As promised- Part 2!

V

...

After she graduated Hogwarts the following May, Hermione packed and planned and organized; she was on a mission- she wanted to find her parents.

She wanted to go to Australia even though the thought she could never get them back plagued her day and night. She wanted to rescue them even if there was a slim chance that she could find them.

So that entire month, she and Ron spread documents and maps and library books out across his room in Grimmauld Place trying to make sense of the spell Hermione had cast. They contacted the Australian Ministry and laid the groundwork for Portkey's all the way to Australia, learning the customs of every place they would travel to and how their magic differed greatly from their own. Once they laid their affairs in order and gathered everything they would need, they packed all they had into Hermione's beaded bag, its Undetectable Extension charm still working.

She brought along Hogwarts a History and her mum's reading glasses from their house in Liverpool. He brought his new broom and enough Galleons to take Hermione out for a nice dinner now and again.

They were ready to go by June 1999- and when his mother refused, Ron went anyways. Truth be told, Arthur thought it was a wonderful idea. It was about time adults as they were were treated with respect.

But one day, on a perfectly sunny Sunday, they did leave.

Australia wasn't just a plan anymore, suddenly it actually happened. They were gone, Ron and Hermione (not Harry) tossed on a Portkey to another adventure.

And that night, there were two holes at the Sunday dinner table, two lovers treated with decency, privacy and respect (somewhat half-heartedly in places) halfway around the world.

It took three months of trains and Portkey's and false hope but it did happen.

They found them.

The charm was still in place, her parents were safe, they were happy- but something was missing. There was a Hermione-shaped hole eating away at their sanity.

They came over for tea one day, to the Wikins, to their East coast cul-de-sac in the middle of town.

She had her wand in her coat, Ron had his in his grip. The had a tent very similar to the one they had lived in for nine months last year in her purse, four aeroplane tickets home in her back pocket.

There was an Obliviate. Then a choke, because they had turned about. Mrs Granger gasped aloud- she had recognized her.

Hermione had tears in her eyes, and ran into her mothers arms, crying openly on her shoulder. Mr Granger stood still with his eyes on his family, firmly planted on his daughters face.

And for the first time in far too long, Ron heard Hermione laugh. In his opinion, it was the best sound in the world.

And on a whirlwind of new relationships and old scars, battle wounds and careful kisses, on a trip halfway around the world they left strangers and returned newly engaged, her smiling parents in tow.

(Even Harry couldn't believe it when he saw that rock on her finger, when his two best-friends asked him to be the best man)

But he saw that smile, and that's when he knew;

Ron and Hermione were always going to be more than best-friends. This was a knot tied by destiny.

After they returned and re-settled her parents into their old house, Hermione joined the Ministry of Magic first as a liaison to Muggles and Squibs in the Wizengamot at Arthur's request. She got her own cubical, and was stunned to find out that here, as a Muggle-born and as a woman, her voice was recognized and heard. She was a strong advocate of the annual assembly between the European heads of state and their respective Ministers for Magic, and petitioned for it to remain after major threats to Muggle and magical security (such as the threat of Lord Voldemort and the Death Eaters, who had had influence as far as New Zealand and India, as well as supporters in the Americas) had come and gone. Unity is required, she had said, for cooperation and understanding to be at the masthead for collective problem solving and for future conflicts to be met with not fear, but strength.

She became the youngest member of the Wizengamot there ever was at twenty, and upon her marriage and her two pregnancies, she never once backed down. Never took her femininity as weakness, never saw her status as Muggleborn as a setback. In fact, she saw it as a privilege to be a mentor to other Muggleborns, and a right to be seen as who she was, and not from what she was born. She was also the one who took her newborn into the Wizengamot strapped to her chest, her six month old and her two year old on her lap, held together with firm resolve her role as not only a distinguished member of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement, but also her duty as a mother to her children. She juggled her duties as she always had, with determination and with strength to push it through until the end.

Even though she had never wanted to be a lawyer, or involved to any degree in the Ministry of Magic, once she had seen how few had voices in a professional setting she stood up as a voice for them, to the goblins and the house elves and werewolves who had few to no rights under the law. She restarted S.P.E.W and drafted a bill giving werewolves the same rights as wizards under the law, called it the Lupin Complex after her late professor and friend. Bill Weasley testified for her in her campaign, as did Harry with the now five year old Teddy Lupin holding his hand. Under the bill, werewolves were given the same rights as humans not affected by Lycanthropy and it was made illegal for businesses to prejudice against them for employment. Kingsley headed up her bill and it was passed by unanimous vote. Hermione first and foremost took werewolves out of the magical beasts division of the Ministry, because above all, for all days but the full moon they are human, and deserve to be treated as such. She placed a werewolf at the head of the division catered to those affected by Lycanthropy as a sign of things turning for the better. People who had once been hiding from Fenrir Greyback come out of hiding and the fear of werewolves vastly depleted as the stigma died down. St. Mungo's made the decision to distribute the Wolfsbane potion for free to anyone who had registered as a werewolf under Hermione's bill, and within a decade of the law being passed, both the stigma and the humiliation of their condition passed, and another milestone was hurdled by Hermione's position.

