Chapter 110 – The Epilogue

I heard Draco long before I saw him. His slow footsteps screamed of exhaustion as he pulled himself out of bed so he could make his way to the study – it's where he always found me when he woke up and I wasn't in bed beside him. I heard him stop in the doorway, taking a moment to watch me work before he let out a long, tired sigh.

"When did you wake up?"

"When did you fall asleep?" I chirped back, not bothering to look up from my work. He didn't try to distract me from counting the stirs to my potion, knowing from experience that if I was this overly concentrated, it was for a purpose. He was right: if I lost count of my stirs, it could mess up this entire concoction and I had been working on this one for months.

"You know, the point of darkness is to sleep through it," Draco taunted lightly, falling behind me with a heavy thump. He dragged himself toward where I sat on the pristine – and ugly – rug his mother had gifted us. I was sitting on the floor – something I had taken to enjoying and something he always mocked me for – which let him pull right so that his head could rest on my shoulder. He took the time to kiss my neck softly, right over top of my angry, red scar, while he watched me continue to stir. After a moment of him taking in the mess around me, I felt his lips melt into a frown against my shoulder.

"This looks…new. Or is this more of that Clear-Headed Concoction for Weasley?" He asked into my shoulder. It was a ridiculous question that I knew was not entirely born out of curiosity, but envy.

"There are officially far too many Weasleys for you to address any of them by a common surname," I told him simply. "You use a rude nickname, Draco. Have I taught you nothing?"

"Fine. Is this more of that potion you make for Freddy Krueger?"

I raised my eyebrows at him, taking the time to throw him a bright expression. "Well done! That was actually a good one."

He rolled his eyes at me, though he did not move his chin from its place on my shoulder.

"Well, is it?"

"No, that's already finished on the side table. As you said, this is something…new…" I trailed off, switching to stirring the brewing potion in a counter-clockwise motion for precisely twenty-three stirs.

This was certainly not the Clear-Headed Concoction I had created for Fred. That potion never took long to brew and took very little effort – but brewing it always put me at ease. How couldn't it when I could see the immediate effects on Fred when he took it?

Ever since the Battle at Hogwarts twenty years ago, Fred had trouble keeping things straight…that is until he got a dose of my mutated mix of pepper-up potion and Baruffio's brain elixir. Even after a three-month stint at St. Mungos, Fred's mind had not been fixed completely. But whatever had been knocked loose that day seemed to be a little easier to manage when he took the potion I'd created like a form of daily medication. Before I had discovered it, Fred had been easily lost to the limits of his scattered mind. Because of that, I constantly had a steady supply on hand. He wasn't fixed yet…but he was better.

Better enough that he could try to patent the potion for the Joke Shop, at least.

Of course, Draco hadn't necessarily been thrilled by the arrangement. He'd always been a little wary of my relationship with the Weasleys – my relationship with Fred in particular. When Fred had met his wife things became a little better, but every now and then that little green-eyed monster reared its ugly head and that's when I'd remind Draco that I had willingly married him and that he was being a Grade-O moron. Now that my brother had married into the Weasley family, those gingers would never be out of Draco's life…then again, he'd probably be happy if we could have distanced ourselves from him, too.

As if knowing what I was thinking, Draco let out a soft groan. I made sure that I didn't lose count of my stirring as I lightly knocked the side of his head with my own.

"What are you thinking about?"

"Today's a big day for the twins," his voice sounded oddly like I was being scolded. "I wish you would have tried to stay in bed so you'd be awake for the whole of it."

There was no way not to take offence. "I did sleep, I just didn't sleep as much as you did!"

"Audrey, it's quarter past six. How long could you have possibly slept when I can tell you've already been awake for hours?"

"A bit," there was no need to tell him the exact amount. I didn't need any more of a lecture than I was being given. Draco had always been rather good at them – but now that he was a father? He was almost as talented as Hermione. "Either way, there's no way that I won't awake for today. From breakfast, to the train, to the party. I'll even stay awake until I get their owls—"

"Not even you could stay awake that long," he let out a tired chuckle. "You remember how it was the first night at school. No one sent owls home to their mothers right away and no parents expect it."

"I happen to know for a fact that your mother expected it," I countered. "And I have made it very clear to the twins that I will send them Howlers if they don't write to me enough."

"You're a tyrant."

"It comes from a place of love."

He watched me for a few silent minutes, neither of us feeling the need to fill the quiet. Draco had taken an interest in watching me work back when we had first moved to our home in Edinburgh. It had been one of the only places of solace during the Post-War Trials and neither of us had slept well for the years that they had taken place.

And Merlin's bloody beard had those Ministry Trials had been torturous. After the war, it had taken a lot of time to clear people's names – particularly those of reformed Death Eaters like Draco and Narcissa, or people with wrongly tarnished names like Sirius or those under the influence of the Imperius Curse. They had really wanted Sirius back in Azkaban; so much so that it had taken the whole of the three years of Trials to ensure that he wouldn't be sent back there.

