A/N- Here we have the epilogue. Hope everyone has had a good holiday, and I wish you all a very happy New Year! Thanks for reading my story, and I hope you enjoyed the ride. See you next time.
-Four Years Later-
The fifth anniversary of the end of the second wizarding war was a very big deal. The event was held by the Ministry but as Hogwarts was still in session, it was held in the ballroom of one of Lucius' hotels. Draco and Hermione arrived and gazed around the room; though Draco's eyes shifted to admire his wife of three years. "You look gorgeous," he whispered into her ear.
"You always say so," she smiled though she was quite pleased with her gown that evening. It was silver and very form-fitting with a rather daring slit up one side that was just shy of showing a bit too much. "The hotel looks fabulous," she said.
"Our fathers do good work," Draco nodded in agreement. The ballroom was immaculately decorated. "Do you see them?" Since their arrival in the lobby, they hadn't seen any of their parents. The Grangers were attending with Draco's parents that night as their guests. Former pureblood fanatics being the best of friends with muggles was still weird, to Draco, but it was weirdness he had learned to handle.
"Not yet," she said. "Let's go see the memorial wall."
"Sure," Draco nodded and with his wife on his arm they walked over to the wall. It was covered in pictures of those who'd died during the war. Draco felt a lump in his throat when they found his godfather's picture. It was a photo not of the typical scowling Severus Snape most people knew but of the Severus Snape Draco had always known. There in the photo was Severus Snape teaching five year old Draco how to crush potions ingredients, Severus' hands over Draco's as he gave his godson an affectionate smile.
Hermione smiled at the picture and felt her eyes watering. So many times she'd held Draco as he sobbed over the loss of Severus Snape. It was a death she knew he felt heavily; time had yet to soften the wound, though it had soothed the guilt, it had left in her husband. "He was a very good man," she said unnecessarily, knowing Draco was probably fighting back his own tears.
"I miss him," Draco admitted. Hermione shifted so that she could hold him. Draco's arm wrapped around her, "He was a hero."
"He was," Hermione agreed. "I've never seen that picture."
"Mother must have chosen it," he swallowed thickly.
"It's a good choice," she kissed his cheek and Draco took a deep breath. "We could do something in his honor," she suggested.
"Like what?" Draco looked at her, curious what she had in mind. The Manor's greenhouse was in Severus' honor already.
"Well we have to use a constellation for a first name, but the middle name could be Severus," she said, mischief flashing in her eyes as she smiled.
Draco's eyes widened, "You mean you're…"
"Six weeks. I went to the healer today to be sure," Hermione nodded. Draco lit up and kissed her. Hermione returned it, her arms slipping around his neck to press closer to him. When they parted she whispered, "I was going to tell you later after we got home but I thought you could use the boost now."
"That's the best news ever," Draco said. "And a brilliant way to honor Severus. After all, there's no way our kid could be a dunderhead."
Hermione nodded in agreement and they found Tonks' photo on the wall, not that far from Severus. There were no pictures ever taken of Remus and Tonks together, but Hermione could see that Andromeda had supplied the photo of Tonks. It was one she recognized; Tonks graduating from auror training. "I wish I'd known her," Draco said.
"She would have loved you. You'd have got on very well," Hermione smiled. "She was so funny. Tonks kept things light when everything was dark."
Draco, now much calmer, looked at the nearby photo of Lupin. It was donated by Harry; it was the Potters, Sirius Black, and Remus Lupin at the Potter wedding. He had mixed emotions toward that man. Two of his best friends had tried to kill Severus as a young man, which Draco found impossible to forgive. Still, he was Teddy's father and that had to mean something.
They were pulled out of their thoughts by the sudden arrival of Teddy Lupin. "Aunt Hermione! Uncle Draco!" Hermione smiled at the five year old and Draco bent to lift him up. Upon seeing the picture of his mother Teddy's hair turned purple. "That's my mama," he said proudly, making Hermione have to blink back tears for the second time that night.
"Yes it is," Draco said as he subtly handed Hermione a handkerchief. "I like the purple. You should keep it tonight," he told Teddy.
