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Life in the Shadows by DaniDM
Chapter 65 : Epilogue - And So It Ends
 
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 3


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Epilogue - And So It Ends

 

Golden rays filtered through the treetops casting cool shadows in the heat of the mid-summer’s day. The light breeze and the partial shade of the mountainside gave no relief to the soaring temperatures. The etched glass doors leading toward the carved stone terrace were open, allowing the air to circulate, gently rustling the gauzy, pastel blue draperies of the large, open-spaced main room. Even the birds hid from the mid-day heat, and I sought shelter under the large, pale green patio umbrella. In the distance, the faint sound of the Mediterranean could be heard as the tide began to rise. Fishermen would have ended their day hours ago having been up since before dawn, before the scorching sun. My eyes closed peacefully. It had been years since that fateful night; since the culmination of my life’s secret work had come crashing down. So many lives lost for the greater good. So many futures destroyed in order to secure a better life for those to come. The high price we had to pay. My hand fisted to my chest, feeling my heart pound hard at the memory.

 

I must have drifted off for when I woke a smiling face beamed at me from the edge of the swimming pool.

 

“You okay?” the girl splashed onto the pool deck, pulling a towel from a pile on a low table, wrapping it around her shoulders. “You where making a face. Is everything all right?”

 

“I’m fine,” I reached out to take hold of her hand. “You’ve grown up so much. Tell me again what you thought of Headmistress McGonagall.”

 

Adrianne flopped onto the chaise to my left tipping her head to the hot sun. “She reminds me of one of those prissy old maids whose girdle is too tight, really stiff, but she also seemed pretty nice. Neat how she hand delivered the letter personally. How would she know that the whole family was home at the same time? Dad’s schedule isn’t always the same, and the boys are hardly ever home anymore.”

 

I smiled weakly. “She’s a witch, my love. We have our ways.” I wagged my eyebrows playfully. “You’ll learn. I’d love to go with you to Diagon Alley to get your things. First year at Hogwarts. I never had that experience.”

 

“It must have been lonely. You know, no one to share this with except your parents,” Adrianne sympathized. I had told her my story last year when she and her family arrived for their annual summer visit.

 

I nodded. “You’re going to love it. When I was there, I was in Ravenclaw. Each house has its own characteristics, but each is strong. I can see you in Ravenclaw. You’re certainly bright, but I think you have qualities that the other houses revere as well.” I grinned proudly at her. “We’ll just have to wait and let the hat decide.”

 

Adrianne and I chatted for a good hour before Emily poked her head out of the villa. Her face was creased on one side, and her chestnut hair was tousled. “This heat knocked me out,” she yawned as she toddled out to join us. “Now, I understand the concept behind a siesta. What’s the topic?” She asked as she flopped into a chair opposite us by the round tile table and poured herself a tall glass of ice tea.

 

“Hogwarts,” Adrianne and I chimed together, grinning.

 

“Ah, the excitement begins. Another few weeks, luv, then we make that trip.” She smiled lovingly at her daughter. “I’m going to miss her so much,” she directed toward me bringing her hand to her heart. “My baby. Boarding school. Oh, Daniella. I wish you could join us for her first witchy shopping spree. The Headmistress told us what to do and how to get there, but it won’t be the same without you.”

 

I smiled back. “I wish I could, but know I’ll be with you in spirit.”

 

An engine roar echoed off the side of the stone fence that surrounded my home, and our heads rose with the anticipation of the return of rowdy boys. The front door crashed open, and Colin came tumbling in laughing, his strawberry hair wind blown and face streaked with dust.

 

“Nick. Kevin. Well done!” Colin praised as the twins followed their father into the house.

 

Emily quickly rose, angrily striding to greet them. “You didn’t let them ride, did you? Colin! I thought we agreed that they were too young.”

 

“Mum, we’re fourteen. Besides nothing would happen to us,” Nick piped up, standing up for both himself and his brother.

 

“And why is that? Do you think you’re invincible? Those are not little mopeds. Those were real motorcycles, and the roads around here are steep and narrow. Oh, Colin…” Emily fumed at her husband. Adrianne and I stood in the patio doorway not certain whether to step in or retreat.

 

“Don’t worry, Emily. I wouldn’t let anything happen to them.”

 

“Oh, really, and what did you do?” Emily huffed as she paced the main room, then realization dawned, and her voice softened. “Of course. I’m sorry, Stavros.”