Likewise, I had not been immune to the Trials. Because of the blood on my hands and my constant fight for leniency towards reformed or people who had been forced to be Death Eaters, not only were my own War-Time decisions judged, but I had needed to attend the Trials to defend every person to have ever helped me or changed sides. I'd been right in the thick of each of the Wizengamot's decisions on how to handle Death Eaters. It had made for three very long years of sleepless nights.

Over time, Draco had grown out of it. I hadn't.

"So, what are you working on?" He asked me after some time. He kept his voice quiet as he spoke, knowing that the twins would be up soon and hoping not to wake them any earlier than need be. It was a big day for them and we had learned long ago that if we woke them accidentally, our quiet morning would be ruined by their bickering. "Is it supposed to look like melted silver and smell like rotten onions?"

"It's something important," I told him vaguely, unable to stop myself from smiling. To put him at ease, I leaned back so that I could kiss his jaw. He narrowed his eyes at me to show that he was not distracted by the affection. "And of course it's supposed to be silver. For now."

"And the onions?"

"Better than when it smelled like ammonia."

"Huh. So whose contract is it, then?" He asked me, finally leaving his perch on my shoulder to sit beside me and fully take in the ingredients that were gathered around the cauldron. He still looked confused – as he should. This particular potion had never before been attempted by anyone other than me. I doubt it had ever been conceptualized before now…it would make it all the better of a surprise. "Because this is supposed to be your vacation. You're not supposed to be working during vacation, you know."

"Do you not know me at all? This kind of work is my vacation," I smirked at him, nudging him with my shoulder. "Besides, this is a personal project."

"Personal?" The edge to his tone immediately made me bristle.


"You're not…" my stupid husband cleared his throat, already uncomfortable with the question we both knew he was about to ask. "You're not trying another potion to return your magic, are you?"

"No. I've already told you that I'm finished with that," I responded tightly. As much as I knew Draco was trying to keep me sane, it was still a sore subject. I had worked for years trying to get my magic back…and a lot of disastrous consequences had followed along with my attempts. There had been a lot of time in the emergency room, a lot of time dedicated to healing from my own trials and errors – after all, there were no other guinea pigs I could use for that particular potion.

Never in the Wizarding World had there been another person recorded who had lost their magic. No one ever just lost their magic like it were a set of house keys. No one but me. It left me as the only test subject for all my potions and it also left me with the side effects of every failure.

And every single one of them had been a massive failure.

"This potion is going to right a wrong," I told him. "And I'm pretty sure it's a wrong only I can right."

"And what wrong would that be?"

"Besides how wrong it is that we've both been awake for half an hour, but you still have not offered me coffee or tea after I squeezed out two of your hard-headed children from my body?" I asked him lightly. Both of us smirked to each other, glad that the tension in the room had lifted. "It's a surprise."

"A surprise?" He repeated. "Is it a surprise I'll like?"

"If it works," I nodded my head, biting back my smile. If it worked it was a surprise that would change the rest of his life…but I wouldn't brag too much until it was finished.

"And how will you know if it works?"

"Oh, you'll know. After all, I'll be testing it on you," I simpered. The expression made him narrow his eyes a little, trying to understand what I could possibly be insinuating or working toward. When he couldn't find the answers in my eyes, he placed his head back down on my shoulder to watch me work. This was a ritual for us, now. Each night he was frustrated that I didn't sleep, he'd sit with me until we both felt at ease again. He knew all about the nightmares that kept me awake. The nightmares of relentless, angry voices and a black, ominous veil…

We sat together for a long time, neither of us speaking, neither of us needing to. While I was sure that Draco had a million things to say – particularly in question of the potion I was brewing – I knew he wouldn't try to guess it. He wouldn't have been able to anyway. I felt a lot of pressure towards finishing this elixir of mine…and I needed to make sure it was going to work for when I used it on him. It had to. It was the only Anniversary present that I'd gotten for him.

"Mum? Dad?" Both of us moved to look at our children hovering in the doorway. They had clearly just woken and were trying to see us more clearly by rubbing their bleary eyes.

The Malfoy twins looked so much more alike than Harry and I had – they both had the same strawberry blond hair, pale and freckled skin, as well as mischief shining in their eyes. But just like Harry and me, they couldn't be any more different.

My baby girl, Laurel Artemis Malfoy, was the oldest by four minutes. She had my almond-shaped eyes but her father's icy, gray gaze. Of my two children, she was easily the most outspoken and mischievous of the two…she was far too much like me for my own good.

And then there was my baby boy. Severus Scorpius Malfoy was much more reserved than his sister but no less clever. In fact, I wondered if he wasn't already thinking circles around us though he was too quiet to admit it. He already stood taller than me and he shared his father's facial expressions (or lack thereof), but Severus did have my eyes. My eyes exactly.

