A/N 1: Arista is a star in the constellation Virgo and is of Greek origin, meaning "the best". It is also the root of the word aristocrat.
A/N 2: Well, there you have it. The end of "Dawns of Yesterday". And yes, before you ask, I did it. I went there. I wrote my own epilogue which reads somewhat similar as that horrible ending of DH. Consider it my version of events. Now, back to the praise for all of you, my readers. So many reviews... so many wonderful comments. Thank you all and I hope to see you around for my net story. Once again, my writing would be nothing without all of you. ~ Cissy
11 years later
It had been a warm summer and the sky was blue with only a few tiny puffs of white clouds. Kings Cross Station was perhaps busier than normal this morning. Rushed commuters seemed not in the least surprised to see parents help their excited children across the platforms pushing trolleys containing trunks and cages with the most exotic looking owls. But those very same commuters were unaware of the mystical, magical word that lay hidden behind the wall that separated platforms 9 and 10. It was September 1st and the Hogwarts Express would leave in a few minutes.
"Mom, are you sure they'll be here?" asked a raven haired girl when they made their way through the barrier separating the Muggle world from the magical one. There was a hint of nervousness in her voice. She turned around and watched her mother push her trolley with her trunk and cage. A large tawny owl sat sleepily on the small perch. The girls' hazel eyes found those of her mother and the woman smiled.
"I spoke to your auntie Ginny this morning, Arista. She said to meet her at the platform and…" her voice trailed off when she discovered dark red hair in the crowd and she took her daughter's arm and pointed. "Look, there's Harry. Seems he's brought someone with him, too!"
"Uncle Teddy! Auntie Andromeda!" Arista cried in happiness and freed herself from her mother's arm and ran across the platform towards the tall blonde haired young man and the dark haired witch at his side. She watched how her daughter was picked up, swung around and giggled like a toddler before wrapping her arms around his neck and kissing his cheek. Andromeda reached her and kissed her on both cheeks before looking around.
"Hermione, where's Cissy?"
"She should be here shortly. She was just trying to convince Scorpius that setting fire to his school robes really isn't the best way to start your time at Hogwarts," Hermione smiled and her eyes drifted off to Arista and Teddy. A melancholy smile lingered on her lips as she watched Teddy change his hair to the same shade of black as that of her daughter. The family resemblance suddenly became clear. "I can't believe eleven years have gone by. She's grown so much."
Andromeda looked at Arista. "She looks more like her mother every day too."
"Has she gotten on the train yet?" asked an exhausted looking Narcissa as she reached Hermione and her sister. When she discovered Teddy playing with Arista she smiled. "We had better keep her and Scorpius apart. With his talent for setting things on fire and Arista with her mother's temper, they will be a dangerous combination. The train wouldn't even make it out of the station."
"I take it Scorpius is up to his usual antics again?" Hermione asked and brushed a black smudge from Narcissa's cheek. The older woman smiled as she felt Hermione's fingers against her skin. It was something that happened every day and yet every touch felt like a new one, like it was the first time.
"I swear he is a Draco miniature," Narcissa sighed and rolled her eyes. "Astoria is going to have her hands full when he grows older. Draco only got worse as he grew up."
"I heard that, Mother," said a voice behind her and Narcissa looked around. Draco stood behind her, dressed in an immaculate suit as always. A few steps behind him Astoria was attempting to rescue whatever was left of Scorpius' robes. It was as if by magic but Arista turned around and saw Scorpius. She quickly said goodbye to Teddy and ran across towards her best friend. He spun around to meet her and all of those who watched were struck by the differences between them; Scorpius as fair as Arista was dark. They had been friends ever since they could walk and Hermione was often reminded of Harry and Ron when she watched them interact. Arista was far more logical and studious than Scorpius was, much to Astoria's disappointment, but Scorpius had already taught her there was more to the world than books and recently Arista had discovered an interest in Quidditch.
The whistle blew and Hermione hurried over to her daughter. She readjusted her jumper and let her fingers run playfully through Arista's hair. Questioning hazel eyes found those of her mother and Hermione sensed her daughter's hesitation. Hermione pulled her nearer and kissed her on her head. "You can write as often as you like. Every day if you want allright? And remember to do your homework and give Minerva that package I put in your trunk."
"Mom, people will know now, won't they?" asked Arista quietly and she looked up.
"Of course they will," answered Narcissa before Hermione had a chance to say something. "And you have nothing to worry about, my darling. You have some wonderful friends and I am sure that Scorpius would gladly take care of anyone who says something." Her voice trailed off. "What I mean to say is that you, Arista Black, are a miracle. And that's what makes you so special. And it doesn't matter what the world says. Never let them tell you any different."
"I love you, mom," Arista said and wrapped her arms around Narcissa's waist. Her words were genuine and heart felt. Narcissa let the girls' curls run through her fingers like she once used to do with her sister. They were as coarse and thick as those of her mother. The resemblance between them was striking. With every passing year Arista looked more like Bellatrix. Some days, as Narcissa had watched her play in the garden, it was as if she looked back into the past and saw Bellatrix throw stones into the pond.
"We love you too, Arista," Hermione said softly and swallowed hard to force back her tears. The day she had both longed for and dreaded was finally here. Her daughter was off to Hogwarts. The world had gone full circle. The final piece had fallen into place. She hugged her daughter tightly and kissed her on her cheek. "Now, get yourself on that train and find Scorpius and Harry. Don't let Scorpius set your robes on fire and don't allow Harry to feed you anything of which you haven't seen the wrappers first. And if it looks like something you shouldn't eat, then don't put it in your mouth! I swear Ginny should have known better than to make George Harry's godfather."
