Chapter 27 : Epilogue
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“Mum!” A voice shouted and there was a soft banging on my door, “Mum!” The door burst open and I felt my bed shake and the springs squeaked. “It’s time for breakfast mum!”
I rubbed the morning out of my eyes and smiled as my six-year old son, Noah, jumped on my bed. “Good morning love.” He stared at me with his father’s hazel eyes.
“Good morning, mum!” He smiled his toothy grin at me, “Guess what?!” He asked in an extremely excited voice.
“What?” I asked, pretending I didn’t already know. Acting and lying, two things I have found necessary for parenthood.
“It’s Christmas!” He cried.
“It’s true mum!” Noah jumped up and down, “There are presents under the tree and everything!”
“Come on mum! Ava is waiting for us!” He pulled on my hand and dragged me out of the room, across the apartment and into the tiny living room. Noah’s twin sister, Brell, was sitting next to the tree and looked up at us in excitement when we walked in.
Ever since they could talk, they hadn’t been calling them by their real names. Noah called Brell ‘Ava’ from her middle name, and Brell called Noah ‘No’. It was cute, it reminded me of my brothers calling me ‘Assie’.
“Mummy? Can we open are presents now?” She smiled up at me. I raised an eyebrow and gave her a look, “Please?”
“That’s better. Yes, darlings, gone on ahead.” I watched with a grin on my face as they tore the wrapping apart and squealed and laughed with their new toys and presents. My children happy was one of the best things I had ever seen in my life. My Noah and my Brell. After James died, they were the only ones that could make me smile for hours on end.
The phone gave a loud ring, startling me a bit. “I’ll be right back, and if I hear any fighting from the two of you, you’ll be having one less pancake at your grandmother’s.” They smiled at me as I walked into the extremely small kitchen.
Our apartment was pretty small. It only had two bedrooms, mine and the one Noah and Brell shared. There was also two bathrooms, a living room, a kitchen and a small dining area that could fit a small table and four chairs. It was the best I could get on my salary.
“Hello?” I asked as I picked up the phone.
“Aspen! It’s mum. I was just calling to make sure that you, Noah and Brell are coming to brunch this morning. Or are you going to the burrow?”
I rolled my eyes, “Mum, I told you yesterday. We’re coming to brunch with you and then we’re having dinner at the Burrow with the Potters and Weasleys.”
I heard her sigh through the line, “No Robert! I’m sure Aspen can do it when she gets here!”
“What am I doing when I’m getting there?” I asked, leaning against the countertop.
“Oh, just expanding the table to fit all of our family. Nothing really.”
“Mum, how the hell am I going to expand a table to fit over thirty people?”
“Watch your mouth young lady.” I rolled my eyes again, I was twenty-five years old and I had two kids. Saying ‘hell’ honestly shouldn’t be my mother’s biggest concern to be honest. “Anyways, I’m sure you can manage it. Brunch starts at eleven. See you then.”
“Okay, love you.”
“Love you too. Bye.” I put the phone back on it’s spot on the wall and looked at my twins opening a lot of presents. “How’s it going you two?”
“Santa brought me a tea set!” Brell cried.
“And he got me some race cars!” Noah grinned.
“How exciting! Have you two finished with your presents?”
“Yes mummy, but we want to give you something.”
I smiled as Noah extended his arms to me and handed me a small package that looked like it was wrapped by, well, a five year old. I opened it and gave out a small gasp, “A necklace! I love it guys!” I held up the macaroni necklace and grinned. Seven years ago, I would be kind of appalled if I was given a macaroni necklace as a Christmas gift, but now, well, I was touched by it.
“Now, why don’t you go and get dressed with the clothes I laid out for you last night. And Noah, if see you without your sweater, I will not be happy.” Noah grinned and ran away to his bedroom.
I got dressed a pair of jeans and a red turtleneck sweater. “Mummy!” Brell ran into my room. Everyone always said that my daughter was the spitting image of me, and I had to agree. She had my dark brown hair, just a tint darker than mine, proabaly because of James’s hair. Her eyes were James’s shape but had my green coloring.
“Yes angel?” I asked, kneeling down to her level.
