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A Pound of Flesh: Alternate Ending, Epilogue

At long last, here is the alternate ending epilogue to A Pound of Flesh. As I have said previously, this alternate ending grew in length until it took on a life of its own. It was too big to post in one entry to Live Journal, thus this is part two of two. In case you missed it, here is A Pound of Flesh, Alternate ending, Chapter 30

And now, here is the epilogue.

A Pound of Flesh, Alternate Epilogue

The market was bustling with Muggles – families and parents with children and couples strolling arm in arm, blocking the aisles. Much like every other Saturday, Jane stopped by the produce stalls and the meat and cheese stalls while Damien bore it with a strained smile, trying to remain patient. This was part of their compromise. He endured this bit of the market so that they could then move on to the book stalls, or if he was in a particularly odd mood, the antiques booths.

Jane enjoyed the book stalls as well, finding her personal collection of Muggle literature surprisingly lacking for someone who had spent the first eleven years of her life living as one. She went for classics, or for mystery novels, and Damien always made a beeline for the fantasy section, where they knew him by name and regularly held books for him.

They did not shop in the Wizarding parts of France unless they had to, choosing instead to stay as far removed from the population of witches and wizards as possible and living amongst the Muggles. In spite of their being magical, neither she nor Damien felt comfortable in the hidden Wizarding area in Paris, which was the closest settlement to where they lived.

They’d long ago agreed against returning to London, both finding the idea ill-fitting. Jane was not sure why, but she had an aversion to the country of her birth, and much preferred France, where she was well-liked by her Muggle neighbors, and lived in a fishing village just south of Marseille in a modest house.

Damien was a curator at an art gallery, and with his refined eye for good art, his collection was the most notable in the city. Jane would often stop by during her lunch break and find him standing motionless in front of a new work of art, his eyes roving over the canvas. She would not disturb him then, though she found him incredibly sexy when he was so intent on something. Instead, she would have a solitary lunch at a nearby café and then return to her bookshop where she dealt in rare and collectible books as well as popular novels.

During their Saturday shopping trips, she would keep an eye out for interesting books, but most often these days, when someone had a unique book to sell, they brought it straight to her shop, which suited her well. King’s bookshop was becoming a well known establishment.

“Jane,” Damien said, startling her out of her perusal of mystery novels. She looked up, surprised. Normally, she was the one that had to drag him away from the books, however backward it seemed.

“You done already?” she asked in English. Her biggest obstacle in the three years they’d lived in France had been the language barrier. She was approaching proficient fluency, but still had to use magic from time to time for a Translating Spell. When she spoke to Damien, she preferred to do so in English, though he said she should be practicing her French. This time, however, he did not attempt to have her repeat her sentence en français.

“I think we should go.”

She turned, concerned by his tone.

“Don’t be alarmed.”

At once alarmed, she tensed.

“I think we’re being followed.”

She didn’t turn to look, not right away.

“Who?”

“There’s two of them. In cloaks. A man and a woman.”

“A wizard and a witch? Following us? Why would they?”

“I don’t know, but I noticed them by the cheese stall, and they’ve been lingering across the way in flower stall since we’ve been in here.”

“What should we do?” she asked, sotto voce. “Try to talk to them? Ask why they’re tailing us?”

“I don’t think so.”

“Maybe they’ve noticed us and can’t figure out why we haven’t integrated ourselves in their society?”

“I doubt that very much.”

So did Jane, to be honest, but it was less alarming than other possible scenarios. She and Damien had not left London on good terms with anyone, being something of outcasts because of their relationship. Pureblood prejudice was still rampant there, and many had been opposed to the idea of a pureblood together with a Muggleborn. She had never entertained the idea that someone would go to the trouble to track them down for it, not all the way on the opposite side of France, but now as she looked at Damien, she knew he had given it more thought than she.

“We should go,” Damien said in her ear, and she put down her books at once. Damien picked them up and approached the vendor, not bothering to haggle for the price. “And act normally,” he added.

They left the market then, weaving between the couples and families and parents with children, trying to keep their pace sedate. But she could not feign interest in the booths on either side of her, and was relieved when, at last, they were clear of the market and heading down the street toward the place where it was secluded and safe enough for them to Apparate.

They paused at a crosswalk at a busy intersection, and Jane could feel it then, the eyes boring into the back of her head. She shivered, though it was mid-July and the sun was bright and hot. She waited until the walk sign lit and they began to cross the street before she chanced a look back. She wouldn’t have spotted the pair if not for their odd attire, out of place in the Muggle world. How odd that they would not try to blend in more. Neither of the pair was looking at them, but they weren’t looking at anything else, either.

