~ Best and Worst of Times: Epilogue ~
Picking up the Daily Prophet, Dumbledore silently reads Rita Skeeter's article on the exoneration of Sirius Black and the downfall of Voldemort. Ah, not lest there's nothing in there about Hermione and her time traveling. Rereading the article, Dumbledore notes several things. There's no mention of Caroline Longbottom's recovery, nor anything about Chloe. Nothing on Selena. They're even calling Melody, Hermione. Counting to hundred, Dumbledore smiles as he office door bursts open reviling an irate Professor McGonagall.
"Good morning, Minerva," greets Dumbledore. "Would you like some water taffy?"
"What I would like is an exclamation," snaps Minerva narrowing her eyes rather dangerously. "Would you care to explain this letter of yours?"
"I thought I covered everything," mumbles Dumbledore looking rather sheepish. "What you like explained?"
"Just how Hermione survived the killing curse? Not once but twice? I understand that she became Melody St. James to prevent a paradox, but who sent that paperwork on her emending transfer? And for that matter, who created a Gringotts vault for her? And what's this about Lily and James being alive?" demands Minerva finally running out of steam.
Looking thoughtful, Dumbledore answers, "I honestly don't know. Someone sure went to great deal of trouble, but for what purpose?"
"So Hermione Granger is really Melody St. James-Black," whispers Minerva. "How is she doing?"
"Right at this minute," offers Dumbledore. "She's in the hospital wing recovering." Holding up a hand he continues. "She was there for the final battle…."
Lifting her head off of her pillow, dizziness swaps her head. Gently laying her head back down, Melody was secretly glad that she could hear Madam Pomfrey making her way towards her. Tears leak from the corner of her eyes as memories wreak havoc with her emotions.
The curtains are pulled back reveling stern form of Madam Pomfrey. Smiling gently, she offers, "One more examination and you'll be able to go home with Sirius when he comes to pick you up."
"Ok," hoarsely croaks Melody.
Gripping the countertop Sirius slowly counts to ten then to twenty as anger courses through him. Gritting his teeth, he narrows his eyes at the current source of his anger. Keeping his eyes on one of the two, Sirius swiftly pulls out his wand. Pointing it to one of the twins he mutters off a series of charms, before turning his wand to the other twin.
Smiling smugly in satisfaction, Sirius slips silently from the room. Reaching the landing, high bellowing shrieks of horror radiate from below. That should teach them not to mess with my stuff.
"Chloe," greets Sirius as he turns towards his suite that he shared with Melody. "Do you think I should change," asks Sirius as he opens the door only to find the room completely empty. "Ok. Where did everything go?"
"Outside on the front lawn," answers Chloe directly behind him. "Everyone came to the conclusion that since you're starting over or have been given a fresh start at things, that your bedroom should also be given a fresh start."
"Thanks," whispers Sirius seriously. "I doubt that Melody would have been able to handle come back to the same old room."
"She's fragile right now," offers Chloe. "But she's stronger then either of us know."
"I hope your right," mumbles Sirius as he heads down the stairs. Chloe watches Sirius retreating back before the hallway tilts.
With one hand firmly on the small of her back and the other gently clasping hers, Severus takes small steps helping Caroline recover her mobility. Soft music floats out of an old radio.
"One day soon," promises Severus. "I'm going to take you dancing."
"I'm going to hold you to that," laughs Caroline slowly taking another step. "But I'm afraid that it's going to be quite sometime."
"Oh, I don't care how long it takes," smirks Severus tightening them embrace. "I plan on spoiling you completely rotten."
Conjuring up hot tea and some biscuits, Albus adds, "Plus, Caroline Longbottom is going to make what looks like a complete recovery." Handing Minerva a cup of hot tea, he waits for her reaction.
"So it's true," whispers a relived Minerva. "Voldemort is really dead. My poor Hermione, losing her only living relative." Taking a sip of her scolding hot tea, Minerva sets the cup down. "So Lily and James are back, the time-line is relatively fine. And now you're telling me that Caroline Longbottom is going to make a recovery! Bloody hell Albus!"
