Epilogue Part 1:

August Cole Malfoy

Dad always used to say that funerals were a time for reflection…I guess I didn't really realize it until now.

OoOoOo

Let me tell you the thing about having sisters. First off, everything is your fault. No matter what happens or who it happens to, it always comes back to you. It doesn't matter if a sister has a PMS-breakdown and hurls a vase at my head, it's my fault. I probably provoked her. Secondly, keep your mouth shut. No matter what the sister is saying, never directly reply to her. Do not speak after she's spoken without at least a fifteen second silence, lest she not be "done" and cause a fight that ends up being your fault. And thirdly, just don't even bother. Soon they will be the greatest resource when it comes to getting inside the head of a woman, but until that time comes, just don't even bother.

Of course, over the fifteen years I have lived with sisters, I have indeed learned all of this the hard way. Dad insists there is no other way. Either you don't learn it at all, or you learn it the hard way. It's the only way to get it to stick.

I don't hate all of my sisters, mind you. However, there are times when I am almost sure that, if it were legal, I would have murdered at least two of them by now. Especially the oldest one, who is two years younger than me. She gets on my nerves like nothing else in the entire world.

People always assume that if you have brothers then you fight and wrestle and tackle each other. Let me tell you, sisters aren't much different than having brothers. They fight and they hit and they tackle. The only difference? I'm not allowed to hit back. I've got some war wounds only soldiers have. Yes, the joy of sisters.

OoOoOo

We all met at Aunt Elizabeth's house this morning. She had a wonderful spread of crackers and cheese and fruit and pastries waiting for everyone. Her eyes brimmed with tears as she grasped my mother's hands.

"How are you?"

"Alright," Mum replied. "You?"

"Okay," Aunt Elizabeth said.

I walk over to the mantle where Iris is standing with a glass in her hand. I nudge her shoulder as I walk around to face her. She glances up at me with a small smile.

"Funerals suck," she says weakly and takes another sip of her glass.

"They're not meant to be fun," I remind her. She gives a soft laugh. "What are you drinking? Orange…"

"Orange juice and vodka," she replies.

"It's nine in the morning," I say.

"I need to take the edge off," she replies, another gulp making its way down her throat. "This is going to be hard, you know." She gives me a dirty look.

"Do you often get drunk so early in the morning?" I ask.

"Hell no," she replies. "It's better if you get drunk the night before and stay drunk."

"Cheers," I say and clink my glass with hers. She gives me a wider smile, her shoulders slowly lowering themselves to relax.

Suddenly, there is a presence to my right and her left. We both turn to see Charlotte holding a glass in one hand. She heaves a giant sigh before resting her head on Iris's shoulder. Iris cocks her head to the side so it rests on top of Charlotte's head. They stay like that for a moment and I gaze at them, wonderingly. Not for the first time I wonder what it would have been like if I had maybe just one brother. I wonder if we would have been as close and Iris and Charlotte were.

Music starts behind us and we know that we are about to start the funeral procession moving. I see Charlotte and Iris visibly swallow. Iris knocks back the rest of her drink and places it on the mantel. She takes Charlotte's hand.

"Merlin this is intense," Charlotte says as we start walking. "I could die for a cig."

"You don't need a cig," Iris snaps.

"Where's Annabelle?" I ask, walking beside Iris.

"Over there. Go get her, will you?" Iris asks.

I nod and walk a few yards a head of them to Annabelle. I tap her on the shoulder and she turns to me. She gives me a small smile.

"Come walk with us," I say and take her hand.

I didn't get a brother, but I did get Annabelle in the way of a sibling companion. Though she's much younger than me, I've been able to talk to her from a very young age. Iris and Charlotte got each other. I got Annabelle.

OoOoOo

Mum and Dad never came right out and said it or anything, but let's face it. Little Annabelle is an accident. Word has it she was conceived right after Aunt Elizabeth came to pick us up for the weekend. It seems to fit in perfectly around the time Mum started getting sick. I was, by that time, old enough to realize what was going on and why Mum seemed so upset with Dad.

"You told me you had it done!" she shouted angrily through their closed over, but not all the way, door. She was gesturing wildly and then pointed directly at something. "This tells me otherwise!"

"I'm sorry!" he snapped. "But when I got in there and heard exactly what needed to be done…I couldn't. I just couldn't!"

"Well that's just great!" she snapped. "Thanks a lot, Cole!"

"Come on, Roe! It's a—"

"So help me, Cole, if you say blessing one more fucking time!" Mum shouted angrily. "You are not the one giving birth to it and then breastfeeding it! I wanted to get back to work! I wanted to do something with my life! Think of the kids!"

"It's a baby not a flesh eating virus! They'll all survive!"

I remember when Mum started getting big and had that gigantic baby bump. I'm not going to lie, I was pretty offended by it. It was like there was an alien or something inside of her stomach. I thought it was the grossest thing ever. Mum was always trying to get me to touch her stomach and the only time I did, something, it later turned out to be Annabelle, punched my hand off of the stomach.

Of course, there was the horrific incident where I actually saw Mum's bare stomach. Had I been any older it probably would have scarred me from sex for life. I knew where babies came from and I wanted absolutely no part of that.

Then, of course, there was the actual birth. Thank Merlin I wasn't actually in the room when Annabelle made her entrance. I was there for maybe an hour and a half before Aunt Elizabeth ushered us into the waiting room with her family. I can still hear Mum screaming sometimes, and believe me, it still terrifies me.

We went back inside the room to meet the new baby and I finally saw what had been growing inside of Mum.

"Guys, this is Annabelle," Mum said in a soft, tired voice.

"Annabelle?" Charlotte asked. She wrinkled her nose slightly. She was a bitch, even back then. "Annabelle what?"

"Fiona," Mum replied. "Annabelle Fiona Malfoy…Why? You don't like the name?" She turned to Dad worriedly.

"Roe." He held up his hand and shook his head. "It's a lovely name and she's seven."

We all sat in the chair to wait our turn to hold her. I will also admit that I was pretty bummed that there was yet another girl in the house. Even at age nine, I had come to realize that Charlotte was going to be a handful and Iris was going to help her out as much as humanly possible. I was scared that this tiny, slumbering baby would turn into an all out monster, just as Charlotte had.

