One week following Easter Sunday:
It was five after nine when Harry and Hermione reached the floor of St Mungo's they had been looking for. Harry glanced at the sign by the door uncertainly.
"Well, this is it," said Harry. "Are you sure this will work, Hermione?"
"I'm not really sure at all, actually," Hermione admitted. "It depends on if the problem is more physical, or more based on psychological trauma and Dark magic. If it's the latter, then it should work."
"Let's keep our fingers crossed and hope for the best then," Harry sighed.
Neville swallowed nervously. He wasn't sure why Hannah had insisted on bringing him to St Mungo's on the next Sunday following Easter, and they were headed up the stairs towards a floor which he was uncomfortably familiar with.
"So... er... who are we going to visit again?" he asked his girlfriend as she dragged him by the hand past the sign on the landing of the fourth floor which read SPELL DAMAGE.
"Oh...er... just some friends..." Hannah replied vaguely, averting her eyes as she pushed through the double doors behind the sign.
Neville frowned. As far as he knew, all of their friends were perfectly fine, having seen them a week ago on Easter Sunday at the Burrow. Harry and Hermione and the rest of their friends had been there - and they had all looked the picture of health, as had all of the Weasleys and Seamus, and Lavender and Viktor, Susan Bones, Parvati's sister - Padma, and the new witches at Hogwarts - Gemma Dawson and Samantha Mason.
Harry's Aunt Petunia and his cousin Dudley had seemed all right, as had Hermione's mother and aunt, Gemma Dawson's sister Clara, Samantha's mother, and Bill Weasley's girlfriend - not that it was very likely that any of them would end up in St Mungo's as they were all muggles. Still, if spell damage were involved, he could see how they might be.
Neville considered the possibility of Harry's godfather, and Professor Lupin, but they had both been at the Burrow on Easter Sunday, and Professor Lupin had looked perfectly fine on Friday.
And as Neville recalled, Angelina Johnson and Alicia Spinnet - seated with their respective boyfriends, Fred and George - had been the recipient of a few suspicious looks from Mrs Weasley but had apparently survived the holiday encounter.
Maybe it was someone who had been injured during the battle of Hogsmeade. Neville ran through everyone in his head. Ernie had seemed fine the last time he'd seen him. Neville supposed it might be Katie Bell, but she had been all right on Friday too.
Neville's breath caught and his eyes widened when Hannah pulled him towards the Janus Thickey ward, the home of long-term residents with permanent spell-damage. He halted in his tracks, bringing Hannah up short. Hannah turned and peered at Neville, a gentle look in her eye.
"Er... Erm... My parents..." he croaked, his eyes growing watery. "Usually... usually me and Gran visit at Christmas - they're in this ward..."
"It'll be all right, Neville," Hannah murmured sympathetically, giving him a kiss on the cheek. "I'm here with you. Come on - let's go in then."
Neville closed his eyes and took several deep breaths to brace himself. He opened them again and nodded. Hannah pushed open the door. Neville's eyes nearly flew out of his head in astonishment. He gasped and fainted, collapsing in Hannah's arms.
"Help!" Hannah squeaked, puffing as she tried to hold him up. "He's a bit heavy for me..."
"It's all right. You can let go now, Hannah. I've got him," said Harry, grinning as he took Neville from her.
"Oh... poor Neville!" said Hermione, as she helped Harry half-carry him to a chair near one of the occupied hospital beds. "The shock must have been too much for him."
Hermione turned and gave Mr and Mrs Longbottom an apologetic look. "Maybe we shouldn't have..."
"That's all right, dear!" Mrs Longbottom interjected, dabbing at her tears with a hanky. "I'm sure he'll be as right as rain in a few moments."
The motherly looking Healer who had been trying to keep the agitated furry faced woman at the other end of the ward calm anxiously looked up. The furry faced woman took a look at all the visitors again, and started barking and growling once more.
"There, there, Agnes dear," the Healer said soothingly, glancing worriedly at Neville, then at the dog-woman.
"It's okay Healer Periwinkle," said Hermione, catching on to the Healer's quandary. "You stay with Agnes. Neville's just come over a bit faint. He'll be all right."
"I'm not surprised," said Healer Periwinkle, smiling as she shared a look with the two patients who had been in her ward the longest. "I almost fainted myself when I came in. I don't know how you two managed it, Mr and Mrs Potter, but I couldn't be more thrilled."
"Nor we. I still can't believe we've been out of things for nearly sixteen years," said Mr Longbottom with a grin. "Thanks again for giving us our lives back, Mr and Mrs Potter..."
"There's my boy," Mrs Longbottom interjected, gently stroking Neville's cheek. "He's coming round, dear," she said to her husband before turning back to her son. "Oh, my sweet little Neville - I can't believe how grown up you look."
