for vic & bri.
Tom looked up from his notes, irritated. He was working on one of his most complex theories. It was not exactly time sensitive, but he'd never found it easy to translate his most ambitious thoughts for other people. The young woman at the door, though, was not an unwelcome sight. She was one of his brightest students - Tom taught only the most advanced ones, of course. He was, allegedly, too radical a thinker to be entrusted around undergraduates.
"Come in, Camille. What can I do for you?"
"Actually it's the Archchancellor. She's back in the building and I know you told us all to come to you if we saw her here."
"Thank you," he said, getting to his feet, wand out. "Where is she?"
"I think she was heading to the library."
Tom pushed past Camille without another word, setting off at a pace that fell short of a run (he did have his dignity) even as he cursed the apparition wards on the building. There were few students here now, it being the time of year when most were home for the holidays. His office was two floors above the library's top entrance. She wouldn't have gone in there, though, she'd know he could get to that quickly. Or would she, as a double bluff? She was a clever, dissembling creature. She would have, he thought. Or - perhaps not.
He paused, thinking. No. There were sixteen flights of stairs to reach that door. She'd have gone in the bottom. If he ran he'd catch her before she got too deep into the library. The librarians were her allies, if they could be called that. Fierce guardians of their small empire that they were, they knew who to thank for its creation. Even now, they'd let her in.
The librarian on duty at the front desk paled when she saw him. He was out of breath and undignified as he snarled, "Where is she?"
"Where is who?" The Head Librarian asked, appearing from nowhere as she often did. Tom did not like to confess it but even he found her slightly intimidating.
"Where is Professor Granger Dearborn?"
"What gives you the impression the Archchancellor has been here?"
"Griselda," Tom warned, and she deflated.
"She's only on the first level, reading a book she requested. I know she's not meant to be here but what am I supposed to do?"
He didn't bother to answer as he strode off to the first level. The library had grown and grown since it was first built, carving back in a huge spiral down back into the rock. He supposed if they hit the other side of the hill they'd just start going down. Every magical book, paper, and scroll ever published was to be housed here.
He spied the familiar thick, dark hair and felt wild with anger.
"What," he hissed, "are you doing here?"
"Darling," Hermione murmured, "that was quite fifteen minutes. You must be getting slower. And I am reading, as you can see. Are pregnant women banned from reading now?"
She did not look up from her book. It didn't look like one of the dangerous ones, but you just never could be sure in here. There were all sorts of things squirrelled away in the library's depths.
"Pregnant women who've been put on bed rest are certainly banned from extremely dangerous libraries, yes."
She sighed sadly. She was pale, with dark circles under her eyes. He wanted to pick her up and carry her to safety. Perhaps buy a dragon to guard her door until she'd given birth and recovered.
"You are having twins at some point in the next week," he said but he could feel his anger fading and sympathy replacing it. It was the third time she'd escaped what she'd described as her prison. He thought that was rather unfair to their extremely comfortable room, but then no one had locked him up since he'd been (however unjustly) cleared by the British Ministry so he supposed he wasn't really in a place to decide. "Just let me take you home, my love. I've finished my work. We can go to bed and —"
"I have spent enough time in bed," her voice was getting shrill, which was never a good sign, "to last me the double lifetime I'm living."
"What about the garden," he offered. "Or a bath?"
"A bath?" she said, interested. He grasped the opportunity.
"A bath," he promised, taking her hand, "with all those extraordinarily expensive things you like in it and a massage absolutely anywhere and everywhere you want."
"Oh," Hermione agreed, heaving herself up, "alright then. But you're going to read to me afterwards, and I want to discuss this new idea I've had about Untransfiguration —"
Hermione realised her children weren't exactly normal, even by Wizarding standards, when they were still quite small. It was their fourth Christmas in the world, and the whole family had gone to Wales as they always did, to spend it with Cerdic. For two children who'd grown up in the most magical place on earth, they still found the castle fascinating.