When Dad handed Annabelle over to me and instructed me to "carefully hold her head, just like that" and I finally got a good look at her, I'll confess, I wasn't as offended. She had curly blonde hair and a cute face. After a moment, she opened her eyes and for a split second she and I stared at each other in silence. My eyes must have been wide as saucers, because Dad hurried over to see what the problem was and then he too looked down at her, wide eyed.

"Roe, she's got your Dad's eyes!" Dad said.

"Huh?" Mum looked up. She was busy braiding Iris's hair properly.

"She's got your Dad's eyes," Dad repeated.

"Really?"

"Oh, yeah," Dad said. "Let's show Mum." He picked her up and tilted her towards Mum.

She gasped. "Holy crap!"

To this day Annabelle has the brightest green eyes we've ever seen. Everyone was sure that they had been charmed or something, but, really, they're naturally like that. They're part of what makes her her. Without those big green eyes and that out of control hair…well, she'd look just like Charlotte or Iris, and I will have none of that, thank you very much.

There were only three things that could calm Annabelle down within seconds: Mum's breasts, Dad's voice and me. We figured this out pretty early. She would stop crying when presented with any of these three (well, I guess four) things.

I usually volunteered to rock her to sleep while Mum finished up some things around the house or Mum and Dad wanted a few minutes to sit down and rest for half a second. Then, there would be times when she would want her bottle, after Mum's breasts had stopped soothing her.

Charlotte and Iris would help, of course, but they were far more interested in dressing her up in funny outfits. Annabelle was, to them, a real life babydoll to play with. I feared for her safety and for much of my time at home I would keep a watchful eye over her.

It was when she entered her toddler years that I realized her true potential at being a fun human being. She wobbled around, unsteady on her feet as a drunk man, and would laugh at any face I possibly made at her. If I went out for the day, she was always waiting for me when I got home with a huge smile. Sometimes she would scream like I was a famous pop star and she was the loving groupie.

Annabelle became my own person confidant. I would tell her things I had never even told Frank or my father. At the time I was still only eleven, so it was nothing too bad. It was mostly about my recent crush on Sandra Harvey or how I had stayed up past bedtime to listen to the Quidditch game on the two-way radio. And Annabelle listened and kept my secrets. Even when I started getting older, and she was still rather young, I let her in on my secrets. To the best of my knowledge, it went no where. She knew better than to tell Charlotte or Iris because she had sensed a different relationship I had with them then with her.

I will always remember Annabelle as a baby. I can still sometimes remember what she smelled like when she was a baby and I can remember changing her diaper and teaching her to walk and talk. All of that is fresh in my mind when I look over at her. Charlotte, however, has always been two years behind me, no matter what. I can fight with her without feeling guilty. I can't do that with Annabelle, not that she's ever given me anything to fight with her about.

OoOoOo

I'm twenty six years old and believe me, being the older brother never goes away. When I'm at home it always feels as though I have to be on my best behavior, lest I screw up in front of my "impressionable" sisters. Mind you, they're twenty-four, twenty-two and just about seventeen. Basically, they're all of age, but I still have to watch myself.

The path towards the burial site is a bit long. Charlotte walks in complete silence until she steps in a puddle that seems to be filled with mud.

"Fucking arse!" she snaps. "These were new shoes!" She leans onto Iris and twists around to get a look at them. They are quickly staining a deep brown, as are her stockings. Annabelle and I stop as well, mostly to see what Charlotte's going to do.

"Just wipe it off," I say. "They funeral isn't going to stop for your shoe."

She glares over at me. "It's not just any shoe! It's a…"

"Mark Sparks," we all say together.

"We know," I say. "It's satin with a heel. It's a shoe. Let's go."

"Guys, come on!" Dad snaps. "What's the hold up?"

"Daddy, look at my shoe!" Charlotte practically wails. "It's ruined."

As always, Dad looks torn between amusement and actual concern for what Charlotte is going through. As a man he realizes that crying over a shoe is rather silly, but as a father he truly cares that it is making Charlotte so distraught.

"Charlotte, sweetheart, you gotta keep moving!" Dad grabs her elbow and begins leading her away.

"But, Daddy!" Charlotte says desperately.

"Come on. I'll buy you another pair."

"They went out of style!" Charlotte snaps.

"Oh for the love of Merlin's baggy shorts!" I cry. I reach into my pocket, extract my wand and aim it at her shoes. The mud blasts off, as does some of the satin, leaving a scorch mark.

She sucks in air as though to start screaming as Dad says, "Actually, August will buy you two new pairs. Thanks for offering, August!" Dad gives me a wary look before saying, "Pick up the pace, you four." He then turns back and hurries after Mum and the others.

"You little…" Charlotte fumes angrily and starts walking again. "Not only are you buying me two new pairs of shoes, but you're taking me out to lunch as well!"

I make a face at the back of her head and Annabelle snorts. When Charlotte whips around to glare at the two of us, we both hide it until she turns away again. Annabelle shakes her head as we continue to walk down the muddy path. Charlotte whimpers the entire way.

"Oh, August, I forgot to tell you!" Iris says suddenly, turning to me. "You'll never guess who just started working in my division, in my very own office!"

"Who?" I say.

"Melinda Carter!"

"The Melinda Carter?" Charlotte asks.

"Who's Melinda Carter?" Annabelle asks.

"No one," I say quickly.

"She popped August's cherry," Charlotte says. "Well, actually, you popped hers, I guess I should say."

Iris snorts and I feel a blush come onto my cheeks. I glare over at Charlotte and avoid Annabelle's embarrassed look and focus my attention on the path ahead of us. My mind begins to drift elsewhere, though…

OoOoOo

My most embarrassing moment was, and still is, come to think of it, the morning of my seventeenth birthday.

The night prior I had my birthday party in the backyard of our house with a bunch of people from school, under a canopy Dad had set up. There were drinks and refreshments (some snuck-in alcohol, which Dad ignored) and music. Everyone was having fun and enjoying themselves.

She had been leaning up against one of the tables talking with a few other girls in our grade. Almost as though she could feel my eyes on her, she turned her head slightly and caught my eye. I instantly blushed and looked down at my cup.

