C23 Epilogue - what epilogue
~~ 17 years later ~~
Harry and Daphne had spent a hectic morning getting their children organised for the quick trip to King's Cross Station. The group arrived at Platform 9 3/4 at 11 am, one hour before the scheduled departure of the Hogwarts Express.
Sirius James Potter was about to enter his third year of school and as soon as he made it through the barrier he started searching for his friends. Daphne called after him, "You can wait and see your friends after we get you and your sister on the train!"
Sirius grumbled under his breath and turned and slowly trudged back to join his family. His father frowned at his eldest child's response. "You don't have to look so down, Siri, Scorpius should be here in a minute or two."
"Already here!" called out Scorpius Malfoy, who was being followed by his parents, Draco and Hermione.
"Thought you would have been here already," teased Harry.
Hermione gave a sigh as she held her daughter's hand. Emma Narcissa Malfoy was only ten and so she would not be joining her brother on the Hogwarts express.
"But mum, I wanna go with Scorpius and Siri," she pleaded.
Hermione bent down and hugged her daughter, "You have one more year, honey, you know that. Besides, it one more year to be big sister to Lucas."
Lucas Orion Malfoy was still only seven and was riding on his father's shoulders. Draco looked between Harry and Daphne and the four children holding onto their parents. Isabella Lily Potter was standing close to her mother, eager to be starting at Hogwarts this year. She was looking for her best friend, Alexandra Marie Longbottom, who like her was going to be starting her first year at the magical school their parents all attended together.
Cyrus Greengrass Potter, who had inherited his grandmother's red hair through the blessings of recessive genes, was also holding onto his mother. At age seven he knew it would be a while before he was able to go to Hogwarts, but he was excited about being the oldest child at home while he also knew that he would still miss his older siblings. His father, Harry, was carefully holding his four year old twins, one on each hip, as he wanted to be sure not lose them in the growing crowd of students and families arriving for the annual departure to Hogwarts. Abigail Tracey and Danielle Hermione were nearly identical images of their mother, except Abigail had Daphne's bright blue eyes while Danielle had her father's emerald green eyes. At least the eyes helped their parents tell them apart.
Lucas pulled on his father's hair. "I wanna get down and play with Cy," he called down to his father.
Draco swung his youngest child off of his shoulders and down to the platform. "Okay sport, but you two better stay with us, or you'll not get to play together all week."
Lucas laughed at his father's empty threat as he ran over and nearly tackled Cyrus Potter.
Isabella Potter squealed with excitement as her friend Alexandra Longbottom came running up to hug her. "We're both going to get sorted into Gryffindor, right?" asked Alexandra.
Isabella laughed as she replied, "I thought we should both go to Slytherin, just like my mum and your mum."
Franklin Stefan Longbottom and his twin sister, Madeline Alice can up behind the two girls. "You could always end up in different houses," stated Franklin.
"Yeah, just like Franky and me," added Madeline.
"Now Maddy," chided Tracey Longbottom as she came up holding her youngest son, Harry Walter Longbottom in her arms, "you know better than to get them all worried about that again. You've all heard stories from Uncle Harry that the sorting hat will take your preferences in to account."
"Unca Hawwy!" called out Harry Walter. The youngest Longbottom always adored his father's best mate and his namesake.
"Hey squirt," called back Harry who was too busy holding the squirming twins to do anything more.
Lorelei Pomona Longbottom skipped around her mother for a minute before deciding to go play with Emma Malfoy.
Neville came up behind, huffing as he pulled the cart with his twins' trunks, as well as the trunk for Alexandra.
Tracey turned and looked at him and sighed. "You know, love, that you should have just done what Harry and Draco did this year and last year. Shrink the trunks. The house elves will enlarge them for the kids after they get sorted."
Neville took a deep breath and shook his head. "I had to log my trunk to the train every year!"
Tracey nodded, "And you did it for seven years, for you. So why do you have to do this for the kids?"
Neville stood up and rubbed his brow. "Dunno, because I thought it was something a dad was supposed to do."
Tracey waved her arm at all the other families, "Look love, do you see any other dads carrying the trunks for their kids? Didn't think so. You're a wizard, you're allowed to use magic."
Neville shrugged his shoulders, "Bloody hell woman, I spend most of my time growing plants and teaching the students all about magical plants. Who has time to do magic?"
Tracey walked up to her husband and gave him a wink, "You can do all the magic you want when we get alone tonight, dear. But that doesn't mean you have to save it and not use it to help the kids with their trunks."
Daphne and Hermione smiled at each other as they had gotten quite used to Tracey's teasing of her husband.
"Hey, mate, there you are," called out Ron Weasley.
His wife, Pansy, nee Parkinson, walked up behind him with their three year old daughter, Elizabeth Renee on her hip. "Hey everyone," she called out.
Harry had spun around to great Ron and nearly dropped the twins. He carefully put them down as he extended a hand to shake Ron's. "Hey there, mate," he said with a grin. "Where are the others?"
Pansy laughed at Harry's question. "Harry William is off to look for his cousins, as a new fourth year he thinks he's too big to associate with his brothers."