...

Lucius Malfoy was the last trial.

To be honest- he was one of the ones who went on the run. He was only recovered a week or two before the trial took place, held in Azkaban before then so they could keep an eye on him.

Curiously, Narcissa wasn't with him- neither was Draco. They're absence did them credit, because if they had been with him, it would've been a trial for three rather than just for him.

On the 15th of July, Lucius Malfoy walked the stage, watched closely with the newly formed Auror corps along with the just appointed Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement. He assumed his seat, and the Wizengamot began the first of many trials.

The accusation list was a mile long, evidence was brought forward and testimonies were heard. Had this been seventeen years ago, Lucius would've been sentenced to a lifetime in Azkaban, but it wasn't 1981 any longer, and if Kingsley nothing if he wasn't fair. So it really wasn't a surprise for anybody when he weaselled himself out of jail once again, but it was a shock to hear the final sentence, which was exile. Never to step foot in Britain again, relocated to another country where nobody knew him, a place where he could do no harm.

The same day they signed his sentence for banishment was the last day Narcissa and Draco ever saw him.

Narcissa left that court room with her head high, future changed with her son at her side. She moved away from the Manor after the war, but didn't dare sell it. Not yet. So in the meantime, she and Draco packed their things and their elves, moved quickly and quietly to a villa in France. After all that had happened, Narcissa thought she'd rather learn French instead of the Death Eater code.

Draco was remorse, often silent, and lived in solitude for a great many months after the battle. He was empty, a third of a trio who was missing a member, lost and confused without his father to guide him, a moral code to live by. The day he escaped from Hogwarts was the last time he would see the castle for ten years.

He missed Goyle, more than he dared to think of. He missed the way that he and Crabbe followed his every move, listened to his ideas and complaints and hopeless wishes of what he would do once the Dark Lord was powerful once again.

But he was a different man since the war, a different man every time he stepped out his front door without fear of what he had left behind. He liked France, he truly did. He liked the villa and the the town and the smell of baking bread in the mornings. He liked the view out from his balcony at sunset and the way it felt to lie on the rooftop and watch the stars when nightmares kept him awake. But he missed his old life, what it had been like before Voldemort had returned and realized that his father was the enemy.

He and his mother lived quietly that summer, they planted a garden, cleaned up the villa. Went to Paris sometimes and visited the Muggle landmarks along with the Wizarding ones closer to home in Nantes. But all the while he missed his old life, his old aspirations. It was also around this time that he realized that after all he had done, he wanted to commit the rest of his life to helping people rather than tearing them down. He wanted to build something that would last, a reputation that wasn't marred by his Death Eater upbringing.

So it almost felt like a dream when he applied at the Hôpital de Paris with an application, but after weeks of anxious waiting it felt almost like fate that he was not received. He also applied at the regional wizarding hospitals in Luxembourg, Germany, Switzerland and Belgium only to receive no news in reply. He had good grades, excellent potential. But it was a mistake to think that they denied him for any less of a reason than his Death Eater tendencies, especially since he bore the sign of his true loyalty on his left forearm for everyone to see.

But they didn't understand. He had already tried every magical (and Muggle as well, for that matter) treatment to rid himself of the Dark Mark to no avail. it did seem to be fading on its own, but the design was still clearly visible. Anyone that knew anything would know that he was a Death Eater, that he had killed and observed the destruction that Voldemort had caused but did nothing about it. It meant that he was an enemy, that he was a coward. That he couldn't make a decision of his own even after all these years.

Draco wore long-sleeved shirts in a vain attempt to cover it, but it had become a hindrance, a humiliation of his to bear it the first time. He had once seen it as his mother had; if not a privilege than as insurance, and above all necessary in order to survive that far into Voldemort's inner circle.

...

As summer dipped into fall, and the bare trees gave way to winter, Draco and Narcissa remained in Nantes- hiding from the world, from their pasts. It had been almost seven months since the war, and Draco had never felt more isolated. He realized that even now long after the war, he was still running. Running from his past, from the repercussions that it could have on his future. He was afraid that even now he was still a wanted man, still a man people wanted behind bars. Still a person people saw as a villain, as someone who had cheated the law and made it out unscathed, a man who had survived as a coward when others more deserving than he had died anyways.

First came the guilt, then flowed the shame. It fell over him in a deep wave, and for the first time in his life, Draco Malfoy felt remorse. He felt angry and resentful of his father, of the pain he had put him through, of the childhood full of Pureblood supremacy and a string of bad decisions stemming from a single wrong choice all those years ago. He hated his father for putting him through all of it, and for sitting idle while his mother pleaded with Voldemort for his life when he was chosen to kill Dumbledore.

He had once hated the way his hand trembled, the way his words shook when he had faced his old Headmaster in the Astronomy Tower the night he died. He had hated the way his cowardice went above that of his duty. He hated the way that his aunt had prodded him in the back with her wand and directed his decisions from the moment he was born, influencing his choices and quickly eradicating those that didn't match the family worldview. But most of all, he hated the fact that Snape had killed him in the end- Snape, the man who had tried to protect him, to help him, he was the one who did the dirty deed to a friend when Draco couldn't bear the thought of it himself.