“What do you think we should do?” Jane asked, turning back to Damien, who quickened his pace as they made it to the other side of the street.

“Lose them, obviously,” Damien said, and at the look Jane sent him: “Sorry, I didn’t mean to snap.”

Jane’s wand was in the front pocket of her summer dress, Damien’s hidden with a Concealment Charm in a holster on his wrist. As she reached into her pocket and felt the reassuring weight of the wand in her hand, she glanced at Damien. His hands were full with their purchases, putting him at a disadvantage.

“Give me some of the bags,” she directed.

He understood at once, and handed her the bags in his right hand, then rubbed at his left wrist, where the wand was hidden.

On the pretense of checking an advert taped to a pole, Jane snuck another peek at the duo tailing them. They hung back twenty paces or more, their cloaks flapping against their legs. As she and Damien approached another intersection, he took hold of her arm. “Are you ready to run?” he asked.

She glanced at the traffic light and understood at once. She nodded and waited, and when the light changed against them, she and Damien sprinted across the street to a cacophony of car horns and angry shouts.

“They’ll know now,” Damien said, “so don’t stop running until we get to the Apparation point.”

The alley, more of a secluded alcove next to an ancient church, was two blocks away, then one block, and as they turned to go into it, Jane looked behind them, seeing their pursuers – there was now no doubt – a block behind, running to catch up.

When Jane looked back, the woman waved her arms and called out over the noise of the street, “Hermione! Don’t run! Hermione!”

Jane stumbled in confusion. Perhaps it was just a case of mistaken identity.

“Jane!” Damien urged, tugging on her hand.

“Something’s not right,” she said as Damien pulled her into the empty alcove, just out of sight of the street. Then his arms were around her. Apparation had never felt so good.

They landed in the entrance hall of their home, and Jane shuddered, dropping her bags to the floor. She heard a jar crack on the stone floor, but she did not care.

“Something was not right about that. I think they just had us confused with someone else.”

“What?”

“Didn’t you hear the woman? She was calling the name Hermione, like she thought I was someone else.”

“But if she thought she knew you, why didn’t she come up and say hello? Why with all the covert sneaking and spying?”

Jane frowned, puzzled by the whole encounter. “I don’t know. Maybe they didn’t want to approach us around Muggles.”

“Why not?”

“I don’t know. Why would they chase us?”

“Someone in London could have hired them to track us down.”

Jane shuddered again, knowing it was a very plausible theory.

“Will they be able to track us here?” she asked.

“Shouldn’t,” Damien said, “but I guess this’ll be a good test of our wards.”

Jane waited, motionless in the protective circle of Damien’s arms, for their pursuers to follow them into their home, but nobody appeared. She breathed a sigh of relief, confident of their current safety.

“What do you want to do now?” he asked. It was a vague question, but she knew that what he was really asking was if she wanted to give up the life they’d built in France and run, or if she wanted to stay and try to track the trackers.

She thought of his gallery, her bookshop, their quaint home, and the loamy scent of sea and beach that blew in through the kitchen window on breezy days.

“I don’t want to leave,” she whispered, turning and burrowing her face in his shoulder. She didn’t want to have to run. “We should stay. I’ve worked too hard to just walk away now. Besides, we were the top two in our class. We can take them. Two on two is good odds.”

Damien squeezed her, and she heard the pride in his voice when he said, “That’s my little Gryffindor. Not the brightest witch of her age for nothing.”

***

Once, at Hogwarts, there had been a professor – an ex-Auror – who touted the mantra of constant vigilance. Jane tried to picture his face – and she knew he’d had a rather remarkable face – but she drew a blank. She couldn’t even recall his name. All she could remember was his voice booming, “Constant vigilance!”

She couldn’t remember the faces or names of most of her professors. This didn’t surprise her, because though her mind seemed a bottomless vessel for facts and words and potions and spells, she was horrible about remembering the details of the people who had taught her these things. There wasn’t even space in her memory for classmates or the girls with whom she’d shared a dorm room.

The only face that was sharply in focus in her memories was the face of her husband, and she was glad that he didn’t sneer anymore like he did as a child. But even he blurred in places. There were other faces, too, but she only supposed them to be of Harry Potter and Ron Weasley because of a picture in her old school trunk. It had been many years since she’d spoken to her childhood friends who had stopped being her friend when she and Damien began dating, and their adult faces were a mystery to her. Once in a great while, she would wonder what became of her old friends, but such wonders passed as whimsy when she had more important things to consider.

