"Mum!" a yell echoed through the small cottage, "Have you seen my new quill?" In the kitchen, footsteps could be heard stomping around above.
Hermione set down her mug of tea and made her way over to the bottom of the stairs. "Don't tell me you've lost it already," she said, looking up towards the second floor.
"I thought I placed it with the rest of my school things, but it's gone." A young, slender girl leaned over the railing, gazing down at Hermione. Her hair was a lighter color than her mother's, but had the same texture – bushy and wild.
"Did you ask Ben if he's seen it?"
The girl picked her head up to glance at the door across the hall. "He'd better not have taken it from my room…" she murmured, narrowing her eyes and stalking over to her brother's bedroom door.
Hermione let out an exasperated sigh. "Aria…" she began warningly. However, it was too late. Hermione could hear the door open and the girl storming into her brother's room.
"Hey! That's my quill!" she shouted.
Hermione quickly ascended the stairs, entering Ben's room. Aria had just yanked a brand new quill out of her brother's hands. He was standing in front of his desk, glaring. On his desk sat an inkwell and a regular notebook, filled with delicate writing. Beside the notebook was a stack of books that had been recently purchased in a trip to Diagon Alley, all from the list of requirements needed for the First Year curriculum at Hogwarts.
Upon noticing her mother, Aria flared up again. "Mum! He stole it!"
"Ben," Hermione looked at the boy, "why did you take Aria's quill? Didn't I just buy you one?"
The young boy frowned. His dark brown eyes – which strongly resembled those of this mother – stared down at the ground. "I broke it," he muttered, gesturing towards the corner of his desk. Hermione saw the remains of a snapped quill. "I just wanted to borrow it for a few minutes."
"Aria, why don't you go back to your room and finish up your packing?" she suggested. The girl reluctantly left, her temper having dissipated some. Just before the door closed, Hermione summoned her wand from the kitchen. She carefully mended the broken quill, and then placed a strengthening spell on it for good measure. "What are you doing that you needed a quill for, shouldn't you be packing?" she asked, glancing at Ben.
He looked at his desk. "I was just taking some notes on the Potions book." Sure enough, the top book on his stack was a bookmarked First Year Potions text.
"You know that you don't need to be studying before term," Hermione said gently, pulling him to her side for a hug. She ran her fingers through his sandy blonde hair, so much like his father's.
"It's interesting," he offered, "and I want to be prepared."
Hermione smiled affectionately. "You've already prepared plenty, but now it's time to finish packing. The train leaves early tomorrow, and we are not going to start off your first year at Hogwarts by missing the train."
He nodded, proceeding to open his trunk and haul the stack of books inside of it. Hermione left him in peace, heading back downstairs and into the kitchen.
"Hello, love," Remus' voice caught her attention. He stood by the table, smiling gently. "What happened?"
She smiled back at him, shaking her head and leaning against the granite counter. "Aria's temper happened. Ben took Aria's quill because he broke his own. They're both packing now."
"It's you that she gets her temper from, you know," Remus said matter-of-factly, approaching her where she stood.
"Yes, but I was never as antagonistic as she can sometimes be," Hermione retorted, summoning her tea and taking a sip.
He arched a brow, "I have a feeling that if you ever had a younger brother you two may have had a few similar interactions to Aria and Ben."
"Maybe," she chimed, leaning in to kiss him lightly. She also had a feeling that Aria was very similar to what Remus would have been like had he not had the Lycanthropy to mellow him out. She didn't say this though.
Remus' hands found her waist and held her there, deepening the kiss. Hermione brought one hand up to finger the hair at the base of his neck, the other resting against his chest. When he nipped her lower lip and ground his hips into hers she instinctively let out a quiet moan.
Remus chuckled, moving to place a few kisses along her neck. "You know, soon we'll have the house to ourselves. For the first time ever," he whispered suggestively.
Hermione sighed. "I'm going to miss them."
Remus pulled back and met her eyes. "They'll be back for Christmas before you know it. Besides, Minerva would let us visit them whenever we want."
She nodded. "I suppose it will be nice to have the house to ourselves. We'll be able to get a lot more work done too."
"Of course," Remus agreed, leaning into kiss her again.
Hermione had long ago taken a job at St. Mungo's as a Healer. Now she was in charge of their medicinal research. She mostly worked on developing or improving potions and healing spells. On some days, she saw patients as well. Having more time for her research would definitely be a good thing.
Remus was working in the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures at the Ministry. He worked as a liaison of sorts for werewolves. Through Remus' work and the assistance of the new Minister for Magic, Kingsley Shacklebot, a lot of reforms had been made to aid Great Britain's werewolf population. Remus often went out and spoke to the leaders of many werewolf packs, along with the occasional centaur or merpeople colony.
He was pushing her against the countertop, deepening the kiss once again. Hermione smiled against his lips. They'd not had much time to themselves lately; too busy trying to make sure that the kids were ready for the term to start. She and Remus were both very excited to have a little time to themselves. His passionate kissing was evidence enough.