 

“Think nothing of it,” the tanned face of my husband beamed through streaks of dust. Dressed in his customary black gabardine trousers and black t-shirt, the faded image of the Dark Mark lay quiescent on his left forearm, looking like some grotesque tattoo from younger years. His black hair was tied back in a low ponytail, specks of grey beginning to show at the temples. His tall, lean figure strode in; a slight limp on his right side gave evidence of an old wound. Although Nagini’s bite had been lethal, it had not cursed with Dark magic, but I was slow in tending to Severus, therefore, the bottled Phoenix tears couldn’t reverse all of the damage. He had been so close to death. His nervous system was permanently weakened.  Even so, he looked the picture of health. Since our arrival in Spain, the years seemed to melt from his face. The creases that had etched around his eyes and mouth had smoothed somewhat, and he had put on some weight. No more charms. No more spells. Just us, the way we were. The memories he had given away to the Potter boy, although not erased completely from his mind, no longer dominated his every thought. He was happier, more at ease, and was enjoying the quiet life that we had made.

 

 “And how was your afternoon?” he directed toward Ardianne as he stepped into the main room. “Looks like you’ve enjoyed the pool.”

 

“Pool!” the twins yelled as they dashed down the hall to their room to change.

 

Adrianne beamed at her uncle. They had developed a bond that rivalled mine with her. At first, he had difficulty letting anyone get close, but she wore him down. She didn’t fear him, and he appreciated the respect and unconditional love she offered.

 

“And you,” he tenderly turned to me, “Did you rest this afternoon?”

 

I nodded, looking affectionately into my husband’s eyes.

 

“She fell asleep outside for a bit, but she seemed uncomfortable. She kept making faces,” Adrianne tattletaled.

 

Severus looked down at me with gentle concern. Then dropping to his knees, he said, “Are you giving your mother trouble today?” His hands spanned across my immense belly, the imprint of a tiny foot stretching the skin to meet his palm. “Soon, my child, soon. I can’t wait to meet you,” he whispered soothingly.

 

I stroked his silky hair as he placed his cheek on my stomach feeling the baby move, his arm wrapping around my waist in pure comfort.

 

“Eeww, get a room!” Kevin exclaimed as he emerged from the narrow hall heading for the pool.

 

“I think they already did,” Nick laughed as he followed his brother to the terrace.

 

Emily reached out to playfully cuff the boy as he dashed past. Severus rose to his feet, his smile glowing through the dirt and tan. He looked more and more Mediterranean every day.

 

“We ran into Signora Venetos in the village. She asked how you were,” Severus took my hand and led us back to the terrace. “I said that you kick in your sleep. Showed her the bruises to prove it,” he teased. “She said that it’s just the way the baby is positioned. Extra weight on your spine. I wish there was a way to relieve that.” He paused, pulling out a chair for me to sit.

 

“Oh, that’s so sweet,” Emily gushed at his concern.

 

“Hardly,” Severus deadpanned as he sat beside me. “If she continues, I’m not going to have any shins left.”

 

Colin let out a hoot and slapped his knee.  “I can relate! When Emily was carrying Adrianne, I had to sleep in another bed some nights just to get a descent night’s rest.”

 

“Good, now I don’t feel guilty,” Severus glanced sideways at me, his lips twitching playfully at the corners.

 

“Don’t worry, caro,” I reached out to light-heartedly tap his knee. “When you’re in the other bed, I get the whole bed to myself. Trust me, at this stage, I think I both need and deserve it,” I rubbed my belly watching the fabric of the dress ripple as the baby turned.

 

“That’s so cool!” Adrianne smiled as she watched the movement.

 

As the sun finally ducked behind the mountain, the terrace began to cool, and as the shadows began to stretch across the stone, the dark purple buds that grew by the fence began to glow. Draconus Filiastus, Dragon Weed, my favourite flower. Their light, musky scent floated up from the still hot ground, placing a Protective Charm around the villa and its occupants, easing everyone into a state of peace and serenity. It was so calming. Even the twins who were horsing around in the water climbed out to relax.

 

“Dinner will be served shortly,” Pinky’s head popped out of the villa. “Would Mistress prefer to eat inside or outside?” my little elf asked.

 

I looked at the others for feedback. “Outside, I think. It’s cooler.”

 

Pinky bowed back inside, and within a few moments, the tile-topped table was cleared, and a luscious meal of fresh fish and salads was served. Pinky loved having Emily and the family visit. They were the only guests we ever had, and she took pride in making everything memorable for them.

 

As the meal wound down, a familiar caw echoed from the mountain, followed by two shorter caws. Stark swooped down and perched on the low table by the pool while two other sleek, slightly smaller ravens landed by the pool’s edge splashing their wings in the puddles left on the stone.

 

“And how are you this evening?” I asked my feathered friend.

 

Hot, he replied.  We stay in the forest as much as we can during the day. It’s much cooler there.

 

“I can imagine. Would you and our family like something to eat? There are some fresh figs and pomegranates,” I offered.

 

Thank you, he replied as he signalled to the other birds.