Draco was in the pantry when Harry Potter Apparated onto the front steps of the villa. He dropped his biscuit in surprise and ran to the door, stunned to see Harry standing there. Draco closed the door behind him, but Harry didn't bother to even look up. In fact, he walked right by him like Draco wasn't even there.

Draco hadn't seen him in two years, hadn't seen much of anyone to be honest in just as long. He had settled himself into the life of a recluse because he thought he deserved it- his own grief and shame hadn't accepted the idea that he deserved friends ever again. He was too shocked to react, however- and remained as he was in flabbergasted silence.

Apparently though, Harry felt otherwise as he walked straight past him and through the door to what he assumed to be Draco's study, sat down in the firm armchair and deposited his wand on the side table behind him. Harry then looked out the window in anticipation of Draco joining him.

It was impossible not to recognize him. His hair might've been neater, but his lightning bolt scar was as bright as ever on his forehead. He had some new scars and a curious bruise on his wrist. But he was still Harry Potter, and his very presence terrified Draco.

Harry was firm in his actions, his motives were sure, his steps resolute and pre-determined. Draco hadn't been anticipating this, the last time he had seen his former enemy was at the hearing, two years ago. He cautiously entered the room, sat down on his mothers chair opposite Harry, wasn't stupid enough to let go of his wand and balanced it instead on his knees. Not as a threat, but as a warning- he couldn't believe how stupid Harry was to disarm himself when Draco had thought about killing him more times than he could count.

"What are you doing here?"

Harry looked up, looking so nonchalant that it irritated Draco. He was wearing robes overtop jeans and a Muggle t-shirt, and was bouncing his knee impatiently, "I'm here as a liaison to the Ministry of Magic,"

"Why?"

"Because the Ministry wants to evaluate the long term outcomes of your father's trial," Harry said patiently. Draco looked to Harry's left hand as he turned his palm, unsurprised to see a ring on his fourth finger. So the papers weren't lying when they said he and Ginny Weasley had eloped last summer.

"We're fine, thank you," Draco said stiffly.

"Are you?"

Draco looked up in surprise, Harry looked more concerned than angry. As he always did when he was nervous, he rubbed his fading Dark Mark with his right hand, but upon realizing his mistake, dropped his hand quickly.

"Does it still hurt?"

"No,"

"Just so you know," Harry said, trying as hard as he could to be delicate, "back in England, St. Mungo's is working on a spell that will get rid of the Dark Mark. Hannah Abbot was helping, last I heard."

"Who?"

"Hufflepuff, she was in our year. She became a Healer right out of Hogwarts,"

"Oh," was all Draco said. But in his mind, a barely harnessed wish came alive in him. He could finally go back- he could become a Healer, help the people he had once hurt. Try his hand at reforming his ways. But it was a stretch, surely Harry was lying just to get his hopes up. It's what Draco would've done- and it was what he deserved. He deserved anything and everything Harry could throw at him, he knew he did. He deserved to be let down when he had spent his life as a puppet of all those around him.

"Just because your father was deported doesn't mean you are," Harry said conversationally. "You can come back, you know. People won't be afraid of you, or angry after what you've done. You were given a trial too, they've given you a clean slate."

Draco scoffed.

"I mean it," Harry said sincerely, "and I heard that the hospital is always looking for volunteers, they need all the help they can get."

"You mean me?"

Harry nodded. "Kingsley showed me your O.W.L's, you're definitely set academically for a job as a Healer, even if you don't feel up to it."

"I don't deserve it," Draco said, "you've seen what I've done- I was, I was a Death Eater! No one will ever hire someone like me. I don't deserve it."

"If you think the world is against you then you'll see what you want to see," Harry said. "No one is putting a harness on your potential but you. I'll put in a good reference to St. Mungo's for you."

"They wouldn't want me there."

"Look," Harry said evenly. "I'm not here to be your pity party. I'm here to offer you a choice- come back to England, give yourself a second chance. You can't hide in France forever you know."

"I'm not hiding-"

"Yes you are," Harry said. "You are and you know it. And that isn't offering you any chance of moving forward either, just so you know. "

Draco looked up in shock, "you've no right-"

"I'm sorry, but I have every right. You have potential, Mal- I mean Draco."

Harry looked over at Draco strangely, as if in deep contemplation. He sighed and settled his expression.

"They didn't want me to come, y'know," Harry said. "They thought I would be holding grudges and wouldn't clearly state the facts as they are to spite you. But the truth is, I wanted to come, because if anyone can tell you that you have a hand in your own future, it's me."

Harry leaned forward, his sure expression startling, "the incarceration of a family member is... damaging, I should know. But Draco, I'm not hear to gloat-,"

"Then why are you here?"

"Because other than stuffy Ministry business, I also came because I want to thank you,"

Draco looked up, stunned. Here to thank him? It was ridiculous! He had done nothing in his twenty years worthy of thanks, especially not from him. Draco would never admit it, but he had wished to be friends with Harry ever since they met for real on the Hogwarts Express in first year, desired to be desired, to be looked up to. To be friends with the Boy Who Lived was a ticket to power, but that was before messy family politics came in. Harry didn't look angry, in fact he appeared thoughtful, looking out the window at the peacocks strutting along the wall lining the garden.

