Hermione stood on Platform 9¾ smiling to herself as a cool wind whipped around her bringing with it a trace of steam and perhaps a hint of magic. It had been a long time since she had seen the gleaming Hogwarts train. She felt as though she was in another world, one of infinite possibilities. The witch shook her head at her fancies recognising them as nostalgia.
"'Mione?" A shriek of delight accompanied this hail. Hermione turned around in time to be engulfed in a hug from an orange haired Amazon. Ginny Weasley, in Quidditch practice robes, towered over her school friend and laughed until her eyes swam with tears. "We've missed you! How have you been? Where have you been? It's so good to see you!"
"Hello, Ginny." Hermione smiled, pleased to see the youngest Weasley, now Mrs. Potter, but slightly overwhelmed by the greeting. Ginny let go to survey her critically. Her eyebrows rose to meet the smudge of dirt on her forehead left from early practice that morning.
It had been thirteen years since Ron and Hermione had their Last Argument. After the Golden Trio had graduated and defeated Voldemort, everyone had settled down. Ginny walked to the altar with the love of her life then waited to stand beside Hermione when she and her youngest brother took the same stroll.
The Grangers and the Weasleys were on the point of sending out the invitations when Ron suddenly got cold feet. Oh, he came back a week later to beg forgiveness but Hermione had had enough.
She had been at the Burrow, talking things over with Molly when Ron returned shamefaced. The row that followed eclipsed anything the Weasleys had witnessed even in a house full of redheads. Attempts to broker peace by Harry and Molly had got them shrieked at too. It ended with Hermione Apparating away.
Her parents let her friends know their daughter had gone to Europe to travel and clear her head. Post-traumatic stress, the Grangers' called it. The war against Voldemort had taken its toll on just needed time to find herself, they said. But time had passed and Ginny had heard nothing until this day.
"You've changed." She said, taking in Hermione's expensive designer suit, sleek hair and rounded stomach. "A baby?" Ginny's eyes widened as her gaze travelled to Hermione's left hand. Three platinum bands, unadorned but intertwined. "You're married?"
"I fell in love in Paris." Hermione explained, feeling an unexpected pang. She had been so angry with them all for taking Ron's side; she had put them out of her mind. She had needed to get away to find herself as more than the third of a trio but it had been too long. "I am sorry, Ginny. I should've written."
"Yes, you should." Ginny agreed firmly. "But that's in the past. We've got so much to share." She tugged Hermione along to the platform entrance where Harry was wrestling with a trunk and two boys, and had an owl on his head.
"They were playing bumper cars." He explained to his wife from the floor as he heaved the weighty trunk back on the trolley and the owl back into her cage. The children mobbed their mother both talking at the top of their voices. Straightening, Harry caught sight of Hermione. "Oh, you're here." It was feeble but he did not know what else to say.
"So are you." Hermione answered with a laugh. Harry's serious face broke into a grin and for the second time that morning 'Mione found herself embraced and inspected. Ginny had managed to relax her husband. Harry's eyes sparkled with happiness until his younger boy, the spitting image of his father, grabbed Hermione's leg and demanded a hug too.
"Albus, you monkey!" Harry detached his son, who clutched him around the neck and laughed. Ginny meanwhile had inspected her elder son for damage and straightened his unruly hair for presentation. James, in his first year, was still growing into his long limbs and looked exactly like Arthur Weasley except for his Potter hair. Albus stopped laughing into his father's sweater to display proudly his lack of front teeth owing to a collision between his broomstick and a hayloft.
"Not keeping up the Weasley tradition, I know." Ginny shooed everyone towards the train so they could board in good time. "We're planning a third after this season. No more touring or field assignments. I'm assistant coach for the Harpies now and Harry's assigned to the London office."
"What've you been doing?" Harry asked seriously as his wife effortlessly juggled luggage and James onto the train and Albus off when he tried to sneak after his brother. Hermione glanced across the platform, waved to a group just arrived through the gate then returned her attention to her friend.
"I toured Europe, found a job as a charm developer for an Italian wizarding corporation, got married and had children. We recently moved back to England so my eldest can attend Hogwarts." Hermione replied succinctly now she was finally able to get a word in edgewise. Harry blinked at her from behind his glasses. "I'll introduce you."
They turned to greet the approaching throng. Harry's gaze moved from the lean, fair man who walked with a swagger to the taller, black haired man with dark skin. Both wore impeccably tailored robes. Accompanying them was an auburn haired girl with grey eyes in Hogwarts uniform, two boys; one fair, one olive skinned but with the same smirk, and a little girl with masses of dark curls.
The children Harry had never met before but the men he knew bitterly well. Blaise Zabini and Draco Malfoy, both still slyly handsome, were if possible even more smug than at graduation. Hermione left him to kiss Draco and Blaise in turn, glowing with happiness. She turned back to Harry.
"I believe you know my husbands."