Disclaimer: I own no part of the Harry Potter franchise, all characters and plots belong to J.K. Rowling, and I make no money off this fiction.
AN: Counting Ethics, this story contains over 300k words!It has been a long two years, folks, but I couldn't have come this far without you all- my dedicated and patient readership. I love these characters so much and I hope that with this epilogue- though it may not have ended how you wanted it to- you will find the closure I have in completing this fic. This epilogue has been sitting in my head for over a year and to have finally reached it is an incredible feeling. I hope everyone's loves and imaginations continue to grow, and grow, and grow, just as Hermione and Draco have. All my love to you all and best wishes for a fruitful and happy holiday. Happy Christmas and a very pleasant, promising, and safe New Year.
What we have once enjoyed we can never lose. All that we love deeply becomes a part of us.
Barclay eyed his best friends from across the room as Ronald danced about the parlor with Viola in his arms. The two had been an item since their fifth year and now they were just waiting for Viola to finish her seventh year for them to get married.
Barclay knew he should be happy about it. He was happy about it. He just wished he'd seen it coming. It had been two years since they'd started dating and he still felt the same twinge of…something, jealousy, maybe, every time he saw her smiling up at him. A small person landed on the sofa beside him and he glanced down at the bouncing head of blond curls with a smile on his face.
"What's up, Lucy?"
Siria Lucia gazed up at her oldest brother adoringly. "Mummy said you had to be my date to the Yule Ball this year if Jamie wouldn't go with me."
Barclay laughed. "Did she? Did Mum think to check my calendar first?"
"Mum did," came a voice from behind him and he looked over his shoulder to see Hermione standing there- his mother since he was six- gazing in the direction he'd just been looking a moment before.
"They're quite a handsome couple, aren't they?" she murmured and Barclay glanced back at Vi and Ron. He grunted and felt Lucy climb into his lap. He unceremoniously pushed the petite witch back onto the sofa seat. She giggled wildly and he looked down at her again. For a twelve year old, she still acted like she was nine. It was endearing some of the time. Hermione insisted she took after his father, but Barclay wasn't sure. He stood up and gave his mother a peck on the cheek while she gazed at him as adoringly as Lucy just had.
"You're so like your father- I just can't get over it," Hermione murmured, giving him a return kiss and hugging him tightly. "I'm so glad you decided to stay with us another year. I just don't think I'm ready to lose any of my babies yet."
Barclay stifled a snort and looked to Vi again. "You're going to have to prepare yourself," he warned. "I'm pretty sure they're planning on eloping the minute graduation is over."
"They wouldn't!" Hermione looked so scandalized that Barclay had to laugh.
"Be prepared," he said sternly anyway, then grinned easily. "Just kidding."
"Why- if you weren't just like your father-"
"I know, I know, I'd be a Weasley!" Barclay called over his shoulder as he made his escape from the increasingly over crowded parlor as James passed him. He passed his aunt and grandmother as well, on the stairs up to his room and they both looked at one another knowingly before sending him on his way with a smile and hug, each.
By the time he got to his room he was in a foul mood.
Draco nodded to him just as he slammed his door shut and the older man paused at the top of the stairs.
"Barclay?" he called. "Are you alright?"
"Find, Dad!" came the answer and Draco frowned, but went ahead downstairs anyway. When he met his wife in the hallway, he told her what had happened.
"I was afraid of this," she said and Draco glanced at her sharply.
Hermione rolled her eyes- Barclay had picked it up from her, not his father- and smiled tiredly.
"Your son is in love with my daughter."
"I suspect he always has been," Hermione continued. "But Viola grew out of it, poor thing. She just wanted an older brother- someone to protect her. And now she's with Ronald and Barclay doesn't know what to do about his best friends being in love with one another." She looked thoughtful. "He's being the bigger man about it, though. He's much more well behaved than Ronald would be, if their positions were reversed."
It took Draco a minute to realize that when she said "poor thing" she meant his son. He looked back up the stairs thoughtfully.
"I can't believe I never noticed."
"Neither can I," Hermione admitted. "He's been mooning about the exact same way you did with me."
"Please, give me a bit of a break? I have been busy helping to raise seven children."
Their second set of twins had rather been a surprise, late in life. Those precocious children- Cynthia and Orion- were now five years old. Hermione smiled up at Draco indulgently.
