Chapter 20

15 years later

Professor Hermione Granger-Weasley was seated at the teacher's High Table and she was looking at the sea of students in front of her. She had spent the last eleven years helping Neville Longbottom in his quest to acquire equal rights for all Wizarding creatures. Finally, she had gotten the job which she had always wanted. This was her first year as Hogwarts' new Transfiguration Professor and she couldn't wait to get started.

Times had changed in the last 15 years and for the first time she felt completely happy and satisfied with her life. She had a loving family, with two beautiful kids and she was back at the school where her life had actually started.

She couldn't believe how it had all gone down in the past few years. After the war, it was three years before she and Ginny had finally gotten over the Boy-who-once-Lived, Harry Potter.

Ron had continued to chase after her with declarations of his undying love for her. She had gotten extremely frustrated and then confided in Ginny about how harassed she was feeling with the whole situation. Ginny had decided to take the situation into her own hands and come up with a plan.

It had all been an act at first. Just one kiss to ensure that Ron got off Hermione's back. However, that one kiss had changed things. After three years of pining over Harry, both Hermione and Ginny had come really close to each other. It took them another year to work out their feelings and they finally came to a decision.

The entire Wizarding World was shocked when Hermione Granger and Ginny Weasley, two of the war's greats, got married to each other. There was an expected outrage amongst the Wizarding public, but both Hermione and Ginny managed to live through it. Two years into their marriage, they adopted a beautiful girl from a magical orphanage.

Ronald Weasley had been particularly pissed with Hermione marrying his little sister Ginny. He had tried nearly everything to get their marriage annulled but they managed to hold him off. Disgusted with his failure to break their marriage as well as his inability to find any decent job, he had taken up drinking. The money left to him by Harry had nearly all been spent on copious amounts of Firewhiskey.

Ronald Weasley had become a failure in life. Ever since he had made the choice to leave Harry in the tent, his life had only gone downhill. He died three years ago due to his failure to control his excessive drinking. Very few people attended his funeral, and even fewer cried. Hermione and Ginny attended the funeral for the sole purpose of comforting Molly Weasley, who was distraught over her son's death. However, it didn't take long for even Molly to recover from her loss.

Hermione sat there and smiled at her wife, Ginny-Granger Weasley who was sitting next to her. After spending ten glorious years as Puddlemere United's star seeker, Ginny had finally decided to retire from the game. However, the retirement had been short-lived as even she had been offered a job with Hermione at Hogwarts. She had replaced Madam Hooch as the new flying instructor.

After seeing her wife smiling at her, Ginny smiled back and asked, "What are you thinking about, Hermione?"

Hermione replied, "Just thinking about how fast the time has passed by and we've grown so old. I mean, even Emma is starting her second year."

At this, both Hermione and Ginny looked into the crowd at the smiling face of their daughter at the Gryffindor table. Emma Granger-Weasley had developed into a rather cute girl and was quite the talker. Both Hermione and Ginny were proud of their little one and loved spending time with her. With both of them being appointed Professors, they were happy that they would get even more time to do so.

Hermione turned to Ginny and spoke again, her eyes brimming with tears, "If only Harry would have had a chance to get to know her. I just feel so guilty... living a normal life. It's what he had always wanted."

Ginny put a hand on her shoulder, "Don't cry, love. I'm sure that he'd have wanted us to be happy. Wherever he is, I am sure that he is looking at us and he is smiling."

Hermione nodded and wiped the tears from her eyes as a picture of a smiling Harry Potter came before her eyes.

She turned her head when she heard Minerva McGonagall's loud voice in the Great Hall,

"Welcome, to another year at Hogwarts. I hope you all had a good holiday. Before we begin tonight, I have an announcement to make."

After pausing for a moment, she continued, "I had made a decision at the end of last year to retire from the post of Hogwarts Headmistress and I have decided to stick with it. I am here to introduce you to your new Headmaster. Please give a large round of applause to Headmaster Severus Snape."

With that, applause broke out in the hall and she moved from the High Chair, and Severus Snape took her place. As soon as the applause died down, Severus's voice boomed across the Great Hall,

"I thank Madam McGonagall as well the Board of Governors for giving me this opportunity. It's a pleasure to be given this chance. Before we begin our feast, I have quite a few announcements to make."

There was a loud groan from the students which Severus ignored.