"M-Mum?" Neville croaked as his eyelids fluttered open, tears streaming down his cheeks. "Is... is it really you? Am I dreaming?"
"No, darling! You're wide awake, and so are we."
Mrs Longbottom opened her arms wide and beamed as Neville flung himself on her, sobbing. Overcome with emotion, Hannah couldn't help crying too. There wasn't a dry eye in the ward when the door opened again and a dour looking elderly witch entered.
Augusta Longbottom's jaw dropped.
"Frank!" she gasped. "Alice! When Dumbledore and Minerva told me to come to St Mungo's... I never imagined... I can't believe it! How on earth...?" Madam Longbottom glanced at the Potters questioningly.
Harry wiped his own teary eyes on his sleeve and shared a look with Hermione, not sure what to say. It was still very important that the unusual effects of their Patronuses remain a secret in as small a circle as possible. They both swallowed apprehensively when they saw all eyes on them.
The Potters really hadn't been certain if their Patronuses would work. It had simply been Harry and Hermione's hope that they might, considering how they had helped Jennifer, Samantha Mason, and Gemma Dawson recover from their own ordeals, not to mention curing Remus's lycanthropy.
If there had been too much brain and nerve damage from the repeated use of the Cruciatus Curse on the Longbottoms, the Patronuses might not have worked at all. Under the circumstances, the Longbottoms had been very fortunate that their mental incapacitation had been more due to the effects of residual Dark Magic still trapped in their nervous systems and the psychological trauma of extended torture.
"I... I'm really sorry," Hermione squeaked. "We really can't say. It could be dangerous if too many people know what Harry and I can do."
"Of course!" Mr Longbottom nodded, light dawning on him. Having been an Auror, he knew that what Mrs Potter said only made sense. "I expect you both have a target on your backs as it is. It wouldn't do to give Dark wizards even more reason to seek you out..."
Harry and Hermione stayed a short while longer, watching the emotional Longbottom family reunion as Neville happily introduced them to his girlfriend Hannah. The Potters slipped quietly out of the Janus Thickey ward while nobody was looking, and returned to their London home in Grimmauld Place where they regaled the rest of the Coven with their success before they all headed to back to their home in Dorset...
Eleven Months Later:
The witch with wild dark hair regarded the red-haired infant in the crib with a mix of emotions. She hadn't counted on having a child at this point of her life, but foolishly, she had forgotten to use a Contraception Charm or Potion the night she had seduced the young wizard. She kicked herself again mentally.
She could hardly blame the wizard, as the youth had been too overwhelmed by the older and much more experienced witch's wiles to have any sense. No, the fault was hers, and hers alone. And alone she was now - alone and incognito in a country far from the land of her birth.
Still, the witch supposed that things could have been far more disagreeable. He had been no Dark Lord, but at least the fresh-faced and red-haired young wizard who had fathered her child had been a Pureblood. She could have done worse than Percy Weasley.
And at least the small South American nation in which she was hiding had no extradition treaty with Britain. She could lay low for years, raising her child with a proper understanding of what it meant to be Pure of blood while making plans for the future.
Bellatrix Lestrange peered out of the window across the shimmering lake and sighed, watching the palms swaying in the humid breeze. She thanked her lucky stars that the Gringotts Goblins valued their clients' privacy and cared little about the politics of wizards as long as it didn't affect them adversely. And as long as she could still access the wealth in her vaults through the local branch, she could continue to live the luxurious lifestyle she was accustomed to without raising any eyebrows.
Bellatrix returned her attention to her little girl who had woken up and started to cry.
"Bungo," Bellatrix sharply called out to her House-Elf, "Delphini requires sustenance and her nappy changed..."
15 years later
Harry Potter glanced around the office of the Legal Aid and Private Auror firm looking for his wife, spying nobody, not even their new secretary or the manager of their adoptions and fosters department. Harry had just returned from Egypt after spending several days meeting with the head of their Auror Office and investigating a new case involving a stolen Obsidian Scarab.
Two of the wizard sentries guarding the chamber under the pyramid from which the artifact had been removed had been murdered in a manner which seemed all too familiar. Another such theft had occurred in India not more than six months ago.
A Golden Amulet had gone missing from a temple dedicated to the ancient Dark Sorcereress known to the muggle world as the Hindu deity Kali, one of the very few Dark wizards and witches in the historical record to use the Dark Arts to do a bit of good in the world and protect muggles and muggleborns from ancient Pureblood Supremacists. The thief had left no clues, but several dead guards in the outer chamber.
A witch with short curly blonde hair and glasses stepped out from the firm's lavatory and jumped.
"Oh, Mr Potter! You startled me."
"Sharon, how many times have I told you to call me Harry?" he asked, his green eyes twinkling with mirth. The Potters' secretary rolled her eyes.
"As many times as I've told you not at work, Mr Potter," Sharon retorted. "It wouldn't be proper."
