"Happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence."
The day of her wedding was the first time Hermione had felt as though her breath had truly been stolen.
She was vaguely embarrassed that she had made just as much a fuss of it as Ginny did on her own wedding day. Ginny had fretted and picked at the tiniest and most insignificant details - or so Hermione had thought at the time. She soon came to discover that those niceties did, in fact, matter. The color of her fingernails, the border design of the invitations, the seat covers - all of it was a life or death decision. Hermione had originally gone so far as to tell Draco that she thought those things were trivial.
He had the audacity to laugh at her.
Evidently, he knew her better than she gave him credit for.
"I thought you said you didn't care about that rubbish!" Draco exclaimed with exasperation the night before their wedding. "Weren't you the one that told me the only thing that mattered was that we were going to be married and that we would be with each other for the rest of our lives?"
Hermione chewed her lip nervously, "Yes, and Draco, you know that's how I truly feel...it's just that there's so much pressure to do it perfectly! My mother hasn't left me alone for three weeks! Do you realize how much time that is? I've barely seen her at all in the past ten years! She's driving me up a wall!"
Draco had only smiled at her response.
The wedding was beautiful. Perfect. It was everything Hermione had ever dreamed of and somehow more - as cliché as that sounded. As she slowly walked down the aisle, all the worries of planning, guest lists and travel arrangements instantly vanished. Ahead of her stood her future. Tall, blond, and handsome; Draco stood waiting patiently with a glorious smile on his face.
Hermione was certain that life was full of moments. Specific moments that might be seemingly small to someone else, but they were the moments that truly defined a person. If one took the time to look, they could see magnificence beyond anything imaginable. Infinity was on the horizon. As Hermione slowly made her way up the aisle, eyes never wavering from Draco's; she was convinced that she was in one of those moments.
Hermione had never thought that she could be so happy, so complete.
But then came the day that their son was born.
Dirty blond hair, freckles, and beautiful hazel eyes, Ronald Severus Malfoy came into the world. Draco was, as Hermione predicted he would be, the perfect father that doted on his son's every whim. With the birth of their second child, a beautiful girl with extraordinary gray eyes, Hermione felt as though their lives had at last come full circle.
In the midst of the insurmountable obstacles of the past, it had seemed as though their lives together would never have a future. But amazingly, it had become a reality. It was surreal, sublime, delicious beyond anything either one had ever tasted.
"Mum, Mum, Mum!" Shouted a tiny voice, interrupting Hermione from her reverie, "Dad says that it's time to go! Let's go! He promised me I could ride my new broom today! Can I, Mum? Can I?"
Hermione looked down fondly at her oldest child, gazing into his ever-eager eyes, "We'll see," she replied patiently as she stood and took hold of his hand.
"Dad said that you would say that," he pouted as he allowed himself to be tugged along.
"Well, Dad knows me quite well, buddy," said Hermione as they scaled the stairs and ran straight into the very man of whom they were speaking.
Draco grabbed Hermione around the waist and dipped her into an overly dramatic swoon, "And how is the most beautiful woman in the world this morning?" He asked with a mischievous grin.
"Merlin, Draco," Hermione exclaimed with an embarrassed smile, "Not in front of the kids."
Draco chuckled as he released her, "As you wish, Mrs. Malfoy."
Hermione shot him a disapproving look before crossing the space of their quaint parlor and gathering her small daughter into her arms.
"How's my girl?" Hermione asked in the characteristic voice one uses when addressing a baby.
"Ma...ma," little Alexia chimed in, playfully waving her chubby fists.
Hermione's smile widened as she adjusted her daughter on her hip and turned back to Draco and Ron. "You two ready?"
Ron was attempting, quite badly, to hide the broom Draco had given him for his last birthday behind his small form. "Yep, we're ready, Mum!"
Hermione walked across the room, ruffled Ron's hair and turned to Draco, "You're impossible."
Draco smiled as he kissed her chastely on the cheek, "I know."
They apparated quickly, and arrived at their destination without much trouble, despite Draco still trying to convince Ron to hide his new broom - a child's version of the Firebolt.