He continued, "The ex-Headmistress and majority of the staff members thought that it would be funny to retire at the same time and leave me with the job of finding new professors. However, am pleased to say that after a stupendous effort, we have managed to fill all the seven vacant positions in the staff this year."

There was a loud chattering in the hall on hearing this. Majority of the older students were amazed. They had seen the new faces at the High Table but at the same time they couldn't believe that seven of their professors had retired at once.

As soon as the chattering died down, Snape continued, "So let us begin introductions. Replacing Madam Hooch as our new flying instructor is Ginevra Granger-Weasley."

There was a huge round of applause at this. Ginny had made quite a name for herself in Quidditch and nearly all the students present were big fans of hers.

Soon the applause died down and Severus continued, "Replacing Professor Nymphadora Lupin as your new Transfiguration Professor is Professor Hermione Granger-Weasley."

There was another round of applause at this after which Severus spoke again, "Your new Herbology professor who replaces Professor Pomona Sprout is Professor Neville Longbottom."

Neville stood up at the High Table and raised his glass to the students. There was huge applause for him. Neville had become quite popular due to his pursuit of equal rights for all Wizarding creatures. He settled down on his seat and the applause died down.

Severus continued, "The replacement for Madam Pomfrey, our new Healer for the Hogwarts Infirmary is Healer Lisa Longbottom."

Lisa Longbottom stood up after being patted on the back by her husband who was sitting next to her. She was one of the best Healers that St. Mungo's had produced.

She had been disappointed when Neville had decided to take the job of the Herbology Professor. She couldn't bear to stay away from her husband for a long time. However, she had soon heard about the vacancy created due to Madam Pomfrey's retirement. She had immediately applied for and gotten the job of the new Healer.

There was a mild applause as the students were now waiting for the announcements to get over and the feast to begin. Lisa sat down and Severus continued,

"Your new Charms professor, who replaces Professor Filius Flitwick, is Professor Susan Bones-Goldstein."

Susan Bones-Goldstein stood up and was given her share of applause. She and her husband, Anthony Goldstein, had become two of the best Aurors for the Department of Magical Law Enforcement. Her husband had chosen to continue his career as an Auror, but Susan had decided to come and join Hogwarts as she had gotten tired of fighting crime.

As soon as the applause died down, Severus continued, "Now, I have a rather special announcement to make and it's regarding your new Defense against the Dark Arts Professor who replaces Professor Remus Lupin. He's the person because of whom we are able to live today without fear of any Dark Forces invading us. He's a person who actually fought the Dark Arts and succeeded."

There was a loud murmuring in the hall now. There were smiles on the faces of Neville, Lisa and Susan at the High Table. Hermione and Ginny were giving Severus a confused look.

Severus was loving every moment of this. He had paused only for the sake of dramatic effect and was happy to see that he had succeeded in creating the drama. He continued after a few seconds,

"It took us quite a bit of time to convince him to join us again. However, after fifteen years of exile, he has finally decided to do so. Ladies and Gentlemen, your new Defense against the Dark Arts Professor is Professor Harry Potter."

There was a loud gasp at this and the door of the Great Hall opened to show a person who had been presumed dead for the last fifteen years.

Gone was the pale skinny boy with broken glasses. The man who walked in was well built and confident, with shining green eyes which threatened to hex anybody who questioned his existence.

There was complete silence in the Great Hall as he walked between the tables and upto the High Table. His eyes landed on both Hermione and Ginny, both of whom had their mouths wide open in shock.

Severus decided to get the final announcement over with. He broke the silence, "And replacing me, as your new Potions Professor is Professor Daphne Potter."

A regal looking lady walked into the Great Hall. As she had grown up, she had filled up at all the right places. Everybody who looked at her had the same thought running through their heads: She was breathtakingly beautiful.

By this point, tears had started falling down both Hermione's and Ginny's eyes. They couldn't believe that this was possible. The silence in the Great Hall continued for a few moments till both Harry and Daphne had taken their seats next to Susan.

However, it proved to be just the calm before the storm, as the Great Hall erupted with extremely loud chatter and even a bit of applause. Their saviour was back. All they had read were books about the great Harry Potter, and now he was sitting in front of them as their new Professor.

Soon, the applause reached the highest of levels until Severus stood up and bellowed, "That's enough."

The applause died down at his voice and soon the Hall became silent again.