"Is it safe to come in?"

I gave a glance to my potion as Draco signalled for them to wait. Over the years, Draco had learned to wait for confirmation before assuming anything I was working on was safe – the kids were led by that example. Though, the worry might have been a little more selfish for him. Draco was currently shirtless and he had worked adamantly for his whole life to keep them from seeing his Dark Mark. It was a foolish endeavour to me – our children had been raised with basic knowledge about what we had gone through and I constantly reinforced what a good man their father had turned out to be…but still, Draco refused to subject his children to the Dark Mark in the way that he had been.

I couldn't really blame him. It had taken him a long time to sort through the emotions of what had happened to his father…but I knew he had landed on hoping never to be anything like him.

I dropped five very careful drops of Dittany into my potion, unable to hold back my smile as a telltale green haze of smoke lifted from the cauldron. It could sit for an hour now before I could toss in some final ingredients and present it to Draco later on tonight.

"Let's go have breakfast," I offered them, standing up so that I could go greet them. Draco took the time that the children were focused on me to conjure himself a shirt, one with long sleeves to cover his arms.

When he was done, I sent him a playful glower. "And coffee. Lots of coffee."

"Ew, no! Coffee's gross," Laurel, the ever-emboldened one, gave a startlingly familiar sneer down to the stuffed bunny in her arms, almost as if he might agree with her. She had always loved that bunny more than I could fathom. At first, knowing she was off to Hogwarts, I had worried what the other children might do when they saw her love for it…and then I realized that she wouldn't give them the chance to taunt her before she sought revenge.

My daughter had begun her vengeful forms of mischief years younger than I had.

Hogwarts would need to look out for that one.

"You won't think that when you're older," I promised her, going up to her and kissing the top of her still neatly braided hair. Godric, was I glad that neither of them had gotten my hair. "I thought the same thing at your age."

"So what happened?" My soft-spoken son asked. I smiled.

"Wars, death, dismemberment, and a horrid case of a two-day hangover—"

"Is that how you fell in love with daddy? Cause he brought you coffee?" Laurel asked with a giggle. I turned to Draco, my eyebrow raised in challenge as he rolled his eyes back at me.

"Something like that," I turned back to my daughter. "It actually started when one of our professors turned him into a ferret—"

Draco sighed loudly. "Why do you tell them these things?"

I raised my eyebrows to taunt him as he bent down to also kiss his children good morning. I always loved to see how affectionate he could be with them, particularly knowing how he had not learned from example, but from instinct.

It had been a rude awakening when we'd had children. I'd always assumed that it would come naturally to me…but it had not. Draco had been far more prepared then I had been and far more patient with their outbursts and mine. I had never really expected it of him. To be fair, I acknowledged Draco had always wanted kids, he'd been bred and prepared for it his entire life – which was exactly why he was able to keep me focused on the love I felt for these kids even after my torturous 32-hour labour.

"Should you not be getting ready?" He asked me, giving me a sinister look that I knew should follow an insult of some sort. "We're going to be late by the time you make your hair look like it belongs to a human being."

"You married this hair," I reminded him. "And you married this mess. People can deal with it. I want to spend my time with my babies before they leave me."

"Then you're making breakfast," he told me. There was an immediate groan from the Laurel and Severus that would have been insulting if it hadn't been in perfect unison.

I laughed. "I'm sorry, Drakie. I think you've been overruled."

"Yeah, yeah," he kissed my temple. "But I still say that you should fix your hair. Even the muggles will know that only magic could make that kind of a mess."

"You don't look that bad, mum," Severus reassured me quietly. I kissed my sweet boy on the forehead.

"But just in case, how 'bout I go fix it, yeah?" I asked him with a grin. "Wouldn't want to embarrass you any more than I already plan to when we're on the platform today."

"Mum, no!" Laurel whined but there was a smile to her face. "You can't! You have to be nice to us on the platform, Auntie Hermy made you promise."

I couldn't help the grin…Hermione hated that my children called her Auntie Hermy.

It was exactly why I demanded it.

"Your Auntie Hermy also made me promise that I wouldn't let you take any of your Weasley's Wizard Wheezes products to school with you today," I told her with an expectant look. "So do you really want me to listen to her?"

"No thank you!" She said quickly, bouncing a little to give me a kiss on the cheek. My eldest was an excellent manipulator. "No one listens to Auntie Hermy anyway, Mummy. She's crazy!"

Draco and I laughed as she bounded up the stairs to go check on her trunk, just to make sure she had all of the prohibited Weasley's Wizard Wheezes products that she'd likely already hidden throughout her things. Draco crossed his arms.

"Merlin, she's worse than you were."

I wasn't sure if I was supposed to, but I smiled at the lie. She was mischevious, yes, but she was certainly not worse than me. She wasn't so bitter, she wasn't so angry, she wasn't so jaded. Neither of my children were. And I couldn't help but think that made them better than I ever could have hoped to be.

