September 1st, 2017
The autumn day was pleasant, a reminder of the summer that had just passed but with a slight breeze that hinted at the cold winter to come. Hermione and Draco Malfoy and their three children made their way through Kings Cross Station quickly and efficiently. They were not encumbered by any luggage and only one pet, having sent the owls off to Hogwarts that morning and pushed the children's trunks through the floo to their grandparents' quarters just prior to leaving for the station. Their youngest daughter, Rose, had one hand firmly in the grip of her father and the other holding tightly to a cat-carrier containing her new half-Kneazle kitten, Barney.
They made it to the column between platforms nine and ten and waited patiently while a large family disappeared through the bricks onto Platform 9 ¾. They were further delayed as they helped a Muggleborn first-year negotiate the entrance but eventually found themselves amid the billowing steam and noise of hundreds of students preparing to board the train.
"Over there, Dad," Michael Malfoy called over his shoulder. Michael guided his younger brother, Scorpius, with a gentle hand on his shoulder through the crowd and to the back of the platform where a tall, dark haired wizard waited with his wife and his honourary mother for his children to arrive. His stoic countenance did not seem to alter but his daughter, son-in-law, and three grandchildren all noticed the slight softening of his features when he saw them approach.
"Nanna, Grandad," Rose called out as she ran up to them. "I'm so excited! I'm finally going to Hogwarts!" She placed her cat-carrier on the ground before giving her grandparents and great-granny a hug each in turn. Michael and Scorpius kissed both the older women on the cheek and shook their grandfather's hand.
"Michael, I need not remind you that as a prefect and now Quidditch Captain, you will have multiple responsibilities that you will need to manage to ensure your studies do not suffer," Severus said to his oldest grandson.
"I know, Grandad," Michael replied with a smile. "Plus looking out for this lot as well—it will be much harder keeping track of four of them rather than just the one. I'm lucky I'll be gone before Lily, Alicia-May and Eric start as well."
"Surely you'll still be there undertaking your Herbology Apprenticeship under me," a deep voice teased as a family of four approached.
"Sorry, Uncle Neville, you know I want a Study of Ancient Runes apprenticeship under Nanna and Aunty Emily," Michael responded with a grin. Michael knew he would have to work hard at NEWT level to attain this. Mary and Emily's company, ELMS Consulting, was the premier curse-breaking, warding and Ancient Runes translating business in Europe. Their services were highly in demand and it was the place to pursue an apprenticeship in the Study of Ancient Runes. Competition was fierce as only one place was offered per year. Michael was determined to be the successful candidate—on merit—when he applied.
Neville mockingly covered his heart with his hand. "My best student and he doesn't want me!" he cried.
"Daddy, don't be sad," a six-year old boy said timidly from his side. "I can be your 'prentice if Michael wants to be Mummy's."
"Thank you, Eric," Neville said as he bent down to pick up his son. "You already do such a wonderful job as my helper, I'm sure we can let Michael go and work with Mummy while we get dirty in the greenhouse." He pecked a small kiss on the little boy's button nose which he had inherited from his mother.
A whirlwind blew through the platform with the arrival of a family of five. A whispered word carried through the crowd, "Harry Potter."
Hermione rolled her eyes. "You would think that after seventeen years they would know that's not his name," she said.
"Angel, he was never going to be anything else," her father-in-law pointed out. He and Narcissa had arrived via apparition in time for the Snape-Potters' arrival. He bestowed a kiss on the cheeks of all the ladies present while his wife greeted her family in a similar fashion. The greetings continued as the mixture of dark haired and red haired members of Harry and Ginny's family said hello.
"Are you ready to be sorted into Slytherin too, Scorp?" James Snape-Potter asked his cousin with a smirk.
"I don't know where else you would expect me to go," Scorpius replied haughtily. James had the wind taken out of his sails with this answer.
"James, I told you to stop tormenting your brother, that includes your cousins as well," Ginny said firmly. Harry could be seen a few feet away, crouched down and talking earnestly to his youngest son. His words seemed to give Albus some form of comfort and he re-joined the rest of the family in a much happier mood. James rolled his eyes and called Michael over to show him something.