"For Mama?" Teddy asked.
"I think she'd like it too," Draco nodded. Teddy grinned at Draco who was trying hard not to get choked up. "Doesn't Aunt Hermione look beautiful?" Draco asked his cousin, hoping to change the subject before his voice cracked.
"Very pretty," Teddy agreed.
"Thank you Teddy," she smiled. "You're very handsome tonight." And he was. The little boy was dressed up in a suit, his tie Hufflepuff colors; Hermione figured Andromeda must have figured it was the safe choice given Teddy's penchant for turning his hair purple after seeing his mother's photo. Teddy beamed at her.
"How about we get something to drink?" Draco suggested, needing to be away from the wall. "Are you thirsty Teddy?"
"Hungry," Teddy answered.
"I'm sure they have some food available already," Hermione slipped her arm through Draco's and they went to the refreshments table.
Once Teddy had a plate of food they sat down at a table. Draco slipped his arm around her as they watched the people who were already there or just entering the room. He and Hermione had been married less than a year after they'd left Hogwarts and with the new Malfoy Manor finished, they had moved into it while his parents had moved into a smaller house (bigger than a cottage, but much smaller than the manor) just down the way from the mansion.
With Troy Granger and Lucius in charge of the hotel part of Malfoy Industries, the newlyweds focused on the potions business which was extremely successful. They still arranged to spend time with their friends. Ron would get them tickets to the home Falmouth Falcons matches sometimes and the boys plus George (and Charlie, if he was in town) would all go watch quidditch together.
Hermione smiled and waved as Ron entered the ballroom with Pansy on his arm. After Ron's words to her at Draco and Hermione's engagement party, Pansy had gone on vacation for a few months. When she returned her old friends were relieved to see that she was happier and finally seemed accepting of Hermione being Draco's partner.
Over the next two years Pansy had blossomed. She began a career in fashion as a designer and was very successful; although the biggest shock was the previous year when Ron and Pansy had started dating. Perhaps opposites did attract. That seemed the only reasonable explanation. Pansy was also very able to stave off the quidditch bunnies who had taken to following Ron around as his star rose in quidditch.
Ron was actually very good at being an assistant manager, and after just two years with the team he was being scouted by other clubs to possibly manage. The Chudley Cannons had been the team to make an offer but Ron had refused the rather large temptation of managing his boyhood club and decided to stay at the Falcons. It was a good decision, too, as the Falcons had recently won the Quidditch League. Hermione was proud of Ron; as was his whole family who had been there to see him given his winner's medal and lift the trophy with the team.
Pansy had no qualms telling any fangirls to bugger off and threaten them with hexes. The first time it'd happened Ron had looked at Draco who had merely shrugged that Pansy had always been like that which amused Hermione. Hermione leaned into Draco, whose arm was around the top of her chair, "It's still strange, seeing them together."
"Yeah I don't think it will ever seem normal," he agreed.
Ron stared at the picture of Snape. It was weird, seeing him smile happily even if it was with a young Draco. Next to him Pansy sniffled. Ron handed her a handkerchief. Over the years he'd come to learn just why Snape was idolized by the Slytherin students he'd had. It also had shown Ron that not only was Snape vastly underappreciated by most of the wizarding world, but that Lucius Malfoy had been a prince compared to some of the men who'd been locked up in Azkaban following Voldemort's defeat. Pansy's father, for example, had tried to sell her to Borgin when she was 12 to cover a gambling debt. Snape had intervened and given Borgin a potion that would cause impotence while hexing Parkinson so that he could never sell Pansy again. All without being found out for his actions.
"I really miss him," Pansy sniffed.
"I know," Ron slipped his arm around her waist to try and comfort her. He still wasn't completely comfortable with emotions but he was getting better at it. "I wish I'd been nicer to him. Hermione was always saying he wasn't evil like we thought he was."
"She always was the smart one of you lot," Pansy giggled through her tears.
"But for her, we wouldn't have survived," Ron admitted. "Mum let George choose the picture of Fred," he looked up and down the wall, "Do you see it?"