Both Minerva McGonagall and Professor Rubeus Hagrid flashed big smiles at Harry and Daphne. He and Daphne had informed them about their existence a few years back and had made them both take a Secrecy oath. Everyone in the Wizarding world, who knew that Harry was alive, had taken the oath. Both Harry and Daphne had made sure that there were no exceptions.

Hagrid's happiness at seeing Harry had been so great, that he had happily taken it. However, McGonagall had been a little harder to convince. She had listened to their reasons and after some time she had finally relented and taken the oath.

Tears were flowing down Hermione's face. She desperately wanted to speak to Harry but at the same time she didn't want to create a scene in front of the students. She knew that she would have to wait until the sorting and the feast got over.

Severus turned and spoke to his wife and Deputy Headmistress, Professor Aurora Sinistra-Snape, "Professor Sinistra-Snape, would you please start with the sorting?"

She nodded and started reading the names off a list,

"Ackerley, Stewart"

A short boy with black hair ran upto the stool and sat on it.

The hat shouted, "HUFFLEPUFF"

The kid ran and sat on the Hufflepuff table amid cheers from his new housemates.

Professor Sinistra-Snape called out a few more names until she came to,

"Greengrass, Cyrus"

Both Harry and Daphne watched as Astoria Greengrass's son, a boy with bright blue eyes and blonde hair, walked to the Sorting Hat.

They had both been shocked on finding out that the reason behind Astoria's shift to the dark side was her falling in love with Draco Malfoy. After the battle, when Severus had gone to look for Astoria, he had been unable to find her.

Both she and Draco Malfoy had somehow managed to run away. However, after three years the Ministry had finally been able to locate Draco Malfoy and had arrested him on the charges of being a Death Eater and being branded with the Dark Mark. Astoria had escaped punishment because she hadn't been branded before Voldemort's death and the Ministry were unaware of her role in the battle.

Astoria who had been left alone, had then managed to seek out Severus Snape. She had a little boy in her arms when she came to see him. The Ministry had arrested Draco three days after she had given birth and she was in desperate need for help. Severus had taken pity on the girl and taken her into his house.

When Severus informed her, Daphne was quite shocked on hearing about Astoria's return. She had seen the girl kill Hannah Abbott and she wanted absolutely nothing to do with her. After some discussions between her, Harry and Severus, they had made an offer to Astoria.

After Astoria had gone missing, Daphne had been declared the sole heir of the Greengrass fortune. Daphne met with Astoria and offered her half of the Properties in exchange for a promise from her to stay out of Daphne's life for good.

Astoria had been heartbroken on hearing this as she already felt remorse for what she had done. She tried to convince Daphne to think about her decision, but Daphne refused.

Finally, a sobbing Astoria Greengrass was left with no option but to accept Daphne's demands. That was the last time that Daphne had seen Astoria Greengrass.

Astoria had taken a decision to keep her maiden name and named her son after her father, Cyrus Thomas Greengrass.

She had completely erased Draco from her son's life and didn't even cry when she got the news of Draco's suicide in prison. When Severus had told them about Draco's death and Astoria's lack of a reaction to the same, both Harry and Daphne were surprised.

As they saw the boy who was sitting on the stool in front of them, both of them were happy that he hadn't grown up under the influence of a thug like Draco.

They watched as the boy sat on the stool for nearly two minutes before the hat shouted,

"RAVENCLAW"

Both of them were extremely surprised by this. The son of two Slytherins had somehow managed to end up in Ravenclaw. Draco Malfoy would most probably be rolling around in his grave right now.

Cyrus got up from the stool and ran towards his new housemates as they cheered for him.

Professor Sinistra called out a few more names until she came to,

"Longbottom, Seamus"

A slightly plump boy with a jolly face walked towards the Sorting Hat and put it on his head. The hat had barely touched his head when it shouted,

"GRYFFINDOR"

The Gryffindor table erupted with cheers and Seamus jumped off the stool and walked towards his new housemates. On his way, he spotted his sister, Hannah Longbottom, who was a second year Ravenclaw; give him a big thumbs up. He smiled at her and settled down on the Gryffindor table.

Another few names were called out before,

"Potter, Alyssa"

A girl with blonde hair and green eyes walked towards the Sorting Hat. Hermione looked up with a sad face as she realized the reason behind Harry's return to the Wizarding World. She couldn't help but feel a twinge of sadness as saw the green eyes of the girl which she had obviously inherited from her father.