As she prepared her bookshop to open, Jane remembered constant vigilance, and kept her wand on her at all times as she tidied and dusted and stocked the shelves with a new shipment of books. Though she preferred to think the incident from the previous day was a case of mistaken identity, she was not taking any chances. She set wards on the front door to alert her if anyone carrying a wand entered the building, and then she unlocked the door.

But nothing happened that day, nor the day after, nor any of the days in the weeks that followed. Jane grew more agitated with every day that passed uneventfully until she was jumping at tree branches rattling against the roof at night.

The strain showed on Damien too, who began to have nightmares of being tortured, or being locked in a tiny, lightless room. After one night where he woke three times from nightmares, Jane began to think that it might be better for them, after all, to pick up and try to start over somewhere else, even if it was all a case of mistaken identity. The stress of not knowing was just too much.

She mulled over the idea in between helping her customers. With his trained eye for art, Damien would easily be able to get a job at another gallery. And she could run King’s Books in any city in the world and still have plenty of customers from the store she ran on the internet. She would miss their house and neighbors, but perhaps it was better not to grow too attached to one place.

As she locked the door behind the last customer at the end of the day, she decided she would present the idea to Damien at dinner and hear his thoughts.

She Apparated into the entry and propped her umbrella by the front door. “Damien,” she called. He didn’t answer, but if he was in their library as he often was, he wouldn’t be able to hear her. She headed for the room that overlooked their back garden, trailing her fingers along the chair rails and doorknobs.

She pushed open the door, which was ajar.

Having lived in a state of high alert for more than a month, the scene that greeted her was almost a relief. Finally.

The witch and wizard from the market stood over Damien, who, though he was bound to a chair and unarmed, looked unharmed. He saw her before his captors, and he shook his head as she raised her wand. She ignored this unspoken plea for her to leave before she was noticed.

Before the duo of intruders registered her presence, she disarmed the hulking man, who stared at his wand in confusion as it tumbled end over end out of his hand and skittered to a halt near her feet.

“Hermione!” the woman said, holding up her wand hand, palm open. “It’s okay. You’re safe now. We’ve got him.”

“Release him at once,” she demanded.

“No, it’s okay. He can’t hurt you now.”

“Hurt me? He hasn’t hurt me. You’ve mistaken us for someone else.”

“No, Hermione –”

“My name is not Hermione,” she said. “It’s Jane.”

“Jane?” the woman repeated. “No. Your name is Hermione. Hermione Granger. And I’m Susan Bones. Don’t you remember me? We went to Hogwarts together. We worked for the MLE together.”

“No, my name is Jane. You’ve got the wrong people. And I must insist you release my husband at once.” She squatted down to retrieve the man’s wand, but kept her gaze on the intruders and the tip of her wand aimed between the woman’s eyes.

“Your husband?” the woman named Susan stammered. “You married Draco Malfoy?”

She stood again, clutching the man’s wand in her fist. If she timed if correctly, she’d be able to toss Damien the wand and undo the ropes binding him before Susan and her cohort realized what was happening. “I’m afraid you’ve mistaken us for someone else. I’m Jane King, not this Hermione person –”

“But you are. Hermione Granger, that’s your –”

Jane continued on, undeterred. “And that is Damien King. My husband.”

Susan’s mouth fell open and she stared at Jane in growing horror. “Damien King?” she repeated.

“Yes. So you see, this is all a horrible mistake.”

“That’s Damien King?” Susan asked.

“Yes. You have the wrong people. And if you leave now, we won’t involve the authorities.” Jane started toward Damien, but Susan moved to intercept her, wand at alert and pointed in her direction.

“Hermione, we are the authorities.”

“I’ve already told you my name isn’t Hermione!” she insisted, taking two more steps toward Damien.

“But it is. And I need you to stop where you are until we get everything sorted out.”

“I’m afraid that isn’t an option,” Jane said, deadly calm.

“Stop, or I’ll have to disarm you.”

“I’d like to see you try,” Jane challenged.

“Hermione, please,” Susan begged.

“My name isn’t Hermione!” she yelled, taking another step toward Damien. She was so close now. Just another few feet and she could get him the wand and unbind him, if she could just distract Susan and the man.

“Yes, it is. But you can’t remember. He must have put a Memory Charm on you. But it’s okay. We’ll get this straightened out.”

“No,” Jane denied. “There is nothing to straighten out. And this is your last warning. Release him and leave, or I will make you leave.”

