So... Hi again? When we last left off I didn't think I would go this far without updating. But good news: I got accepted to university, got a different job and fell in love in the process. It's really messy and amazing and just... time consuming. So again, my apologies.

Disclaimer: second verse same as the first.

(Hermione POV)

Day ?: What Holds Us Together

(many, many days post pregnancy)

Family isn't always blood. It's the people in your life who want you in theirs. The ones you accept you for who you are. The ones who would do anything to see you smile, and who love you you no matter what.


"Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you, happy birthday dear Grandpa... Happy birthday to you!"

I watched as my husband blew out the sixty-two candles on his birthday cake and was slightly worried that the flame might catch the drapes on fire. Dax and Delilah had insisted on putting sixty-two individual candles on the cake instead of number candles, which didn't makes much sense to me, but Draco was happy to oblige. He sat in the chair at the head of the table with the kids and their kids milling around him, Lily handing out the cake.

"Nan?" I looked down to see Dax, my seven year old grandson, standing beside me with a worried expression on his face.

"Yes Dax?" I answered, kneeling down to his level, ignoring the ever-so-slight pain in my left knee as I did so.

"How come Daddy won't play catch with me and grandpa?"

I blanched and sighed, rubbing his arms comfortingly. "Er... Your daddy doesn't see the way me and you do, so things like that are hard for him. Why don't you go find your mommy and ask her?"

"Okay, bye!"

I watched as the little boy ran off and found Lily, her red hair swinging behind her as she picked up her son and carried him outside with the rest of the kids.

I found Draco and sat down beside him outside on the deck, our lawn chairs sitting as close to each other as possible. We watched our children chase around their own children in a mad dash to make sure they didn't smear cake on each other, and the older grand kids all sat in a circle in the far corner of the backyard, as teenagers do.

I smiled. Our family had grown more than anyone had expected it to and we now had ten grandchildren- and one more on the way- that we loved so very dearly. Our children had grown up and had kids of their own now, and it was hilariously amazing to see them now.

Azula, my oldest daughter, had married Jesper straight out of school and the two currently lived in France with their own children. They had four kids, all singletons, and each and every one of them looked just like my daughter. There was Arabella at seventeen who was planning to study biomechanics in Italy this fall, Asher at sixteen who was going to graduate from Hogwarts next year, Cosette at fourteen who played as a seeker for the Beauxbatons newly-formed quidditch team, and little Brice at nine who wanted to be a football player. Brice was born a squib and Azula was heartbroken; not that he had no accessible magic, of course, but that he might get picked on by his peers or feel left out with his siblings. However, Brice took it all in stride and decided that not being able to do magic didn't matter, as long as he could do other things that made him happy. He was truly one of a kind.

Now Calum, my only son, had had a truly... difficult time in life and things had only just gotten simple for him a few years ago. After graduating from Hogwarts with Lily, the two moved to America so he could pursue a writing career and she could become an engineer at the magical community set in New York City. However, after just a year of being there, Lily became pregnant and the two simply didn't have enough money to stay in America and have a child at the same time. For about a month, Lily weighed her options: either come back to England and live with her parents or us, or terminate the pregnancy; she thought very hard about it. In the end, the two decided to kept the child and they came to live with Draco and I for the next few years. Their son Ethan, now seventeen years old, was born just two months after they arrived. Calum's first book came out and was an unexpected success, Lily got a good job at the ministry, and thirty-seven weeks after they bought a big house in Godric's Hollow, their twins- Dax and Delilah- were born. You can guess what happened the first night they had that place.

Then came Nadira, my youngest daughter. My enigma. She was so extraordinary and amazing that I found it hard to believe she came from Draco and I. After graduating Hogwarts, she bought an apartment about fifteen minutes away from us and went to school to become the equivalent of a magical lawyer; however, two years into it, I sat her down and told her straight- she was miserable. She was becoming a lawyer to have a stable job, not because she wanted to, and I wasn't going to stand by and let her get stuck in a job she hated. So, with a good part of my savings, I paid off debts and enrolled her in art school the very next day, like I knew she secretly wanted. She was now a successful artist and even co-owned a gallery; she was happy.

Then, one day, she called us and said she had someone she wanted us to meet. I knew who it was of course- I mean, I'm her mother, I know things- but the look on Draco's face was that of pure shock. When Nadira walked into the kitchen and introduced us to Carrie, her girlfriend, I immediately stood up and hugged them both before offering them cookies and tea; meanwhile, Draco sat at the kitchen table, his mouth hanging wide open. You see, she had come out to us when she was sixteen, and by that time, I already knew. Draco acted like he accepted it, at first, and it didn't come up again for a while. But when he met Carrie and Nadira asked if he liked her, he said that "this lesbian thing" was "just a phase" and "she would get over it". It hurt Nadira so much to hear those words from her own father and the argument that ensued was so heated that I had to leave the house with Arabella, whom I was watching, while they duked it out. When we came back, the house was a wreck and the two didn't talk for over a year, and even I gave him the cold shoulder for a while. It wasn't until Nadira and Carrie got engaged that things changed.

