The True Epilogue (a Harry Potter fanfic)
*in which all my ships are true and things are great*
Several pairs of curious eyes followed the family of five as they pushed through the crowd at Kings Cross Station toward the barrier between platforms nine and ten. Atop the packed trolleys that the parents pushed were two cages- one containing a beautiful snowy owl and the other a badger, which made grumpy noises every few seconds.
“Hang in there, Comet,” the black-haired boy said placatingly. “I know it’s no fun, but you’ve got to behave.”
“I don’t know why you had to bring the stupid thing anyway,” his brother said, rolling his eyes. “It’s not on the approved list.”
“Yes, but he’s injured!”
“All your pets are or were injured.”
“And he has separation anxiety!”
“I bet they’ll take it away from you.”
“James!” their father scolded as Matthew’s bright blue eyes widened in fear. “Don’t say things like that. Your dad and I wrote to Headmistress McGonagall in advance, and she said it was fine.” Draco put a hand on Matthew’s shoulder. “No one is going to take Comet away.”
“Hey,” Harry said suddenly, “there’s Ginny, Luna, and the girls.” The youngest Potter shrieked and made to run toward the family friends, but Draco grabbed her arm and pulled her back.
“Callisto Ariana Potter, what have we told you about running off?” he scolded. She smiled cheekily.
“Not to do it, I think.”
“Well, you think right. Look, here they are now, anyway.” The other family reached them, and there were cheerful greetings all around.
“So, shall we cross over?” Luna asked, and Ginny nodded. Their oldest daughter, Nymphadora, took a step forward, but her sister exclaimed, “Wait!” Nym raised an eye brow.
“What is it, Gillian?” The redhead bounced excitedly on her toes as she answered.
“This is Matty and my first year going through as actual students, so we should get to go first!” Matt held up both hands to show that he was not a part of this. Nym was already squinting, though.
“I say, whoever gets through first gets through first,” she said challengingly. She and Gillian turned and raced for the barrier together, disappearing through it within a second of each other. Ginny sighed in exasperation, pushing a trolley forward to follow them. Luna only looked amused as she trailed after her wife. Callisto tugged on Draco’s sleeve.
“I thought you said no running,” she told him, frowning.
“Yes, but I can’t control what they do. They’re not my children.” This argument lost its value, though, when James pushed ahead through the barrier as well. Harry groaned.
“I promise I’ll talk to him, Callie,” he said to avoid the rising complaints. The rest of the family followed James.
“Can I go this year, Daddy?” Callie asked. Harry shook his head with a chuckle.
“Just one more year, sweetheart.” She scowled and stamped the ground.
“Dad?” Matt said as James boarded the train with Nym (though Gillian stayed behind to wait). “Do you know what House I’m gonna be in?” Harry smiled and shook his head.
“No one knows for sure ahead of time,” he said, “but I know you’ll be great no matter what.”
“And luckily,” Draco added, “you know kids in every House, so you’ll always have someone to talk to.” Callie tossed her blonde hair over her shoulder.
“I’m gonna be a Slytherin,” she said confidently. A little bit of pride shone in Draco’s eyes.
“I don’t doubt it.”
“Alright, Matt. Go on and take your stuff,” Harry said gently. “You and Gillian should get on board. You don’t want to get left behind. Matt nodded and moved toward the train, then swiveled and threw himself into his father’s arms.
"I’m gonna miss you,” he said. Harry hugged him hard.
“I’ll miss you too, kiddo.” Matt hugged Draco too, and then he and Gillian got their stuff and waded through the small crowd to the train door.
“We’ll write!” Draco called after him.
“Every day, if you want!” Harry added. Matt gave them a slightly wavering grin before disappearing.
Matthew thought he was ready for the Sorting. He thought he’d either be in Gryffindor, like Harry, or Slytherin like Draco. He definitely was not expecting the Sorting Hat to yell out “HUFFLEPUFF!” the moment it touched his head. To ecstatic cheers from his new Housemates, he made his way dazedly toward the Hufflepuff table. He’d heard Hufflepuffs called ‘duffers’ and 'goody two-shoes’ and even once 'the stoner House’, none of which sounded very positive to Matt. Still, he put on a brave face. A cobalt-haired Teddy Lupin clapped him on the back as he sat down.