She held out a ribbon, “Will you put this in my hair?”
“Of course, come sit on the bed, sweetheart.” She climbed up onto my bed and I took a brush off of my dresser and brushed out her thick dark hair. I took the red ribbon and tied it into her hair. “There.” I kissed the top of her head lightly.
“Thanks mummy.” Brell hopped off the bed and ran out of the room. Sometimes, it was hard to believe that I was given Noah and Brell. They were so innocent, so lovely, and so perfect. Sometimes, I thought that after all the utter crap I had ever been through, that everything good I had from now on could only be bad. Great attitude right? I guess sometimes good hurts.
Forty-five minutes later, I was knocking on the door to my old house. I glanced to my left at the house nearly identical to mine, expect for the number three on the door. It was hard for me, still, too look at that house. It was especially hard with my children, they knew that their grandparents lived next door to their other grandparents, but I don’t think they totally grasped that their father had lived there. Their dead father.
They started wondering when they were about three or four years old why they didn’t have a father. I didn’t tell them the full story. How could I? They were too young for this. I would tell them when they were older, when they were in Hogwarts. For now, I had told them that their father died in a war. I told them that he died to protect us.
“Aspen! Noah! Brell!” I smiled at my sister-in-law, Leah. She was lucky, she looked almost the same as she did seven years ago. Her slightly curly blonde hair went a little beyond her shoulders, she had brown eyes and a few freckles dotted across her face. Motherhood had been kind to her face, not so much to mine. Leah was holding my almost one-year old niece, Annamarie, on her hip. “Ya’ll must be freezing come on in.” Leah said, revealing her slight southern accent. She held the door open and I passed her. I loved standing next to her, I mean, she was one of the only people older than the age of thirteen that was near my height.
We walked towards the back of the house, where people were scattered throughout the kitchen, living room and dinning room. “Auntie Aspen!” I heard a voice cry and I turned around to see Kyle and Leah’s other daughter, Natalia, racing towards me.
“Nat!” I smiled and picked up my niece. She looked so much like my brother, same dark hair, and blue eyes, and lopsided grin. “How are you?”
“Good Auntie Aspen! I got presents from Santa!”
“Oh? What did you get?” I asked, walking into the living room, where the majority of people had gathered. Natalia started ranting off a list of things and I kept nodding. If you don’t nod, they just keep on repeating themselves.
A few minutes later, I was away from the little kids, and was sitting with Leah, Daniella, Gabby and my cousin Elizabeth. The only ones here that had children, young children anyways. Leah was obviously married to Kyle, and they had Natalia and Annamarie. Daniella had only been my sister-in-law for two years, she was married to Brandon. They had met the year after James’s death and they had a three-month year old daughter named Diana. Gabby was Jason’s fiancé, set to marry on New Year’s Eve and they had a one month year old son named Ben. Finally, my cousin Elizabeth and her husband of four years, David, had twins, Isabella and Trevor, named after Elizabeth’s dead parents.
I loved talking to them, because they got it. What it was like to be mums. Granted, none of them were as young as me or doing this without a husband or fiancé or even a boyfriend. My husband died, and it made this so incredibly hard. But it also made me want to do it so much more.
“So, Gabby, are you excited for next week?” Leah asked and I listened absentmindedly as they all chattered away.
“How is the job at the hospital going, Aspen?” I looked up to see Elizabeth.
All of my muggle family knew that I was a witch, even my brothers’ wives and fiancés. They didn’t know a whole lot about my world, but they knew I worked at a magical hospital, that I went to magical boarding school and my son and daughter were most likely magical. “Good, we had a really busy day a few days ago, some idiot gave a three year old a wand and they blew up an entire street in a wizarding village and there were a lot of injuries. Good practice though.” They all nodded, and Gabby looked slightly disturbed.
“Aspen!” Adam’s girlfriend, Kendra cried. “You’re mum is wondering if you will help her in the kitchen.”
“Sure.” I stood up and walked through the hallway, “Oi! You two! No running in the house. Understand?”