"Melinda's coming over here," Frank hissed in my ear.

"What? Why?" I hissed back.

"I have no idea," he replied. "Be cool." He snatched my cup, currently distracting me from Melinda, and hurried away, leaving me out in the open.

Melinda walked up to me and cleared her throat ever-so-slightly, trying to grab my attention. I had been staring at the ground as though a hole would open up that I could jump through. Why Melinda made me feel this way, I have no idea. We've known each other since first year and she isn't the first girl that I've had a crush on. She's been the only girl, however, who has made me feel like a prepubescent school boy whenever she came near, though.

"Hey August," she said softly. She tilted her head down to catch my eye and then straightened out when I did. She gave me a bright smile. "Happy Birthday."

"It's not my birthday," I blurted out. "I mean…" I blushed when she gave me a bewildered look.

"I thought this was your birthday party," she said.

"It is," I said hurriedly. "I just meant it's not my birthday yet. Tomorrow. Well, actually, in four minutes."

Her face softened and she smiled at me again. "I was going to say…" she said with a laugh. "I'd want my gift back."

"You didn't have to get my anything," I said quickly.

"It's custom."

"Right."

There was a moment of silence as she surveyed me with what looked like stifled amusement.

"Can I ask you something?" she asked, coming somewhat closer.

"Yeah. Sure."

"I've known you since First Year," she said.

"Uh huh."

"I see you around the castle all the time with your friends. You guys are always laughing and talking. I've seen you tell your friends jokes and have conversations with them." She started moving closer to me. "Why is it whenever I come near you you can't seem to talk anymore?" She was so close at that point that I could smell her shampoo.

"I-I don't know," I muttered.

"Is it because you don't like me?" She cocked her head to the side slightly. "Do you not like me, August?"

"No," I said. "I mean! I do like you. A lot."

"Alright then," she whispered. She got, if possible, even closer. "Hey, August?"

"Huh?"

"Happy birthday." She suddenly closed the distance between us and kissed me. In the hum of background noise, I heard my watch beep, indicating midnight. The kiss felt like everything I would have possibly wanted it to feel. I clenched onto her as tightly and gently as I could as she pressed her body onto mine.

When the guests started to leave and I still couldn't pull my face off of hers, she did it for me.

"I should go," she said. "It's getting late."

"Okay. You can use our fireplace." I wiped my mouth on my hand and tried to control my breathing. I didn't want to sound like a winded hippogriff, but feared I did.

"I left my purse in your room," she whispered in my ear.

I frowned at her and said, "Oh, okay. Let's go get it."

We crept into the house and I closed the back door behind us. The house was completely dark and still. The last thing I would want is for my mother or father to wake up. I took her by the crook of her elbow and led her up the back stairs. They came out just near my bedroom door.

I opened the door and then quickly shut it behind me. I flicked on the light and scanned the room for a purse. I moved away from the door to look on my desk and the other side of my bed.

"Hey, Melinda," I whispered, "are you sure you left your purse in here?"

"I didn't bring a purse," she whispered.

I turned around to see her hesitantly sitting on my bed. She looked at me with wide, doleful eyes before giving me a shy smile and patting the bed. I stood still for a moment before I regained some motor and verbal skills.

"Melinda…" I said softly.

I came to stand in front of her. She glanced up at me with a small smile before her hands crawled up my shirt, pulling me down on top of her. Her lips found mine and she kissed me softly and eagerly. I reached blindly for the light switch and turned the light off.

"I don't usually do this," Melinda hissed as she tugged my shirt off. "I've just liked you for so long…You have no idea."

"It's alright," I said hurriedly, shimmying my pants off. "I believe you."

I won't go into great deal about what happened in the next hour and a half, partly because it's personal and partly, because I'm a little embarrassed. It was my first time and her first time and a half, as she told me. I knew everything I was supposed to do, and tried to do it to her liking. I heard a great deal of moaning, so I know she was enjoying herself.

After it was all said and done, I slumped over onto my back, panting like all hell and thinking about how I couldn't wait to tell Frank all about this in the morning. I felt Melinda give me a kiss on the cheek.

"Where's your bathroom?" she whispered in my ear.

I warily pointed at the door next to my dresser and she smiled at me before getting up and walking into the bathroom. I watched her go before looking up at the ceiling in disbelief. I kept running the words "I just got shagged" in my head over and over again.

Melinda slipped back into bed and kissed my cheek again. I turned to her and she gave me her wonderfully cute, bashful smile.

"Happy birthday, August," she said softly.

I smiled at her. When she went to move I said, "Do you want to stay the night?"

"Will that be alright?" she asked worriedly. "What if your…" I silenced her with a kiss.

"I'll set the alarm."

"Okay." She smiled brightly.

I leaned over and turned the dials to my alarm until it read 6:00. I then turned back in bed and turned towards Melinda.

"Goodnight," I whispered.

"Hey!" she said, placing a hand on my chest. "I'm not done with you yet." She quirked an eyebrow and then moved on top of me.

The next morning when the alarm went off, I, by instinct, immediately hit it and promptly fell back asleep. The next time I woke, though, it was for good.

My door burst open and my eyes immediately opened. I sat up in bed and saw my mother picking up my scattered clothes and throwing them into a basket that was propped on her hip. I turned back to the slumbering Melinda and quickly threw the blanket over her head.

"Mum, what are you doing?" I snapped. I could feel a damp layer of sweat suddenly break out on my forehead.

Mum whirled around. "Oh, darling, I'm sorry! Did I wake you?" She gave me a sympathetic look. "Happy Birthday, love!"

She went to move closer to me and, upon realizing I was completely naked under my sheet, I shouted, "Get out!"

Mum jumped and gave me an affronted look. "Excuse me for trying to get some housework done!" she snapped. "If it were up to you people we'd all live in our own filth." She bent down and picked up a sock. "Oh, thanks, by the way, for cleaning up after your party last night."

"Yeah, I'll get to that later. Just…please get out."

"What is the matter with you?" Mum snapped. Her eyes suddenly widened. "Were you having…um, personal time?"

"What?" I snapped. Realization dawned on me. "No!" I shouted. "You woke me up, that's all! Just get out!"