"I know. And you've done a wonderful job and there's nothing either of us could have done to have prevented this situation, except maybe not have gotten married."
Draco looked at her in sudden horror and she laughed again. "Darling, I'm only joking."
"And you tease Barclay about being a Weasley, woman," he murmured against her lips.
Up above them, sitting on his bed, glowering, Barclay sat flicking his wand in his wrists idly. He began ticking off all the things that made him a good catch- wealthy parents, good job (Gringotts was downright prestigious, these days), good looks- why, there was no reason why he wouldn't be able to make a woman fall in love with him, was there?
Except he was already in bloody love and had no desire to snag some other witch. If love was what it was…he still wasn't sure. He'd been so focused on Viola his whole life that he'd never even stopped to consider someone else. A timid knock on his door brought him out of his ill humor and he lifted his head.
"Come in," he called before thinking. He wiped hastily at his not-too-damp cheeks and put his wand on his night stand. A head of straight brown hair poked around his door and soft brown eyes regarded him seriously. "Hero," he said, surprised. "What's up?"
"What's up with you?" she retorted, though her voice barely rose above a murmur. She was the most soft-spoken in the house. Barclay had always wondered who'd she'd taken after, because it seemed that everyone who surrounded them was loud and opinionated and obnoxious, but not little Hero- Gaby to some of her school chums. He smiled weakly at her.
"Is it that obvious?" he asked and she took his reply as permission to come in. She settled herself quietly on the bed next to him.
"I dated Freddy all last year," she said suddenly and Barclay looked down at her in surprise.
"Freddy Longbottom? But isn't he awfully-" Old, he was going to say, but stopped short. The bloke- one of Aunt Ginny's twins- was a quidditch player and only two years older than Hero. He didn't suppose she would appreciate him making those remarks.
She glared at him. "I'm fourteen, you know," she pointed out. "I'm hardly a child anymore. Anyway, I know what broken hearted looks like when I see it."
"Why?" Barclay said sharply. "Did he break up with you? Hurt you? You should have told me, I'd have set him straight-"
"I broke up with him," she replied quietly, stopping him short. "And he was rather bent out of shape about it." She scuffed her shoe against the floor and Barclay stared ahead of himself, suddenly feeling like he wasn't sure he knew this sister- the little woman sitting beside him.
"You broke up with-"
"Him, yes." She pressed her lips together. "I'm in love with someone else, you see. And that's how I know what broken hearted feels like. Freddy just taught me what it looks like."
Barclay looked down at her, a wry smile on his face. "So who's the dumb bloke you need me to beat up?"
She laughed and the silvery sound filled his room. He blinked down at her stupidly as she tossed her sleek, straight hair over her shoulder, then stood up.
"Oh, he's beating himself up pretty well already over something else. Look, I really wanted to ask you if you'd come to the Yule Ball with me this year."
"Can't," Barclay replied, his mouth suddenly dry. Her face fell and he felt his heart speed up a little in his chest. "Mum promised Lucy I'd go with her if she couldn't get Jamie to agree to take her."
Hero smiled brilliantly. "Oh, that's alright. Lucy has about ten dates lined up. She just thinks you'll match her dress better. So, you'll take me?"
"I- it would be an honor, Hero," he finally murmured and she leaned over, gave him a peck on his cheek- just at the corner of his mouth.
She's not my sister, she's not my sister, she's not my sister, a voice in his head began to chant and his brow furrowed in confusion.
"As long as you don't mind that I'll be the oldest date there, besides Ronald," he added before she disappeared around his door again.
She gave him a searching glance, then smiled again.
"Barclay," she said, and her tone of voice seemed to imply that he was a silly, silly man, "I haven't minded about that in a long time."
Barclay watched her go, then stood up a moment later, himself and followed her out of his room and back down the stairs to rejoin his family. There was something he needed to see about doing…giving congratulations to his best friends on their engagement, for one.
Seeing whether the jealousy was real or imagined, for another.
And making sure that when their Longbottom cousins arrived for the Christmas dinner that Freddy sat no where near Hero, to finish.
Hermione and Draco watched all these proceedings with increasing relief and reveled in the restored happiness of their crowded, but loving town home.
I am a part of all that I have met.