“Here’s the last box,” James said, setting it down on the floor of my new flat. We’d finished our final year of Hogwarts three months previously and I’d finally saved enough money to feel comfortable about moving out of my parents’ house and living on my own.
James and I had started dating after Teddy and Victoire’s wedding. We’d stayed together all throughout the remainder of our sixth year and our seventh year as well. He had already moved out of his parents’ house and was living in a flat not too far from mine. His flat, however, was in Wizarding London. Mine was in Muggle London, something that seemed to baffle James.
“I don’t know why you decided to move to a place where you can’t openly use magic,” James said, flopping down onto my sofa. “But you’re all moved in: Muggle style.”
I flicked him on the back of the head. “You shouldn’t be so dependent on magic, James. Doing things manually isn’t going to kill you and it should give you a newfound respect for how Muggles do things.”
“Now you sound just like Aunt Hermione,” he told me.
“Thank you,” I replied. “Hermione is a very hard-working, intelligent woman. I think all people should strive to emulate her.”
James chuckled. “You would turn that into a compliment.”
“Are you implying that being compared to your aunt would be an insult? For shame, James. Oh, she is going to be so upset when I tell her.” I shook my head feigned disapproval.
“Are you threatening me?” James asked, getting back on his feet and sliding his arms around my waist.
I leaned in closer to him. “Maybe I am. Does it bother you?”
“It’s kind of hot, actually,” he said.
I wound my arms around his neck, my fingers lightly ruffling the hairs on the nape of his neck. James tilted his head down, his nose nudging mine gently. Smiling slightly, I kissed James softly for a brief moment. When his lips tried to follow mine when I pulled away, I smirked and took a step back, breaking out of his hold.
“I still need to unpack,” I reminded him feeling smug when he groaned in frustration. If it were up to James, we’d probably just spend the entire day snogging. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing. But id o have other responsibilities to take care of, unfortunately.
“You’re killing me, woman,” James complained. “We’re inside your flat now. Surely we can just do this part with magic.”
“Doing things the Muggle way builds character.” I handed him a box. “Will you stop whining if I let you put away my bras and knickers? That should be all kinds of fun for you.”
“I resent the fact that you think that unpacking your, er, undergarments would be exciting for me,” James said, trying to look indignant. It wasn’t working.
I raised an eyebrow. “James. You’re an eighteen year old boy and I’m your girlfriend. At the very least, you’d be curious to see what it is I’ve been hiding underneath my clothes. And that’s the best case scenario.”
“Yeah, well, when I imagine that, it’s not your knickers that I’m interested in,” James muttered.
I smacked him on the shoulder lightly. “You’re such a prat,” I laughed.
He rolled his eyes. “You’re the one who just pointed out that I am indeed a red-blooded, heterosexual teenage boy.”
“Just go unpack,” I said, amused, pushing him towards the door leading to the small bedroom. “Have fun. But not too much fun.”
Without turning around, James shot me the bird and I laughed again. Yes, James and I were not having sex, despite having been dating for over a year and a half. I happen to belong to the ever decreasing population of people who want to wait until marriage. This positively delighted Fred when he found out and he likes to take the mickey out of James at every opportunity. Boys.
Speaking of Fred, I think he might be stopping by later. He and Rhiannon had broken up back in March. They had tried to do the whole long distance relationship thing, but in the end it had just kind of fallen apart. It was a mutual parting, I think, though neither of them had really wanted to end it. It certainly wasn’t something either one of them liked to talk about.
Rhiannon had become my closest friend, outside of James. She was still living with her parents, but in a week she would be moving in with me. It was especially convenient, as we were already working at the same place.
“Hey!” James called from the bedroom. “This box is filled with books! I though it seemed too heavy…”
“Did you really expect me to leave you alone with a box full of my knickers?” I asked him, joining him in my new room. “Please. I’m not stupid.”
“No, you just have trust issues,” he grumbled, shuffling through the contents of the box. “That’s a lot of books about Muggle medicine.”
“Well, I kind of need them for my job,” I pointed out.
I was working at St. Mungo’s as part of a new, special team. I had interned there the previous summer and, after extensive discussion with the Board of Director’s for the hospital, they had started up a team of mediwizards to research and find magical cures for Muggle diseases. I had started right after Hogwarts ended and was currently researching cancer. Leukemia in particular.
Rhiannon was working in the psychiatric ward, putting her innate perceptiveness to good use. I didn’t see her very often when we were there – we usually only met for lunch – but I suppose that’s a good thing now that we’re going to be living together.
James was temporarily working for George at Weasley’s Wizarding Wheezes. He had applied for a job at the Ministry of Magic for the Department of Magical Accidents and Catastrophes and should be hearing if he’d gotten it soon. He had been hesitant about the job at first – half his family worked at the Ministry, though none in that particular department, and he’d been worried he might be given some sort of preference because of it, or at least accused of receiving it. There were no doubts in my mind, however, that he’d get the job due to his own ability.