"Uh, for what?"

"Your mother,' Harry said simply, "back in the war, after Voldemort killed me and I came back, she saved my life. She lied to Voldemort, told him that I was dead; asked me where you were instead. She's one of the best reasons that I made it out of that day alive,"

Draco didn't believe it, couldn't believe it. He was so concerned with making it out of that day alive that when the Dark Lord called a ceasefire he was more concerned about getting out alive than finding his mother, and he was ashamed to think that way. He knew his father was with the Death Eaters, but he spent most of the war cowering, hiding from the fight, from the dead and the dying but most importantly from his Hogwarts friends who were falling because of people like him.

He was afraid then, and all at once that fear came rushing back at him. But Harry didn't notice, in fact he was digging through the pockets of his robes while Draco wiped a tear away with his sleeve.

Harry finally pulled a miniature briefcase out of his pocket and Enlarged it. He pulled a bull-clipped portfolio out.

"The Ministry has assigned you a more permanent liaison to represent you at the referral next October," Harry said, handing a set of papers to Draco. "Astoria Greengrass, a member of the department of Magical Law Enforcement,"

"Oh," Draco said, looking at the moving portrait of a pretty looking girl a couple of years younger than him. She smiled briefly and then left the frame.

"I have all of the information here," Harry said, "it's all been arranged."

"Thank you,"

Harry looked up in surprise. "You're welcome."

Just as Harry was getting up to leave, he turned and hesitated in the doorway, and then turned once again to face Draco.

"I know we're not friends, but we're not eleven any longer. Could we try at least being civil to one another?"

Draco looked up in surprise. "Do you mean it?"

"It was hard enough to say the first time, Malfoy." Harry said, holding out his hand.

Draco considered, and then shook it, opened and closed the door behind Harry Potter with the portrait of Astoria peeking out of his breast pocket.

After Harry got back from the Malfoy's Villa, the Weasley/Potter's had Sunday supper together at the Burrow. They discussed Draco's new, much humbler personality, and Narcissa's decision to be a bigger part of her son's life, even moving to France to get away from Lucius' influence. Andromeda, bouncing her grandson on her lap, thought hard on Harry's words. She hadn't spoken to her youngest sister since she was twenty-two, and figured that since the post-war world was time for new beginnings, it was high time to change that.

They met for the first time in forty-nine years at a French teahouse in Nantes and discussed over steaming cups of Earl Grey the details their radio silence had missed. Andromeda told her sister about how her husband had died in the war when Narcissa asked what had happened to him- embarrassed and ashamed that she hadn't bothered to inquire further when it was revealed that Ted Tonks went missing all those years ago. Andromeda spoke of her beloved Teddy and his godfather and the fact that Bill and Fleur were expecting a baby this time next year. Narcissa told her sister about her son's aspirations to become a Healer, and his failure thus far to acquire a post.

"Why doesn't he apply at St. Mungo's?" Andromeda asked, watching her sister's guarded expression carefully. Even she knew that France was more than an escape from her husbands Death Eater tendencies. It was more than that, it was a chance at giving her son a fresh start.

"We couldn't possibly move back to England," Narcissa said brusquely, stirring a spoonful of sugar into her teacup slowly, "we've only just settled here,"

Andromeda leaned forward in her seat, looking her sister in the eye,"You can't hide forever,"

"I'm not hiding,"

"Yes you are," Andromeda said. "You've been hiding your whole life, doing everything that other people told you to you since before I can remember. Marrying Lucius Malfoy because Father and Mother told you to, giving him an heir, becoming the wife of a Death Eater. You've been hiding for longer than a year and a half, Cissy, even I know that, and I don't know you at all."

Narcissa looked down suddenly, tears shinning in her eyes. She wiped them delicately with a lace handkerchief.

"I can't go back," she said quietly, "it would be the end of Draco, it would kill him. He's come so far, I can't make him start over again. I can't. I won't."

"You have to face your demons," Andromeda said, "you can't pretend that nothing happened and spend the rest of your life here,"

"I-I can't-,"

Andromeda grabbed her sister's hands in her own, something she had done as an older sister to catch Narcissa's attention. Listen, it said. Listen to me. Narcissa looked shocked that she had touched her, and Andromeda started to notice that her sister's hands were as cold as ice.

"Please, Narcissa. You can live with me and Teddy until you get your footing back home,-"

"I can't, I just can't," Narcissa said, standing suddenly and wringing her hands. "Goodbye Andromeda,"

...

They didn't meet again for a year and a half, Narcissa was fearful of the implications of telling her sister all that she had done in her life for evil. She had very little to be proud of, the chiefest exception being Draco. When she finally answered Andromeda's owl, Narcissa found herself being invited to the Burrow for Teddy Lupin's third birthday party, seemingly unable to refuse.