Noah and Brell looked at me with guilty faces and nodded. I laughed, “Go on now, play with your cousins.” I smiled at them as they ran away from me. I went into the kitchen, the counters were filled with dishes upon dishes.
“What do you need me to do?” I asked.
“Well, everything appears to be done, so not much.”
“Then why did you call me in here, mum?”
I rolled my eyes, “Oh, not this again.”
“I’m just looking out for you dear!”
I leaned against the countertop, “Mum, it’s not looking out for me.”
“For lord’s sake Aspen, I was talking about you moving back home for a few years. You live in a dangerous area!”
“It’s Haringey! Just because it’s not bloody South Kensington doesn’t mean I’m going to get mugged!”
“I just don’t think it’s safe for Noah and Brell!” She cried.
Ever since my children were born, my mum and I started arguing more. I felt like she was trying to raise them. They weren’t her’s to raise. And I didn’t want to live at home with my children. Sure, our apartment was no three-story five bedroom South Kensington townhouse, but it didn’t mean it was terrible.
“Mum,” I sighed. “I love you. But I can’t move back home. I’m a mum now, and I want to act like one. I’m not teenager anymore. I can handle myself, and I can handle my children. Can you please just drop it? It is my life, not yours. Okay?”
My mum pursed her lips. “Fine. But if I hear of a single bad thing happening in your neighborhood, your father and I are funding a new apartment nearby for you. Understand?” I smiled and nodded.
“Thanks, mum.” She grinned and hugged me.
“Oh, and I have something else to tell you.” She said in a small voice.
I pulled out, “What?”
“Your grandmother is here.”
“Your grandma Kathleen.”
“What?” I spat, “Does she know I’m here?”
“Well, yes, I told her.”
I frowned, “Well, I’m not going to talk to her.”
My mother crossed her arms, “Aspen, don’t be childish.”
“The last time I saw her was seven years ago, when I was pregnant. She told me she was ashamed of me, even though I was married when I got pregnant and proceeded to tell me I was a filthy whore. One hell of a grandmother.”
“Aspen, she’s family.” My mother pressed.
“Answer me this then, why would family do that? Why would she say that? I don’t want Noah and Brell talking to her, or around her.”
“Kathleen is their great grandmother. She should at least meet them.”
My blood was beginning to boil, “Mum, she lost that right seven years ago when she called them bastards. I really don’t want to be near her, and right now, I’m thinking about taking my children and leaving.”
“What if I seat you, Noah and Brell on the other end of the table.”
I sighed, “Okay. Deal.”
A few minutes later, we were sitting down to brunch, everyone happily chatting away. Everything, it seemed...good. My family was healthy, my children were totally happy and content. I watched as Noah and Brell laughed together, and I wished that I could turn around and tell someone. By someone I meant James. I wanted someone to share these moments with. It still stung, after seven years, it still stung.
I still thought about James regularly, not as much as I did when he first died though. Little things reminded me of him, and that was what made it all so painful. I wasn’t alone in raising my children, I had James’s family, and my family and my friends. Yet, I didn’t have someone there when they were two months old and crying in the middle of the night, I was the only one that kissed them in bed at night, and I felt sorry for them more than I felt sorry for myself. They would have to grow up without a father. And that is what really broke my heart.
“Excuse me, everyone.” Adam stood up, and clinked his glass with his knife. “Kendra and I would like to make an announcement. Do you want to tell them?”
“No, their your family!” Kendra smiled.
“Okay, we’re engaged!” My jaw dropped, oh my merlin. Another one of my brothers was getting married. I really shouldn’t be shocked. Adam and Kendra had been dating for five years now, Adam told me last year he thought she was the one. They were also bloody twenty-eight years old. A whole ten years older than I was when I got married. But still, it was odd, watching my brothers be grown ups, even if I was much younger than most of them.
We all congraluled them and the girls gushed over the ring. Kendra even asked if asked if I would allow Noah to be the ring-boy and Brell to be the flower girl. I told her as long as they wanted to, I would love them to be in the wedding.
Eventually, I said goodbye to my family and I promised to see them all at New Years for Jason and Gabby’s wedding in the countryside. Noah, Brell and I went home for a few hours before leaving to dinner at the Burrow.
