A/N: Babes! Thank you all so much for your reviews, favorites and follows over the length of this story. I cannot believe that it is actually over! Ending stories is always bittersweet, but I am excited to move on to some new characters. Still, I have a couple of drabbles planned that will go into Bits & Pieces, for the 2000th reviewer, and a couple of other suggestions that piqued my interest, so be on the lookout for that! Ah, I never imagined that this story would get so much support, or be so long, or be over 150k words! If you like my work, you can check out my tumblr (nauticalparamour) where I will be posting story updates in the future.
Please let me know what you thought of the epilogue and I will be seeing you soon! Thank you all so so much from the bottom of my heart!
September 3rd, 1951
Hermione couldn't remember exactly when it had happened, but she had started to have a standing tea date with Pollux Black. It was unusual that their relationship had been transformed so much since he was just a surly eighteen year old boy, accusing her of being a gold digger after his father's money. It wasn't as though Hermione could blame him, having met some of the other pureblood women of their society.
Pouring the tea for both of them, Hermione handed him his cup. "Is Delphinus settling in to Hogwarts alright?" He asked politely. "You know that Cygnus will help him if he needs anything."
"Well, it's only been two days, so I don't know what he could need so far." Hermione said primly. "He wrote to me and said that he's enjoying being in Slytherin so far." It was no surprise to Hermione that Delph had ended up in Slytherin, seeing as her other son, Tom, could not stop telling the younger boy how wonderful of a house it was - really, the only house worth belonging to - though Mercedes had tried to talk up Ravenclaw.
They chit-chatted for a little bit longer, before Hermione couldn't back any longer. "What's this I hear about Cygnus getting pulled from school to marry Druella Rosier?" She asked, trying to sound nonchalant, trying to give Pollux a chance to change his mind, perhaps.
"Yes, I was married while I was still at Hogwarts and it...has worked out for me." Pollux said, his shoulders sagging under the lie that he was carrying.
"Pollux, you and I both know that isn't true." Hermione admonished, setting down her teacup with a clatter. "Druella looks like she is going to give birth before the year is out. I implore you, Pollux, please don't make the same mistake Cygnus did, the same mistake that Phineas made with Cygnus. You can break the cycle of unhappy marriages and mistresses."
This time he deflated completely. "Oh, I know." He said, rubbing his hand across his face. "I don't want him to come to resent me, the way that I hated my father. But, I don't know what I will do with Druella. I can't remember the last time a pureblood witch gave birth outside of marriage."
Hermione regarded him with a bit of sympathy. Of course, she had nearly found herself in that situation when she'd learned she was pregnant with the twins, but she was prepared to accept the consequences of her actions as well. "Druella will get through it, because she will have you to support her. You can still give your daughter the Black name, acknowledge her, and set up a dowry and other things for her. It's not ideal, but she deserves more than to be foisted upon a teenage father who knows she isn't his." It wasn't that unusual for muggle aristocrats to have multiple children outside of their families, and Hermione was sure that no one would be surprised, seeing as Irma and Pollux hadn't been seen in public together for many years.
Pollux gave her a thoughtful look. "Cassiopeia always said you had an uncanny way of predicting the future. Are you a seer?" He asked. "Druella only just found out yesterday that we are going to have a daughter."
Hermione wanted to curse herself for slipping up on a detail, but instead shook her head. "No, but I've always had a way of knowing about children." She said with a shrug. In reality, she could never forget the witch soon to be born, called Bellatrix Black. Hermione hoped that this might translate to a happier life for baby Bellatrix. "Just promise me you will think about stopping the wedding, Pollux. You have to do what is right for all of your children."
Pollux still looked miserable, but he nodded along. "I will think on it."
October 27th, 1957
"Pippa." Tom said sternly, watching as his daughter's head snapped up in surprise at being caught. "What have I told you about poking your nose into business that isn't yours?" He questioned.
Phillipa Hermione Riddle, his eldest child, was a very intelligent girl, accustomed to getting what she wanted, reminding him of himself so much. With her curly, dark hair, and deep blue eyes, she rather looked like him as well. "That it would only lead to trouble." She said, trying to appear sullen, but it was clear that she wasn't sorry at all. "And don't get caught."
He gave her a smile, patting her on the top of the head. Walking around the table, Tom sat in the chair behind the desk, before pulling the eight year old to rest on his knee. "Now, what was it that so captured your attention, Pip?" He asked, pulling the papers forward so that he could see what she'd learned. Obviously he would have to get better about warding his room. He'd thought that he'd done well enough, having used parselmouth spells, but with his children all inheriting the trait, well, he'd need to do a bit more.
"Why do you have a children's book on your desk, papa?" Pippa asked, genuinely curious. It didn't make any sense to her. "And why are the Three Brother's so important?"
The book had been difficult to track down, but he'd done it eventually, seeing as it was the one copy of the Tales of Beedle the Bard that had belonged to Albus Dumbledore himself. He'd been entranced by the odd symbol written throughout the book, almost obsessively, and he quickly learned that Dumbledore and Grindelwald had been chasing the Deathly Hallows, a most interesting fact.
