Chapter 56 – Epilogue
AN: Well, this is the end. I said long ago that while I didn't know when I would finish, I wouldn't abandon this story. I will admit, I definitely abandoned it for stretches of time, but I never forgot about it or you! Thank you to all my loyal readers (I suspect some of you have been here since 2007 when I first posted)! I'm in a very different place in my life now that I was when I began—I've finished college, grad school, become gainfully employed, and in many ways, the maturing of the characters and their life experiences mimic my own. I also cringe a bit when I look back—Hermione's middle name might well have been Mary-Sue, and I'm afraid that the era when I started reading a lot of Pride & Prejudice fanfiction manifests itself in my writing!
On a less happy note, several readers have brought it to my attention that the user Charlotte Dubois over on Wattpad has posted this story without attribution. At this time, I have decided not to submit a DMCA takedown request, though I may change my mind. But even if she/he/they claim to have written The Three Portals, they have not had the enjoyment of interacting with all of you (OVER A VERY LONG PERIOD OF TIME) while writing this story. I hope that Charlotte eventually finds her own story to tell and comes to deserve all the accolades she receives. As it is, I have too many other good things in my life to get embroiled in negativity for something that I do only for my own enjoyment and that of my readers.
"Rosalind Ariadne, need I remind you of the consequences for practicing Transfiguration on your brother?" Hermione chided from the doorway, looking down at her five-year-old daughter and three-year-old son. Her son's normally tawny curls were bright chartreuse.
Rosalind's face scrunched up for a moment, before smoothing out. "I was about to come get you, Mum. Anthony had an accident that turned his hair green!"
"Mummy!" exclaimed the little boy.
Hermione refrained from rolling her eyes. Sometimes she felt that her daughter took after her father to an extreme.
"And who caused the accident, Rosalind."
Her daughter huffed. "I just wanted to see if I could! I knew it wouldn't hurt him, and if I could do it once, I could turn it back! See?" She squinted at her brother and held her breath. Sure enough, Anthony's curls returned to normal, except for a faint green tinge at the ends. Hermione waved a hand, finishing the job.
"Well, since you seem to have learned a spell on your own, you won't complain that we skip our lesson after supper."
"You know the rules, Rosalind. This time you could undo it yourself, but last time, it took your father and I two hours to reverse. Next time, you'll miss your lessons for a week. Am I clear?"
Rosalind scowled. "Yes, Mum."
"Now wash your hands and come downstairs for supper. Anthony, come with me."
Hermione couldn't help laughing a little as she walked down the stairs to the kitchen, Anthony toddling along next to her. She supposed that being able to punish her daughter by withholding extra lessons meant that her daughter did take after her to some extent, even if her straight black hair and pale skin and eyes were duplicates of her father's. And her cunning behavior made Hermione glad she'd had so much practice with her husband over the years.
"No permanent damage?" Tom asked from the stove. During their marriage, Tom had proved himself to be quite competent with cooking spells and acquitted himself well even without them.
"Just a temporary change in hair color, this time."
"Green hair!" Anthony said as his mother set him down in his chair.
Rosalind trudged in, sulking and looking to her father for sympathy.
"Dad, Mum said I don't get a lesson tonight!"
"Rosalind, what did I tell you last time?"
"Don't get caught!"
Hermione glared at her husband.
"Yes, but I also told you that I'm not going to contradict your mother when you break the rules. So no lesson."
The conversation then shifted to discussions about work and Rosalind's day at school, broken up only by Anthony's levitation of his sister's silverware.
A few hours later, with both children settled in their beds, Tom and Hermione sat together on the couch.
"I received a letter from Trelawney today," Tom said. "She's planning on retiring later this year and all but said her position is mine is mine I want it. I know we've discussed moving back to England before, but I think it's time to seriously consider it."
Hermione sighed. "I agree. I don't regret our moving here, but with the children getting older, and no repeal of Rappaport's Law in sight, I think we should go back. It was fine when it was just the two of us, but I want Rosalind to have the chance to get to know Muggles, and with how quickly her magic is improving, we should get her a wand sooner rather than later."
Tom nodded in agreement.
Hermione continued. "I know Rosalind would love to be able to spend more time with Abraxas and Minerva's children, and the Woods, and I want her to be well-settled before she starts at Hogwarts."
"Then I'll write to Trelawney and let her know my decision. Rossi won't be pleased with your leaving his department—it's been obvious that he's been grooming you to be his replacement," Tom replied, the corner of his mouth twitching.
Hermione rolled her eyes, then laughed. "Yes, but I wasn't likely to take the position. In fact, I think that I will take a few months off once we move."
After over ten years with Hermione, Tom was rarely surprised, but he couldn't stop himself from raising his eyebrows. Inwardly, he lamented the fact that he had picked up some of Hermione's more Gryffindorish habits, not least displaying his emotions for all the world to see. Hermione, of course, assured him when he voiced his concerns that at most, he only betrayed enough emotion to look vaguely constipated.
"That is a surprise. Why?"
"I think it would help the children adjust to the move and another sibling if I stay at home with them. It will also give me the time to work on a few charm ideas. I have almost free rein with Rossi, but you know that I've considered striking out on my own."
"Another sibling?" Tom questioned.
"Unless twins run in your family," Hermione responded, enjoying having caught her husband unaware. She'd been carefully managing their bond all day since she had cast a diagnostic spell on herself after vomiting up her breakfast. "After all, you said you wanted three children, so I'd hate to accidentally provide you with four."
Tom couldn't help it—a large smiled spread across his face.