Since I didn’t have a car, and I didn’t like to apparate with my kids, we usually flooed or walked to places. So, off we went in the fireplace. When we arrived at the Burrow, it was bustling with activity. I could smell something wonderful cooking and it was nice and warm.
“Aspen!” I stepped out of the fireplace to see Dom barreling through the sea of people. She gave me a large pearly white smile. Her slight french accent had decreased over the years, but if you knew to listen for it, you could still hear it. “Merlin, I haven’t seen you since what, November?” It was true, Dom and I had been struggling to see each other lately. What with me having twins to take care of, and Dominique was always jetting off to different countries to translate in some of the most important meetings of the wizarding world.
“Yeah, I think so.” I told her, pulling her into a hug.
Dom gasped, “Oh merlin, is that actually my godson? And Brell? My, my how you two have grown!” Noah and Brell giggled and smiled.
“Do you two want to go play with Aurora and Selene?” I asked, pointing to a couch were the two girls were playing. Aurora and Selene were Teddy and Victorie’s oldest children out of the four they had. Aurora had just turned seven and Selene was five. Sometimes I felt bad that Noah didn’t have another boy his age in the family to play with, then I remember that I grew up with seven brothers and I get over it.
“Yes!” They both cried and ran towards the couch. I laughed and slung an arm around Dom.
“So, how have you been dearest Dommy?”
She smiled and showed me her arm, “Great, like my tan?”
“You told me you were going to Venice strictly on business. And don’t you dare tell me you got that tan sitting underground because I will call the bullshit.”
Dom grinned, “Okay, I may have done a little shopping and tanning on the side. You know, when I wasn’t working.”
“I hate you, you get to jet all over the world. Meanwhile, I sit in a hospital all day around sick people.”
“You’re right, my life is way more cooler than yours.” I laughed and we wandered towards the back rooms.
“Oh, by the way, how’s Michael?” I asked, referring to Dominique’s American boyfriend of four months, Michael Williams. I know, I know, everyone thought that her and Bradley were going to live happily ever after and shit. But they broke up a few months after graduation. Bradley did the one thing that Dom could never forgive. They got into a fight and he took it too far and told her that she was never going to be as beautiful as her sister. Dom kicked him out right then and there and we all had basically cut him out of our lives. I knew that Ally saw him ever once and a while in the auror offices, and she told me she said hi sometimes. But none of us could forgive him.
“Good, he’s been stressing for the past few weeks over his exam.” I nodded, Dom had told me that he was studying to be a wizarding lawyer, and his exam to become one was in February. We entered a room were Ally was talking to someone I didn’t know.
“Aspen!” I smiled as Ally came barreling at me from the other side of the room. “How are you? You look great! Have you lost weight? Are you using a new shampoo? Because you hair is really shiny! In a good way! Where are you adorable kids? I feel so terrible I haven’t seen my own goddaughter! Are you okay, since it’s Christmas and all? I have your present right here! I’ve missed you so much!” She hugged me tightly. This was Ally’s way of coping since we had drifted away from each other. Whenever she sees you, she rants of fifty questions.
I took a deep breath, “I’m good. Thanks. I lost four kilos thank you for noticing. No, I’m not using a new shampoo, but thank you. They’re playing with Aurora and Selene in the front living room. Don’t worry about it. Yes, I’m okay.” I told her, Christmas was sometimes rough for me because it was the day James proposed. “I have your present too and I’ve missed you too!” I responded. She grinned at me.
Dom, Ally and I sat down on the couch and chatted about the last few weeks. Ally had gotten a huge auror case that made her stay late at work, which pissed off Freddie, which pissed off Ally and they had gotten to a fight a few days before because Ally thought she made more than Freddie and that she didn’t like working late but it was important. Dom wanted to tell us stories of Italy, but Ally was to riled up to hear stories about her perfect life.
“Mummy!” A small voice called and we looked at the door to see Ally’s oldest child, Miles, crawling towards us.
“Miles!” She cried, scooping him up into her arms, “Where’s your daddy? Huh?”
