Disclaimer: Just three words: Joanne Kathleen Rowling
LOVE ALWAYS FINDS A WAY
Seven Years Later
"No doubt you two know why I want to talk to you," McGonagall said briskly.
Remus and Hermione, sitting opposite the Headmistress in her office, glanced at one another nervously.
"Er, no, actually," Remus said honestly.
"If this is about what happened in the Potions storeroom, I assure you that was a completely isolated incident—"
"I have no idea what you're referring to, Professor Granger," McGonagall said primly. "Nor do I wish to know," she added quickly. Hermione flushed.
"What is it, then, Minerva?" Remus asked, his own cheeks slightly pink.
"I have seen Hogwarts through some of its darkest hours," McGonagall said, pacing behind her desk. "I have taught for nearly 50 years and served as Headmistress for seven, a position I never thought to inherit, though I hope I have done him proud."
She stopped and looked up at the portrait of Albus Dumbledore. Her predecessor was snoozing in his frame, though Hermione would have sworn his soft snores were a bit contrived.
"I have decided I am retiring at the end of this term," McGonagall announced.
"Professor!" Hermione objected, shocked.
McGonagall smiled patiently. "I will make the announcement tonight at the end-of-the-year feast. I hope to announce my successor as well."
Though Remus could not fathom a Hogwarts without Minerva McGonagall, he was taking the news much better than Hermione, who looked utterly devastated. "Is there anything we can do to help?" he asked.
"Yes, quite a lot, actually." McGonagall fixed him with her piercing gaze. "You can accept the position of Headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, Remus."
A stunned silence greeted her words. Remus stared at McGonagall uncomprehendingly, but Hermione turned to look at him, her eyes shining.
"I'm sorry, what?"
Hermione was grinning now. "I don't think I've ever seen Remus so shocked, Professor, and that includes the time the Healer told him we were having twins."
"I don't think I heard you right," Remus said slowly. "Surely you didn't say 'Headmaster'?"
"There's nothing wrong with your hearing," McGongall sniffed. "In fact, it's better than most people's."
"Exactly! Minerva, no one will accept a werewolf as Headmaster of Hogwarts!"
"We live in a new era of the wizarding world, Remus, one you helped create. Of course, there will be adversity, but I believe people will be more accepting than you think."
"I..." Remus looked at Hermione helplessly, but quickly saw no help would be coming from that quarter.
"Come, come, Lupin," McGonagall said impatiently. "Show some more gumption, or I'll change my mind and offer the position to Professor Granger instead."
That wiped the smile from Hermione's face, Remus noticed with some satisfaction.
"Well?" McGonagall said expectantly. Remus felt as if he were a student again and she had called on him out of turn and he had no idea what the answer was.
"All right, then, I guess," he said hesitantly. "If you're absolutely sure—"
"I am," McGonagall said firmly. "And my last act as Headmistress will be to appoint Professor Granger as Head of Gryffindor House." Hermione looked at her, startled. "Remus has done a wonderful job of keeping Slytherin House in its place, and it would be shame to lose our advantage."
"Of course, Professor. Thank you," Hermione said. "I won't let you down."
"You never have, my dear." She nodded once, satisfied. "Well, I have a few things to take care of before the feast. I'll leave you to familiarize yourself with your new office, Headmaster."
In an uncharacteristic display of warmth, she rested her hand on his shoulder for a moment as she passed him on the way out the door.
"What will you do now?" Remus inquired.
"I haven't fully decided yet," McGonagall said in surprise, as if she were only realizing then what retirement meant. "I suppose I'll try my hand at writing."
"Your memoirs?" Hermione suggested.
"Oh, heavens, no! Something much more exciting than that. Perhaps a romance novel."
And on that rather interesting note, she shut the door behind her.
"What on earth just happened?" Remus asked, sitting back heavily in his chair.
"I think we just got promoted." Hermione looked as flummoxed as he felt, but she was showing better signs of animation. She stood and walked around the room, surveying it critically.
"This is quite a lovely room," she said. "Don't you think, Remus?"
"Did I really just agree to become Headmaster?" he asked, still in a state of shock.
"Oh, for heaven's sake." Hermione grabbed his hand, pulled him to his feet, steered him around the desk and shoved him into McGonagall's chair. "There! Don't you feel Headmasterly?"