She and Draco caught a Portkey from their villa in Nantes to Stoatshead Hill and walked side by side to the Burrow. Draco was sweating profusely beside her, terrified of the thought of facing a house full of Weasley's, not to mention Harry and Hermione, who were also going to be there. But what he feared most was the absence of Fred amongst the rest at the party tonight.

They opened the front gate of the Burrow, and stepped over the overturned cauldron's and Wellies that cluttered the front step. A great deal of laughter and talking was heard from behind the door, and Draco fidgeted from behind his mother. After a small hesitation, Narcissa gathered up her courage and knocked quietly.

Molly was the one who opened the door and let them in. Narcissa, upon seeing her sister, rushed to greet her, leaving Draco alone with the Weasley family staring at him.

Draco stood in the doorway awkwardly until he was tugged at the sleeve by Teddy, who invited him to sit on the floor between him and Bill with baby Victoire.

"Gran said I'm supposed make you an' Auntie Cissa feel welcome," Teddy explained matter of factly, dragging Draco behind him, past Percy Weasley and Fleur Delacour, who looked up at the duo in surprise.

Conversation gradually returned and the awkward silence diffused. Draco sat down on the sagging sofa and folded his hands in his lap, answering Teddy's questions absentmindedly. His name was Draco, when Teddy asked. He was twenty-one. He didn't have a favourite colour and no, he didn't have a wife like Harry, thank you very much. He lived in Nantes. That's In France, Ted, Bill had answered for him, bouncing his daughter on his lap. Bill looked over at him when he thought Draco wasn't paying attention, but Draco sat stiff as a board.

He had never felt so awkward in his entire life, or more like an intruder, even more so when the Weasley family looked over at him every couple of minutes, as if stunned why he was still there.

Bill stared down Draco for a minute, the boy he remembered running from the Battle of Hogwarts years before with his mother, the boy who became Death Eater and hurt his family. He was about to speak before they heard Harry and Ron laughing as they Apparated into the room, which did wonders to lift the awkward silence in the room.

Harry grabbed a piece of Treacle Tart from a platter before approaching Draco and Teddy, allowed himself to be hugged and coddled on the way. Draco couldn't imagine having a family like his.

"Nice that you could come, Draco," Harry said, rustling his godson's hair before sitting on the floor beside him.

Draco said nothing. Looking around the room, he saw conversations returning, Percy speaking animately to Bill Weasley's wife, Mrs. Weasley sitting down with a cup of tea with his mother and Andromeda Tonks. He saw quite suddenly that he didn't belong here. He didn't deserve to fit in, to make conversation with the people who had been his enemies for years. He had never felt so undeserving of being accepted, so unworthy of having a friend.

Teddy Lupin grabbed hold of his hands then, and pulled him towards Bill Weasley, who was cradling his newborn in his arms.

"Dis is Tori," he said, and waved at her, grabbing his cousins tiny hands in his.

"Hello, Victoire," Draco said softly, looking at the baby and her father nervously.

"Do you want to hold her?" Bill blurted out, and Harry smiled.

"Um, I-,"

"There's nothing to it," Bill assured him, putting the infant in his arms. "Just support her head with your elbow, like that, and bounce her a little if she gets fussy,"

Draco looked down at the baby in his arms, expecting her to burst into tears at any moment at the awkward way his arms were supporting her, not to mention the stranger that was holding her. But Victoire surprised him by opening her eyes, waking up gently from her nap. Her eyes were the clearest blue, and the downy hair she did have was the same colour as his, a pale blonde. She cooed and reached up her arm to claim his finger with her whole fist and gently closed her eyes once more.

"You're better than me at this baby thing, Malfoy," George Weasley said from behind them, his girlfriend and Ginny beside him. Draco looked up in surprise, her fingers still wrapped around his. "I can never get Tori to fall asleep,"

"That's because you treat her like you do Teddy, you imbecile," Ginny said as she sat down beside her husband. "she's not old enough to be roughhousing, y'know.'

"Hi," Ginny said to Harry. She kissed his cheek and sat down next to her husband.

"Hi yourself," Harry said smiling.

"She's gotten bigger since last I saw her," Angelina cooed, running her hand over Victoire's head. "how old is she now?"

"Eleven months," Bill said, "Her birthday's next week."

Draco rocked the baby gently, missing the looks of apprehension on the people behind him. Ginny and Hermione both looked sceptical, but none could deny Harry's gift for mercy. Draco wasn't forgiven completely, they knew, but it was a start, and everyone deserved a second chance: even if the person in question was a Malfoy.

...

Draco went to the first hearing that Harry told him about once October rolled around. The Ministry of Magic re-evaluated his case and granted him a permanently clean record. So once they packed up and said their goodbyes to their life in Nantes, they moved back into the manor. Temporally of course- neither of them could bear to live there ever again.

Of course, they had their choice in houses, so once it had been prepared to be sold, they moved out for good and left that piece of their lives behind them.

They looked at all sorts of manors and castles and estates. But they didn't need the room, Draco and Narcissa had no desire to live in a house with so many empty rooms. In the end they fell in love with a cottage on the sea near Edinburgh and moved in right away. Filled the rooms full of comfortable furniture and red linens and treated their elves with dignity and respect.