We arrived at Kings Cross a little later than the rest of the adults bringing their students. We hadn't really had to come here at all; Edinburgh was close enough to Hogsmeade that we could have brought the children to Hogsmeade Station later in the day when the train pulled in before they took the boats up to the castle…but it felt important for them to experience this day to the fullest. And that all started on the train with their army of cousins.

It was not like it was a surprise that my children were going to Hogwarts, but for the twins to finally be headed off to their first year? It was hard to wrap my mind around. It was like some sort of dream, one that I didn't know I'd had while I grew up…and now that time was here and it was no longer surreal, it just felt like a contented sense of…wholeness? Rightness? Pride?

Definitely pride.

Their cousins James and Albus Potter had already been sorted the year before and it was interesting to know that my brother's child had ended up in Slytherin. Albus had written me many times during the past year, trying to find something familiar to cling onto. It was good preparation for what to expect today.

Throughout the years, I had made a concerted effort to keep the opinions of House rivalries unbeknownst to my children. It had been difficult and it was impossible for them to have been unaware they existed – but I didn't want to influence them before they'd been sorted. Especially because all of their cousins – besides Albie – had been sorted into the rival house that their father had a very clear preference towards. Because Draco could not hide his preference towards Slytherin, no matter how much I had scolded him. I had been able to reign him in during their childhood, but once they had started to show signs of magic, Draco hadn't been able to stop bragging about the House that had brought he and his wife together.

It had caused some rifts and confusion. While Laurel was sure it was the place she was meant to be, Severus would quietly tell me that he was unsure if it was where he belonged. So I reinforced that it didn't matter as often as possible. I could only hope that no matter what House my children ended up being sorted into, they would still want to talk to me about it.

Because Albus certainly didn't talk about his experiences in Slytherin with Harry as much as he had to me…and I chalked that up to years of the subtle bashing between my brother and my husband.

As we shuffled through the busy platform, my children's fears diminish when they saw their family up ahead. Harry, Ginny, Ron, Hermione, and Sirius were already here, loading the children's trunks onto the train while saying their final goodbyes.

It was so strange to be standing in this place again, particularly knowing that very few of the things I had learned there were now things I could never use.


No, not today.

There would be no dwelling today.

"Ew! Teddy, gross!" Laurel made a face, looking at her make-shift cousin who was busy frenching Bill Weasley's eldest daughter. Why were they even here if they both graduated? Godric, those two were hardly able to separate themselves from each other for a moment at family get-togethers, who knew what they would be like without us adults around? I had made sure to teach my niece-in-law and my godson all about birth control. I only hoped those horny teens used it.

"One more year, Lily," Harry was comforting his daughter. Again. She threw a fit every year that her brothers got to go and she did not – I couldn't wait to see the trouble she and Laurel would make together. "Why don't you go talk to Aunt Audrey?"

The little girl ran to me when she saw me, her brown eyes filled with tears. "Aunt Drea, they won't let me go with them!"

"Oh, come on Fire-Lily," I sighed, crouching down so that I could help wipe her tears. "I know it feels awful, but there's no need to cry over it. Going next year will be even better than going this year. Do you want to know why?"

She sniffled, but she couldn't help but look back up at me curiously. "Why?"

"Because," I leaned in, pretending that I was revealing a secret. "You're the only new Hogwarts addition in the family next year. All of the attention will have to be on you. Just think how much we'll be waiting for your owls all year…we'll already be bored with what the others have to tell us by then."

"Drea," Hermione scolded from beside me. She had apparently finished saying goodbye to her own children and had come to collect my brother's. I shrugged innocently – there was nothing wrong or rude about what I had said. Especially not when it made his daughter brighten so much.

"I guess that's true..."

"Exactly! See, if you were going with the twins today," I indicated over to my own children who were currently sharing a word with their father. "We'd have to celebrate you all. It wouldn't just be you that we're paying attention to, you know. But next year? You can do no wrong."

"I guess that's kinda nice…"

"Don't put that idea in her head, Audrey," Hermione gave a great frown.

"Kinda nice?" I repeated, ignoring the know-it-all at my side and placing an affronted expression over my face for Lily's sake. It was working after all; the kid was no longer crying. "Are you kidding? What would we do if you were gone tonight, little one? You're the only child left at the yearly Autumn Party…what would we do with ourselves if you weren't there to keep us entertained?"

She smiled toothily. "I do like singing for you guys."

"And we like watching you," I assured her. "Now, I need to go talk to your cousins because they're very nervous for their first day. They don't get to stay with us and keep us old farts happy. Is that alright?"

She nodded coyly, mollified with what I had told her, before running back to Harry. My brother threw me a cautiously appreciative look while he continued talking to his sons – James in his Gryffindor robes, and Albus in his Slytherin ones. Albus turned toward Lily as she ran to him and sent me a relieved, happy wave. I waved back at Albie – oh, how his father hated when I called him Albie – and moved back towards my own children.