And unfortunately it seemed to be a mutual feeling.
Ida and Cadmus were born on the darkest night of the year, and while Hermione was not a superstitious woman, she knew that certain days had more magical significance than others. Still, for four years the twins only caused the ordinary amount of trouble that twins cause their parents, even allowing for the help from their House-elf nanny, their witch nanny, and the housekeeper.
They developed their own forms of communication, had bursts of accidental magic very early, went through stages of being appalling sleepers. Cadmus spoke at nine months. Ida walked at nine months. She had no sense of boundaries or when to stop. She walked and then she didn't stop.
But all that was normal. Everyone's children did odd things. And then, of course, they went to Wales and to a castle that recognised them as its own. Tom, too, had been accepted by the building now that they were married. He would get a humming in his blood when someone arrived. Things would appear for him: items he'd misplaced or books he wanted to read. A room he made his study while they were there that no one could find the entrance to when he was concentrating.
But when Cadmus and Ida turned four, with all the mischievousness of clever and beloved children who've been given everything they've ever needed and more, they wrangled control of the castle for themselves.
That Christmas was spent in a child's world and on a child's schedule. At first, when the staircase to the kitchen shrank, Hermione was pleased. That seemed practical and Buttons was ancient now, though assisted by his nephew who, he'd informed them one day, would be a suitable replacement. He was retiring to a cottage on Iðunna with Hermione and Tom, rather reluctantly. She had freed him years ago, of course, but that hadn't made a blind bit of difference. He was bound to the castle itself now in the old way the elves were relearning, and so he'd stayed on exactly as he had before except with mandatory days off and a salary.
But then, in retrospect, she'd realised the stairs had become the perfect height for two sets of chubby, short legs to fly up and down, swiping treats from surfaces they shouldn't be able to reach.
But those didn't shrink. Swiping pastries from those was down to early magical control, just like their father.
There were other things too: lights came on in every single room when they woke up at 5am. Fires crackled to life if they were cold. Their room changed colour three times, settling on a hideously bright shade of lilac. The stone griffin prowled down from its wall and let them ride on its back.
"You did this!" Hermione told Tom, after seeing them levitating bubbles in the bath.
Tom laughed but she was worried. They had a fight about it, settled only when he asked very sarcastically if she would prefer their children were squibs.
Hermione had to hide inside the day he taught them to fly. She knew, rationally, that it would be fine. George had sent them the brooms of course, and they were the smartest on the market. They wouldn't go above a few feet, had speed control settings; all that sort of thing. Hermione knew that.
But seeing her beautiful twins flying around the castle garden on a snowy Christmas morning with Cerdic and Tom cheering them on did not delight her. They could fall so easily. They were so fragile and small and so horrifyingly clever she was sure they'd work out how to make the brooms go higher, go faster.
They did, of course, but he never let them get badly hurt. A broken arm was the worst of it and though she raged at the time, she reluctantly came to admit it had taught them to be more careful.
"Their mother is a Gryffindor," he pointed out, "as I have now discovered, and how else will they learn to be careful?"
They grew to look like him too, although it didn't really blossom on their faces until their seventh birthday. They were still too clever, but Hermione had stopped worrying that she'd given birth to demon twins. They were well-behaved at school, unless they were bored, and had made friends with most of the island's children and young creatures.
"It's not fair," Cadmus announced dramatically, throwing himself onto the sofa in her study at home, with its ravishing view over the island and out to sea.
"What's not fair?" Tom asked, following him in. He set a glass of wine down next to where she was writing up her notes.
"That our birthday is basically Christmas Day. I wanted to have a party and Ida says no one will come because we'll be in Wales."
"That does seem like a very serious oversight," Tom agreed, "although I would point out that you and Ida have had several birthday parties including one last year that took place a week early and was attended by no less than forty-seven guests."
"47?" Hermione mouthed at him, entertained. There was every chance he was right, but how he knew that or remembered she had no idea. He winked back. That was dangerous: Cadmus was perfectly capable of asking him to list them.
