Chapter 27 : Epilogue
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And capers ensue.
There was a shop on Hogsmeade's High Street with a glittering grid of windows and blue scalloped awnings, formerly owned by George Weasley and before him, Blarney Zonkos. It had been a novelty store, although less ostentatious than its Diagon counterpart, since the property doubled as a family residence.
George sold it once his youngest, Roxanne, finished Hogwarts and went to seek her fortune in London. His son had just stepped out of Auror training and wasn't likely coming back to a place as sleepy as Hogsmeade; if he played his cards right—and Weasleys were excellent at cards—Fred was heading all over the world in the International Unit. George wanted to travel, too, but with less curse dodging and more lobster buffets, so he and his wife packed their swimwear and sailed off on a multi-year cruise from Australia to Atlantis.
The new store owner was familiar to locals. She had worked at the old Wheezes for two years prior and some summers before that, and had been a student at the nearby Hogwarts school. Some recognized her from the papers, though she had been more baby-faced then. She had grown into a lovely young lady, as mothers and aunts would say, with the only oddities being the smoke clouds that sometimes bloomed from her steps and her skirt hems that were more often singed than not. But inventors were that way; a clean inventor was an unproductive one.
She tinkered with greyer and cracklier gadgets than George Weasley had. Most had Muggle origins—no Muggleborn would enter the store without pointing that out. You could see their faces alight with pride and nostalgia, picking up Candle Bulbs and Spellophones. "Much handier than sticking your head in a fire, I'll say." Each item in the shop had a cylindrical Detangler at its heart—the key, she would say, to bridging the gap between the two worlds.
After the initial hype, minding the store became a relatively quiet trade, barring the occasional explosion or five in the back-room workshop.
One day, the door jingled.
Bea was tallying shipments by the till. She didn't typically rush to look up. It might fluster the customer, when they only wanted to take a peek without fuss. If she did look up, she might have seen the man fiddle with his indigo sleeve and smooth back a strand of his sleek-combed hair. There was a muffled crinkle—the plastic around a bouquet, arriving two years late for her shop's grand opening—followed by a wet plop and a curse.
She looked up, heart in throat. Scorpius was staring at a cupcake on the floor and then at his sleeve where the offending pastry fell from.
He frowned. "That wasn't supposed to happen."
Five years ago, Bea would have been across the room faster than a pin drop, but she was older now, more prudent, and didn't fall into new fancies as easily. Scorpius was different, too; the years had worn him with lines and sags, but he bore them with pride.
But he expected to waltz in like nothing had changed? Bea set down her quill and put a hand on her hip. No, it had been five years gone, and she wouldn't let him forget it.
"You. Haven't. Written."
"Sorry, I got your post, but ah, I've been busy." Scorpius gulped, holding out the bouquet, then started backing away as she stomped toward him. "Honestly!" He pulled at his collar. "Haven't you read the papers? The new line of Muggle tech unveiled last week—"
"Of course I read the papers; how else would I know if you're dead or alive? By the letters you're not sending?"
At the rate she was advancing, Bea would steamroll right over him, but she couldn't keep up the ruse. The boyish glint in his eyes broke through her glare, which was only there so he could charm it away. It was her laugh that betrayed her at last, and the bouquet fell forgotten beside the cupcake as Scorpius scooped her up, swinging her around like they were in school again.
And for a moment, they were, and the five years that had been an eternity became but a speck in reminiscence.
Bea asked mock-scornfully if he was too busy for tea, and he looked at his pocket watch in a way that said, "Yes," but followed her to the counter anyway and pulled up a stool. He told her of his company's expansion into the Muggle market. The Manor's renovation included a new workshop in preparation, outfitted with the latest sound- and fire-proofing charms, but he was still in need of a Chief Engineer to occupy it. There was good pay available, the best baked goods house elves had to offer, and a rather handsome employer for those discerning.
She scoffed and swatted at his grin, berating him for visiting only for business. The counter was none too big, crowded with empty plates and racks of wand attachments. Their hands had run into one another more than once.
When the tea ran dry, Bea put another kettle on. Old dreams roused awake with its whistle—abandoned and unattainable wishes, seeking a second chance. They curled into the room like mist, next to the odd couple: the inventor and the former heir, as not-impossible as rocket ships and broomsticks and captured lightning.
She would consider his offer. They both knew what her answer would be, but she'd like to at least keep up the pretense of bargaining. She'd have to find someone to watch the shop. The food had better be as top notch as he made it sound. Would said handsome employer nose through all her things and pester her as she hovered at the brink of a breakthrough?
Scorpius had slid off the stool and was padding through the aisles, poking through shelves for something to juggle. He waved a hand behind him as if to say, "Whatever you'd like," as he settled on a trio of Candle Bulbs.
The pestering, she supposed, was non-negotiable.
A/N I wanted to be composed, but mostly I want to smash the keyboard—IT'S DONESKJHFAFHLA!!! 2.5 years, with uncountable bouts of late nights, edit-fests, hair-tearing and love. It's not quite a goodbye for me. I know a lot more about what happens to these characters later, and what happened in between, and I wish I could tell all the stories. I might still tell a few (I did make a banner for a short story collection and if I ever write James' novella, most Capers' characters will make a cameo). Two things I will say that I omitted from the epilogue:
- Albus decides not go into professional Quidditch (there were new rules in place, anyway, but he won the the cup for Hufflepuff twice before they were made official). He trains as a dragonkeeper instead, under his Uncle Charlie, and helps run a nursery and a Snidget sanctuary.
- Anjali goes into Auror training too, hem hem.
This is the second novel I've finished. I started it about seven months after I began writing in earnest. I knew it would be a two-year commitment at least—really boggling at the time, but I knew I could do it. But I owe it to so many people. Friends who put up with my flailing plot ideas and reviewers who keep reading after atrocious hiatuses, people who offer critique and have beta'd—I've learned so much in these hundred-thousand words. In the future, I might whinge about things I could have done better, but I wouldn't be able to write better without writing this fic in the first place anyway. It's the foundation for a lot of future writing to come.
Thank you for reading and for loving these characters as much as I do. ♥