"Grandad, I'll be happy in Slytherin if that's where the hat puts me," Albus said bravely, stepping up beside his grandfather.
"Albus, whichever house the hat puts you in will be greater for your contribution to it," Severus said gravely. Mary briefly squeezed his arm in approval at his assurance. Scorpius, Rose and Albus all began discussing the various attributes of the houses and where they might fit in. Lily and Alicia-May were clapping hands with each other and reciting a song while Eric entertained his great-grandmother with an account of the visit he and his parents had made the day before to the Botanical Gardens in Hyde Park.
Draco turned to his siblings-in-law. "So I have ten galleons on Rose in Ravenclaw and Scorpius and Al both ending up in Slytherin, any takers?" he asked.
"No, I don't want to lose ten galleons," Harry responded. Clearly he agreed with Draco's opinion.
"Oh all right, I'll have a go," Neville said reaching into his pocket. "I reckon Scorpius in Slytherin, Albus in Gryffindor and Rose in Hufflepuff."
"I'm going to pretend I didn't just hear you say that my daughter will end up in Hufflepuff, Longbottom," Draco retorted.
"Michael and James are in Gryffindor, Alicia-May already spends half her time in the Ravenclaw common room and Eric will be nothing other than a Gryffindor, we've all said that from the moment he was born! Lily has Gryffindor written all over her too and we've said the same thing about Scorpius and Slytherin. Al is the only dark horse but even then it will be Gryffindor or Slytherin. Someone has to be in Hufflepuff," Neville teased.
"You being the head of Hufflepuff is enough, Darling," Emily said. There had been no Hufflepuffs on staff when Pomona retired so Neville took on the mantle. Even though he had been sorted into Gryffindor himself, he had always felt an affiliation with the House of the Badgers. "The Malfoy ancestors are already affecting the spin of the earth with Michael in Gryffindor, a Malfoy in Hufflepuff would plunge us into a world of trouble," she teased.
"All of you stop," Ginny said in exasperation. "You heard Dad, whatever house all the kids are placed in will be the right one for them and they will be great. You'll give them complexes if they overhear you."
Harry reached an arm around his wife and kissed her. "You're right of course, Sweetheart." Ginny moved off to stand with Hermione who had Rose currently in her arms and was checking Scorpius's bag to make sure he had everything. Emily joined them as well, further reassuring Albus that his house at Hogwarts was really only a small part of his life, not the defining part.
The trio of brothers-in-law chatted about work, Quidditch and their children for a few minutes. At one point the steam billowing around the train cleared and a family of nine was revealed—two parents and seven boys. "Looks like he got his Quidditch team in the end," Draco commented. The oldest and youngest boys both had trunks, indicating they would be boarding the train.
"Stefan is supposedly the best Transfiguration applicant Roman's had in years," Neville commented.
"Their mother must have some brains then," Draco added. "The youngest one, Darius I think, is on a Granger Scholarship." The Granger Scholarships had been established by Narcissa and Hermione several years before and prized prior academic achievement before attending Hogwarts and required ongoing academic success. A minimum of Exceeds Expectations in all the core subjects was required for the first four years along with picking up three electives in third year—one of them being either Arithmancy or Study of Ancient Runes. At OWL level the student was required to receive a minimum of seven grades of Outstanding and nothing less than an Exceeds Expectations for the scholarship to continue to NEWT level.
Ron Weasley had remained in Romania at the Dragon Reserve. His father-in-law was still the manager and Ron really did enjoy the work. His second oldest son was likely to follow in the footsteps of his dad, grandfather and uncle and begin working on the Reserve the following year. His other sons were all still at school in Romania. Darius though was smart enough to be recommended by his teachers for a Granger Scholarship. Ron had swallowed a bitter pill when he made the connection of the academic requirements and the name of the grant—his son had to be another Hermione! Eleena was right though, the opportunity was too good to pass up and at least one of his sons would attend Hogwarts as he had. Another regret was that he knew there was no way Darius would end up in Gryffindor, his son was definitely Ravenclaw bound.
