Chapter 21 : Epilogue
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The steam from a round mug swirled in wisps through the cool morning air. A breath pushed the steam away from the coffee and soft lips pressed against the warm ceramic mug. Hermione sighed in content and listened happily from the porch as her home slowly came to life. The soft patter of two sets of small feet echoed down the stairs just by the open front door. Closely following was a set of ungraceful and loud steps parading down the stairs.
“I’m out here,” Hermione called and took another sip from her mug.
“You shouldn’t drink that, caffeine is bad for you.” A tall blonde stepped onto the porch in bare feet and took a seat on the cushioned rocker next to her. “Plus, the kids are old enough to know what a hypocrite is. Give them back their jolted up drinks and maybe they’ll let the coffee slide.” He smiled sweetly and kissed her softly on the cheek.
“Draco dear, when you mother two children without the boost of a small cup of coffee then I’ll take your comment into consideration.” Hermione quirked and eyebrow and laughed when he shrugged and gave up.
“So, today is the day we finally take our home back. Are you upset?”
“I’ll miss them, not their messes and sibling bickering.”
“You’ve become the stereotypical mother, and the only thing odder than that would be the fact that I’m very attracted to your motherly side right now.” Draco squeezed on her thigh and smirked wildly at her.
“Well, if you help me in getting the kids ready to leave so that we aren’t late, then I’ll see what I can do to repay you later.”
“You’re lying,” Draco crossed his arms and slid into a slump, “We’re married with two kids. I’m not going to be receiving anything later. A long back massage is the extent that I’m imagining right now, and I’m ashamed to say that I’ll settle for it.”
“I have the smartest husband in the world.” Hermione smiled and got up from her chair. She pulled Draco up alongside her and led him inside.
The home was warmly decorated and photographs in frames were placed everywhere, displaying the happy family in all types of sceneries. A few of the most beautiful pictures were of a young smiling couple with absolute devotion radiating from their very cores. Nothing impressive or over-the-top laid in any of the rooms. Everything was average, but in its average nature laid the true beauty of the house. Anyone who had ever walked through the family’s door knew instantly how happy and close a home it was. From the open spacious rooms with mountains of pictures, to the hand-made play set sitting proudly just outside the back door. Hermione walked into the round kitchen with Draco’s hand wrapped around hers. The moment they walked in, two pairs of eyes landed intently on the parents.
“Mum, Kendra won’t stop asking me questions about Hogwarts. Make her stop, it’s getting really annoying.” A boy complained as he flipped through his Quidditch magazine. His curly soft brown hair was flattened by a bright orange Chudley Cannons cap.
“Your sister is just curious Ron, and maybe even a little nervous about starting her first year. Be a good older brother and watch over her and answer any question she wants to ask you, understood?” Hermione said with a serious tone.
“What happens if I’m a Slytherin like Ron? Are you going to be upset again, Mum?” The little girl asked in a high, melodic voice. Draco laughed loudly and squeezed on Hermione’s hand. When they had first learned that Ronald Graham Malfoy, the son of Hermione Granger, had been sorted into Slytherin, they both nearly had a heart attack. Draco out of excitement, and Hermione out of pure shock.
“Oh, honey, we’d never be upset over something like that. It was just shocking that’s all.” Hermione said and rubbed her daughter’s cheek.
“And I will be absolutely thrilled if you were to be a Slytherin. You, Miss Kendra, would easily become the queen of that House before the end of your fourth year. Strikingly good looks from your father, and the smarts to back yourself up from your mother, you’ll have no problems, ladybug.” Draco said proudly.
“We have enough time for pancakes, so who wants some?” Hermione asked and received an excited chorus of agreement. “Draco, go and grab their trunks for me. I’ll have your breakfast all ready by time you get finished packing the car.”
“I spoil you,” He said with a smirk and disappeared around the corner and up the stairs.
“Ron, honey, could you get you and your sister some glasses and milk?” Hermione asked turning to her son. With a dramatic sigh, the boy groaned and rolled his eyes as he slumped out of his seat at the table. She couldn’t help but laugh and smile as she thanked him.
Within ten minutes, the smell of pancakes filled the kitchen and loud chatter and questions surrounded Hermione as Kendra and Ron stood at her sides. She flipped the last batch onto a plate and shooed the children back to their seats at the table. As if on cue, Draco walked back into the kitchen and was in waiting at the table with his kids.
