Now it's really over. Thanks again for all of the support and the reviews, guys. I've had a blast!
Epilogue: Some Things Never Change
Hermione put down her morning cup of coffee to open the window, and the large tawny owl that had been perched on the windowsill flew gracefully into the living room. She took the letter from its beak and gave it a small snack and a Sickle, sending it on its way.
Finally, she thought anxiously, ripping open the envelope, her eyes running over the letter rapidly.
Mum and Dad,
Hogwarts is amazing! Even after reading Hogwarts, A History and listening to all of your stories, I can't believe how incredible the castle and the professors are. Everything is magical, even the horse-less carriages that brought us from the train station!
I hope you're never able to see the 'horses' that pull the carriages, love, she thought sadly, remembering the deaths she witnessed that allowed her to see thestrals.
The Great Hall is beautiful. I'm going to learn how to charm the ceiling in my bedroom to look like the sky as well. I saw Aunt Ginny, and Aunt Minerva too. They were both crying a lot, like you did when I left, Mum. I don't understand why girls cry so much, it's not as though you'll never see me again.
I started my studies, and I'm already at the top of my class. Aunt Minerva says that I'm going to follow in your footsteps as the smartest wizard in Hogwarts, Mum. Aunt Ginny says that I'm going to follow in Dad's footsteps as the biggest heartthrob in Hogwarts, but I hope not because girls are weird. No offense, Mum.
Well, hopefully this letter will make you feel better now that I'm gone. Don't miss me too much.
Not likely, Hermione thought, sniffling.
And give Elle a kiss for me. I promise to write often.
P.S. – Sorry Mum, but I was sorted into Slytherin. I am a Malfoy, after all.
Laughing, Hermione read and reread the letter until she had it memorized. Sighing contentedly, she walked over to Alex's empty room. Looking around at the scattered toys and books he left behind, she was overcome by another wave of grief.
"You're not crying again, are you Granger?"
Hermione frowned and turned towards Draco, who had just entered the room.
Seeing his wife's depressed mood, Draco dropped his smirk and walked over to her. "He's gone to school, love. He hasn't died or anything."
"I know, Draco. I just miss him," she sniffed, wiping her tears.
"Me too. I think Elle does as well, because she woke up wailing," he said, looking down at the baby girl in his arms, who was now cooing softly and playing with his fingers.
Hermione watched as Draco played with their daughter, smiling softly. Elle was the perfect mix of Hermione and Draco, with soft, auburn curls and strikingly blue eyes. Although she was only 5 months, her parents had high hopes for her magical abilities, as she was the daughter of two of the most powerful wizards in the world.
"Is that letter from Alex?" Draco asked, noticing the paper in Hermione's hands.
"Hmm? Oh yes," she replied shiftily.
"And?" he pressed, raising his eyebrows knowingly.
Hermione frowned and crossed her arms. "Slytherin," she hissed, narrowing her eyes as her husband smirked smugly.
"Don't start!" she interrupted as he opened his mouth to speak. "And don't say 'I told you so!' If you say that, you lose the bet anyway."
"Fine," he conceded. "But tonight, you have to fulfill the terms of the bet to my heart's content. No backing out now, Granger," he added, staring at her lustily.
"Stop looking at me like that," she scolded playfully. Elle, who had finally realized her mother was in the room, began cooing loudly, stretching her arms towards Hermione. She picked up Elle from her father's arms and began walking towards the kitchen, Draco hot on her heels.
"So your mother flooed earlier," she began as she warmed up a bottle for Elle.
Groaning, Draco poured himself a cup of coffee. "Nothing good can come from this."
Hermione laughed softly, settling into a dining chair and feeding her daughter. "She wants us to come to dinner again this Friday. She said she enjoyed having us over the other night and she would like to make our dinners a regular event."
"You told her no though, right?" Draco asked desperately.
"No, why would I?" she teased, laughing at the horrified look on his face. "I told her that it was a good idea, however weekly dinners may not be feasible. She suggested twice a month, and I agreed to that."
"Twice a month?" he repeated, lowering his head to the counter.
"Yes, I thought it was a good compromise. That would give Narcissa and Lucius time to play with Elle, and I think you can spare a few hours a month to spend with your parents," she reasoned. "Besides, I think I'm only a few dinners away from getting Lucius to like me," she added with a smile.
Draco snorted. "Don't get your hopes up. I've been waiting 30 years for that man to like me. So far, I think the only people he actually likes are my mother, Alex, and Elle. Everyone else he just tolerates, barely. Although he did dance with you at our wedding, so he may even like you more than he likes me."
Laughing, Hermione finished feeding Elle and set her down in her swing in the living room. The couple sat down on the couch together, watching their daughter laugh while swinging back and forth.
"Do you ever think that this is weird?" Hermione asked all of a sudden.
"What do you mean?" Draco questioned, turning towards her.
"You and me. Together. Married, with a son and a daughter," she explained. "I mean, if someone had told me when the war ended, that only a decade later I would be Hermione Granger-Malfoy, I would've recommended them to the war damages ward of St. Mungo's."