"I'll write you as soon as the Sorting Ceremony is over," Arista said and she climbed the few steps to board the train and turned her head. Hermione found her own eyes staring at her in anticipation. Her daughter's excitement and fear was palpable. "Slytherin is fine, isn't it?"
"Of course it is," Hermione answered and cocked her head. "I never once told you that one House is better than the other, did I? You have a Slytherin mother and a Gryffindor mother. You could go either way or end up somewhere else altogether. Now, go find yourself somewhere to sit and just enjoy it. Hogwarts is a time you must enjoy."
She and Narcissa watched Arista make her way through the compartment and joined Harry and Scorpius, who were sitting by the nearest window. They were soon joined by Molly and Victoire and it seemed that the whole group had instantly forgotten about the parents watching them from outside. Arista stood out with her black hair. Harry's hair was dark but not as dark as hers. Scorpius was as blonde as his father; Molly was red like her father and Victoire as blonde as her mother. Together they made a wonderful picture of children who were all so different and all so alike. Victoire and Molly were older and Hermione suspected they were now inducting them into Hogwarts' many secrets.
"Look at her," Narcissa whispered as her hand searched for Hermione's. The sun light reflected of their golden wedding bands. "You know she would be proud of her."
"As long as Arista is proud of herself nothing else matters," Hermione said and cast Narcissa a sideways glance. Things had turned out so differently than she had planned. She had never expected to have a child of her own, let alone one that she had together with a notorious Death Eater. Every day she was reminded of Bellatrix. Arista looked almost identical to her mother. She had the same strong Black features, which made that when people saw her and Narcissa together with Arista, they automatically assumed Narcissa was Arista's mother. And Hermione never argued differently. It was easier that way. But Arista knew the truth. And she also knew that now that she was about to take her own steps in the Wizarding world, people would realise who her mother was and Hermione had tried her best to prepare her. She did not want Arista to be ashamed of her heritage, of who she was.
"She will do well," Narcissa sounded confident and felt a chill creep down her spine when the whistle blew again and the train doors closed. Her eyes were drawn to the window. Arista was now standing up and waved. Narcissa swallowed and waved back. Beside her, Hermione felt somewhat forlorn as she too waved at her daughter. Tears glistened in her eyes and slowly the train began to roll out of the station. She watched her daughter disappear, off for her first year at Hogwarts.
"Who would ever have thought," said Ginny behind them and Hermione and Narcissa turned around. Ginny and her husband Tom, a Muggle born wizard whom she had met three years after Harry was born, stood behind them. Their twin daughters Eve and Megan clung on to their parents' hands. Both had inherited Ginny's fiery red hair but their father's blue eyes. They were only five but both were showing signs of magic and in a few years they too would go to Hogwarts. Draco and Astoria strolled down the platform and joined Hermione and Narcissa, followed by Teddy and Andromeda. Teddy had graduated from Hogwarts the way before and was now working at the Ministry. He was a handsome and tall young man with his father's eyes and his mother's nose.
"A whole new start," Hermione sighed and looked at Narcissa. Their relationship had changed in the two years after Arista was born. It had happened almost naturally. One night Narcissa had spent the night and she had never left. They married when Arista was five and as far as the raven haired girl knew Narcissa was as much her mother as Hermione was. But there was a picture on the fireplace, one Narcissa has found in a dusty old box back at Malfoy Manor, of Bellatrix when she was younger. She was sitting under her tree, reading a book. And just as the picture was taken she had looked up and smiled.
They watched the Hogwarts Express disappear into the distance until all that was left was a small black dot against the horizon. Slowly they all made their way back through the barrier and into Muggle London. Ginny and Tom suggested they would all go back to the Burrow and Hermione answered that she and Narcissa would see them there. She wanted to stay at Kings Cross just a little bit longer. Ginny seemed to understand and she and Tom disappeared, followed by Andromeda and Teddy and eventually Draco and Astoria.
"I never told you how proud I am of you," Narcissa said softly and kissed Hermione in her neck. "I still remember when you first showed Arista to me. You were so frightened, so nervous. You said you had no idea how to care for a child and now will you look at her, she has gone off to Hogwarts."
"I did have some help," Hermione winked and looked at Narcissa. Sometimes she still saw Bellatrix in her eyes and she knew Narcissa knew. It was a mutual understanding between them. They both knew that just a fragment of Hermione's heart would always belong to Bellatrix. She had been unable to visit her grave as the Healers had handed her body over to the Ministry. And Hermione finally accepted that perhaps it was better she could not visit her because this way Bellatrix was allowed to fade into a memory.
"She will be just fine out there," Narcissa smiled and Hermione nodded. "With half of your genes and half of Bella's, she'll be a force of nature to be reckoned with. Personally I think it is a good thing Minerva knows her so well."
"All of this because of Bellatrix," Hermione said and peeled back the thin sleeves of her blouse to reveal the silver scars on her forearm. A sad smile lingered on her lips. "All of this because of her."
"Yes," Narcissa said and took Hermione's hands. Her fingertips brushed along the scars like they had done so many times before. Hermione never ceased to amaze her and every day, every morning when she woke beside her, she reminded herself how blessed she was to have her and Arista in her life. And every night, right before she went to bed, she knew Hermione would look at the picture above the fireplace. They both would because Bellatrix was part of them. "All of this because of her."
Hermione glanced at the horizon. The Hogwarts Express was long gone. Out there her child was starting a new chapter of her a life. A life she only had because Bellatrix had sacrificed herself for her. She sighed and then her lips curled up into a smile. She knew it would be all right. Everything had always turned out to be all right.
"Come on, Cissy. Let's go home."