Draco applied to St. Mungo's once they had settled and to his surprise was accepted two days later. He began his new job with the first true smile his mother had seen in years.

He became a healer at twenty-two and worked with Hannah Longbottom in the Spell Damage ward trying to revolutionize the way permanent spell damage was being treated, investing time in Muggle techniques and Magical ones alike to make those who had lost their minds to Lord Voldemort more comfortable. He dedicated his life to erasing the stigma that was attached to his patients, aware that he couldn't heal, could never fully rescue. But he understood more clearly now than ever that it was the little things that mattered the most.

He and Harry also made a partnership of sorts to create a potion to rid those of the Dark Mark. Draco tested it on himself, and after a few years of tinkering with the ingredients, the snake tattoo had faded into nothing.

It never burned again.

...

After the trial had ended, Draco found himself inviting Astoria for tea once a month, inviting her to parties as his date and going out for coffee at Muggle cafes. She was the second person who told him that he owed it to himself to change, and he did just that to please her.

Draco married Astoria on a sunny afternoon in August, and ten months later their only son was born. Scorpius Hyperion Malfoy grew up with Al and Rosie and the rest of the Weasley/Potter cousins running and playing around him. He grew up with a paternal grandmother and two maternal grandparents who loved him and two parents who adored him. He learned how to drive a Muggle automobile with Teddy Lupin and was then a groomsmen at his and Vic's wedding. He learned more than once that bad blood was insignificant and magic was magic no matter what background people came from. Scorpius never met Lucius, and Draco made sure that he never would.

He was sorted into Ravenclaw on his eleventh birthday and spent his school years exploring the hallways with James Sirius, and Fred, learned how to hex from Roxanne and somehow managed to pass Herbology thanks to Victoire and Neville.

He asked Rose Weasley out in fourth year and they dated all through their Hogwarts years. He married her once Ron gave his blessing ("He's alright," he had said gruffly, "for a Malfoy bloke that is,") and they spent their lives truly happy, forever after.

Once the world was at peace once again, Neville retired from the Auror corps. Harry was far up in the department, and Ron had long since quit to work with George at Weasley's Wizard Wheezes. His work, though the right thing to do, wasn't what he wanted to spend the rest of his life pursuing. It wasn't that he didn't like it, he did; he took real pleasure in doing good for the world, clearing the country of Death Eaters was something that was dear to his heart. But he realized quite suddenly that he wasn't willing to die for it.

A huge sense of relief fell over him once he handed the Head of the Auror Department his letter of resignation, he felt at peace for the first time in three years. And once he did, his mind turned to the only other thing he truly enjoyed- Herbology.

On his last mission as an Auror, (infiltrating a known Death Eater headquarters in Munich and taking some of the last known Death Eater's back to England) he was badly hurt in the scuffle that happened in the recovery of the targets. He was Side-Along Apparated to the German wizarding hospital in critical condition. Since all of the Healers only spoke German, and his team spoke English, communication was limited, but they got the gist of what had happened. A broken left arm, shattered clavicle, sprained knee along with a number of less important maladies. In short, he would be spending the night, and in the morning they would re-assess.

Once Harry found out, he was livid. He and Ron took a Portkey to Frankfurt and Apparated from there to Neville's already cramped hospital room, a sleeve of Tim Tam's and his favourite Herbology book from Grimmauld Place under Harry's jacket.

It was then that the Healers discovered that the Skelegrow was not being nearly as effective as it should be and his collarbone stubbornly remained broken in several pieces. He was transferred to St. Mungo's once he was stable and assigned a new room with new nurses.

In particular, it was the reintroduction of an old friend that soothed him more than anything.

Hannah, once she was briefed on the situation, was the one who mopped his forehead in amusement while the Muggle drugs they used to dull the pain gave him a high like he had never known. It was she who listened to his rants about how he was rubbish at kissing and hated the way beer made his mouth feel funny when he went out with Seamus in Ireland. It was also she, however, who kissed him back when he planted one on her even though he wouldn't remember it the next morning.

They fell in love and got married in their own time, not long after George and Angelina did. Although they could never had children of their own, they loved their godchildren like family, adored their nieces and nephews and babysat the Potter/Lupin cousins when their parents were away.

The found happiness in each other and in their lives. They found joy in the little things, and grew to be the person the other needed more than life itself.

They were happy on their own.

They had found all they needed in one another.

And even though this particular forever is bittersweet- happiness is not measured in anyones time but ones own. They had together all they ever needed.

...

Neville applied at Hogwarts for the Herbology post on a dare. As much as he hated to admit it, ("truly, it was Ron's fault- he was the one who egged Sprout on.") Hannah wouldn't have any of it. Of course she thought it was a brilliant idea and wondered why he didn't think of it earlier.

He hated to admit it, and blushed when it was mentioned later on. He knew that Sprout was waiting to retire until he was ready, but he didn't feel that he was good enough. Those feelings of insecurity had never truly left after all.

"You're a war hero, Neville," Hannah had said after they had already tucked into bed. "You were a leader of Dumbledore's Army! You got Exceeds Expectations on every Herbology test you took. You are good enough, don't undermine yourself by saying otherwise."