"I know," laughs Dumbledore his blue eyes twinkling. "But after reading the Daily Prophet, I think I'm going to have to have a long talk with everyone."
"Why?" asks Minerva picking up the paper.
"Because everyone now knows that Hermione has survived. Not Melody Black, but Hermione. Everyone from this time only knows her as Hermione," states Dumbledore. "They will understand her grief, but they won't understand if she wishes to be called Melody."
"Perhaps it would be better if she was called Hermione," suggests Minerva. "We can give her a special graduation certificate. And if Sirius and Mel… Hermione wish to remain married, we can issue a press release stating that they were recently married or something."
"I do believe that would be best," mutters Dumbledore.
Performing the finial charm, Madam Pomfrey frowns when the light changes from white to pale blue. Shaking her head, she redoes the charm only to have the same results.
Watching Madam Pomfrey frown, Melody was surprised when she redid the same charm. "Is something wrong?" asks Melody.
"Hermione dear," states Madam Pomfrey. "Everything looks like its in order, but I'm afraid that I'm going to have to perform another exanimation."
"But everything is fine, right?" questions Melody, not noticing that Madam Pomfrey had called her Hermione.
"As far as I can tell," reassures Madam Pomfrey.
"Chloe!" shouts Remus from somewhere downstairs. "Chloe?"
"Remus try upstairs," suggests Sirius. "That's where I last saw her."
Pounding footsteps race up the stairs as Remus rushes up the steps. Upon reaching the landing, Remus spies his wife folded on the ground. Moving quickly he picks her up off the floor, noting that Chloe has passed out. Carefully descending down the steps, everyone was instantly worried when Remus carried an unconscious Chloe outside.
"Sirius," barks Remus. "Are you… Do you still have that portkey to Hogwarts?"
"Yes," answers Sirius pulling it out. "Taking her to Madam Pomfrey?"
"Yes," answers Remus.
"I'll come with you," offers Sirius. "I have to pick up Melody."
The office door flew open for the second time that day. Banging against the wall, but instead of Minerva, Lily Potter stood there. Huffing and puffing from running, she pointed down the steps.
"Get your breath child," commands Minerva before hugging Lily.
"Chloe's clasped," states Lily. "Madam Pomfrey is currently looking her over."
"Good lord," whispers Minerva worried.
"Out!" shouts Madam Pomfrey attempting to kick Remus and Sirius out of the room. Until she heard Remus's menacing growling directed at her. "Fine! But don't interfere," states Madam Pomfrey. Pulling the curtain around her charge, Madam Pomfrey went to work.
"Remus behave," admonishes James hoping to lighten the mood. "She's going to be fine." Lily, Minerva and Dumbledore come rushing into the room. Rustling of the curtain, silence everyone as Madam Pomfrey smiles down at Chloe.
"You young lady need to take it easy," orders Madam Pomfrey. "I'll be giving Remus a list of things you will not be allowed to do, along with Sirius."
"What?" questions both Remus and Sirius.
"Chloe's pregnant," informs Madam Pomfrey looking at Remus. "And so is Hermione." Looking at Sirius, Madam Pomfrey asks, "Didn't you notice anything funny?"
Shrugging, Sirius answers, "She had a strange reaction to chocolate."
"Sirius!" groans Lily as everyone else stifles their laughter.
Remus and Chloe's bedroom
Kissing his stubble cheek, Chloe smoothes a grin as Remus slowly starts to stir from his slumber. Reaching out she gently sweeps her finger down his cheek as he smiles at her touch.
"Hmmm," moans Remus. "Have I told you lately that you're amazing?"
"Not today," whispers Chloe kissing his cheek again.
"This is going to have to wait," groans Remus opening his eyes. At Chloe's confused and hurt look, he kisses her lips before adding, "Because our exuberant son is headed this way."
Seconds later, thunderous pounding radiates from the bedroom door. "MUM! DAD! Time to raise and shine! Can you hear me?" is shouted at the closed door. More pounding as he continues to shout. "Wakey! Wakey!"
