Epilogue, Part 2
Tuesday, 31 December 1991, afternoon
Albus Dumbledore, who these days was merely another prisoner-miner in Gringotts London's gold mine, was beginning to worry.
Two months ago, when Albus had been sentenced to the gold mine, he had been confident that the Ministry of Magic would squeeze the goblins diplomatically till they released "the Defeater of Grindelwald," and had been confident that some wealthy wizard or witch would come forward with a gift of G1 724 so that Albus could pay off Sirius Black in time.
But none of these things had happened, and now Albus had roughly twenty-four hours till his magical deadline expired.
Albus wondered, Is this delay till the last minute part of a Ministry tactic to squeeze me when it comes time to negotiate my life after I'm released from the prison-mine? Or does Wizarding Britain truly not wish to rescue "the Defeater of Grindelwald" from a dire fate?
Albus got a clue which way the winds were blowing when a goblin guard, grinning a sharp-teeth smile, handed Albus a paper envelope. Albus noticed that the paper envelope had been addressed to him with a Muggle pen. Inside the envelope were a newspaper clipping and a letter.
The clipping was from the 3rd November Daily Prophet, reporting on a 2nd November press conference—
"Two days ago on 31st October, seventy-seven prominent wizards and witches suddenly died, most notably Minister for Magic Fudge, Senior Undersecretary Umbridge and Lord Lucius Malfoy. All seventy-seven died at times close to each other, or at the same time. Yesterday we reported that all seventy-seven were marked with You-Know-Who's Dark Mark, and none of the suddenly dead did not have the Dark Mark.
"Today Amelia Bones and Head Unspeakable Saul Croaker held a press conference. Madam Bones reported that she knows who the mass killer of Death Eaters is, but will not charge him or her with a crime. She refused to divulge the killer's name. She referred to her 'oaths of office, under penalty of losing my magic,' as the reason for her actions. However, she volunteered the fact that these deaths related to the death of Hogwarts professor Quirinus Quirrell, but did not explain her statement. Head Unspeakable Croaker stated that the deaths of seventy-seven Death Eaters and the death of Professor Quirrell were incidental to the fulfillment of a prophecy, but he did not divulge the prophecy.
"A reporter asked Madam Bones to comment on a rumour that You-Know-Who had been partly alive until recently, but that Harry Potter killed You-Know-Who forever on 31st October. Madam Bones refused to comment on the rumour."
Albus understood what the Daily Prophet did not: that Harry Potter had killed Voldemort, not the other way round as Albus had planned; and when Voldemort had died, seventy-seven Death Eaters had died at the same time.
But Albus was confused about Croaker's remark that a prophecy had been fulfilled. Were all the horcruxes tracked down and destroyed? If so, how?
The letter that had come with the newspaper clipping, turned out to be written by Harry Potter—
Oi there, thief, liar and kidnapper,
Horcruxes destroyed: (•) Tom Riddle's diary (•) Hufflepuff's Cup (•) Ravenclaw's Diadem (•) Slytherin's Locket (•) the Gaunt Head of House ring (with mounted Resurrection Stone) (•) Harry Potter's lightning-bolt scar
The Dark Lord has been: ( ) Mildly inconvenienced ( ) Defeated ( ) Killed (•) Vanquished
The "Swiss Dwarves' Shape-Shifting Potion" that you paid G480 to buy from "John Bull"? The true name of the potion was "Deceived Disguise Potion," and you bought it from me. So it was "Harry my boy" who tricked you into walking into Gringotts when you knew there was a warrant for your arrest there—and unlike with the Weasley Twins, this time the person who tricked you, you paid money to! Don't you feel stupid! Ah, your arrest was truly for the Greater Good. And considering that you stole G107 000 out of the Potter family vault, you being "disappointed" in me for swindling you out of G480 doesn't mean much, does it?
Happy New Year, Albus Percival Dumbledore. I guarantee you that with you locked up, 1992 will be brilliant for Hermione and me.
Harry not your boy
P.S. In case you've forgotten: You have less than twenty-four hours to repay Sirius Black the G1 724 he lent you, or else you'll lose your magic.