“Glad to have you, Matt!” he enthused. That’s right! Teddy’s a Hufflepuff, and he’s not so bad. This thought didn’t erase his disappointment entirely, but it did help. What helped even more was hearing another shout of “HUFFLEPUFF!” immediately following a call of “Weasley, Gillian”. Matt broke into a grin as his best friend sat beside him.
“I can’t believe I’m a Hufflepuff,” he stage-whispered to her. Surprisingly, she rolled her eyes and laughed.
“Oh, please. Like you could have been anything else.” His eyebrows furrowed.
“What do you mean?”
“Let’s see. For starters, you’re a vegetarian. You always get one of your dads to take you to random volunteer things. You never let anyone get away with saying mean things. You take in injured animals- you’ve literally got twenty different pets now, if you hadn’t noticed- and your favorite just happens to be a badger, the symbol of Hufflepuff House. Honestly, if you’d been sorted anywhere else, I would have died of surprise.” Matt laughed.
“Well, when you put it like that.”
Any remaining worries he had about his Sorting vanished the moment they stepped foot in the common room. It was vastly wide and round, with honey-colored walls. The lighting was a mixture of natural light coming through the circular windows and and a warmer, golden light shining from within glass spheres on intricately carved stands. The room itself felt like mid-autumn and laughter. Best of all, there were animals. Matt suddenly understood why the Headmistress had given in to his parents’ request to accept Comet so quickly. There were maybe two dozen creatures- some magical (like a pixie and a clutter of puffskeins), some nonmagical (like a hawk, a dog, a rabbit, and a beautiful peacock). Matt heard a loud noise and turned.
“Comet!” The excited badger barreled across the room and into his legs. Matt crooned as he and Gillian bent down to pet it. A few of their new Housemates crowded around to coo at the addition to their strange zoo.
“I think this little guy will be happy here,” Teddy said. “As far as I know, we’ve never had a badger. Which is honestly ridiculous, given our symbol.” Matt laughed. I think I’m gonna like it here.
James had never felt so ashamed and rejected. The words still echoed in his head. “Not the right fit,” they had said. He, James Alexander Potter, wasn’t the right fit for Gryffindor seeker. It was humiliating. After all, his own dad had supposedly been the best seeker Gryffindor ever had, and Draco had been his Slytherin counterpart. Yet James had failed.
It wasn’t that James was vain or inflexible- when they said he’d make a better chaser, he’d tried out with all his effort and scored the spot. It was a matter of belonging. James, the oldest, was the only one of the Potter children who wasn’t the biological child of either parent. Matt was Harry’s- as anyone could see by the untamable hair and the awkward knobby knees. Callie was Draco’s- again apparent by the blonde hair and the confident ambition. James was alone with his plain brown hair and hazel eyes and his (apparent) lack of Seeking skills. To add insult to injury, this meant he was the only one with no blood ties to the Lovegood/Weasley family, which had been interwoven with the Potters’ in the cases of Matt and Callie, as well as Nym and Gillian. In any case, he wasn’t sure what to do now. He had no other way to prove himself worthy of being the son of the Chosen One.
“You know it doesn’t matter to them,” Aiden Finnigan told him. “Your dads, I mean. You’re their son, and they love you.” They were in the Gryffindor common room that evening, and James gazed into the fire, only half-listening as he dwelled on his own shame. He sighed.
“Yeah, I know. It’s just… man, you know I don’t normally care what people think of me, but this is different. People look at Matt and they see Harry Potter. They don’t even act much alike, but Matt’s got the look and that’s enough for everyone. Me, what have I got?”
“Bravery, willingness, an open mind, a mischievous nature, and great taste in friends.” James looked up from the fire for the first time in ten minutes, a ghost of a smile crossing his face, and gave his best friend a light push.
“Hey, I’m serious,” Aiden continued. “I mean, I’m not much like either of my dads. I mean, I’ve been told I look like a Finnigan, but I definitely don’t act like one. And Dad #2 likes to joke that I got my extreme height from him, even though I don’t carry any of his blood. I don’t act much like him either. And that doesn’t bother me. We’re not meant to be pale echoes of our parents anyway; we’re meant to find and shape our own identities.” James nodded.