"Mummy?" Laurel turned to me, her grey eyes wide. It was the first time she was really displaying that she felt any nerves at all. "Daddy says you'll write. You'll write to us, won't you?"

"Write?" I scoffed good-naturedly. "I'll do you one better: you'll get howlers every week! Always announcing, very loudly, how proud I am of you and exactly what your father and I have been up to—"

"Mum!" Laurel's nerves melted into exasperation. "That'd be humiliating! You can't say you'll send us howlers if we don't write you and that you'll send us howlers if we do…"

"We'll write you as often as you write us," Draco promised. "No howlers—"

"I can't promise that."

"We'll write the moment we get your owl," Draco sent me an exasperated look. "I won't let her send you howlers…unless you deserve them."

"Or unless you want to hear our voices…" I trailed off, making Laurel pull a face of disapproval.

"Mummy, no. I'll never make friends that way," she sounded so self-assured. I smiled, moving a strand of strawberry blonde hair from in front of her face. Oh, how she reminded me of her namesake when she said things like that, particularly when she called me 'mummy'.

Would Daphne be standing here with us if she would have survived that night twenty years before?

I'd like to think so.

"Sweetheart, I have no doubts you'll make friends any way you try," I assured her. "And don't be afraid to make some enemies if people piss you off."

I heard a sigh from behind me, but I didn't really care to see who had released it.

"Now," I pulled my son from where he had been standing close to his father's side. His bright green eyes bore into me immediately, revealing exactly the turmoil he felt. He was very nervous, much more so than his sister. It had driven him to something near silence. "Alright, Dad got a word with you both, so now it's my turn. Now, I know there's been a lot of worry about the Sorting—"

"I'm not worried. Are you, Sev?" Laurel asked pointedly, sending a side-eye glare to her brother. I gave her a reproachful look which immediately made her cheeks burn red. She knew that I didn't like when she bullied her brother…or anyone, for that matter. It wasn't selfish to not want an exact replica of her namesake, after all. It'd taken years for Daphne to come around.

"You two don't need to be worried," I assured them, looking from my daughter's cool, steel-coloured eyes and back into my son's intense, green ones. "Because wherever you end up – Slytherin, Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff, or Gryffindor – we will always love you and support you. I don't want you to doubt it. Our whole family comes from opposite houses and varied beliefs…"

Severus looked up at me, worry still shining in his eyes. "But what if we're in…different houses?"

What if I'm not in Slytherin? He may as well have asked.

"If you two end up getting sorted into different Houses, that's perfectly alright. In fact, it might benefit you later on," I told them, trying to keep my eyes as soft as possible. "Harry and I survived. We made it work for us. We looked out for each other despite being different. And just like us, it's okay for you to be different. But what's not okay?"

"Leaving each other alone," they both chorused, knowing exactly what I was asking them. It had been a mantra I had drilled into their minds long ago, all in preparation for today. I smiled at them and let go of their hands so that I could cup each of their faces with a hand.

"Exactly. No matter where you go, no matter who you befriend, no matter what you become, I will always love you. Your father will always love you. And you two will always have each other," I told them sternly. "And even when you two argue – because you will argue – you need to stick together. Nothing is more important than family. Nothing. So you two need to protect each other…no matter where you are, or who you are. Do you understand?"

Both of them nodded. I felt myself tearing up a little and tried to hide it by pulling them in for a hug. I was pleasantly surprised when neither of them struggled. "Good, because you'll be grounded for a lifetime if you don't."


"We are so proud of you two," I laughed at their rolling eyes. "So proud. I can't even express it. I—"

"That's her, Audrey Malfoy!"


"Audrey Potter – the Squib!"

"How did she get through the barrier if she doesn't have any magic?"

I tensed, moving away from my children just a bit so that I could glare over their shoulders. Draco had followed my stare with his own white-hot glare at the two witches who stood a few meters away. Surprisingly, they weren't tactless children, but visiting adults to the platform. They were whispering to each other in an animated way – in fact, one of them almost reminded me of Pansy.

It fuelled the rage.

"I got in because I've still made more of a name for myself without magic than you have with it," I hissed, my eyes narrowing. There was no need to bring up all the Muggleborns and Muggle parents that were on the platform with us, not if I wanted to keep my cool in front of my children. "Now would you mind? Some of us have real reasons to be here."

The younger looking woman let out something that sounded remarkably like a squeal before she grabbed her friend's hand and pulled her farther along the platform, just hoping to get away from me. While I was sure that they wouldn't stop talking about me, it was nice that my children wouldn't have to listen to it.

Still, the damage had been done.