Albus, after reading the newspaper article and Harry's letter, knew he was doomed then.
No panicked benefactor would rush in to give Albus G1 724 so that Albus could repay Sirius before he lost his magic.
Meaning, tomorrow Albus would lose his magic and would become a Muggle. Healing potions did not work on Muggles.
Albus had never heard of a Muggle man who had lived to be 110 years old. Albus certainly had never heard of a Muggle man who had lived much past 110.
Albus now fiercely wanted to get drunk. Alas, this option was denied him. The goblins, Albus had been told, had a law banning the serving of alcohol to miners.
Almost seven weeks later
Monday, 17 February 1992
Albus Dumbledore died. The goblin prisoner-guards immediately vanished his corpse. Only Director Ragnok and Aberforth Dumbledore, in that order, were notified of Albus's death. Aberforth Dumbledore made no public statement about his brother's death, and held no funeral. It was almost a year later, and only by accident, that the wizarding public learned of Albus P. Dumbledore's death.
Meanwhile, in a timeless place
Albus found himself in front of a desk, facing a bald-headed, muscular, forty-something man who was wearing thick leather clothing. Albus wondered if the man could be enticed into becoming a ... playmate.
Then Albus noticed the wooden shield and the bronze sword that were mounted on the wall, the cowled black robe hanging from a peg, and the scythe in the corner. I suppose I can let him be the Top, Albus thought.
Albus said, "You are Death?"
"Yes, but I prefer the name Thanatos." Thanatos clapped his hands together. "Let's get to work. The way the death-process normally works is that you the dead soul meet with your assigned Grim Reaper, who is one of my subordinates. He does a Life Review with you, he makes a Judgement upon you, then you are sent to your Reward. With me so far?"
Albus said, "But apparently I've skipped the Grim Reaper part and I've come straight to you."
Thanatos gave Albus a piercing look. "Normally I meet with a dead soul only when the soul is half good and half evil, the soul is saintly, the soul is black evil, or the soul was touched by a prophecy. I flagged your file in 1981 because you meet two of the four criteria."
Albus smiled his best grandfatherly smile. "Everything I've done since 1945, I've done for the Greater Good."
Thanatos leant forward. "Ah, but for whose greater good? What group has benefitted the most from your deeds, Albus my boy? In 1945 you were given three titles, and much authority. I'll ignore for the moment that you were given those titles because you misled everyone into believing you'd killed Gellert Grindelwald, when in fact you merely had Stupefyed him and had imprisoned him. Anyway, you were given three titles in 1945. Forty-seven years later, who is better off than they were in 1945?"
"Almost everyone," Albus said, beaming.
Thanatos shook his head. "Dark wizards, that's who is better off—they're alive, they're healthy and, if they've gold to spread about, they can walk free no matter what the statutes say. But then, the statutes that are law now, they favour the dark wizards, isn't this true? On the other hand, Muggle-borns in 1992 are trapped and marginalised, the same for werewolves, and many who fought Tom Riddle and his minions are dead now because they followed your orders."
Albus gritted his teeth and repeated, "Everything I've done since 1945, I've done for the Greater Good."
Thanatos called out, "Antonia, please come over here and help me out. When are evil acts allowed if they serve the Greater Good?"
Albus blurted, "Evil? Listen, nothing I've done—"
A woman in white robes stepped up to Albus's chair. She had white wings growing out of her back! Albus wondered if he could get his own wings coloured lavender.
Meanwhile, Antonia the angel was saying, "Evil that is done for the Greater Good still is evil. We do not accept excuses, explanations or justifications here. Any action that is endorsed by heaven as good harms no one, except possibly the actor."
Thanatos said, "Albus, you're on record"—Thanatos patted a three-inch-thick folder—"as saying that your Afterlife will be 'the next great adventure.' But I promise you, your Afterlife will be neither 'great' nor an 'adventure.' Want to know why? Because of Trelawney's prophecy that you heard.
