Scene: Five years after the end of Fate Has Its Ways. (This is the final chapter).
"Momma," a voice whispered next to her head. Hermione cracked an eye open. A little blond hair boy with brown eyes was staring at her from next to the bed.
She smiled. "Good morning Scorpius."
Her little boy revealed his toothy grin. "Good morning Momma. Daddy's making breakfast."
Hermione cast her eyes over her shoulder, discovering that the other side of the bed was empty.
"Okay honey," she murmured, sitting up. Her son lifted his arms in the air. She reached down and picked him up, resting him and her hip. She wandered out into the hall and down the staircase.
"Morning, love," she said, walking into the kitchen. Draco had his back to her, and was flipping pancakes on a griddle. At her words, he looked over his shoulder and smiled at her.
"Morning, babe," he smiled, his grey eyes twinkling.
Hermione lowered Scorpius to the floor. "Why don't you go play with your toys," she said quietly. "We'll call you when pancakes are ready."
Her little boy smiled and wandered into the other room. As soon as he was gone, Draco wrapped his arm around her waist and pulled her to him. He kissed slowly up her neck and down her jawline.
"Draco…" she warned, crumbling to pieces under his lips.
"What?" he murmured against her skin. "He's in the other room."
She shivered under his touch. He chuckled. "Impatient, are we?"
"Damn it Draco," she said right before he finally kissed her.
The two of them had been together for five years by now, and married for three and a half. Still, every time he held her in his arms, she felt the same rush of excitement and love she had felt those very first times.
Even though the first times she had no memory.
She pulled back from her husband for a moment and gave him a look. "What?" he murmured.
Hermione gestured at the griddle behind him. "Your pancakes are burning."
Draco turned with a start. "Oh shit!" She couldn't contain the laughter that exploded from her mouth.
As her Slytherin desperately tried to salvage the pancakes, Hermione went and sat at their breakfast table. The Daily Prophet lay in front of her, and to her surprise, a photo of herself stared up at her.
5th ANNIVERSARY OF THE BATTLE OF YAXLEY MANOR read the headline.
Hermione shivered. She had forgotten the date. You'd think that after her life, she would never want to forget anything ever again. However, the day that she killed Yaxley in Egypt stood out for her as a day not worth remembering.
Draco came up behind her with a plate of slightly burnt pancakes. He saw what she was looking at and put the food on the table. Grabbing a chair, he pulled up next to her and took her hands in his.
"Forgot?" he asked. She nodded mutely. He should've assumed by now, honestly. Every year, there were two days that she forgot. On the anniversaries of the battle of Yaxley Manor and her kidnapping, she would sit at the kitchen table, staring blankly at the table and trying to stop the memories from assaulting her.
"It'll be okay," he whispered in her ear, drawing her close once again. "You don't have to think about it. Take the day off work, stay at home, read a book."
"I can't," she muttered. "The Bulgarian ambassador is coming in to discuss the developing crystal ball trade route."
"Surely the Department of International Magical Cooperation can go without their head for one day."
Hermione smiled gratefully, but shook her head. "Not today."
Draco pursed his lips, but knew better to argue. He wrapped her in a hug. "It was a long time ago," he murmured in her ear. "It's not a defining part of your life anymore. You've moved forward."
Hermione was just about to argue that she had not, in fact, moved on when Scorpius came waddling back into the room.
"Hey!" he cried, pouting. Draco pulled back from Hermione to chuckle at his son. "I want to be in hug!"
"Come here bud," her husband smiled, reaching for his boy. Scorpius waddled over and Draco picked him up. Hermione wrapped her arms around her family, and let the significance of the date fall from her mind for a moment.
She walked into the Auror Department quickly. Usually, when she came to visit her friends, the other eyes of the department followed her for several reasons. One, she was a war heroine and Harry Potter's best friend who had miraculously returned to the Wizarding World after seven years of amnesia. Two, she was the Head of the Department of International Cooperation and could have their jobs in a moment if they stepped out of line.
However, today, the eyes that watched her were filled with something else. Pity. She sighed. This is one of the many reasons she hated the anniversaries. Usually, people saw her as a strong woman who had defied the odds and regained her rightful life. On the anniversaries, people were reminded of the suffering she had lived through.
She hated feeling weak.
She walked briskly through the large centre room and up to the second in command's office. She rapt on the door quickly.
"One moment!" a familiar voice said. A few seconds later, the door opened to reveal the face of Blaise Zabini.
"Hey Hermione," he started to say before she walked right past him and into his office. She flopped into the seat in front of his desk.
Blaise closed the door and locked it. He and Hermione had a system at this point. If she didn't say a word at the door, she didn't want anyone else to hear. Blaise cast a silencing charm over the room.
"What's up, Mrs. Malfoy?" he asked, sitting on the desk, his eyes guarded. Hermione shot him a look.
"It's an anniversary," she muttered, fully aware that he already knew that. There were already two glasses and a bottle of Canadian Whiskey on his desk.
After Hermione's return, she had struck up and easy friendship with her husband's best friend. It helped that she and the man's wife, Padma, had always gotten along very well.