"No," he said honestly. "I feel terrified."
Dumbledore's portrait opened a sleepy eye. "Then, you are on the right track, Remus."
"We can have a play area for the children here," Hermione was saying, gesturing at a cluster of armchairs nestled in a semicircle of bookshelves. "Who did you leave them with, anyway?"
Remus jerked out of his thoughts. "Whoever you left them with."
Hermione froze. "I've been proctoring exams in the Great Hall all day."
"Yes, I know. That's why we moved the Defense N.E.W.T.s out to the Quidditch..." He noticed the panicked look on her face. "Are you saying we don't know where our children are?"
Hermione was already running out of the office. He followed, hot on her heels.
"I'll go check the kitchens!" she said, heading toward the basements.
"I'll check the owlery!" he said, dashing off in the opposite direction.
Twenty minutes of frantic searching later, they ran into one another in the corridor that led back to the Headmaster's Office, both of them decidedly child-less.
"How in the world can I keep track of an entire House when I can't even keep track of my own children!" Hermione said as they paced circles around one another.
"What about me?" Remus countered. "I'm supposed to keep track of an entire school!" He took a deep breath to calm himself before he reached out and grabbed her by the shoulders. "Calm down, Hermione. We'll find them."
She looked up at him curiously. There was something very familiar about this situation, standing with Remus in this particular corridor. She frowned, trying to remember. It came back slowly but surely. All that was missing was James Potter retching into the nearby planter.
She kissed him suddenly, and when she pulled away, she inexplicably was smiling.
"Oh, I'm so stupid, Remus. So, so, so stupid!"
She grabbed his hand and pulled him down the corridor. Remus had no choice but to follow her as she led him toward an unknown destination.
"Where are we going?" he demanded.
"I saw it, Remus!" she said over her shoulder, not slackening her pace or her grip on his hand. "The day you stopped me from going to Dumbledore, you kissed me there, in that corridor. I saw all these images flash by. The last one was of a boy and a girl playing." She stopped short in front of a set of doors on the third corridor. "They were playing in the library."
With exams finished, there was no one there except Madam Pince. The strict librarian just pointed when she saw them. They rounded the corner and nearly stumbled across a little girl with wildly frizzy brown hair and a little boy with sandy brown hair, sitting on the floor with books scattered all around them.
The three-year-olds looked so happy and content playing with one another, and obviously had no idea of the distress they had caused their parents, that neither Remus nor Hermione had the heart to scold them.
"We're playing who can go highest!" Rosie said, catching sight of them. She turned to her twin brother. "Bet you can't go as high as Daddy's head."
"Can too!" Rory shot back.
Furrowing his little brow, Rory stared hard at the slim book resting near Hermione's feet. It began to rise off the ground steadily, but at around Hermione's height, it began to shake and waver. Remus quickly snatched the book out of midair before it could take out their mother's eye.
"Now, what did we say about playing that game?" he asked patiently, though he knew it wouldn't stop them from levitating any and all items around them. It was extraordinary for children to exhibit control over their magical powers so early, but considering who their mother was, he wasn't too surprised.
"Come on, let's clean up," Hermione said. With a wave of her wand, she returned the books to their rightful place on the shelves.
Remus still held the one book. With a wry smile, he showed her the cover. The Mysteries and Methods of Time-Travel.
"What's that?" Rory asked, clinging to his father's leg.
"Oh, just a book I read when I was at school," Remus explained, placing it back on its shelf.
He swung Rosie up onto his shoulders, while the quieter Rory slipped his hand into his mother's. They all cheerily waved goodbye to the ever-scowling Madam Pince as they left.
"Yes, Rosie?" Hermione looked up at her daughter and suppressed a smile at the mess she had made of her father's hair.
"I'm Rose, Rory's Rory, Daddy's Remus, but you're Her-Hermie-ownie. Why doesn't your name begin with a 'R', too?"
Hermione shot Remus a dirty look as he chuckled at their daughter's pronunciation of her name. "Well, my name was Rosemary, once upon a time. A long, long time ago," Hermione added, earning a glare from Remus.
"Why'd'ya have a different name, Mummy?" Rory asked.
