I don't own HP. Wish I did, but I don't.
AN: I want to say thank you to not just my betas, but to all the amazing readers and reviewers that have stuck with me through this long WIP. If you want to join me for another WIP I have one started and plan to post it next week. It's another AU and the point of change is that Lucius failed to bribe and talk his way out of Azkaban. What can I say, I like writing AUs and changing one little thing, then letting it spiral out from there.
Enjoy! And remember, every end is a new beginning :)
Sunlight danced over Hermione's skin, warming it in ways she had never truly experienced before last summer. Smiling, she stretched, enjoying the feel of grass against her bare limbs.
"You look relaxed."
She turned her head, opening her eyes to see Draco walking up, his broom in his hand and his hair tousled by the wind. He'd been over at the Burrow with Harry, playing with the other quidditch fanatics.
"I am relaxed. I finally made up my mind what job to accept."
He settled down next to her, stretching out on the crisp grass and taking one of her hands in his own. She didn't even flinch when his fingers ran over one of her scars. She still wasn't comfortable wearing anything that showed her scars in public, but at home or at one of her friends' houses she felt perfectly comfortable. They knew her. They knew her scars. And, like Draco, they didn't care.
That helped her find the strength not to care as well.
"Oh? Are you going to take Snape's offer to teach Transfiguration for a year? I know he'd be happy to replace Tonks. She's such a natural that she's a terrible teacher in the subject."
She wrinkled her nose. "No. Besides, Pansy has offered to take that job for a year. She isn't sure what she wants to do with her life. And with Neville taking over Herbology from Diggory…"
"Ah, yes. Diggory is taking up a position at the Ministry. In Magical Games and Sports, right?"
"Yes. That department was hit terribly by the graveyard and the battle. I'm sure you and the other quidditch fanatics will be glad to have the British Isles Quidditch League running again this year."
He snickered, "Quidditch fanatics? You will remember that it was us quidditch fanatics and our skill with broomsticks that turned the tide of the Battle of Hogwarts?"
She turned her head and made a face at him, but he just took the opportunity to kiss her. It was several minutes before they pulled apart. He quirked an eyebrow at her, making her jealous. She still hadn't managed to raise just one eyebrow.
"Well? Are you going to tell me what job you plan to take?"
"I'm going to take up your mother's offer to work in the Department of International Magical Cooperation. She's right, because of my articles during and after the war I'm well-respected all over the world. And we need all the international support we can get. We lost so much last year that we may never recover without assistance. Even if that assistance only comes in the form of visa exchange agreements with foreign countries. We need skilled people and we can't wait for the current students to grow up. Not to mention last year and this year were smaller classes after the battle…"
She grimaced as she remembered the hours after she and Draco had returned from the Astronomy Tower.
They'd lined up the dead, from both sides, and it had been horrific. She'd been wracked with guilt for weeks over the fact that she had led so many students to their death. She'd eventually found comfort with Blaise of all people. He'd understood in a way that none of their friends could, for it had been the two of them that led the students out of the safety of the common rooms.
Draco drew her back out of her thoughts. "You're right. We do need help rebuilding. And filling teaching slots."
She smiled sadly, "Yes. Like Professor Roux. He's as good at teaching as his sister and husband were, though he certainly doesn't have their flair."
"I think it would be very hard for anyone to have the same flair as Alianore. That woman was rather unforgettable. Same with Tachiki. I'm still surprised Zackarie Roux chose to come teach Charms where they had died. If you had died," his face grew very grim and he finished quietly, "I don't think I could have ever returned to Hogwarts. Or England."
She rolled over, letting him slip an arm around her as she rested her head on his shoulder. "But you didn't lose me. And I didn't lose you. As for Professor Roux, well, we all respond to grief differently. Just look at Padfoot."
Draco nodded in agreement, likely thinking the same things Hermione was. Padfoot had been lost to grief for several months after the battle last year. Not even Harry or herself had been able to draw him out. Nor had Narcissa or Aunt Andy. Finally, at a loss, Mrs. Weasley had written to Alianore's brother, hoping that the two men could share their grief.
It had worked.
