Epilogue – In Which All Is Well
Hermione arrived at the Three Broomsticks half an hour before the party was due to begin. Justin Finch-Fletchley, Draco and George had obviously decided that a forlorn-looking bunch of transfigured cherries (in homage to the birthday boy's cherrywood wand, they loftily informed her) and some streamers in Gryffindor red, would be sufficient as decorations for a twenty-fifth, and sat down for a pint instead.
"Merlin wept," she muttered, opening her canvas bag and pulling out a neat banner reading "Happy birthday, Neville". She badgered George until he created a few bunches of balloons around the tables they had reserved, and fussed over how to arrange them for few minutes before they looked exactly like she wanted them to, while the others teased her for her perfectionism. She knew George could have created a much more polished result with as much effort as he expended wiggling his left eyebrow, but she had finally realised that it didn't matter. Not being able to do magic was more of an inconvenience now, truly; what really mattered was they people she loved and that she was able to contribute something to the world through her work, not how she did it.
She gave Luna a wave as she came into the pub, blinking as she left the bright sunlight outsides. Finally satisfied with her handiwork, Hermione went up to the bar. She slid up behind a menacing figure in dark robes who was about to get his order in, and wrapped her arms around him, burrowing her nose into the fine wool and its familiar faint smell of asphodel and lavender from his garden. She knew he would have felt her scent, and known it was her even as she was sneaking up behind him. Most of her friends who had been in the war preferred to sit with their backs to the wall, but Severus was more paranoid than most; you didn't sneak up on him unless you wanted to be Stunned. Unless you were his beloved fiancée, of course.
"Hello, my love." He turned around and kissed her.
"Hello, yourself. The Ministry is still standing then, I take it?"
They spoke quietly about their day, as the pub filled up with Hogwarts staff and past students, including the Herbology apprentice Neville whose entrance was greeted with loud whoops and cheers. Looking at them, former enemies and comrades in arms mixing under her flagging balloons, Hermione hoped that they would all make better work of peace this time around.
Thank you all very much for reading! This was my first fanfic, so if you have any suggestions or comments I would be very grateful if you would share.
Hermione doesn't ever regain her magic. I wanted to write about how life isn't always perfect, and how we can make the most of what actually is, rather than dwelling on what could have been.
I'm halfway through writing a Draco/Hermione fic; once it's at the editing stage I'll start posting it, so do follow me if you want to find out when it goes up. Draco is a slippery fellow to write, so I'll have to make him behave first...