“Harry and Ginny have been so worried, Hermione. We all were when you disappeared. Please, just stop. I don’t want to duel you.”

The man shifted, and Jane darted a glance at him. “Don’t move,” she warned him.

“Hutchinson,” Susan said. “Don’t move.”

Jane started toward Damien again. A disarming spell burst from Susan’s wand, but Jane countered with a non-verbal shielding spell. “Please, Hermione,” Susan said.

“My name is Jane!” she shouted.

“You’ve been Obliviated.”

“No, I haven’t!”

“No black spots in your memory? Time where you just don’t remember anything?”

“No,” she denied, darting another glance at Hutchinson. Another wand appeared in his hand, and she realized he was carrying a spare, which meant she was in a two-on-one duel. But she was also driven with anger, which Damien always said made her a dangerous witch.

“Do you remember Hogwarts?”

“Stop trying to distract me,” Jane warned.

“I’m not. Do you? Remember Hogwarts?”

“Yes, I remember Hogwarts,” she answered, annoyed.

“But you don’t remember me? We were in Ancient Runes together.”

“No, I don’t remember you.”

“Do you remember Harry and Ron? They were your best friends.”

“I remember them. But they disapproved of me being with Damien. Because he’s a Pureblood and I’m a Muggleborn. So I don’t talk to them anymore.”

“That’s not what happened, Hermione. You defended him – Draco Malfoy – in front of the Wizengamot. To have him pardoned. Everyone thought he was dead. But you lost the case, and then nobody saw you again. You disappeared.”

“No, you’re wrong. I think I’d know what happened in my life. I remember it.”

“Your memories have been altered. He must have done it.”

“No, no. You’re wrong,” Jane defended.

“If her memories have just been altered, it will be easy to reverse. Then we can get this over with already,” Hutchinson said, stepping forward.

“Don’t move!” Jane shouted, turning her attention to him.

Hutchinson took another step in her direction, and Jane blasted him with a hex that knocked him backward over the sofa, and he landed with a heavy thud.

Then both wands jerked free from her grasp and clattered to the ground several feet away. She made to dive for the nearest, but Susan immobilized her, and she fell heavily on her side, furious and unable to move.

Damien lunged against the ropes binding him to the chair, his mouth open as he screamed unheard insults.

Susan knelt next to her, ignoring Damien’s silent protests.

“I’m sorry I had to do that, Hermione,” she said, gathering up the wands. She pocketed Jane’s and returned Hutchinson’s wand to him once he joined them. “I’m going to release you, but if you try anything, I’ll be forced to stupefy you.”

Jane blinked, thinking hostile thoughts about all the ways she would disembowel Susan and Hutchinson once she had her wand back. Susan lifted the immobilization spell, and Jane sat up, glaring.

“Just sit still for a minute, Granger, and we’ll get this all straightened out,” Hutchinson said, towering above her. He made to bend over, his wand pointed at her head, and Jane scrambled backward, colliding with a wall.

“You stay the fuck away from me,” Jane shouted.

“Sam, don’t,” Susan said, looking alarmed. “We should wait and let the Obliviators have a go at her. Get her back to the Ministry. We don’t want to damage – ”

“I’m not going to damage anything. I’m good at this,” Hutchinson said, advancing on Jane, who shrank against the wall, ready to defend herself with fists and feet, if she had to.

"You can't reverse it, Sam, if you didn't place it. Don't be an idiot."

“Stay back!” Jane warned, her voice shrill and panicked. “So help me God, if you touch me, I will bloody fucking end you!”

“Just hold still for a moment,” Hutchinson said, making a grab for her chin.

Jane batted his hand away, lashing out with a kick to his kneecap.

“Sam, stop it, I mean it,” Susan said. “I don’t care if your uncle is the bloody head of the department. You can’t do this!”

“Shut up, Bones,” Hutchinson snapped, grabbing both of Jane’s hands in one of his meaty fists. To Jane he said, “Stop struggling, Granger. I’m trying to help you.” He pressed the tip of his wand to her temple.

Jane jerked her head. “Let go of me!” she shouted, even as Susan was stepping forward, her hand wrapping around Hutchinson’s wand.

Then Hutchinson incanted the spell to reverse a Memory Charm, though he butchered the pronunciation; there was a blinding flash of light, and then pain unlike anything Jane had ever felt exploded inside her skull.

