Chapter 11: What Has Become of Us? (Epilogue)

Baby's black balloon makes her fly
I almost fell into that hole in your life
And you're not thinking about tomorrow
cause you were the same as me

Six Months Later

Hermione held little James Emmanuel Potter in her arms and cooed at the baby looking up at her. "Oh Ginny, he's absolutely adorable." She said, mesmerized by the miniature of Harry bundled in her lap.

Ginny cooed and giggled girlishly at Hermione's compliments. "He looks exactly like his father—the first in a long line of Weasley-blood to have something other than red hair!" she exclaimed.

Hermione grinned and handed the baby back to Ginny before turning to the proud papa. "You must be thrilled, Harry."

"Terrified is more like it." Harry chuckled.

Hermione gave him a quizzical look.

"Unlike you and Ginny Hermione, I never had parents to teach me how it's done." Harry's face slid into a sad smile. "I'm sort of a fish out of water here."

Ginny interrupted him rocking the baby. "Don't listen to him Hermione, he's a wonderful daddy!" she said grinning at her husband.

Hermione laughed at the interchange and stood from her place on their living room couch. "It's been wonderful seeing you Gin—congratulations—both of you, on the wonderful little bundle of joy you have now. I'm only sorry I couldn't get by sooner."

Harry stood to walk her to the fireplace. "We're glad to have you Hermione." He said with a large grin. "But I think there's someone you should be getting home to."

There was a strange sparkle in both Ginny's and Harry's eyes as she said her last good-byes for the night and flooed back to Malfoy Manor. When she arrived, she immediately noticed that something was amiss. The great room, where she expected Draco to be sitting and waiting for her was empty. There was only a large red ribbon tied around the doorknob to the room.

Wiping her self off she set her things down and curiously walked over to the double doors. As she untied the ribbon, a picture fell to her feet. She bent down and picked it up and noticed that it was the picture of her at the Yule Ball in fourth year. Curious, she flipped it over, and there, scrawled in Draco's neat script, were the words "follow the ribbon, love and find me."

Hermione's heart leapt in wonder and excitement as she threw the double doors open and scooped the heavy satin ribbon up. The ribbon was draped down the hallway and it led her up the stairs. On the first floor landing, she found a dozen yellow roses and another note that said "These represent a friendship forged against all the odds." She smiled at his thoughtfulness and inhaled of the flowers deeply. She left them in the ornate vase where they stood and continued up the stairs.

At the top of the stairs she found a stand with another set of roses—these were deep, velvety crimson. The note that sat with them read "These represent my love for you. These flowers are charmed never to die, Hermione, and they are a symbol of my undying love for you."

Hermione felt tears prick her eyes as she set the card on the table and ran her fingers across the delicate blooms. "So beautiful."

She turned from the stand and followed the ribbon to her room. This she thought was a bit odd, because she'd not really used the room in months. She paused a moment before opening the door and looked down the hallway toward the room that had become theirs. Shrugging she untied the ribbon from the knob and pushed the door open.

--

Draco had this moment planned for months. He liked to lie awake at night with Hermione pressed up against him and think about how he was going to make it work. The more he thought about it, the more things he added. The roses, the picture, what the note cards would say." So when the day came for him to finally do it, all he had to do was get Hermione out of the Manor.

His chance came when Harry and Ginny had their son. He thought it was fitting that she go to their place to celebrate with them a few days after Ginny was released from St. Mungos, and he conveniently had to work all day that day. As soon as Hermione left after lunch, he collected the elves and put them to work making everything perfect for her return.

Now, Draco was standing hidden in one of their favorite places, knowing that Hermione was back as he'd heard her floo in; he waited for her to follow his trail that would lead her to him.

--

Hermione opened her French doors and gasped. The entire room was covered in flower petals. The floor, the bed, every nook and cranny was graced by red and white roses. She marveled at the room as she stepped into it carefully. She'd never seen anything like it in her life. The air even smelled wonderfully fresh and sweet.