"I wanted to give it to your brother, for his birthday." Tom lied to her, easily enough. Just because his daughter was shaping up to be just as ruthless as he was didn't mean that he was going to reveal everything to him. "But, to be honest, I got a bit interested in it quite by chance when I cracked the cover. Now, why don't we go down to Tommy's party. We are about to eat cake. And I know your grandmother was quite upset that you slipped away."
Pippa crossed her arms while a sullen look passed over her face. "That's not true. She's spent all night holding William." Pippa was not very good at sharing the attention of her grandmother, her namesake, much the same as Tom hadn't been. The pair of them had a special bond that she didn't have with Tom Riddle the III, newly turned four years old and whose party was going on tonight. She'd been dismayed to see how much her grandmother cooed over the newest edition to the family though, three month old William Salazar.
"You know that your grandmother doesn't love you any less just because she is holding William." Tom scolded her. "He is just a baby. He requires a lot of care and attention. And you know how proud your mother and I have been since you have been helping out with him so much."
Pippa bit her lower lip, perhaps contemplating his words and weighing her options, before finally nodding her head. "Alright, let's go to the party. But can I have a corner piece?" She asked, having a bit of a sweet tooth and extra frosting was too good of an opportunity to pass up.
"Of course darling." Tom said, running his hand down her curls, feeling his heart swell with love for his child. He could still remember the day that he held her for the first time, and how everything in his worldview shifted. He was no longer just working for himself, but for his child as well.
"And will you read me the story of the Three Brothers?" She asked, really testing her luck on the bargaining, but Tom was in a good mood when he agreed. Her mind was sharp, and it only made sense that he start teaching her today.
March 29th, 1960
"Oh Dorea, he is so cute." Hermione said, holding baby James Charlus Potter in her arms. He had a tiny tuft of black hair on his head and signs of a cowlick already forming. It seemed that he was showing signs of the unmanageable Potter hair early. Running the back of her finger along his chubby cheek, James opened up his eyes to look at her. "I can already tell that this one is going to be a little troublemaker."
Dorea laughed at that. "Yes, considering he decided to come early, just when we were on our way to America seems to suggest that." James had decided to make his appearance approximately six weeks before he was due. Hermione had known that Harry's father was born sometime in March and tried to convince Dorea and Charlus to postpone their holiday plans, but they'd brushed off her warnings.
"Well, I am sure that you can't wait to get out of here." Hermione said, gesturing to St. Mungo's. As the years went on, more and more witches were taking the modern approach and having their children born at the hospital surrounded by healers and nurses. Even her most recent grandchild, William, had been born at St. Mungo's, though Etta had opted to have Rabastan at home.
It was very odd to be surrounded by the people that would have one day become Death Eaters, but they were now just little children who loved her. Rodolphus and Rabastan loved to come stay with their grandparents. She'd been delighted to have Roddy follow her around the house and learned that he loved to make cookies from scratch with her. Little Rab was only three now, but he very much enjoyed walking in the orchard with Radalphus.
Would James Potter grow up at parties, playing with Tom Riddle's children? Would he trail around after little Rabastan Lestrange? Or perhaps he'd be best friends with little Edmond Pucey, recently born to proud parents Mercedes and Theseus. She wondered if he'd still come into contact with Sirius Black, born that previous autumn, or if they'd never become fast friends.
Somehow Hermione highly doubted that. Orion and Walburga had been married for several years before Sirius was born. Pollux, perhaps recognizing that his daughter was not what one would call a "natural" mother, had been taking a very active role in little Sirius's life, wanting to make sure that his first grandchild was happy and well looked after. Hermione had better hope for Sirius, too, knowing that Lord Voldemort's pureblood taint wouldn't ever infect Orion and Walburga's life. Pollux and Dorea had come to have a quite close relationship, and so Hermione was positive that James and Sirius would have many opportunities to play together while growing up.
"You know, I can hardly believe that you were right. That I finally had a baby." Dorea said, pushing blonde hair over her shoulder. "You were always so positive that I would have one, a son. Cassiopeia always said that you knew too much about our futures. She thought you'd put a hex on her."
Hermione smiled. It was true that she did seem to have a way of protecting future events, but she supposed that wasn't really fair. "I didn't put a hex on Cassiopeia." Hermione said with a grin. "I just had a feeling about you. I can't explain it, I just knew that you'd be blessed with this little man eventually." Passing the baby back to her stepdaughter's arms, Hermione sat back in her chair.
Dorea laughed at her. "Fine, keep your secrets! But I will figure it out someday."
May 1st, 1961
"Tommy, just what do you think you are doing with that snake?" Hermione asked sharply, looking at her grandson with a suspicious eye. All three of Tom's children took after their father in coloring, but Tommy seemed to have inherited Melanie's Hufflepuff nature. He tried to be so sneaky, but at seven years old, he hadn't quite managed it yet.
