Author's Note: I just want to apologise for the long wait. I wasn't entirely happy with what I had written for the epilogue and I decided to re-write the whole thing. I'm still not entirely happy, but this will just have to do.
I want to thank everyone who has reviewed this story and followed it. Your support has made it possible for me to finish this story. So thank you and I hope that you enjoy this last and final chapter.
.: Epilogue – Thirteen Years Later :.
Monday, September 1, 2015
"Xavier Nolan Malfoy, if you take one more step I swear to Merlin you'll wish you had never been born!" Hermione Malfoy screeched, a chilling glare plastered across her face.
The mischievous glint in her eleven year-old son's eye began to wane, replaced with a look of pure fear. Xavier gulped, taking in his mother's stance. She stood with her hands on her hips, the look in her hazel-brown eyes unsoftening as she continued to stare him down. Unconsciously, the boy began to shrink back, eyes darting about for an escape. There was a snicker from the stairwell, followed by a girlish giggle. Hermione advanced forward, brandishing her wand in a way that made the young boy turn ashen white.
"It was an accident, I swear," Xavier blurted out, stumbling over a chair behind him.
"It was an accident?" Hermione asked, her lips turning up into a derisive smirk. "You expect me to believe that turning your sister's hair purple was an accident?"
"Uh…yes," he answered with a weak grin, his grey eyes wide with anticipation and terror.
Hermione sighed, pinching the bridge of her nose. Her son visibly relaxed at this and moved from behind the kitchen table. He was about to leave the room – after all, it was better to sneak away while his mother wasn't paying close attention – when her voice startled him. "Don't think for a moment that I believe you young man, and if this wasn't your first year I would have you hanging from the banister by your shoelaces. As it is, your sister is hysterical and I haven't the time to deal with you as well as her. We will discuss this later, I can assure you."
Laughter bubbled from her lips as her oldest son fled the room, darting upstairs before another word could be said. Xavier was his father's son in both temperament and appearance. The mischievous streak however seemed to be unique to her son's personality. She had her suspicions though, the majority of which included her mother-in-law Narcissa. That woman had a wicked sense of humour, especially when she'd had one too many glasses of wine. If Xavier had inherited his penchant for mischief from anyone, it would have been his grandmother.
"Mama," a tiny voice called from the staircase. Hermione turned to look at her small daughter patiently, knowing what question came next. "You won't let Xavier touch my hair like Andy's, will you? I don't want purple hair!" the little girl cried at the end, rushing forward to hug Hermione's waist.
"Of course not, baby girl," she replied soothingly, stroking the little blonde's head.
Ilana was six years-old and unlike her other siblings, she had the tendency to cling to either Draco or herself. She was a needy child, one that needed constant reassurance and attention, but Hermione loved her all the more for it. Rose had never been clingy and neither had Andrea or Xavier. With Ilana she felt needed, though at times her dependence could be a bit much.
"But Andy's hair is purple! What if he decides to –"
"Ilana, I promise you that Xavier won't touch your hair. After today, it's just going to be the four of us; you, Alec and me and daddy. Xavier won't have the chance to change your hair purple or any other colour for that matter, I promise," Hermione cooed patiently, looking down at her blonde haired, brown-eyed daughter.
"But Alec –" Ilana started, her hazel-brown eyes wide and beseeching.
"What about Alec?" she questioned laughingly. "Sweetheart, Alec is two months old. His magic hasn't even manifested yet."
There was a screech from upstairs, followed shortly after by a wailing cry. Hermione sighed, kissing her young daughter on the forehead and telling her to go and play with Pip and Reggie – their two year-old English sheepdog – in the garden. Pip was old and spent the majority of her days sleeping on the back porch and Hermione knew that she was nearing the end of her life, but she hadn't the heart to tell Rose or any of the other children. That infernal dog, which she had grown to love so much, was a part of the family. It felt wrong to tell the children what was happening, especially Ilana.
As Hermione reached the top of the stairs, a tall, curly-haired blonde stepped in her path. The girl smiled, showing off a set of brilliant white teeth. "Dad can't get Andrea's hair to change back. Whatever Xavier did, he did it good."
"Yes – well, your brother always was particularly good at charms," Hermione sighed, smiling wryly.
"He hasn't even attended Hogwarts yet and still he can perform a charm – with dad's wand, no doubt – that requires a third year skill level. You know he's going to be worse than me, don't you?" Rose laughed, pushing her hair behind her ears.
"Well, as Head Girl I expect you to keep an eye on your wayward brother for me. Merlin knows with Savine Zabini by his side the school will be in an absolute uproar. The mischief those two get up to –"
"Is unbelievable, yes I know," her eldest laughed. "I know you think that Xavier inherited his penchant for trouble from grandma, but you have to admit that together he and Savine are like dad and Uncle Blaise all over again. Don't think grandpa didn't tell me all about them."