"Forget to take off the silencing charm once," mutters Chloe glaring at the door as Remus laughs. "And he never lets you forget it." Rolling her eyes when the bedroom door starts to vibrate from the pounding it was receiving. "He's your son, you deal with him!"
"Wakey? Wakey?" groans Remus glaring at the door. Moving slowly, Remus reluctantly gets out of bed. "That is the last time I let Padfoot baby-sit."
Hogwarts: The Dungeon
"Daddy!" shouts a three-year-old little girl running directly at Severus before launching herself into his open arms. Kissing her father several times on his cheek, the little girl hugs him tightly.
"Well," laughs Severus his black eyes glittering. "This is nice. Where is your mother?"
"Lab," answers Neville coming from around the corner. "I don't know how you two do it."
Confused Severus asks, "Do what?"
"Handle her," laughs Neville as he points to the little girl. "One minute she's in the kitchen the next she poof… Gone."
"Children are known to do that Neville," answers Severus. "Besides, your mother and I have warded the Dungeon to prevent her from leaving without an adult present."
"Present? You have present?" demands the girl. "Baddog's birthday today."
"It's Maddog," corrects Neville.
"No! He a bad dog!" contradicts his sister narrowing her onyx eyes at Neville. "Bad!"
"I swear," mutters Neville chuckling softly. "That when Sirius wanted the tradition of nicknames to continue, I don't think he had that in mind when his son decided on his nickname."
Laughing, Severus kisses his daughter on her forehead before putting her down. "He should have thought of that before he allowed him to pick it. Besides its not that bad compared to what Remus's child nicknamed himself."
"Who in their right mind would want to be called Howler?" ponders Neville as his sister races around him. "Hey come back here!"
Sirius and Hermione's bedroom
Creeping into the silent bedroom, looking both ways before bounding up to the mantle over the fireplace. Reaching his hands up, he huffs in frustration. Narrowing his eyes, he surveys the room. Smirking as he spots a chair in the corner.
Using his finger, he whispers, "Come." Magically making the chair slowly come to him, scraping the floor as it comes. Setting the chairs back against the wall, he climbs up. Smiling in delight as he reaches out for the picture on the mantle. "Hello there." The little girl in the picture waves back to him. "Today is my birthday…."
Waving her wand, Lily creates a banner saying Happy Birthday in light baby blue. James and Sirius were neatly placing the gifts on the table. Marking which one's were from the Weasley twins.
"Why are you doing that?" demands George as he watches them.
"Let's see," sneers Sirius. "Last year, the pair of you gave him several of your prototypes. Two of which set off my lovely wife."
"Oh yeah," grimaces Fred recalling the incident. "That."
"No need for a repeat this year," states James writing Fred's name on the brightly wrapped gift.
"Especially since she pregnant again," growls Sirius narrowing his eyes at the twins. "You two better be on your best behavior. If I hear that you've somehow manage to put her in the hospital wing…. I'll…"
"Sirius," admonishes Lily. "I'm absolutely sure that Fred and George wouldn't dream of doing anything. Everyone knows that Hermione is on the edge as it is, seeing how this is her second pregnancy."
"Fine," huffs Sirius still glaring at the twins. "But…"
"No buts old man," interrupts James.
"Ok everyone," shouts Chloe clapping her hands to get their attention. "Its time to head to Hogwarts. Does everyone have what they need?"
"Yes!" shouts two excited boys while jumping up and down. "We're going to go by portkey!" Pulling out an old plain looking newspaper to use as a portkey, Remus smiles seconds before the world spins away.
Landing with a loud thud, Remus's arms steadied Chloe but the two boys took pleasure at hitting the floor. Sitting in the common area Carolina saw and heard the group coming. Rocking back and forth in the rocking chair, Caroline smiles in satisfaction that her child was sound asleep before the two boys arrived.
"Maddog! I can't believe your seven already!" huffs Remus's child.