Through their bond, Hermione could feel how pleased he was and couldn't help but get a misty-eyed at how much Tom had changed since she had first met him as a cold, caustic boy in the Hogwarts library. While he still had a secretive nature and would always tend to keep his thoughts and feelings private, Tom had come to fully trust Hermione, but only Hermione, fully.
"Salazar, this time, I think," he mused. Hermione scowled at him, but he felt her amusement and joy. Tom leaned over and kissed her. A few minutes later, they relocated to their bedroom. Thanks to Hermione's charm work, there was no worry that the children would hear even a murmur.
The next several weeks flew by. Both Tom and Hermione gave notice at Nimty, and Hermione sent a letter to Minerva, informing her of their impending move. Tom was officially offered Trelawney's former job at the Department of Mysteries, which he accepted, with the caveat that his wife be given equivalent clearance. Enough people remembered the Riddles previous tenure at the Ministry that the request was scarcely questioned. The Riddles' comfortable townhouse in the Wizarding section of Sutton Place was put up for sale, and they had several offers only within a week. The children were excited about the move, with Rosalind asking constantly if she could get her own wand as soon as they arrived in London.
Less than two months later, the family of four-and-a-half arrived at their new home in the north of England, not far from York. The country house had a large fireplace, making frequent visits to the Malfoys and commuting for work a simple matter. In the middle of the snowy winter, Leona Merope Riddle arrived.
True to her word, Hermione had used the months of her pregnancy to good effect. By the end of it, she had developed not only a new charm-based remedy for morning sickness and a spell for shifting a pregnant woman's center of gravity—she had also completed prototypes for a messaging device based on her work with the Protean Charm at Hogwarts. Rather than coins, the device consisted of a small piece of glass that could be written on, transmit voice messages, or provide instantaneous two-way communication. The prototypes were limited to paired devices, similar to the mirror Sirius had given Harry, but Hermione was already planning how to build a larger network. Hermione admitted privately to Tom that she had gotten the idea from the mobile phones that had been gaining traction in the Muggle world when she had traveled through the portal to the past. And thus, Riddle Enterprises was born. Hermione would later joke to Tom that if either of them had created an evil empire, it was her.
When Rosalind graduated from Hogwarts, she took over many of Hermione's responsibilities at the company. Her negotiating skills and innocent expression, honed from years of avoiding consequences for mischief large and small, led to the Riddle Messenger being approved for use across western Europe. Her boyfriend, and later husband, Lucian Malfoy, Abraxas and Minerva's eldest son, joined her at Riddle Enterprises, proving himself adept at managing the logistics for manufacturing and expansion.
Once Leona began her studies at Hogwarts, Tom and Hermione once again assessed their careers. Hermione had enjoyed her time in industry, but even with her husband's Slytherin, less-selfless influence, she was ready to return to public service. Before long, Hermione was appointed Great Britain's representative to the International Confederation of Wizards. After several years of distinguished service, Hermione was elected Supreme Mugwump.
Her tenure was not entirely without conflict—the Soviet Ministry of Magic had been found to have been working closely with the Kosygin government to infiltrate not only other magical bureaucracies, but also the Muggle governments of several western European nations with M-KGB agents. The International Federation had censured the Soviet Ministry and a specially trained task force had been created to root out spies. The operation took several years, even with the cooperation of various heads of state with awareness of the magical community. On two occasions, only Hermione's aptitude with personal shielding spells prevented her from being the victim of probable Soviet assassination attempts. Hermione had to be quite convincing to prevent Tom from "taking a short vacation to Moscow." She had no doubt Tom was capable of taking on the entire Soviet security apparatus, based on Lord Voldemort's success in her youth, but she was determined to maintain diplomatic ties to the extent possible. After the fall of the Soviet Union, Hermione directed the ICW's resources to supporting the wizarding communities of the former Eastern Bloc, most of which had been nearly entirely cut off for years.
At the Department of Mysteries, Tom had overseen many important magical developments, some of which the broader magical community would see trickle out over the next few decades, with others never to see the light of day. But ready for a change, he applied for the position of Defense Against the Dark Arts professor at Hogwarts. Privately, he informed Hermione that he intended to be Headmaster once Dippet retired. Once, such a statement would made Hermione question whether he was intending to corrupt innocent children to form an army. After all their years together, Hermione's first response was to tell Tom that she hoped Dippet retired soon so that Tom could rein in their youngest before she turned Hogwarts to rubble.
When Tom replaced Dippet in Leona's fifth year at Hogwarts, Hermione ignored the look Tom aimed at Albus Dumbledore. To anyone else, it would have appeared merely polite, but Hermione knew Tom—on the inside, he was rather smug. Although Hermione still had a soft spot for her former Headmaster, she couldn't help but think that Harry's life would have been far different had Dumbledore been less complaisant.
Many years later, when Hermione watched young Harry Potter put on the Sorting Hat under her husband's watchful eye, she knew that she had made the right choice. At the sudden rush of emotion he felt from his wife, Tom looked over at her, faint concern apparent on his face. Hermione could only smile. Despite their fraught beginning, they had long since been of one heart and mind. She could only conclude that the portal she had stepped through long ago had taken her exactly where she needed to be.
AN: I hope you enjoyed this final installment. I have to admit, Hermione steering the Wizarding World through the Cold War sounds very intriguing, but that's far beyond the scope of this story. If you have questions about the rest of Tom and Hermione's lives, feel free to ask me or to imagine on your details. Thanks to everyone who has reviewed over the last ten (!) years!