***

Four hundred and seventy two. There were four hundred and seventy two hash marks on her wall. But it had been longer than that; she hadn’t thought to start marking off the days until she’d screamed herself hoarse and several weeks had passed. Four hundred and seventy two marks preceded this one, and Hermione dragged the quill over the smooth white wall, making the four hundred and seventy third mark.

With the quill still poised in her hand, Hermione rested her forehead against the wall and tried to remember. But remembering what was real and what was invention was an impossible task. She focused on what people had told her, instead.

Her name was Hermione Granger. She was a witch and used to be able to do magic. But then there’d been an accident reversing a Memory Charm, and nothing had been the same since. She was twenty-five years old, and she wore a wedding ring, the inside of the band inscribed with ‘The brightest star in my sky’. They said she’d been married while under the effects of the Memory Charm, to a man named Draco Malfoy.

She didn’t remember any of this.

She didn’t remember anything before she’d opened her eyes to the stark white walls of St. Mungo’s permanent spell damage ward. She hadn’t remembered her name. She hadn’t remembered the names of any of the people who had come to see her – Harry, Ginny, Ron. Even people who were supposed to be her parents – they had just been nameless strangers. Just like the woman she saw in the mirror.

Whenever they came to visit – Harry especially – they tried to make her remember, telling her trivial stories from her past. At first, she’d clung to these stories like a drowning person might hang onto a piece of driftwood, but as time went on, their earnest attempts just depressed her. Their stories felt like they belonged to some other person. Even her name didn’t feel right.

Hermione closed her eyes. The room was too bright with the stark walls and a large window covered in sheer white drapes. The floor was white and the ceiling was white. There were flashes of color around the room, things her friends had brought her that had supposedly belonged to her, but other than those items to break the monotony, the surfaces just blended together. It was a small room, as well, with space enough for the single bed with white sheets in which she currently sat, a white table with two white chairs drawn up to it, and white bookshelves with her belongings crammed into them.

It had been Ginny who had told her about Draco, the man she had married. Ginny explained his complicated past, the trial, and that he was in a place called Azkaban, a prison. She’d brought a picture of him once, a thin, pale man with a shock of platinum hair and haunted eyes. Hermione felt a jolt of recognition; she knew his face from her dreams. It was the only face she could remember that wasn’t blurry and distorted. In her dreams, he danced, and his hair was a living, flying cloud of white blond as he spun.

Hermione wanted to go see him to see if he would spark some sort of memory, but the door to her room was locked, and she wasn’t allowed out, though even if the door would open for her, it wasn’t like she could walk. A woman named Susan had come to see her for the first few months of her stay in St. Mungos and explained why the door was locked in a voice that reflected guilt, but also the edge of someone who felt betrayed. Susan repeated some of the things Ginny had told her. Hermione had discovered Draco hiding in his home, Obliviated him and herself to conceal his new hiding spot, rediscovered him, and then instead of reporting it, had continued to conceal the existence of a man who would have been a wanted criminal if anyone else had known he was alive. And then, once he’d been tried before something called the Wizengamot and found guilty, they’d run off together and modified each other’s memories.

Susan said the only reason she wasn’t in Azkaban with Draco was because a man named Hutchinson had attempted to reverse Draco’s Memory Charm on her and permanently damaged her brain. And also because Harry Potter had pleaded for leniency. So instead of Azkaban, she was locked in the Permanent Spell Damage ward at St. Mungos, marking her days on the white walls of her small room, and trying to remember.

Hermione did not move from her spot in the bed. She spent most of her time in the bed these days. The nurses came in four times a day to help her to the toilet in the corner of her cell, and sometimes they would prop her in a chair once she was finished, but usually, they put her back in the bed. She didn’t mind being in the bed. It meant she could sleep, and in sleep, she dreamt, and that was the only time she felt real and alive.

More and more often when she was awake, she hallucinated. At least, they said she was hallucinating. When she thought she was conversing with a visitor, the nurses said she was talking to herself. Not that she could really talk, either. The consonants and vowels got mixed up between her brain and her mouth most of the time, so the majority of what she uttered was gibberish. It was frustrating and despairing.

But in her dreams, she could talk. She could walk, and she could dance, and her world was more than four stark white walls. Every night, she dreamt of Draco Malfoy dancing across the stage, the lights shining off his skin, his hair fanning out around him.

She dreamt of a different life, and slowly sank into madness.

Her name was Hermione Granger, and she was twenty-five years old.