 

The larger of the two was a bit more wary of me than the smaller one. Stark’s mate couldn’t understand how I could communicate with them, and although she made an effort to be sociable, I could feel her hesitance. The smaller one was their youngest offspring, and he had no fear whatsoever, just like his father.  When Pinky brought out the fruit, I cut it into pieces and spread it on a plate for the ravens, stroking the youngster’s head affectionately as he took a fig from my hand. He instinctively knew to trust me, and I hoped that would always be the case.

 

~~~***~~~

 

Emily and the family left the following morning, taking the local bus to the depot and connecting to another bus to take them to the airport. Our little hamlet was off-the-beaten-path, just the way we liked it, and our friends had no qualms about the travel to get here. The seclusion was just as restful for them as it was needed for us.

 

It was late, and the stars twinkled brightly in the darkened sky. Rolling onto my side, I felt Severus’ body mould to mine, his arm reaching over, his hand splaying across my expanded belly. “I know you’re going to miss them,” he whispered soothingly in my ear as I sniffed back the tears. “Adrianne promised to write and tell which House she was sorted into. I’m sure she’ll be anxious to let you in on all the news.”

 

After hearing of his father’s escapades, one of Stark’s older offspring had volunteered to be our Post raven. I had smiled at the thought, and Adrianne had been thrilled. Stark had puffed his chest proudly. If a bird could smile...

 

“What did the letter from the Ministry say?” Severus continued.

 

I cleared my throat. I was still in contact with the Italian Ministry. They knew Severus as Stavros Salvatorini, a relative of the famed alchemist, Enrico Venici Salvatorini, and my new husband. Much of the work we did now, we did together.

 

“St. Mungo’s contacted them. There’s talk of the Longbottoms being sent home, out-patient status. The Magpie Potion has finally been proven successful at all levels, even, to some degree, with those affected by Dark magic. They’ll never be the same as they were but are functional enough to go home.” I rolled onto my back to face my husband. “We’ve been asked to write an article for Il Gionale Dei Potions and Potions Today. Carmen is going to forward the details.”

 

“The Longbottoms, home,” Severus sighed in thought, “So, those last improvements worked. Good. However,” he rubbed the taut skin of my stomach, “your first concern is of yourself and this child. You’re not to wear yourself out.”

 

I smiled proudly and reached to cup his stubbled cheek. “I promise to take care. Ti amo, caro.” Kissing him lightly on the lips, I rolled back onto my side and snuggled backward to feel his body against mine. He reached over me again and our fingers laced together. Bringing my left hand to his lips, I could feel him kiss the simple platinum band. I still wore the black and silver band on my little finger, but he had always promise that I would wear his ring on the “proper finger”.

 

Summoning a small orb from its place of honour on the dresser, I watched as it floated across the room. It had been a gift from Severus when we finally arrived in Spain and renewed our vows with the Goddess.

 

“Don’t you ever get tired of listening to it?” he snorted, nuzzling my neck affectionately.

 

“Never,” I whispered as the pale pink orb opened, and the beautiful melody began. And in the comfort of my husband’s arms, in the safety of our hide-away home, far from the battle-worn Wizard world of Britain, I listened to the words that filled my soul with absolute contentment and unconditional love.

 

“I can’t remember when you weren’t there,

when I didn’t care for anyone but you.

I swear, we’ve been through everything there is,

can’t imagine anything we’ve missed,

can’t imagine anything the two of us can’t do.

 

Through the years, you’ve never let me down,

you’ve turned my life around,

the sweetest days I’ve found I’ve found with you.

Through the years, I’ve never been afraid,

I’ve loved the life we’ve made,

and I’m so glad I stayed right here with you through the years.

 

I can’t remember what I used to do,

who I trusted, who I listened to before,

I swear, you’ve taught me everything I know,

can’t imagine needing someone so,

 but through the years it seems to me I need you more and more.

 

Through the years, through all the good and bad,

I know how much we had,

I’ve always been so glad to be with you.

Through the years, it’s better every day,

you’ve kissed my tears away,

as long as it’s okay, I’ll stay with you through the years.

 

Through the years, when everything went wrong,

together we were strong,

 I know that I belong right here with you.

Through the years, I’ve never had a doubt,

we’d always work things out,

 I’ve learned what life’s about by loving you through the years.

 

Through the years, you’ve never let me down,

you’ve turned my life around,

the sweetest days I’ve found I’ve found with you.

Through the years, it’s better every day,

you’ve kissed my tears away,

 as long as it’s okay I’ll stay with you through the years.”

 


 


 

A/N – Wow! That’s it!

That last song “Through the Years” is from Kenny Rogers CD “Love Songs”. It’s been in my head since “Life in the Interim”, and I always knew that I wanted to include it in this story.

 

What can I say? It’s been a blast.

 

I want to thank all of those who have read and enjoyed, those who have taken the time to write and review. All of your comments were much appreciated. I have them all on file so I can go back and re-read them.

Keep your eyes open. There's more in me...

 

 

Take care and Blessed be.

Dani

 

 

 

 


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