"I have no doubt your grandfather did just that, Rose. If you asked him to buy you a giant Hippogriff as a pet, you know he would, no questions asked," Hermione interrupted, smiling at her blushing daughter. "You have him wrapped around your little finger, Rose, don't deny it."
Lucius Malfoy was the biggest softy where Rose and the rest of his grandchildren were concerned. Anything they asked for, they were given without a single moments hesitation. Sometimes his easy acquiescence bothered her and sometimes it didn't. It was enjoyable to watch him squirm afterwards, when the reality of his promise began to sink in. Only last month he had agreed to take Andrea on a trip to the Himalayas. She had read something in one of her books – a rare plant that only grew within the mountainous area – and was adamant about searching for it. What Andrea wanted, Andrea got. Like her father, she was unbelievably stubborn and demanding. At the age of ten, Hermione had thought that Rose was bad, but she had nothing on her sister.
"Mum, I know I said I'd eat breakfast with the family but…" Rose trailed off, blushing slightly.
"But?" she prompted.
"Well, Jason –"
Hermione couldn't help but laugh. "Jason Maloney? Oh, Rose…"
"Mum, will you please be quiet," her daughter hissed, glancing over her shoulder. "If dad hears you, Merlin knows what he'll do. You know he doesn't like Jason."
"Yes, sweetheart, I know. He doesn't like Jason, just like he didn't like Kyle or Chris, or Tyler and Quinn. Cricket, you know what he's like."
"Yes, I do," Rose nodded, her lips pulling into a thin line. "That's why we're not going to tell him, okay? Or grandpa Lucius, for that matter," a piercing cry ripped through the air, causing Rose to pause and look over her shoulder. "Mum, can you please not tell them. They get so overprotective and I really, really like Jason and –"
"I won't tell, I promise," Hermione interrupted, smiling at her daughter's flustered state. "Just be back before ten-thirty, sweetheart. It's your last year and I know that your father wants to see you off at the station. We all do."
Rose smiled brilliantly, rushing forward to envelop her in a hug and place a quick kiss on her cheek. "You're the best, mum."
"Oh, I know," Hermione sighed teasingly, motioning with her hands for her daughter to go. Rose grinned again, launching herself down the stairs two at a time. "Cricket?" her daughter paused, turning back to look at her. "Happy Birthday."
With a wide smile and wave of her hand, Rose took off out the back door. It was strange to think that seventeen years ago she'd been lying in a hospital bed, gritting her teeth through contractions. Rose's birth had been horrendous, mostly because she'd opted to have her without the recommended pain potions. She had certainly learned her lesson there. Andrea's birth had been another story. Draco had been so panicked. When her water broke, he wasn't the one telling her to breathe deeply or that everything was going to be fine. She had been the one comforting him while he hyperventilated and Rose – being the assertive five year-old that she was – flooed Lucius and Narcissa. By the time they'd arrived at St Mungos, Draco was practically screaming for someone to get her a pain potion. The reality that he'd actually managed to convince three different Medi-Witches to give her a pain potion was something she found, even now, highly unamusing. She could barely remember Andrea's birth, she'd been that doped up.
Xavier, again, had been another story. Draco had been out of town on business with his father, and Narcissa had found her one afternoon curled up on the bed screaming through the pain. Rose and Andrea had been at her mother's house and she could barely move, let alone floo for help. Narcissa had had to floo the family's personal Healer, and within half an hour she'd held in her arms a beautiful baby boy. Surprisingly enough, Ilana and Alec had both had rather uneventful births. Something she was extremely grateful for.
"Hermione?" Draco's voice called for her from their daughter's bedroom. He sounded panicked, and Hermione couldn't help but worry.
As she walked quickly toward the door, the sound of sobbing became more pronounced. Rounding the corner, what Hermione saw tugged at her heartstrings painfully. Her second eldest lay curled on her bed in a foetal position, tears pouring from her bright, sapphire blue eyes. Draco was standing awkwardly to the side, rocking back and forth with their son in his arms, trying to soothe him and Andrea at the same time. It was obvious that the young girl was inconsolable, and Hermione felt her anger flair. Of course, Xavier had to pull something like this on a day like today. The boy was incorrigible.
"Mum?" the young girl asked shakily, her bottom lip quivering as she caught sight of her in the doorway.
Hermione smiled softly and soon Andrea was running toward her. She felt so sorry for her little girl. Andrea had always had self-confidence issues, mostly because of Petra Nott. It was surprising really, how beautiful Daphne's daughter was. And yet, like her mother, Petra was a viper. The girl had no substance and it angered her beyond belief that Andrea could be hurt and swayed into thinking that she was inferior by such a girl. Thankfully Rose was there to keep an eye on her, for this year at least.