"Do you miss it, Mummy? Magic..." Laurel's voice was uncharacteristically soft. Though I never had it confirmed, something told me Draco had sat them down and told them not to mention it when they were young and probably again as they neared school age. But as much as the question hurt, I didn't want to create a rift right when they were going off to school for the next seven years. I wanted to hear about every spell they mastered, every potion they brewed, every question they had about the mysteries of the Wizarding World. So even if there was something so wrong about the idea of them knowing just how much that emptiness still lingered within me, I wanted them to know that they were worth so much more than what I had lost.

"You think I don't have magic?" I asked with a tight laugh, rubbing my thumb across her cheek. I moved to do the same to my son. "I feel like I have a lot of magic right here. Don't you?"

Severus beamed, Laurel looked quite proud, but behind them, Draco looked heartbroken.

"Why don't you go make sure that your cousins save you a compartment?" Draco asked, moving forward to place a hand on our Laurel's shoulders. "Go quick, before we have to say our goodbyes."

Both of them ran forward, ready to make whatever friends or comrades that they could. I wondered who they would sit with on the train – Severus would likely choose a cousin, but Laurel? I could imagine her going off on her own to try to make new friends. I wondered if they'd ever care to tell me.

I stood again, trying hard not to tear up. I hated how emotional age had made me – or maybe it was knowing just how delicate life was after my near-death experience. Or how delicate it seemed when I looked at my children. Either way, with the emptiness I felt from my magic, these kids filled me with a pride that I didn't know I could ever feel.

It hurt, but it was worth it.

Draco came to stand beside me as we watched our children try to make friends. I hoped that they would find a Draco, a Theo, and a Daphne for themselves. After a moment, Draco wrapped a reassuring arm around me. It felt strange, being intimate on this platform – for years, we had purposely hidden it. How times could change.

"Are you okay?" He asked me, his voice low.

"I'm more than okay," I sighed wistfully, leaning into his shoulder a little bit. "Did you ever think that we'd all make it here? That this would actually happen?"

"Do you mean for the twins, or for us?"

"Us," I told him, before dropping my tone a little. "Me."

"That little brat shouldn't have said anything," Draco hissed, turning to glare in the direction that the nosey girls had gone. "I swear to Salazar that if I knew who—"

"Well, people are assholes. We shouldn't be surprised by this. But I don't blame them for being curious – there's no one else in the world who doesn't wonder. There's no one else in the world they can ask about it. So how could they know I feel horrible about it?" I shrugged away the idea and attempted to shrug away the feeling that sat heavily on my shoulders as well. "I have more important worries than what a modern-age Pansy Parkinson thinks of me, Draco. Now I only have to worry about what modern-age you think of me."

"Jury's still out," he commented lightly. "You can be really insufferable."

"You taught me well," I grinned at him. He rolled his eyes, but I could see the humour behind them as he leaned forward to kiss me again. "Now let's say our goodbyes before the whistle blows. I have an Anniversary present to finish when we get home and I'll need some time to comprehend my Empty-Nest syndrome."

It was a strange concept, sitting in my home and drinking with my friends as we revelled in a rare night without our children. If someone had told me in my first year of Hogwarts that I would enjoy spending time with not only my husband Draco Malfoy, Theodore Nott, Tracey and Lillian Davis, but also Harry and Ginny Potter, Hermione and Ron Weasley, Fred and Millie Weasley, or George and Angelina Weasley…well, I probably would have laughed at them. But now, these holiday get-togethers were something I actually began to look forward to each time they approached. Especially today.

"She's asleep," Ginny announced proudly as she entered the living room again. She held a drink in her hand, apparently to help keep her patience as she lulled a very miserable Lily to sleep. Now that the little one was down, that was my cue to show off the new potion I had invented. I had kept the viscous, black potion in the pocket of my muggle jeans – but now I pulled it out for everyone to admire.

"Look what I made," I raised it in the air for everyone to look.

"Oh no," Ron immediately groaned. "What did you do this time?"

"Don't say that, Ronald," Hermione smacked at her annoying husband. Besides my husband and my brother, the Muggleborn witch had always been the most considerate towards my ventures in Potion Making. While the words had never been spoken, Hermione seemed to acknowledge that potions were my only bridge to magic now and she was oversensitive whenever someone would insult them. "Is this a new potion, Audrey?"

"Actually, it is. Months in the making," I confirmed with a proud grin.

"The one from this morning?" Draco turned to me, his brow furrowed. "It couldn't have been for months, I've barely seen you working on it."

"You've barely been awake for it," I blinked at him innocently. He grimaced, still sore over the topic of my sleep habits. It was a constant point of contention for him. Honestly, I had tried to stay in bed with him during the first year. But it only got worse and after two hours, then three, then four just sitting in bed and waiting for sunrise, I had gotten bored. To avoid poking the sleeping dragon for my own entertainment, I'd left him to sleep. He just always forgot that I left for his own good.

"Well, there's a reason you have it out here," my brother began knowingly. "What is it?"