I got an invitation to the wedding, but Draco did not; at the bottom of my invitation there was even a note that said "don't let dad come to the wedding, I don't need that negativity in my life". Draco saw the note, left the house and I didn't see him again for almost nine hours. He came back early the next morning, slipped into bed and said that he was fixing things. Today, the two were almost back to normal, but things occasionally got a little icy. I was just glad they were okay.

Nadira and Carrie had both wanted kids but didn't know how to go about it at first. They decided that Nadira would carry any pregnancy first and if they wanted another child, Carrie would do the honors. About six years into the marriage, they started looking for sperm donors. Carrie was of Kenyan decent and looked a lot like Blaise, to be honest, so the sperm donor they chose was darker skinned. No one had any problem with this, of course. Another two years of trying to get pregnant through in-vitro saw that Nadira got more than she bargained for; after a seven and a half month pregnancy, she gave birth to triplets- all identical girls- that they named Sahara, Safiri and Cissa. The girls were seven years old now. Now, Carrie was pregnant with a little boy, who was due in less than a month.

When Draco first held Cissa, who was named after his mother, he cried. Our children had never seen him cry before, so it was a touching moment... considering the fact that Narcissa had passed away just one year prior.

Narcissa had lived a long, good life after the war. She lived with Shelia, one of her adopted daughters, for the majority of her life before she died eight years ago. Sadie, Shelia and Draco had mourned her death extensively, having known the good woman she was and all that she tried to give them, and they each carried her memory in different ways. Shelia wore Narcissa's favorite necklace, Sadie kept all of the quilts she had made and used them for her kids, and Draco- being the one who spent the most time with her- kept her portrait, which currently hung in his study. He often remarked that talking to it wasn't the same as talking to her, but it was a small comfort, for she still fussed over him when he sat as his desk too long.

My own parents had both passed away five years ago, just a few hours apart from each other, each of them in their early nineties. She had been suffering from Alzheimer's disease and he had been fighting a long battle with lung cancer. It was a miracle they lived as long as they did. My mother passed away in my father's arms in the middle of the night and he followed suit just a few hours later. It was a medical oddity, for my father still had a projected two years left, but I personally believe that souls have a certain affect on the body. I don't think my father wanted to live in a world where my mother did not exist, so maybe... well, that's an entirely different subject in and of itself.

As for Lucius... we had no idea. He could have died twenty years ago or he could still be kicking in some mental asylum somewhere. We hadn't seen or heard from him since the day we booted him off of our property and that was the way we preferred it. He had missed out on three amazing grandchildren and even more great-grandchildren, but that was his loss.

"Hermione, honey? Helloooooo?" I snapped back into reality when Draco waved his hand in front of my face, a small smile on his face. "You okay, love? You zoned out there for about ten minutes."

"Oh, yes I'm fine." I assured him, taking his hand in my own. "Just thinking, is all."

"Oh, is that what that smell is?" Draco laughed and I smacked him lightly on the chest, to which he made an overdramatic whining sound. "I'm an old man, you know! You could break me!"

"Oh, please. I'm older than you."

"Well you-"

"DRACO! HERMIONE! HEAVEN HAS ARRI- eck, damn this stupid cough!"

"And that would be Blaise." I laughed, turning around to see Blaise and Gwen tumble into the house, two people and three kids scampering behind them. Blaise engulfed me into a tight hug and his mustache scratched my shoulder. "Blaise, when are you going to shave the squirrel that's sitting on your lip?"

"I'll have you know that Gwen likes it." Blaise smirked, slipping his arm around his wife's waste and rubbing his face with hers.

"Uh, no, Gwen does not like it. Gwen thinks it looks tacky and that you can't pull it off. Your son thinks so too."

"Oh really? Ben, do you-"

"Yes, Dad, I think you would benefit from losing the caterpillar on your lip." Ben, Blaise's oldest, laughed as he came into the room. He came up to me and pressed a kiss to my cheek before shaking Draco's hand. "Hey Aunt Mione, have you finally convinced him to let it go? Mom's been trying for months now."

"I haven't but I think we'll get to him soon," I laughed. "How are Hailey and the kids? And your sister, why isn't she here?"

"They're fine, Hailey's still freaking out over Monica graduating and leaving, but I think it'll be alright. And Emilia is, uh... well, Emmy's not here because-"

"She's currently galavanting across Asia with Garret." Gwen answered, rolling her eyes. "Maybe one day she'll find a nice man to settle down with instead of spending every waking moment with that friend of hers."

Ben laughed and mouthed 'they're not just friends' at me before giving me one last hug and walking back into the back yard to find his wife and kids. Ben and his wife Hailey had two twin sons and an adopted daughter, the twins being eight years old and their daughter being twelve. Blaise and Gwen's other child, Emilia, was only 22 years old- Gwen had accidentally gotten pregnant when Ben was 10 or so (I think?) so the age difference between her and all of our kids was... different, to say the least. She was very close to my granddaughter Arabella, but not very close to my children, for they and Ben were all in their thirties and early forties. Emilia had been backpacking across the magical world with her boyfriend Garret, while Gwen complained about it because she didn't think he was good enough for her.