"But I don't want it early, I want it on my birthday. Ida can have hers early."
This was a new development. They were usually pleased to share things; sometimes even shared too much in their own heads and their own words and forgot to let the world in.
"Now that really wouldn't be fair. If you and Ida don't want the same party that's fine, but you'll have to have it on equally distant days from your birthday. Of course," Tom added casually, sitting down next to his son, "we could just not go to Wales this year. Perhaps your grandfather wouldn't be too lonely."
Cadmus's eyes grew wide.
"Oh no," he said, "I didn't mean it!"
"Well if you're sure you don't mind…"
Hogwarts was trickier but never awful.
The greatest worry was that they would somehow learn who their father really was. It had been a long and on-going discussion from long before they were born, before Hermione and Tom had been sure they would even try for children. What do you tell your children, when you've lived the lives they had?
They'd never come up with a final answer. They could only hope the twins' curiosity never inadvertently led them to the information. Only Harry - and almost certainly Ginny - knew, and Hermione trusted them to leave her children out of it.
Even when their daughters became friends. Best friends. Even when Ida went to stay with the Potters, and later Cadmus too.
The best solution they had was this: when their children asked, when they were old enough, they would tell them the most they could without destroying them. They hoped their children would never know exactly who he was, but if it ever seemed strange to them that their parents should have been approaching their second century by the time they left Hogwarts they'd have to explain some of it. Hermione's time travel was well-documented, but Tom had no family, no history, nothing to explain who he was to inquisitive children.
But there was enough truth to what they did say that when Ida asked, still a little girl, why Daddy didn't have a family like Mummy's, Hermione could explain that their Daddy was an orphan, which was very sad. He'd grown up in a horrid place, very far from here and while he preferred not to talk about it generally he would tell them anything they liked.
Ida loved her father. And Ida loved the Potters. And so it was Ida who, eventually, forced Harry and Tom into the same room.
It started like this: Ida invited Lily Luna to stay every single holiday until finally, when they were 13, the Potters agreed. Lily Luna could come for three days before Christmas, but they wanted to visit first. Harry came alone and spent half an hour with Hermione. Tom stayed out of the way, cooking dinner, which seemed to baffle Harry so much he left before the meal.
But he let his daughter come to stay.
Then, the next summer, Hermione was supposed to take Ida and Cadmus to the Potters for Lily Luna's birthday party. Hermione always took them. But a crisis at the Iðunnian council held her up and Tom took them instead. Tom took a Portkey to England, to Harry Potter's house, and knocked on the Potters' door, with his twin children - his radiant, surly, squabbling, loving teenage twin children - in tow.
"Tom," Ginny Potter said, opening the door, "oh. Well. You'd better come in. Hello Ida, Cad. The kids are all in the garden."
And so Tom Riddle walked into Harry Potter's house in Godric's Hollow, and sat down for a cup of tea. Ginny handed it to him without a threat, and Harry made polite small talk for five minutes and Tom thought, amused, that Hermione really did pull off the most extraordinary feats of magic - and none more extraordinary than this.
hello it's me again.
happy new year, and what a year it has been. this comes about because of a very wonderful pair of readers, to whom this is dedicated. i'm always a romantic for a truly good friendship. one of my lovely readers messaged me last year asking if she could have this bound for a friend of hers as a Christmas present as they were both very fond of it. naturally i was flattered, and thought i would add a little extra at the end.
now i am sharing it with everyone as so many of you have asked for glimpses into Life Beyond the ending. but you should really see this, i think, as fanfic of my own fanfic. the ending was good and this is bonus at best. if it's not what you imagined - well i am no JKR after all and am happy to let you have your version.
but in trying times i hope this will bring a little bit of comfort! also if you are ever rereading - i am cross-posting the whole story on AO3. it's not greatly different but i hope i've done a little effective gardening on the grammar at least. please do go and support it there!
thank you again and always for loving this. i can't tell you what it means to me.