AN: Okay, I made you all wait a little anyway, but I realized that if I published the epilogue I had written first, you would all have been outraged and had been after my blood. In other words, I had some rewriting to do before I dared publishing this...

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And most importantly, they would be free to explore the concept of what it would mean to love each other.

Epilogue

Hermione Granger stood staring out the window in the library of number twelve Grimmuald Place. This was usually the one place her boyfriend was smart enough to leave her alone, understanding that the home of books was where she found comfort and solitude. She had spent a lot of time in here the past few days, mulling over the situation she had come to understand a few days ago; it had her very agitated and she had to look at it from every possible angle.

A year had passed since the wedding; Ron and Luna were celebrating their first wedding anniversary this very evening at a fancy restaurant that Harry had managed to get them last minute reservations to. The boy who lived seldom used his fame to get things, but when Ron had come to him in pure panic a few days ago, Harry had pulled some strings to make sure his friends had the type of celebration they wanted and deserved.

They would be leaving their son with his grandparents.

Lysander Weasley was three months old and had been conceived two day into the the newly weds' honeymoon. He was a Weasley to the core except for one rather startling thing; he was the first Weasley in four generations to not have bright, red hair. Sure, there was a red tint to it in certain lights, but Lysander was certainly more blond than red. George had quickly picked up on this and had jokingly demanded to know who the real father was, earning him a glare from his brother and slap over the head from his mother.

While Ron had been terrified at the mere idea of becoming a father, Luna had taken the pregnancy to heart and had seen it for what it was; a blessing and a welcome, however early, addition to their family. It had been Harry who finally managed to calm Ron down, simply by reminding him that he would have a little Quidditch player in a few years. Ron's eyes had immediately brightened and without further ado he had placed his ear on Luna's stomach – even though she wouldn't start showing for another couple of months.

On the day of Lysander's birth, Ron and Luna had asked Harry and Hermione to be his godparents. Ron had asked Harry, a completely serious and honest expression on his face; "will you be my son's Sirius?" Harry had looked dumbfounded, but had regained his wit well before Hermione had to elbow him in his side. The two young men had stood staring at each other for a little while, and to Hermione it looked like they were having a silent conversation; their eyes were strangely watery and once Harry had let out a strangled "of course", they had shared a long hug which had then ended with a manly grunt and slap on each others backs before they quickly turned from each other to wipe their eyes.

Apart from a few minor bumps along the road, Harry and Hermione's relationship was blossoming. It had taken Harry several months to admit to both himself and his girlfriend that he truly was in love with her, but as promised, Hermione hadn't put any pressure on him. Those three little words she had whispered on that fateful night had not been uttered again; not until Harry one night had gently whispered those same words into her ear as they lay closely together on the bed. Hermione had turned around and asked him if he was sure. Harry's eyes had shone with a happiness that was too evident to make her think otherwise and they had spent most of the night awake, alternating between making love and having hushed conversations about life.

Harry was a wonderful godfather, not only to Lysander but to Teddy Lupin as well. Now that he was a tad more settled down than before, Andromeda Tonks was allowing him to take on a more active role in Teddy's upbringing. Hermione had always known that Harry would be wonderful with children, since he would get to lavish them with everything he himself had missed out on as a child. He would spend hours playing and reading with Teddy, and he would contentedly sit and watch the telly with a sleeping Lysander in his arms, not minding in the least that his arms would get sore or stiff.

Hermione had thought about it many times, but had so far not dared broach the subject – the simple truth was that Harry would be the most wonderful and loving father in the world. She had never really felt that kids were a big must for her to be content in life, but seeing Harry with Teddy and Lysander had changed her opinion drastically and irrevocably. Raising children with Harry would be amazing and something she was starting to look forward to. Long for, even.

However, she didn't think that Harry was ready yet. She doubted that he already would want the responsibility of raising his own children, when only a year ago he had flounced around without a care in the world. They were still getting to know each other as girlfriend and boyfriend and while Harry didn't seem to miss his old lifestyle, it was still too close in time for Hermione's comfort. She was still expecting him to one day grow tired of her and leaving her... But that said more about the image she had of herself than her trust in Harry.

A floorboard creaked behind her, announcing that Harry had stepped in to the room. She stiffened, waiting for him to say something, but didn't turn around. For a moment he remained silent. He simply came up behind her and and pulled her flush against his body. This did not make her relax.

"Hermione, love... What's wrong? You've been skittish and absent-minded all week," Harry finally said quietly. "It's not like you to just sit and ponder things without a book and stack of notes next to you."

She neither cracked a smile nor snorted in amusement at his characteristic description of herself. Instead, the witch winced, knowing there was no denying the simple truth in his words. She had been both those things; she just didn't think that Harry was astute enough to notice. A year ago he certainly wouldn't have guessed that something was wrong... But then again, their relationship hadn't been this intimate at the time.

"You love me, Harry... don't you?" she said quietly as she raised her hands to place them on his arms.

