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Ginny didn’t regret leaving the Harpies and taking the Daily Prophet job. But she missed playing Quidditch. So she started inviting Angelina over, to fly plays in a nearby meadow just for fun. Then one day Harry asked, was it an exclusive match or could he join in? Soon it was Charlie, too, whenever he was home for a visit. Next James mounted his child-sized broom and insisted he was “keeper”, hovering around the foot of the tree that was their unofficial goalpost. Before long, it was an extravaganza of Weasleys. “Did they hijack something that was meant to be just yours?” Angelina asked finally, looking concerned. Ginny just shook her head. There was more of her mum in her than she’d once have admitted, but it made her happy to see so many of her family, tumbling about and falling down together in the grass.
Hagrid didn’t play favourites among each new group of Hogwarts first-years. It gladdened him to see all of them, arriving wide-eyed and leaving filled up with knowledge. But if there was sometimes a kid who hadn’t got enough attention at home, who could do with being invited down to tea at the cottage now and then. Or one eager for knowledge, who hadn’t yet learned that books weren’t the only way, but a story or two might do as well. Or one who contained the makings of an extraordinary friend, but maybe needed a word of encouragement. Well. Taking them under his wing was only a bit of common kindness.
Aberforth gave up the pub as soon as the war was over. He’d never liked running a pub. Well, mostly what he’d never much liked was the people. He tended his goats now, only his goats, and felt he’d got the better deal of it at last. Only took about a century.
Ron was waiting for one of the kids to be old enough to play chess, basically. His own family had always been hopeless, but he had high hopes for the next generation. Teddy was always up for a game, though it was far from his primary interest. James couldn’t sit still long enough, but Rose and Al showed promise and might be players in a few years. When Ron got tired of handicapping himself to a child’s level, though, he still dropped by Hogwarts and let the headmistress show him what chess really was.
Bill liked to joke that Fleur was his boss now, and Fleur liked to patiently explain that Bill was of course exaggerating. In her new role as manager of Gringotts’ West Country branch, Fleur only technically outranked – but did not directly supervise – Bill, the bank’s France liaison. They were settled back in Shell Cottage now, since Victoire would be starting at Hogwarts. But Gringotts’ international presence had allowed their family the freedom to travel while the children were young, taking short assignments all over the world and considering it a learning experience for the children as valuable as any school.
In the years since the war, Hermione had introduced a great deal of legislation before the Wizengamot: equal rights for all Beings and Beasts, Muggle protection, non-discrimination towards werewolves. She would be hard-pressed to say of which she was most proud. It might be the house-elf protection code, though, because that was it was the first thing Hermione was sure she’d got right. The code contained a long list of unalienable rights, but the first of these was: An elf’s own stated desires are always paramount.
There are some truths that are won only through experience and great sorrow. Minerva had lived a long time before she became headmistress of Hogwarts, and she’d taught students for most of that time. She hadn’t been able to save them all. She lived with that knowledge every day, as she looked around these halls where battles had been fought and lives lost, filled now with fresh young faces looking to her for guidance. It’s said that with each loss we experience, we grow better able to avoid the mistakes of the past. Minerva fervently hoped that this was true.
The summer Teddy was thirteen was the summer he and Harry started their unofficial butterbeer thing. Harry would get these…dad impulses, like he thought he should be doing more for Teddy. (As if he weren’t already like a dad to Teddy in all the ways that mattered. But that was Harry for you.) So they would get butterbeers and sit in the Potters’ back garden and chat about whatever, about Teddy’s friends and their plans for when they got back to Hogwarts in September. And nobody interrupted them (amazing, really, when you considered the natural interrupting inclinations of James Sirius Potter), because even though the butterbeer thing was unofficial, everybody seemed to know it was a thing just for Harry and Teddy.
Charlie moved home to England after the war. How could he not, when his family’s heart had been broken down the middle? He chafed there, though. There wasn’t work in England that could hold his interest, and Charlie needed the work he loved. So, terrified he would destroy his mother but needing to save his own sanity, he left again: for China this time, to study the Chinese Fireball. And…Mum was fine. Charlie visited at holidays and everyone was thrilled to see him. The nieces and nephews hung on his tales of adventure, and Charlie loved every minute of being cool Uncle Charlie, showering them with attention. But he breathed a sigh of relief, too, when it was time to step out of the Burrow at dawn and Portkey back to his remote mountain home and his Fireballs.
It was disconcerting to become an adult and find all one’s childhood beliefs overturned. Draco still loved Mother and Father. He could not do otherwise even if he wished it. But it was a protective love rather than the blind admiration of a child, and regretful on their behalf for all the things they were too set in their ways to ever understand. As for Astoria, Draco loved her uncomplicatedly. Scorpius, Draco loved almost fearfully, hoping that the world into which he was sending his son would not be as terrifying as the one in which he himself had lived.