She followed the ribbon, which had been laid atop the carpet of petals, to the bed, where she found the most beautiful dress she'd ever laid eyes on. It was deep green and was embroidered with silver trim. It wasn't a long dress, it hit her mid calf, but it was fancy—a cocktail type—made of flowing silks and satins that would keep her cool in the warm night air of early summer. She found matching shoes and a matching purse sitting with it. Picking up the card that was folded and lying on top of the dress she sighed, "Oh, Draco…"

The card read "Put this on and look out your window." She smiled widely as she did so, slipping out of her jeans and sneakers and into the dress. She ran to the bathroom to look at herself in the full length mirror and she nearly lost her breath at the sight. Though she had not yet done her make up or hair, she found that the dress fit her perfectly. It hugged her tiny waist and dipped just low enough to hint at her cleavage. It flowed free down over her hips and rippled against her calves prettily. It was a halter top and the straps were ribbons that were meant to hang down the back of the dress. She tied them in a neat but firm bow and adjusted it to fit properly. Twirling around again, she noticed the falling star pattern of silver embroidery that traveled down her chest to her waist line. There were tiny jewels sewn into the material and they sparkled as she moved.

Hermione pulled her hair up into a modified French twist, letting the curls flow prettily over the tight bun-like do. She noticed that a few ringlets had escaped her ministrations, but she allowed them to stay, as they rested gently against her face and neck. He ran her wand over her face and hair with a glamour charm quickly cementing the work she'd done on her hair and adding a light colored eye shadow to her face. She finished off with a pale shimmery lip-gloss, and gave herself one last once-over. With a smile and a nod, she slipped on the shoes and filled the handbag with a few necessities and went to the great window that sat across from her bed.

When Hermione looked out, she found a red ribbon leading from the back door—which her room was right over—out into the gardens. Her eyes followed the line of red until it disappeared in the labyrinth and she smiled. She had no idea where it would lead, but she was nervous and excited none the less. She wondered what the occasion was.

Quickly, she wandered back down stairs, stopping to pull one of the yellow roses from its vase, happily taking it in her hands as she left through the back door and followed the satin ribbon down the walkway through the gardens.

--

Hermione stopped when she saw the bow at the end of the labyrinth. She'd just walked through it, admiring the late blooming flowers, and when she reached the other side, she found herself staring at her butterfly house. "What on earth…" she whispered, lifting the rose she'd brought with her to her nose again. She strode forward to the glass door and saw the bow tied against the handle with a note carefully tucked into the loop. It read "this is the first gift I ever gave you, Hermione. Come inside and find me."

She sighed as she pulled the ribbon from the handle and carefully opened the door. Once inside, she giggled involuntarily at the feel of the butterflies on her neck and arms.

She strode the length of the house playing with the tiny creatures along the way, and at the other end, she saw a figure silhouetted against the moonlight. She recognized the form right away—Draco Malfoy.

"Draco, what—?" but he held his hand up to stop her question. He strode forward so that they could see one another better.

"You look beautiful." he murmured, smiling.

"I should think you would like it," Hermione smiled, "You picked it out for me."

Draco grinned back at her. "Do you know why I brought you here to night?" Draco asked, looking down into the sparkling brown eyes of the woman he loved.

Hermione felt a chill run down her spine and back up again. "No, Draco. I was hoping you'd tell me when I found you."

Draco smiled genuinely at her, "I've been thinking about this for a while, actually, just doing something like this." He murmured.

Hermione's eyes widened, "Since when?" she asked, but he didn't answer.

Instead he pulled Hermione to him and placed a gentle kiss on her lips. "My love there is something important I need to ask you." He whispered just so Hermione could hear him over the flutter of the butterflies.

"What is it, Draco?" she asked, at a loss for what kind of question might prompt such an elaborate setup.