"Howler!" agrees Maddog. "I know, where to the years go? It seems like just yesterday I turned six." Maddog pulls out a mirror from under his shirt, "Dad! Howler and I are here. Can I come down and play with you?"
"Well," huffs Sirius. "What about your mum? What does she want?"
"Madam Pomfrey insisted that Hermione have a nap," informs Caroline. "She's currently sleeping in the hospital wing."
"She went to take a nap," states Maddog seriously. "It's my birthday, so I shouldn't have to take a nap."
"Fine," agrees Sirius slightly chuckling. "Tell your Aunt Chloe were your going, then you can join me at Gryffindor Tower. And bring Howler with you."
"Yes, Dad." The mirror stops glowing as Maddog puts it back under his shirt. "Aunt Chloe…"
"I heard your father," interrupts Chloe. "You can go. But go straight there! No side trips." Watching her son along with Hermione's race out of the room, Chloe shouts, "I mean it! No side trips! Do you…oh never mind."
"Sometimes," laughs Caroline holding her baby girl close to her. "I think, the kids are worst then their fathers."
"I agree," stresses Chloe.
Along the third floor
Near the door leading out to the stairs
Skidding to a halt, both boys listen closely. Blinking they look at each other in question. Shrugging their shoulders they heads towards the sound. Coming upon a large locked wooden door. Howler raises his hand, pointing his finger, he whispers, "Alohomora."
Tapping his foot impatiently, Sirius notices that it's unusually quite. Going over to the entrance door, he gazes down the hallway, not seeing nor hearing anyone. Bloody hell! Where is he now? Shaking his head, Sirius walks back to the table picking up a blank parchment.
"I'm going to need this," grumbles Sirius. Pointing his wand to it, he says the password to activate the map. "They should be on their way here."
"Should be and are," states Remus coming over. "Are two different things."
"Mel is going to kill you," sneers Severus. "If he somehow manages to get dirty."
Grumbling some curses under his breath, Sirius rakes his gaze over the map. "I'm not seeing them."
"What?" demands Remus pulling the map away from Sirius. Looking it over, Remus pales as he whispers, "they're not on here."
"They have to be," stress Severus calmly. "I thought you two added a pin-point spell. Did you use that?"
"No," answers Sirius slightly calmer. Taking his wand he taps the map, stating the names clearly. "It's showing them near the giant chess set." Seconds tick by before Sirius realizes what he said. "That's it! He's grounded! I don't care if it is his birthday. Grounded!"
"Calm down," snaps Harry. "Do you want Hermione to hear you?" Shaking his head, Harry lets out a sigh before heading towards Dumbledore's passageway to the chess set.
"Bloody hell," hisses Sirius stalking off towards the secret passageway to the chess set, swiftly catching up with Harry. With a small distance between them, Remus and Severus follow Sirius. Patting Remus on the back, Severus smugly smirks at Sirius's back and at Remus.
"I'm glad that I had a girl," comments Severus. "Who takes after her mother in all things."
When Harry suddenly stiffens, howling in pain as his handclaps over his lighting bolt scar everyone whips out their wands. "It can't be," hisses Harry in pain. "He's been dead for past seven years!" Steadying himself, Harry blinks. "I couldn't see a thing."
With widening eyes, Severus watches as panic sets in. "Get to the kids!"
Soft whimpers and high winds freak the two boys. Howler narrows his eyes taking in the room. Sniffing the air, the boy points to a corner. "Over there."
"There was something else here," comments Maddog. Both boys move slowly into the room. Cautiously approaching the corner. "Hello." A ratty red haired doll was blocking the child behind it. "Are you ok?"
Third Floor Lab
"Oh," softly whispers Chloe. "She's so cute."
Laughing at Chloe, Caroline gently lays her daughter down for her nap. "Yes, she's cute when she's sleeping otherwise she gives the boys a run for their money." Watching Chloe gaze at her daughter fawningly. "Why haven't you and Remus had another child?"
Rolling her eyes, Chloe sits down. "He doesn't want to risk any more side effects."
"More side effects?" questions Caroline. "What else does he think is going to happen?"