The blonde Frenchman had showed up and disappeared into Padfoot's room. They'd talked quietly for a long time before going on a long walk in the woods around Black Cottage. When they had returned Padfoot was more energetic and Zackarie Roux was talking of staying on the British Isles for awhile.
Everyone had breathed a huge sigh of relief when, a week later, Padfoot had gone to the Ministry and demanded his auror job back from the recently appointed Minister of Magic: Narcissa Malfoy.
It had only been a few days before he found himself in charge of the recently decimated department. He'd spent the last year restructuring the department and tracking down the few Death Eaters that had escaped the battle. Now, with the graduation of Hermione's class at Hogwarts he was receiving a number of new recruits to help him, including Harry, Ron, and Mclaggen. She didn't know how those three could walk into such a dangerous profession after just barely surviving a war. Theo made a lot more sense, he'd chosen to work with Moony, Dora, and Mrs. Weasley on rebuilding the Marauder's Academy of Dueling and Defense.
The Academy had been closed for a year. Padfoot refused to step foot in the building and the other three surviving employees - Moony, Dora, and Mr. Weasley - had all gone to teach at Hogwarts for a year. Mr. Weasley had decided to stay, he enjoyed Muggle Studies so much, but Mrs. Weasley had taken his place at the Academy.
She decided to change the subject. She didn't want to dwell on the last year and all the grief they'd had to overcome. She wanted to look to the future.
"So, are you going to take Snape up on his offer?"
Draco's fingers stroked over her bare arm as he answered, "Yes. Blaise is taking it as well. He'll teach Potions and I'll teach Defense. Headmaster Snape can be very persuasive when he wants to be."
She giggled at that. The idea of Snape being persuasive was rather hard to believe, but she also knew that Draco had been initially against the position. He'd claimed that former Slytherins taking up so many positions at Hogwarts was a bad idea. Especially as the Headmaster was a former Slytherin. He said it would stink too much of favoritism.
It had been Headmaster Snape that pointed out that Draco getting a job at the Ministry would be the same thing. And if he stayed home and did nothing it would look bad as it was generally accepted that everybody had a duty to help rebuild their world.
He lifted his head up and scowled down at her. "You're much too happy about me taking this position. You know this means that we won't be able to see each other much? We won't be at Hogwarts and I won't be at the Cottage. You could at least be disappointed about-"
She rolled over on top of him and shut him up with a kiss. When she drew back he continued to scowl up at her.
"Don't think you can-"
She cut him off again. Grinning against his lips as she coaxed him to respond. It took a bit of work, but eventually his hands were tangled in her short hair and he was pressing up hard against her.
That's when she choose to pull back, meeting his silver gaze with her own amber one.
"You're right. I will miss you terribly. But do you know what?"
His eyes narrowed at her as he grew suspicious. "What?"
"It will only be for a year."
He stopped scowling and blinked in surprise. She found herself unable to look away from him even as one of her hands slipped down and into the little drawstring bag on her belt.
"Only for a year? The curse is broken. Do you really think I'll be that bad of a teacher?"
She shook her head, biting the inside of her cheek to stop from grinning. "No. I think you'll be teaching there for many years."
He stopped speaking abruptly. Cut off by the emergence of her hand from her bag and the small, beat up box resting in her palm. He stared at the box and then back up at her and, for the first time, she allowed her brain to fully process what that box meant.
She wanted to marry him.
Her vow twinged, coming perilously close to breaking, but not quite. Not until she thought about-
She knew that he wanted to marry her. He'd made that clear months before, but had never pressed as he had known from their old fealty vow that she didn't.
Except he had been a bit wrong.
She had wanted to marry him. She just hadn't wanted to support his mother's wish. She loved and respected Narcissa, but not enough to do something so important just because she wanted it. She'd kept that distinction in mind so as not to break the vow and give it away.
But now she could.
She pulled back, sitting on his lap and he raised himself up to join her, his eyes still wide in shock.
"Draco Malfoy, I love you dearly. And, while, when I first heard of your mother's betrothal plan five years ago I couldn't stand it. I grew sick at the thought of marrying you. I could not fathom the idea of us wed. But, now? Now I can't imagine a life where we don't marry. Even if it does mean supporting your mother's wish."