"Have you ever wondered why you heard the prophecy, instead of Tom the bartender? Or Rita Skeeter? Or Minerva McGonagall? Because you were uniquely placed, in all the world, to make otherwise impossible things happen! You were Supreme Mugwump of the ICW, so as soon as Riddle marked Harry Potter as his equal, you could've organised tutors for the boy from Germany, France, the United States and Japan. You were Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot, so you could've passed laws, and could've seen to the laws' enforcement, so that Riddle's minions would've been thrown through the Veil, Kissed or imprisoned—"
Albus said, "I don't believe in executing criminals. Everyone deserves a chance to repent."
Thanatos resumed, "As I was saying. As headmaster of Hogwarts, you had ten years to track down and to destroy the cause of the 'DADA curse,' then to hire 'Mad-Eye' Moody as the DADA instructor. Then, when Harry Potter arrived at Hogwarts, he could teach the other students what he'd learnt from his tutors. Do you understand? It was heaven's intent that, were a dark lord to rise up, Sally-Anne Perks, say, could fight six of that dark lord's minions to a standstill. Speaking of Sally-Anne Perks, what you did to her was cruel, and I will be holding you to account for that."
Albus was beginning to suspect that he would not be sporting lavender wings in his Afterlife.
Thanatos glared at Albus. "It was heaven's intent that you do all the things that only you could do to smooth Harry Potter's path, so that, when the time came, Harry Potter would vanquish Riddle, and as easily as falling off a log. Instead, Albus P. Dumbledore, from the day you heard the prophecy, you plotted to trick the boy into letting himself die, in order that you would kill Riddle and you'd be written into the history books as 'the wizard greater than Merlin.' "
Then Thanatos said, "Antonia, suit up. Albus, I've good news for you: Where I'm about to send you, you'll spend eternity with a former student of yours."
Over four months later
June 1992, the Leaving Feast at Hogwarts SOW&W
Before the Feast, Professor Flitwick passed out the marks for all the Ravenclaws, just as Professor McGonagall, Professor Snape and Professor Sprout did for all the students of their respective Houses.
Harry got high marks; but Hermione got O's and O-plusses in everything. "Mad-Eye" Moody, the replacement (and now permanent!) DADA teacher, who refused to be addressed as "Professor," had given Harry a mark of "Outstanding-plus."
The Opening Feast (a.k.a the Sorting Feast), the Yule Feast and the Closing Feast were the only times during the school year when all students were required to eat with their Houses. So today Harry, Hermione, Padma and Su Li were eating with the other first-year Ravenclaws; whilst Daphne, Draco, Millicent and Tracey all were sitting at the Slytherin table—
—until Draco left his bench and walked over to where Hermione was sitting. "Miss Granger," Draco said formally, "may I see your marks? Here are mine."
Harry was not going to draw attention to it out loud, but Hermione had no EE's, whilst Draco had two; and Hermione had two O-plusses, whilst Draco had only one.
Draco looked at Harry and said, "The hundred-galleon bet you made with me on the firstie train? It looks like I lost."
Harry said, "I'm sure it was hard for you to admit this."
"It was, and not only because I hate losing at any kind of competition."
Then Draco surprised Harry. The blond boy walked to the High Table and spoke briefly with Snape, who led Draco to McGonagall. Draco and McGonagall spoke briefly, McGonagall nodded, then Draco turned to face the four House tables.
Snape drew his wand, put the tip of it to Draco's throat and said "Sonorus." Draco took a deep breath, then began to speak.
"Riding on the firstie train, four other Purebloods and myself sat in the same compartment when the door opened and Heir Potter introduced himself to us. He also introduced us to his Muggle-born friend, Miss Hermione Granger.
"Somehow the doctrine of blood purity came up. Heir Potter said that he didn't believe that blood-purity doctrine was true because his Muggle-born mother, Miss Lily Evans, was Head Girl in her seventh year. (A claim which was true, by the way—you can look it up.) Heir Potter offered to bet a hundred galleons with any of us five Purebloods about our marks—but not that he, a halfblood, would score higher marks than any of us, but that his Muggle-born friend, Miss Granger, would outscore any of us.
"I took that bet, along with someone else in that compartment. Of course I expected to win—a Pureblood against a Muggle-born? No contest! Once I was here at Hogwarts, I wrote my father about the bet. My father, Lord Lucius Malfoy, wrote back that he expected me to beat this girl; but if perchance she beat me, this would show that I was lazy and he'd be ashamed of me.
