Readers must be curious whether everyone lives happily ever after. The answer is complicated. The Pea gives Roscuro free access to the castle’s main floors, and he moves back and forth between the dungeons and upstairs. He never really fits in either place, though, which is what happens to people whose hearts mend crookedly. But since Roscuro seeks forgiveness, he’s able to bring happiness to another person’s life. He tells the princess about the prisoner with the tablecloth, and the Pea has the prisoner released. Roscuro leads the man to Mig, his daughter. Mig doesn’t get to be a princess, but her father treats her like a princess to try to make up for what he did to her.
The story’s ending contains elements that are good and bad, reinforcing the idea that good and evil, light and dark, must coexist in order to make sense. But Roscuro goes out of his way to redeem himself and specifically, to try to make Mig feel better after manipulating her so cruelly. He might not get the happiest of happy ever afters, but the narrator implies he feels some satisfaction after reuniting Mig with her father. And importantly, the narrator makes it clear that despite Roscuro’s crooked heart, he can still seek forgiveness and do nice things for others.
Despereaux doesn’t marry the princess, so that version of happily ever after doesn’t come to pass (this world isn’t that strange). But they do become friends, and they go on many adventures that the narrator can’t describe in this story. Before this story ends, the narrator asks the reader to imagine a king and a princess, a serving girl wearing a crown, and a rat wearing a spoon on his head, all sitting around a table in a banquet hall. There’s a huge kettle of soup in the middle of the table, and a mouse with big ears is sitting right next to the princess. From behind a curtain, four other mice watch the scene. Antoinette observes that Despereaux looks happy. Lester whispers that he’s been forgiven, and Furlough says it’s unbelievable. But Hovis smiles and says, “just so.”
The scene the narrator paints here is a happy one, and it’s presumably what happens after everyone emerges from the dungeon and after the Pea reconnects with her father. Everyone, this shows, makes up in the end: the king decides to accept rodents at his table (and allows soup), Mig and the Pea remain friendly, and it doesn’t seem to be a problem that Roscuro is wearing Queen Rosemary’s soup spoon still. But while mice like Antoinette and Lester seem to have changed similarly for the better, Furlough remains set in his ways—suggesting that the dark, and intolerance specifically, will continue to battle goodness and compassion, long after the novel ends.