"Fine! My goodness!" Mum bent down and when she came back up, she had a light blue bra hanging off her index finger. She raised her eyebrow at me. "August…Is this…"

"It's mine," I said before I could stop myself.

Mum gave me a baffled look. "This is yours?"

"I like the feeling of it on!"

I figured if I could just get Mum to think I was some sort of freak and leave before she caught Melinda then everything would still be okay. As it was, Mum was looking at me as though I had gone mad.

"I thought this was Charlotte's!" Mum said.

That would have been a better excuse. I had mentally blocked out the images of Charlotte's breasts or undergarments because they made me feel rather ill.

"I borrowed it," I said, realizing I couldn't backpedal.

Mum looked confused beyond belief. "What the hell, August? What is the matter with you? Are you high, or something? You could have just said so!"

"Mum, I'm not high!" I cried.

"What's going on?" a muffled voice asks. A light blond began to emerge from beneath the sheets, but I placed my hand firmly on her head and shoved it back down under.

"August…August, who is that?" Mum hissed.

"No one!" I cried.

"August, cut it out!" Melinda growled. She sat up, her eyes fixed on me. "What is the matter with…" She turned her head to my mother. Her cheeks turned bright red. "Oh. Hi."

"Oh, thank Merlin!" Mum cried. She placed her hand on her forehead, glanced up at the ceiling and shook her head. "For a second, August, I thought this was yours or that you were really stealing your sister's knickers." Mum put the basket down on the ground. "Hi, I'm August's Mum, Roe. You are…?" Mum said warmly, smiling.

"Melinda," Melinda murmured.

"Melinda. Hi. Alright…well, I'll leave you two alone. Breakfast's on the table in an hour…Melinda, you're more than welcome to join us!" Mum picked up the basket and started to leave. Before she did, however, she mouthed, "She's pretty!" at me, before closing the door over.

I collapsed back against the pillows in embarrassment.

"So that was your Mum," Melinda said.

"Yeah. That was my Mum."

"She seems nice."

"She is," I replied.

"I should get going."

"Yeah."

She gets out of bed and dressed in record speed.

"Where's my bra?" she asked.

"Oh. Um. My mother has it."

"Right…I'll see you at school?" She turned towards me and, like always, I became mesmerized by her giant brown eyes.

"Yes," I reply.

"Okay." She gave me a shy smile. "Good."

She bent down and kissed me as a parting gift and then said, "Can you walk me down to your fireplace?"

"Oh! Right. Yes, okay."

I got up and got dressed, mindful of Melinda's eyes on me as I did so. I swallowed through a lump in my throat and tried to calmly pull on some clothes. My hands shook slightly when I felt Melinda drop a kiss onto my shoulder. I turned to her.

"I wish you didn't have to go. Are you free tonight?"

She nodded with a happy smile. "Yeah."

"Good." I kissed her firmly and then took her hand. "I want to say firstly, I apologize in advance for my family. Secondly, I'm sorry for anything that happens within the next four minutes."

"Okay." Melinda looked worried.

I open my bedroom door and lead her down the stairs by her hand. The sounds from the kitchen immediately hit my ears and I cringed. I wished we could have done this without everyone's interference.

"Oh, good morning!"

Melinda and I stop dead and turn to see Dad walking through the living room towards the kitchen. He is holding a glass of orange juice and the morning paper in his hand. When he saw us he came to a stop.

"Are you leaving?" he asked.

"Yes, she's just…"

"Cole? Who are you talking to?" I heard Mum call from the kitchen.

"August," Dad replied. "And…I'm sorry, what is your name?"

"Melinda," Melinda mumbled. She was blushing terribly. "Melinda Hobbs."

"August and Melinda," Dad replied.

Mum suddenly appeared from the kitchen and wiped her hands on her shorts. She gave Melinda a warm, inviting smile and said, "Are you staying for breakfast? I'm making pancakes!"

"No, Mum she has to…"

"I'd love to," Melinda cut me off.

"Great!" Mum gave her a delighted smile and then turned to me. "Go wake your sisters, will you?"

Not wanting to leave Melinda alone in the kitchen with my parents I said, "Make Belle do it."

"Your sister is…Oh fuck!" Mum turned around and hurried into the kitchen. "Oh, Annabelle! Well, that's… fine. Just go wash your hands." There was a brief pause. "Why are there chocolate handprints on the walls, Annabelle? You don't know? Look, they're a perfect match!"

"Excuse me," Dad said and hurried into the kitchen. "Holy crap, Annabelle, you work fast."

Melinda and I walked into the kitchen to see Annabelle washing her hands at the sink and Mum and Dad marveling at how she could have gotten chocolate handprints on almost everything in less then a minute. Mum took out her wand and started zapping the walls clean. After a second they sparkled a warm, buttery yellow color. She turned back to Annabelle with a wary shake of the head.

"I'll specify. Please get the chocolate in the muffin trays next time." Mum brings her hand to Annabelle's cheek and rubs some chocolate off. "Go wake Iris and Charlotte, please?"

"Okay." Annabelle hopped off her stool and walked around the island. She stopped dead in front of me and Melinda. "Who are you?" she asked politely.

"Melinda," Melinda replied.

"She's August's friend," Mum said.

"You're here early!" Annabelle said with a smile.

"They had a sleepover," Mum said, coming behind Annabelle to give her a nudge towards the stairs.

"Oh." Annabelle scrutinized us for a moment longer before hurrying in the direction of the stairs.

I turned my attention back to my parents who were acting as though they didn't know what Melinda and I did last night, in my bed, in their house. I would have preferred if they yelled and screamed at me instead of this either complete denial or acceptance.

"The laundry basket is on the floor in the living room, if you want your bra," I breathed in Melinda's ear. I noticed she kept her arms crossed firmly in front of her. "The bathroom is just past the living room, that way."

"Thanks," she whispered and quickly disappeared.

As soon as she was gone, I fixed my attention on my parents. Dad was reading the paper like always while Mum was busy zapping batter onto the simmering pan on the stove. There wasn't even an awkward air around them, as there was with me.

"Don't you guys want to say anything to me?" I asked.

Dad looked up from his paper and said, "Like what?"

"Like that I'm an awful son for doing what I did in your house while you were home?"

Mum and Dad exchanged a look.

