Disclaimer: Only the plot is mine. The characters, setting, and everything else belong to JKR.
Hermione smiled down at her daughter as the two of them wound their way through the forest and to Althea. "Are you doing all right, Lyra?" she asked. "If you need me to slow down, just say so."
Her daughter shook her head from side to side. "I'm fine, Mummy," she said softly, worrying her lower lip ever so slightly and so betraying her emotions to her mother, who shared the same nervous habit.
"What's wrong, darling?" Hermione asked. She resisted the temptation to pick up her little girl, knowing that Lyra considered herself above such things now that she was all of four years old. "You're not scared, are you?"
"No, I'm not," was Lyra's reply. "It's just that…do you think your tree will like me?" she asked in a rush, the words tumbling out of her.
"I know she will, dearest." Hermione stopped in her tracks and knelt down so she could look her daughter in the eye. "Althea is very excited to be formally introduced to you. Besides it isn't as though this is the first time you've met," she reminded Lyra.
She thought back to how she and Draco had brought Lyra to Althea when she was barely a month old for Hermione had recognized her daughter as a dryad at birth. She had been over the moon when she had discovered that. She had already been excited at finally having a daughter to continue her lineage but to have her also be a dryad. Such a thing was almost unheard of.
"But Scorpius said that—"
"Never mind what your brother said. Either one of them," Hermione added as an afterthought. She made a mental note to have a talk to her sons. The two of them were overly fond of joining forces against their little sister. She saw that she would have to remind them once more not to go overboard with their teasing.
And if that didn't work, Hermione would say something to Draco. While her husband loved their sons, he positively doted on their daughter. That had worried Hermione for awhile, but then she had been reassured by her own mother and Narcissa that it was natural. Draco, having been a boy himself, was used to the ruses and tricks his sons tried to pull. Against his daughter, however, he had no such defenses.
They were close to Althea's clearing now, and so Hermione pushed those thoughts aside. She smiled as her daughter gasped as she caught sight of her tree.
"Merlin!" Lyra whispered. "I think that's the largest tree I've ever seen."
"That wouldn't surprise me," Hermione said. The years had been kind to both her and her tree, but the best was yet to come. "Come on now," she told her daughter. "Don't be shy. Althea has something to return to you." Hermione's path came full circle as she took her daughter by the hand and led her to Althea to receive the seed pendant that one day would be her own tree.
Author's note: And here is the epilogue, short and sweet as promised. My thanks to everyone who has taken the time to read this fic.