Prefect…’
‘Oh shush and come and sit down,’ Hugo interrupted him. James laughed, and he and Molly entered the compartment and shut the door behind them.
‘You’re all going to have to budge up if you want us to sit down,’ Molly said, prodding her younger sister along the seat to make room. Lucy stuck her tongue out but complied.
‘So,’ said James, perching on the very end of the other seat and putting his arm around Lily. He looked down at her and Harriet, squashed beside him. ‘Another year gone. How did the two youngest members of the family find it, then?’
Harriet felt a sudden glow inside her. She loved being counted as one of the family.
‘It was brilliant,’ Lily was saying, beaming.
Harriet nodded in agreement. ‘Amazing,’ she echoed.
The older children all laughed, remembering their various first-year experiences. Brilliant and amazing were definitely words that they would all have used.
‘What about you two?’ asked Molly suddenly, looking at Lucy and Roxy who were sitting squeezed together next to her. ‘Prefects next year do you reckon?’
‘What, you want me to follow in your dazzling footsteps?’ Lucy giggled, looking at the red and gold badge that glistened slightly on Molly’s robes, matching the one that James wore.
‘Why not?’ James wanted to know. ‘There are two Prefects from each House, you know. If you two are not the Gryffindor Prefects next year then we will all want to know why!’
‘No pressure then?’ Roxy asked.
‘Of course not,’ said James. ‘And then the year after that it will be Albus and Rosie, followed by Hugo, and then Lily and Harriet. Gryffindor have nothing to worry about for the next four years or so, except for choosing who the other Prefect will be with Hugo. But I’m sure if they look really hard, they could find somebody. I’m sure Hugo has at least one friend.’
‘Weasley take-over,’ Rose laughed, over the sounds of her younger brother launching himself at James. ‘We get everywhere.’
As the others continued their light-hearted conversation, Lily took advantage of their pre-occupation and looked around at Harriet.
‘How do you feel about going back to the Muggle world?’ she whispered.
Harriet bit her lip. ‘Okay…’ she said slowly. ‘Well, at least I know that Dad isn’t mad at me, so I think it will be okay. Nothing compared to Hogwarts, of course. And I’ll miss everything, absolutely everything. I can’t wait until September.’
She absentmindedly touched the breast pocket of the robes, where the Gryffindor lion was embroidered, frozen forever in a silent roar.
‘Can I see the letter?’ Lily asked in a low voice. ‘One last time?’
Harriet smiled, and then she reached into her pocket and handed it over. The letter was well worn, for it had been read and reread many times in the last ten months, mainly by her but also by Lily. Harriet was in the habit of consulting it whenever she felt like things weren’t quite going her way, which had occurred less and less as the year had gone by. Lily was quiet as she read the familiar words, with her best friend reading them over her shoulder.
Of course you’re not a disappointment to us and of course we’re not cross with you. But the most important thing that you must remember is that we could never, ever hate you, so don’t you ever think that again. It’s not your fault that you’re special and that you have these gifts. Have fun at school. We miss you already, and we’d love to hear from you about how you’re getting on. Home is awfully quiet without you, and we are looking forward to seeing you at Christmas. Good luck.
PS I’m so glad that you’ve met Lily. I hope you two become good friends. Try and live up to your uncle. All you need to know for now is that he was a brave man. Don’t let Grandma and Grandpa tell you otherwise. That’s why we named you after him.
Lily smiled. ‘So Uncle Dudley really did like Dad after all,’ she said softly.
‘It looks like it,’ said Harriet. ‘What a shame they weren’t friends when they were young.’
‘Never mind,’ said Lily briskly. ‘We’re making up for it now. We’re friends, so we’ll be able to make sure that they’re friends too.’
Happy with their plan, the two girls grinned at each other and returned to the conversation that their family was having.
The journey passed quickly after that. The nine cousins bought a large lunch to share between them all, and they laughed and joked and showed off what they had learnt throughout the year as the train headed steadily southwards and the sun got lower in the sky. Throughout the afternoon, first Dominique and then Louis and Fred dropped by and stayed for some food and a little duelling practice. Lily and Harriet just watched, slightly awestruck.
‘We’ll be able to do that one day,’ Harriet whispered. Lily nodded silently, her face shining.
Quite suddenly, the fields and forests gave way to factories, shops and houses.
‘We need to get changed,’ said Rosie. ‘We can’t go into the Muggle world like this.’
Despondently, they all slowly pulled off their robes and uniforms, exchanging them for jeans and jumpers. All too soon, the train started to slow and eventually stopped, and the usual rush to be the first off the train began.
Lily and Harriet hung back. They were in no hurry.
‘You promise I can come and stay with you?’ Harriet asked, slightly desperately.
‘Of course,’ said Lily fiercely.
Smiling faintly, Harriet grabbed her trunk from under the seats and began to heave it into the corridor. ‘Come on, Lil!’ she called over her shoulder. ‘It’s not so bad. It’s only two months after all.’
Wow! All done. How sad :( I really hope you have enjoyed my first attempt at fanfiction, and thankyou so, so much for reading and thankyou even more if you have reviewed! I am currently writing a sequel about the girls' time at Hogwarts which I will begin publishing in the next couple of weeks. It will be called 'Memories of Hogwarts'. Look out for it! Thanks again for reading, it is much appreciated and I would love it if you had time to leave a review :D