Chapter 64 : epilogue
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“So.” A pause. “You nervous?”
A second pause.
“No. No, I’m not.”
“I don’t believe you.”
A laugh. A nervous laugh.
I stared at both my reflection and Freddie's in the mirror in front of us.
“You remember Ted and Vic’s wedding?”
“What, when we swore we’d never do such a silly thing?”
I grinned at the memory.
“Yeah,” I said. “That one.”
“Funny how things change, eh?” He paused again. “This isn’t going to change things, is it? Between us?”
It was my turn to laugh.
“Mate, I’m still gonna be round yours every free Saturday to watch the Quidditch. Trust me, this changes nothing for me.”
He nodded slowly.
There was a knock on the door.
“Come in!” I called.
Maddie popped her head round the door.
“Nana Molly sent me to round you two fine young men up.” Her eyes fell on me. “James, your collar’s-”
“A mess, I know,” I finished, raising my hands to my neck. “I’ll sort it-”
“I’ve got it.” She crossed the room to me and slapped my hands down, before adjusting it herself. “Your hair’s a mess too, you know.”
“That’s a perk of being a Potter, now hush it, Bennett.”
She laughed, and turned to Freddie.
“Perfect!” she pronounced. “Now come on, before the matriarch has kittens.”
She led us out of Uncle Bill’s old room, to the marquee that was once again set up in the garden outside. Lily had joked it could set up full time residence there, the rate us grandchildren were getting married – Molly’s wedding was in a month’s time.
We walked round the marquee to enter at the front. Maddie squeezed both our hands lightly before darting off to find her seat, which was several rows back, next to Kit.
Everyone fell silent when we appeared, their eyes and bodies swivelling to the front to face us.
“There’s a lot of people here...” I murmured.
“Mmm,” was Freddie’s reply.
The old wizard who'd presided over Victoire and Dominique’s weddings had finally died, and his place had been taken by another wizard who looked just as old. He joined us at the front of the marquee, as the band began to play, and movement at the entrance caught my eye.
I turned my head to the back of the marquee, and the guests followed suit. My jaw dropped open as my eyes fell on the most beautiful sight I’d ever seen.
Carlotta positively glided up the aisle, clutching a small bouquet of flowers and smiling from ear to ear. My eyes followed her the entire way up the aisle, until she came to a halt opposite me.
“You look beautiful,” I mouthed to her.
Her smile grew, if possible, even wider.
“Eyes on the bride!” was her response.
I grinned, and turned my head back to see Roxanne, Aisling and Brianna filing up the aisle to join Carlotta, and behind them, looking happier and more stunning than ever before, was Brigid, on her father's arm.
“Bloody hell,” I heard Freddie mutter under his breath, as he caught sight of his soon-to-be wife.
Brigid glanced at me as she passed, and flashed me a quick beaming smile, but her eyes soon found Freddie again.
“We are gathered here today...”
And for the first time ever, I paid attention to the ceremony. Admittedly, it was partly because I was best man and it would be wrong of me to zone out, but I’d also been waiting on this day for at least six years, and now that it was here, I was determined not to miss a moment of it. I apologised in my head to Nana Weasley, and all the other family members I’d quietly scorned at previous weddings for being over-emotional. Freddie and Brigid’s happiness was infectious and I found myself grinning from ear to ear as my two best friends, who had been made for each other from the start, finally became man and wife.
As soon as the ceremony was over, and Freddie and Brigid had passed us on their way back down the aisle, Carlotta took my arm.
“You loved that,” she said with a grin as I led her down the aisle behind the bride and groom. “You were beaming like an idiot the whole way through. I saw you. You’re a changed man, Mr Potter. Next thing you’ll be picturing our big day in your head.”
I turned to look at her, slightly panicked.
“You are joking, right?”
“Correct answer,” she said, steering me towards a table. “Come on, we can talk to the happy couple later.”
She led me to one side, towards an empty table. On the way there, someone walked into me, and let out a squeal.
“Sorry, Professor Potter, sir!” Lorcan Scamander said.
“It’s fine,” I replied, grinning. “I hope you’ve been working on your flying over the holiday!”
“Yes, sir, very hard,” he replied, before darting off.
“It’s so weird to hear you being called ‘Professor’.” Carlotta giggled. “I still maintain Professor McGonagall was an idiot to give so much responsibility and authority to someone who can’t even keep a pygmy puff alive. I swear you’re just trying to see how many idiotic ways there are of murdering the poor things.” She grinned cheekily as she sat down.
The demise of poor old Cordelia two weeks earlier was still a sore point, and Carlotta found great amusement in reminding me of my poor pet’s death at every opportunity.
“I misjudged Flora’s length!” I protested.
“Only you could whack a broomstick round a pygmy puff’s head." She grabbed a flute of champagne from a floating tray. “You’re not getting another one, are you?”
“Of course I am!” I cried indignantly.
“I think you should leave this next one in the flat for me to look after, instead of taking it to Hogwarts with you,” she said dryly. “You clearly can’t be trusted with anything living. It’s a good thing you decided to pursue a career that involves brooms, not animals. It’s a wonder Flora’s still in one piece!”
“Shut it,” I scowled. “Actually, it’s funny you should mention my living at Hogwarts...”
She raised an eyebrow, looking intrigued.
“Do go on,” she said.
“I’ve got a business proposition...”
So this is a bit of a surreal feeling. I've been working on this fic for over three years now, and there have been times when I've wondered if I'd ever get to the end, so it's a pretty good feeling to have finally made it here. Thank you to all of you who have read this fic, and an even bigger thank you to everyone who's left a review over the last 64 chapters. I really do appreciate every single one of them, and it's those words of encouragement which have helped me through the writer's block.
As I've said, this is the end of this fic but not the end of James and Carlotta's story. For those of you who don't already know, there will be a sequel, entitled Derailed. I've started working on it already, and I hope to start posting it in the next couple of months, so keep an eye out for that.
For those of you who've grown attached to her, I apologise profusely for Cordelia's fate - but given James' previous it really shouldn't have been a surprise! I'm preparing for ninjas.
Aaaand this is becoming rather a long author note, so I'll wrap things up now. Hope to see you all at the next one!
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