The vow broke like a rubber band, snapping between the two of them. But that was alright, they had other things tying them together.
She opened the box, revealing her parents wedding rings and her mother's betrothal ring. They had been among the few items Padfoot had taken from her first home. He'd only given them to her back at Christmas - after testing her for love potions. He had been sure she wasn't under any potions, but just wanted to be safe. Plus, he'd told Narcissa that he would do that all those years ago.
"They were my parents'," she said softly.
He reached out hesitantly, still not saying a word, and picked up the engagement ring.
He took the box out of her hand and set the wedding rings aside. Delicately, as if she was made of glass, he took her left hand in his own callused hands and, looking up at her, matching her gaze with his own, he slipped the ring on her finger.
It fit perfectly, as if had been made for her, not her mother.
She felt like crying.
I love you.
Their mental words ran together, forming only one cohesive thought. She gave him a wobbly smile even as tears began to pour out of her eyes.
He returned the smile before falling back onto the grass, dragging her with him even as he captured her lips with his own.
She didn't think she'd ever been so happy in her life.
A sharp rap came from the door and Hermione looked up, frowning. It was much too early for anyone to be bothering her. She was fairly sure she was the only one in the office. Silently she drew her wand from her sleeve and set it on the desk beside all of her paperwork even as she loosened the Death Stick from it's harness up her other sleeve.
The door swung open to reveal Headmaster Snape. He looked as sullen as ever and, just behind him, she could see a box floating in the air.
"Good morning, Ms. Black. I trust I am not interrupting you."
She gave him a friendly smile and started to stand. "Good morning, Headmaster Snape."
"No need to stand. I'm only here to drop off a few items. Besides, I'm afraid you might burst at any moment and I'm a Potions Master and a teacher, not a healer."
She chuckled and sat back down, resting her hand on her distended stomach. "I certainly feel as if I'm about to burst. Now, what are you dropping off?"
Snape took a seat on the other side of her desk and had the box settle on her desk. Curious, she lifted off the lid and looked down. Both of her eyebrows rose into her hairline and she glanced up at Snape.
"Because, Ms. Black, you are one of the few people in Great Britain that could possibly repair those items. Well, besides Miss Lovegood, but I have no desire to talk of wraksprats or-"
"Wrackspurts," she corrected unthinkingly, reaching into the box and pulling out an ornate ring with a heavy black stone set into it.
Snape rolled his eyes and scowled, "Nevertheless, you are much easier to deal with than she is. Albus left you these items in his will, not that it was ever read."
She frowned and looked up from her study of the ring. "Why would he leave them to me? I suppose the cup is mine as Narcissa gave it to me years ago, but the other items should belong to Hogwarts."
He stood up and shrugged, brushing off his robes. "I know not, Ms. Black. But feel free to donate them to Hogwarts after seeing them repaired. We'll put them in the display case with Gryffindor's sword in the Entrance Hall. Or keep them for your children. It is all up to you. Good day." He swirled around, his robes fluttering like a bat's wings.
She stopped him before he could leave.
"A moment, Headmaster Snape."
He turned, dark eyes piercing her with annoyance. "What is it, Ms. Black?"
"You said he left these in his will. He's been gone for years. Why now?"
"I could not, in good faith, give these items to a Hogwarts student."
"I graduated several years ago."
"Indeed, but you have been here, at the Ministry, and I do not much enjoy visiting this place. Even if it does look much better after being rebuilt."
"Alright. Then why come now?"
His lips grew into a half smile, "Because, Ms. Black, I had to register an adoption. After all, I won't allow the Prince magic to die out and I have no intention of adding a biological child to the population."
Curiosity bubbled up inside of Hermione. Snape was adopting someone? "Who?"
Snape's smile grew, transforming his features. "Who do you think, Ms. Black?"
She supposed she didn't really have to think. After the war Snape only associated with two people that were younger than him - Blaise and Theo. And Blaise wouldn't want to be adopted. He loved his rather idiotic mother quite a lot.
"Theo was able to be the giver and the adoptee since he's of age? Or did the ritual recognize that he was an orphan? I've never actually looked up the ritual in Draco's tome."