“Harry and Ginny just left their house, so we should be on our way soon.” Draco told her as he shoved the tiny cell phone back into his pocket.
“Finally learned how to use that thing correctly I see.” Hermione said. She had insisted the he get the muggle device for years, but he had just recently cracked. The tipping point was when Kendra had been rushed to the hospital after falling off her brother’s broom. Hermione had been the only one home, and she couldn’t find Draco anywhere. The Ministry had sent him out on a check-up of a disturbance in a usually quiet neighborhood. He hadn’t found out the news until fourteen stitches later. The next day, he and Hermione bought cell phones and placed each other on speed dial 1.
“Anyway, the car is packed up and we’re ready to head out once we’re done eating.” Draco said choosing to ignore his wife’s comment.
The drive to King’s Cross was only just over an hour even with the traffic, which was good because of how excited and bouncy the kids were becoming. Ron was explaining all the complex details of the Great Hall to Kendra when they finally parked at the station.
“Alright you lot, get your bums out of the car and grab those trunks.” Draco said as he turned off the engine. The children shot out of the back seat and were yanking out their heavy trunks before Hermione could blink.
“I don’t expect they’ll miss us too much.” She joked before slowly getting out of the car herself. Draco walked to the back of the car and heaved Kendra’s trunk onto his chest and began walking toward the entrance. Hermione walked behind Ron as he struggled slightly with his own trunk until they retrieved a cart. Only a few steps into the station, the family was being waved down by another. A short, red-haired woman stood with two red haired boys by her side, already reaching her height. Behind her was a tall, friendly black-haired man with a smile stretched over his entire face.
“Dominic, Thomas,” Ron shouted and ran over to the two boys with Kendra in tow.
“I thought you would never show up, Hermione.” The man said before engulfing her in a tight hug.
“And I thought we talked about not man-handling my wife, Harry.” Draco said with humor before slapping Harry on the back.
“So, who’s ready to get going to Hogwarts?” The red-haired woman asked in a low voice. The four children had massive smiles on their faces. Dominic and Thomas Potter were twins in their fifth year at Hogwarts alongside Ron. They had been dubbed the new trio by all their professors the moment they entered the halls of Hogwarts. It was an odd thing to the professors that were still around from when the original Golden Trio walked the corridors. Odd because the new trio had Malfoy blood in it now, and odd because they melded together as close as Harry, Ron, and Hermione were. Numerous letters had been received the past years from Headmaster McGonagall about the troubles Ron, Thomas, and Dominic got into on a weekly basis.
“Where are Kristin and James?” Hermione asked noticing the two missing Potters.
“They went through to Platform 9 ¾ already. They just couldn’t wait.” Ginny said with a half-laugh. Harry and Ginny also had a daughter in her fourth year, and a young son starting his first year like Kendra. Like any Weasley, Ginny had always wanted a large family. And, as Ginny Weasley, she got what she wanted.
“Well, then we ought to hurry on then.” Draco said and pushed the cart along with his daughter glued to his side.
The pillar holding the hidden entrance to the Hogwarts Express loomed feet in front of the two families. Dominic and Thomas gave quick goodbyes to their parents before securing their hands over the shared cart.
“Are you coming, Ron?” Thomas asked.
“Yeah, come on now, don’t be slow.” Dominic added.
“Wait, not so fast little man,” Hermione turned her son around to face her. “You take your little sister, and you never let her leave your sight.”
“Yes, mum,” Ron sighed.
“Ready to start school then, ladybug?” Draco kneeled down and passed his fingers through his little girl’s curly blonde hair. There was nothing in the world he loved more than his wife and kids, but Kendra was his ladybug. She was innocent and helpless, at least, that’s how he still saw it. He believed that no matter how old she would get, she would forever be ladybug in his mind.
“I can still come home if I don’t like it, right daddy?” Kendra asked with apprehension in her voice causing Draco to smile.
“Of course you can, but I promise you, Hogwarts will quickly become your second home and you’ll never want to leave.” Draco gave her one last hug before standing back up. “You’ll never see your broom again if she gets out of your sight.” He then threatened to his son.