"August, darling, you had sex. It was bound to happen. I'm glad you did it here, where it's safe, and not some…coat closet or something." Mum gave me a warm, understanding look.

"Who has sex in coat closets?" I snapped moodily.

"Excuse me," Mum snapped. "Not all of us have the convenience of a bed!"

"What's that supposed to mean?" I cried.

"Nothing," Dad said hurriedly. "Nothing." He gave Mum a look and then turned back to me. "Are you being safe?"

I opened my mouth and then closed it again. I couldn't remember if we had been safe or not. I tried to think back to when it was actually happening, and her knickers had been rolled off and…Oh, bugger, I really couldn't…

"Yes," I said, suddenly remembering. "We did."

"You better," Mum replied. She gave me a look. "I will not be a thirty-six year old grandmother!" She shook her head, as though to rid herself of the thought. "The thought makes me ill."

I could hear the toilet flush from the bathroom and said quickly, "Could you guys stop being so…I don't know, cool, about this?"

"What?" Dad asked.

"You're freaking Melinda out! What kind of mother invites the girl she just caught in her son's bed to breakfast?"

"A good mother, that's who!" Mum retorted. "So, I'm being to cool about this whole thing, is that it?"
I nod. "Last year I catch you and Frank drinking firewhiskey and flipping through pornos and I'm overreacting when I ground you. This year I catch you with a girl in your bed and I try to be understanding and now I'm not reacting enough." Mum shook her head and placed a hand on her hip. "What would you like me to do, August?"

"I don't know…" I said desperately. "I'm just embarrassed." I felt my cheeks flare with color at even saying that, but I had to let them understand. No matter how understanding they were being, it was still humiliating.

Mum softened again. "I don't want to embarrass you!" she said desperately. "I just don't want you to feel uncomfortable! You know you can talk to us about anything. We just want you to…You're right. She doesn't have to come to breakfast. I'm sorry…" Mum broke off as Melinda came back into the room. Mum whipped around and went back to the stove and Dad immediately dropped his gaze back to the paper and my parents pretended that we hadn't been talking at all.

A second later, Annabelle returned, followed by Iris and Charlotte. Both my older sisters stopped dead when they caught sight of Melinda standing in the middle of the kitchen. Thankfully, Melinda had done into the bathroom to run her fingers through her hair and wash her face. There was no longer smudged lipstick and mascara on her face. There were no longer random tufts of hair sticking up everywhere looking exactly like sex hair.

Charlotte and Iris exchanged a look before they turned back to me. Charlotte quirked an eyebrow and continued into the kitchen. She kissed Dad good morning and poured herself a glass of orange juice before returning her gaze to me and Melinda.

Annabelle came over to Melinda and grabbed her hand. "Will you sit next to me?" she asked, leading Melinda over to the table.

"Oh…um, yes. Sure." Melinda awkwardly perched herself on the chair next to Annabelle. She gave me a pleading look and I hurried over to the empty seat next to her and sat down. I poured her a glass of orange juice while we waited for food.

Dad got up to assist Mum, leaving my sisters, Melinda and I in an unbearably awkward silence. I cleared my throat before taking a large gulp of orange juice, just as Annabelle said, "Where are your pajamas, Melinda?"

I choked on my orange juice, and before I could answer, Iris asked, "Why Annabelle?"

"Mum said she slept over with August," Annabelle replied as she buttered a piece of toast.

Charlotte snorted into her orange juice and quickly averted her eyes elsewhere. I finally regained control of my throat and said, "Alright. Enough. Just be quiet."

Annabelle gave me an offended look. Believe me, it is very hard to offend a seven and a half year old, but I seemed to have mastered the art of it. Annabelle hated when I talked to her the way I talked to Charlotte or Iris.

The older girls and I could fight with each other and not actually hurt each other's feelings. However, I had to carefully choose my words with Annabelle very carefully. She had yet to master the art of hurling back an insult and anything I said could be taken literally.

I still remember the one time I made her cry. It nearly broke my heart I felt so bad about it. It was never my attention to make her cry, but the words were out of my mouth before I could stop them. If it had been Charlotte, then she would have hurled something back at me and we would have begun a pretty promising fight.

Mum came up to the table now and placed a platter of pancakes on the table. She then placed the syrup next to the platter. She walks over to her seat as Dad placed a plate of bacon next to the pancakes.

"Nudge, pass the syrup, will you?" Dad asked as he helped Mum load her plate.

Charlotte passed him the syrup.

We all have weird nicknames. I'm Brother because for longest time Annabelle couldn't actually pronounce my name correctly. As hard as she tried it usually came out "Aunust" or "Sausage" or "Office." She could, however, say "Brover" pretty well, and that eventually morphed into Brother and now, I go by August or Brother.

Charlotte got the nickname Nudge because, according to Mum, she never kicked while inside the womb. She would politely nudge. Before they knew whether she was going to be a boy or a girl, they simply called her Nudge. It stuck long after she was born.

Iris is Baby because for a period of 5 years she was the baby of the family. When Mum and Dad tried to take away the nickname because Annabelle had been born, Iris went into an almighty fit. She refused to come if they called her by Iris. Mum and Dad relented and she remained Baby because, let's face it, she is one. Well, she can be. She's more levelheaded now.

Annabelle is simply Belle. Sometimes Dad will call her Little One, but other than that she is simply Belle.

We all ate in somewhat silence. The only person who really talked freely and without any insecurity was Annabelle because she had no idea what is going on. Iris and Charlotte were deliberately not looking at me or at each other. Mum and Dad kept exchanging looks that clearly hinted they figured out this wasn't the best idea. Melinda was pushing her cut up pancake around the plate, stopping only to take a quick bite. She seemed content with not letting any attention be directed onto her.

After fifteen minutes, Mum got up tugging Dad up by the shirt and began to clean up. Iris offered to play tea party with Annabelle. The only occupants at the table were now Charlotte, Melinda and I. I tried to motion for Charlotte to go away, but she wasn't even paying attention to me. She was sipping her orange juice and flipping through a magazine.

"I should get going," Melinda whispered.

"Yeah. Alright."

I stand and walk her to the fireplace. She waivers for a second before placing a kiss on my lips. I look into her eyes for a second before I notice Mum and Dad watching from the kitchen. I give them a look and they quickly disappear around the corner again.