"It was because he was of age. Now, I really must go, Ms. Black. I suppose I shall see you at Narcissa's Christmas party next week? I have been ordered to attend."
She chuckled, "Of course you'll see me. I've also been ordered to attend. Have a good day, Headmaster Snape."
He nodded at her in farewell before sweeping out the door and closing it softly behind him. She looked back down at the ring in her hand, studying it for a moment before dropping it back in the box.
She'd give the box to Luna to deal with, Hermione just didn't have time anymore to manipulate magic. She was too busy manipulating her country and making it into a place she'd be proud to leave to her children.
With that thought in mind she stuck the box on a bookshelf and turned once more to her work, one hand resting lightly on the new life growing inside of her.
The childish voice rang through the empty store, bouncing off the bottles of weak love potions and Skiving Snackboxes. Fred stopped just inside the shop door. Watching as Luna emerged from the back, her skin decorated with bits of colored powders and her hair held up with what Fred thought was Ron's old auror tie.
Luna swept her young daughter into her arms, twirling her around and around as the girl giggled. When she finally put Quilla down the poor girl was obviously dizzy. Stumbling she bumped into a display full of Lightning Rods. Giggling as they fell and clattered all over the floor.
Fred rolled his eyes and used his wand to put everything back. "Ron says he'll be home in a bit. He's helping Tonks design an obstacle course at the Academy. The new auror trainees will be using it as part of their training this summer."
Luna smiled at him, "Thank you, Fred, for picking her up from the Burrow. I was right in the middle of brewing that new protean potion and it's very tricky. Wrackspurts are always trying to throw it off. You know how they like chaos."
Fred nodded knowingly, though he didn't really think wrackspurts had anything to do with it. Luna just had a bad habit of getting distracted in the middle of brewing. Still, she was very good at coming up with new products. And it wasn't like Hermione had much time now to help him. She was currently pregnant with her second child and working with Mrs. Malfoy to remodel the entire British Magical Government.
And Merlin help anyone that stood in the way of those two.
"It was no problem, Luna. Though I have to go now. I'm meeting Rita for drinks before I escort her to that gala tonight. If you could lock up before you go."
Luna studied him, her dreamy eyes seeing more than anyone else. "Just escorting?"
He winked at her. "Just escorting."
Her laughter followed him out the door and down the street to the apparition point.
Harry grinned up at the sky, watching as Ginny snagged the quaffle and spun her broom. A second later the crowd cheered as she scored another goal for the Holyhead Harpies.
"She really is quite spectacular, isn't she?"
Harry looked over at Zackarie. The French man wasn't really a quidditch fan, but he came to every game that Padfoot did.
"Yes, she always was a marvel on a broom. I taught her how to spin like that," Padfoot said proudly, slinging an arm around Zackarie's shoulder.
The blonde man's cheeks grew pink and Harry couldn't help but grin before looking back up at Ginny.
It had been nearly ten years since the Battle of Hogwarts and past time for Padfoot to move on. To even Harry it was obvious that Zackarie had a thing for his godfather. And, from a slip of Moony's tongue after the birth of his second child Harry knew that Padfoot didn't much care about the gender of his partner. He also knew that Padfoot cared quite a bit about his friend. And in the same way he had once cared for Moony and Alianore.
Hermione was vowing to get involved if they didn't move on. The only thing that was delaying her at the moment was the fact that she had a new baby at home and had just taken up the position of Minister of Magic. Not to mention all the time her husband and two older children took.
Harry often wondered if she ever found any time to relax.
"Wow! Daddy! Look!"
Harry followed his oldest child's finger and grinned as he watched Ginny do a loop around another chaser and intercept the quaffle. A moment later and it flew through the air, just barely slipping past the opposite team's keeper.
He leapt to his feet, swinging his daughter up as she clapped with her chubby little hands and cheered her mother on.
Padfoot and Zackarie also leapt to their feet and, almost absently, Harry knocked his godfather, sending the older man sprawling into the Frenchman's arms.
Hermione may be too busy to play matchmaker, but Harry wasn't.
Draco smiled, wrapping an arm around Hermione as Creevy snapped their picture for the Daily Prophet.