My brother actually knew – or he knew it was a potion I had been meaning to work on. I couldn't wait to see his reaction to it, as well. Even without knowing, his words had given me the opportunity to brag as I showed off the black liquid in the vial to the odd mash of people I had grown to call my friends.

"This is the end. The official end of that bloody war we ended twenty years ago."

Tracey, as always, was the most skeptical. "Er – what end? As you said, the war ended twenty years back."

"Thirty years too late," Lillian agreed dismally. Those two were a cute couple, but you could see the wear that their relationship had left on the most optimistic of us Slytherins. Over the years it had been hard to watch as Lillian was forced to become a little less naïve. I'd peg the change around the time her family had disowned her for not only dating a woman but a Halfblood.

Tracey moved to kiss her hands, hearing the same tone in her voice that I had.

"You're not wrong."

"What's this potion, then?" Theodore asked. My best friend's voice had changed a lot over the years – it had grown dark and oddly emotionless since he had lost Daphne. He had never really gotten that spark to his personality back after she was gone…it was almost as if a part of him had died as well. He had never cared to date, he had never cared to settle down. Theodore was lost and I doubted whether he cared to find his way back to who he had been. Theo's dark eyes turned toward the potion curiously and I wondered, briefly, how long he would be able to stay with us before he left to return to the Hogwarts feast. I also wondered whether he had already missed it – would the professors have cared?

Either way, he'd have to leave. Classes would begin tomorrow and they would need their Transfiguration Professor.

"This is the definitive end," I elaborated, flourishing the potion again.

I was almost as proud of this potion as I was that my children had just gone off to Hogwarts.


"Did you…" Ron perked, something in my tone making him suddenly very interested. "Did you figure out a way to get your powers back?"

The room fell silent as everyone silently cursed Ron for his big-ass mouth…but still, they all looked at me hopefully. No, that was not what I had worked on – I had spent too many years hoping for something that I wouldn't get back. But at the risk of my life…this life that now held a happy marriage, a successful life as a Potion's Mistress for official and private contracts, a regular contributor to Weasley's Wizard Wheezes, and a mother of two imperfectly wonderful twins…I couldn't bring myself to want to risk it just to bring them back. I had things here that were much more important; this potion was proof of that.

And I had found success without my magic. Not only had our story gone international after Harry and I defeated Voldemort, but my methods had gone under a lot of public scrutiny during the Trials. It had drawn attention; so when the Ministry had heard of my modified invisibility potions, my Animagus potion, and my enhanced healing potions? Well…not only did I have a certain level of immunity, I ended up getting contract work through them – and other private vendors – that would last all my life. It brought in steady, sometimes ridiculous pay…and a wonderful amount of freedom and challenge.

Snape would be proud, Draco told me.

I hoped he was right.

"Well?" Lillian asked hopefully.

"As much as I appreciate your constant vigilance," I drawled trying not to show the sting of admitting this again, "I have not gotten my powers back and I have a feeling I never will."

"Drea, have you ever thought—"

"She said no," Draco snapped, cutting my brother off. They were always snippy with each other, but I appreciate that the two continued to try and get along for my benefit. "Audrey?"

It was nice that Draco's frown was not the deepest of the bunch. It had taken years to reaffirm the idea that I could be something without my magic, without that harsh edge against others that I had always held. He had worked for a long time to make me feel relevant when I felt nothing…so he knew that this kind of attention made me uncomfortable and made me dwell. Something told me, however, that no matter how many warnings he threw to our friends – alright, maybe my friends – that they would never be able to jump aboard the supportive bandwagon.

"Yeah, what is it?" Harry attempted to help change the subject back. While I could still see the guilt – and worse the pity – in his eyes, I was glad to see that he knew to leave well-enough alone.

"This is possibly the best potion I have ever made," I explained calmly. "But I need a Wizarding test subject."

No one volunteered.

I couldn't say that I didn't expect it.

Now that we were in a relative time of peace and I couldn't just go and kidnap myself a guinea pig, I found it difficult to find people who would let me experiment on them. All my adult friends and family had been recruited at some point or other, but even when many of them suffered no ill effects, none of them were ever receptive to the idea of a potion test. I couldn't say that I was surprised by it, but the lack of faith they had at me was pretty insulting, all things considered.

But it didn't matter who did and did not want to try – I had someone very specific in mind.

"As much as you're all chomping at the bit," I told them, eyeing my husband meaningfully. "I need Draco. I was just trying to be polite. This is your present, you coward. Unless you're too scared and you'd like Theo to try it…"

My husband sighed, looking over to my best friend. The two seemed to have some silent sort of battle between their gazes – it was clear, after a moment, that Draco had either lost or surrendered. With a great sigh, he pushed himself up from his plush chair and walked toward me.

"Will you at least tell me what it is?"

