This is a reply to a request about the mission that the Minister sent them on when they were both young and fun. (although they're now middle-aged and a bit bad tempered)

Anyhoo, i really think this is the end this time- i know i've said it before, but this time i actually mean it.

Ah well, here you go. *waves cheerily*

Thanks to you, Alix33 who betas and doesn't complain- WOOTNESS

Hermione Malfoy glanced down at the baby girl in her arms with a serenity that only a mother with six other babies under her belt could.

Draco was at the door, attempting to give the good news to all the family waiting outside. The more coherent part of her felt a little sorry for her poor muggle parents who had to be subjected to the Wizarding world once every few years since Dorian was born almost seventeen years ago.

They always looked so small and terrified next to her humorously insane family. Not to mention her notoriously ex-evil father-in-law with the black tattoo on his arm that would make most bikers shiver. Narcissa was about the only one who was even slightly in tune with the muggle world. Hermione loved her mother-in-law to death because she had a sneaking suspicion that the older woman had burnt the midnight oil reading normal-world magazines so that she would have something to talk about when the next Malfoy child was inevitably born.

She smirked and laughed tiredly to herself.

After the first two children- a boy and a girl- Hermione had attempted to introduce two muggle world introductions at once.

Birth control and television.

Draco had looked a little confused at the idea of the two… and then finally agreed- understanding that she needed some things from her normal life.

She had made the mistake of pulling for tv first.

Ironically the first commercial that came on was an advertisement for plastic contraceptives.

Silence filled the room as it went into a strained silence, Osanna in her arms and Dorian fiddling with his father's pajama collar.

She had forgotten how disturbing commercials were.

Her looked at her with an expression of revulsion.

"That's what you want to do to yourself?"
Needless to say they had never watched the telly with the same innocence. He hated the thing and she was okay with that.

And as you can see… five children later- the birth control hadn't really stuck either.

"You know, I think she's the prettiest one yet."
Draco was there, sitting next to the hospital bed with a look of keen fascination at their daughter. He was always quite amazed at how small babies were.

He continued, undaunted.

"Because Dorian was all red and whimpery, and Finn had the weirdest shaped head..."
"We haven't given her a name yet…"

Draco looked a bit piqued at this thought and was quite thankfully distracted from his remembrance of their children's oddness.

"You haven't thought of one?"

To her great chagrin, she had not.

With all the others there had been pages and pages of possibles and then there was the moment when Hermione had always known exactly the name for the new child. Elliot could only be an Elliot, and Maev a Maev. There was never any doubt.

However with seven children now born, the lists had grown shorter and shorter.

A commotion from the hall drove the thought from her weary mind and Draco was out of his seat in a flash.

"If Elliot has let off a dungbomb in the waiting room again I will murder him this time. Granger love, I'll be back in a minute, though I have one question..."

"Hmm?" The drowsiness was seeping back into her brain, and the newborn was gently dozing in her arms.

"Would you mind terribly if our third born were to disappear indefinitely?"
She chuckled faintly and nodded.

He rolled his eyes reminiscently of their school days and smiled fondly at her as he was through the door. A great stink seeped in through the room even though the door was only open briefly.

The commotion grew louder suddenly and then went eerily silent.

She thought fondly of the good old days when life had been simpler and there had only been the two of them… they had been filled with love and magefyre then. Lately it seemed as though those times were coming to her mind more and more often, especially with the worry of Dorian leaving Hogwarts soon. He was as wild and uncaring as his father before him, and now - as never before - she worried for his sake.

The Wizarding world was incumbent on an uneasy peace of sorts. Hermione knew the feeling in the air, and around the world, as the eerie calm before the storm. And that is what kept her awake at night.

Just a bit more than 17 years ago…

Thankfully the sun wouldn't be up for several hours. The remaining Death Eaters would be scurrying back down their holes by dawn and by that time it would be too late. An old wizened wizard by the name of Jacobi Taggett joined them. He was kind and quiet with flaming red hair and old world politeness.

Draco was up ahead on his own broom, blonde hair flying wildly behind him, grown too long in the time between haircuts. But they had been busy and there had been no time for haircut. Night flying always made life miserable for her. She hated brooms, but flying them in daytime was scads easier than this. There was also the issue of the news that she had needed to tell him for the past two days… but there hadn't been time for news when the minister had called upon them as licensed Aurors…

"Are you alright Hermione?" He called back over his shoulder.