Comments

Up until the second part of the epilogue I was really enjoying this alternate take on how things could have been. I should have known that you would pull the rug out and leave me wallowing in angst. I forgot that this ending was the unhappy one. I think that this speaks very highly of your skill as a writer, to not see it coming, and then to look back at the whole work to find that you were setting this up the whole time is wonderful.

I know that I felt the same way after finishing up the HP series. she told us everything we wanted to know, we just didn't know that those hints were important. Congrats on a great finale of your epic work.

Not to be a pest, but when will you be posting something new for your fans to devour?
You're not a pest, at all. I'm trying to finish some stories that have been languishing on my hard drive for quite some time. I'm even considering dragging out the first fanfic I ever wrote (still a WIP) and never posted because it was just THAT cliched.

And the idea of doing a sequel - a much shorter sequel - to APoF to give everyone the scenes they really wanted is still being kicked around.

Sorry for pulling the rug out from under you, but really - by now, you ought to know better with me. Thanks for being such a faithful reader!!
Very beautifully, heartbreakingly written, but dear God am I glad that this is the alternate rather than the official ending. This was nearly too painful to bear. I think I shall go reread the official ending so that I can think of them as happy together again.

Gorgeous writing, though. You are a master.
I'm seconding what the other's had said. Up untill the second part of the alternate epilogue I thought it was a lovely potential view of what could have been. Damien and Jane living magically among the muggles. And then Susan and her partner show up and call for the truth to be out. *sniffle* I'm so glad it's not the official ending but at the same time I'm sort of rooting for Jane and Damien who escaped and aren't being tailed by Susan and others. I'm going to have to re-read the official story sometime this week (probably between bouts of cookie baking)
Ooh, cookie baking! Now I want one.

I'm glad you enjoyed (most) of it!
I highly recommend rereading the original ending. Like I said, there was a very specific reason this ending is not the official ending, and I actually would prefer everyone to go back and reread the original so that my dear characters get their happily ever after!

Thank you so much, bunney! I am very much flattered.
Oh, I've not only reread it, but I've gone back multiple times just to reread the last four chapters, they are that damned good. This was a story that definitely stuck with me...I would even go so far as to say it haunted me while I was reading it. I could hardly wait for each chapter. You are brilliant :)

Happy New Year!!
Wow! Wow! Wow!! I LOVE this ending! I can't help the tears in my eyes. Seriously, your writing never cease to amaze me. Really brilliant!

Although I do wish you had included how Draco is doing in Azkaban. Poor fella stranded alone with his deranged wife away in St. Mungos. *sniffs* Beautiful!
Thank you! I'm glad you loved it. It's pretty dark and angsty, which was fun for me to write (I thrive on it, see?) but I felt just awful for putting my poor suffering characters through even more.

I figured Draco (who I've decided had his memories restored by the folks in the Obliviators office) would be in such a horribly dark place that I would never be able to do justice to his despair. Besides, I think it's pretty clearly inferred that he's languishing. Poor guy.
Haven't read them yet. Because I am a thorough and complete and utter idiot, I clicked on this link before starting the alt.chpt.30 and went to the comments and saw ... the last three paragraphs.

Am a little heartbroken already.

Am going to read the whole thing from the beginning with the alternate ending, rather than just read the alternates ... if my heart's to be broken, let's go for utterly shattered, as opposed to merely broken. Am masochistic that way.

Will be back to post after I get over being the blubbering mess I'm sure to be ...
AHH! I hate when that happens. Let me know if you do read it from the very beginning with this ending. I have not done that, myself, and I'm curious what the effect is.

And - have some tissues.
WHY OH WHY DID YOU NEED TO DO THAT!!! OH THE AGONY! It was gorgeous and sweet and sad and SO WRONG! I must dash to get my tissues....
QUICK! Go back and read the original, official ending! It'll make everything better again, I promise.
Oh.Dear.G!d.

Couldn't start from the beginning, had to just jump into it.

That was beyond heartbreak. That was just this side of torture, the entire epilogue, waiting for the horror that was to come ...

That was heartbreaking. Now I'm going to read the original because I need to feel better.

Whether writing angst or joy, you're a really, exceedingly good writer.

Thank you for sharing this.
Oh, that must have been hard, reading the epilogue and knowing what was coming. I really hope rereading the original was enough to make you feel better.

I truly appreciate your kind words. It's been a while since I've gotten reviews, and I forgot just how much I love them. So, thank you!
i wasn't too in love with your original epilogue, it felt too merry, but this one I almost hate (and only an amazing writer can make a person hate a story because of its content)
Good job!! I enjoyed reading the whole thing very very very much!! Will be looking forward to reading more
The original was pretty fluffy. Now that I look back on it, I find myself wondering if it really fits with the rest of the story. Perhaps somewhere between there and here would have been the best option. But I really like the idea of them being happy after everything I put them through, so this was interesting to write (and oddly cathartic).