“Excuse me, have you seen a toddler, about this tall, dark hair, my eyes?” I nearly spit out my butter beer when I heard Freddie outside the door.
“Oi! Genius! Your son is in here!” Dom shouted. A few seconds later, Freddie burst through the door.
“Oh thank merlin. I thought someone had kidnapped him!” I rolled my eyes. “Aspen!” He exclaimed, “Oh merlin, it’s been too long.” He wandered over and gave me a tight hug.
I laughed, “Yeah. Seems it has. How are you?”
“Good, good. You?”
“Honey?” Ally asked, turning to Freddie. “Where is Katie?”
“What? Katie Bell? I don’t think should could make it, flu. Poor thing.”
“No!” Ally slapped his shoulder, “Katie our daughter Katie.”
“Oh!” He exclaimed, “That Katie. I left her with Roxy’s boyfriend Spencer.”
Ally’s eyebrows furrowed and I exchanged a look with Dom. This couldn’t end well. “Is Roxy there?”
“No, she went to talk to someone.”
“So, you left our three month old daughter with someone we just met ten minutes ago.” Freddie nodded, “You, are an idiot.” She cried and stormed out of the room. I exchanged a look with Dom.
“Is Louis home from Egypt for the holidays?”
Dominique shook her head, “He couldn’t get enough time off.” Louis was a writer for the travel section of the Daily Prophet. Each month he went to a new country and wrote about it. “Oh, did you hear that Athena and Joey had a kid?”
“Really?” I raised my eyebrows.
She nodded, “Her name is Riley. I saw Athena with her in Diagon Alley a few days ago.”
“Wow.” I breathed. “It’s crazy.”
I sighed, “I know I’ve always said this. But, everything seems to have gone by so fast. It’s like I blinked and I was here. Everyone has grown up so fast.”
“Hey, do you mind watching Noah and Brell. I just, I have to pop out for a moment.”
“Sure, no problem.”
“Thanks, I’ll see you later?” Dom nodded as I walked out to the kitchen. “Ginny?” I asked.
“Oh, Aspen! How nice to see you! You look fantastic!”
I grinned, “Thank you. So do you. I was wondering if I could drop by your house for a second right now.”
“Yes, of course. You know it’s open to you whenever you want.”
“Thank you Ginny, I’ll see you later.”
After weaving my way through people I got to the fireplace and flooed to the Potters’. I stepped out of the fireplace and looked around. It looked almost the same as it did when I was seventeen.
I wandered upstairs to James’s old bedroom. It was kept the exact same since the day he died. I liked to visit on occasion. Just to feel close to him again. I had only been in there for a few seconds before I sent an owl to Dominique asking her to take care of my kids for the night.
The dresser drawers were slightly ajar so I reached in and pulled out an old Gryffindor t-shirt and a pair of boxer shorts, even if it was Janruary. I climbed into bed and starred at the cieling.
There was no doubt I had come a long way since I graduated Hogwarts. My life was hard, but I loved it, every single bit of it. I missed my late husband, but it was okay. It was okay to miss someone.
My eyes fluttered shut and I had a dream. I dreamt that my children went to Hogwarts, both becoming Gryffindors. I dreamt I had a good life, and everyone was happy. I dreamt of grandchildren, and showing them their grandfather’s grave. I dreamt of dying peacefully, and finally being with James again. I dreamt of what, overtime, no longer was a dream, but reality.
And all was...the way it should be.
Well folks, that’s a wrap. I know that I haven’t been writing this story for two years or anything like that, but it feels like a long journey. In a way it has been, I started this at a semi-dark time in my life and it’s gotten a lot better since then. You readers are the reason I write. Knowing there is a possibility I can change someone’s life with words is an amazing feeling. Granted, I proabaly didn’t do it with story. But if I effected you in any way, I would love to hear about it. Even though we are closing this story, I want to tell you all something! I’m coming out with a new story, very soon. Called, ‘The British Are Coming’. I hope you will all consider checking it out. You are all so amazing. I love you all and if I could, I would hug every single won of you. Thank you all for reading! For the last time, as the author of Hogwarts’s Ex-Golden Girl, roses are red, violets are blue, won’t you please give me a review?