"Right there," Pansy pointed a few pictures over.
Ron smiled. There were few pictures from the time Fred was alive that featured only one of the twins. But George had produced a brilliant one. It was one that George had taken of Fred when they'd been stocking the shelves of their shop shortly before it opened. "That's from before they opened the store," he said. "They were so excited to open their shop. Fred was always hyper but he was almost uncontainable in his excitement as they got ready to open."
"We always thought they were very Slytherin-like. But for their need to boast about what they did," Pansy smiled, "such a Gryffindor trait, boasting about breaking the rules."
"Yeah they weren't very good at keeping quiet about their antics," Ron chuckled. "They always wanted their due credit. Even if they were in trouble."
"George is still like that," Pansy giggled. You didn't date a Weasley without getting to know the whole family.
They gazed at the wall a few more minutes before heading for the refreshment table and then the table Hermione and Draco were sitting at. "Hi you two. Hey Teddy," Ron smiled at the little boy with purple hair.
"Hi Uncle Ron," he said.
"You two are the first we've seen so far," Hermione said, leaning into Draco as Ron and Pansy sat down.
"The ballroom looks stunning," Pansy praised. She'd yet to be in this particular hotel.
"Our fathers do good work," Draco nodded. "We haven't seen them, though. Have you?"
"Lucius and Troy were in the lobby when we arrived," Pansy answered. She'd always been close to Lucius and Narcissa, but once she'd accepted Draco's relationship with Hermione she'd come to meet and know Troy and Helen Granger. They were the first muggles Pansy had ever interacted with, and it initially surprised her how...well, how normal they were. Aside from not having magic, the Grangers were quite normal people.
"Didn't see your mums around though," Ron said before looking around for his family.
"They'll be in soon, I'm sure," Hermione took a sip of her water.
The table sat and watched as people arrived. First it was Harry and Daphne, who spent a long time gazing at the remembrance wall. Harry had completed his therapy and auror training to become an auror, and Daphne was a potions mistress. They'd recently become engaged. Hermione had to admit, Daphne could handle being the future Mrs. Potter. It was a tall order, in Hermione's opinion, but Daphne certainly could handle the press hounding her.
Hermione just depended on her rather intimidating father-in-law on that front. Lucius Malfoy was enough to scare away any rude photographers. Soon the ballroom was crowded with people arriving to celebrate the 5th anniversary of the end of the war. "Feels longer than five years," Ron said.
She nodded her agreement. So much of their lives had changed. They had jobs, she was married (and secretly pregnant)…the war seemed like a lifetime ago. George arrived with Astoria and Hermione smiled as they approached the table, standing for George to sweep her up in his customary hug. "You look gorgeous," he told her.
"You look pretty good yourself George," she smiled.
"Something is different about you," he mused. "And I don't know what but I will find out."
Hermione leaned up and whispered, "Don't you dare tell a soul George Weasley but I'm pregnant."
He pulled back to look her in the eye, giving her a questioning look. She nodded and he grinned and pulled her into a tight embrace whispering excitedly, "That's bloody fantastic! I get to be an uncle!"
Draco could see George knew and had to hide his amusement at the redhead's excitement for Hermione. Theirs was a strange relationship; indeed for the first three birthdays George had without Fred, Hermione had stayed over the night before and the night of at George's flat to keep him company and see him through the night. But Draco didn't mind. And he knew Astoria was the same. Besides, ultimately George had improved and no longer emotionally depended exclusively on Hermione.
George and Astoria had in fact recently been married and Draco had to admire that Astoria could put up with the mischievous redhead as long as she had when most other witches would have given up or turned away. He'd certainly had his share of Astoria on his couch talking about how difficult things could get when George would have a bout of depression. It was nice to see them come out the other side of that hardship.
"You're going to be a great mum," George whispered as he released Hermione.
Hermione leaned into Draco as his arms wrapped around her, having stood to say hello to Astoria, "How are you two doing?" She asked them.
"Pretty good," George answered. "It feels easier, seeing his picture now." Hermione smiled, happy for her friend. "How about you two?"