"Mum, look at what he did to my hair?!" the girl cried, her face red and her eyes swollen. "Dad can't get it to change back. I can't go to Hogwarts looking like this, mum, I just can't!"
Hermione sighed, frowning contemplatively. "I know, sweetheart. Look, how about we dye your hair blonde temporarily until we can figure out what charm your brother used?" she asked, stroking her once blonde daughter's hair.
Andrea sniffed, nodding her head furiously. "Do you think it will work?"
"Yes, sweetheart, I do. Why don't you floo over to your grandparents and tell them what happened. I'm sure Grandma Cissa has just the right spell to fix all of this," she said softly, looking pointedly at Draco for his support.
"Oh, yes," he started, bobbing up and down to try and soothe their whimpering son. "Your mother is right, Andrea. I don't know why I didn't think of it myself."
"Because your not as brilliant as mum," their daughter quipped, smiling through her tears.
"Yes, well, there is that," he laughed.
"Go on, sweetheart," Hermione urged, brushing her lips against her daughter's forehead. "We'll meet you at the station at ten-thirty. I'm sure Grandpa Lucius and Grandma Cissa won't mind apparating you there."
Andrea nodded, grabbing a hat from her wardrobe and piling her bright purple hair atop her head with a clip. She yanked the hat on, and took off out the door. Hermione sighed tiredly, thinking of the many ways she would like to ring her son's neck.
"That boy is…unbelievable," she sighed, sitting on the edge of Andrea's bed. "I can't even contemplate what he will be like when he comes back from Hogwarts."
A monster, that's what.
Draco smiled tiredly, taking two strides toward the bed. Alec, whose soft fuzz of sweet baby hair stuck up at odd angles, was whimpering in his arms. Hermione reached across to stroke her son's head, leaning against Draco's side. Of its own accord, her head fell to rest on his shoulder. It wasn't even ten o'clock and already she was exhausted.
"Well, at least Savine wasn't here this morning. You know things would be much worse if she was," Draco offered after some time, his free arm twining around her back. His fingers drew circles across the base of her spine. Hermione shivered at the sensation.
"Lila and Blaise have absolutely no control over that girl," she remarked, thinking of how out of control Xavier's best friend really was. It wasn't so much that Lila and Blaise didn't try, because they did. Every Friday night when they came over for dinner, she could see how worn down they were. Lila, who'd managed to maintain her beauty even after childbirth, had refused to marry Blaise. Even now, after thirteen years, she refused him. She told her that it was because she didn't want to lose her independence and Hermione could understand that.
Despite the pledge to take their relationship slow, one month later Hermione had found herself pregnant with Andrea. She had been mortified, so much so that she had kept the pregnancy a secret. After two months and horrendous bouts of morning sickness, Draco had begun to fret. Yes, he had fretted just like he had panicked when she'd gone into labour. He truly was hopeless when it came to those types of situations. Tell him his daughter was sexually active and he turned into someone who could put Voldemort to shame. Rose's first boyfriend, Quinn, had been terrified of him. He had actually made the boy cry. But put him in a situation where she was pregnant, in labour, or was sick, even with a common cold, and he was absolutely hopeless.
"Do you honestly believe that we have any control over Xavier?" he asked, looking down at her with a raised eyebrow.
Hermione sighed. "Fear always works. In fact, it's the only thing that works."
Draco laughed, brushing his lips against her forehead. The familiar action caused butterflies to flit about in her stomach, even now. They had been together for thirteen years and still he could make her stomach flip and her heart soar. Their chemistry had made it impossible for them to take it slow. Rose hadn't been out of the hospital a week when they found themselves in his bed. Of course, she blamed him and his reaching hands. It was bad enough that she couldn't keep her hands off of him, let alone her mouth, but Draco – Merlin, he had been relentless! Not that she could complain.
When she finally told him about Andrea, he had been insistent upon marrying her. It had started such an argument. She wasn't about to marry him just because she was pregnant. Merlin, she had only been divorced for a couple of months! There was just no way she was ready to take that step. And of course, Draco hadn't been able to see it that way. None of them had. Narcissa had been almost as relentless as her son, popping up randomly at all hours of the day to simply show her this remarkable flower arrangement she had seen in a window, or to mention that she had seen this beautiful antique store with a gorgeous and one of a kind faerie spun wedding dress in its window. It had gotten so bad that she had actually moved out and taken refuge at Harry and Luna's.
"You know, I thought that I would never say this, but thank Merlin Andrea's has those Potter brats to watch her back," said Draco, frowning at the mere idea of James and Lucas Potter.
Hermione smiled. James and Lucas were her godsons and Harry and Luna's twin boys. They had been born exactly one month after Andrea and the three were inseparable, much to Draco and Harry's dismay. It was around the time that she was pregnant with Xavier – another unexpected surprise – that Harry and he had begrudgingly decided to shake hands and call a truce. Not that that lasted long, mind you. The next day Draco had come home with a split lip and Luna had complained that Harry had a black eye. Needless to say, they hadn't exactly been friendly since then despite the fact that their children were the best of friends.