Hermione's thoughts were interrupted by a loud shout of,

"GRYFFINDOR"

There was huge round of applause and cheers from the Gryffindor table as Alyssa got off the stool and walked towards her new housemates.

Harry turned to Daphne and exclaimed, "Yes! I knew it!"

Daphne smiled at him, "Oh, she's always been Daddy's little girl. I am sure that my boy wouldn't let me down."

Harry smiled back at her and gave her a look which said 'We'll see'.

Professor Sinistra-Snape called out, "Potter, James"

A boy with messy black hair and blue eyes strutted to the stool. He was an exact replica of Harry, but he had his mother's eyes.

The boy sat down and in a minute the Hat called out,

"SLYTHERIN"

It was Daphne's turn to gloat at Harry, and she did so. Harry took it sportingly and whispered into her ear,

"You look so gorgeous when you gloat. If there were no people present, I would ravish you right here."

Daphne felt herself blushing. However, she managed to stay composed and replied, "Patience, Mr. Potter. I assume you can hold your hunger till the feast gets over."

Harry grinned and responded, "I can try."

Daphne gave him a sultry grin and then shifted her focus to the Sorting Hat.

Susan was sitting next to Daphne and she had heard a part of their conversation. She had known them for quite some time and could very well assume what the rest of it had all been about. She muttered something under her breath which sounded a lot like 'sex-obsessed maniacs'.

Soon, the sorting ended and Snape got up again. He bellowed,

"Let the feast begin."

The feast lasted for nearly an hour and each second seemed like a decade to Hermione. She still felt like the entire world was surreal at the present moment. The person whom she loved, Harry Potter was alive. And that wasn't the only thing, he had also married a girl who had the reputation of being the 'Ice Princess' of Hogwarts and usually used to stay away from guys. If that wasn't enough, they even had a couple of kids who were adorable.

Ginny tried her best to calm Hermione down and she succeeded in doing so to a small extent. Even Ginny was hurting but her pain was nowhere close to what Hermione was going through.

It was a matter of time before all the students were out of the Great Hall. Both Harry and Daphne were also about to leave for their quarters when Hermione called out,

"Harry"

Harry had been expecting this but was hoping to avoid it all the same. He turned around to face her.

Harry could see the tears in Hermione's eyes. Although, she was maintaining her composure, it wasn't long before the floodgates would open.

Hermione looked at the towering figure of the man she loved. She just let out a small, "Why?"

Harry replied, "I don't think that I owe any explanations to people who claim to be my friends and then leave me to die alone."

This did it. The tears came streaming down Hermione's face as soon as she heard this.

After a few moments of silence, she whimpered out, "But, Harry. I know I shouldn't have left. I tried my level best to try and get back to you. I just made one wrong decision..."

Harry interrupted her, "That wrong decision of yours nearly cost me my life. I would have been frozen at the bottom of a pond if the woman standing next to me hadn't saved me."

This hurt Hermione even more. Her intuition had been right. Harry had indeed been talking to a girl when she was listening to the Deluminator. Daphne Greengrass was the one who saved Harry from the pond, not Severus Snape.

Hermione knew that she had lost her chance a long while back. She was happy with Ginny and just wanted to be Harry's friend again.

She spoke again, tears still flowing down her face, "I am really very sorry, Harry. It's been fifteen years and every single day I have repented my decision to abandon you. Please forgive me, Harry. I want us to be friends again."

Harry responded, "The only reason I came back to the Wizarding World was because of my kids and their education. Your actions in the forest hurt me and you have to live with the consequences of the choice you made. I don't know if we'll be friends again, Hermione. And right now, I am not even inclined to try."

With that, both Harry and Daphne turned around and left, leaving a completely shaken Hermione behind them.

As Harry and Daphne walked to their quarters, Daphne placed her arm on Harry's shoulders. She knew that he was having a rough time tonight and that she was the only person who could make him happy.

Harry was soothed by her touch and soon he was smiling again. As both of them entered their quarters, Daphne couldn't help but feel a little sorry for Hermione.

But at the same time, she knew that Harry was also right in his place.

Life was full of choices. It was a matter of choosing between what was right and what was easy.

Whichever choice you made, one way or another, you had to live with the consequences.