Hermione pulled away when a thump sounded from upstairs, probably one of the kids dropping their trunk on the floor. She was about to resume kissing Remus, but her eyes caught the clock mounted on the wall. "It's five already!" she exclaimed, "we only have thirty minutes until we're supposed to be at Harry and Ginny's." She took a step back, beginning to move at a brisk pace toward the exit of the kitchen. "I have to change. Will you tell the kids that we're leaving soon?"
He nodded, and Hermione could hear his footsteps as he climbed upstairs. She made her way into the bedroom, determined to find a blouse to change into and to tame her hair a little.
It ended up not taking long. Hermione was ready five minutes before they were supposed to be at Harry and Ginny's. Luckily, the kids and Remus were ready as well; Remus even had gone so far as to fetch the salad she'd made from the refrigerator. Aria had her hair messily tied back in a haphazard plait, which Hermione quickly straightened out for her with a flick of her wand.
"You look lovely," Remus said, kissing her on the cheek and putting an arm around her waist. "Ready?"
Hermione nodded, and together they made their way over to the fireplace. The kids were old enough now to be able to floo on their own. They went first, then Hermione, and finally Remus. When Hermione stepped into Harry and Ginny's quaint cottage she was greeted with the smell of a pork roast that reminded her of Ginny's mother's cooking.
Ginny and Harry were already greeting the kids, Harry asking Ben if he was excited to start his first year tomorrow. Seconds after Hermione was out of the fireplace, Remus was behind her, his arm once again around her waist.
Soon enough, James, Al, and Lily were all in the drawing room, rushing Aria and Ben off to play in their Quidditch match outside. Ben was reluctant (he hated flying, just like his mother), but he followed the others outside.
After the kids were gone, Ginny rushed forward to hug both Hermione and Remus. "It's good to see you two. Hopefully we'll have more time for things like these after the term starts."
"We can only hope," Hermione said, moving to hug Harry next. He looked tired, but happy. He'd recently been promoted to the head of the Auror Department at the Ministry. He loved the job; Hermione had always known that he would miss the action and adventure of their youth unless he got a job like this.
Ginny appeared happy as well, though not nearly as overworked as Harry. She was currently writing for the Prophet, which was much more credible these days. After having three kids in a period of about four years, she'd decided that she was done with that and that she wanted to focus on her career now. Hermione knew that Mrs. Weasley was still very happy with the amount of grandchildren she had received so far, and there were even more on the way.
This train of thought reminded Hermione of Ron. "Are Ron and Natalie coming?" Natalie was Ron's wife. She was currently about eight months along with their first child.
Ginny nodded, leading the group into the kitchen and pouring everone a glass of wine. "They should be here any minute now."
As if on cue, Ron's voice sounded from the other room. Harry stuck his head around the doorway, motioning for Ron to come through to the kitchen. Ron did so, with a very pregnant Natalie following behind.
Ron and Natalie had met at the shop. After working in the Auror Department of the Ministry for a few years, Ron had decided to start helping George out at Weasley's Wizard Wheezes in Diagon Alley. Apparently, one day Natalie had come in right before closing looking for a gift for her nephew's birthday. They hit it off immediately, went out for drinks after, and were soon inseparable.
Natalie was a few years younger than them. They had therefore never really known her when she went to Hogwarts. She'd been a Hufflepuff, but sometimes she acted like she could have never been placed in Hufflepuff in her life. She had a sharp wit and a temper to rival Ron's. She was fearless in nearly everything she did, but at the same time devoted to her friends and family. Hermione really did like Natalie, even though it may have taken her a few years to warm up to the woman.
Everyone greeted Ron and Natalie, and Ron was handed his glass of wine. Natalie watched her husband's glass enviously. "I can't wait until I've got this thing out of me so I can drink again," she said, smiling wryly and patting her protruding stomach.
"But is there going to be another one after that?" Harry asked, looking from Ron to Natalie.
"Mum sure wants there to be," Ron huffed. "You'd think she'd decide she has enough grandchildren by now…" It was a well-known fact that Molly Weasley loved her family dearly, and it just seemed to get larger and larger with each passing year. Hermione and Remus were often considered a part of the family, even though neither of them was a Weasley. Still, Mr. and Mrs. Weasley thought of Ben and Aria as their grandchildren.
After a bit of chatting in the kitchen, Ginny announced that dinner was ready. Harry went outside and rounded the kids up. They all made their way inside, out of breath and smiling after an intense game of Quidditch.
"Who won?" Harry asked once everyone was sitting down at the table.
James put on a large, lopsided grin, "Al and I did, of course."
"Don't be so arrogant, James," Aria piped up challengingly, "You know that it was just a fluke. Lily and I are bound to beat you next time."
"I don't think there will be a next time until Quidditch season starts back at school," Ben murmured. He usually sat out of the Quidditch games, but he apparently enjoyed them enough to watch both family and school matches.
"We'll see about that," James said, grinning at Aria.
"We will," Aria agreed, serving herself some mashed potatoes all the while watching James with narrowed eyes.