Stefan owed his largesse to the Snape family, having won a grant to enable him to complete his apprenticeship at Hogwarts. Mary, Emily and Hermione all administered that fund having done their apprenticeships there as well. They provided financial assistance to those apprentices who could not otherwise meet the costs once they had passed through the application process.
Harry breathed a regretful sigh. "Even after apologising to us he still had issues. I think in the end Ginny only accepted him back to placate Molly, the rift was starting to affect her badly and Ginny didn't want her suffering. They're still not close like they were."
"Yeah, Hermione said something like that too," Draco agreed.
A whistle sounded suddenly and there was a mad scramble to say the last goodbyes and board the train. Hermione had both her arms wrapped around her youngest two. "We'll see you next Thursday for your birthday, Scorpius. You, me and Dad will go out to dinner in Hogsmeade, okay?"
"Sure, Mum," Scorpius said with a knowing grin. "I'll miss you," he confessed quietly.
"I'll miss you too, Sweetheart, but it won't be long. Rosie, Sweetheart, do you have everything?" Hermione turned to her daughter.
"Yes, Mummy," she replied. She wrapped her arms tightly around her mother's neck. "I'll miss you too."
"Oh, Baby, I'm going to miss you so much. I wish I could have kept you home for another year, you only turned eleven last week, I got to keep Scorpius until he was nearly twelve, I should have been allowed to keep you too."
"But I'm a grown up girl now, Mummy. I have to go to Hogwarts," Rose said.
"I know, but we're all allowed our wishes." She let Rose go to her father. She watched as Harry and Ginny said goodbye to their sons and her oldest had a word to his uncle. Given the look of anger, horror and sheer terror that crossed her brother's face as he watched James board the train, she became alarmed and questioned Michael as he approached. "What did you say to Harry?"
"Just that James has managed to liberate a certain map from inside Uncle Harry's desk," Michael said with a smirk.
"Oh, Merlin, make sure your brother stays away from it," Hermione instructed. Michael looked at her innocently.
"I know nothing," he said.
Hermione narrowed her eyes at him playfully before drawing him into a hug. "Take good care of them for me. Make sure that Scorpius writes home occasionally and don't let him turn into the Prince of Slytherin like his father was." She ignored the incensed 'HEY!' that came from her husband. "And make sure Rose has some fun and makes some friends as well, she tends to withdraw into her books if you're not careful and—"
"Mum," Michael interrupted her. "It's fine, I know my job as a big brother," he said with a smile. The sixth-year kissed his mother sweetly on the cheek and gave her a hug. He turned to his father and hugged him as well before chivvying his younger brother and sister to the train. The three climbed aboard and leant out of one of the windows to wave. They noticed several of the other students looking toward their family as well as several of the parents still waiting on the platform.
"Why do they always stare?" Scorpius asked derivatively.
"It's the price you pay when your Mum, Grandad and Uncle are three of the wizarding world's heroes," Michael replied philosophically.
"Plus Grandad is Deputy Headmaster and Great-Granny Minnie is Headmistress. And Dad and Grandfather are rather famous too," Rose added.
"They're all famous," Scorpius agreed, "I just don't see why they have to stare! They're just people."
"Make sure you keep telling everyone that when they start asking you questions, Scorp," Michael said, ruffling his brother's hair affectionately. The train lurched and started to move. They all waved madly at their family as they passed.
"They ask questions?" Scorpius asked as they moved away from the window and went to find a cabin.
"Oh yeah, speaking from experience here. If anyone gets too nosy, just say you'll send them to Grandad to find out the answers—that stops them right in their tracks. Okay, I have to go to the prefects' carriage but I'll catch up with you later. In the meantime," he reached into his cloak and pulled out two sacks, "Grandfather slipped me these to give to you so you could buy some sweets. You're not allowed to tell Mum or Nanna," he winked and handed the bags of galleons over. "Here, this looks like a good one." He slid open a door to a compartment and ushered them inside to join a lone first year, the Muggleborn they had helped get onto the platform. He beckoned Albus and Darius to come along as well. "I'll check in on you later, yeah? Make a friend," he whispered, gesturing to the girl sitting there watching them curiously.