I am tickled that you hate this. Seriously. Invested emotions like that mean I did something right. At least, that's what I'm telling myself.

Sorry this is long!

Holy smokes! When turn you go angsty, you go full throttle! While your original ending was a lovely happily-ever-after type, I was eager to read another take. Watching Hermione's slide into deep depression make me hurt for her (and her friends since they felt so helpless).

That scene with Susan, who I adored in the story, was very difficult to read. Susan's anger and frustration and feelings of betrayal was understandable, but watching how that affected Herimone was even worse. And then the moment when Ron turned away from her and Harry and Ginny followed...powerful. It almost made Draco's verdict seem anti-climatic after all she's been through.

And now the epilogue. I thought the angst was going to come from while they had each other, Hermione lost so much. Her happy memories of her family as well as so many good friends who totally would have forgiven her once everything came out. Then I was worried one of them would be killed. Nope. You went further than that. Draco and Hermione both in different types of prisons. And to think maybe Draco got his memory back and knows everything! I don't know who has it worse. *sniff* Thank you for not using this AU for your AU. :)

And I'm super excited to read you're working on something new for your fans. Hope you don't mind if I friend you so I don't miss it. :)

Re: Sorry this is long!

I will never complain about a long review, FYI. Thanks so much for taking the time to write it all out!

Hermione's descent was difficult to write, first and foremost because I believe her to be a woman with more fortitude than to give in to that darkness. But I also put her through a lot, and perhaps she still had more to deal with pertaining to the war than I first considered. Plus, I knew she would have to be in a very bad place for her to impulsively run away like she did.

She became someone else in the epilogue, with Draco's influence and the lack of influence from her friends and memories. Originally her duel with Susan was much longer and more violent, but it didn't work out with Hutchinson deciding to reverse her memory charm, so I couldn't show that she'd grown into someone very much darker. Other than the brief mention of her disemboweling Susan and Hutchinson, that is...

Draco's memories were restored by the Obliviators, who found a way to get around the charm Hermione placed on him, so, it is safe to say he ended up in his own personal hell in Azkaban.

I am just as glad I didn't use this ending as you are. It was only considered briefly before I decided to go with the happy ending. They'd been through enough.

I really look forward to sharing what I've been working on. There are a few more smaller fanfics of the D/Hr nature, but also an original story that I wrote in November that I hope to make available come this summer.

Friend away!
LOL! I inputted the link on my phone (and read it too fast) 'cause I was so anxious to read it and read it backwards!! I was a bit confused as to why they were calling each other Jane and Damien...until half way through. I feel so silly.

But now that I'm home and can properly read it again (in proper order), I found the alternate ending sad, but was touched at how she remembered Draco. Even in madness and despair, Draco is her centre.

I really liked the first ending since I'm a fluff kinda girl, but this ending was equally fabulous in a tragic way.

Bravo!

-mlui187 (Gryffindor_Slytherin)
Oh, LOL. Whoops. I hope it made more sense once you read the first part.

Draco was her only constant in both lives, and her soul mate, if you believe in that sort of thing, so it made sense to me that even in spite of being brain damaged, her memories of him would still find a way to be remembered.

I'm glad you found this ending enjoyable. It was kind of fun writing the 'what if' version to the end of their tale.

Oh, and just so you know - I did hold back. In the first draft of this ending, Hermione was pregnant when she and Draco were captured.
It did make sense. :)

What? That would have been even more tragic since I'm sure they wouldn't let her have custody of her child, as she'd be categorized as mentally unfit. Well...that is if she didn't miscarry.
Like I said, I held back because... well, I'm not entirely sure, but it just didn't feel right. In that version, Harry and Ginny took custody of the little girl. But I just couldn't be THAT dark, not with a baby involved.
Ah, okay. That would be terribly sad.
Oh, and just so you know - I did hold back. In the first draft of this ending, Hermione was pregnant when she and Draco were captured.

OMG. I don't think...I would have been able to emotionally handle that. I'm tearing up just thinking about it.

And please tell me that Hutchinson was very severely murdered by Harry and Ron for what he did ;)
I never thought about what would have happened to Hutchinson. Given the fact that he's the head of the department's nephew and the general crookedness of the Ministry, I'm sure it was all covered up. But I'd be willing to bet that Harry and Ron exacted some vengeance.
Okay, even if the second part is full of angst, it is still terribly good.