“You’re just using your job as an excuse,” James said, examining the titles of my various books. “I know you really just want to read as many boring books as possible, since you don’t have Ancient Runes for that any more. Nerdy little Ravenclaw.”
I grabbed one of the books and thumped James on the head with it. “First of all, Ancient Runes was a fascinating subject whose subtleties are lost on impulsive, thick-skulled Gryffindors like you. And second, you’ve said yourself that you love my nerd-like tendencies. So stop contradicting yourself, git.”
“You know, I could probably turn you in for abuse,” James said, rubbing his head theatrically. “You get violent easy.”
“I’m just trying to build up your pain tolerance. Wimp.”
James stuck his tongue out at me in a stunning display of maturity. Sometimes I can’t believe I publically acknowledge that he’s my boyfriend.
I sat down on the floor next to James, leaning my head against his him. In response, he brought his arm up and draped it around my shoulders, pulling me closer against him. We sat there in a companionable silence and I found myself caught up in thinking of how we’d gotten to this point.
We hadn’t had the most orthodox relationship, I can say that. I’m not sure when exactly I had fallen for him. Probably sometime in early December, because I was clearly in hard-core denial about my feelings by the time Christmas rolled around. Sometimes I would find myself doubting how I had really felt in the past. I mean, is it really possible for someone to fall in love after just a month?
After a moment, I always brush off those thoughts, though. I’ve long said that every single relationship in the world, every single love is different from all the rest. And the love I had for James, and the one he had for me, was the most important one I’d had in my life. He was more than just the bloke I was dating. He was my best friend.
In truth, I couldn’t really imagine myself ending up with anyone but him. I know that I could be happy without him, but the thing is that I don’t want to be. We were both much too young to even think about marriage, but there really wasn’t a doubt in my mind that we would end up there someday. Some people may call me naïve because of it. I prefer to see it as having a little faith.
I placed my hand on the side of James’s face, my little finger brushing against the pulse point in his neck. Pulling his head towards mine, I kissed him softly, bringing my other hand up to rest against his chest. James responded immediately, wrapping his arms around me and dragging me onto his lap. His fingers tangled into my hair as his lips moved in sync with my own. I ran my hand through his hair, something I knew he loved. As expected, he drew back and opened his eyes to look at me.
“Faith,” he murmured.
Yes, I go by Faith now. After the wedding, I’d decided that Val didn’t really suit me anymore. I’d become a different person than I’d been before. And, just like when I’d stopped going by Tina, I felt my name was kind of representative of who I was. Now, it was like a manifestation of the journey I’d taken in my life. I’d stated off as innocent and oblivious to the harshness the world could contain and then later become blind to all the good. But last February, I’d transformed into a combination of the two. I understood the pain that life can have, but I also was mature enough to look past it. And so I’d decided to start going by real name.
James likes to tease me about, even now, about having Multiple Personality Disorder. Whenever I’m in a particularly child-like mood he calls me Tina and if I ever start to brood about something, he asks me when I’d decided to become Val again. His levity about the subject really helps to keep me grounded. Some people may have seen in as insensitive, but I knew it was just James being James.
I was about to lean forward and close the minimal distance between us once more when I heard a knock sound from the other room. I got up, ignoring James’s protests, and went to answer the door. Vaguely, I wondered who it could be. Fred wasn’t due to be here for about an hour and we’d be seeing the rest of the family later tonight. Nana Molly had invited everyone to the Burrow for dinner.
I opened my door to find a young girl standing there, holding out a vase of flowers. She was a cute little thing, with long brown hair and bright eyes. Actually, she looked a little familiar…
“Here!” she said brightly, offering the flowers to me. I took them, bemused. Who was this girl.
“Those are for you,” the girl said, beaming up at me. “Mummy says they’re to welcome you to the building.”
I stared at the girl. The vase was full of pink freesias, the same flower I always left on Joy’s grave. Actually, the girl looked eerily similar to Joy. She had the same coloring and the same delicate facial structure that Joy and I had both shared.
“Grace!” a woman called, stepping out of the flat that was across the hall from mine. She was clearly the little girl’s mother. “I told you to wait for me and Dad before coming over. The pie still needs a few minutes to cool!”
I could feel myself filling with shock. This adorable girl, who so resembled Joy, was named Grace. My nickname for Joy had been Gracie. I discreetly pinched myself, wondering if this was some sort of strange dream. It was all to coincidental.
“Hello, sorry about this,” the woman, Grace’s mum, said to me. She held her hand out to shake mine. “My name’s Bailey Patterson. I live across the hall with my husband and daughter. We heard that our new neighbors were moving in today and we just wanted to welcome you to the building. Unfortunately, someone got a little eager.”