"Great! I think that will do nicely! Now, I need pictures of Ms. Black with all three of her children. Then we'll get one of all five of you. Over here, please."
Draco watched as Creevy positioned Hermione with their three children. Not that he could really call them children anymore. Adhara was almost twenty-one, owned her own clothing shop, and was currently engaged to Abner Longbottom. Mrs. Parkinson was over the moon knowing that her grandson was engaged to a Malfoy-Black. Rigel had just graduated from Hogwarts and had just gotten a potion apprenticeship with Severus, who had recently retired from being Headmaster. Passing on that position to Pansy, who had decided that teaching was exactly what she wanted to do with her life.
Kale was their baby, but at sixteen he wasn't really a child either. Draco clearly remembered what he had done at sixteen.
No, not even Kale was still a child.
Though that boy really needed to figure out what he wanted to do with his life. But then, he had time. After all, Draco may not have been a child at sixteen, but he hadn't really decided what he wanted to do until he was almost thirty.
He'd taught Defense Against the Dark Arts at Hogwarts until Rigel was born. Then he'd stayed at home, teaching Adhara and the other children of the Marauders. Just like Moony had once done.
When Kale was born he had had an epiphany.
Why teach just their own children?
After the war there just weren't enough magical folk on the British Isles to go back to the old method of homeschool and tutors. Adults were needed in the workforce. It would be much more effective to create a school, like Hogwarts, but not based around magic.
So he'd gone through the paperwork and founded an official school. Having Moony and Mr. Weasley help him plan an official curriculum.
He'd then enlisted Blaise's help, pulling him away from Hogwarts and almost earning Severus' everlasting hatred - Severus hated hiring new teachers. Not to mention that Blaise was Severus' son-in-law and thus Severus thought he had a stronger claim on the man than Draco did.
By the time Kale turned five and started school they'd had trouble keeping up with the increasing number of students.
And now, over fifteen years later, it was very unusual for a child to enter Hogwarts that hadn't been to Black Dragon's School of Magical Readiness. Even muggle-borns were going now, what with the changes to muggle-born policies that his mother and wife had pushed through the government.
Gone were the days that purebloods could easily drug and take advantage of muggle-borns.
"Hey! Malfoy! Come on over!"
Creevy's words drew Draco back to the present and he looked up to see everyone watching him expectantly. He hurried over, slipping an arm around his wife and giving her a small kiss.
She raised one elegant eyebrow.
A bit, more I'm just feeling grateful.
He looked around at Adhara, Rigel and Kale before focusing back on her.
Do you even have to ask?
She smiled and pressed a small kiss to his cheek before turning to face the camera.
No, I guess not.
He turned to face the camera, grinning from ear to ear.
Author's Note: Well. It's over. When I started posting BB I had eight chapters written and a rough outline. I figured it would be about 150-200k words. Then I realized that I'd need almost a full story to transform Draco and another one to tell the romance and get Hermione her revenge, as well as her mental healing. Hence why I turned it into two 'books'. Childhood covers chapters 1-33 and is focused on Draco becoming a better person. Someone that Hermione can actually care about. While Adulthood, chapters 34-72, showcases their romance and Hermione truly healing from what Bellatrix did to her. You might have noticed that in Adulthood the POV characters were only our New Marauders and Rita Skeeter. A bit different from Childhood, where Narcissa, as well as other adults, got lots of POV time. That was on purpose, and did give a few headaches at times, lol.
Again, a huge thank you to all of the amazing readers, but especially those that reviewed. A lot has happened to me over the last year and a half and writing this story was one of the few constants in my life. So thank you. You've been amazing.
Edit Marh 2018: I just want to say a huge thank you to all of the people still reading this. I may not always be able to respond to all of your reviews, but I read every one and try to shoot off at least one response to you. Why do I not have much time? I've decided to harness my love of video games and am currently spending a good amount of time streaming on twitch and making videos for youtube. If you're interested then just search for Enigmaticrose4 on either site. Only HP stuff there at the moment are several HP Sims4 house builds. Such as Privet Drive, the Burrow, and the Lovegood House. I also have a discord if you want to chat with me, link is easily found on my twitch page.