"I'll owl you later about tomorrow," I promised.

She smiled broadly at me. "Okay."

"Can you do me a huge favor?" I asked suddenly, as she prepared to throw the powder in the fireplace.

"Sure, what?"

"Can you not mention this? Like, to anyone."

"Believe me, this is going in a little box in my head and I am never visiting it ever again." She gave me another smile. "Don't worry about it. Your family is…nice."

The green flames engulfed her and she disappeared. I turned on my heel and made my way back into the kitchen. I tossed a glare over to Mum and Dad, who were zapping dishes clean.

"Well, that was awful!" I snapped.

"It was fine," Mum replied. "We didn't embarrass you! No one even said anything!"

"Why would you invite her to breakfast?"

"You invited her to breakfast?" Charlotte asked. "Why? You should have let her scamper out of here with her tail tucked between her legs like she wanted to."

"Yeah. Right." I then frowned and glared over at Charlotte. "Mind your own business. This doesn't concern you."

"Perhaps it doesn't," she said, standing and gathering her glass and magazine. "But, shall I remind you that we do share a wall." She paused as she walked by me and placed a hand on my shoulder. "A courtesy Silencing Spell would be appreciated next time." She patted my shoulder and flounced out of the room as I felt a hot sting of embarrassment.

I've never lived that little incident down. Even nine years later.

OoOoOo

"So," Iris says, giving a still giggling Charlotte a look, "do you want me to parlay a message to her? You know, let her know that you still think about her?"

"Do you still think about her?" Annabelle asks suddenly.

I choose my words carefully. "Sure. I mean, not everyday. Sometimes I'll think about her."

"Why did you lose contact with her?"

I shrug. "We graduated and wanted different things. You go different places then some of your classmates. I wanted to travel."

I felt restless after graduation. Mum and Dad allowed me to take the year off and travel as much as I wanted. I stopped in from time to time, but mostly, I went around the globe living out of just my backpack. When I returned it seemed as though everyone had fallen into a routine with their jobs. Horrified, I tried to find my own place.

"What did Melinda want?"

I glance down at Annabelle in confusion.

"Why are you so interested?"

She shrugs. "I don't know." She chews on her thumb. "Didn't you love her?"

I shrug this time. "I was young. It doesn't usually work that way. Young love doesn't work that way, I should say. It's useless."

"It did with Mum and Dad," she says.

"They're freaks."

"And grandma and grandpa."

"That was different. There was a war going on."

Annabelle seems distressed by my answers. My older brother senses are going off, but I know better than to pry. She'll tell me when she's ready. I can tell, though, that there is something dancing around her mind. She wants to ask me or tell me something.

"What are you two talking about?" Charlotte asks, turning around to glance back at us.

"Melinda," Annabelle replies.

Charlotte raises her eyebrows at me. "Reminiscing, then?"

"No. Not really," I reply.

When Charlotte turns around again, Annabelle tugs on my coat sleeve. I turned to her with a quirked eyebrow.

"What did Melinda want?"

"Marriage. A house. Babies, I suppose," I say.

"You don't want that?"

"I don't know. Maybe eventually. I don't know if I'd be any good at that."

"Sure you would! Wouldn't he?" Annabelle asks Iris, who happened to glance back at us.

"Huh?"

"Wouldn't August be a good father?"

Iris snorts. "Yeah. Sure he would."

"I think you would," Annabelle says.

"He used to babysit you, you know," Charlotte says.

"I remember," Annabelle says. Our eyes meet and I know she is instantly thinking back to the first time I ever babysat her.

OoOoOo

The first time my parents let me babysit, I fucked up big time. After all the begging and whining and complaining that I was, at this time, fourteen years old, they finally gave in.

"Alright," Mum said. "Your father and I are going into Diagon Alley to go shopping," Mum said. "We will be gone for no more than two hours." She studied me with a firm look in her eyes. "You have to watch your sisters!"

"I will!" I insisted.

"You have to keep an eye on them at all times!"

"I will!" I implored.

"You have to literally take Annabelle by the hand and not let go until we come home!"

"I…Mum, I won't do that. Listen, go do your shopping! We'll be fine! It's two hours!"

"I know that," she snapped. "If it were just you it would be one thing…But you've got to be mindful of Annabelle! She's still only five!"

"Mum, I promise I won't take my eyes off of her!" I said

Mum exhaled deeply. "Alright then."

They left, leaving me with all types of threats to what would happen to me if something went wrong. For example, if the house blew up then I would have to do dishes by myself for a month. It made no sense, but I got the gist of where they were going this. I would be in deep shit.

As soon as they left, Iris and Charlotte returned to their bedroom. They were deeply entrenched in a game of house and couldn't be bothered to play with Annabelle. So, being the good big brother I was, I offered to let her watch me do my homework.

"Can I go play outside?" she asked after ten minutes.

"No. Mum said I have to keep my eye on you," I said.

"But I'm bored! Do homework outside!" She gave me puppy-dog eyes and tucked her upper lip under her lower lip. "Pease, Brother?"

"I'll tell you what," I said, caving under her stare. "You go get a head start and I'll just finish this paper. I'll be out to play in ten minutes."

"Thank you!" She gave me a kiss on the cheek and literally ran from the table and out the back door. I watched her go before returning to my paper.

It took a bit longer than ten minutes and before I knew it, thirty minutes had passed by. Charlotte came into the kitchen looking for water and said, "Where's Belle?"

"Huh?" I said, glancing up from my paper.

"Where's Belle?" Charlotte repeated.

"She's…" I glanced out the window, but didn't see her right away. I stood up from the table and walked over to the back windows. My eyes searched the backyard, but I still didn't see her. "She should be…" I felt a nervous knot form in my stomach as I went to the backdoor and flung it open.

"You're supposed to be watching her!" Charlotte snapped.

"Shut up!" I snapped. "Annabelle! Annabelle!" I frantically looked around the yard, but I didn't see her still. A lump appeared in my throat to coincide with the nervous knot.

I ran down the yard a bit and then around the corner. I stopped dead. There, in front of me, sitting in the pool playing with some of her pool toys, was Annabelle. She was emerged almost up to her chin. I could make out her soaked clothes through the water.