She nodded stiffly in the December air and pulled her coat around her shoulders more snugly, missing his look of worry completely. She had looked peaked for the past few days and honestly shouldn't be out flying against the frigid evening wind that was slowly boring holes in any showing skin.

"You don't look so good lass." The older wizard said kindly, magic carrying his voice to her ear while Draco flew on unawares, bent on finding the meeting place to which they were headed.

Hermione shook her head unhappily.

"I don't feel so good. Been sick twice already today. That's not at all like me."
"There was a time when the Mrs. Taggett was sick more than twice in one day," he said calmly, taking in her faint face. "That was before we had the fancy spells that you all have now. It wasn't until a few days later that we found out that a little Taggett was on the way."

Her eyes widened at his insinuation and the added problem that he was entirely correct.

"How did you know?" she asked, keeping her voice as low as she could where he could still hear her.

"Lass, there are more things in heaven and earth - and it's not particularly difficult to figure out that a woman is in the family way when she throws up twice in one day - not to mention you do have a bit of a glow about you."

She glanced at Draco who was still intently staring into the nighttime, muttering spells that caused his eyes to see in the darkness.

"Is he an only child?"

She nodded and he grinned.

"Then he probably won't know until you tell him - or go into labor."

Two hours later they landed.

"They'll be meeting down by the old aspen tree," he whispered tersely over his shoulder. "They may not know that I've married you..."
"I know Draco. I've had the same information as you…"

He nodded nervously and ran long thin fingers through his hair.

"Tagett - it would be best if you stayed quiet unless directly addressed."
The older man gave a quick, competent nod.

He had been right, the dark shadows stood cloistered together underneath the withered, gnarled branches of the old tree. They still hung to the nostalgia of the not-so-distant past by wearing long gray robes that blew softly in the nightwind.

There was the quaint irony of the full moon and the fact that it was the witching hour. Draco seized the edge of his own robe.

"Who goes there?"

It had gone well, up until Draco realized that they were involved in an ambush. One minute they were exchanging pleasantries, the next - a Death Eater had a slip of the tongue and Aveda Kedavra's were flying through the air faster than Hermione thought possible.

Draco was over behind a far boulder, his blonde hair shimmering in the eerie light and the shine from the spells that were passing a hair's breadth away from his face.

She and Taggett had flown backwards to a far hillock where they had the vantage point. A Dark wizard went down with a Flipendo to the face, followed swiftly by a killing curse to the chest.

Taggett whistled appreciatively at the couple's extreme partnership, and also for the fact that Draco was no squeamish wizard who thought before using lethal measures. His gray eyes sparked dangerously with pain and rage every time he called a spell from the bowels of the earth and sky.

The older wizard was one of the old guard, who had spent so much time in battle that he was able to carry on a relatively calm conversation while dodging death and administering the same in kind.

"Your husband is being wasted as a Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher," he mumbled raising above the ridge long enough to send a flash of green over and across the empty field. "He's a far better Auror than anyone I've seen since the first war. If he wanted to - Kingsley would make him the leader of his Security Department. And anyone who bucked the idea would just have to see him fight and see why."

"The minister has already asked him twice," she replied with a taut smile, firing another curse and knocking a wizard flying. There were at least ten of them now. All focused on capturing the three Aurors.

"Why does he turn Shacklebolt down?
She shrugged noncommittally, getting a hang of this battle-side chit-chat.

"He feels that teaching the next generation that killing is not the key will prevent another war. He says that he's done enough killing in his lifetime to last all of the rest."

Another Dark wizard fell to her husband's wand - he called out as the edge of a spell clipped his shoulder, blood flying to splatter the grass behind him.

He fell...

Hermione heard herself scream, a scream that leapt from her very soul and seared the minds of those waiting for their demise. She leapt from behind the hill where she had been hiding and dashed across the open ground heedless of the danger to herself.

A curse left her falling face first to the ground. Unable to move, however her limp form kept the Death Eaters from being able to see her without revealing themselves.