"You've been here three months, Sharon," Harry pleaded, shaking his head. "You know we don't stand on formalities. Anyway, have you seen Hermione?"
"Mrs Potter told me to let you know that she's working in the Department of Mysteries today, running an experiment and giving a lecture to a tourist group."
"Ah, of course she is," said Harry, grinning. "Thank you Sharon, I'll pop by the Ministry then."
Half an hour later, Harry found Hermione in a lab deep in the bowels of the Ministry, explaining and demonstrating the workings of a new magical telescope which she had invented, through which one could make out the details of the surface of the furthest planet in the solar system as if merely looking across the Thames to the other side.
One of the nicest features of the Magi-scope was the holographic projection which allowed everyone to see whatever the Magi-scope was looking at, not to mention that it could peer through dense layers of cloud-cover. At the moment, everyone was looking at a massive lava flow on the surface of Venus - everyone except several small children in the group of visitors who turned and gasped when they heard someone enter the Space Chamber.
"It's Harry Potter," squeaked a little boy excitedly.
"Ssh," whispered his older sister, who had met the famous wizard on several occasions. "I'm trying to listen."
Hermione's sharp ears caught the whispers and turned around, grinning when she spotted Harry. When Hermione finished her lecture, the visitors filed out of the Space Chamber and continued their tour of the Department of Mysteries, and Harry signed several autographs for the children. Hermione smirked at him.
"So, can't get enough of your adoring fans, can you?" she said with a laugh.
"Oh shut up!" Harry retorted, rolling his eyes at his bushy haired wife. "I'm not Lockhart."
"Just teasing, Harry. How was your trip to Egypt? Would you like a cup of tea?"
"I'd love some! And it was perplexing - I'm sure it's connected to the stolen amulet in India somehow."
Hermione dimmed the lights while Harry made a pot of tea at the little unmanned concession stand at the side of the chamber. Taking a seat on one of the sofas to look at the three dimensional projections of the stars and the planets orbiting above them, the Potters shared a deep kiss.
Hermione curled an arm around Harry as he took a sip of tea and began to relax. The case could wait for the time-being, there was more to life than work.
"How are the kids? Did they miss me?" asked Harry.
"Of course they did, silly," said Hermione, giving him another kiss. "They can't wait to see their daddy - and their second mummy too - " She held up her hand when Harry looked like he was about to interrupt with a quip. " - and no, I don't mean an Egyptian mummy."
Harry grinned. "I need a change anyway. I never really had a chance to be Harriet, except in my hotel room."
Hermione smiled sympathetically at him, hoping that someday society would be more open-minded about that sort of thing.
"Anyway," she added, "Of course, the kids are missing Lysander and Aurora as well, but Dobby is at home today with Lily-Rose and James, and he's wonderful at keeping them entertained."
"Oh, are Dora and the others still on tour then?"
"Yes, they're performing their last concert in Tokyo tonight. They'll be back sometime tomorrow. And by the way, Hannah and Neville, and Viktor and Lavender will be joining us all for dinner tomorrow evening at the manor in Dorset. Fleur and Dora have some sort of announcement for us..."
"Don't tell me, they're expecting," said Harry, grinning.
Hermione swatted his shoulder. "It's meant to be a surprise! You're not supposed to guess!"
"Oh come on," Harry chuckled. "You told me there's an announcement. What else could it be? They're the last pair - or trio - of the Coven to have a kid. Luna, Ginny, and Parvati have Lysander, and Daphne and Jennifer have Aurora... And by the way, did I ever tell you how brilliant you are for inventing a magical way for same-sex couples to have their own baby?"
"Only about a million times, Harry." Hermione beamed and gave him yet another kiss. "And I spoke to Arthur earlier today. Things are going very well with negotiations for the next phase of the loosening of the Secrecy Statutes - Dumbledore's managed to talk some more delegates in the International Confederation of Wizards into supporting his bill. So with a bit of luck, soon we'll be able to share some of our magical technology with non-magicals, and Healers will be able to work at non-magical hospitals."
"That's brilliant!" said Harry. "Right then! Let's get home, I've brought some presents back from Egypt for the kids... and I could do with a nice hot bath."
"Mmm... Sounds good! I think I'll join you in the tub," Hermione purred, giving him one more kiss for the road...
AN: Well, It's a short epilogue, but it ties up most of the loose ends while leaving room for possible sequels, and I didn't see much point to padding it out, as I prefer stories which don't drag scenes out simply for the sake of it.
I dithered for over a month while I considered doing something completely different for the epilogue from my other story, the super-smutty, multiple partners, more satirical one, Hermione's Furry Little Problem, but considering how much of the storyline is shared - more or less AU versions of each other from the triwizard tournament on - it only made sense that the epilogue should remain more or less the same as well.
Thanks to all the readers who faved and followed, and stuck with it all the way through to the end. It's been a fun ride.