I exhaled sharply. I don't know how long I had held my breath and just stood there, staring at Annabelle as she sat in the water. If she had gone in any further…If she had been any stupider or if I hadn't started screaming…

"Annabelle! Get out of the water!" I shouted furiously. "Get out right now!"

She gave me a bewildered look and waded out of the water and back onto the cement surrounding the pool. Her eyes were wide as saucers as she saw me near hyperventilation. I quickly ran to her, afraid she'd turn around, jump back in and drown before I could get to her.

I grabbed her arm with an almighty yank and brought her back into the house, Charlotte hot on my heels. We were both breathing hard as we looked down at Annabelle's still dry head.

"What is the matter with you?" I demanded furiously. "Do you know you could have been killed? You could have drown!" I shouted.

"I got hot!" she cried. Her bottom lip started to quiver and she was gazing up at me with those green eyes. I now know why Dad never got mad at her. She had the ability to make you feel bad when she was doing something wrong. And the look she was giving me right now…Well, I found myself faltering.

"Merlin, Belle!" Charlotte said. "Do you know what Mum would have thought if she came back and you were dead? Do you know how sad that would have made everyone?" She held out her hand. "Let's go get changed."

I glanced at Annabelle's outfit and saw that she hadn't even taken her shoes off. Her white sneakers, her white socks, her purple shorts and her lilac shirt were all drenched from the water. It made my skin crawl when I looked and saw the very base of the nape of her hair was wet. I didn't know it then, but the what-ifs? of that afternoon would haunt me for another five years, until Annabelle learned to swim on her own.

Charlotte grunted as she picked Annabelle up. She waddled over to the stairs and then up them. I heard Charlotte's soft voice until the reached the top of the stairs and went in the direction of Annabelle's room.

I sat down on the kitchen chair with a plop. My heart was still beating a mile a minute. I couldn't even think straight. All I could think about was how I could have almost lost my sister.

A while later, after I had drunk about eight glasses of water to calm myself down, Charlotte came stomping back into the room. She eyed me with one furious look before she snapped, "Your Quidditch gloves."

"What?" I asked.

"I want your Quidditch gloves in exchange for my silence."

We both knew how easy I was getting off.

"Okay."

"Go talk to her. She thinks you hate her."

"I don't hate her…"

"Then go explain that to her yourself. She's sobbing into her pillow."

I sighed and walked past Charlotte. "Thanks."

"Don't touch me," she snapped when I went to hug her. "Gosh, you're so weird!" She stomped further into the kitchen and I went up to talk to Annabelle.

Sure enough, she was sitting on her bed crying when I went in to talk to her. I did the best I could to ensure that she knew I wasn't angry with her, I was simply scared for what might have happened. She sniffled that she understood.

When Mum and Dad got home Dad asked, "So, how was it? You think you might want to…"
"No!" I cut him off immediately. He jumped and gave me a bewildered look. "No. Mum's right. It's too much responsibility. Maybe when Annabelle is older."

"What…?"

"Nothing." I gave him what I hoped was a reassuring smile and said, "I just realized how much work it could be."

"If you want to talk about it," Dad said.

I sighed. "I found her in the pool."

"You found…" Dad broke off. "Belle?" I nodded and he cursed under his breath. "Is she…?"

"Fine. She's fine." I looked down at my shoes. "I caught her before she could go under. I only let her out of my sight for ten minutes."

Dad nodded. "That's all it takes."

"Don't tell Mum," I pleaded.

"Uh, duh," Dad snapped, giving me a look. "You don't tell your mother, either."

"Am I in trouble?"

"You made a mistake," Dad said. "And you look damn scared…so, no. We'll try this again some other time."

"Okay."

"Don't worry about it, August."

I must have still looked pretty upset about it, because he took me by the shoulder and led me into the living room. He sat me down on the couch and then sat down on the coffee table in front of me. He then looked me square in the eyes and said, "We all make mistakes like these. Sometimes everything is fine and no one gets hurt and sometimes people do get hurt. We all do it."

"Even you?"

Dad nodded. "Even me."

"Who?"

"You."

"What happened?"

"You must have been about three," Dad began. "I took you into Diagon Alley for the afternoon. I stopped at an ice cream vendor and took my eyes off of you for half a second and when I turned back…you were gone. It took me forty-five minutes to find you. By that time I was near panic."

"Where was I?"

"In the pet store." Dad shook his head. "I can't even describe the relief I felt when I found you. It was like being confronted with your worst fear and then watching it disappear without harming anyone." He laughed. "I never told Mum. She thought we took the long way home."

I smile at him. "Thanks."

"Welcome."

"What are you two talking about?" Mum asked, coming into the room from the kitchen. She had some bags hanging from her arm.

"Sex," Dad answered promptly. I give Dad a horrified look.

"Oh." Mum nods. "About time, Cole! I thought I was going to have to do it!" She gives me a smile. "How did it go?"

"Fine," I said.

"Good!" Mum looked generally pleased. "Glad to hear it. Dinner in an hour."

"Okay."

She walked up the stairs and Dad stood up. He looked pretty pleased with himself and began to leave. He stopped however, and turned back to me.

"Do I need to have the sex talk with you?"

"No."

"You know you just stick it in…Well, that's not true. Actually, there's a whole system before that…"

"Dad, please don't," I said.

"Another time, then," Dad said.

"Like in fifteen years."

"Hopefully you'll be shagging long before then," Dad replied before exiting the living room.

I let out a deep breath just as Charlotte came into the living room, headed for the stairs. She stopped when she saw me. "Don't forget our deal," she said.

"What deal?" I asked, standing up.

"Your gloves for my silence."

"Actually, I've changed my mind. You can't have my gloves."

She gave me a look of disbelief. "I'll tell," she snapped.

"Too late. I already did," I said. I gave her a bright smile as she glared angrily at me. "Too bad, you lose." And with that I shoved her out of the way and headed up the stairs. I heard her let out a scream of fury before I made it to my door and closed it over.

Truth be told, I probably should have just given her the gloves. After that, she never let me get the best of her ever again.