"Lucas and James aren't that bad, Draco. They're actually rather good for her. They bring out a far more mischievous and self-confident Andrea than we see at home," Hermione said, defending her two godsons.
Draco snorted. "Yes, because we all know we need another troublemaker in the family."
"Oh, stop being so cynical. It's incredibly unattractive," she chided, slapping him playfully on the shoulder. Her wedding ring, a simple silver band encrusted with sapphires, glinted in the light. After two years of nagging and the birth of two children, she had finally relented and agreed to marry him. It had literally been the best day of her life.
"Darling, cynicism is my forte," Draco remarked, looking down at her with what she assumed was supposed to be a seductive look. The fact of the matter, however, was entirely different. She couldn't help but laugh. Two seconds later and his lips crashed down on her, roughly pushing away any other thought.
Oh, how she was lost. His lips were a caressing enemy that always managed to destroy every quip or verbal attack she had on the tip of her tongue. It didn't help that he was aware of that fact. He used their power over her far too often when they were in an argument – which was 95% of the time – and always managed to get his own way. Honestly though, how could she complain? Even if their tempers still clashed, the passion was there fuelling their every movement. She would much rather this passion than the kind of safe, predictable love she'd had with Ron.
Ron. She missed him sometimes. He had moved to America about a month after Draco and Daphne's divorce. She'd received a letter explaining his need to move on, his hope that in the future the pain would ease and he'd be able to speak to her and Rose without feeling as though his heart was being ripped in two. At the time, she had been furious. She'd worried about Rose, who despite everything still asked occasionally about the man that had raised her for the first four years of her life. He didn't write, not once, but come September 1st every year a present would arrive with Rose's name attached.
Four years after his escape, Ron had returned with a new wife and two step-children. Hermione had met Eva a couple of times, but the American witch didn't like her that much. It was understandable, really. What had surprised Hermione the most was Eva's age. She was ten years Ron's senior but she made him happy, and that was all that really mattered. He deserved every kind of happiness after what she had done to him. Still, sometimes she missed his laugh and asinine jokes.
Rose knew who he was. He'd started a sort of uncle-niece relationship with her. Hermione was at least grateful that he was a part of her life, even if it took him four years to get there. Draco, of course, wasn't too happy about 'Uncle Ron' but he understood.
Draco's lips continued their dance, making her as dizzy with desire as she had been when they were younger. Their power hadn't diminished over the years. How else had he managed to goad her into five children when she had only wanted two? Then again, the majority of their children were mistakes. Blessed mistakes.
Pulling away, Draco smirked down at her, admiring his handiwork as her chest rose and fell with each breathless pant. "So, that had absolutely no affect on you whatsoever? After all, my cynicism is incredibly unattractive."
Hermione rolled her eyes. "Oh shut up and kiss me you fool."
His voice, like the rest of him, sent shivers down her spine. Their son Alec whimpered quietly between them, unhappy with their inattentiveness. Alec was a very demanding baby, much like the rest of her children. It was the Malfoy genes, of course. All the children had blonde hair, though Ilana's surprisingly had a sandy-brownish tinge. And they all had their grandfather and grandmother – including her parents – right where they wanted them. She and Lucius still didn't get along, but they made the effort to be civil for the children if nothing else.
"Mama!" Ilana's shriek travelled up to Andrea's room from downstairs.
Draco groaned, pulling away. He rested his forehead against hers, breathing deeply. His eyes remained closed, feather white eyelashes fluttering softly. "Why on earth did we have so many children?"
"Because you're a randy bastard, that's why," she laughed, reaching between them to smooth out his now wrinkled shirt. Her hands trailed lower on a dangerous path. Hermione couldn't help but grin when he jumped.
"Hey, you can't keep your hands off of me. I hardly think I'm the randy bastard," he argued, though the clouded desire in his eyes eclipsed whatever he was trying to prove.
"I can't help it," she smiled lasciviously. "You're just so delectable. I could practically eat you."
Draco grinned. "Oh, please do."
Hermione laughed and leaned forward, placing a sweet but far from innocent kiss on her husband's lips.
"Mama!" their daughter's shriek, again, interrupted them.
With a small sigh, Hermione pulled away, placing a kiss on her son's head and assuring her husband that they were far from finished before she made her way downstairs. She was happy. She was so happy with all her children, her friends, her husband, her career. Sometimes she couldn't believe that everything had worked out the way that it had. Admittedly, life had its moments. Just the other month her father had been in an accident but now he was fine and everything was not perfect, but close enough. That was all she could ask for. Not perfect, but close enough.
Turning the corner, Hermione stopped and stared. Ilana was crying, clutching at her hair. Her very green hair.