Hermione watched the train as it disappeared into the distance. She observed Harry and Ginny as they did the same and absently said goodbye to the extended family as they left. Some part of her brain quizzically registered as her mother hugged her tightly and expressed the wish that she 'have a good time', but the most part of her conscience was with her three babies on the Hogwarts Express. Draco came up behind her and wrapped his arms around her.
"So do you know what we have never done as a couple?" he asked.
Hermione thought for a moment. "Well I can think of all manner of kinky things we have never tried but I fail to see why you would be bringing that up now," she said, turning slightly in his arms to look at him.
"Oh, ha ha," he said. "We can try all manner of kinky things later," he promised. "For now, it occurred to me not long ago that we have never gone on a holiday."
Hermione looked at him incredulously. "What on earth are you talking about? We spent three weeks in Fiji just a month ago, not to mention the trips to Europe and Egypt and the getaways to Brighton and, oh, are you forgetting the two and a half years we spent travelling the world?" she asked. Hermione and Draco had decided to travel after the completion of their studies. They travelled for pure pleasure and explored several different countries and cities around the world. Michael's infant years were spent in a weightless toddler backpack on the backs of either of his parents as they walked the Kokoda Trail, visited the Great Wall of China or rode to the bottom of the Grand Canyon. He was a veteran of portkey travel by the time he was four. They always stayed in wizarding locations since their elves were with them as well but they often ventured out into the Muggle world to explore. On occasion they would be joined by Lucius and Narcissa, Severus, Mary and Emily or one or two of their many friends as they traversed the globe.
"And what have we never been on any of those trips?" Draco asked. Hermione looked at him in confusion and shook her head. He leaned in to whisper in her ear, "Alone."
Hermione pulled back to look into his eyes. "What have you planned?" she asked knowingly.
"Shh, ears are about. It's a secret," he teased. Harry and Ginny approached them.
"Did you tell her yet?" Ginny asked.
"Tell me what? Oh, everyone knows? That's why Scorpius said 'Sure, Mum', when I told him we'd see him for his birthday, and why Mum just told me to have a good time… where are we going?" she demanded.
"Somewhere you can get started on your new book," Harry teased. "Next should be 'Charming Teenagers', right?" Hermione had written a series of books starting with 'Charming Babies' and following up with the highly successful 'Charming Toddlers', 'Charming Children' and, in collaboration with Molly Weasley, 'Charming the Home'. Most of the Charms described had been of her own development but she had also included the Charms of other mothers found during her research. Life as an author had allowed her to perfectly balance motherhood and a career in her chosen field.
All six of the adults started to laugh. "I don't think it's possible to use charms to control teenagers," Neville commented. "If anyone were to be successful at it though, it would be our Hermione."
"Mummy, Mummy, can Lily come over and play?" Alicia-May came running over to ask. Emily looked at Ginny who shrugged and gave a 'why not?' expression.
"All right," Emily agreed. The two girls began to jump up and down in excitement.
"Mummy, will you tell the story about how you and Daddy got together?" Alicia-May asked. The little blond-haired girl was currently obsessed with hearing the stories of how the married couples in her life had gotten together. No one was safe from her questioning. She thought the story of Nanna and Grandad was beautiful and sad because it included Grandpapa Michael dying, she thought Harry and Ginny's story was like a fairy tale and Hermione and Draco's story was very funny—especially the bit about Aunty Hermione slapping Uncle Draco in the face. Like all the children she was aware of The Dark Times and The War. The family had been very careful to keep all the stories age-appropriate but none of them were in any doubt about the different roles played by each member of the family during it. As they got older more and more details would be revealed to them until, like Michael, they would know the entire story.
"Yes, Mummy," Harry said with his arms folded. "Tell us the story of how you and Daddy got together."
"Maybe another time, Brother," Emily said, her face going red.
Like Hermione and Draco, Neville had decided to travel after the completion of his apprenticeship. He only made it as far as The Maldives though, having been invited there by Luna Lovegood and her boyfriend, Rolf Scamander, who had told him of the rich variety of magical plants that could be found there. Neville had been away for two years when the failing health of his father brought him home. The many years of lying practically comatose in St Mungo's had finally wearied his body and Neville wanted to be there for the end.