The sun was low in the sky, the atmosphere golden. Ron's slightly curly locks reflected the light as he bounded gleefully through the field. Draco came up next to Hermione and walked beside her as they made their way to their destination.
"I can't believe it's been another year," he said, whether it was directed to himself or to her, Hermione wasn't quite sure.
"I know," she replied, adjusting her daughter on her hip as she scanned the field for Ron.
"Harry and Ginny," Draco said, turning around and observing the area, "...they're always usually here before we are."
"Ginny sent her Patronus right before I came down with Ron, she said they were running a little late. Apparently Albus ingested something that looked a little shady - nothing serious," Hermione back peddled when Draco's eyebrows shot up with worry.
They continued along in silence until Ron cried happily from up ahead, "I found it, Mum! Dad, come see! I found it, just where it was last year!"
"We're coming, pal," Draco shouted, "We're not quite as fast you are."
"I know!" He replied gleefully as he ran back to where his parents stood, "Did you see how fast I was? I'll be even faster on my broom!"
Hermione shot Draco a reproving look as she passed her daughter into his arms and bent to adjust a loose shoelace.
"Mum?" Ron asked, now eye-level with his mother. His eyes were almost an exact replica her own, according to Draco. And as she paused for a moment to observe them, she came to the happy conclusion that she agreed.
"Yes, Ron?" she asked, gently.
"I promise to be careful on my broom."
Hermione smiled and looked from Ron up to Draco. "You do, huh?"
"Yep," he nodded, "I promise."
"Okay, buddy," she said as she stood and kissed him lightly on the crown of his head.
Ron took her hand and led her forward to the small memorial that they visited every year on this specific date. It wasn't grand or extravagant by any sense of the word. But it was still perfect in Hermione's opinion. Located close to The Burrow, it was a beautiful tribute to a fallen friend. Hermione carefully drew her wand out of her light traveling cloak and conjured a majestic display of flowers.
"Come here, pal," Draco said as he approached slowly behind them, "Let Mum put the flowers on it."
Ron obeyed and hurried back to his father.
Hermione bent her head slightly and fingered a petal in the flower arrangement. The golden hue of the sunset reflected beautifully off her curls. She took a deep breath and stepped forward.
Every year it was a strange feeling. There would always be sadness, a sense of loss. That was inevitable. But every year it seemed to somehow become progressively less. The focus became more of memories and good times than that of loss. And for that, Hermione was grateful. But she still couldn't help but feel a small loss of her childhood with each annual visit.
Kneeling down, a small smile made it's way across her lips. Her fingers gently grazed over the inscription in the white stone. Breathing deeply, the sweet scent of the flowers permeated her senses.
"Another year," she whispered, as she gently lay the flowers across the stone, "...another year has passed since your death. And I have so much to be thankful for. There's not a day that goes by that I don't remember your sacrifice."
Hermione looked up briefly at the beauty that surrounded her. A glorious sunset, the wind dancing with the overgrown foliage of the field, the chirping of the summer birds as they made their way through the sky. In her peripheral vision, her family stood, carefully watching her.
She turned her head cautiously back to the grave, "He's probably not the first man you would have picked for me, I know...but things are different," she whispered, then added as an afterthought, "...even Harry approves."
Allowing herself a soft chuckle, she traced the name on her friend's grave once more, "I have so much to be thankful for, so much," she paused, looking at the setting sun. "So rest well. Rest well. We'll meet again one day, my friend."
Hermione stood, brushed off her robes and didn't look back at the grave of Ron Weasley. Her son ran to her and clung to her legs and her husband wrapped his arms around her.
She looked at Draco for a long moment as he tucked a stray strand of hair behind her ear. Kissing her on the forehead he whispered, as he had so many times since they had been married, "Oh, Hermione, my love. I have loved you to the point of madness."
She smiled at him as they turned and made their way through the field, to the next adventure in their lives, their next moment of perfection - to their future.
A/N: Well, there it is! Finally! A HUGE thanks to everyone that reviewed and stuck with this story. It's given me the motivation to write something else:) Once again, a'thank you' to Karambur for the time spent editing. I hope everyone enjoyed this story! It was loads of fun to write! Cheers!!! Hope you all stick around!