Hermione gasped audibly when Draco pulled away from her and dropped to one knee. "Draco!" she cried, her hands at her mouth.

"Hermione No-Last-Name, it has been nearly a year since I took a skinny, downtrodden woman in off the streets. In that time I have managed to fall hopelessly in love with the most beautiful, most intelligent, most caring woman I have ever met. You have helped me heal, Hermione in ways I didn't know I needed healing. I feel stronger when I am with you—and I don't sleep at night when you're not by my side. Would you do me the honor of being my wife?"

Hermione was so overwhelmed with emotion that she could not speak at first. She felt the first tear roll down her cheek and she nodded happily. Draco stood and took her into his arms and held her close to him. Finally, she found her voice, "Yes Draco! Yes! A thousand times yes!" she cried and laughed and kissed every part of his face she could reach.

Draco pulled away from her and offered her the ring he'd held in his hand since before she had even flooed back into the Manor. "This ring was my grandmother's." He held it up for her inspection.

The ring was ornate, and cast in platinum. There was a good-sized princess-cut diamond in the center, and it was surrounded by emeralds and rubies. As well as delicate filigree that traced down each side of the ring. "It's beautiful, Draco." Hermione gasped, as he slipped it onto her finger.

"It was meant to be yours, Hermione." Draco whispered to her, "It's called the 'Heart of Gryffindor."

Hermione's head jerked up, "But—how?" she wondered, she thought surely that all for Draco's ancestors were Slytherin.

"My grandmother on my mother's side was a Gryffindor. That ring was made especially for her by my grandfather. Because she was the first Gryffindor in a predominantly Slytherin line, he had the ring maker charm the ring to protect her against any one who should try to hurt her. It's called the Heart of Gryffindor because only a Gryffindor who is truly in love with their mate may wear the ring and utilize its powers." Draco explained kissing Hermione's hand gently.

"Oh, Draco." She sighed, looking once again at the ring before pulling him down for another kiss. "This is the most wonderful thing I've ever received." She said.

You went through all this trouble—bought me a dress and everything, just to bring me here and propose?" Hermione sighed in wonder.

"Actually—there is another part of this evening…" Draco said. Looking down at her. "How does…Greece sound to you?" he smiled.

"Greece? What are you talking about?" she implored, her brow knitting slightly.

"Dinner, of course." Draco said, "Hold on to me." He murmured before closing his eyes and aparating away.

--

Hermione waited excitedly for the Potters and her parents to arrive a week later. She was excited to tell them the news—especially since Harry and Draco had formed a kind of friendship ever since the night Hermione's magic fully returned to her. She could never thank Harry enough for giving Draco a chance to explain himself, and working with him to help her. It meant the world that he was able to let go of his childhood grudges.

When the Potters finally arrived, little James in tow, Hermione rushed to hug Ginny and Harry. "Oh, it's so good to see you." She gushed, smiling happily. Draco stood from his chair and shook Harry's hand.

"My parents should be here any moment—I taught them how to floo last month, but they're still not used to it." Hermione said.

Just then, the Grangers skidded to a stop in front of the gathered party. "Present and accounted for!" Mr. Granger called, grinning. He had always found the floo more fun than it should have been.

"Most of us, anyway." Mrs. Granger swallowed—her experience was rather different from her husband.

Hermione greeted her parents and led them out onto the terrace where they would receive their afternoon tea.

Draco took his seat next to Hermione at the large round table and took her hand in his and held it in his lap. "I'm ready when you are dear." He whispered to her discreetly, while the Potters and the Grangers chatted about the baby.

Finally, Harry turned suspiciously back to Hermione and Draco. "Ok, you said that there was news—well out with it."

Ginny grinned impishly, the gleam in her eye telling Hermione she had an idea was this was about.

Hermione smiled, and laid her left hand on the table for everyone to see. "Draco asked me to marry him." She said smiling.

