Story Title: After the End
Author Name: Zsenya & Arabella
Story Url: Story Link 1
Alternate Url: Story Link 2
Alternate Url: Story Link 3
Content Rating: Mature
Length: 474,992 words
Story Summary: It’s the summer after seventh year, and Harry, Ron, Hermione, Ginny, and the rest of the wizarding world must learn to live without fear. This story was written prior to the release of “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.”
This post-Goblet of Fire fic is wildly AU now, but that doesn’t stop me from naming this my #1 favorite Harry Potter fanfic. When I was first introduced to the HP fandom in 2004, I had encountered a few Marriage Law Challenge fics (on a Roswell board, of all things!), but I usually count this as the first serious HP fic I read, after my friend, Lauren, nearly succumbed to apoplexy at the thought of a MLC fic characterizing my impression of the HP fandom. She was right: this story is the best possible story to stand as a representation of all that is bright and beautiful about Harry Potter fanfic.
“After the End” focuses on the post-war world, in which our canon protagonists are each struggling to finding their own place in this brave new world. Harry, for example, has to choose between what is right and what is easy, at a time when it’s far more difficult for him to even determine what “right” means, now that things aren’t so black & white, good vs. evil. I understand that dilemma; it’s a very grown-up kind of struggle. Is the right thing to focus on what is perhaps best for one’s mental health, to choose what is fun and fulfilling, what would bring joy to one’s family and friends? Or is it more right to choose sacrifice and deprivation; struggles and hardship? Is it more courageous for Harry to choose to be happy, or for him to set aside his happiness for the sake of others? I’m afraid that my description makes that particular plot thread sound terribly angsty, but it really isn’t. It’s thought-provoking and so very, very Harry. And that very in-canon characterization is what makes the story so riveting.
Harry’s journey is only a small part of this story. The plot is complicated, yet perfectly balanced, without a single slow spot in the entire, epic-length narrative. Hermione, Ginny, Ron, Sirius, Remus, the entire Weasley family, and even several minor canon characters and some OCs (original characters) all have their time in the spotlight in this story. Again, I can’t emphasize enough how remarkable it is that the authors balanced all of those stories in this one fic without the whole thing feeling overwhelmingly weighty and difficult to trudge through. Instead, this fic flies past me each time I read it – and I’ve read it many times.
There is one section in particular which I have come back to read on its own more times than I can count: Chapter 27: “The Seeker,” and Chapter 28: “Chapter Twenty-Seven and three-quarters.” If you are nervous about starting such a massive fic, I recommend cheating and skipping ahead to those chapters. Start half-way through Chapter 27 at, “Harry stuffed the letter into the pocket of his cloak.” Obviously there are spoilers for the rest of the fic, but I don’t think they’re too serious, though my opinion could be rubbish, as I obviously am incapable of being spoiled after so many read-throughs. But that 2-chapter story-within-the-story – oh, that glorious, marvelous story – it’s so, so, so, good. I bawl happy tears the whole way through it. If I could talk JK Rowling into reading any fanfic out of all of the fandom, it would be those two chapters. I’m convinced she’d love it just as much as I do.