This coincided with the retirement plan of Pomona Sprout who was more than happy to recommend Neville as her successor. He returned to Hogwarts in the autumn of 2005, the final year of Emily's apprenticeship. Upon seeing her when he arrived at the cast he was very pleasantly surprised to see how she had matured. He teased her a bit by commenting how she had not grown, although he was primly informed she had in fact grown two inches. It was not her fault that genetics had determined she would only ever see the world from a height of five foot one. Neville found he did not mind this at all, she was as pretty as a package in her petite but oh so feminine frame.
They formed an immediate rapport and Neville wondered why he had never noticed her before. Well, he knew why, she had only been a young teenager throughout his apprenticeship and he had left on his travels immediately following her seventeenth birthday party. There was a part of him that scolded himself for not getting to know her better back then, but another, larger part of him realised that he would have only ever seen her as Hermione and Harry's little sister if that was the case. He found that meeting up with her again as an adult was much more desirable.
Of course once he had asked her out a few times and taken to finding excuses just to be in her company, next came the inevitable discussion of exclusivity and ultimately (gulp) meeting the parents.
Emily felt she had timed it well when she informed her father of the identity of her new boyfriend—when he was sitting holding a newborn Scorpius in his arms. Hermione had been alongside her for moral support. At first Severus had thought she was playing a joke on him, just as Hermione had done back when they had first discovered their relationship but Emily had told him, no, she really was seeing Neville Longbottom and she thought it might get serious.
Severus had merely sighed. He knew Neville Longbottom was considered one of the most eligible bachelors in the wizarding world and was a very good, decent man to boot. He really could not ask better for Emily considering that the only other young wizard he would have ever considered suitable was already married to his other daughter. It would not do to reveal this just yet though, it would be much more fun to watch as Longbottom flustered in his presence and tried to impress him. He had missed that experience with Draco.
Neville had risen to the occasion though, stoically bearing all attempts to draw him out and the teasing. He knew none of it was meant in malice and, like everyone who had had the fortune to find a connection with this particular family, he found that acceptance into the Snapes was well worth the small price to pay. It was especially appreciated when his father finally succumbed and passed away. The support he received from Emily, her parents, her grandmother, her brother and sister and their spouses… even then-five-year-old Michael, had been incredible and welcomed. He had proposed to Emily six months later with his mother's engagement ring and with the blessing of Severus and Mary. They had married one year after Emily had completed her apprenticeship and, like the elder Snapes, lived between Hogwarts and their home at Longbottom Manor in Leeds.
"Come on, then," Emily rounded up the three children. "Let's go home and I'll tell all of you the story."
"Will you be at Hogwarts?" Ginny asked.
"Yes," Emily replied.
"All right, one of us will collect her around six, okay?"
Emily smiled at her sister-in-law. "Sure. See you then. Hermione, have a brilliant time and don't worry about a thing, we'll take care of the kids."
"Thanks, even though I still actually have no clue what's going on," Hermione replied, giving her little sister a long hug. Neville reached over to do the same and the three children all gave their farewells as well before the five left to floo back to Hogwarts.
"What about clothes and books and toiletries? What about all the documentation and my potions?" Hermione asked frantically.
"It's all sorted, Hermione. Mum, Narcissa and I have organised clothes for every eventuality and Draco has organised recreational activity for you," she said, her voice laden with innuendo. "Dad has put enough potions on board for you to last ages, and more are just a portkey away," Ginny said gently.
Hermione was still taking Calming Draught on a daily basis. She had tried several times to wean herself off it, even tried to go cold turkey a couple of times but even with the support of her entire family, as soon as the calming effect of the draught was out of her system her anxiety levels would rise and a panic attack would soon follow. She perceived this continued reliance to be a failure but Draco and Severus had made her see that it was just a tool in her daily routine, like brushing her hair or teeth, that allowed her to be able to be the wife, mother and career woman she wanted to be without the added pressure of a high anxiety level and panic attacks over small things.