The girl, Grace, waved at me. “You’re pretty. How old are you?”
“Grace,” Bailey reprimanded, shooting me an apologetic look, but I laughed. Grace was just so precocious.
“Thank you,” I told her. “You’re pretty, too. I’m eighteen, how old are you?”
“I just turned ten!” she said proudly. I blinked. This was just getting too weird. Of course she’d be ten.
“Who’s at the door?” I heard James call from behind me. He walked into the doorway. “Hello,” he greeted Bailey and Grace.
“This is my boyfriend, James,” I introduced him. “He’s helping me move in. My friend Rhiannon will be joining me next week. My name’s Faith Sullivan.”
“It’s very nice to meet you both,” Bailey said with a smile. Grace leaned forward, trying to peer around James and me into the apartment.
“Can I see your house?” she asked and then, without waiting for an answer, darted around my legs into the flat.
“Grace!” Bailey scolded, looking aghast. She turned to me, “I’m so sorry, she can be a little too friendly sometimes.”
“It’s not a problem,” I assured her. “She reminds me of myself when I was younger. You can come in as well, if you’d like, as long as you don’t mind a bit of clutter. I haven’t been able to unpack yet.”
I let Bailey into my flat and she walked over to where Grace was standing. The young girl was staring up at the picture of me and Joy that was hanging on the wall. It had been taken on our tenth birthday, before the hospital trip. It had been the first thing I’d brought into the flat. I’d taken care to hang it up before I moved in any of my boxes or furniture.
“Who’s that?” Grace asked, pointing at the photo.
I smiled pensively and James discreetly took my hand. “That’s me with my twin sister,” I said.
Looking at the photo, I couldn’t help but marvel at how different my life was now. Two years ago, I was nervous and distrustful around James and I hated him for trying to make me think of my sister. I was still secretive and silently suffering. I was too afraid of change to move forward with my life. And now I was in a committed relationship with that same boy who had put me on edge and I thought of Joy with fondness and only slightly wistful love. And the really amazing fact of it all was that I was still the same person I was. Only this time, my happy exterior actually extended below the surface.
Grace turned to look at me, an understanding that seemed wise beyond her years filling her large, familiar looking brown eyes. I really wasn’t sure who this girl was, but I knew she wasn’t just a normal ten-year-old. Somehow, it almost seemed like she knew about Joy. But that was a ridiculous notion.
“I like you,” Grace announced suddenly. “Let’s be friends.”
I glanced over at James, who was watching the two of us with a soft smile, while Bailey just looked bewildered. James winked at me discreetly and I knew that he could see the resemblance between Grace and my sister as well. I’m sure he’d even made the connection about her name with my former nickname for Joy as well.
“I’d love to be your friend,” I told her. “And since I’m your friend, I’d like it if you called me by a super special nickname.”
Grace looked interested. “What?”
For a split-second I marveled at how incredible and unexpected this moment was. In a way, it was almost like a second chance of sorts. It wasn’t a replacement - nothing could ever replace Joy - but this was something special.
“You,” I whispered, already feeling a surge of fondness for the girl, “can call me Tina.”
And that, my friends, is the end. This story is officially finished. It’s crazy for me to think that’s its over already. It feels like just yesterday that I was posting the first chapter to this site, wondering if people would like it. I would like to very sincerely thank every single person that has ever read this story. It means so much to me and I appreciate every single review, favorite, and read. You have all been wonderfully supportive and kind, in both reviews and on my blog. I feel truly touched by the love that has been shown to me.
I wrote this epilogue months ago, sudden inspiration for it striking when I was only about halfway finished with the story. I made a couple of edits and things, but I’m very happy with how this all ended up. It feels so good to see Faith (and yes, I think of her with that name, now – sorry if it’s confusing!) finally get her happy ending.
Last, I’d like to let you all know what I plan on working on next. I currently have two stories in the works at the moment – another James II/OC novel and a Lily/James short-story. Check those out if you’re interested – they’re a bit lighter and less serious than this story was. In addition, I have plans for a few more stories that I’d like to start posting soon.
First of all, I have an idea for a companion story of sorts to Finding Faith. It would be comprised of one-shots with missing scenes and alternative perspectives from Finding Faith. I may even do a few prequel/sequel-ish chapters.
Also, I have two ideas for more novels. One is a darker, more action-y Albus Severus/OC and the other is a Rose/Scorpius. I have the Al story planned out pretty well, but the Rose one doesn’t really have much of a plot yet. However, I do know that it is going to take place in the same world as Finding Faith and will occur during Faith and James’s seventh year. So be on the lookout for more stuff from me!
And so, one last time, I’d like to thank you all again. You are truly amazing and I love each and every one of you. Stay golden, my dears.