Draco thought about her words for a while. Wrapping his arm around her shoulder, he shrugged, "Things change."
"Not much has changed, Draco," she sighed, putting her head on his shoulder. "I'm still a 'know-it-all bookworm,' as you put it so eloquently, and you're still a smarmy prat when you want to be. We fight day in and day out. I mean, you still call me 'Granger' Draco!"
"I'd rather spend my life fighting with you than sitting in silence with any other woman," he replied, looking down at her.
Smiling, Hermione turned to face him. "That was so corny," she teased as she leaned in and gave him a kiss.
Draco deepened the kiss, pulling Hermione closer to him and running his hands through her hair. As she pulled away in need of air, he began kissing her jaw line to her ear. Nibbling on the lobe he whispered, "Plus, the sex is bloody fantastic."
"There's the Malfoy I know and love," she sighed, pulling back to look at him. His eyes, once blue, were now stormy gray with lust as he stared at her hungrily. Even after all of these years, one look from him could make her weak in the knees.
His sex drive hadn't lessened remotely as they entered their fifth year of marriage. If anything, it increased as his love for his wife grew. Time had been kind to both, for Draco's aristocratic face became more distinguished with age. Motherhood had filled Hermione out, giving her graceful curves that her husband couldn't take his eyes off of, or keep his hands off of for that matter.
As he leaned in to resume their 'activities,' Hermione stopped him, looking over at their daughter who was watching her parents intently. Smiling at the look of wonder and confusion on Elle's face, Draco settled for a demure kiss on Hermione's lips before he got up and brought his daughter to the couch. Excited to be the center of attention once again, she immediately began giggling and cooing, reaching out to her parents.
Draco watched as Hermione kissed Elle's tiny fists, her tummy, and all over her face. Smiling softly, he looked over at the family portrait they had placed on the mantle, taken only a month before Alex left for Hogwarts. Staring at the picture of his son, and Alex's uncanny resemblance to Draco himself at that age, his smile turned into a smirk.
"What are you smirking at?" Hermione asked apprehensively, knowing that an argument was brewing.
"Slytherin," he replied simply, shaking his head. "He's going to be just like me."
Hermione frowned at him, looking at the picture Draco had stared at moments ago. "I hope not," she grumbled. "Or at least not like you during Hogwarts."
"I agree with you there," he admitted, earning a surprised look from Hermione.
She smiled at him, remembering again why this "weird" situation came about. "I guess some things do change," she conceded, kissing him lightly on the cheek.
Elle fussed loudly, bringing Hermione and Draco to focus on her again. She began to babble animatedly, eliciting laughs out of her parents.
"At least Elle will be in Gryffindor, won't you baby?" Hermione cooed, tickling her belly.
"She most certainly will not," Draco cried with an affronted expression. "She's a Malfoy, therefore she will be in Slytherin."
"You forget, dear Draco, that she is not only a Malfoy. She's a Granger too," she reminded him. "And a Granger-Malfoy will definitely be in Gryffindor."
"She is not a Granger-Malfoy!" he exclaimed heatedly.
"Only because you wouldn't let me give her my name," she retorted.
"Of course not," he stated. "It's bad enough that you, my own wife, is not a Malfoy, but a Granger-Malfoy. Our child will not suffer the burden of a hyphenated name."
"You are so stubborn," Hermione scoffed, pulling her hair out of Elle's firm grasp. "And such a drama queen."
Ignoring the fact that she had just called him a 'queen,' Draco continued his rant. "Well you are so sneaky. Don't think I don't know your plan. As soon as she goes to school, she'll realize that Helena Alexis Granger-Malfoy is way too long a name to write and she'll drop the end of the hyphen, losing all connection to me. Sneaky, Granger, but you forgot that you are married to the Slytherin King."
"Slytherin King?" she repeated with a laugh. "So what does that make me?"
"My queen," he growled, kissing her again. Lifting Elle out of Hermione's arms and over his head, he smiled as she laughed excitedly. "And you, my little angel, are going to be a Slytherin Princess."
"My foot!" Hermione exclaimed, smiling still. "She'll be a Gryffindor Princess if anything. If you keep calling her 'angel' and 'princess' all the time, she's going to grow up spoiled."
"Why shouldn't she be spoiled?" he asked, hugging her as she tried to grab his nose. "She's the most beautiful little baby in the world and as her father, I have every right to spoil her rotten."
"Turn her into Daddy's little girl, won't you?" she teased, lying down on the oversized couch.
"You've turned Alex into a Mama's boy, so I'm claiming Elle as my little girl," he retorted childishly, lying beside her with Elle on his stomach.
Laughing again, Hermione turned on her side and wrapped her arms around her husband and daughter. Glancing back at the portrait where Alex was looking down at them, she couldn't help but feel that he had planned this from the beginning.
Smart kid, that Alex, she thought with a smile.
C'est fini! Thanks again for reading.