She lay there, completely helpless. Amazed to realize that the Stupendo curse had come from behind.

Someone, dark and shadowed and large had her by the shoulders, and was pulling her toward the hill where she had been hiding before.

A flash of light, faint green telling her that Draco lived - flew overhead - illuminating the pain-creased face of Jakobi Taggett.

Only when they were safely out of range of the curses flying over the field did he release her from her enforced stillness.

"How dare you do that to me you..."
Then he collapsed, silencing her outrage and forcing the woman in her to rise.

He had been hit - many times - with the Sectum Sempra curse. His back was in ribbons - his eyes were glazed and weary.

"You shouldn't go on missions with your beloved," he whispered up into her face as she attempted a healing magic.

"You shouldn't talk," she replied sternly, seeing that the damage was far too severe for her to heal on the field, and the dark magic was creating a force large enough to keep the wound open and bleeding.

"But there's only a little time left," he said, even more faintly than before.

"Why did you-"

"Because you would have gotten yourself killed going after your husband. Just as reinforcements got here…" That was when she realized that the light had continued to grow and grow until she knew for sure that there were at least fifty more wizards throwing spells on their side. "and you know that you've got more to live for now."

His fragile gaze dropped to her belly and he smiled.

"But no..." she urged, trying again to heal his wounds. "You have Mrs. Taggett to live for - and the baby - what was it?" Now it was just her trying to keep him awake and fighting. Knowing that he had only been hit while pulling her to safety. Guilt riddled her senses.

"That's the whole thing lass..." he replied, this time blood came up as well as words. "Mrs. Taggett was murdered by Death Eaters a week after our daughter was born." Tears flooded to his eyes. "That day they took away from me the two most important things in my life. My Maisie, and our little Seraphina Lyra." He chuckled. "My Maisie was always a poet at heart. And I could never argue with her."

"I can't let you do this..." she whispered, tears coming to her own eyes. "It's not something I can live with." Her voice broke. Hermione realized that there was no way for her to fix him.

"My dear girl," he said, as calmly as if he were taking a walk in the park. "There is no debt. I could not bear to see your Draco go through the same pain that I went through. Do not take my life as your personal sin. I did it of my own free will and you cannot take credit."

His eyes went glassy, and lost their focus suddenly, and he was gone.

The battlefield was silent and barren and she didn't notice. Only Hermione sat there, weeping over the body of a man that she had only known for one night. Draco found her in a few minutes, still bleeding from his shoulder and a glancing head wound.

He ran to her, and clasped her so suddenly as so tightly that she could not breathe.

"Don't ever do that to me again," he said in a voice that was so thankful and fearful that she was not sure how to react. "For all that's holy Granger..." he pulled her face up to his, noting the tear-stained visage and kissing her with all the panic in his soul. "I saw you come running - and fall. I thought you were dead, Hermione." He kissed her again, deeply and quickly, leaving her legs like jelly and fire. "How did you?..."

Her eyes filled with tears again and he finally noticed the abused body of their former companion. His jaw went slack with surprise and wonder.

"How did they - My God Granger - he's the Head of the Aurors. Has been so for years - although nobody knew because he kept it all so quiet - I thought he couldn't be killed, how on earth..."
And then it all fell together, and he held her while she wept into his shirt.

Hermione came back to consciousness with the sound of her family's hushed voices surrounding her hospital bed.

She wearily opened her eyes, unused to memories like those to inhabit her dreams. The tears that had clustered so faintly at the corner of her eyes were swiftly wiped away.

Everyone was there, and they still hadn't realized that she was awake yet. Draco was glaring them all into a subdued silence trying not to disturb her.

Elliot looked glum, and Hermione had a feeling that he had been cursed or grounded. Osanna had Kale, who was whimpering slightly and kept reaching for his mum. Draco had Finn and Maev by the hands - he noticed her watching first. Allowing a small smile to cover his face. A smile that still made her feel warm all over.

"How are you feeling love?"
"But please no gory details." Elliot said unhelpfully, as he was still extremely disturbed at the whole idea of birth in general.

Draco shot another warning glare and Elliot shrugged rebelliously. Unaware of how dangerous his father was, wand or no.

Hosanna smiled gently, lightening the air around her.