“I suppose you’re right.”
“Oh, shut it.”
A few days later, James’s owl showed up at breakfast with a letter from Harry.
I heard you made the Quidditch team, and I’m so proud of you! I knew you could do it if you wanted to- I’ve watched you fly, and you’re fantastic. Make sure to keep your nerves in check before games, okay? Ron can vouch for the fact that anxiety is a Quidditch player’s worst enemy. I’m not worried, though. Oh, I wish your Grandpa James could see you now. You know I never got to see him play, but he was a Chaser too in his day- don’t know if I ever told you that. He was also a hell of a prankster, just like you. McGonagall won’t tell you anything, because she can’t be seen condoning troublemaking, but if you see Fred floating around, he’ll tell you all the use he and George got out of the Marauders Map when they were students. Grandpa James is the one known as Prongs. I wish I could show you the map personally, but it went blank when Teddy’s dad died- he was the last Marauder standing; they called him Moony. Sorry, I’ve gone off on a tangent. My point is, we’re all proud of you, and your grandparents would be too. Lots of love,
James was stunned. His grandfather, the one he had been named for, was a Gryffindor chaser? How had he not known? He re-read the note once, twice. It appeared that he was a bit of a Potter after all. He was curious about this Map thing too; he’d better find Fred.
Ben was tired. Okay, maybe that was an understatement. “Exhausted” might have worked better; “barely functioning” was near perfect. He was tired because it was midnight and he was sitting in the hallway outside his common room. He was physically capable of going inside and lying down in his nice warm bed to sleep, but he could never do that. Neither could the thirteen other Slytherins sitting out in the hallway with him, including Nym. A prefect had come out three times now to order them all to bed, but no one budged.
“I’m not stepping foot in that place until they change the password,” Ben had told her the third time she came out. She had thrown up her hands and not come back, which earned Ben a few pats on the back.
The hallway was quiet enough that Ben could hear the footsteps long before anyone appeared down the far end.
“Someone’s coming,” he whispered. Everyone tensed. Would they be punished for this? Ben hoped not, but he needn’t have worried. He let out a breath of relief when he saw Teddy Lupin heading toward them. The Head Boy had probably been summoned to help mitigate the situation.
“What’s going on here, guys?” he asked.
“The new password is offensive,” a fifth year girl answered, “and we’re not going in until they change it.” Teddy Lupin frowned- not at those in the hallway, of course, but rather at the situation.
“Oh? What’s the password?”
“Clean blood,” Nym spat disgustedly. Teddy only sighed outwardly, but his hair turning scarlet was a clear sign of his true anger.
“Alright, well we can’t have you lot just sitting in the hallway, so you’ll have to come stay with us for the night.” There were hesitant nods all around, and the beginnings of smiles on a few faces. Staying with the Hufflepuffs…
Before we go, I have to check who’s coming. Your prefects gave me the list of absent students. Please say 'here’ when I call your name. Jade Moorland?“
"Here,” said the fifth-year who’d spoken up earlier.
“Here,” Nym said, and Teddy smiled. He’d always seemed fond of the younger girl, though maybe it was because she bore his mother’s name.
“Here.” Teddy went on down the list, ending with “Benjamin Wood?”
“Here,” Ben answered.
“Alright, that’s everyone. Come on, you all!”
Ben liked the Hufflepuff common room. He liked how friendly everyone was. He liked the peacock, Heracles, who seemed to like him too. There were even more things he liked the next day: for instance, how a cluster of Ravenclaws took turns shooting charms at the Slytherin door, trying to change the password or else get it to open without one. Or how, when that failed, the Gryffindors- led by their prefect, who happened to be Ben’s older sister, Elizabeth- attempted to forcibly remove the door entirely. This series of tries failed as well, but it stirred up enough commotion to draw in the Headmistress and she, upon understanding the problem, rectified it immediately, to great cheers from all parties. Ben hugged his sibling.
