A/N:  I want to thank everyone who reviewed any chapter of this story.  Your feedback was greatly appreciated and your support even more so.  It is by the will of the readers that I have continued to write this story for the enjoyment of all.  This is the final installment and the story will now be complete.  I must say that I am both sad and excited to see this work come to an end.  It has been an interesting journey with bumps along the way, but extremely memorable.  I hope that you have relished in the experience as much as I.  Now, on to the conclusion.  PLEASE R/R!!!!!!!!

Disclaimer:  I don't own Harry Potter.  J.K. Rowling does.

What Once Could Never Be…

Chapter 20:  Epilogue

"Has it happened yet?"

Professor Albus Dumbledore, highly respected wizard and headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, was racing down the hallway of St. Mungo's with Professor McGonagall by his side and a mediwizard in tow.

The mediwizard, who had just contacted him, replied in-between breaths as she tried to keep up with the spry old wizard.  "I don't think so, sir.  She was still in the waiting room when I left."

The group of three turned a sharp corner and continued down the hallway towards their destination letting nothing get in the way.  The mediwizard, still a trainee, directed them to where she had left the notable couple, but found the waiting room empty.  Professor Dumbledore would not be delayed, and he trudged over to the desk where a young witch was sitting with the newest issue of Witch Weekly.

"Where is Mrs. Malfoy?"

The witch was looking very disturbed at being interrupted as she raised an indifferent eyebrow.  "The pregnant woman?"

"Yes.  Where is she?"

"They took her to Delivery Room 3."  With that, the witch went back to her magazine.

The two professors continued on in their mission and left the mediwizard behind.  They finally came upon a door with 'Delivery Room 3' printed across it in bold lettering.  Crying could be heard from outside the door and with one glance shared between them, they entered.

A small crowd had gathered in the room around the bed.  Hermione Malfoy was sitting propped up on pillows with her new son, William Alexander Malfoy, in her arms.  Draco was looking at his wife and their child with love and wonderment.  Ron and Harry were standing over to the side with their own wives, Lavender and Ginny.  Narcissa was standing on the other side and observing the whole scene as a proud grandmother.

Hermione was the first to acknowledge the new presence in the room.  "Professor Dumbledore!  I'm so glad you could make it."

"My dear child, did you honestly think I would miss it?  To see the first child of one of the happiest couples to ever leave Hogwarts; not to mention the one that bridged the gap between Slytherin and Gryffindor.  I would not have missed it for all the socks in the world."  He chuckled at the thought as he leaned over the bed to catch his first glimpse at the newest Malfoy.

"Isn't he beautiful?"  Hermione was practically glowing with new motherhood.

William was definitely his father's child with the white strands already apparent on his head and the aristocratic slant of his nose.  His blue eyes, which all babies had, however, would soon turn a deep brown like his mother's.

While the two professors took their time fawning over the baby, Harry and Ron were poking fun at Draco at having the first child born within the group.  The boys had finally become something resembling friends over the years after much encouraging by the girls of the group.  It seemed inevitable after they left Hogwarts since all the insults had become tiring and childish.  It didn't mean, nonetheless, that the insults had stopped altogether.

Ron sidled up to him first.  "Hey, Malfoy, don't you think you should have named your kid Lucifer or something?  With it being demon spawn and everything."

Draco's condescending drawl came back, but the small smile betrayed him.  "Shut up, Weasel.  At least I don't have to worry about feeding ten kids in my future."

Hermione's voice broke through the immature posing before it could start.  It held a tone of warning.  "Draco, if you wake this baby, you definitely won't have to worry about feeding any more kids in the future."

Draco resumed his position next to his wife looking shamefaced.  "Sorry, baby."

Everyone in the room snickered at his response and tried to cover it up with various coughs and such.  Even though Hermione and Draco had been married for nearly two years now, it was still amusing to see the once willful and arrogant Slytherin prince cower from the anger of his lady love.

Professor McGonagall took one last look at the baby she hoped she would one day have the honor of teaching before glancing at Professor Dumbledore.  "Don't you think we should be getting back?"

Professor Dumbledore sighed heavily.  "Yes, of course you're right, Minerva.  We must get back to Hogwarts."  A sadness passed through the room at the news.  Dumbledore turned back to Hermione.  "You have a wonderful son and I expect that he will be a delight to you as I know he will.  I hope that I will see him and you two again soon.  Minerva?"

She nodded slightly as he exited the room.  She let her lips curve into a genuine smile as she looked upon her favorite student.  "Congratulations, Hermione."  She gave one last nod before following Dumbledore's departure.

The two slowly made their way back the way they came through the hallways of St. Mungo's.  They were back around that sharp corner before Dumbledore spoke.

"I want to tell you something, Minerva.  Something that I have never told anyone before."

"What is it, Albus?"

"You will recall the time six years ago when the people in that room were the ones to bring down Voldemort's reign of destruction and terror."

"Of course, Albus.  It is everyday knowledge."

"The truth is: the battle started many years before that.  It began the year after Harry started at Hogwarts.  It was during the summer while I was doing my usual prophecy research trying to decipher when it would be that Voldemort would rise again.  I came upon something that was most disastrous."

Professor McGonagall appeared shocked at this news, but kept quiet.

"It was a prophecy that foretold a time where three people would die in order for one to have the strength to kill Voldemort.  Those three were Ron, Hermione, and Draco.  I know that now."

Professor McGonagall gasped, but Dumbledore continued on.

"I was absolutely devastated, and I vowed not to let it happen so I did something that is forbidden in the wizarding world.  I changed the prophecy hoping to never come across it again, but prepared if I did.  It was after the Time Turner incident when Draco showed me the prophecy that I realized what was occurring."

"By changing the prophecy, I had given Draco the faith to save Hermione and in turn, save himself.  It was destined that Hermione be killed by Lucius and Draco be killed trying to save her.  Ron was supposed to die in battle before Harry could gather the courage to kill Voldemort.  It was simply not meant to be."

He stopped abruptly and faced Professor McGonagall with a smile.  "But it is."

He pointed down the hallway towards the objects of their conversation.  "That baby is an example of what fate never wanted.  Of what once could never be.  It was not destined to be so, yet it is.  If I have broken some law of the universe, I am glad of it because those children did not deserve such early and tragic deaths.  They were entitled to live full and happy lives, to have children of their own.  The death of innocence comes at a very high price, but the death of a promising future is an even higher one.  I don't care if I have to deal with consequences later on; I did the only thing I could.  I gave them hope.  I now know a truth that was not apparent to me before."

Professor McGonagall was looking fearful by now.  "What is it, Albus?"

"That we are not ruled by fate alone, and it is only ourselves that control our destiny in life.  Nothing is set in stone.  No matter what has been prophesized or foretold, it is only through faith in each other and hope for what will come that we make our own futures."

Professor McGonagall relaxed noticeably and a comfortable silence descended between them.  They made their way back to Hogwarts with the knowledge of this brimming in their minds.  Once they were in the familiar halls of the school, they went in separate directions never to speak of it again, but both happy with the living result of what Professor Dumbledore had done.


A/N:  So, that's it.  I hope you liked the ending.  I'm happy with the way this story came out even though it started in a completely different way.  I'm grateful for every review I've received and for every person who's ever taken the time to read even just one chapter.  I'm glad that there are people out there that have enjoyed my writing.  Everything about this experience has been fun and enjoyable.  I just hoped you liked it.  Thank you once again.  If you have any questions and comments, feel free to email me.  And as always, I would love to hear from you.  PLEASE R/R!!!!!!!!!!