"You really think so?" Neville asked, looking up at his wife.

"I know so," she said quietly, and kissed him before he could retort.

...

He had the interview the next day and was accepted immediately. He grew to become one of the most popular Hogwarts professors, known for making any student who was unsure and unconfident feel better about themselves. He kept a stash of Honeyduke's chocolate in his desk drawer and taught anyone who asked how to defeat Bogarts and how to cast a Patronus even though Dementors were a thing of the past. He did all he could to help as others had other had once done onto to him.

He became the Head of Gryffindor when McGonagall retired a couple years later, and was famous alongside the rest of the D.A for their bravery in the war. He had been an Auror, and had scars on his hands and arms from wrestling a Blast ended Skrewt when he was in Spain with Harry and Ron. He was famous, and he grew into his fame as Harry once had. He always remained humble and big hearted and kind, the Herbology teacher who would teach you more about what it meant to be brave than anyone else.

He finally grew into the man he was meant to be- and to the end of his days the sword of Gryffindor sat in its case in his office in case he ever needed a reminder that he was a true Gryffindor- right until the end.

...

For a time, everything was perfect. Harry was well on his way to becoming the head of the Auror department, and Ginny was one of the best Chaser's the Harpies had ever seen. She still worked part-time at the Prophet, but spent the majority of her time either with the team or with Harry.

Harry went to all of her home games and as many away one as his job would allow, cheering her own at the top of his lungs. He framed the first article published about her debut in his office and hung her old broom in a case in their sitting room. He cooked, she cleaned- they worked in the garden side by side. When they were home together, just the two of them at last, they made it work.

Ginny pulled out of Quidditch when she found out she was pregnant with James, covered her tracks by feigning a particularly tricky concussion that could not be aided by magical medicine. She fell into the quiet work of journalism as her pregnancy wore on, and in time, became the senior Quidditch correspondent for the Daily Prophet and retired from Quidditch entirely.

James Sirius Potter was born in 2004- the fourth grandchild. His names served him well, as he was every bit as rambunctious as James and Sirius had been- getting into everything and anything. They bought his first broom when he was a year old and he grew up with his head in the clouds, landing only when his mother told him to.

Albus Severus Potter had a turbulent birth- born prematurely, he came into the world fighting. Harry and Ginny hovered over his bassinet at St. Mungo's for his first weeks, watching him grow and develop and become strong enough to take home. It was a scary time- no one was sure if he was going to be okay. But Ginny knew, and Harry believed her and one day they did, on his original birthdate almost a month later. Swaddled in the baby blanket Molly had made him, he was the image of calm and peace that James never was. He was satisfied with being still, happy when everyone else was. He was the perfect baby- and Ginny and Harry and the two year old James Sirius fawned over the new addition to their family.

They named Neville godfather a couple of weeks later- and he rose to the challenge like they thought he might. He went out of his way to make sure Al knew he was precious and cared for and loved, that he was wanted- and that he was special in the eyes of his godfather.

Harry meanwhile, had been rising in the ranks of the Auror department, and the day he was named Head of the office, Ginny announced her own surprise- her third pregnancy with their only daughter.

They were happy- and even relatively safe. And considering the life they had, it was more than good enough to be happy.

...

And then the years went by, passed the war and into that shaky future, the kingdom past Voldemort and hardships and May 2nd, 1998. The kingdom past the veil where nobody dies. And there was peace. Prosperity. Time for girlfriends and marriage and joke shops and Auror training and orphaned godsons. Christmases and Easters and summer vacations; (Hallowe'en's with a candle laid in the window at Godric's Hollow) years and years of time together. Time and reason to learn how to forget.

And there was always a new date brought to Sunday supper (An Audrey, an Angelina) a few months and then a proposal. Then a couple of years later there were grandkids to hold and cousins to see.

They weren't just survivors anymore. Our war heroes had learned how to live. How to manage. How to love and move on with a gaping hole in their chests, still raw after all these years.

But time past and never once slowed down, and that shaky (even perhaps imaginary) future they imagined at seventeen was slot in nicely into reality.

And looking around, they weren't children anymore, some were married, keep in mind- some even had kids of their own.

And suddenly everything changed- probably when Ginny changed the conversation away from the Harpies and Quidditch to James Sirius' teething. Suddenly she was a mother to her baby- not just a wife or a girlfriend craving privacy in her childhood bedroom.

There was Teddy first, and then Tori, Dom and James. Fred was born next- and grew up to be the spitting image of his father, named after a twin so he would never be forgotten. Roxanne was next, and then Rose, Al, Molly and Lily Luna. Hugo and Louis were born in 2008, and Lucy was the last born the next spring. They were cousins, they were family and best friends. There were thirteen of them, with Teddy and Tori taking up the lead.

{And Molly and Arthur were so, so happy.}

Their kids had given them a family.

And for ten years (a whole decade) everything was {just perfect.}

Kids grew and families expanded; girlfriends and boyfriends became aunts and uncles and all the while grandparents got older. Sun rise, and sun set.