“Thanks for the help, Lizzy,” he said.
“Any time, little brother. It’s a good thing you guys did here today, pushing for change. Dads will be proud.”
“I know so. You’ll probably make prefect next year too.” Ben laughed.
“Oh, D1 would love that.” He imagined Percy’s face when he learned that both of his children were now prefects like he had been, and Ben felt a warm rush in his stomach. I’d love that too, he thought to himself. Lizzy just grinned.
Daisy hadn’t meant to start crying in the middle of Charms class; she just couldn’t hold it back anymore. She’d been trying to control her distress since the letter had arrived that morning from her father, letting her know that Grandpa Vernon didn’t want them coming over for Christmas that year or, it seemed, any year following. Of course, Dudley hadn’t explicitly told his daughter why they were no longer welcome, but she wasn’t dumb enough that she couldn’t figure it out on her own: it was because she had magic. It was already her second year at Hogwarts, but at holiday time last year her grandparents hadn’t known yet. Now they did, and Grandpa didn’t want to see her anymore.
She cried silently, with her head down, but her fellow Ravenclaws didn’t miss her shaking shoulders, and the room got quiet. Anna Granger-Weasley, her closest friend and the only one who knew what had happened, put a comforting hand on Daisy’s back.
“I know it’s not the same,” she whispered, so as not to disturb the rest of the class, “but you guys are totally coming to our Holiday gathering instead.” Daisy turned her head to look at Anna with teary eyes.
“Oh, absolutely. It’s a huge get-together that we do every year in James and Matt’s backyard. My Granny Molly makes twice as much food as we need, even though there’s already thirty-three of us in total. Uncle Percy drinks too much mulled wine and then goes on a rant about something or other, except none of it makes sense. Aunt Ginny and Uncle Oliver fight over which of their Quidditch teams are better- Ginny plays Chaser for the Holyhead Harpies and Oliver is Keeper for Puddlemere United. Uncle George tells us stories about Fred and him when they were students together. Aiden’s little sister Mallory, Professor Longbottom’s daughter Bex, and Callie sometimes decide to put on some silly show. It’s all great fun.” Daisy smiled weakly.
“Sounds great. You sure there’s room for me and my mum and dad?” Anna laughed softly.
“There’s always more room at a Weasley party, and the Potters’ backyard is distinctly huge.”
“I suppose that’s true.”
Daisy tried to grin after that, but Anna could probably tell she wasn’t back at 100%, because at lunch she started up a game.
“It’s called the Story Game. We take turns adding a sentence to a story as we go along. The sentences have to make grammatical sense, but the plot can be as strange or random as you want.”
“Ooh, sounds fun. Can we join in?” Daisy and Anna looked up to see Matt, Gillian, and Nym sliding in beside them (The school had recently switched to an open-seating policy to maintain camaraderie between the Houses).
“Yeah, sure,” Daisy said, scooting to make more room.
“Alright, I’ll start,” Anna said eagerly. She drummed her fingers in thought for a moment. “Okay. Once, there was an old, grumpy sorcerer who lived in a cave on a mountain.” Gillian jumped in next.
“The people at the base of the mountain believed that if you brought the sorcerer a gift that he liked, he would grant you a wish in exchange.”
“Every day,” Matt added, “Someone took a gift up the mountain, but the sorcerer didn’t like any of them.”
“Then a new woman moved to the town below,” Daisy inserted nervously, hoping she was doing this right.
“She heard about the man on the mountain, but nothing about his powers,” Nym put in. Anna’s eyes brightened as she saw where Nym was going with this.
“The woman thought the man must be lonely and perhaps cold all by himself, so she took a warm blanket and a fresh batch of cookies and brought them to him,” she said.
“The man was touched by her genuine generosity,” Gillian said, “and he offered her anything she wanted.”
“She thought for a long while, and finally she decided,” Matt contributed.
“And she asked, 'Can you put some brains in my son Tobias’s head, because he hasn’t got any.”
Anna snorted at the mention of her brother, and suddenly the whole group had dissolved into laughter.
“You can n-never tell Toby about this,” Daisy choked out between giggles. They all shook their heads in agreement, still fighting to contain the wave of mirth.
