~~~ Epilogue ~~~
It was a beautiful, enchanted mid-summer’s night. The full moon shone brightly, illuminating the Hogwarts castle and the surrounding grounds. Moonbeams danced playfully upon the ripples on the lake – stirred up by the giant squid and the large dolphin playing in the moonlight. In the castle, all was dark, except for three adjacent windows. The students and most of the staff had departed the school a few days earlier for the summer holidays.
From the dark edge of the Forbidden Forest, two foxes emerged ... playing joyfully ... chasing and tumbling exuberantly over each other. But in the twinkling of an eye, the foxes were gone, and in their places stood a witch and a wizard. The wizard remained motionless for a long time, staring, as if transfixed by a vision. He was gazing, enraptured, upon the ancient castle with its familiar towers and turrets, as it stood bathed in moonlight, like some great benign being.
“Hermione,” said Rick. “That’s the most beautiful sight in the whole world. This is the happiest moment of my life ... and I owe it all to you.... How can I ever repay you?”
“Well, since you’re asking ... I can think of a way....” said Hermione grinning at him slyly. “You could let me beat you next year when we take our NEWTS. I really, really want to be dux in our final year.”
“For you, Hermione, I’d do anything. I promise I’ll do my best ... or is it my worst?” he laughed. “Hey, there are lights in Dumbledore’s office; he must be waiting for us ... maybe we should hurry.”
“Of course he’s waiting for us ... Snape will be with him. That’s why I was trying to hurry you up when you were writing the note to tell your parents not to worry and why you’d disappeared – why did it take so long?”
“Err ... it was a bit more than a note,” replied Rick. “You see, after I left the hospital, I seemed to spend all my time thinking about the nine months I was here – except, of course, I thought it was just some incredible dream. I think I told you once how people used to write their own Harry Potter stories ... well, I decided to write a story about my dream....”
“But Rick, you cheated!” protested Hermione. “You weren’t making up a story – it was all true!”
“Yeah, I know that now – but at the time, I thought it was all a dream.” said Rick, as they walked on, hand-in-hand, giving the Whomping Willow a wide berth. “I used to bring my notebook computer up to the shelter to write. The story was finished ... except for the final part ... what happened today, when you came. That’s what I was writing about, before we left the shelter. I put a note on top of the notebook, for my parents – telling them how to find the story and to read it ... and that it’s all true – I really hope they believe it. I also asked them to send the final chapter to a friend of mine, to post it ... err, that’s so other people can read it.”
“So, what did you call your story?”
“The Ghost of Godric Gryffindor.”
“That’s more appropriate than you may have realised,” said Hermione.
“Why’s that?” asked Rick.
“Because as far as the Wizarding world is concerned, it was
the Ghost of Godric Gryffindor – and not you – who destroyed Voldemort’s magic, allowing Harry to finally defeat him. Apart from Dumbledore, Harry, Ginny, and I, who were there, only Snape and Ron know the true story of what really happened that day on Druids Barrow.
“Harry wanted to tell the whole story; he felt we owed it to your memory to acknowledge your great sacrifice – and he hated the idea of receiving praise for Voldemort’s destruction, when it was really you who deserved it. But Dumbledore knew I was obsessed with trying to find you and bring you back to our world – although, at the beginning none of the others held out much hope. But I was determined to try, so we decided to conceal your part in Voldemort’s destruction. Otherwise, the secret of your powers would have emerged, and it would have been impossible for you to live a normal life in this world, if you were ever able to return to it.
“In his official account, Dumbledore attributed your part in Voldemort’s downfall to the Ghost of Godric Gryffindor. He said it was the ghost who destroyed Voldemort’s magic – before Harry killed him. The ghost’s presence was corroborated by some of the Squibbed Death Eaters. But, of course, they all fled before Voldemort revealed the ghost’s true identity.”
“That’s a relief,” said Rick. “I’d hate to have to put up with the fame – and the pain – of being hounded by Rita Skeeter. I really don’t envy Harry his fame one bit – so how is he bearing up under the new notoriety?”
“Dumbledore has been shielding him from the Wizarding press – he banned them all from Hogwarts. That Skeeter woman had a field day just the same ... what was her ridiculous headline? Something like: ‘The Boy Who Lived slays He Who Claimed He Would Never Die.’”