Harry and Mr. Granger broke out in broad grins, and each rose to shake Draco's hand. Ginny and Mrs. Granger squealed and cooed with delight over the beauty of the ring as well as the impending nuptials. They all chatted amicably for an hour or two, about plans for the wedding. Hermione leaned into Draco and found she was comforted just knowing that she had finally found true love.

--

Four months passed and it was mid-winter when Hermione learned something that would change her life forever.

She and Draco had been engaged and were busy planning a beautiful but rather small wedding, when Hermione came down with what she labeled the worst flu in the history of colds.

Often, she would wake from a dead sleep and rush to the bathroom to empty her stomach into the toilet. The first time it happened, she assumed that she'd eaten something that hadn't agreed with her. It certainly felt like a mild case of food poisoning.

When it happened again a few days later, Hermione assumed she was just getting sick. The wedding planning and her new job at the ministry as an unspeakable in the Department of Mysteries had her busy from sun up till sun down. She put it out of her mind until after a week she felt no better.

"Love, you should go to the doctor. I know you say its not serious—but what if it's more serious than you think?" Draco asked her one night lying in bed. After a bit of arguing which ended when Hermione found herself hunched over the toilet again, she agreed and made an appointment.

--

It was early when she arrived at St. Mungos. Her appointment was with a general healer who examined her both physically and with his wand. He cast several spells, muttered to himself, and then went about casting more spells. After several moments of sitting in silence, Hermione could take no more of it.

"Please—what is it? Is it serious?" Hermione asked, wringing her hands.

The doctor looked up from his clipboard and tilted his head. "I'd say its pretty serious, yes." He replied.

Hermione's heart skipped a beat. "Is it curable?"

The doctor, to her surprise, smiled broadly at her. "My dear what you have is a classic case of morning sickness." The healer replied.

Hermione's brows furrowed. "Morning Sickness?" She croaked, "That's impossible."

"Looking through your file, I'd be inclined to agree with you, dear, but the fact remains that you are indeed nearly two months pregnant."

Hermione's head began to spin. "It was impossible. It was impossible." She repeated aloud staring at the foot of the examination table.

"Sometimes, our healers are wrong, Miss. Sometimes, the damage that's been done repairs itself. Sometimes, despite all our magical knowledge, there is a deeper magic that creates miracles." The healer closed her chart and tapped it with his wand making it disappear. "Love has defeated greater opponents than this one." The healer winked, before turning to exit. "Congratulations, Miss." He said, before leaving the room.

"A baby." Hermione whispered, placing a shaking hand over her stomach. "Two months already." She said, and then did the math in her head—he had been late—but it wasn't uncommon, after all that had happened to her body during the war—she just never thought about it until now, what that could mean. "Oh what am I going to tell Draco!" she cried, standing and gathering her things before racing to the nearest apparition point.

--

Draco had noticed that Hermione seemed vexed about something ever since she'd returned from St. Mungos. He wanted to ask her what had been said—but it appeared that she was avoiding him. He worried more than ever as their wedding was now only a month or so away, whether or not there would even be a bride to walk down the isle to him.

He was sitting in the study brooding when she came to him.

"Draco?" She asked, there was nervousness in her voice.

Draco turned his face from the fire and looked at her. Her face made him rise to his feet and go to her. "What is it love?" he said, taking Hermione in his arms.

Hermione took a deep breath. She stepped out of the embrace and sat them down on one of the couches that faced the fire place. "I need to tell you what I learned at the hospital today." She said, trying to remain calm.

Draco blinked at her and waited for her to continue. He silently prayed that she would be ok.

"It's kind of funny, actually—" Hermione said. "A real miracle."

Draco was thoroughly confused. "What's going on, Hermione?"

Hermione looked into his face and saw his concern for her. It gave her the confidence that she needed. Without speaking, she took his large hand and placed it gently over her lower abdomen. She never lost eye contact with him, and her meaning was clear.