There was a lot of drama in the Zabini household, to say the least.

"So, are Harry and Ginny coming?" Blaise asked, still holding onto Gwen.

"In a little while, I think. Harry had a doctor's appointment." I answered.

Harry and Ginny were in their early sixties and Harry had been experiencing some health problems as of late. He had weak bones, lung polyps, and a hoard of other problems that were all caused by his malnourished childhood and time during the war. They were taking it all in stride, but the doctor in me told me Harry only had a few years left, ten max.

They had three kids themselves- James, Albus and Lily, of course- and a slew of grandchildren. James had certainly gotten around during his twenties and had two children with two different women before settling down with his now-wife, and they had two children of their own. Albus and his husband Lucas had one daughter; they lived just a few streets down from Harry and Ginny. And then there was Lily, of course, who had settled down with my Calum and had their three kids.

The thing about our families was the diversity. We had run into many, many "issues"- like Nadira being gay and marrying outside of her race, Albus being gay, James having children out of wedlock, Calum and Lily's early problems and many others- but none of us ever really considered them to be problems. Life was hard sometimes, plans fell through, new paths were taken and people came in and out of our lives. Things didn't work out like anyone had thought. Society often threw our three families under the bus for the choices we made and the support we gave to each other. We'd even received two death threats from radical homophobes/racists that didn't like Nadira or Albus.

Those were the times we were tested. Everyone wanted us to abandon one another, but those were the times where we simply banded closer together, willing to protect, willing to put our own necks on the line to keep our family safe. Our family was more than just blood connections and old friendships; it was something tangible, something strong. Nothing would ever break us apart.

"Come on, love," Draco took my hand and led me to the backyard, where it was just getting dark so the porch lights were on. Most of the smaller kids were laying on the mats in the grass, fast asleep. The older kids laughed and joked with each other in the corner of the backyard, while our children were dancing to a slow song with their partners in the middle of the yard. When they saw us walking toward them, they moved aside and laughed.

"Wait wait, I know just what song to play..." Calum smiled and flicked his wand at the stereo, an acoustic version of 'Hold Us Together' starting slow and echoing through our little backyard.

We danced to this song at our wedding thirty-some-odd years ago.

"I've still got the moves, you know." Draco took my hand and pulled me close, swirling us around in a slow circle. His hand slowly creeped down until it rested on my lower back, despite some of the grand kids making sounds of disgust. "Do you remember that day?"

"How could I forget?" I laughed. "I was four months pregnant with Calum and your daughter ate two handfuls of uncooked rice. A sick child doesn't really make for a good honeymoon."

"So when she does something stupid, she's my daughter?"

"Of course."

"Well then. I guess they're all my children."

"Blind, not deaf!" Calum said to us as he whirled Lily around the yard, the two of them dancing far too fast for the song. Soon enough, everyone joined in- Nadira held Carrie close with her hands across her belly, Azula twirling around with Brice, Jesper dancing with Arabella, and everyone else- and we took a moment to look around and appreciate it.

Life was funny sometimes. Life was incredibly beautiful sometimes. Had it not been for some stupid, misguided bet, all of these people wouldn't have been here. Three children, a son-in-law, two daughter-in-laws, ten grandchildren, extended family, friends, hell, even our dog. None of this would have ever happened. I couldn't have imagined a trickier, messier, more amazing life than the one I was living.

All because of a friendly wager. And the funny part was that neither of us even won that wager. Blaise rubbed that corner office in our faces for the next ten years; he says he's the reason we're together, the way we are now.

There's a lot of reasons and factors that go into making a family. There's a lot of chance encounters, unspoken conversations and fate that make up our lives. I was incredibly, entirely grateful for whatever force that brought Draco back into my life after such a long absence. I was so thankful for my three children. I was just so satisfied with my life, however hard it was to get to this point.

I dare say there wasn't a happier sixty-two year old alive than me.

"Hey, you wanna go get freaky in the car?" Draco wiggled his eyebrows at me and made a clicking sound with his tongue. "You know, like when we were younger and couldn't get an privacy. Come on 'Mione."

"Get freaky? Are you serious?" I laughed.

"I'll make it worth your while, lioness." He let me go and pulled me towards the house by my hand, his gaze softening as I smiled at him. I would never get tired of him looking at me like that.

"Well, when you say it like that, Romeo." I looked at our family one last time before going into the house with him, slowly making our way to the driveway and into our and car. He turned off the lights and smiled at me, his hands on either side of my face. We muttered 'I love yous' to each other over and over again and we got lost in each other all over again; we could never be too close, too in love, too together. Forever wasn't enough time for me to love him. But it was a good life we lived. A good, good life.

He pressed his lips to mine and I fell in love all over again.

And... scene. Once again, there will be an outtake story. Put me on author alert or check back often if you'd like to read it. I expect it to be up by Saturday. Thank you and again, I apologize for the wait. -Nikki-a.k.a.- Twipotterfreak28