She also felt indebted to Blaise. He had been the auror in charge of her case for many years. Though they hadn't actually found anything until Draco had found her in Canada, she recognized and appreciated the effort he had put in.
Blaise was one of the only people, besides Draco of course, that she trusted to explain how she felt about her disappearance and all the resulting situations. The first anniversary of her disappearance after her return, she had stumbled into Blaise's office in tears. He had known, immediately, and revealed two glasses and a bottle of whiskey.
It had grown into a tradition since then.
Blaise poured her glass and handed it to her. She took a swing immediately and felt the burn at the back of her throat.
"Not a good day?" Blaise asked, his eyes filled with the pity he knew she deplored.
"It's been five years," she muttered, staring intensely at the glass. "Five years and I still can't get through an anniversary completely sober."
"That's not something to be ashamed of…" he started to say.
"Isn't it?" she responded, feeling the familiar anniversary tears forming at the corners of her eyes. "I have a wonderful life. A husband who I love and adore, with a beautiful little boy. I'm in the top of my field. I'm constantly surrounded by family and friends, and yet, two days a year, I can hardly function."
"Something horrible happened to you," Blaise reminded her. "You were kidnapped, tortured, and ripped from your life. That's not something that goes away easily."
"But how much time will it take?" she asked desperately. "Five years, Blaise, and I feel like I've made next to no progress."
He shrugged. "How do you measure progress? Do you not remember the first year after you got your memories?"
"I do," she nodded, thinking back to the nightmares that plagued nearly every night of her life.
"Exactly," Blaise said. "You've progressed from there. Now, it's just two days a year that you break. You're getting better."
"I'd rather never break, Blaise."
"That's impossible, Hermione, and you know it," Blaise said. "Breaking is a part of being human. You are the strongest person I've ever met, but I think perfection is a little too much for even you. You might not ever get over it. But you don't need to be completely cured to keep living."
Hermione took another sip of whiskey. "You're right, of course."
Blaise sighed. "You'll get better. Maybe in another five years you'll only drink on one anniversary. There isn't a set time for recovery. Don't be so hard on yourself."
"I hate feeling weak."
"You aren't weak," Blaise said. "A weakling would've given up a long time ago. You've had a nearly impossible life, and you are still living. Just because you can't bounce back completely from a kidnapping does not make you any lesser."
She looked at him for a moment. "Have you always been this wise?"
"Yes," he responded curtly. He gave her a small smile. "Now finish your whiskey and get back to work."
Hermione finish off her glass in one gulp. She handed it back to him. "Thanks Blaise."
"No problem," he smiled. "It's nice to have an excuse to drink at work."
She laughed. "I'll talk to you later. Is Alexandra still coming over for a playdate on Saturday?"
"You know it," he chuckled, sitting behind his desk. "I'll see you then."
"Bye friend," she smiled, slipping out of his office. She closed the door behind her and turned right into one Harry Potter.
"Oh!" Harry said, running right into her. "Sorry, 'Mione. Didn't see you there."
She smiled at her best friend. "It's fine. I'm just leaving, if you want to talk to your second in command."
"He can wait," Harry said, shrugging. His worried eyes met hers. "How are you doing?"
She rolled her eyes. "How do you think?"
Harry sighed. "I had to check anyway."
She took a deep breath. "It's just one day. I'll be fine tomorrow."
"I wish you were fine all the time."
She thought back to the conversation she had just had with Blaise. "I don't think that's realistic, actually."
Harry gave her a look. "I take it you've been talking with my second in command."
"How'd you know?" she chuckled.
"Blaise has an uncanny ability to speak about the human condition with wisdom and nonchalance at any given moment."
She laughed. "Yeah he does. We just a really good talk about it."
Harry smiled. "I'm glad."
Hermione took a step forward and wrapped Harry in a hug. He rubbed her back comfortingly.
"Are the three of us still on for Friday?" she asked, pulling back a bit.
"Oh please," Harry laughed. "Ron hasn't shut up about it since last week. Do you know how much he wants to go get drunk in the muggle world?"
"I'm surprised Pansy's even letting him."
Harry smiled. "She adores you, you know that. She'll let you take Ron anywhere you want. Besides, Parvati was talking to her, and she thinks it's healthy to get shit faced drunk every once in a while."
Hermione chuckled. "Who would've ever thought that Ron would find his perfect woman in Pansy Parkinson?"
"Not me," Harry conceded. "But who ever thought you would procreate with Draco Malfoy, so who are you to talk."
"Fair point, Mr. Potter," she chuckled. "What's even weirder to me is how Draco and I go on double dates with them."
"Okay, that is weird," Harry said. "But he's in love, so I'm happy."
"Me too," she said. "Hey, have you heard from Ginny recently?"
Harry nodded, putting his hands in his pocket. "Yeah, she sent me a letter last week. Sebastiano finally popped the question."
"Really?!" Hermione nearly shouted. Her face had burst into a smile. "That's fantastic."
"Seems like we're going to have a summer of weddings," Harry said. "Speaking of which, Parvarti was wondering if you wanted to be a bridesmaid."