But (somewhere in the background) Harry Potter's godson got closer and closer to the most important birthday of his life. More naïve by the day, it seemed. How could you tell an orphan that he was named after a dead grandfather he had never met?

Then it came, even though no one wanted it to: September 1, 2008.

The year Teddy turned eleven and Harry sat him down, told enough to answer his questions (but not enough to strip him of his innocence) before he left for school. He relived those terrible, terrible years for another war orphan in a different generation. It was time to teach the art of empathy and sacrifice to a new generation of Potter's, Weasley's and Lupin's.

And even though it took time, his godson understood. There was no place for a baby in a war. History had repeated itself again.

And in 2008 the first grandkid went to Hogwarts. Teddy Lupin left, and grew up to be his fathers boy and mothers son, the Metamorphmagus war orphan; the first child of the new generation.

There was a letter from McGonagall the next morning, dotted with tears and signed with love:

("Congratulations, Potter: his parents would be proud. Your godson made Hufflepuff").

It had been eleven years since Tonks and Remus and Fred had died.

It had taken eleven years, but now they knew peace, and it still felt like a dream. Like they would all wake up one day with Death Eaters still on the loose, and Voldemort on a rampage. Back to 1998 with a gaping hole in their hearts.

They still slept with wands under their pillows, wards on the doors and charms on the gate. There is no peace in the aftermath. It simply is what it is. A survivors forever after is whatever he makes it to be.

There is no timeline for healing a broken heart after all.

It could take a lifetime.

Ten years, perhaps. Twenty? Fifty. Then death comes to claim back what they owe.

There were good times as the years went by (Molly holding Teddy and Vic's first baby) and bad (Hannah's miscarriage and then a stillborn).

There was laughter embracing the tears and sleepless nights. There were grandchildren and cousins and marriage and a family whole (almost) once more. Family vacations and pregnancies and new kids off to Hogwarts every year. Five grown men and one woman- Weasley's and Potter's, and thirteen kids between them.

More good than bad, you'll understand. Even post-war living needs a positive outlook.

But there's death too, of course. Sadness and suffering despite the wonderful, wonderful years before.

Death was always there, (never left, really) even after all this time.

(There's always the first one.)

The accident, the one no one saw coming.

I won't say the name. The face is clear enough, the name fresh and true in your mind. You've seen it. There was a corpse and grave and a whisper about a hero taken too soon. It was grey and rainy, that day. Even the sky looked lost.

One hero, one friend, a husband, a wife- one gone.

(And all the while our heroes waited for their impending destiny- for that long awaited Kings Cross waiting for them at the end of the line.)

Then the regret, the forgive and the forget.

Ten years.

It came like a wave. One, then another, then two at once. It was old age, sickness, accidents. It was normal. It was to be expected. Even wizards die, after all; magic can only delay the inevitable.

(That Stone was good and lost now. The Wand disposed of- the Cloak passed on. Escape wasn't an option like it once was.)

And they were heroes, more so than ever now that they were gone; the brave Gryffindors's, the just Hufflepuff's, clever Ravenclaw's and even a Slytherin here and there. And the world watched as they died one by one, the war's survivors falling from memory and time, landing in newspaper obituaries and history books and then forgotten as the tides turned and the last of that generation died. And then the wars death toll became just another number to remember and names just another list. They weren't people, not sisters, or mothers or sons, they were statistics, a number in a book that nobody reads. Suddenly, even the worst war in living memory didn't mean all that much anymore.

Dear Harry Potter,

Even when you're dead and gone, history will remember you as the greatest Gryffindor this world has ever seen. We will never forget you.

And so, just remember that I'll send all my love, admiration and thanks until the bitter end- even after all this time.

Love,

Violet Sky

….

And that's the end of that!

I had written the bones of this one ages ago and only found it again a couple of months ago- but with school and friends and not one, not two but THREE major deletes of drafts (the last one was almost 24 pages long D:) I had written, not much was getting accomplished. Also, if you're wondering what happened to Dudley and Petunia- check this out, I've already written their ending on chapter 269 :)

But anyways, I dedicate this last chapter to you guys- to the ones who have stood by my side in the good and the bad, through these almost four years of Love Me until the very end. Through 365 chapters, one major delete, three years of high school and into the first semester of my second year of University. Thank you for reading, this story would be nothing if not for you.

I have a couple of people to thank: first off to Ryah Ignis, for always being there as a kind, patient and generous friend whom I've had the pleasure of talking to through almost the entire history of Love Me, who's reviewed almost if not every chapter and has always been there through our lengthy PM talks about Harry Potter. To hpdwlotr24, Break This Spell26, Bronze Cat, harrypotterforeverx, loveislouder94, JeminiaMoon, Tartan Queen, along with countless others, for always being counted on for kind words and intelligent conversation through reviewing and PM's. It's to you who read, those who favourited, those who subscribed and those who've simply listened to me, helped me grow as a writer and as a person these past 4 years. Thank you SO much. This last toast goes to you.

So if you've ever loved this story and have stuck through it till the end- review one last time for me.

So for the very last time, I send all my love,

Violet Sky