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Epilogue

As Harry headed toward the Headmaster's Office alongwith Daphne, he couldn't help but feel extremely pleased with his life. Two years had passed since his arrival at Hogwarts and things were looking up for him.

The first few days had been awkward as both he and Daphne had to deal with the Wizarding Press and the general public's reaction to his return. However, Daphne had come up with a plan that had managed to save them from quite a lot of grief. They had bought out the Daily Prophet and as soon as they had done so, the number of reporters hounding them had decreased drastically.

Another reason for awkwardness had been frequent encounters with Hermione and Ginny in the Great Hall or in the Staff Room. However, they had soon managed to develop a working relationship and the awkwardness had reduced.

A few days after their return, Ginny had requested them to visit the Burrow and both Harry and Daphne had complied. The entire Weasley family had been thrilled to see Harry, and Molly Weasley in particular had nearly hugged him to death. They had not been that enthused on seeing Daphne, but after hearing Harry's story, everybody had thanked her for the role that she had played in the war.

After a lavish dinner which had been prepared by Molly, both Harry and Daphne had taken their leave after promising to come again. And they had done so too. They had made it a habit to visit the Burrow atleast once a month.

After a few months, even Harry's relationship with Hermione became a bit better. They would never be the best friends that they were at one point of time, but they had managed to form some kind of a friendship.

As for the others, Dobby and Tipsy had gotten married immediately after Neville and Hermione had succeeded in getting the House Elf Liberation Act passed by the Wizengamot. They had continued to live with the Potters and had even shifted with them to Hogwarts.

Remus and Nymphadora Lupin had settled into a good old early retirement after leaving Hogwarts. Their son, Harry Lupin had followed his mother's footsteps and had just joined the Auror Training Programme.

Terry and Luna Boot had both decided to move to Switzerland as they wanted a life of peace and quiet. However, they both did visit and were very much a part of Harry's group of friends.

Harry thought about all these people and couldn't help but think that sometimes life had a way of working out perfectly.

He had defeated one of the greatest Dark Lords in the history of the Wizarding World. He had even conned the entire Wizarding World by pulling off the greatest disappearing act of all times.

He had a great group of friends whom he could always rely upon. More importantly, he had a beautiful wife who had been with him every step of the way and had given him two amazing kids.

Now only one thing remained.

He came to a stop at the Headmaster's Office door. He looked at Daphne and saw that she was looking back at him. He got this irresistible urge to kiss her. He was about to do so, when the door opened and a voice interrupted him,

"Would you two stop? Not outside my office atleast."

Harry felt himself go red as he looked at Severus Snape who was standing in front of him. From the corner of his eyes, he saw Daphne glaring at Severus.

After a few moments of awkward silence, they walked inside and Snape spoke again, "Now, are you two sure about this?

Harry replied, "Yes."

"Do you have your new spell ready?"

Now, Daphne was the one who replied, "Yes."

Snape didn't waste any further time. He moved towards the wall and removed the drape. Barely a second had passed before Harry and Daphne drew out their wands and yelled together,

"Exitosus Flatus!"

Snape looked aghast and stood petrified in his spot as the spell did its damage. He had just managed to move out of its way.

Both Harry and Daphne smirked at him and left the office hand-in-hand.

Slowly, Snape turned around and looked at the floor.

There lay the broken fragments of the only portrait of Albus Dumbledore.

All was well.

(A/N: That's all folks!

Thanks for all the ideas regarding Harry's and Daphne's return to the Wizarding World. I decided to stick with the idea that I had already planned, after seeing that quite a few reviewers suggested the same thing.

I would really like to know how many of you thought that Hermione had married Ron! *evil grin*

I know that I should have warned you about implied femslash, but frankly I didn't really think that it was anything too gross.

I have simultaneously uploaded the second chapter of my Harry Potter/ Lisa Turpin/ Tracey Davis fic. It's titled 'The Power Triangle'. I hope that you read it, and like what you read.

Thanks to bloodhunter88 for his suggestions in this chapter.

In case anyone's interested, Exitosus Flatus = Destructive Blast in Latin.

Thanks for reading and for all the reviews so far. You've all been awesome!

P.S: I have changed my alias from Deathstick87 to The Unusual Suspect. I felt that the previous name was slightly juvenile.

Sorry for the painfully long author's note. But it's the last chapter of the story and I couldn't resist :))