"Seeing the photo of Severus with me and my potions set when I was little was a bit much," Draco admitted. "I have many memories of him like that."
Astoria smiled, "It's hard to believe it's been five years since the war ended."
"It feels both longer and shorter at the same time," Draco agreed, "but I'm pretty pleased with my life since then."
Hermione gazed at him, "Just pretty pleased?"
"Over the moon thrilled," he amended, "I'm the luckiest bloke alive to have you in my life."
"Smooth," Ron snorted.
"Too obvious," George stage whispered.
Hermione kissed her husband, "Works though," she informed the two redheads. Draco grinned.
Harry gazed at the wall. For a long time, he'd felt responsible for all those lost in the war. But after at least a hundred hours of therapy, he'd come to understand it wasn't his fault. Voldemort had made him the scapegoat and while he still refused to see Albus Dumbledore as anything other than a great man, he could admit that sometimes his mentor had been a bit misguided. His fiancée thought Dumbledore was more than a little misguided but she knew Harry struggled to see the manipulative bastard that was their former headmaster in the same light she and so many others saw him.
Daphne squeezed his arm, "Come on Harry. I want to see my sister."
"Yeah okay," Harry said, turning away from the wall. If anyone had told him during the war that he, Hermione, and Ron would all end up paired off with Slytherins, Hermione married to Draco Malfoy of all people, Harry wouldn't have believed it. It was impossible, he'd have said. But Harry was smitten with Daphne. He was still unsure about Pansy but Ron liked her and that was really all that mattered, Harry supposed. Harry still didn't trust Draco and was of the opinion that relationship wouldn't end well, though. That unfortunately meant his relationship with Hermione was virtually nonexistent. She wasn't a big fan of his theories on just what Draco was up to, being with her, and had ended their friendship as a result.
Ron had warned Harry that he was yet again weighing his own biases against Draco but Harry was of the opinion Draco was everything he'd always thought the blonde bastard was. But Harry had to admit, he did sometimes miss Hermione and it was hard to deny how happy the blonde Slytherin made her.
"How was your honeymoon?" Daphne asked her sister after saying hello to everyone.
"Very nice," Astoria smiled. "Private islands are quite fantastic to spend your honeymoon on."
"That's what we said," Draco grinned at his wife. They'd given George and Astoria access to an island privately owned by the Malfoys for their honeymoon. He and Hermione had enjoyed their own honeymoon on the deserted island. Clothing had been optional and it was an option that he and Hermione had never used. George had been hinting about wanting to use the island ever since and Hermione had suggested to Draco that be their present to the couple.
"It was quite enjoyable," Hermione mused. "We should go back there," she told him. Draco nodded eagerly and leaned over to kiss her.
"Ugh do you two ever stop," Ron protested.
"No we don't Weaselbee," Draco smirked. "We're always all over each other. She's irresistible and so am I."
"Very irresistible," Hermione smiled before tugging her husband in for another kiss.
Ron feigned gagging and the others laughed. Ron and Draco were still combative, but unlike most of their schooling it was now playful. "While we would like grandchildren, here in the ballroom is not the place to conceive," Lucius Malfoy said as he approached the table with his wife and the Grangers.
Hermione and Draco parted, sharing a secret smile before turning their attention to their parents, "Well this is a hotel; we could always get a room," Draco grinned mischievously.
"That's my baby girl you're leering at, Draco," Troy scowled.
"Daddy, Draco is allowed to leer at me," Hermione rolled her eyes. "We are married, after all. And we've been romantically involved for going on five years now."
"You're still my baby girl," Troy shrugged, ignoring the remark about how long his daughter and son-in-law had been sexually active.
"There's Susan!" Hermione smiled, standing to wave to her best friend. Susan was a brilliant event planner, and her business was quite successful. Terry was also quite successful, at least according to what little he could disclose given his job in the Department of Mysteries. Hermione thought it seemed a bit like being a member of a governmental spy agency; you could never tell anyone about your work or even that you worked there (even if someone knew you did). They were engaged, with Hermione and Draco chosen as the maid of honor and best man.