"I found her in the garden, grandmother." He said, innocently enough, his teeth slightly too big for his mouth. "She said she might like to go to a party. And look, she is just like Slither!" It was true that this new snake did rather look like her son's familiar, but still a wedding was no place to bring a snake.
"Tommy, I don't think that Aunt Odette would like to have a snake at her wedding." It seemed as though it was only yesterday when Odette was a little girl, with brown curly hair. Almost in the blink of an eye, though, she'd proclaimed that she was going to marry none other than Garrard Greengrass, Delphinus's best friend. To be honest, Hermione and Flavia were so excited to be related in truth and had eagerly helped Odette plan each and every detail of the wedding. Radalphus and Gareth were also excited, seeing as they had been friends so long, and now were joining their families.
Perhaps to no one's surprise, Minister Tom Riddle was the only one who wasn't thrilled with the idea of his baby sister getting married at such a young age. It had taken Odette putting her big brother in his place, telling him that just because she was getting married didn't mean that she was precluded from having a job and that she still intended on completing her apprenticeship at Gringott's. Tom had reluctantly giving his blessing, but insisted on having a one on one chat about how Odette should be treated with Garrard.
Thibaut had not had any trouble with the idea of his twin getting married, as he was only too happy to have a night to dance with all of the eligible witches at the party. Delphinus had been a little bit uncomfortable to learn that his best friend was interested in his younger sister
Odette had been a beautiful bride. Her hair have stayed more wavy, whereas her twin's hair remained as curly as Hermione's. She'd asked Pippa to be a junior bridesmaid, and Will had made an adorable little ring bearer, but Tommy had been left to his own devices.
He frowned at the snake. "I wouldn't want Odette to be upset with me." He really was a sensitive boy, and he so wanted to be well liked. It was a bit of a trait that she recognized in his father. Looking at the snake, he hissed away with it, before setting her down. "I told her that I would get her before we leave. Do you think mum will let me have a familiar, or will she think I am too young."
Wrapping an arm around her grandson's shoulders, Hermione walked him back to the party. "Oh, Tommy, I think your mum will see how happy your new friend, and she won't be able to say no to you." Smoothing out his perfectly parted hair, Hermione smiled, remembering when Slither became a part of her family. "And, I am sure that your father would be glad to see you are carrying on the tradition he started with Slither."
"Grandmother?" Tommy stopped, looking at Hermione, seeming so entirely sullen and serious, that it made Hermione nervous.
"What is it darling?"
"Do you think that they will be serving the cake soon?" He asked her so sweetly, that Hermione couldn't help but laugh. It seemed that Tommy was going to have just as much of a sweet tooth as the rest of the Riddle family. When her family's happiness had started to revolve around cake, she wasn't sure.
September 19th, 1979
Tom could have kicked himself when he realized he had the answer in front of him all along. He'd been perplexed by the Deathly Hallows, unsure of whether they even existed or not. But then, he'd heard reports through the years of an auror who had risen up through the ranks, who could seemingly do no wrong, and that he was nearly...invincible. It wasn't until he'd learned from Lucius, Abraxas's much more useful heir and recent Hogwarts graduate, revealed to Tom that he'd talked to the now Head Auror one night at a bar. The auror, very drunk, had told Lucius that he was the one who'd disarmed Albus Dumbledore and he even used the man's wand.
Lucius had been rewarded. The Head Auror had met an unwelcome end. And Tom Riddle was now the proud owner of the Elder Wand.
He'd known that it was the Elder Wand the moment that he'd held it in his palm, and it was hard not to become drunk on the power. Luckily, Tom was very disciplined, he always had been, and he was able to keep control of himself with it.
Once he'd learned that the Deathly Hallows were real, he devoted himself to finding the Resurrection Stone and the Cloak of Invisibility. Tracking through the bloodlines of the Prevells through the ages, and chasing down leads, eventually, Tom came to the conclusion that the Resurrection Stone was meant to be with his family. The Gaunts. And that was when he'd finally made a trip to his vault at Gringotts and got out his remaining horcrux.
He'd never given much thought to the oddly geometric, purely black stone that was in the middle of the Gaunt Ring, but now that he was giving it a second look, it seemed almost preposterous that he'd had been in possession of a Deathly Hallow since he was just a teenager. If only he'd known about it then. Not that there was anyone that he wanted to bring back from the dead, but still, he was now one step closer to ultimate power.
That left only the Cloak of Invisibility to track down, and another round of family genealogy to work through. He wanted it though, and so he was confident that it wouldn't be long until he did have it.
Before he could think on it more, his youngest son, William, was sticking his head into Tom's office. "Grandmother just arrived for her birthday party, father." William was the last of his children who was still living at home, and he didn't have any plans on settling down anytime soon, to his mother's chagrin. Pippa and Tom had long since made their own families, and Tom found himself being a grandfather himself, several times over, though his hair was just as dark as always, and he had no wrinkles to be seen.
"Come, then." He stood, knowing that his research into the Deathly Hallows would wait for another evening of celebration of the brilliant woman who was his mother, Hermione Lestrange. After all, it was her special day.