Remus and Hermione glanced at one another again.
"Er, it's a rather long story," Remus said.
"We'll tell you later," Hermione promised.
"A lot later," Remus muttered so only Hermione could hear. Louder, he said, "Now, who wants ice cream?"
"I do! I do!"
Having sufficiently distracted them, Remus and Hermione led the way toward the entrance hall, their going slow to accomodate Rory's smaller steps.
"You know, I was thinking 'Rowena' next," she told Remus matter-of-factly as she watched Rory hop down the marble staircase, ready to grab him in case he tripped.
Remus was slightly surprised. They hadn't really talked about having more children. For someone who had believed for a long time he would never have children, he was perfectly content with Rose and Rory.
"Hopefully it's a girl, then," he said, taking this in stride. "It would be a bit difficult for a boy to pull off 'Rowena'."
"How about 'Riley'?" Hermione said thoughtfully. "That could go both ways."
"Ron was dropping hints about his own name when these two were born," Remus reminded her.
Hermione rolled her eyes. "I already raised a child named Ronald, I don't need another one." Her face brightened as a thought occurred to her. "We could call the dog 'Ron'."
"How about Raine? River?" Remus' eyes twinkled. "Rita?"
"Absolutely not!" Hermione said, horrified. "Maybe we should switch to H's, then. Hugo—"
"We are not naming any child 'Hugo'," Remus said positively as they finally reached the bottom of the stairs.
"Well, we have about six months to argue over it," Hermione said, with a mischievous glint in her eye. "Want to race your Dad and Rosie home?" she asked Rory.
Remus stood frozen in place while Hermione and Rory hurried out the open front doors.
"Six months?" he repeated confusedly.
"Go, Daddy, go!" Rosie urged, pulling at his hair.
"Wait ... Hermione! What do you mean six months?" he demanded.
He ran out onto the sun-drenched grounds after his wife and son, his longer legs making up the distance between them easily while Rosie bounced on his shoulders, squealing with delight. The students, lolling about in the sunlight, turned and watched lazily as the two professors hurried past, behaving like a couple of students themselves.
Hermione finally allowed herself to be caught on the steps of the Shrieking Shack, which looked nothing like a shack these days, though the name had stuck. The Hogsmeade villagers still thought the house was haunted, and that the Lupins—er, Lupin-Grangers, that is—were crazy to live there.
"Go on inside," Hermione told Rosie and Rory, catching sight of a pair of broomsticks lying on the porch, which meant Harry and Ron were there. "Tell your uncles to give you ice cream."
The children were only too happy to comply. Hermione made to pick up the broomsticks and place them on the broom rack, like she always did, but Remus beat her to it.
"Six months?" he said accusingly, snatching them out of her reach. "How long have you known?"
"Just a few days. I went to Ginny for a check-up. She and Harry are expecting again, too, but shhh." She dropped her voice. "Ron doesn't know yet."
He couldn't even pretend to be angry at her for long. He wrapped his arms around her and pulled her close. "Rowena," he tested out. "That's a bit of a name to live up to. What if she turns out to be a Ravenclaw?"
"I hope she does," Hermione said. "Since you're going to be Headmaster, I think we should have at least one in every House so no one can say you're biased."
Remus made a choking noise. "At least one?" he repeated incredulously. He frowned. "Even Slytherin?"
"Rosie is far more cunning than she looks."
"Much like her mother."
He turned her to face him, a serious look on his face. The smile faded from Hermione's face.
"Oh, I know that look," she said.
"Have you ever regretted choosing me?" he asked wistfully.
"Yes!" His eyes widened. "Every time you ask me that!" she elaborated. "And only then," she added softly, reaching up to touch his cheek.
He held her hand there. "Are you sure, Hermione? Absolutely sure?"
She met his gaze steadily. "I have never been so absolutely sure of anything in my life."
Remus smiled broadly and lifted her off her feet to spin her around. He stopped quickly, however, not wanting to make her dizzy.
"Don't stop," she whispered.
He just held her there for a moment, staring into her eyes until—
"Oi, are you two coming in or not?" Ron yelled from inside. "Your ice cream's melting!"
Hermione laughed and Remus rolled his eyes as he set her down, and they walked inside, hand in hand.