"Ignore the sod mum, he's just mad that dad's banned all experiments until he goes back to Hogwarts."

"And because he's a total prat." Dorian added with all the self-assuredness that an almost graduated man can have.

Elliot stuck out his tongue at his older sister and brother, which was responded to by a rolling of the eyes, and a swift gesture that Hermione just barely caught.

Draco looked as though he'd been run ragged.

"GET OUT." He finally roared "GET OUT ALL OF YOU - you're just making your mum worse."

The children didn't seem to realize he was not kidding until he literally caught his two eldest sons by the collar and threw them out in the lobby.

A matronly woman gave him a disapproving glare, which he returned with the venom passed on in the Malfoy veins, causing her to look away and hurry back on her rounds.

He returned a moment later.

"Where did you..."
"Away." He replied shortly. "Forever. Granger they're all idiots. All of them."
He kicked a wall in a rare fit of pique.

She regarded him with the wisdom of someone who has given birth less than a day ago. Life felt rather relative to her at this point.

"I see that they got it honestly."

The tall blonde wizard seethed at her comment for a long moment. Attempting to remind himself as to why he chose willingly to marry a woman that was as smart - if not smarter - than he was. It only took a moment to see why. Her dark eyes and messy hair. The way her lips turned up at the edges as she baited him and laughed at him.

He sighed deeply, ran a hand through his still-thick hair and sat down next to her, all in a flurry of movement.

"Do you think we could run away, and just - not leave a forwarding address?" He lay his head on her lap, careful to avoid the newborn sleeping in her arms.
"You know they'd find us," she reminded him, running delicate fingers through the unbelievable silkiness of his hair. "As soon as they needed tuition - or Osanna needed new clothes to impress James..."

Draco moaned pitifully at this, Hermione continued undaunted.

"Or when Elliot got hungry - and you'd miss them, don't deny it."
"I don't know…" He replied, his voice muffled by the blanket. "Sleeping in, not staying up half the night worrying because your daughter's fifteen minutes past her curfew on her date with James Potter." Another whimper. "Or getting calls from Hogwarts saying that your son has blown up the girl's loo for the second time this year."

She nodded soberly.

"Aye. It's a terrible business parenthood. The first time they call you mummy or daddy. The first time their eyes light up when they realize you've entered a room. The first time Dorian said that he loved you - or when Elliot said that he thought you were the bravest man he knew - when Maev and Finn made paper fly just to please you."

She smirked.

"No. It's not worth it at all."
He reached around and squeezed her hand.

"No." He said. "Not worth it at all."

They sat for some time in silence.

"You didn't really send them away, did you Draco?"

He sat up and smiled guiltily.

"Cafeteria actually. Gave them a bloody lot of money and told them not to come back until they'd spent it all. Hopefully they'll argue enough to keep them away for at least a few minutes."

The letter that he had tucked into his robes when she had been in labor was sticking its head out. It had been sent by way of express owl and he had looked far too grave when he had scanned it and then tucked it away thinking that she hadn't noticed.

"There will be war, won't there?" she asked quietly.

He nodded tiredly.

"There's no stopping it now. It's spread from the Muggle world in. And try as I might as Head of Aurors I can't contain it."

He had taken the shadowy position years ago, along with his duties at Hogwarts, which provided a wonderful cover for the man that ran the legions of Dark Wizard Fighters. No one except a chosen few knew that he was their leader. Harry was the man that did the legwork - Draco sat behind the desk and turned white headed. Although it was hard to tell with his hair being almost white already.

Looking down at the baby sleeping in her arms she suddenly knew, the dream's contents still floating around her brain

"Seraphina Lyra." She said surely.

Draco looked at her quizzically for a long moment, then knew himself.

"The difference is, " he replied shortly, smiling down at their daughter. "this time around, we've got something to fight for."

"Even Elliot?"
He laughed, cares and worries running off for a brief time.

"Even Elliot."

I hope you adored it, as odd and a little dysfunctional as it was.

Ah well, i love you all for reading and honestly do hope you've had a good time of it.

Oh grr, i hate to see this story go. But all good things must come to an end.

In the immortal words of the 10th Doctor

I don't want to go.

with love,