"You know I love you more than life itself, Hermione," he answered, his arms tightening around her. "Why do you ask? And especially when you been cooped up here for hours looking as if someone has died?"

He felt her sigh deeply and for a moment she didn't answer; Harry wondered if she was gathering courage to say what was on her mind.

"I'm worried."

Harry frowned and waited for her to continue. When she didn't, he became quite worried himself.

"What are you worried about, love?" he asked softly and planted a kiss on top of her head.

Again she took her time to answer. Every cell in Harry's body was screaming at him to demand answers, but he bit his tongue to keep quiet. She was obviously distressed about something and him yelling at her would not make anything better.

"I'm worried about the consequences of telling you what I'm really worried about telling you."

Huh? It took a moment for Harry to figure out what that meant.

"So wait...You're worrying about my reaction to something you're worried about telling me?"

Hermione couldn't help but let out a little chuckle at his confusion. Deciding to put him out of his misery, she carefully stepped out of his arms and turned to look at him. Harry frowned; if he didn't know any better he would say that he could see panic in her eyes.

"Harry, you better sit down. I have something to tell you."

Harry's heart constricted, panic of his own suddenly flaring up inside of him. Was she leaving him? Was she sick?

"You needn't look so scared, Harry," she said softly. "It's nothing bad. Or actually, I guess that depends on how you look at the situation."

Her words did not make him less concerned, but he took a seat on the couch nevertheless.

"There's no really simple way to say this... So I'm just going to say it."

Harry merely kept looking at her, silently waiting for her to continue. She inhaled sharply in a vain attempt to calm her racing heart; it didn't work and she closed her eyes for a moment to gather strength and summon her Gryffindor courage.

"Remember that night a few weeks ago when you woke me up from the nightmare I had about the war? After you had calmed me down, you made me forget about the dream by making love to me."

Harry smiled at the memory and nodded his head; he remembered that night very well.

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Harry was startled awake by an ear shattering scream that made his blood turn to ice. Turning over in bed, he saw Hermione trashing about in her sleep, her body convulsing almost as if she was in pain. For a moment he was shell shocked and couldn't even move; he had never ever seen Hermione like this before and the fear he felt had him completely petrified. Another scream ripped from her lips and her distress finally made him move; he shook her gently, but firmly and loudly yelled out her name. Her eyes flew open a moment later and for a second she looked as if she had come face to face with death itself. Tears filled her eyes and Harry quickly pulled her into his embrace.

"Tell me about the dream, Hermione," he ordered her softly. "It will help, talking about it. I promise."

It took a little while for Hermione to calm down enough to be able to voice anything out loud besides the heart wrenching sobbing.

"I haven't had a dream about the war in years," she mumbled into his chest. "I could feel her blade against my throat, Harry. I could feel the curse coarse through my body as if it was really happening all over again. But Harry, you..."

Her voice cracked and a moment later he felt her inhale deeply against his chest as if to remember his scent forever.

"You came out of nowhere. You tackled her away from me and attempted to fight her with your bare hands. She still had that cursed dagger and she sunk it into your side... She looked shocked enough to back off; Lucius Malfoy was screaming in the background that the Dark Lord would be furious with her, but she let out a cackle like she didn't have a care in the world. I managed to crawl to you... You were in so much pain, you could hardly breathe. You told me not to cry, but to let you go... And you died in my arms, Harry. You died. And I felt like I died with you."

Harry tightened his embrace around her and shushed softly when she started crying again.

"Hermione, I'm not dead. Bellatrix, the crazy bitch, is the one who died. I'm not going anywhere; I wouldn't dare leave you behind."

He readjusted her head so that her ear rested on his chest.

"You hear that?" he wondered gently. "That's my heartbeat, love. And it's beating for you. You make my life worth living – don't ever forget that."

Hermione smiled at that and lifted her head in order to look into his beautiful green eyes.

"I love you," she said simply before she leaned forward and claimed his lips in a kiss.

"And I love you."

Hermione turned over to her other side and scooted as close to Harry as she could. As they lay spooning, Harry's hands started traveling over her body, touching her everywhere to make her believe and understand that he was still really there. He felt her tremble and she squirmed, her bum grinding against him in a delicious way that so decisive that it made him wonder if she was doing it on purpose to get him aroused.

"Make love to me, Harry. Just like this."

Her words were soft and confirmed his suspicion; he had no problem complying to her wishes. He placed a hand on her hip and held her in place against his growing erection as he carefully nibbled on her earlobe. She let out a moan and then reached for her wand on the night table, quickly muttering a charm that made their clothes end up on the floor. Harry pressed himself against her bum, loving the way he managed to position himself in between her cheeks. Hermione heard his breath hitch, causing her own heart to race. She lifted her right leg a little to grant him access and as he slid inside her tight warmth they let out simultaneous moans.