"Arthur Charles is off looking for the other second years," added Ron. "Said he thought he saw Scorpius hanging out with some other Gryffindors."
Draco sneered slightly. "Do you have to remind me every time I see you that my son was sorted into his mother's house and not Slytherin?"
Hermione turned to face Draco, "There is nothing wrong with that! Maybe Emma will make you happier by getting sorted into Slytherin next year, darling."
"You always say the nicest things to cheer me up," retorted Draco.
"I still can't believe how much he has softened over the years under her care," commented Daphne as she leaned in next to Harry.
Just then a tall man walked up from behind. "Hey everyone, how was your summers?"
Harry and the others turned to greet Dean Thomas.
"Fine mate, just fine," said Neville.
Ron smiled and looked around, only seeing Lionel George, his 12 year old nephew and Artemus Luna his 9 year old niece, following close behind their father.
Dean shrugged his shoulders in response to Ron's searching gaze. "You know your sister isn't about to show up here. Not with you and your snake wife, and all these other Gryffindors and their Slytherin spouses." He held his hands up to fend off any retorts. "You know how strong willed Ginny is. She claims she too busy with her Quidditch career to take the time to drop the kids off, but we all know she's only a reserve chaser for the Holyhead Harpies."
Hermione stepped forward and gave Dean a slight hug. "Well, it's good to see you again, Dean."
The adults continued to chat while Harry and Draco worked to make sure all of the kids were safely on the train, with their trunks and in a compartment. The children came back out to say their goodbyes to their parents, then once again they disappeared onto the red train as the train whistle sounded to signal that it was time for the students to get on board.
Daphne and Tracey helped round up the younger ones who were not old enough to go to Hogwarts yet. Ron had managed to round up his other two children, ten year old Perseus Neville and seven year old Patricia Molly.
As they all waved to the students on the train as it began to pull out from Platform 9 3/4, Ron commented to Draco, "So, how is life as a hit-wizard? About as exciting as you thought that it would be?"
Draco smirked as he replied, "You wish it was nearly as exciting as those adventure serials you used to listen to on the wireless as a lad. Mostly drudgery, no one wants to be caught as a possible Dark Lord in the making, only to have the infamous Harry Potter come out of retirement and hunt them down."
Harry scoffed at his comments. "You all know I gave up that line of work a dozen years ago when I became the DADA professor."
Ron smiled at his first friend from Hogwarts. "But thats the thing, mate. You retired from hunting down the dark wizards, now all the magical kids in Britain learn about defence from the 'Vanquisher of Voldemort'. They all go home and embellish every story from every class. The whole country must be afraid of you by now."
Draco smiled at Ron's comment. "You know it's true, Potter," added Draco who still felt awkward after all of these years referring to his former antagonist and his wife's best friend by his first name. "Even Scorpius has come home on holiday to tell us stories of things you did with his mum, only for Hermione to tell us that the story wasn't quite like how he told it. So, either you're embellishing the story, or you don't remember the details very clearly, or the kids are so fascinated by everything you say they exaggerate in the retelling of all of them."
Neville nodded in agreement, "That's the thing Harry, everyone now only has fond memories of what you all did."
Harry scoffed at Neville's comment. "I distinctly recall not being the only one involved in the fight against Voldemort. There were five others, including you, Neville, that accompanied me to the ministry at the end of our fifth year."
One of Harry's twins started to complain quite loudly about being hungry. Daphne picked her up and looked at the group of men talking about old times. "Why don't we head somewhere else to finish this lovely chat and reunion somewhere more amenable to hungry little ones and moms with tired feet?"
The four couples agreed to move on to Diagon Alley and get a room to enjoy lunch together with the remaining youngsters who were still not old enough for attending Hogwarts. Hannah Abbot, the current proprietor of the Leaky Cauldron quickly arranged a room for her classmates and their children. Food was soon brought in, with two separate tables set up — one for the adults and for the youngsters still not old enough to attend school.
Pumpkin juice was being passed around the table, and Tracey was keeping a watchful eye on the children, something she often did as she was the lone stay at home mom in the group, although home was in Hogsmeade, just down the road from Hogwarts where her husband taught herbology. As the food arrived on their plates, Tracey turned around and began speaking to Hermione.
"Hermione," she began, "have you been making any progress on your work for improving rights for all magical creatures?"
Hermione sighed, "The Wizengamot still doesn't pay much mind to anything coming from the Department of Magical Creatures, even if you were best friends with the Boy Who Lived when you were in school, and if your husband is a well known Hit Wizard."
"Don't bring me into this," protested Draco. "I don't need anyone trying to use my name for anything, its bad enough having to deal with the bad reputation my father gave the family name."
"How is the job as a hit-wizard lately?" asked Pansy who was sitting close to her husband, Ron Weasley.
Draco brushed his hair away from his face with his right hand, then picked up a glass of pumpkin juice, took a quick sip before responding to her. "Well, it is getting to be a little less busy now that the remaining pure-blood supremacists have finally calmed down. While there is a small faction on the Wizengamot, their voices are few and without any clout." He paused dramatically, before continuing his short speech. "Father was prepared to disown me years ago for marrying a mud-blood, but as he had no other heir he couldn't let the line end. The others who were of similar mind with him have either passed on or given up fighting."