Draco's breath caught in his throat. As his hand rested against her he was at first confused, and then, impossibly happy. He swallowed the lump that had arisen and took a deep breath. "Are you sure?"

She nodded. "Two months, almost." She whispered.

"A baby." Draco whispered. "I'm gonna be a father." Without any further words, Draco scooped his fiancée up and carried her up to their bedroom. Laying her carefully amongst the pillows in their large bed he placed himself beside her. Gently, he lifted up her shirt and placed his lips on her abdomen.

Hermione watched Draco as he lovingly caressed her stomach. She ran her fingers through his hair and smiled happily. "My dream really has come true." She whispered.

Draco looked up at her. "So has mine." He said in reply, before leaning up to kiss her thoroughly.

--

The wedding was indeed a small affair. They had invited several of Hermione's friends from school—Luna, Neville, Seamus and Dean, as well as most of the Weasleys, minus Ron who was conveniently left off the guest list, and Charlie who was in Romania. There were the people that worked with Draco, and one or two of the Slytherins he still talked with.

Harry and Blaise stood up with Draco as his best men. Ginny stood by Hermione as her Matron of Honor. The colors were red and green, gold and silver, Ginny wore red, the boys had on green ties and cumber bunds.

Hermione's dress was exquisite; it was strapless and the bust was fitted, but it was an empire-waist design, so the dress fell about her form loosely. She was careful to hide the slight bulge her condition had produced over the month's time after she'd told Draco. Draco and Hermione had kept the pregnancy a secret from everyone. They would tell when the time was right.

They decided to hold the wedding in a local muggle cathedral—being that Hermione was of muggle birth, it was fitting. The ceremony was a wizarding ceremony, however.

As Hermione walked down the isle with her father and joined hands with Draco she smiled brightly. She was so happy she was tingling all over—and there was nothing that could ruin the moment.

"Ladies and Gentlemen we are gathered here today to witness the bonding of two souls into one. If there is anyone who should object to this union, please let them speak up now." The Wizard performing the ceremony glanced around the room and was about to speak when the doors at the back of the cathedral burst open. Ron Weasley came jogging up the isle.

--

Hermione felt her heart sink to her toes. She also felt Draco's hands grasp hers tighter—a signal that he was very angry and was about to do something no one should do in a church. She begged him to wait long enough to figure out what Ron was doing there.

Ron gasped for breath as he stopped at the end of the isle before Draco and Hermione.

"Ronald what are you doing here?" Hermione ground out, her own fury flooding her features now.

"I had to… to ask for your forgiveness… 'Mione." Ron looked at her pleadingly.

"Forgiveness?" Hermione asked, her brows rose.

"For everything. For the way we ended, for the fighting, for everything. I need to know you forgive me before you get married. Before you start over and forget about me."

Hermione felt her heart melt a little as she watched Ron's face. There was true sorrow there, true shame and true regret. She also saw that he truly cared about her and wanted nothing more for her to be happy. She sighed slightly and reached out to touch Ron's arm. "You were forgiven the day I got my magic back, Ronald. You know you're still my other best friend." She smiled at him.

It was as if a dam broke over the room, sighs and murmuring could be heard as Hermione turned to hug Ron. When she released him Ron turned to Draco.

"Malfoy." He offered his hand to shake. "Be better to her than I was. She's too precious a gift to lose in a moment of weakness." There was a sense of true understanding in Ron's words, and Draco shook his hand firmly with a nod.

"Don't worry Weasley. I'll take good care of her." Draco replied seriously.

Ron took a seat beside Ginny and Harry and the ceremony continued. Yes, all was right with the world.

The honeymooned in Italy, touring the Mediterranean sea-port cities and enjoying the local food and festivities. They were gone nearly two weeks when they returned to a house full of wedding presents that had yet to be opened.