Hermione glanced at Remus and saw his slightly uncomfortable expression. Remus had always been a little weary about how much Aria and James flirted. Hermione thought it was cute. They had always been such fast friends, and their Quiddtich rivalry drew them even closer. Hermione gave Remus a contented smile, trying to show him that it was nothing to worry about. He was just very protective about his daughter. Aria and James were both going into their fourth year at Hogwarts, and it was about time for them to show some interest in the opposite sex. Hermione wanted to tell Remus that at least it wasn't some sixth year Slytherin that she was flirting with. Then he'd be really worried.
"So, Ben," Ron spoke up, looking across the table at the young boy sitting between Lily and Aria, "Do you think you'll be placed in Gryffindor like your sister?"
Ben looked at Aria, then at the others around the table. "I kind of want to be placed in Ravenclaw." he shrugged.
"Ah," Ron smiled, "so you'll be a deviant like Al, then?"
Albus was going into his second year at Hogwarts now. He'd been placed in Slytherin last year, which had been rather surprising to most of the family, but everyone agreed that he did fit there rather well. He was one of the most cunning twelve-year-olds Hermione knew.
Ben shrugged again in response. Albus reached over and patted him on the back. "It's awesome to have a common room that none of your siblings or cousins can get into," he said, grinning.
Harry and Ron both laughed. Hermione just smiled at Ben, catching his eye and earning a shy smile in response.
Soon the kids were talking about going back to school, immersed in their own conversation at the end of the table. Hermione, Harry, Ginny, Ron, Natalie, and Remus talked about recent news. Harry informed them that Neville was coming back for another year as the Herbology teacher and now head of the Gryffindor house. Ron said that Charlie's engagement to a Romanian girl from the Dragon Reserve was now official.
Eventually the kids finished eating and made their way out to the drawing room for a game of exploding snap, leaving only the adults around the table.
"Mum wants everyone to come over to the Burrow after the kids are at school," Ron said, looking at Hermione and Remus. "She says that she won't take no for an answer; she hasn't seen either of you in a while."
Hermione glanced at Remus, and then nodded. "That sounds nice," she murmured.
"You know she still thinks of you as her daughter, Hermione," Ginny said, sipping her wine, "even if you did get your own parents back years ago."
"Speaking of your parents, how are they?" Harry asked.
Hermione had recovered her parents from Australia about a year after the war ended. It was a long process that included hundreds of hours of research on memory reversal spells. In the end, Remus and Hermione had traveled together to Australia, located Mr. and Mrs. Granger, and successfully recovered their memory.
From there, Hermione found herself in a very tense situation. Her parents were indirectly angry about her erasing their memories and the fact that she'd gotten married to Remus. The first evening resulted in a very awkward dinner conversation in which Hermione tried to explain her relationship with Remus in the least worrying way possible.
After a few months, Mr. and Mrs. Granger moved back to their old house in England, integrating themselves into Hermione and Remus' life with surprising ease. Hermione had been extremely grateful to have her parents back, especially when she found herself pregnant with Aria a few years later.
"They're well," Hermione replied to Harry's question, "though they still worry about Aria and Ben being at Hogwarts. I think they both think that the kids are going to run into the same sort of trouble we did."
A strange silence fell over the table. It was always odd when the war was brought up these days. The kids knew about it, but there was so much darkness and gloom that they would never be able to understand.
"At least we know that the Ministry won't pass any more Marriage Laws," Hermione tried to lighten the mood.
Ginny grinned, "Oh I would just kill Kingsley."
"Hey," Remus interjected, reaching for Hermione's hand, "that law was one of the best things that ever happened to me."
"Indirectly, of course," Hermione murmured, her lips pulling up in a small grin.
Remus responded by lifting Hermione's hand and kissing her knuckles tenderly.
"Look at us," Ginny smiled broadly, leaning against Harry's arm around her, "another year of the kids growing up and us growing old."
"'Growing old?'" Remus looked at her pointedly, "I'm the old one here, none of you can qualify as being old yet."
The others chuckled with Remus. Hermione turned to look at him. He'd gained some of his youth back during his time with her. Sure, his hair was graying a little and there were a few more lines on his face, but Hermione would be lying if she said that she didn't have her own share of wrinkles (her mum said it was from all the stress when she was younger). Besides, Remus could never be called old just because of his appearance. The Lycanthropy was bound to do that to anyone who suffered from it. "You're not old, love," she said, smiling gently at him.
"Of course," he murmured, squeezing her hand in his.
"You're right, 'Gin," Ron said, "it's surprising how much time has passed."
"Yet we made it," Ginny breathed, "we survived it all and made it here."
Author's note: First, I hope you all enjoyed the epilogue. If there's anything that is confusing or any mistakes you've spotted, feel free to let me know.
Secondly, thank you so much to everyone who has supported this story in any way. I never expected this much of a positive response and it's made me so much more confident in my writing. Thank you all a million times.
Now that this is over I'll be able to spend my time writing other things. If you're interested in reading more of my stuff, you can keep your eye out for my writing in the future. In addition, I've just posted another Remus/Hermione piece, which can be found through my profile.
All right, I'm going to wrap this up now. Thanks so much for the support, everyone.