“Okay, okay, can we go now?” Ron asked with a roll of his eyes. As if by obligation, he snatched up his sister’s hand and placed it on the cart handle with his over top.
“Have a good year, and owl us every week.” Hermione said.
“Love you, mum and dad.” The two said at once and then with a last hug and kiss goodbye, they were gone through the pillar after the Potter twins.
“Another year,” Harry sighed and draped an arm around his wife’s small shoulders.
“Oh, I miss them already.” Hermione groaned and buried her face in Draco’s chest as he laughed at her dramatics. “Shut up!” She said and slapped him on the chest while trying to suppress her own smile. The smile immediately fell from Draco’s lips as he stared off into the distance. Hermione turned in his arms and looked to where her husband stared.
“I don’t believe it,” Draco said under his breath, but they all heard. It didn’t take much to recognize the short, but burly man kneeled down yards away. His short black hair was mirrored in the small boy that stood with tears streaming down his face in front of him.
“It’s Zach,” Hermione gasped and pulled from Draco’s arms and ran toward the man. He saw her coming, and recognized her as easily as she had recognized him. As she stopped next to him, he stood and shuffled awkwardly. Without a second thought, Hermione leaped and hugged him tightly. “I can’t believe it’s you.” She whispered and pulled away.
“Honestly, I didn’t expect our first meeting in seventeen years to be like this. I mean, we’re getting pretty damn old.” Zach said and unlaced his arms from around her back. “Who are you here with?”
“Her brilliant husband,” Zach turned and saw Draco, Harry, and Ginny all approaching them.
“Wow, it’s a whole big reunion.” He responded half-heartedly. “Uh, this is John, my son. He’s a little nervous about going into his first year.”
“I wish we would have seen you sooner. My son James is going to be a first year too. And same with Hermione, her Kendra just went through to the platform.” Harry said. “You’ll have to find them because I know you’ll all get along.” He added looking down to John, who wiped away at his eyes.
“Are you feeling better?” Zach asked his son, but only received a short nod in reply. “Well alright then, it’s that pillar right there. Get a running start and don’t stop. And, if you see anyone with red-hair like this lady here, introduce yourself.”
“Okay, I’m sending Oakley the second I get to Hogwarts though.” The small boy said pointing to the large owl next to him.
“I’ll keep the window open.” His son took a deep breath and hauled against the cart. It inched forward, but quickly gained speed. In what felt like a blink, John was gone and Zach got to his feet again.
“Are you here alone?” Hermione asked already knowing the answer. No mother would ever miss her son’s first day off to school.
“Alice died three years ago. She was a nurse at St. Mungo’s. The patient should have been sent straight to Azkaban without treatment, or at least restrained better. He tried to escape.” Zach trailed off and refocused back on the people around him. “Anyway, John and I are doing well. He was just old enough to understand and have strong memories of her. I’m just thankful for that.” Zach was engulfed by the four people around him.
“You should come back to our home, we always have a big lunch after we send off the kids.” Ginny offered when they parted.
“Please, it would be fantastic to have you. It’s been too long.” Hermione added.
“Oh, don’t give the bloke an option. You’re coming with us cousin, and that’s final.” Draco said sternly and slapped him hard on the back. He directed Zach toward the exit of King’s Cross ahead of the others.
“You’re happy?” Zach whispered so the others wouldn’t hear.
“My family is my life. I’m happier than I could have ever imagined I’d end up.” Draco said matching Zach’s volume. Hermione came up and twisted her fingers in Draco’s.
“I’m sorry that I disappeared after Ron’s funeral like that.” Zach said to her with a great strain. “I heard about your coma and memory loss in the papers. I should have been around, but I wasn’t. I was being selfish and pathetic.” Zach said to her with a cracked voice. “I should have told you about your parents the moment I met you. Then maybe things would have turned out differently. Maybe we wouldn’t have lost so many people in the Final Battle.”
“Zach, I forgave you eternities ago. Everything happens for a reason, and I never blamed you for anything. I’m just so glad to see you now.” Hermione said sincerely. Zach sighed heavily as an obvious weight of guilt finally released from his shoulders.
Author's Note: Happy Ending!! I hope that everyone enjoyed this story and especially enjoyed the happy ending after chapters of tears. Thank you for reading Spiraling Guilt!