"So I, a first-year, studied this year like a seventh-year. I put twice as much time into reading textbooks, revising (reviewing) notes and writing essays as I would've, had I not made the bet; and I worked this hard from September till now. Just now I found out: Miss Granger beat me anyway."
Draco stopped speaking, and he bowed to Hermione. The Great Hall was filled with applause, and Hermione blushed red.
Draco spoke again: "I tell you now that Heir Potter was right, and the idea that I'm somehow a more powerful wizard because both my parents come from long-magical families, is a lie. The Dark Lord was a much more powerful wizard than my father, which was one of two reasons why my father devoted himself to the Dark Lord. The other reason being that the Dark Lord told my father what my father wanted to hear. But who was this wizard of great magical power whom my father bowed to? The son of a Squib and a Muggle. And who defeated the Dark Lord? The first time, it was Lady Lily Evans Potter, a Muggle-born; and the second time, it was her son Harry, a halfblood. As for Purebloods like my father? They were played for fools, and now they're dead and their Houses belong to Heir Potter, a halfblood.
"Anyway, I don't have anything else to say. I'm still trying to figure out myself, what all this means. Thanks to you lot for listening to me."
Draco nodded at Snape, who said "Quietus." Draco walked back to the Slytherin table—
—where Pansy slapped him. "You're disgusting," she said, in the otherwise-silent room.
The next day, Narcissa Malfoy met the train in King's Cross Station with one hundred galleons in a moneybag, which she promptly handed to Harry. Neither Pansy nor any other Parkinson ever paid off the hundred galleons that Pansy owed Harry for losing the bet.
Wednesday, 1st July 1992, at Bones Manor
Severus Snape and Amelia Bones married. It was the first marriage for both the bride and groom.
Amongst the wedding guests were Harry Potter, Hermione Granger, Andromeda Black Tonks and Ted Tonks. Recent bride Heather Tidwell-Black attended the wedding; her husband Sirius, though invited, did not attend.
Two days later: Friday, 3rd July 1992
Back in April, the all-Houses firsties had fallen into a discussion of this question: "Suppose on the firstie train, Hermione had lied about her status and said, 'I'm Hermione Black, a Pureblood like you, and the reason you've never seen me before is because my family lives in France.' How would you prove she was lying and that she was really a Muggle-born?"
Eventually the group had decided that there would be two ways to tell. Firstly, the wizard-raised wear only pants (undershorts) or knickers under their robes, whilst Muggle-borns wear full Muggle clothing under their robes. Secondly, as Daphne put it, "I would lead Hermione the 'Pureblood' to someone who was a halfblood, and I would say 'This person is a halfblood' before Hermione introduced herself. For Purebloods there are three different sets of rules, for introducing yourself to another Pureblood, to a halfblood and to a Muggle-born; but Muggle-borns introduce themselves to everyone the same way every time. If Hermione the 'Pureblood' introduced herself to the halfblood the same way a Muggle-born would, I'd know that Hermione was a Muggle-born."
Hermione had commented on the discussion, "But getting tripped up by not knowing all the little rules, this works the other way too. When Professor McGonagall came to our house two years ago for her Muggle-born visit, her Muggle clothes were decades out of style. If she'd met us in a Muggle public place, she would've been stared at."
Su Li had said, "Hermione and Harry, you've an advantage over us. If you know nothing about our world, you can hang out in Diagon Alley whilst you watch and listen, and maybe you'll learn something. But if I went to Harrods Department store and did something ignorant, I could be arrested for violating the Statute of Secrecy."
Hermione had tapped her chin with her fingertip and had said, "Hm, how could I teach you lot about the Muggle world without violating the Statute? Trust me, Muggle Studies is not the way to go."
Three months later, Hermione had come up with a solution to the problem: Her friends watching a Muggle video at her parents' house.
The All-Houses Almost-Second-Years, plus Sirius and Heather, and Ted and Andromeda, were invited to watch a Muggle film at the Grangers and to discuss it. Of the eighteen kids who regularly had eaten dinner at the end of the Ravenclaw table, now fifteen showed up, plus all the invited adults except for Ted Tonks. Narcissa Malfoy nervously had asked if she could attend with Draco.