"Oh, I don't know a liter of kids instead of just one," comments Chloe looking over to Hermione's office. "I still can't believe that Hermione's pregnant again."
Sighing heavily, Caroline closes her eyes. "Neither can I. But I wish her all the luck in the world."
Rushing in everyone had their wands drawn. Looking around franticly, Sirius breathes a sigh of relief as he spots his son.
"Dad!" rings around the chamber. "You won't believe what I've found!"
Blinking open her tired eyes, Hermione smiles as she rubs the swell of her stomach. Yawning softly, Hermione stretches jerking suddenly at the loud commotion bursting into the hospital wing. What in heavens name is going on? I swear if that son of mine exploded, jinxed, hexed something or someone… I'm going to ground him until I'm dead.
"I'm telling you," barks Sirius rather angrily. "That she should be informed! I have no intention of not telling my wife!"
"Sirius," snaps Madam Pomfrey. "Lower your voice! I'm not saying that you shouldn't tell her. I'm saying…"
Straining her ears, Hermione couldn't make out what they were saying. They can't be talking about the baby. I just had a check up and Madam Pomfrey said everything was fine. What if she was lying?
"No!" booms Sirius.
Pulling back the curtain, Hermione gasps softly as she stares at a dirty, scared looking Selena standing just within arms reach. "Silly?" croaks out Hermione as tears form in her eyes.
"My Mine," gasps out Selena throwing herself at Hermione. Pulling her sister tightly into her embrace.
"Where have you been? You really scared me," demands Hermione rocking the girl in her arms. Feverishly kissing the top of her sister's head, Hermione gently squeezes and releases her several times. "I love you. So you know that? I love you."
"I was so scared," cries Selena gripping Hermione's arms. "But James… he come and find me."
"James?" ponders Hermione. She can't possibly be talking about him.
"Yeah… James," laughs Selena at Hermione's confused look. "He smaller now, but he's still James. And then Paw-paw showed up and everyone else too." Watching Selena raise her hand, Hermione's gaze travels the length of the room. "He's right there. Standing next to Paw-paw and Howler."
"Sirius!" calls out Hermione. All conversation in the room drops as everyone looks over to see Hermione cradling her sister in her arms. "Could you come here please?" As Sirius approaches, Hermione whispers to Selena who squeals in delight. "Silly, go play with James for a bit while I talk to Paw-paw, ok?"
"Fine, but don't go anywhere," states Selena as she jumps off of Hermione's lap. Hermione watches Silly playing with James and Howler as her bed dips under Sirius's weight.
"Do you know what your son has done?" softly asks Hermione while not taking her eyes off of Selena.
"I have a vague idea," mutters Sirius.
"He's James," states Hermione. Waiting for a few seconds before elaborating. "The same James who gave Silly her Molly Doll. The same James who pinned Peter to the hospital wall and lord knows what else."
"Bloody hell," swears Sirius softly. "You know… ah, well that explains the werewolf bites on the Death Eaters. And good god so was…."
"Huh?" questions Hermione looking at Sirius confused.
"If James was there, so was Sirius. Remember Sirius Lupin is a werewolf like Remus," whispers Sirius. "Take a look at James, he looks just like me, while Serenity Snape looks just like her mother, Caroline. That explains why Peter thought it was us."
"How did they do it?" asks Hermione. "Why did they do it?"
"Who knows?" comments Sirius kissing Hermione's temple. "Maybe they did it because they love us? I haven't a clue as to how they did it and you know what I don't want to know how."
Loud boisterous laughter erupts from the kids as they break from their huddle. Little Sirius races towards his father. James and Selena race towards Sirius and Hermione. James jumps into Sirius's lab as Selena climbs onto Hermione's. "Mum…" huffs James his violet eyes glowing. "Come on! Silly needs a bath before she can go to my birthday party."
Leaning over Hermione kisses Sirius gently on his lips before pulling away. A radiant smile blooms across her face. Life doesn't get any better then this. A bright flash explodes in front of the group signaling that someone has taking a picture.
~ The End ~