Ernie had done very well with Theo's family business, and while Theo was now in charge of the family business he'd given Ernie the funds to start up his own publishing company. Blaise's nightclub was highly successful, and Padma worked for a law firm as a solicitor. Padma had actually started dating Ernie. They were both workaholics so they seemed well suited in that regard. Theo and Blaise were still happily bachelors. Neville and Hannah had been married a year after they'd graduated from Hogwarts. Recently the couple had returned to the school having finished their respective training for their desired roles. Harry and Daphne left as Susan arrived.
Speeches were made to begin the evening, with McGonagall saying a few words about some of the fallen before people from the Ministry spoke a bit about some of those whose lives had been taken. It was with some surprise that Draco and their friends saw Hermione stand and walk up to the stage to make a speech.
"Thank you Professor McGonagall," she said politely to her former head of house. She looked out at those assembled, "I'm always asked to speak at these things and I've never felt the need to before. But this year, I finally do." Hermione took a deep breath, "When I started Hogwarts in 1991 it was clear to me that while the first war against Voldemort was long over, the attitudes remained. And as I was pulled further and further into the second war, I realized that the same attitudes were always going to remain. So when the second war ended, when Voldemort finally died, I pulled Kingsley Shacklebolt aside and I told him that Albus Dumbledore was wrong. Dumbledore believed that to heal from the war forgiveness was important. But that attitude was what saw the second war happen. We did need forgiveness, I told Kingsley, but we also needed understanding and education. Muggleborns and half-bloods needed knowledge of wizarding and pureblood culture and purebloods needed real, accurate knowledge of muggle culture."
Hermione smiled, "It's been an effective effort. Very effective, actually. My muggle father becoming best friends with Lucius Malfoy of all people as an example, which sometimes my husband and I think means my advice to Kingsley went too far," there was laughter at that. She paused before continuing, "Unlike the first war, this one has finally taught us important lessons. Blood status is less important than ever before and there's less of a gap between incoming first year students that are raised in the two worlds." She looked at her husband before taking a deep breath, "While all of that is fantastic, I feel it's important that we finally officially recognize the heroics and goodness that was Severus Snape. Given how frosty he could be toward me in school it might perhaps shock you to know that he was my favorite teacher. When others were quick to decide he was evil or the villain I saw more. And he was more. He was a loving godfather, he was a compassionate and caring head of house. The rest of the school might have disliked him but to Slytherins he was a confidante and someone who could help them when they felt hopelessly lost or defeated. He was there to help them, as much as he could. He went above and beyond his duty as a professor and head of house because he never wanted any of his students to be used and manipulated as he had been." Hermione paused, "I've long believed that it was the intent of Albus Dumbledore that Severus Snape die as the magical world's worst villain, killing someone once touted as the greatest wizard since Merlin himself. It was an opinion that was confirmed before the rather unfortunate fire destroyed Dumbledore's painting in the headmaster's office at Hogwarts."
Ron had to smile at the way his friend drew out the word unfortunate, indicating that it had been anything but unfortunate. Hermione smiled, "But Severus Snape was oh so clever. Far more clever and logical than Dumbledore had realized. Severus Snape made sure that his memories would live on and that the right people would see them. So that he wouldn't be remembered as a villain. That he would rightly be remembered as a hero. And so it is with immense pleasure that I posthumously present to Severus Snape, on behalf of the Ministry and the entire magical world of Britain, an Order of Merlin, First Class."
The hall burst into applause and every former-Slytherin who was present stood, though they were not alone as others joined them including Ron, George, Andromeda Tonks, and the Grangers. Harry sat, taking everything in. Snape might not be a villain but he'd hardly call him a hero. It was a topic he and his fiancée disagreed on strongly.