“So what else has been happening?” asked Rick, anxious to catch up on everything he had missed.
“Well, Gryffindor won both the Quidditch Cup and House Cup – we were miles ahead after the five hundred points Dumbledore awarded when the Dark Creatures
attacked. Oh – and Pansy Parkinson was expelled. She was the one who stunned Ginny on her way down to the greenhouses – and got her out of Hogwarts under an Invisibility Cloak. Ginny caught a glimpse of Pansy before she was stunned. Pansy got off pretty lightly, I thought. Apparently, she was acting under her father’s orders – he wasn’t so lucky.”
“Why, what happened to him?” asked Rick.
“He was one of the Death Eaters you Squibbed at Haughtons Heath,” said Hermione with a grin.
“Serves the bastard right!” said Rick. “So, where’s Harry gone for the holidays? I’d really like to see him.”
“He’s staying with the Weasleys,” replied Hermione. “But don’t worry, Rita and the paparazzi won’t be getting anywhere near him at the Burrow. Arthur Weasley is the new Minister of Magic, and he’s banned the press from the Burrow.”
“Wow, that’s great news!” said Rick smiling. “I can’t think of anyone better to restore the integrity of the Ministry after Fudge’s corrupt rule. So what happened to Fudge?”
“He was ignominiously drummed out of office a few days after Voldemort fell – along with all his lackeys. All the people Fudge had fired – because they’d opposed his draconian State of Emergency and corruption – got their old jobs back.”
“What about Percy Weasley?” as Rick.
“Dumbledore personally vouched for Percy. He revealed that Percy had been working as an operative for the Order of the Phoenix. He’s quite the hero – Ron and Ginny were so happy and proud of him when they found out. He’s working as his dad’s assistant – it’s a huge job getting the Ministry working properly again after what Fudge did to it. Percy’s got his own flat near Diagon Alley, but he visits the Burrow a lot – you’ll see him there for sure.”
“Why? Am I going to the Burrow?” asked Rick, eagerly.
“Yes, Ron and Ginny told their parents that you might be back soon —”
“Back? Back from where?” asked Rick.
“When you disappeared, Dumbledore announced that you’d been called home by your parents,” said Hermione.
“Well, it was kind of true in a way,” observed Rick with a smile.
“Yes,” laughed Hermione. “Mrs. Weasley insisted that when you came back you should spend the holidays at the Burrow.”
“That’ll be great,” said Rick happily. “Err ... but what about you?”
“Well ... I’ll be at the Burrow for the first couple of weeks as well,” she said smiling impishly at Rick. “Now that I’ve got you back I’m not in any hurry to part again. There’s going to be quite a crowd. Apart from Ron, Ginny and Harry – Padma’s coming to visit as well.”
“Sounds like fun,” said Rick happily. “So, have your parents returned to England now that Voldemort’s gone.”
“No way!” said Hermione. “They love the Greek islands. In a few weeks I’ll be leaving you at the Burrow – to spend a couple of weeks travelling with my parents in Portugal. But we’ll be returning to my parents’ place in the Greek islands at the end of July – in time for Harry’s birthday party.”
“What?” asked Rick, who was having trouble keeping up with Hermione’s holiday schedule.
“Everyone – Ron, Ginny, Harry, Padma – and you – will be coming to spend the last month of the holidays with us on the island – the house is right on the beach, by-the-way. Mum says it’s huge, and there’s plenty of room for everyone. You’ll all be coming the day before Harry’s birthday – so he can celebrate it in peace – without half the Wizarding world – and all of the press – trying to gatecrash.”
“Gosh – it’s going to be a great holiday,” said Rick, squeezing Hermione’s hand contentedly. “It’s almost too good to believe that I’m back here again – and I owe it all to you – for making my dream come true. Not only were you brilliant in figuring out how to give me back my magic and bring me back with you, but you were incredibly brave.... You had no idea at all whether you would ever be able to return to this world again ... or if you would ever see your parents and friends again.”
“That’s true,” said Hermione, blushing at Rick’s praise, as they stopped at the castle entrance. “Although Firenze did say something, just before he left me at the Gateway of Reality
, which gave me hope....”
“What was that?” asked Rick, intrigued. “Why didn’t you tell me before?”