Severus also reminded her that although she took the draught daily, she was not dependant on it or addicted to it. He took her on a trip in his Pensieve to show her what a person addicted to Calming Draught looked like—a person totally unable to function and who just stared aimlessly out of the window all day. She saw what missing a single dose (and it was a dose much larger than a teaspoon) did to the person. If missing one spoon caused her anxiety level to rise, the only thing that could describe the reaction this person had had was that the anxiety spiked and the addict needed to be sedated to prevent himself causing deliberate self-harm. Hermione saw that her needs were really quite miniscule in comparison and she accepted it as being an ongoing part of her life.
"Draco, will you put me out of my misery?" she begged.
"All right, there is a yacht waiting at Southampton, stocked with all our favourite foods and drinks and everything we need for a fantastic ocean voyage. There is a full wizarding crew on board along with Bixby and Trilly. We set sail this afternoon, bound for Singapore. It should take us two months to get there. We will then spend a few weeks exploring the area before we portkey the lot of it back home. We'll be on time to meet the kids off the Express for the Christmas holidays and be here for Michael's seventeenth," Draco outlined the plan. He quickly had an armful of squealing witch.
"Oh you sly man, I had no idea you planned any of this either! All of you are in for a hexing for keeping it a secret but it can wait until we're back. It will really just be the two of us?" Hermione asked.
"For three whole months, Sweet," Draco confirmed. He tightened his grip and kissed Hermione passionately. She broke away and with a huge smile on her face, she hugged Harry and Ginny goodbye. Draco took her in his arms again and Apparated away.
That evening they danced on the deck of their yacht, Miscro, the remnants of a seafood feast on the table behind them and the calm waters of the English Channel lulling them toward their first stop in Spain. The stars shone brightly overhead and the nearly full moon cut a trail of light through the water.
Hermione swayed in her husband's arms, grateful for this opportunity to just be together and enjoy each other's company. Both of them had been so busy lately, Draco was being given more and more responsibilities as the Malfoy Empire continued to grow. He had a very capable assistant in Cameron Gibbon, having hired the young man when they returned to England to finally settle down. Draco knew the next three months would run very smoothly in his absence. Lucius was always saying that with three grandchildren to leave a decent legacy for, it was imperative that they increase the wealth of the family. Draco's Arithmancy mastery came in very handy and they rarely made a misstep in investments—when they did it was always due to either a shoddy proposal, in which case the presenter's reputation was shot to pieces and he or she never worked in England again, or due to some unforeseen complication such as the mini-rebellion some Goblins tried to enact in 2014.
The Goblin Rebellion had been put down within a month of the initial uprising thanks to the combined efforts of one of the most popular Ministers of Magic of all time, Kingsley Shacklebolt (now in his fifth landslide term as Minister) and the very competent Head Auror, Harry Snape-Potter, the youngest wizard ever to hold the post. He had been appointed by Special Commission upon the advancement of Gawain Robards to Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement. Harry's unblemished record since joining the Auror Corps had seen the capture of all the remaining Death Eaters that had been on the run (even the ones hiding overseas) and stopped the uprising of three Dark Lord Wannabe's.
The romantic mood was disturbed by the arrival of a Patronus—a Peadeer. They waited until one of three possible voices could address them, it was impossible to tell who had sent it without hearing the voice of the caster, even after all these years.
Severus's deep baritone sounded in the still night. "As suspected: Rose Malfoy to Ravenclaw, Scorpius Malfoy to Slytherin and Albus Snape-Potter to Slytherin. Why anyone would have thought those two would be separated is beyond me. Your children are in safe hands, My Angel. Sleep well and enjoy your holiday."
"Damn, I could have won ten galleons from Scar-head if he would have bet me," Draco complained. "I'll just have to take the ten I won from Neville and buy you something pretty." They resumed their slow dance.
"You have already given me everything I could ever want in life. Just love me, Draco, in my advancing years. That's all I ask," she said softly.
He deftly manoeuvred them so they were next to the plush cushions piled onto a bench on the deck. Softly guiding her to lie back he took in the sight of the woman who had given him everything he had ever wanted too. He lowered himself until he was hovering above her, his fingertips playing at the edge of the gown she wore. "Forever," he whispered.