“This is why you’re my favorite,” Anna informed Daisy gleefully, and Daisy grinned. These really are the people I want to spend my holidays with, she realized.
Aiden’s heart started racing the second the blood red envelope landed in front of him at breakfast. He elbowed James, eyes wide with horror.
“It’s a Howler,” he said with a voice full of dread. James gave a sympathetic smile.
“It might not be so bad. Maybe it’s some really good news, or maybe it’s just a prank from someone. You haven’t done anything wrong, have you?” Aiden shrugged.
“I mean, we did turn all Professor Longbottom’s gardening things pink and sparkly last week, but he didn’t seem to mind. I think he even sent a set home to Bex, who I’m sure was thrilled. It was an innocent bit of fun.” James smiled at the memory, but the smile dropped from his face almost immediately.
“Dude, it’s smoking at the edges.” Aiden jolted in alarm.
“Just open it, before it’s too late,” James counseled. Aiden took a deep breath, squeezed his eyes shut, and tore the envelope open.
When he heard his ten-year-old sister Mallory’s voice ring out, he thought he was safe. Just a prank after all. But then he heard her words.
“AIDEN OH MY GOD, I JUST FINISHED THE NEW SEASON OF NEVATERIA AND YOU’LL NEVER BELIEVE WHAT HAPPENED!!! STEVEN AND MABEL KISSED, AND THE SHIFTMEN KILLED CODY, AND JONATHAN TOLD CHRIS THAT HE COULDN’T SEE BEA ANYMORE. I’M DYING AND I HAD TO TELL YOU. OKAY, BYE!!!”
For a moment, there was dead silence in the Great Hall, and then a hundred people started shouting at once. They were all muggleborns or half-bloods who watched Nevateria, the current most popular sci-fi show, and they were all furious at Aiden.
“I’m sorry!” he yelled. “I didn’t ask her to tell me!” James frowned.
“What was all that about?” he asked. Oh. Aiden had forgotten that, even though James’s dad was raised by Muggles, they didn’t watch television very often.
“It’s a show,” he tried to explain. “One of the best shows. And Mallory just spoiled it for everyone.”
Aiden was shamed by his non-pureblood peers for the rest of the day. It might have continued on longer, except that Toby Granger-Weasley ran up to him in the hallway after his last class, out of breath, and exclaimed, “The Room of Requirement can generate wifi!”
“AND it can be a movie theater!”
“I’m not! It’s officially the weekend. Let’s round everybody up and marathon Nevateria together, my guy! I’ve got Anna waiting in there so the room stays put. Whoever you pass, send them that way. We can get a few house elves to bring snacks. There’s tons of space, so if they want to watch too, that’s fine. Come on, let’s go!” Toby, Aiden, and James took off down the hallway together.
“Brilliant, you are!” Aiden exclaimed while they ran. “This is why you’re a Ravenclaw!”
The plan worked seamlessly. Everyone interested gathered in the Room of Requirement, sitting in movie theater seats, and they got the show to play. Several house elves carried around food and drink for those who wanted it, though a group of Hufflepuffs convinced two to sit down and watch for a while. It turned out Missy didn’t like it much, but Pokey was absolutely entranced. He babbled nonstop about the brilliance of it to his unfortunate neighbor, who happened to be Matt. Matt was too pleased at seeing a house elf freely enthuse about an interest to care. They all had a great time, and all the animosity toward Aiden ended. It was definitely a good day.
There would certainly be more struggles ahead for the Potters, Granger-Weasleys, (Lovegood-)Weasleys, Finnigans, Woods, Longbottom, Lupin, and Dursley, but they didn’t have to worry. They were one huge team, a family, and they could handle anything. Well, almost anything. It turned out there was still a limit on how many animals a single person could bring into the school, which was a problem for Matt, who found himself missing his other creatures.
“You know, when they say don’t do something,” James said oh-so-helpfully, “they just mean don’t get caught doing it.” Matt shoved his brother, insisting that he wasn’t like that, but in the end he snuck all his animals into the castle, with help from Callie. Family meant helping each other, even if it’s helping them break school rules… didn’t it?