"No. It's a gift and you're going to like it whether you expect to or not," I told him with a wide grin. It looked like he was going to be annoyed for a moment, but after he examined my face for clues, he seemed to see something that put him at ease. Maybe it was my own excited expression. Even I knew that he must not have seen it in a few weeks. With the stress of my children leaving for Hogwarts, this potion, and the others I'd been putting off for far too long that still sat brewing in my cauldrons, he hadn't seen a lot of genuine smiles from me.

He held out his hand to take the vial from me, but I shook my head playfully. He was curious but frowned through it so that he wouldn't seem too eager for some possible prank I may be pulling on him. Instead of making him guess again, I moved toward him and pulled up the sleeve of his expensive, collared shirt. He squirmed in my grip a tad, his worried eyes meeting mine. He was always uncomfortable when his Dark Mark was left on display.

That damned Dark Mark was always something I had played with in the days after the Battle of Hogwarts. With Voldemort gone it had faded to a dull shadow of what it was – almost like a tattoo that had faded fifty years – but it was still bold enough that Draco was always aware of it. The skin around the dreadful mark held the faint scarring of a familiar handprint, dating back to the time that I had burnt his skin badly enough that Madame Pomfrey wouldn't have been able to identify the Dark Mark that marred his pale skin.

I pulled his arm toward me, holding his wrist firmly in my grasp while I dropped a dollop of the thick, syrupy potion onto the offensive symbol.

"Ow! Dammit, Audrey!" He hissed out. He clenched his jaw and shut his eyes tightly so he could concentrate on not embarrassing himself any more than he already was. I hadn't really expected it to cause any form of intense pain – perhaps I should have added some more lavender leaf? – but I couldn't really force myself to feel sorry when the black liquid began to bubble.

The effects were immediate. The thick, black potion had pooled over Draco's skin and it began to sink deep into the crevices surrounding his Dark Mark. The potion blackened the ink to a darker shade than it had ever been when Tom Riddle was alive and made it bubble and hiss. It was the black potion was absorbing all the light in the room, taking away all the energy so that it could refocus on its mission.

After a moment, the potion began to drip away from his arm and onto the dark hardwood flooring. If Draco could have gasped at the result, I think he would have. But it looked almost like he couldn't force himself to breathe.

"It's—it's gone."

And it was gone. The ink of the black, offensive symbol of death had absorbed into that void of black goop. When it had dripped onto the floor, it took the Dark Mark along with it, almost as if it had never been branded on him at all. The skin that had been blackened for so long was now nearly perfect – save for the scarring from when I had burned him with my magic just to keep that part of him hidden.

But that could be a project for another night.

"It's gone," I whispered back, leaning down to give the fresh skin a light kiss. When I came back up, he was still speechless, meeting my eyes with an emotional, stormy gaze. There had been very few times I had seen such amazement in those eyes of his. Even then, even if I didn't know him well enough to know how important this was to him, I could see it. I could see how relieved he was that something he had needed to be stripped from him for so long was gone.

And I was the one to do it.

But it was gone. It was finally gone. This horrible symbol that had kept him in the line of fire during the Trials, this symbol which had made him always seem like a villain despite only ever running, this symbol which he hid from his peers and his was finally gone.

"Is it…is it gone for good?" He asked, still sounding breathless as he examined his arm from every angle he could force it to rotate, trying to look for a shadow or a sheen left over from the curse…but it nearly looked untouched by any magic besides my own.

"It's gone for good," I smiled back to him.

A smile ripped across his face like something had torn it open. It was so raw and relieved that it took my own breath away. He gripped my face, holding me close to him and kissing me in a way that I certainly wouldn't have wanted any of the children to see. When he allowed me to come up for air, he took all the breath from me again until we both had to surface from one another with goofy grins on our faces.

"Fuck, I love you," he told me. I laughed – I couldn't help it. This moment was exactly what I had been working toward.

"Er," my brother looked over to the other Gryffindors. "Anyone else lost? Did she…did she really just find a way to get rid of his Dark Mark?"

"You're damn right I did," I smiled at them. "See? And you doubted my genius."

I presented Draco's arm to them proudly. I didn't have to search out Theodore's eyes before his gaze caught on to mine. His eyes moved from my husband's arm back to my stare, asking silently for the reprieve that we both knew he deserved. He didn't even need to ask. I'd made sure I had enough to get rid of them all – at least all the Dark Marks of the reformed Death Eaters I knew.

Was there a risk? Of course, it was an untested potion that was eating away at magic so Dark that it had lasted the better part of a quarter century. Sometimes more. But I didn't need to question whether or not he thought it would be worth whatever risk there might have been. For now, as we all celebrated, all that was left of the symbol that had haunted our lives was nothing more than a faded, forgotten old scar.

The End.

And that's it. The journey has ended. I cannot express to you all how appreciative I am that you stood by me through this monstrosity of a story. I am so happy I was able to share this with you all. I'll see you in the chapters of Audrey Potter's Prelude and Frost Bitten but for now, like that Mark, it's time to let this story go.

Thank you all.