Sigh. Ok, happy endings are not realistic. I get that. But geesh, all I want to do now is bash Hutchinson in the head. Such an idiot!!!!!

At least it was nice to know that they did have a normal life for a short while and they were happy.
Thank you!

Yeah, I know that happy endings don't always happen, but to quote one of my favorite reviews, "If I wanted a crappy sad ending, I'd look to the real world". But positing what could have been had things gone differently was fun to write.
Hello! *glomps excitedly* :D

Sorry it's taken us so long to review this. To be honest... it seemed rather too angsty to read! Haha. But we read it, and we're glad we did- although straight away we reread the other ending, the happy one. :)

This one was so painful! He wasn't acquitted! How awful. But he came back, that was okay. And then they obliviated each other... We wanted to cry when Hermione was thinking of all the things she was going to forget. Poor her. But she made her choice, Draco over them.

Grr, Hutchinson had to ruin it all! It was all right, relatively happy, until he ruined it! Grr. It's sweet how Hermione remembers only his face... and she dreams of him dancing... but poor Draco, he must be doubly, triply tortured in Azkaban! Remembering everything, AGAIN, and then knowing that Hermione doesn't remember a thing... oh, it's so heartbreaking.

However do you come up with such angst? hehe.

Wonderfully written, though. Beautifully written. :) And it makes us appreciate the happy ending even more! hehe.

But we still have no idea how you can post such an angsty thing and have your mood as 'cheerful', haha. You've depressed us!
Heh... I was cheerful because I had finally finished (and posted) the alternate ending.

I have been waiting for your review and once again, your review made me smile. I am really glad you went back and reread the official ending once you finished this one. I felt a bit maniacal writing this ending. Glad to finally be done, honestly.

I hope you stick with me as I write other things. Loyal reviewers mean the world to me.
Of COURSE we'll stick with you! APoF is one of our favorite fics ever, and we're sure anything you write will be just as enjoyable. It's our pleasure to read your works. :)

Sorry to keep you waiting for our review! :) *happy sigh* Again, such a wonderful fic. Definitely worth rereading when we have the time. :D
OH MY GOD. 1. I can't believe it's really, truly over. Reading this has been quite a ride. I remember when you posted the first chapter to this, I was a bit aprehensive... but I'm so glad I read it, and I loved it!! Thank you so much.
2. This alternate ending was amazing!! It was so sad but sooo realistic. I honestly don't know which ending I liked better. *sigh* I just wish it wasn't ending!! :)

Thank you so, so much for writing this, and for being so wonderful. I truly enjoyed this fic, and it is amazing writing. Thank you for sharing your talent, your ideas, and your wonderful story with us. I hope to read more of your work soon!
Chortle, I have a hard time believing it, too, especially when I have the urge to write and no story to write on. But at the same time, I'm really glad that it's over, that I actually managed to finish it. Don't feel bad about the first chapter making you apprehensive. A lot of people have told me the first chapter made them nervous. But I think the next 29 chapters make up for it.

Thank you for reading this! I love to hear that people have enjoyed the story. I am a review whore, I guess.

I hope to have something else for everyone to read soon. Probably a little Dramione something or other. :)
OMG I was so not expecting this ending. This was a very involved story and you told it so well. I am glad the you wrote two different endings. I feel a little bereffed that this story is over.
Well, hey there, sevibaby! Thank you for reading both endings. Which did you like better?

I know what you mean... I felt so lost once I posted this last bit, and I am still getting over it.

Actually I liked the fluffy version the best, but the angsty one made me want to cry and beat the sh*t out the idiot that destroyed Hermiones mind. Poor Draco. He has a clear mind and will have to live out his life in prison remembering all that was good for a short while.
I liked the fluffy ending better to be honest. >.> I'm a sucker for happy endings! However, I did enjoy this version too. It was not only very well-written but realistic.

You did a great job with this story here. It'll go down as one of my personal favorites.

Thank you!

This broke my heart. Completely and utterly broke my heart. I loved reading all day today and most of yesterday the entire fic on AdultFanFiction but couldn't help but want to see what other more .. sad?... future awaited them in your alternate end. And OMG, I, like most of the others here, loved the first half. It was beautiful and I actually cried with the word Obliviate. But this? Oh I can see this happening.. and the last sentence.

Truly amazing writing. Beautiful words and a beautiful story (emo ending or not!)