Once the visitors arrived at the Granger house, they all were told, "There is only one rule here today: No magic in this house. Because regardless of who does the magic, Hermione will get blamed for it, and the Ministry loves to stick it to Muggle-borns. Understand? Now each of you give me your wand."
The film that Hermione chose was Sleeping with the Enemy, because it was a film from 1991 that showed Muggles here and now, living their Muggle lives. (As much as Hermione wanted to show the wizard-raised kids The Wizard of Oz, and Dan Granger wanted to show them The Terminator and Terminator 2: Judgment Day, it was eventually decided that these films would only confuse a wizard-raised audience.)
Whilst Sleeping with the Enemy was playing, the magical people wrote down questions with ballpoint pens, which the children thought were marvels. The film was stopped every five minutes and the film's Muggle parts were discussed.
Answers to the questions were provided by all three Grangers, Justin, Harry, Andromeda Tonks and Heather Tidwell-Black. The elder Grangers wound up demonstrating how a telephone worked, and lifting the bonnet on Dan's car so that the wizard-raised children (plus Sirius and Narcissa) could see what an automobile engine looked like. Luckily, Heather could answer Lavender Brown's and Narcissa's questions about Muggle fashion, because Hermione, Emma and Andromeda were all non-experts there.
The wizard-raised magicals, besides being shown the acting talents of Julia Roberts, were introduced to pizza, fizzy drinks and buttered popcorn. The magicals were amazed by the new flavours.
Harry had a hidden agenda for attending this film night. He worked his agenda when he "casually" remarked, "To me it's obvious that the girl I pick as Lady Slytherin must be from Slytherin House. Yeah, in theory I could become betrothed to Pansy Parkinson; but I prefer a girl whom I know well and I feel comfortable with." These words put smiles on the faces of Daphne, Millicent and Tracey for the rest of the night.
Three times during the summer hols did the Grangers host a film night. By remarkable coincidence, Daphne, Millicent and Tracey were all three present for all three films.
Tuesday, 1st September 1992
Aboard the Hogwarts Express
When nobody was within earshot but Harry and Hermione, Hogwarts firstie Luna Lovegood said to Harry, "Living in the present and knowing a future is confusing, isn't it? No wonder you and the bushy-haired girl keep this a secret."
Harry choked. "How do you know the secret, that we know 'a' future?"
Luna smiled dreamily.
Two years and two months later
31st October 1994
The all-Houses fourth-years, as a group, stood up from the end of the Ravenclaw table and walked out one particular set of double doors. Their destination: the Hogwarts kitchens.
For the professors, and most of the students, this night was the night to celebrate Samhain, or All Hallow's Eve, or the death of Voldemort. But for Harry Potter, this was the anniversary of the night his parents had been killed—which was nothing to celebrate. In this timeline, Harry had "celebrated" Halloween in 1992 and 1993 in the Hogwarts kitchens, in the company of happy house-elf cooks and Hermione—and amazingly, joined by most of his all-Houses friends.
Just before Harry walked out the Great Hall's double doors, he turned about and, with Hermione holding his hand, looked round the Great Hall. Harry glanced up, where jack-o'-lanterns floated and illusionary black cats chased each other and played.
But after a glance at the seasonal decorations overhead, Harry's eyes immediately were drawn to the Slytherin table.
Bilious, who had repeated his first year, now was a third-year Slytherin who was flirting with the Slytherin fourth-year student Pansy Parkinson—probably to make Draco jealous. If this was Bilious's plan, the joke was on him—Draco and Pansy no longer were betrothed, whilst Draco turned into a tongue-tied fool whenever he talked to Susan Bones. Meanwhile, Pansy did not want Bilious's attentions at all; and Ginny Weasley, another third-year Slytherin, was angry that her brother was "embarrassing" her.
So Bilious was getting hexed in stereo. That is, Ginny Weasley, who was robed in green and silver in this lifetime, was hexing her brother when she was not giving Harry cow-eyes from across the Great Hall.
"Eyes elsewhere, girl," Hermione growled.