--

Hermione was nearly three months along when she visited with her parents and with Ginny and Harry. It was becoming difficult to conceal her expanding abdomen, and finally she called a brunch to break the news.

"I know all of you are wondering what you're doing here." Hermione said, as she brought in a tray of tea cups and cookies. "Basically, Draco and I have some wonderful news that we need to share with you." She turned to her new husband for support.

Ginny's expression darkened momentarily in thought, but she said nothing.

"We're going to be adding a new addition to our family very soon." Hermione announced. "We're having a baby."

Her parents were overjoyed, assuming they meant to adopt. Harry and Ginny seemed to know better though and Ginny voiced their suspicions, "'Mione, I thought that was impossible. I thought with the injuries you received during the war—"

Hermione raised a hand and cut her friend off. "Apparently the healers were wrong, Gin. She pulled her baggy sweatshirt off to reveal a tank top that left little to the imagination, tummy-wise. Putting her hand delicately over the gentle bulge, she smiled. "We're only about three and a half months—but we wanted to tell you all—it's truly a miracle." Hermione grinned. She felt Draco wrap his arms about her and place his hands over her own.

Harry stood and extended his hand and then pulled Draco into a friendly hug. "Welcome to Fatherhood." He grinned as if he'd shared a secret with the blond haired man.

Hermione hugged Ginny and then her mother, who was crying. Her father congratulated them both and they settled into a comfortable, happy discussion about baby names and the bright future.

--

That night, as Hermione and Draco lay in bed in their post coital embrace they were just about to doze off when Hermione jerked and sat straight up in the bed.

"What's wrong love?" Draco asked, leaning up on his elbow.

"Give me your hand." She said hurriedly, excitedly.

"What?"

"Your hand, Draco," Hermione laughed, and turned toward him a bit, she was looking down at her stomach.

"Is something wrong with the baby?" he asked nervously.

Hermione took his hand and placed it over her stomach. "Wait. There… did you feel that?" she asked, looking at him excitedly.

"What was that?" Draco asked a bit unnerved.

"That, dear husband, was your son." She leaned in and kissed him lightly on the lips.

"My son?" Draco whispered his eye brows rising.

"Yes. The doctor told me just yesterday." She said with a smile on her face.

"I have a son." Draco pulled Hermione down as he lay back against the pillows. "I have a son." He repeated a smile in his voice.

"What do you think about Aiden?" Hermione mused.

"Aiden." Draco hummed. "Little Fire."

"I think it matches." Hermione sighed, curling into her husband. "After all, our Patronuses are Dragons."

Draco placed his hand over Hermione's stomach and molded himself into her back as he kissed her neck sweetly, he whispered into her ear—"Aiden Liam Malfoy."

"Liam… determined guardian…." Hermione smiled as she closed her eyes. "A fine name for a Malfoy" she murmured. "Named after the charm that cemented the return of my magic"

Malfoy hummed in her ear, "Named because it was our passion that created him. Named as a promise to spend my lifetime caring for you and our son."

--

It was late summer when the 9th month of Hermione's pregnancy rolled around. Her abdomen had expanded to hold the growing child within her, and though she disliked the added weight, Draco thought she couldn't have looked more beautiful.

It was early evening and Draco was sitting in his study reading up on a potion he was having his company produce, when he heard a thud at his door. He looked up and saw that Hermione had landed against the open door and was holding her belly with one hand.

Looking at him with watery eyes and excitement, Hermione whispered, "Draco, it's time."

Author's Notes:

THE END!

Whew

It's been a ride! I hope this covered most everything people were worried about. The conflict with Ron, the idea that Hermione was… in the family way… the marriage… Voila!

Thank you all SOO much for your wonderful reviews. I really couldn't have done this so quickly without you guys! blows kisses

I'll probably have a new fic in the works soon—I don't have anything in mind just yet—but I'm thinking about it, lol. So keep an eye out!

Thanks again for sticking with me!

Fairytale Mistress