OoOoOo

We all came to a stop around a large tree that had been planted for the first grandchild's birth. There was a high priestess already waiting for us. Her long, white gown flutters in the breeze that suddenly comes floating through the leaves and air.

I gaze around at the heads of various family members and take a moment to take in the sheer number of us.

Family parties are busy things, let me tell you. Everyone shows up, bringing with them loads of children and aunts and uncles and sometimes animals.

Perhaps I should quickly delve into the family dynamic. I try to explain to people just how huge my family is, to no avail. You must actually witness it to realize the exact volume of people. I'll do my best to describe it, though.

The last time we were all together was three months ago was for Charlotte's wedding. Who would want to marry her, I have no idea. She really is like a screaming, raging bitch almost all of the time. At least to me she is.

We never really got out of that teenage fighting stage. Most of the time we can get along, but there have been a few times where I have had to put her in a chokehold to get her to calm down. My arms still bear the scratch marks to prove it.

And, at said wedding, Charlotte and Iris actually got into a fist fight! According to Belle, who witnessed the entire thing, and even got a few punches flung her way, it escalated from a stupid fight over a ripped dress. I've always said I never got women, but I particularly don't get my sisters. A ripped dress could be fixed with the wave of the hand! Had we been mortals it would have been different! That I could see getting into a fight about.

Well, in my family there's Mum and Dad, who have each just turned forty-five. I myself just turned twenty-six. Charlotte turns twenty-four in November, Iris turned twenty-two in February and Annabelle will turn seventeen at the end of August.

Mum's older sister Elizabeth had four kids. Violet is a year older than me at twenty-seven, Michael and Jude (twins) are a year younger than me at twenty-five and Grace is twenty-three. They live pretty close to us and are generally at our house for Sunday breakfast.

Mum's older brother James had the most children out of the three of them. Mum always used to say that James would repeatedly tell her that he never wanted to marry, and he never wanted kids. However, that apparently changed when he met Aunt Alice. He had seven children. James is the oldest and my age. Harry is a year younger than him. Then there's the twins, Meredith and Winnie, who are twenty-three. Emily is twenty-one, Mary is nineteen and Kate is seventeen, Annabelle's age.

In Mum's family alone there are fifteen grandchildren…out of three people came fifteen grandchildren. When and if I have kids I'm having one and hoping it turns into a well adjusted human being. If not, then it can live with me and its mother and take care of us as we get older. I believe it is a win-win situation.

I will guess I have to mention the Longbottoms who are at our house almost every day. Well, at least one of them is.

Frank and Demi, who are my godparents, also had seven children. They had Frank Jr., who is my age. Then they had Rose, who is Charlotte's age. Then the twins Neville and Andromeda two years later. Two years later they had Stella. Then came Augusta two years after that. Two years later came their last child, a son, Remus.

It gets pretty hectic, let me tell you! Even at a funeral there is a constant hum of chatter.

The eulogy begins and I hear three sniffles coming in the direction of my sisters. Always prepared, I extract three tissues and hand one to each of them. Three grateful smiles direct at me. I place my arm over Annabelle's shoulder and pull her into a one-armed hug.

I then happen to glance over and see Mum and Dad standing near one another, hugging.

Mum and Dad fought like nothing else on the planet. Sometimes it would seem as though the walls were rattling with their fury for one another. The only thing they ever agreed on was to disagree on almost everything. They loved to piss the other off as though it were sport.

And yet, underneath that, I realized that they truly loved each other in a really rare way. It was the only way that allowed them to talk to one another in such a manner and still remain married. I always wondered if perhaps one of them would one day snap and kill the other, but they never did.

Dad always had the utmost respect for Mum, and she for him. He treated her like a princess and cared for with such compassion and love that I often wondered if I would ever be able to do it.

It was from this that caused me to push Melinda away almost immediately following graduation. It was abrupt even for me and I saw it coming. I didn't know what else to do. In my mind, she had to go…

I let out a heavy sigh and turn my head towards Annabelle, Iris and Charlotte. They are standing next to each other, holding each other's hands. I move a bit closer and nudge Charlotte's hand with my own hand. She looks at me out of the corner of her eye and takes my hand. She gives me a comforting squeeze.

Yes, funerals are a time for reflection.

As everyone starts the long walk back to Aunt Elizabeth's house for brunch, I hurry to catch up with Iris. "What time do you start your lunch breaks?" I ask.

"Around one." She gives me a bemused look. "Why?"

I shrug indifferently. "I just thought I'd stop by tomorrow."

"To see me?"

"Now, why the hell would I do that?" I ask, giving her a cheeky smile.

Iris returns my smile. "Her office is second from the left."

"I have no idea what you're talking about," I say, feigning innocence. I catch sight of Annabelle walking up the path with our mother. "I'll see you at Aunt Elizabeth's?"

"Yeah. I just need to find Charlotte. Where the hell did she disappear to?"

I hurry to Annabelle. "Mum, let me borrow Belle," I say, grabbing her by the shoulder.

"Alright, but don't dawdle."

"Okay."

Mum walks away in search of Dad and I stare down at Annabelle. She's giving me a questioning look and I say, "Don't give up on young love. It prevails." I give her a kiss on the cheek and we walk back up to the house is comfortable silence.

A/N: After much, much, much, much writer's block, I finally got out as much as I wanted to say. In case it isn't clear there will be four parts of the epilogue, all told in the Malfoy children's perspectives as they come together for a funeral. Whose funeral it is will not be revealed until the end.

As is my style, the chapters will get longer and filled with more detail. I have everything carefully planned in my head, so while it may seem like there isn't much of August in the plot, there will be once I introduce each of the characters in their own chapters.

I'm very excited about this, so please try to keep any negative comments productive. Telling me you do not like what I wrote doesn't help me grow as a writer. I try to please everyone, but alas, at the end of the day it is my project. I do listen to everything everyone says, though, you must believe me. You guys have all been so wonderful and I do this as much for you as for me. I want everyone to enjoy this…

That being said, I am currently ten pages deep into a Cole POV one or two shot piece. Not sure how I'm going to take it…but it's coming along. I will try to have that up soon. I hope to have the three other chapters of this up soon. I'm a little rusty so my apologies if it shows…

I hope you enjoyed it. Please review with any feedback, good or bad. I read them all!! :)