Harry stayed perfectly still for a moment, giving her a chance to get accustomed to his impressive size from this new angle. He grabbed hold of her leg so that she wouldn't tire herself out and placed a sweet kiss in the nape of her neck, waiting for her to want to continue. When she started squirming, a sure sign that she was a-okay and impatient for him to do something, he started moving in and out of her slowly with long, deep strokes.

"Oh Merlin... Harry, that feels amazing!" Hermione murmured as she started meeting his thrusts.

Her movements and her words made him impossibly more turned on; the way she responded to him was one thing he would never tire of. She turned her neck so that she could press her lips against his, the angle awkward but oh so satisfying... She loved kissing Harry more than anything else; his lips were always warm and soft and inviting... No one had ever kissed her with as much passion as Harry did.

Harry heard the change in her breathing that signaled to him that she was getting close. He quickened the pace a little and was rewarded with a small, blissful shout in return.

"So close, so close," she murmured over and over, loud enough for him to just be able to hear her.

"That's it, love, let go," Harry whispered in her ear, causing a shiver to ripple down her spine. "Come for me."

Hermione did so, calling his name as she felt her body come undone. Her muscles clamping down hard on him was enough to send Harry over the edge as well and he came deep inside if her with a strangled grunt. Neither of them moved; all that could be heard was their shallow breathing and Hermione could feel that Harry's racing heart matched her own.

Merlin's beard how she loved him.

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"Tell me something, Harry," she said slowly as she sat down on the couch next to him. "Do you remember either of us casting the contraceptive charm that night? Or in the morning, for that matter?"
Harry stared at her dumbly, looking at her as if she had been speaking gibberish. He had heard her; he just hadn't pieced her meaning together yet.

"You can't remember, because neither of us did," she said, thinking he was keeping quiet to try to remember if he had cast the charm. "Harry, I know that for a fact."

Oh. Bloody. Hell.

Suddenly Harry knew exactly what she was going to say and he knew for a fact that he wasn't ready to hear it.

"Harry... I'm pregnant."

Yep. Definitely not ready.

His first instinct was to run; run fast and run far. But that instinct was quickly suppressed by another feeling and a must stronger instinct that he couldn't ignore. He was filled with such a surge of protectiveness and love that he couldn't muster the strength or the will to flee.

Harry had been staring at her stomach for a full minute; Hermione had seen the inner turmoil he must be feeling in his eyes. A range of emotions had flashed over his face in a very short period of time and once she had noticed his first reaction, she had frozen and not moved since. The look of pure panic had Hermione's heart racing; she was waiting for him to turn on his heel and disapparate out of Grimmauld Place.

But he didn't.

Suddenly Harry met her gaze and what she saw in his eyes made her gasp. The look of panic was gone. He was now looking at her with such passion and warmth that her mind was reeling.

Harry had come to a decision. The beautiful, strong and brave woman standing in front of him was his whole life – the reason he existed, his reason for breathing. In her belly a child was growing – his child. He couldn't leave; he would not leave them. What life would he have without her? Without the innocent child? It would be an empty existence, hardly worth living. He had always wanted a family – he would be a complete arse if he was to give up on the chance of having the one thing he had always wanted in life for something as stupid as fear. He was a Gryffindor for Merlin's sake! He had done many idiotic things, but he would not do this.

He would not leave his family.

Scooting forward, Harry gently cupped her cheek, slowly stroking the soft skin with his thumb.

"I love you," he murmured softly, a small smile playing on his lips.

Hermione didn't get a chance to respond before Harry got down on his knees in between her legs. Astonished, she complied when Harry grabbed her hips and scooted her down a little, so that she was half sitting, half lying on her back. He then placed both his palms on her stomach. Hermione held her breath, waiting almost in awe for what he would do next.

"And I love you," he said as he rubbed her stomach in emphasis, and then he leaned forward to place kiss in the space in between his hands.

He felt Hermione's hand stroking his hair and he looked up at her; her eyes were brimming with tears, but she was smiling.

Harry knew that they had a rough road ahead of them; a child at this point was nothing neither of them had planned for or even started thinking about. Things would change drastically, but Harry knew that they could do this together.

He was suddenly very happy that something said in the heat of the moment was now defining the rest of his life.

* THE END *

AN: Alright. I'm sure there is a lot mixed feelings right now, because I certainly have mixed feelings. I'm not sure how I feel about this ending, because it opens up for a whole new set of chapters. However, I chose to end here because I need one story to be completed and rather than writing an epilogue that takes place ten years into the future where everything is perfect and dandy, I came up with this. My first intention was to end with Hermione telling him she was pregnant. I'm quite positive that ending with that kind of cliffhanger would have been mean... And rather than continuing the story, I end here because if I continue with this storyline, there needs to be a break between screwing-around-Harry and settling-down-to-be-a-father-Harry. I am not promising a sequel. Not yet. But I won't go so far to say that one won't come either.

Thank you for reading. Hope you enjoyed it. And hopefully... På återseende!

~*~ coolalisa ~*~