"I'd love to," Hermione responded sincerely. She and Harry's fiancée had also developed a friendship in the years since the two of them had started dating. "Parvati is definitely going to pick out some nice bridesmaid dresses."
"If there is one thing that woman is good at, it is fashion," Harry said, his face lighting up. "She couldn't stop going on about your dress at your wedding."
"That was three and a half years ago."
Harry shrugged. "You made an impression."
"I do that," Hermione smiled. "Oh, I wanted to ask you, Draco wants to have a big family dinner in a few weeks. Like, all of us. You, Parvati, Ron, Pans, Blaise, Padma, Neville, Hannah, Luna, and Newt."
"Can we invite Ginny too?" Harry asked. "She's in town with Sebastiano for a week or two."
"Sure," Hermione smiled. "We haven't had the gang together since Blaise and Padma's three year."
"Seems forever ago, doesn't it?" Harry said. He glanced at his watch. "Shit, I actually have to go talk to Blaise. I'll chat with you later?"
"Of course," Hermione smiled. "Go save the world or something."
"That's me," he winked. "And feel better."
She smiled a bit. "Thanks Harry. I already am."
And for the first time in a long time, she meant it.
She burst through the fireplace at her house. "Draco?" she called.
"Yes love?" he husband asked, walking into the room with Scorpius on his hip. Her little boy seemed to be pouting. She frowned.
"Scorpius?" she asked.
"Daddy won't let me eat any more cookies," her son cried.
She sighed. "Scorpius Blaise Malfoy, you know how we feel about you having too much sugar."
"But momma, they taste so yummy!"
She laughed and took Scorpius into her arms. "If you're good, maybe you can have some more later."
He smiled. "Okay mommy."
She put him down. "Now go play." She watched fondly as her little one waddled away.
She turned to her husband. "How was your day?"
"Long," he admitted. "But good. Paris, Cairo and Moscow are all sending help to Sydney to get it set up."
"That's great," she smiled.
"And yours?" he asked, worry outlining his face.
She took a deep breath. "Pretty good, actually. I drank with Blaise…"
She laughed. "It's our tradition. I talked to Harry for a while. Did you know Ginny's getting married?"
He nodded. "I just got her letter today. Took that tosser long enough."
Hermione laughed. "The only reason you don't like Sebastiano is because he's handsomer than you."
His eyes narrowed. "You think so?"
"I'm still in love with you."
He relaxed a bit. "And I you."
"I'm feeling a lot better this afternoon than I was this morning," Hermione said. Draco raised an eyebrow.
"You know, I'm kind of offended that my best friend can make you feel better and I can't."
Hermione lowered her gaze. "Well, maybe you can just make me feel better in other ways."
He nearly purred in response. "I think that can be arranged."
"Also," Hermione stated. "Blaise can never make me feel as good as you do. There's a reason I married you and not him."
"He was already engaged when you two met," Draco pointed out.
She rolled her eyes. "But I love you. And I would not have survived these last five years without your help. If you hadn't been there to hold me when I cried or thrashed in nightmares, or to convince me it was past, or to remind me that I was worthy of love after the Ron/Harry fiasco…"
"A fiasco that worked out really well in the end," he reminded her.
"But not always," she stated. "The point is, you were there. And you loved me. There is no other person in the world that I owe more to."
"You're my life," he whispered, repeating the same words he had used to propose to her nearly four years prior.
"You're my everything," she said in response. "And I owe you everything. You saved me. Over and over again."
"I always felt like I was the one being saved," Draco said, tracing her palms. "My life was nothing until you came stumbling into it."
"Technically you stumbled into me."
He gave her a look. "You know what I mean."
"It felt like fate, didn't it?"
His eyes widened slightly. "Always. With you, it always felt like fate. You were my sun. I revolved around you. I still do. Nothing can take that from me."
"I love you, Draco Malfoy," she whispered, wrapping her arms around his neck.
"I love you, Hermione Malfoy," he responded. "And I wish there was more that I could do to make the anniversaries better for you."
"You do," she said. "Just having you in my life makes everything better. I'd be lost without you. I can't even imagine it."
His eyes darkened and he lowered his lips to hers. "Luckily, you never have to."
Three years later, Blaise poured soda instead of whiskey into Hermione's glass.
And there we go.
So concludes the sequel (sort of) of Fate Has Its Ways. This is the conclusion of the Fate Has Its Ways universe, which includes the original story, Nobody's Last Resort, and this. The story it over. I'm never going to re-visit it or add anything. Don't get me wrong, I love FHIW, which was first published a little under three years ago from today. However, everything has an end. I've explored all the characters and all of their motivations and I'm finished. It's time to move on to a new adventure.
Fate Has Its Ways has given me so much over the years, and I'm eternally grateful.
Thank you for going on this incredibly long journey with me. Three years, three stories, and in total, around 190K words. This has been an adventure. I've learned a lot about myself, my writing, Harry Potter, and the world.
I'm not done with fanfiction. I have several new stories bouncing around my head. Dramione, of course. I'll be back. I hope to see you there.
Don't let fate dictate your life. Let love.
And for the last time, in this universe,
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