Daphne raised an eyebrow to his comments. Then she asked him about his father's position on the Wizengamot.
Draco tilted his head slightly before responding. "Lucius managed to hold on to the family seat, despite his three years he spent in Azkaban. He knows if he has no heir that the seat will be lost. So, at some point, I will inherit that seat. No matter how much it pains my father to think about the fact that his heir is improving the family magic by doing what he considered unthinkable."
Harry lifted his glass towards Draco, "Here's a toast to doing the unthinkable!"
"Yeah, like being killed not only once but twice inside the Virtual Magical Reality device all those years ago," added Ron.
"And marrying a beautiful pure-blood witch who I still can't believe is willing to put up with me," said Harry with a broad smile.
Daphne elbowed her husband slightly in the ribs. Then she turned back to Draco. "So, how is your mother doing?"
Draco took a deep breath and then he allowed a small smile to form on his lips. "Mother is finally beginning to appreciate her daughter-in-law. Actually, I think she has truly grown to like Hermione. Over the years she has seen how brilliant my beautiful wife is, and she sees that her grandchildren are more magically powerful than anyone in the last several generations of the Malfoy family, so she really can't complain about anything."
Pansy turned the conversation to Daphne and Harry. "So, how do you two manage to keep on top of everything? What with all those kids, especially the twins, and the business and Harry's work."
Daphne looked at Harry for a moment before turning to face Pansy and replying to her questions. "Actually, life is a lot simpler after Harry gave up being an Auror."
"Five years of that was more than enough for me," interjected Harry, "it's not as glamorous as they make it out to be."
Daphne leaned into Harry's arm, "No, just going for the glory and fame of being the Defence Against the Dark Arts professor since you quit being an Auror."
"What's not to like?" quipped Harry. "I'm sure Nev will agree — summers off, holidays off, much easier to spend time with my family. And when my wife runs her family business, Greengrass Imports, she can make her own hours. We have plenty of time for each other, and the kids!"
Harry's boasting about his wife and children earned him a quick kiss from Daphne.
"Oi, cut that out," complained Ron in jest. "Before you know it you'll have another set of twins on the way!"
"Merlin knows you don't want to be the next Weasley clan!" added Pansy.
"By the way, Ron," asked Tracey who decided to change the topic, "how did you manage to get that hob with the Chudley Cannons - what was it, two years ago?"
Ron blushed slightly, "Actually, I started working in my brothers' shop, you know, their joke shop. Well, I was managing their inventories, and apparently I was doing it well. Their business became so successful they ended up buying out the chain of Quality Quidditch Supplies, and I became in charge of the inventory for those stores. Through that job I developed the connection with the Chudley Cannons. Eventually they offered me the position as head of their equipment, and I just couldn't say no to my favourite club."
Tracey nodded as she listened to his explanation. Then she looked around the tale as she made another observation. "Kind of odd to see Dean Thomas there today."
Everyone's eyes turned back to Ron. "Well, like Dean said, she is still mad at all of us Gryffindors for marrying slimy snakes."
His comment resulted in an elbow into his gut from his wife. "Hey, Parkinson, I'm just telling you what she has said."
Pansy rolled her eyes at her husband. Ron then looked exacerbated as he looked around the group. After letting out a slight sigh, he then explained to the rest of the group. "Only time I even see Ginny is occasionally at family gatherings. But typically as soon as Pansy arrives she finds and excuse to leave. I don't understand her at all. I mean, if I can get past what houses people were sorted into, I would think anyone can."
Hermione smiled broadly at his comment. "I always knew there was hope for you, Ronald."
Neville then had a smile come across his face, as he turned to Harry. "So are you going to let everyone else know?"
"Know what?" asked several of the friends together.
Neville wagged his eyebrows at his friend, and then turned to the group. "Harry discovered a locked room in the dungeons at the end of last school year."
Everyone's eyes darted back and forth between Harry and Neville. Then Daphne spoke up, "So, I know you broke the enchantments that locked the door, but what did you find inside the room?"
Daphne's question seemed as eager as everyone else's curiosity and they all awaited Harry's answer.
Harry smiled at Daphne and then turned to face the others. "The VMR, the virtual reality magical device, it was left behind. Apparently the Americans left it there, and with the war officially ending, no one needed it further and after our experiences no one wanted to use it with students again."
"But does it still work?" asked an excited Hermione.
"Yes, it does," stated Harry. "And it has all the same programs and all the same safety parameters."
Draco's attention perked up. "So, when can we schedule a little vacation?"
"That all depends on everyone's schedules, and who can watch the young ones," replied Harry.
Harry saw the excitement in everyone's eyes in the group, and he knew that all was well.
AN: So, here ends this tale - it was fun to write. I have several unfinished works that I plan to try and get ready to post. Including one based on a Bob Dylan song. There are several works with first drafts of several chapters...but now I have one more completed story. Hopefully you readers enjoyed this story.