It took several minutes for the applause to end, but when it did Hermione spoke, "I offered to bring Severus' portrait from Hogwarts or Malfoy Manor to say a few words but he threatened that if I did such a thing he would never forgive me as he has better things to do than talk to a room of dunderheads who can't even adequately crush porcupine quills. Which I of course took exception to, as my potions work was always quite excellent. However given how many ignored his wishes during his life, I felt it only appropriate to accept his wishes in death. But I will say this since he currently can't talk over me or protest receiving such appreciation: Thank you, Severus, for all you did. You saved an untold number of lives and you were certainly the best potions professor I ever had. Thank you for protecting the students of Hogwarts during the war as much as you could and doing all that you did to end the war. Your sacrifices were not in vain."
When she rejoined her husband and friends Draco kissed her, "Thank you for that."
"You're welcome," she kissed him.
"We don't have a portrait of Severus in Malfoy Manor though," Draco pointed out.
"Actually we do," she smiled. "I found the artist who makes the headmasters of Hogwarts portraits. He always makes two, in case something happens to the first and it doesn't work. It took some convincing, but he let me buy it. It's your early birthday present and it's currently in our study."
Draco grinned at the thought of talking to Severus again. Then he grew serious, "You know we'll never get Slytherins out of our home now. They'll all want to see him."
"Fortunately for you I'm quite partial to Slytherins," she rested her head on his shoulder. Draco felt better than ever. He was going to be a father and he got to have some part of Severus back in his life. This was an incredible evening. "You're the best wife ever," he told her.
"I should hope so as I'm your only wife ever," she smirked. Draco chuckled and slipped his arm around her.
Later that evening after dinner there was some dancing and Draco tugged his wife to the dance floor and into his arms. Hermione rested her head on his shoulder and he smiled. This was good. It had been an eventful five years. He still couldn't stand Potter. Daphne had tried to get them to get along, but ultimately that had only ended up pushing Draco further away from her. He wouldn't really consider Daphne a friend anymore. She was a former friend, maybe an acquaintance, but they only saw one another at large social gatherings. Before Tori and George's wedding, Draco hadn't seen Daphne in almost a year.
Draco understood Daphne was in love with Potter and he didn't begrudge her that; but he strongly disagreed with her assertions that he and Potter were alike. Draco could admit when he was wrong. Potter couldn't. He felt that was a massive difference. Not to mention that Potter would one day say he was fine with Draco and the next be certain Draco was up to some evil plot. Daphne was adamant she wanted to be with Potter, and in turn Draco had to cut her out of his life as Hermione wasn't far off hexing Potter and had decided to remove him from hers and Draco had agreed with his then-fiancée about the way things had stood.
While Daphne hadn't been at his wedding, the rest of their friends had. George had been Hermione's 'man of honor' while, to the horror of his mother, Astoria had been his 'best mate'. It had been hilarious to see Narcissa's reaction to that announcement. She'd been even more upset that Susan was going to be planning their wedding but Draco had preferred it that way. Susan knew what they liked and had kept it untraditional but nice, just what they'd wanted. And Astoria and George hadn't let too many pureblood traditions seep into the wedding.
"This is nice," he said.
"It is," she agreed, "The whole evening has gone very well."
"Everyone is going to want to come see Severus at our home," he pointed out.
"I know and, starting tomorrow, they can. Tonight is already planned and babysitting guests while they talk to an anti-social man is not on the list."
"There's a list?" Draco twirled her, "Can I ask what's on the list?"
"You and me celebrating our good news," she answered. "With all due respect to Severus, I'd rather not do that with an audience."
"No, me neither," Draco nodded in agreement. "I might like seeing you show a bit of skin in your dresses but I'd hate for someone else to see you naked."
"That's because you're ridiculous," she laughed.
"I'm really glad I insisted to Blaise we go rebuild Hogwarts that summer after the war."
"I'm glad you did too," she smiled. "And I'm especially glad Ron and Harry were lazy fame whores who couldn't be bothered. It gave us the time we needed to get to know one another."
"Should really thank the Weasel for that," Draco chuckled before kissing his wife. Hermione quite agreed. If things hadn't gone as they had, she wouldn't have had all the time with Draco that she'd had and they wouldn't have become a couple.
"I love you Draco Malfoy," Hermione said, resting her head on his shoulder.
"I love you too Hermione Malfoy," he grinned.