Angelina had her eye on Captaincy. Gwenog Jones had been making noises for a while about retiring from active play and maybe becoming a manager somewhere, and Angelina thought she had a good shot at moving up to Captain after Gwenog. She liked that idea, Captaincy. She’d discovered an aptitude for puzzles, helping George out at the shop so often. And what was devising Quidditch plays but the best kind of puzzle, created in three dimensions and real time, with living pieces?
Arthur brandished the small metal Muggle object at his youngest son. “Do you know what this is, Ron? This is a spark plug. Do you know what it does? It ignites fuel to start an engine. I’ve only been trying to get you lot to explain spark plugs to me for about two decades, and Hermione did it in under a minute!” Ron shrugged helplessly at Hermione and Hermione shrugged helplessly back. Everyone knew there was no reasoning with Arthur when it came to Muggle things.
With a whoosh and a bang, Dean brought his swordsmithing hammer down on a new bar of magic-forged steel. Like so many of his year, Dean hadn’t ever finished his Hogwarts schooling. He’d found something else instead, uniting his love of art and his love of magic. He’d been an apprentice, then a journeyman, and for two years now, he’d borne the title of master swordsmith. He always loved this moment, when hammer first met steel. He didn’t truly know the heart of the metal until he’d touched tools to it himself, and this one sang to him beneath his hammer.
Replanting some gillyweed in a new aquarium in Greenhouse Two, Neville reflected how strange it was that he’d ended up here, a professor at Hogwarts. Not strange that he was a professor, nor that he’d returned to Hogwarts, but strange how perfectly at home he felt here now. He was in his element in a way he’d never been as a student, as if professorship was what he’d always been meant for and he’d only been waiting to find it, through a few unexpected detours as clumsy schoolboy and accidental war hero.
Percy left the Ministry after the war. In his grief and confusion, it seemed the only path. Not that his failings were the Ministry’s fault. They were his own fault. He considered, then rejected, trying for a Hogwarts teaching post. Who would want him for a teacher? He ended up instead at a magical research institute. To his own utter surprise, he found there people who wanted to discuss and debate. People who understood the need for solid research methods and valued Percy’s attention to detail. It hadn’t been worth losing a brother to realise he didn’t want to spend his life as a petty bureaucrat. But Percy damn well wasn’t going to waste his life now that he’d got it back.
It hadn’t been easy returning to the Ministry. As a young woman, Andromeda had worked as an administrative assistant to the Wizengamot. But she’d left, fed up with the wizarding world’s inability to change, when Nymphadora was a young child. Decades later, when Kingsley Shacklebolt’s post-war restructuring made the Wizengamot an elected body, the idea of standing for office began to make a kind of sense. It was a part-time position that left her time to care for Teddy, and Andromeda certainly had opinions about wizarding law. There was deep pleasure, too, in watching that bastion of the old, respectable and prejudiced crumble before a new generation that brooked no nonsense.
Busy, busy, busy! Between the informal school she ran for children not yet old enough for Hogwarts, to the babysitting duties she gladly undertook for her many grandchildren, to keeping tabs on her sons and daughter wherever they currently were in England or the world, to whipping up meals for the many friends who dropped by nearly every day, Molly had hardly a moment to sit down. She wouldn’t want it any other way.
Shhh, Luna thought. Shhh. It wasn’t enough merely to be quiet, if you wanted to track a glimmerniss. You had to think like a glimmerniss. You had to really want to find a nice cool leaf to curl up underneath, with maybe a delicate patch of moss below to rest your head on. Luna dreamed of that moss, as she made her every footfall quiet and slow through the sleepy afternoon woods. There: just visible beneath the curled-up edge of a broad green leaf was a tangle of tawny hair and the tip of one translucent wing. Luna smiled.
There was always a missing shadow. How could there not be? There was a joke without its echo of laughter. The bright burst of a firework without an accompanying bang. The prank with no one to recognise its brilliance. And yet – strange thing to say – with his wife and his children and his friends and the many branches of his shop to oversee and the ever-intricate work of inventing, most days George was happy.
Harry looked round the garden and felt his eyes popping. James, Al and Lily were playing amongst the azaleas with several of their cousins – in fact, there were more Weasleys present than Harry was certain he could count. His Auror colleagues were here. A good number of old Hogwarts classmates, too, and what looked like most of the remaining members of the Order. “I have this many friends?” Harry blurted out. Ron rolled his eyes; Harry glanced over at Hermione and saw she was rolling hers, too. Which was rare, that Ron and Hermione did anything so perfectly in tandem. Ginny nudged his shoulder and grinned. “Happy birthday, Harry.”
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