As for why Pansy was so vicious at hexing Bilious, one of her reasons was that the entire school knew that Bilious called Pansy "ugly" behind her back. But this did not stop Bilious from putting the moves on Pansy whenever Draco was near.
After Harry spent a few moments watching his previous-lifetime "best mate" disgrace himself again, Harry looked about the rest of the Great Hall.
There was no Goblet of Fire present now. No Beauxbatons students and no Durmstrang students mingled today with Hogwarts students. Why? Because Headmistress McGonagall and Minister Bones, between them, had chopped up Dumbledore's plans for the Triwizard Tournament into little bits.
"Mad-Eye" Moody was still the DADA teacher (and had been DADA teacher since November 1991).
Cedric Diggory was not dating Cho Chang, because Cho was no longer at Hogwarts.
Cho and Marietta, in their third year, had bullied oddball Ravenclaw firstie Luna Lovegood—and Harry had cocoon-roped the bully-girls in Flitwick's office again. Headmistress McGonagall had expelled the two bullies, then the DMLE had snapped their wands.
Before Cho had been expelled, she had been dating Zacharias Smith. Everyone had agreed that those two deserved each other. Cho had had admirers other than Zacharias—but they had been boys who thought that Bellatrix Lestrange dressed in black was the ultimate sex symbol.
Hermione in fourth year, thanks to training from both Andromeda and Narcissa, now had tonnes of social skills. Hermione was liked, and also admired; only Bilious and Ginny ever said anything bad about Hermione. Hermione still was studious, but nobody called her a "know-it-all" anymore, and she had magically fixed her teeth. (Harry had asked Hermione to keep her bushy hair.)
Hermione had her own versions of the Dursleys—an aunt and two cousins who had been verbally abusive to Hermione, back before Hogwarts. But at the Granger Christmas party in 1993, Hermione had outcharmed her aunt and cousins and had marginalised them, without raising her voice or losing her smile.
Yes, both Harry and Hermione had come a long way since the second version of July 1991.
Now Hermione murmured to Harry, "This time round, you're not endangered by a binding magical contract."
"True," Harry replied, "but now I don't get to see you in your powder-blue gown, whilst wearing that beautiful smile."
Hermione kissed Harry on the cheek, in front of everyone in the Great Hall. "It was periwinkle blue—but you're a boy. I don't expect you to know the difference."
Three and a half years later
Dawn, Saturday, 2nd May 1998
About a month and a half before Harry and Hermione would sit their NEWTs, they slipped out of the castle at dawn for a picnic.
More specifically, the betrothed couple set their picnic at the spot where previous-lifetime Hermione had been Killing-Cursed. As Harry and Hermione ate, they watched the sky brighten, and they listened to the chirping of birds. What they did not hear were the sounds of spells, explosions and screams. All was well.
When eventually Harry and Hermione walked back to the castle, they found Luna Lovegood waiting just outside.
Luna kissed Harry on the cheek. "I died also, during the other today, but now I have many years of life ahead. All thanks to you, Harry Potter. Thank you."
Without another word, Luna turned and walked back into the castle.
A month and a half later
Late June 1998
All three Hogwarts students (Harry, Hermione and Millicent) sat their NEWT exams, then Hermione sat her nonmagical A-levels.
Three days later, Harry married Hermione Granger during a Church of England wedding in Crawley. Harry and Hermione were already magically married; Hermione had become Lady Potter in February 1992, when she had had her first period. Right after Harry married Hermione in Crawley, he married Millicent Bulstrode, "my shield-maiden," at Hogwarts; Millicent became Lady Slytherin.
Ginny Weasley, a fifth-year Slytherin at the time, had reportedly thrown an epic tantrum when she had learned of Millicent's betrothal to Harry Potter.
A bit over 167 years later
Tuesday, 30th July, 2165
The day before Harry's 185th birthday, he and Hermione went to bed in the evening. They fell asleep cuddling each other.
They both woke up seated in chairs in front of Thanatos's desk. Each Potter quickly discovered that the other looked twenty years old.
Thanatos smiled at the married couple. "Harry and Hermione Potter, welcome to the Afterlife. Expect to be richly rewarded, both of you."