“Err ... it was something he said he saw in the Heavens ... something about great deeds that would be done by two Hogwarts students at some time in the future....” said Hermione, sounding uncharacteristically vague.
“I don’t understand – why would that give you hope – oh, was it you and me?” asked Rick.
“Err ... no, the Hogwarts students were ... err, our children,” said Hermione blushing fiercely, and staring down at the ground.
said Rick, his face lighting up with delight as he put his arms around Hermione. “That’s the most wonderful future I can imagine,” he said, smiling at her in the moonlight.
Hermione looked up at Rick smiling shyly. “Me too,” she said, before Rick silenced her with a kiss.
~~~ The End ~~~
~~~~~ ~~~~~ ~~~~~ ~~~~~ ~~~~~
LAST CHANCE!!! Please leave a review ... it only takes a moment
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I feel very sad to have reached the end of the story. I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it! At this stage, I am not planning a sequel ... but, who knows, I may go into GoGG-withdrawal and be unable to stop myself!! After book 6 is out, I may well feel inspired to start another fic, with a new storyline carrying on from where JKR (all praise be to her) leaves off.
And now for the credits....
Firstly, I would like to thank everyone who has read this story – and particularly those of you who have taken the trouble to leave reviews along the way. This is my first fic – or attempt at creative writing of any kind – and when I started out I had no idea whether anyone would even read it. Each and every review has given me the encouragement to keep going and try my best to make this story worthy of your kind words.
When it comes time to think about writing a sequel or another story, you may be certain that your reviews will carry great sway.
I would like to acknowledge all of the betas who have helped me at different times: Rachel (aka GobletEnchantress), James, Pam, James, Ugly Duckling, Bluezy, Tokyo Charlie, Alison, ChocolateTruffle, Vanishing Act (aka Amena) and Joe6991. A HUGE thank you to all of you for your help!
A special mention is due to three of my betas, in particular, whose enthusiasm and encouragement have helped to spur me on and stay focussed:
James who has been with me the whole way through and has added so much to this fic with his constructive suggestions and promptings to be more descriptive. If my writing has improved over the course of this fic then I owe much of it to him – thank you James!
Rachel (aka GobletEnchantress) who has been with me almost from the start has done so much to make this fic more read-able ... and saved me from comma-ing it to death. Your brilliant “eagle-eyes” never missed a typo – thank you Rachel!
Pam, who joined me around chapter ten and stayed with me ever since, and was always the first one to get each chapter back to me. Without you Pam, this fic would have been several hundred words longer – and all the words would have been “that” – thank you for your help and enthusiasm.
Rachel (aka GobletEnchantress) sent me a beautiful poem which she wrote after beta-ing the final chapter and Epilogue. It capture’s Hermione’s emotion wonderfully, when Rick disappeared – and her absolute determination to find him and bring him back. Thank you Rachel, your poem is very touching – and so, I leave the final word to you:
TOMORROW IS ONLY YEARS AWAY
TELL THE YEARS I WILL COME
THROUGH HELL BE BARRED UPON MY PATH
AND HEAVEN'S MYST KEEP ME AT BAY
TELL THE YEARS, I'LL FIND MY WAY
TELL THE YEARS I WILL COME
TO MARCH UPON NO HOLLOW GROUND
IF HELL BE KEEPING YOUR SOUL FOR ME
TELL THE YEARS, I'LL SET YOU FREE
TELL THE YEARS I WILL COME
THROUGH HEART OF PITY DIES AND MOURNS
AND ANGRY TEARS TOO SOON GONE LOST
THAT HAD LEFT NOTHING BUT A LONELY GHOST
TELL THE YEARS I WILL COME
I'LL FIND THE PATH AMONG MY HEART
AND SET YOU BLEEDING ON SKY HIGH
TELL THE YEARS I'LL LOVE OR DIE
TELL THE YEARS I WILL COME
AMONGST THE EMPTINESS THAT'S FILLED MY HEART
AMONGST THE WEARINESS THAT MAKES ME WHOLE
TELL THE YEARS I'LL TAKE YOU HOME
TELL THE YEARS I HAVE COME
FOR MESSAGES GIVEN AND MESSAGES LOST
TO BE READY AS A SUMMER DAY
FOR TOMORROW IS ONLY YEARS AWAY