A/N: Here you go. I hope you all enjoyed this journey.
Ch 33 - Epilogue:
"Severus, are you ready to go?" I called into Severus' study. I heard the scraping of the chair and Severus crossed over to me. After all this time, those eyes still made me lose my breath. His hair was now shorter and streaked with gray, but the eyes hadn't changed at all in their intensity for me.
He chuckled, "Not now, Elizabeth, we are due at Hogwarts shortly." Then he grumbled. "A Longbottom, I can't believe he's marrying a Longbottom."
"Oh, you shush, Severus. Alice is a lovely girl and she makes our son happy. Now, pull yourself together, it won't do if you are grousing around at your son's engagement party."
"That's it. You have officially been spending too much time with Narcissa and Astoria." His tone was teasing and his arm slipped around my waist as he leaned in to kiss me.
"Oh, sweet Merlin!" A voice called from the doorway. "In the library! Can't you two restrict those displays to rooms in the house that your children aren't going to wander into?"
"Gideon, son," Severus eyed our younger son warningly. "Perhaps if you and Miss Thomas were more discreet about your displays in the garden, your mother and I would reciprocate." The redhead flushed.
"Is your brother ready to go, Gideon?" I interrupted.
"Yes, Mum, Fabian is pacing in front of the Floo. That's what I came to tell you." Severus and I both laughed.
"And the girls?"
"Evelyn is being more high maintenance than usual. I've no idea why. She's still in her rooms. Rachel is ready though. She's with Fabian waiting by the Floo."
"I'll go get Evelyn, Severus. Could you try and calm Fabian? If he's worried about being late, you can send the boys on ahead." Severus nodded.
When I reached Evelyn's room, she was fretting with her hair. She had grown into a striking woman. She would be twenty soon, and she was studying Arithmancy at the university. She had her father's black hair, ice blue eyes, my nose and mouth, and her father's serious brow. She was taller than me and had a willowy figure. She was wearing a dark blue dress.
"Evelyn, what is it?" Evelyn was not known to fret over her appearance.
"My hair!" She seemed disproportionately distressed, given that her hair was near perfect.
"Here, turn around." I cast a couple of charms, and the twist she had cast tightened up. A couple of strands of hair had escaped, but I pulled down a matching piece on the other side and cast a curling charm, and then the effect was quite pleasing. "Evelyn, what has you so agitated? You looked lovely before."
"This is better, thanks Mum. I just want to look special tonight. No reason, really." I wasn't buying that, but it didn't seem a good idea to press.
"Still needs something. Accio!" A pair of sapphire earrings flew into my hand, along with a matching necklace. "You may wear these tonight, Evelyn." Her eyes grew wide and she quickly put in the earrings. I cast a spell to fasten the necklace for her.
"Thank you, Mum." I hugged my older daughter.
"Now, we need to go. It won't do for your brother to be late to his engagement party."
When we reached the family room, Fabian was still pacing. Rachel, now fourteen, was laughing with Gideon on the other side of the room. Rachel's dark red curls and brown eyes bounced as she teased her brother about Sybil Thomas.
Gideon was 18 and had just graduated from Hogwarts. He was going to work with his cousin George helping manage the Hogsmeade shop. George spent most of his time these days on the distribution side of the business. He had been happy for the help from his young Gryffindor cousin. Goerge owned six shops around Europe, but the products were popular worldwide and were sold at joke shops in nearly every wizarding community.
I turned to my oldest son. "Are you ready?" He nodded; his expression was still stormy. "Settle down Fabian, tonight is a night for celebration. Alice will understand that we had preparations on our end as well." He nodded, taking a calming breath.
Fabian, now 26, was the image incarnate of his father, down to the hawk-like nose and intense expressions. The only difference was he was a little stockier than Severus. The biggest evidence that he was my child was that he had been a Ravenclaw at Hogwarts. Alice Longbottom was a sweet, gentle girl, but she had a tough streak and knew exactly how to calm Fabian when necessary. It was a good match.
Severus motioned to the Floo. Fabian stepped through, followed by Severus, then Rachel, Gideon, Evelyn, and finally I joined my family.
I took Severus' arm. Rachel ran off to find her friends. Fabian spotted Alice and went to greet her. Gideon excused himself when he saw Hugo Weasley. Evelyn stayed with her father and me. Severus gave me a look, which I acknowledged without a sound. Something was troubling her, but neither of us knew the source.
Severus navigated us over to greet Hannah and Neville. After all these years, they were both still a bit uneasy with Severus. He politely thanked the Headmaster for arranging the party and told Mrs. Longbottom that she had done a lovely job with the planning. He excused himself to go visit with Minister Weasley, who was visiting with Ron, Harry and Ginny. Ron, upon seeing Severus approach, quickly excused himself and left his wife to go speak with someone else. I laughed inwardly. Ron had never warmed up to 'Uncle Severus'.
I felt a gentle hand on my arm, and when I turned, I was greeted by Astoria and Draco Malfoy. Their son was talking amicably with Evelyn. She seemed to have finally relaxed a little. Draco inquired as to where Severus was, and I motioned across the room. He nodded and headed over to Severus.
Astoria sighed. "So what do you think of all this?" She asked sweetly.
"Fabian and Alice? I think it's wonderful." Astoria's eyes grew wide.
"Astoria…" She looked away. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Draco speaking seriously to Severus. I also noticed that Evelyn had grown tense again. "Astoria, what do you know that I don't?" Severus and Draco excused themselves. I cursed inwardly that Severus wasn't physically close enough for me to know what was going on over there.
"I think you should talk to Severus, Elizabeth," Astoria clearly felt back into a corner.
"Astoria, tell me what this is about." Suddenly, Scorpius stood next to his mother. Evelyn was standing at his side. Scorpius had his hand protectively on Evelyn's elbow. Realization dawned on me. "Really?" I looked at my daughter, pleased but confused. I knew the two were close, but Scorpius was more reserved than his father, and Evelyn had never betrayed feeling for the Malfoy heir that went beyond friendship. I quickly hugged Evelyn.
"Do you think Father will consent?"
"He will if I have anything to say about it, which I do." Evelyn beamed.
"I was afraid he would say I am too young."
"He may, my dear. The timing will have to be decided upon by all involved. But in terms of overall acceptance, I will reason with your father if necessary. Excuse me."
I started to make my way across the room. I was derailed a time or two along the way. By the time I reached the corridor where the two men had disappeared to, they were headed back towards me.
"Is everything all right?"
"Indeed." Severus kissed my forehead. "It seems that we will have another wedding to plan next year." I smiled. Draco nodded and leaned in and hugged me.
"Mother and Father will be pleased to see the families merged."
"How is your Father?"
"He has good days and bad. He wasn't up to coming out tonight, and Mother decided to stay with him." I nodded. Draco left to return to Astoria.
"What do you think, Elizabeth?" Severus looked at me seriously.
"It's what Evelyn wants. I didn't realize it until this evening that her friendship with Scorpius was actually a romance. That explains her nerves earlier tonight."
We had reached the Great Hall once more. We stood there for a moment, watching our family and friends talking and laughing. Rachel was laughing uproariously in the corner with George and Angelina's youngest daughter. Gideon was talking to Albus Severus and Hugo. Evelyn and Scorpius were hand in hand; they looked blissful as Draco had just delivered the good news to them. Fabian and Alice were talking with her parents in the center of the room.
It had been a long and glorious journey from that dirty old shack to where we were tonight. I looked at my prince and smiled. More than one life had been saved that night. I said quiet thanks that I had been led to this man and this life.